Previously: Newly-turned vampire Elliot Marshall has been challenged by Vladislaus Straud to build a clan consisting of the most powerful families around. Vladislaus has named Geoffrey Landgraab, Bella Goth, Lily Feng, Max Villareal, and Judith Ward as required members, of which Elliot must turn three before his rival, Miss H does. Although the Landgraabs recently died from a terrible pufferfish accident, Miss H has found the rightful heir to their fortune and power: a teenager named Jade Zest. Elliot has turned Lily Feng and will soon turn Max Villareal.
By dawn the next morning, a note was placed on Elliot doorstep. It was, by all accounts, a most inconvenient time to leave a note for a vampire, but Lilith was far more interested in antagonizing Elliot than being considerate, and she left the note fully aware of its implications. In fact, she placed it inside a worn copy of the first volume of vampire lore for an extra, deliberate dig at Elliot’s inexperience.
Elliot picked it up, shrugged off the implied insult, and counted himself quite lucky to have an extra copy of the book, since Kyle was constantly “borrowing” his.
He counted himself less lucky when he read what the note said:
Elliot closed the book, creasing most of the sticky notes the letter had been broken up onto. He stared at the breaking dawn on the horizon, wondering what to do next, while Lexi and Kyle–who somehow knew what the note said despite Elliot reading it to himself–shared in his depressive contemplation.
Lexi nodded in agreement at Kyle’s assessment as she brought the phone to her ear. Lily answered most quickly, of course, as not answering would only lead to her being left out of further interesting developments. She appeared on the scene within minutes, leaving the group only a brief time to wait in awkwardness. Upon her arrival, Lily noted a deep, pondering look in Max’s eyes. Elliot followed her gaze and noticed the same.
Elliot nodded and ushered the group inside, where he then shifted to his rarely-seen dark form. Lexi had only seen him take this form during her own turning. Lily had insisted on a private ceremony, and Lexi hadn’t wanted to tag along to that anyway. Her former employer watched the current spectacle with eager anticipation, convinced this was one more step in her quest to corporate world domination.
As for Lexi, she watched the whole process with a mixed lot of odd, nerve-fraying emotions. So many things were changing so fast. And those spores she’d been studying in her lab…she couldn’t shake the feeling they were clues to something big. Perhaps even bigger than this whole vampire war. Why would Jade even be Oasis Springs’ person of influence. The Landgraab ghosts had never said Johnny was dead, merely that he was incapacitated. Was he ill? Surely a case of llama flu wouldn’t lose him his entire inheritance? So…something more permanent, then? But what could that be?
Lexi was so lost in thought, she barely noticed that Elliot had called everyone into a circle to deliver a pep talk. Sure things looked bad for their clan, he said. (“Very, very bad!” Kyle helpfully added.) But that didn’t mean that they were just going to give up. In fact, all of them would go to this supposed turning tomorrow night. For all they knew, this “Miss H” person was just bluffing. Also, the entire note could be a prank, and then they’d be standing in the middle of Forgotten Hollow looking like a bunch of idiots. But then they’d be a bunch of idiots who weren’t about to lose this competition, so there was that.
Lexi high-fived everyone at the end of the speech with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. But that uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach refused to leave.