Ogden's mansion sat in the snow covered lawn like a Christmas painting. Vincent solidified at the front door and rang the bell. He almost rang it again when it was opened by a slender, dark-haired woman.
Another Hindu, Vincent noticed. She was dressed in a feminine cut business suit, her hair pulled back in a long braid. She did not smile or show any emotion as she opened the door.
“I need to see Ogden,” Vincent said.
“He is indisposed,” she said. Her voice had a slight accent. Boston? Vincent thought.
“Tell him Vincent is here.”
“Anula,” Ogden's voice rang from the top of the entry hall. “He is an old friend. Let him in.”
Anula stepped away from the door. She watched Vincent enter the hall. Shutting the door behind him with a sharp click. Ogden stood at the top of the stairs.
He motioned to Vincent. “Come up.”
Anula picked up a briefcase by the door and walked across the hall, ignoring Vincent. He climbed the stairs, feeling like he was under-dressed. Ogden waited for him at the top and opened a door.
Vincent entered the room. It was a large, semi-circular library. The cabinets were filled with books, most of them with hand-written titles. The old leather-bound volumes weighed the place down. Not just by the amount in the room, but the size of the tomes as well. At one end of the large library sat a table surrounded by a few cushion chairs. Ogden sat at one side of the table and motioned Vincent to sit at the other.
“This is a pleasant surprise,” Ogden said. “I take it this is not a social call.”
Vincent told Ogden everything, except that Chuck was a werewolf. Ogden listened, his fingers steepled before him on the table.
When Vincent had finished, all Ogden said was, “Hm.”
“Well?” Vincent asked.
“Mr. Stout has no manners,” Ogden said. By the look on his face he was still trying to sort out everything Vincent had said. “And his writing style is almost childish.”
“You've read his books?”
“I stay current with all the fiction about our kind, a guilty hobby of mine.”
Ogden stood up, straightened out his smoking jacket, and walked over to a bookcase that held the modern books. He pulled out Ashes at Dawn.
“The cover is interesting,” Ogden said, handing the book to Vincent. On the cover was a forlorn looking dark-haired man holding a woman close to him. The painting was done like every romance novel Vincent had seen. Except in this one, the woman was not looking up to the man with lust in her eyes. Her eyes were closed, giving the appearance of her sleeping or that she was dead. The couple stood in a graveyard.
“Of all of them, that is the most original of the series,” Ogden said. “The main character is a vampire named Stephan Ashington. Supposedly an old English lord, but that is one of the biggest works of fiction in this story. He had become a vampire during the reign of Elizabeth the First. He lives fine for a few centuries until he mets a woman named Angelica.” Ogden paused and rolled his eyes. “Then it turns into a horrible romance. He wants to change for her. She gives herself willingly to him. She ends up dead at the end. There are two chapters at the end that deal with his mourning her death.”
“Sounds dreadful,” Vincent said.
Ogden grinned. His fangs just peeking out of the corners of his mouth. “When this book first came out, no one had read it. I think I was one of the first. They did not become popular until some talk show host suggested it for some light reading.”
He sat back down. “That is one of the first editions. It might be worth something in a few decades. Look at the book jacket.”
Vincent opened it up to the photograph of Nathan. This was not the Nathan that Vincent had met. Gone were the Victorian clothes and the close-shaved beard. Here, he looked more like a poet in the style of Lord Byron.
“He told me he never had any pictures taken,” Vincent said.
“Later editions that is true,” Ogden said. “I found it interesting that the more his books became popular the more he didn't lie about what he was.”
“All stories have a pinch of truth,” Ogden said. “But the biggest clue for me was his description of some of the military campaigns the main character had been on. There was one in particular that sounded very familiar to me. Just a small skirmish with the Thuggees in India.”
Ogden motioned for the book, Vincent handed it over. Ogden opened the book. He read.
“We went out on that humid, heat sickening day, looking for the vandals that were attacking travelers for their heathen goddess. The officer in command, an arrogant aristocrat named Major Ogden Phelps, led us into the god-forsaken jungle. I did not know what was the bigger danger, the tigers that watched us with hungry, hazel eyes, or the dark heathens with their plans of murder for a false goddess.”
Ogden paused. “He goes on and on like that. The thing is, I was a major in India. We did go into the jungle to find the Thuggees.”
“Are you sure?”
Ogden nodded. “He gives details that did not appear on any official reports. I think I remember him. But he was not a vampire then.”
“Who was he?” Vincent asked.
“A frustrated journalist.” Ogden waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Old history. But your friend, she is the one that needs help now.”
Ogden stood up and walked to the blackened windows, he stood there a moment in thought. Then he turned around, rubbing his chin. “There maybe a way. If you can get her to come here tomorrow, I will try to do my best.”
Vincent nodded. He stood up to leave and felt the stupor start to take him. Dawn was coming now? He leaned on the chair, fighting the exhaustion.
“I will show you to a room,” Ogden said.
He led Vincent to a small room with no windows. The bed had an ornate iron frame around it. The stupor overtook Vincent. He fell into the bed. He heard Ogden close the door, then nothing.
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