Turned / Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven


Caitlin felt them slow, and then begin to descend. She opened her eyes. She didn't recognize any of the buildings below them. It appeared that they were way uptown. Possibly, the Bronx somewhere.

As they descended, they flew over a small park, and in the distance, she thought she saw a castle. As they got closer, she realized that it definitely was a castle. What was a castle doing here, in New York City?

She wracked her brain, and realized that she had seen this castle before. On a postcard somewhere...Yes. It was a museum of some sort. As they ascended a small hill, flying over its ramparts, flying over its small, medieval walls, she suddenly remembered what it was. The Cloisters. The small museum. It had been brought over from Europe, piece by piece. It was hundreds of years old. Why was he taking her here?

They descended smoothly over the outer wall and onto a large, stone terrace, overlooking the Hudson river. They landed in darkness, but his feet touched down gracefully on the stone, and he gently let her off.

She stood there, facing him. She looked at him closely, hoping that he was still real, hoping that he wouldn't fly away. And hoping that he was as gorgeous as he was the first time she saw him.

He was. If anything, even more so. He stared down at her with his large, brown eyes, and at that moment she felt herself get lost.

There are so many questions she wanted to ask, she didn't even know where to begin. Who was he? How was he able to fly? Was he a vampire? Why had he risked his life for her? Why take her here? And most importantly, was everything she had seen just a wild hallucination? Or did vampires really exist, right here in New York City? And was she one of them?

She opened her mouth to speak, but all she managed was: "Why are we here?"

She knew it was a stupid question the moment she asked it, and hated herself for not asking something more important. But standing there in the cold, March night, face a bit numb, it was the best she could do.

He just stared back at her. His stare seemed to pierce her soul, as if he were seeing right through her. It looked as if he were debating how much to tell her.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, he opened his mouth to speak.

"Caleb!" shouted a voice, and they both turned.

A group of men  -  vampires?  -  dressed all in black, marched right for them. Caleb turned and faced them. Caleb. She liked that.

"We have no clearance for your arrival," the man in the middle said, deadly serious.

"It is unannounced," Caleb answered flatly.

"Then we will have to take you into custody," he said, nodding to his men, who slowly circled behind Caleb and her. "The rules."

Caleb nodded, unfazed. The man in the middle looked directly at Caitlin. She could see the disapproval in his eyes.

"You know we can't let her in," the man said to Caleb.

"But you will," Caleb answered flatly. He stared back at the man, equally determined. It was a meeting of the wills.

The man stood there, and she could see he was unsure what to do. A long, tense silence followed.

"Very well," he said, turning his back abruptly and leading the way. "It's your funeral."

Caleb followed, and Caitlin walked beside him, unsure what else to do.

The man opened a huge, medieval door, grabbing it by its round, brass ring. He then stepped aside, motioning for Caleb to enter. Two more men, in black, stood inside the doorway, standing at attention.

Caleb took Caitlin's hand and led her through. As she passed through the huge stone archway, she felt as if she were entering another century.

"Guess we don't have to pay admission," Caitlin said to Caleb, smiling.

He looked over at her, blinking. It took him a second to realize it was a joke. Finally, he smiled.

He had a beautiful smile.

It made her think of Jonah. She felt confused. It was unlike her to feel strong feelings for any boy - much less for two of them in the same day. She still felt for Jonah. But Caleb was different. Jonah was a boy. Caleb, although he looked young, was a man. Or was he...something else? There was something about him she could not explain, something that made her unable to look away. Something that made her not want to leave his side. She liked Jonah. But she needed Caleb. Being around him was all-encompassing.

Caleb's smile vanished as quickly as it had appeared. He was clearly disturbed.

"I'm afraid there will be a much higher price for admission," he said, "if this meeting does not go as I would hope."

He led her through another stone archway, and into a small, medieval courtyard. Perfectly symmetrical, surrounded on four sides by columns and arches, this courtyard, lit by the moon, was very beautiful. She could not fathom how they were still in New York City. They could have been in a European countryside.

They walked across the courtyard and down a long stone hallway, the sound of their footsteps echoing. They were trailed by several more guards. Vampires? She wondered. If so, why were they so civil? Why didn't they attack Caleb, or her?

They walked down another stone corridor and through another medieval door. And then they suddenly stopped.

Standing there was another man, dressed in black, who looked startlingly similar to Caleb. He wore a large red cloak over his shoulders, and was flanked by several attendants. He seemed to hold a position of authority.

"Caleb," he said softly. He sounded shocked to see him.

Caleb stood there calmly, staring back.

"Samuel," Caleb answered, flatly.

The man stood there, staring, shaking his head just a little bit.

"Not even a hug for your long lost brother?" Caleb asked.

"You know this is very serious," Samuel answered. "You have violated many laws by coming here tonight. Especially by bringing her."

The man did not even bother looking over at Caitlin. She felt insulted.

"But I had no choice," Caleb said. "The day has arrived. War is here."

A hushed murmur erupted among the vampires standing behind Samuel, and among the growing group of vampires forming behind them. She turned, and saw that more than a dozen of them now encircled them. She was starting to feel claustrophobic. They were vastly outnumbered, and there was no way out. She had no idea what Caleb had done, but whatever it was, she hoped that he could talk his way out of it.

Samuel raised his hands, and the murmur died down.

"What's more," Caleb continued, "this woman here," he said, nodding towards Caitlin, "she is The One."

Woman. Caitlin had never been called that before. She liked it. But she didn't understand. The One? He had put a funny emphasis on the phrase, as if he were talking about the Messiah or something. She wondered if they were all crazy.

Another murmur arose, and all heads turned to stare at her.

"I need to see the Council," Caleb said, "And I must bring her with me."

Samuel shook his head.

"You know that I would not stop you. I can only advise. And I advise you to leave right now, return to your post and await the Council's summons."

Caleb stared back. "I'm afraid that is not possible," he said.

"You've always done as you wish," Samuel said.

Samuel stepped aside, and motioned with his hand that he was free to pass.

"Your wife will not be pleased," Samuel said.

Wife? Caitlin thought, and felt a cold chill run up her spine. Why did she suddenly feel so insanely jealous? How had her feelings for Caleb developed that quickly? What right did she have to feel so possessive of him?

She felt her cheeks turn red. She did care. It made no sense at all, but she completely cared. Why didn't he tell me -

"Don't call her that," Caleb answered, his cheeks also burning red. "You know that  - "

"Know that what!?" came a woman's shriek.

They all turned to see a woman marching towards them from down the hallway. She, too, was dressed in all black, with long, flowing red hair that trailed past her shoulders, and large, shiny green eyes. She was tall, ageless, and strikingly beautiful.

Caitlin felt humbled in her presence, like she had just shrunk. This was a woman. Or was it...vampire? Whatever she was, she was a creature that Caitlin could never compete with. She felt deflated, prepared to concede Caleb to whoever she was.

"Know that what!?" the woman repeated, staring harshly at Caleb as she walked up to him, just a few feet away. She glanced over at Caitlin, and her mouth curled into a snarl. Caitlin had never seen anyone look at her with so much hatred before.

"Sera," Caleb said softly, "we have not been married for 700 years."

"In your eyes, maybe," she snapped back.

She started to pace, circling both Caitlin and Caleb. She looked her up and down as if she were an insect.

"How dare you bring her here," she spat. "Really. You know far better."

"She is The One," Caleb said flatly.

Unlike the others, this woman did not seem surprised. Instead, she just let out a short, mocking laugh.

"That's ridiculous," she answered. "You've brought war on us," she continued, "and all for a human. A simple infatuation," she said, her anger rising. With each sentence, the crowd behind her seemed to get bolstered, to grow with a concurring anger. It was becoming an angry mob.

"In fact," Sera continued, "we have the right to tear her apart."

The crowd behind her began to murmur in approval.

Anger flashed across Caleb's face.

"Then you would have to go through me," Caleb answered, staring back with equal determination.

Caitlin felt a warmth run through her. He was laying his life on the line for her. Again. Maybe he did care for her.

Samuel stepped forward, between them, and held out his hands. The crowd quieted.

"Caleb has requested an audience with the Council," he said. "We owe him at least that. Let him state his case. Let the Council decide."

"Why should we?" Sera snapped.

"Because that is what I said," Samuel answered, a steely determination in his voice. "And I give orders up here, Sera, not you." Samuel stared long and hard at her. Finally, she deferred.

Samuel stepped aside, and gestured towards the stone staircase.

Caleb reached out and took Caitlin's hand, and led her forward. They stepped down the wide  stone steps, and descended into the darkness.

Behind her, Caitlin heard a sharp laughter cut through the night.

"Good riddance."

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