Reese Ch. 02bykalamazoo707©
Reese sped toward Daytona Beach, Florida in anticipation of crossing another name off his list. As the big Harley ate up the miles, he let his mind drift back in time.
After Giovanni/Reese left Messenia, he headed toward the country side. Seeing the bodies that littered the streets no longer bothered him unless they somehow reminded him of his wife and children. The question that still nagged him was why he didn't get sick. As he traveled, he met others who hadn't gotten sick and were asking themselves the same question. The religiously devout proclaimed it god's will. Some of them felt that they were being punished somehow; but him? He didn't know if god had anything to do with it. Besides, some of the worst people he had ever known had survived further proving that what was happening was not divinely ordained.
Every so often if he was on the road in the evening he would see carriages rushing out of the city. As always, he wondered where they were going. On occasion, a pale, but otherwise healthy looking face would look at him with eyes filled with a look that he couldn't describe. Later, he would know what that look was: hunger.
After weeks of wandering, he decided to head in the direction of Sicily. His gut rebelled telling him to turn around, but he ignored it. Angelica, his wife had family there and it was his hope that he would find them alive. If that were the case, he would stay with them and try to start over.
He walked into the city unprepared for what he saw. The smell and number of dead bodies along the street was much worse than it had been in Messenia. The odor of decaying and burning human flesh was so strong that he gagged and almost fell to his knees. Again the feeling that he should leave hit him, but he continued on. He had come this far and it would be foolish to leave before he found out if any of Angelica's family was alive.
By the time Giovanni reached the house, he had become accustomed to the cloying, sickening sweet odor that filled the air. He reached the house just as the sun began its decent. He calculated that he had at most two hours before dark. He didn't have to go inside to know that everyone was dead. The yard and garden that was always so carefully tended was overrun by weeds telling him that they had died weeks before. He hoped that none of the bodies were still in the house. If they were it would be on him to give the body a proper burial. He glanced around and went into the house. His plan was to see if there was anything that he could use to help him in his travels. In his mind, he wasn't stealing- they were family and would have given him the things anyway.
He sat his makeshift satchel on the kitchen table, untied and opened it so that he could add things to it. Then he made a quick search of the house relieved when he found no bodies. After that he began to look for things that he could use. He found packets of dried herbs and salt that he threw onto the blanket. He also found some dried fruit and a few partially burnt candles. These he added to the herbs on the blanket. As he searched, he ate a few pieces of the fruit savoring the sweet taste.
He searched both bedrooms going into the bedroom that Angelica's uncle had shared with his wife last. He found nothing of real use except for clothes to replace the threadbare ones that he was wearing. He shook them out, stripped and put the new clothes on. They hung on him, but they were a big improvement over what he was wearing. As an afterthought, he took one of the thicker blankets and laid it on the table next to his satchel.
It was now dusk and too late to find another place to take shelter. Instead of lying on one of the cots, Giovanni/Reese made a bed on the floor in the corner of the room. Within minutes, he was asleep. He wasn't sure of what woke him from his sleep, but when he opened his eyes; a feeling of wrongness permeated the small house. His heart began to pound as he heard an intruder move through the house. He lay as still as he could and bit back a cry when he heard something fall from the dresser in the next room. There was a moment of silence. It was as if the intruder was thinking about his next move.
Giovanni/Reese trembled as an odor that was different than the ones that he had grown used to filled the bedroom. He knew that whoever this was- they meant to cause him harm. But it was more than that, the intruder radiated evil. Giovanni/Reese didn't know what evil felt like, but he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was in its presence.
"I know that you're here. You cannot hide from me," a soft tenor voice said. "I can hear the rapid beating of your heart and smell the stink of your fear. Come out now and I will not hurt you-much."
The intruder was now by the bedroom door of the room where Giovanni was hiding. Giovanni didn't reply in the hopes that the man would go away. But he didn't. He moved so that he stood between Giovanni and the door.
"Ahhh! There you are!" the intruder said as if he and Giovanni/Reese were playing a game of hide-go-seek. "Come out and I will not hurt you."
Giovanni/Reese startled. How had the intruder seen him? The room was so dark that he couldn't see his hand. With nothing to lose, he bolted from his resting place and tried to run past the intruder.
"Where do you think you're going?" the intruder asked in a voice filled with amusement.
When Giovanni/Reese woke up, he was in a strange place. His hair and body had been washed and he was wearing a clean night shirt. He looked around and tried to get up. It was then that he realized that he was tied down on a large bed.
"Help!" he yelled as he pulled on his restraints. "Help!"
"No one will hear you," a woman who looked old enough to be his grandmother said as she walked in carrying a tray.
"What is this place?" Giovanni/ Reese asked, "Why am I here?"
"That isn't for me to tell," the woman replied. "I am only a servant."
She sat the tray that she had been carrying on a small table, poured water into a bowl and dipped a cloth into it. She sat on the edge of the bed and reached over with the wet cloth to wash Giovanni's face. When he turned his face away, she took hold of it with a strength that she shouldn't have had for one so old and turned it back toward her.
"It would be better for you if you learned to obey," she said as she wiped his face.
"Who are you?" Giovanni/Reese asked.
"I told you, I am nothing more than a servant doing my master's bidding. He is right, you are much too thin, you need to be fed and fattened up."
"I won't eat-"
"Yes you will," the woman interrupted. "Even if I have to have you held while I force it down your throat."
Giovanni/Reese weighed his options and decided to cooperate for the time being. He had to figure out where he was before he could think about escaping.
"Good," the woman crooned. "I'm glad that you have decided to see reason."
She left the bed and returned with a bowl of something whose smell made Giovanni/Reese's stomach rumble. The woman gave him a spoonful of a thick stew that contained something that he hadn't had in weeks: meat.
He couldn't help it. He moaned with pleasure as the first spoonful of the warmed stew hit his tongue. He took his time in chewing the meat savoring the taste and texture of it. When the bowl was empty, the woman gave him a drink of water, followed by a cup of sweet wine and then another drink of water.
"Please, may I use the pot? You have my word that I won't try to escape."
After a moment's deliberation, the woman untied the ropes and stood back.
"Thank you grandmother," Giovanni/Reese said as he stood on wobbly legs. He didn't see the woman's eyes mist over at being called grandmother. He used the pot and as promised didn't try to escape. It wasn't the time. He had to know where he was and get stronger. The way that the old woman had moved his head was evidence of that.
He lay on the bed, put his arms and legs in position so that they could be retied. The woman gave him an almost shocked look, but restrained him. This time, he wasn't tied down so tightly. He spent the day in bed shifting his body to find a more comfortable position. Lying on his back wasn't natural to him and he decided to ask the woman if he could sleep unrestrained.
When she came in with the evening meal, Giovanni/Reese asked her again where he was and why he was there. The answer was the same as before.
"I am only a servant," and she said no more.
Once again his face was washed and he was spoon-fed the thick stew that contained meat. He accepted it without question relishing the textures of the meat and vegetables. When he was through, he was allowed to use the pot and to walk around the room for a few minutes. He noticed that the old woman stood by the door as if guarding it. He gave her a curious look wondering how she was going to be able to stop him if he decided to make a run for it.
"Don't think about it," she said as if reading his mind. "Even if you got past me, you wouldn't make it out of the house. Even if you did, there are things in the woods that would tear you apart as soon as they sensed you."
"Will you at least not tell me your name?" Giovanni/Reese asked.
"You may continue to call me grandmother," the woman replied tersely.
Giovanni realized that if he played his cards right, he had an ally. He also saw the light in the woman's brown eyes when he obliged her and called her grandmother. He then understood that she didn't want to be there any more than he did.
"Grandmother, if I give you my word that I won't try to escape, could you leave me untied? I do not usually sleep on my back."
"I will discuss it with my master," she replied. "Now back to bed, I have things to do."
Giovanni/Reese complied without argument.
"I appreciate all that you have been doing for me," he said as he lay on the bed.
The woman didn't answer him as she checked the restraints.
Moments later he was restrained, but they weren't tied as tightly. He still couldn't turn on his side, but he could move around more easily. It wasn't long before he was fast asleep warm and with a full belly. The same sense of wrongness that he felt at Angelica's uncle's house woke him. He strained to see in the darkness. The only thing that he knew for sure was that it wasn't the same person that took him from the house.
He didn't know how he knew that, but he did. Later he would know that it was the smell that was different. The smell of the person currently in the room with him belonged to a female.
"Who's there?" he called out still staining to see.
He struggled against his restraints when a woman took a step into the room. He froze when she came even closer.
"Grandmother? Is that you?"
He knew that it wasn't. The old woman didn't stink and he felt some semblance of safety with her.
The woman stopped in the middle of the room, cocked her head and gave Giovanni/Reese a look that he couldn't see in the darkness. If he had seen it, he would have recognized it even if he didn't have a name for it. Suddenly he was alone again. The scent that came with the woman was gone as well. He slowly relaxed and against his better judgment, fell back to sleep.
The next morning, the old woman was there with his breakfast.
"I have good news," she said with a smile. "Master says that you may sleep unshackled since there is no place for you to go. But... if you try to escape, not only will you die, I will as well. I am asking for your word that you won't attempt to run away."
Giovanni/Reese quickly agreed. The more compliant he was, the sooner he would be given more privileges and sooner he would begin to find out where he was.
"Grandmother, I know that you say that you are only a servant, but surely you know where we are."
"Of course I know," she replied. "I am not at liberty to tell you."
"Can you at least tell me what is expected of me? And who brought me here?"
"I am not at liberty to tell you those things, but I will tell you this; your survival is dependent on how well you please the master. He will not tolerate impertinence."
"Asking questions is impertinent?" Giovanni/Reese asked. "I was taken from my wife's uncle's home and brought here against my will. That entitles me to asking questions."
The old woman looked behind her to see if anyone was listening.
"What is your name?" she asked.
"I am called Giovanni. I was in Sicily to see if any of my wife's family still lived."
"Giovanni," the old woman said softly, "You no longer belong to you. You belong to Signore and Signora Borcelli as do I."
"Who are the Borcelli's and what do they want with me?"
"You ask too many questions, now eat your breakfast before it gets cold," the old woman said as she untied him.
Giovanni/Reese sat at the table and ate everything set before him. He could see glimpses of sunshine from where he sat and longed to go out in it. But he didn't ask. One thing at a time he reminded himself. It was enough for now that he could sleep untied.
"Who was the woman in this room last night?" he asked when he finished eating.
"Woman? What woman?" the old woman asked. "You must have been dreaming."
"Maybe so," Giovanni/Reese said, but he could tell that the old woman knew who he was talking about.
Reese came back to the present when he reached the Georgia/Florida line.
It was early, but he wanted to check for an email from Marco and to run a check on one Edgar Nichols. The name didn't mean anything to him, but then again; he didn't socialize. He only spoke to Marco when the need arose. Weeks could pass before they either emailed or talked on the phone.
He checked into a 'motel 6' just across the Florida line. The owner/manager was prompt and efficient with the check in process.
"How much is it for early check in?" Reese asked.
"Don't worry about it," the manager said, "it ain't like we're bursting at the seams."
Reese thanked the man and made a mental note to leave a tip when he left.
"One more thing," Reese said. "Please tell your housekeepers not to disturb me during the day."
"That's not a problem- take one of these 'do not disturb' signs and I'll leave word with the morning shift. Anything else I can do for you?"
Reese left the office tucking the memory of the man in the back of his brain. Whenever he began to doubt that there were good people in the world, he drew upon the memories of the good people like the hotel manager that had crossed his path.
He unloaded his bike, warded it and went into the room. The first order of business was to boot up his laptop and a shower. After that, he would check into Edgar Nichols and his email. By the time he was finished with his shower, he felt much better. He walked around the small room totally comfortable with his nudity before sitting down at the laptop.
He checked the email first. There were two messages waiting for him.
There isn't much to tell except your guy is still in Daytona Beach. The party is three days from now, and I'm still looking for a way to get you in. I would be less than honest if I didn't say that I was worried about you. I don't know much about what happened to you, but I know enough to know that this party is going to bring back some very unpleasant memories. I'm wondering if we shouldn't go after this guy after the party is over- I'm just saying... anyway, here's the address. From what I can tell, the place is as tight as Fort Knox. You won't get within a hundred yards of the place before you'll be stopped. Do me a favor and stay away until I can figure something out."
Reese read the second email before replying.
Attached is the layout of Rossi's property and house. He has the top of the line security system with bells and whistles that I didn't know existed. What I'm saying is that I don't know how close you can get to the house before the alarms go off. I think that our best option is to get you into that party. I know that you're going to fuss, but I think that Edgar might be able to help with that. I believe that it's his uncle that is co-hosting the party. I don't know this for a fact, but something that Edgar said leads me to believe what I just said. Just give me a couple of days to see what I can find out
Reese reread the emails again before replying.
I will do as you ask, but I warn you; if your friend betrays me- I will kill him and then you. I would suggest that you think about that before involving him any further.
He logged out of his email and logged into the who's who of the vampire world website. It was a site that he rarely went to, but if he wanted to know anything about anyone; that's where he went. He typed in Edgar's name and waited.
"Edgar Paul Nichols," he read out loud, "The only offspring of Lewis and Jean Nichols."
He then typed in Lewis Nichols name.
"Lewis Horatio Nichols-"he started to read and then stopped. He scrolled through the article to see if there were any pictures of the man. "Holy mother of god," he breathed as he looked at the picture. He knew who Lewis Nichols was."
Donatello held Vangie close to him as she slept. There was so much that he needed to tell her, but he didn't know where to start. It wasn't that he thought that she would no longer love him; it had more to do with admitting to the kind of man that he had been and the choices that he had made. Paolo and his party came to mind and along with it came unpleasant and unwanted memories. In an attempt to ward off the thoughts, Donatello pulled Vangie even tighter against him. She murmured something in her sleep and then quieted. He was tempted to wake her, but didn't. Instead, he let the memories come.
He had heard rumblings about a sickness, but paid little attention to it. The peasants were always going on about this illness or another. Most of the time, it was something simple that had nothing to do with the will of god, but ignorance. He rarely took care of the peasants as he was on call for the senators- namely Paolo Rossi.
He didn't begin to take the illness seriously until he saw the first casualties. Then it seemed to take off like a wildfire. Soon the number of dead and dying rose to a staggering number. There was a part of him that wanted to help, but Paolo Rossi and his friends took precedence as they paid him handsomely for his service.
Donatello cringed when he remembered how calloused he was to the sufferings of those who truly needed his help. He closed his eyes and tried to hold back the tears as the memory of the dead and dying assailed him. He could even hear the cries of the children who had lost their parents and of the parents who had lost their children. The memory of a certain young father came to mind.
"Donatello?" Vangie called bringing him back to the present. "Are you alright? Do you need something?"
"No my darling, I am fine," he replied kissing her. "You stay here and keep my side of the bed warm. I want to check on a few things."
"I can come with you."
"No darling, stay put, I won't be long."
Donatello kissed Vangie again, climbed out of bed and went to his laptop. He knew that he told Vangie that they would be leaving in two weeks, but a sense of urgency suddenly filled him. He logged out of the chess site and went to his private site looking for something specific.
His blood froze when he saw the announcement in big red letters.
"The Borcelli's' are due to arrive in a weeks' time. Preparations are being made for their arrival and for the first ball of the season."
He looked over at Vangie who had fallen back to sleep. There was no help for it, he had to wake her. They didn't have the time that he thought they had. He logged onto his other private site and began to arrange for transportation out of Germany. His plane would be waiting for them by the time they got to his private airport. After that was arranged, he went to the closet and took out a small suitcase. He went to the safe that was hidden in a small closet and emptied it of its contents. There were passports for both of them, his financial records that were on flash drives, several prepaid credit cards all of which had the maximum amount of cash on them and over two-hundred thousand dollars in cash.