More than a few eyebrows were raised when Andrea walked to her desk. Looking awkwardly around, she felt self-conscious as she noted all eyes were on here. The open plan room was buzzing with whispers and the occasional low chuckle. Andrea understood the whispering, even though she didn't like it, but the laughter confused her.
“Andrea!” a voice at her side drew her attention. Before she even had a chance to turn, a pair of arms wrapped around her.
“Erin… hi!” Andrea stumbled over her greeting, being somewhat taken aback by the enthusiastic welcome.
Erin was a year or two older than Andrea, but could easily pass for younger; slightly shorter than Andrea, Erin's shoulder-length dark blonde hair fell in spiral curls framing her elfin face. Erin didn't even have to smile to look happy, her eyes seemed to permanently laugh and sparkle. She had always been bubbly and cheerful and even her high-pressure, stressful career hadn't dulled her passion for life.
“Where have you been? I've been calling and calling! I even dropped by on my way into work today, I rang your bell, but there was no answer. Although… it was very early.”
“That was you?” Andrea sighed with relief. “Sorry I didn't answer, I was on the phone to my…” she paused as she realised she'd never actually said the word in relation to Joe.
“Your what?” Erin prompted as her friend paused too long.
“Your boyfriend!” Erin grinned. “Well, this is news! I guess now we know where you've been for the last few days!”
“No… it wasn't like that…” Andrea tried to explain. “I'll tell you over lunch. Now… why did you call at my house so early? How long have you been here?”
“Yeah, I got here at six. You know what it's like on Marketing at campaign time; I've got so much to do! But you know, I still wasn't the first here, there was already someone here to see…”
“Miss Logan!” a loud clipped voice rang out from the other end of the floor. “My office, now!”
Andrea's heart sank. Mr Taylor, her manager, wasn't often the most sympathetic of men and today, it seemed that he was in a particularly irritable mood.
“Good luck,” Erin tapped her on the arm encouragingly.
“Thanks, looks like I'm going to need it.”
“I said now, Miss Logan,” Taylor snapped before turning sharply and walking back into his office.
Heading down the long corridor, the whole office sat in hushed apprehension. Andrea had been working there a little over three years and they all knew her. They also knew she had disappeared for several days with no word. None of them wanted to think what might happen to her but given Mr Taylor's temper, it seemed that she would be fired. Offered small smiles of good luck as she passed by, Andrea headed into her manager's office and closed the door.
“So,” he began, “looking up from his chair, refusing, at first, to allow Andrea to sit. “You came back.”
“Yes, Sir,” she replied quietly. “Can I explain?”
“Oh, yes!” he snapped back. “You're definitely going to explain yourself. And then, I'm going to fire you.”
“Then there's not much point if you've already decided, is there.”
“Sit down!” he yelled. “Where have you been? We're in the middle of the re-election campaign and you decide to take a few days off without a word? What was it? Shopping? Seen a nice pair of shoes you had to have?”
“I was kidnapped!” Andrea snapped back, halting Taylor's rant in an instant.
“Well,” he finally recovered his flow, “of all the lies I was expecting, that wasn't one of them.”
“I'm not lying and I'm not sitting here to be called a liar, either!” she retorted getting to her feet.
“Sit down! I'm not finished with you yet! If you were kidnapped, where's the police report?”
Andrea looked down, uncertain who she could have reported it to, knowing as she did after having seen him on the night of the guys' capture, that even the Chief of Police himself was in Beckett's pay.
“There isn't one,” she sighed, slowly taking a seat once more.
“No, I didn't think there would be. Now, tell me the truth,” he growled angrily.
“I told you, I was kidnapped.”
“A vampire,” she admitted, waiting for the storm that followed.
“A vampire! Don't be ridiculous!”
“You're surely not suggesting that they don't exist?” she frowned her irritation.
“Vampires bite, they don't kidnap.”
“This one did. He… he liked me.”
“Garbage! Tell me, how did you get away from this imaginary vampire who liked you?”
Andrea's eyes narrowed noticeably; she couldn't understand why she didn't just leave the office. Perhaps her experience had changed her, knocked her confidence perhaps? Whatever the problem, she felt the need to justify herself.
“My boyfriend and his friends rescued me and burnt down his house.”
“Burnt down his house?” Taylor asked quietly. “When was this?”
Taylor frowned; staring thoughtfully for a few moments.
“Go back to your desk,” he nodded. “Quite a lot has happened this week. Mayor Roberts has had quite a large donation to the campaign, I need you to organise some press opportunities for him.”
“Go back to my desk? What? Suddenly you believe me?” Andrea was amazed at the sudden change.
“No, I don't, of course not,” he replied in an almost civil tone. “But we're busy and I need everyone on board.”
Rising from the desk, Andrea was still angry to have basically been called a liar, but she needed her job and felt relieved to have kept it. It was always a high-pressure job in Press Office for the Mayor, but it was a satisfying one. It had been the sudden change in his attitude that had surprised her. It had left her feeling that there was something she ought to know, something that she needed to know. But perhaps now was not the time to push the matter.
Heading back to her desk, Andrea sighed as she saw the paperwork stacked in her in tray and another pile alongside. Somehow, it didn't seem likely that she would be leaving until late that night.
Handcuffed at his wrists and ankles, Patrick wasn't going anywhere. Yes, he was fast - much faster than a typical newborn vampire, but he wasn't exceptionally strong. That usually came with age, or as in Pete's case, drinking the blood of an elder vampire. Even as the sun was setting, he was awake and struggling. Still aching from the beating with severely bruised, if not broken, ribs, Patrick was finding it difficult to summon the energy to try to break free, but he knew he didn't have much of a choice. While chained up in the cage at the warehouse, he had been unable to snap the links, but he was hopeful that with the handcuff chain being thinner, that he stood a chance.
Straining, Patrick gasped in elation and exhaustion as finally one of the links snapped. Reaching down to his ankles, Patrick almost passed out with the pain of the movement. Pushing himself back, he gasped for breath as he tried to make the pain on his ribcage subside.
Breathing was no longer necessary but as a vampire, many things were different, or at least should have been. Patrick had spent all his life breathing, it was unlikely he would be able to stop suddenly, just because he didn't have to. It had been something he noticed that Pete still did, although, very occasionally he did stop for prolonged periods. Unwilling to give up any of his humanity, Pete would force himself to begin again as soon as he realised. With Patrick, there was no noble reason, no torment, just habit.
Leaning back, he pulled up his ankles to his side so that he could easily reach them but it was already too late.
“Resourceful, aren't you?” came a familiar voice that commanded Patrick's attention.
Looking up, Patrick saw Beckett, flanked by Brendon and Mike. “But you won't get away from me this time, my dear Patrick. I have something special for you. Something very special.”
Brendon and Mike removed the remains of the handcuffs from around Patrick's wrists and ankles. As a display of their strength, they broke the cuffs around his wrists using only the slightest pressure from their fingertips. Their strength far exceeded his own and Patrick felt how they wanted him to feel - helpless.
Picked up from the floor by both Mike and Brendon each taking one of his arms, Patrick was pulled from the room and dragged down yet another flight of stairs to the vault room. Inside stood a large vault that took up almost the entire back wall and looked as though would look quite at home in a bank. The other was much smaller and freestanding, Patrick noted, maybe four feet square. It was only when Beckett opened the door and Patrick saw that it was completely empty that he realised what was about to happen.
Now struggling furiously despite his pain, Patrick found himself dragged closer and closer toward the small vault. Trying desperately to mentally contact Pete, Patrick was frustrated only to have Beckett's condescending laughter ringing in his ears instead. Finally forced inside the cramped space, Patrick thumped the now closed door, knowing it was useless.
“Let me out of here!” Patrick yelled angrily, knowing without thinking that it was a pointless demand.
He had been Beckett's prisoner before, but somehow this felt different. This felt final.
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