To some vampires, the need of an invitation to enter someone’s home was a nuisance. To Thea, it was a challenge – an opportunity. This would be far too easy if Thea could just wander into the Thurston estate, take whatever she was after and leave.
Thea didn’t want easy; she wanted to be tested. The thrill of possibly getting caught, the obstacle of needing to talk her way into the house … it was such a rush for her. The adrenaline was addictive, and if Thea was completely honest with herself, sometimes that thrill turned her on.
Surprisingly, the gates to the Thurston estate were open, which meant Thea could walk straight up to the front doors. Decked out in a grey business suit and skirt she yanked off some investment banker three nights prior – and a matching pair of black-rim glasses – Thea went over her mental checklist after ringing the doorbell.
If the Thurstons weren’t home – leaving everything in the hands of a maid or servant – that would make this whole exercise easier. While Thea enjoyed a challenge, she didn’t like difficulties to the point of frustration. Frustration would lead to anger, and if Thea got angry, there was no telling what would happen.
A dead mayoral candidate would help no one; a dead maid in the foyer wouldn’t exactly spell happy things, either.
The door cracked open, and Thea smiled when she laid eyes on the miniscule woman in a white gown and grey maid’s outfit. “Good evening,” she said with a smile, removing her glasses and folding them before sliding one of the ear pieces under her shirt. “My name’s Francine Davenport and I’m with the Fellowship of the Sun Church. Is Mr. Thurston available?”
Liza frowned in confusion. “No, he and his wife are out at a charity dinner. Can I … help you?”
Inwardly cheering, Thea produced a file folder from the leather purse hanging off her left arm. “I have some information Mr. Thurston requested. If you could direct me to his office, I could drop it off …?”
The furrow in Liza’s brow lifted and she stepped to the side. “Of course,” she said. “Come on in.”
Step one complete, Thea nearly fist-pumped in glee. She held her composure, though, stepping through the threshold. The foyer was impressive, spacious and marble white. Adam Thurston certainly wasn’t running for public office for the paycheck, that was for sure.
Liza walked off to Thea’s right. “Follow me.”
Heading up a spiraling staircase, the marble matching that of the foyer, Thea made sure to keep the folder in her hands. The pages inside were blank, but the housekeeper wouldn’t see them, so that wasn’t important. What was important was that the bitch keep her nose out of the way once she’d led Thea into the office.
The vampire would not suffer interruptions lightly; if the housekeeper were to butt in on her, the Thurstons might have to find another housekeeper.
Thea wanted to avoid that, if at all possible.
“Here we are,” Liza said, pulling the oak doors open and stepping to her left. “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“Where’s your bathroom?” Thea asked.
Liza smirked. “Which one?” she quipped. “Sorry, little rich bitch humor. Third door on the right down this hallway.”
“Thank you,” Thea answered, backing into the office. She nearly closed the doors behind her as Liza walked back down the stairs, but she figured that would probably look suspicious. Placing the folder on the mahogany desk, Thea noticed the brick fireplace. She arched a brow, approaching the fireplace to glance at the framed pictures hanging on the marble mantle.
A picture of the wannabe mayor shaking hands with the governor of Illinois. Another of Adam standing with a former Vice President – who looked an awful lot like The Penguin. Yet another of Adam standing side-by-side with television personality Bill O’Reilly. The man certainly had his share of right-wing, fear-mongering friends.
Explained his campaign.
A picture on the far left side of the mantle caught Thea’s eye. In it, Adam and a busty redhead, presumably his wife, stood side-by-side in the foyer, an empty crib between them.
A quick scan of the office, with its 70-inch plasma screen and high-end personal computer, really didn’t offer much worth snatching. Sure, Thea could hawk the computer or television and make some money, but she echoed Finn’s sentiment in taking something that Adam was sure to miss.
If the rest of the estate was any indication, he’d find the money for another plasma-screen TV in the cushions of his couch.
Thea’s eyes fixated on the picture of the Thurstons and the crib once more. Was the crib symbolic of a child they’d lost? A child they hadn’t yet had? Not that Thea knew what normal families were like – losing her father at age six, her mom succumbing to breast cancer three years ago and her older brother having just finished a two-year sentence at Centralia – but Thea was pretty sure most parents didn’t take photos with children who weren’t really there.
A twinge of curiosity played at the back of the vampire’s head, and she decided to do a little more digging. Sticking her head out of the doors to the office, and hearing a vacuum cleaner running downstairs, Thea slipped out of her black heels and pranced down the hall toward the bathroom.
Shutting the door behind her, and turning on the faucet, Thea pulled open the medicine cabinet, filing through a few bottles of medication. Nothing out of the ordinary – headache medication and blood pressure meds labeled for someone named Harold Thurston – but one bottle with the name “Nicole Thurston” on it caught Thea’s attention.
Clomiphene. A fertility drug.
The picture with the crib made sense; the Thurstons were trying to have a child, and not succeeding. Thea pocketed the bottle in her business suit, closing the medicine cabinet and turning off the faucet just as she heard a knock on the door.
“Everything alright in there?” Liza called from the other side of the door.
“Yeah,” Thea called back, rolling her eyes before opening the door. “Just had to pee.”
Liza smiled formally. “Would you like me to see you out? Are you all done?”
“Not quite,” Thea answered, trying to ignore the sound of the housekeeper’s heart beating in her ears. “I’ll see myself out, thanks.”
With a nod, Liza went back down the hall and the stairs again, leaving Thea by herself. She sighed, rolled her eyes and began wandering down the hall again. She finally had an idea of what she could take; it was just a matter of finding it. Thea remembered seeing television shows and movies as a child where expectant parents devoted an entire room to the forthcoming child – cribs, stuffed animals, toys and other items.
If Thea was right, the Thurstons had one such room. Thea was not only right, but lucky – the room immediately to the right of the office was the makeshift nursery. Thea stood in the doorway with a shit-eating grin on her face; she’d hit the proverbial jackpot. There was even an open window on the other side of the room.
This was just way too easy.
The left side of the room was littered with stuffed animals. Bears, elephants, penguins – even a large stuffed Nemo doll – Thea didn’t really know which ones to take, so she merely grabbed a handful and threw them into the yellow crib. She left the elephants and a lion in place, but the bears, penguins and Nemo would be making the trip back home with Thea.
She also wandered over to the right side of the room, grabbing three bottles before glancing at the velvet box on the white dresser. Thea opened the box, staring at a silver bracelet with a small message engraved into it.
From: Your loving parents.
Her smile broadened. Thea closed the box and added that and the bottles to the pile of stuff already in the crib. She closed the sun shield over the crib before lifting it and approaching the window. Thea glanced downward, remembering she was on the second floor of the main house. Her smile faded; there really wasn’t a way for her to leave without in some way calling attention to herself.
Not that it mattered. She’d be long gone before the housekeeper could summon the authorities. Even if they did corner her, Thea could easily take them. She hadn’t killed a cop in the year and a half since being turned, but that didn’t mean Thea couldn’t.
Getting a tighter hold on the crib, Thea climbed onto the windowsill and took a deep, needless breath before jumping. As she fell to the earth, Thea could hear the housekeeper yelling above her. Thea’s feet hit the ground, almost at the exact moment that the estate’s security alarms began blaring.
There were probably security guards on the way, so Thea ran as fast as she could with the crib in her hands. She pushed her way through a thicket of bushes, surprising herself when she came out of the other side virtually unscathed. She had a few scratches from branches cutting at her shoulders – and the business suit had seen better nights – but Thea was off the property, and she had what she needed.
Let the sirens wail in the background. Mission accomplished.