Albert sat on the park bench, staring into the distance. On the other side of the walking path lay a grassy clearing where two members of his faction’s security team were playing Frisbee, but he didn’t want to appear to be looking at, let alone appear to be with them. Nor did he want to appear to be with Eunice, who sat on a bench farther down the path, reading. Or seemingly so. Perhaps she really was.
A couple more members from the security team were farther up the path, ostensibly bird watching. Beyond them sat a water fountain. When…no…if—Albert shook his head. No. He set his jaw decisively. When he received the alert that Phillip Brewer had turned down the path they expected him to take, Albert would casually walk to the water fountain, feign taking a drink, then stroll back, timing his arrival at this same bench to correlate with Phillip’s.
He pulled out his phone and flipped through screens so to the casual observer he would appear to have a purpose for sitting on the bench. Never mind that it also gave his fingers something to do as he anxiously awaited the next update.
Even with as many recruits as he’d approached in recent centuries since the vampires had organized, he’d never felt so edgy. So uneasy. Almost panicky to the point where he’d discussed it with Eunice. In the end, she’d agreed he was still the most likely to facilitate a positive outcome.
A blood-mate, finally, after two thousand years on his own. Albert closed his eyes and sucked in a lungful of the fresh, late spring air. Many of the petals had fallen from the flowering trees, so the air wasn’t as overpoweringly fragrant as it had been just weeks ago.
Yes, a blood-mate. While Albert wasn’t one hundred percent sure on a conscious level if that was the case, he felt it in his bones. Phillip was still human, and the full potency of the blood-mate connection wouldn’t be felt unless…until Phillip was changed into a vampire.
Until…he had to focus on that word. Phillip had left his apartment almost twenty minutes ago. Considering his current physical state, the fact he’d gone out at all was a positive sign. They hadn’t been sure that he would go out today…or ever again. Some of the sounds vamp agents had reported coming from the apartment had been concerning.
Albert knew Phillip was headed toward the park as of the report from ten minutes ago. No report since then meant that status hadn’t changed. It all boiled down to which path he’d take once he arrived at the park.
The wind’s direction changed, and Albert’s eyes popped open again when he caught a whiff of that scent that had so tantalized him just the other day. The sound of Eunice’s book thudding to the path reached Albert’s ears a moment later, and he stiffened, waiting for the word that would follow.
“Whoops,” Eunice muttered, and Albert smiled and stood. “Damn” would have been bad, but “whoops” was good. It meant Phillip had turned down their path. She wouldn’t be able to see him yet; she was just passing on what she’d heard.
Albert strolled to the water fountain and dropped his phone as he leaned down for the pretense of taking a drink. He wasn’t signaling anything to his people, not intentionally anyway. He supposed he was effectively signaling his intense nervousness, though.
He straightened his back and shoulders. Those nerves were something he needed to get under control. A calm demeanor was essential. “Fate,” if there was such a thing, had done its part getting Phillip to take his usual path. The rest was up to Albert.
Whether Albert got his blood-mate—a shudder rippled through him—or had to give the signal to have Phillip painlessly taken down if he refused the offer, it was in his own hands. He could blame nobody except himself if the mission failed now.
He turned to look down the path. Phillip was now in sight, and Albert strolled nonchalantly back toward the bench that his security team had chosen for many reasons ranging from its lack of security cameras and general seclusion from the street, while being in a part of the park that didn’t get overmuch foot traffic at this time of day (although they could thank Phillip’s routine for that) but still had nearby spaces where agents could be stationed without looking out of place.
As Phillip passed Eunice, she glanced up at him and nodded with a quirk of a smile. Phillip returned the gesture. Albert’s own lips reflexively twitched up at the sight. The breeze carried a heavier dose of Phillip’s scent, and this time it worked to calm Albert’s worries.
Phillip glanced around, noticing Albert, the frisbee players, and the bird watchers. He blinked a couple times before his gaze moved back to Albert as they jointly reached the bench.
“Hello,” Albert said. He came to a halt in front of the bench. “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
To Be Continued…