Albert unclenched his jaw and strove to regain a relaxed demeanor. “Do you trust your own eyes?” Albert asked. The razor disappeared into a pocket, replaced by a cloth handkerchief, which he used to wipe the remaining blood from his arm.
“I’ll admit I’m drugged up, but nothing that would explain that.” Which Albert already knew because his research team had reported Phillip’s medical records and medication regimen. Phillip had pointedly requested medication that would not cause him to hallucinate or overly diminish his ability to reason. Albert couldn’t help but admire Phillip’s desire to remain alert enough to appreciate his surroundings. Although that had also concerned them as a sign that he might not hold out until his natural death.
“You accept what you just witnessed at face value?”
Phillip pursed his lips a moment before replying. “Okay. Yes. Obviously, there’s something superhuman about you.” His brows drew together as if another though occurred to him.
“That’s one way to put it,” Albert said. “I was once fully human, but now…no, not quite human anymore.”
Phillip sat still, apparently digesting that comment. Mulling over the possibilities. “Please.” Phillip swallowed, and a slight shiver drifted along his body. “I need you to spell out what you meant—earlier. Before your demonstration.”
Albert smiled. He’d hooked him. Now he just needed to reel him in. “About helping each other?”
“You don’t need to die yet. I’ve been walking this earth for more than two thousand years.” Albert spoke calmly as Phillip froze in place, clenching his hands at his belly. That number tended to inspire awe.
But, of course, such a comment also inspired a touch of concern. But just a touch. The carrot at the end of the stick was too tempting to walk away without hearing Albert out. “Who are you? You’re immortal. But how?”
“Immortal in the sense that I, and others like me, won’t appear to become older beyond our age at the time of transition. Nor will we die of natural causes. We can be killed, though. You’ve witnessed my self-healing abilities, but anything that would instantly kill a human will kill me…us, too.”
“So, if I agree, this cancer would disappear just like that?” Phillip snapped his fingers.
“Like all of our ‘supernatural’ capabilities, self-healing improves over time. As a new convert, you won’t immediately feel better. It’ll take about a day for you to feel one hundred percent.”
Phillip was clearly enthralled, sitting straighter, fully alert. Albert was holding back, though. Dropping the “V-word” too soon would be a mistake. Damn the myriad of fictional accounts of vampires and their extreme notions of vampire conduct.
“You still haven’t answered the question. Who are your people?”
Albert hesitated, but eventually the word had to be said, and further delaying after being pointedly asked the question would be worse than saying it. “The word you’re searching for is ‘vampire.’”
Phillip burst out laughing, and a bit more tension peeled off from Albert’s shoulders. After catching his breath, Phillip grinned. “You had me going there for a while.”
Tilting his head to the side, Albert raised a single eyebrow as he continued to gaze at Phillip. “Not the usual reaction.” Which was more likely to be a cynical eye roll. This sense of humor was better. Definitely better. “Intriguing, though. You don’t believe me, do you?”
“Please,” Phillip scoffed and gestured toward the bright sun overhead.
~ ~ ~
That’s all folks! You know how to get the rest of the story (not to mention Phillip’s POV for this scene), right? Hint: click the links in the book titles at the top of the page. 😁