Blood Rose: Ch. 2

Thursday, June 06, 2019


**Don't forget to read Chapter 1 first!**


As the winner of the Family Quiz the night before, my cousin Brooke picked a trip to the Galeries Lafayette department stores as the activity of the day. Shopping isn’t normally my thing, but even I had to admit it was worth the trip just for the breathtaking architecture. I felt like a princess heading to a grand ball in an extraordinary castle. Everywhere I looked, I was captivated by the sights, even though I didn’t wind up buying anything other than a couple boxes of gourmet chocolates from one of the shops in the Lafayette Homme.

“We could get married here,” Adam whispered as we passed by the Lafayette Marriage Boutique, picking up one of the brochures about weddings.

I blushed, unable to hide my grin. “It would be a dream come true,” I said.

He kissed me, and I kept my eyes open, taking in every perfect detail of this moment. 

I wanted to remember it for the rest of my life.

We had lunch as a family in the restaurant on the top floor, the views so mesmerizingly beautiful I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. As disappointed as I was the night before when I didn’t get to pick the day’s activity, I was far more disappointed when it was time to leave. 

The twins and my dad were exhausted by the time we returned the hotel, retreating immediately to the hotel room for a long nap.

I was restless, and thankfully, Derrick and Adam felt the same way. After letting Mom and Grandpa know where we’d be going, Derrick, Adam, and I headed out for a leisurely walk around the block. As we stepped outside, I reached out my gloved hands to catch the snowflakes falling gently from the sky. 

I was in heaven.

“You know, I was kinda dreading having to spend the whole day shopping, but it was actually pretty awesome. Why don’t they make the malls back home like they do here?” Derrick asked.

“I know, right? It was incredible,” I agreed. “Far more incredible than I thought it would be.”

“I told Grace we should get married there,” Adam chimed in, taking my hand as we walked down le promenade.

“That would probably be the least boring wedding I’ve ever been to,” Derrick said. “I bet Mom and Dad would go nuts about it too. You’re the only girl, so you know Mom’s gonna want to go big.”

I cringed a little at the idea of all my mom’s friends intruding on my perfect Paris wedding fantasy. 

“Hey, are you guys down for some ice cream? There’s a shop right over there,” Derrick asked, pointing at a little shop across the street.

“Derrick, it’s freezing outside. We’re literally walking in snow. And you want ice cream?” I asked.

Derrick shrugged, and looked at me like I was crazy. “It’s ice cream, Grace.”

“In Paris, no less,” Adam said. 

“I’m not winning this argument, am I?” I asked.

“Nope,” Derrick said as he began crossing the street.

“Sorry, babe. You can’t say no to ice cream,” Adam said as we followed.

Thankfully, the ice cream shop was warm and welcoming when we walked in. It was the first time I’d been treated nicely by a salesperson instead of blatantly ignored or dismissed. Ice cream sales must not be great in the snow. 

I had to admit that it was absolutely delicious, though. I would’ve gone back for seconds, but Grandpa had told us to be back in an hour, and our time was close to being up. We headed back to the hotel instead.

When we arrived, we ran into Mom, Grandpa, and the twins who appeared to be heading for the pool.

“Oh, good! You’re back,” Mom said, looking relieved. “I was hoping to get a nap in before dinner, but the twins are insisting on another swim. Would any of you mind helping Grandpa watch the twins?”

“I can help,” I offered.

“I can too,” Derrick said. “Let me go put on my swimsuit really quick, and I’ll meet you at the pool.”

“Excellent. Thank you,” Mom said.

I looked at Adam, noticing he was unusually quiet at the moment. I squeezed his hand in mine, and he looked at me. 

“Do you mind if I go up for a nap too?” he asked me, an apologetic look on his face. “I’m feeling pretty beat after that walk.”

“Of course! Go nap, Adam. Derrick and I can help with the twins. I’ll wake you before dinner,” I said.

“Thanks.”

“Come on boys. Who’s ready for a swim?” I said, taking the hands of the twins.

“Me!” they both shouted, jumping with glee as we began our walk to the pool while the other’s headed upstairs to the room.

“Thank you for helping, Grace. These boys are a bit of a handful on my own,” Grandpa said.

“No problem, Grandpa. I understand. They’re a lot to handle!”

The air was thick and warm with the strong smell of chlorine when we walked into the indoor pool room. The twins immediately broke their grasp on my hands as they jumped right into the water. I laughed as they kicked and splashed along the surface, their floats and life vests keeping them from sinking underwater.

Grandpa and I pulled some chairs close to the edge, and sat down together to watch them play in the pool. I couldn’t seem to wipe the smile from my face. I was just so happy to be in Paris with all the people I loved.

“I saw your boy Adam pick up a wedding brochure today,” Grandpa said. “Are you two getting serious?”

“We’ve been together for three years, Grandpa. He was at Nana’s funeral. I think we’ve been serious for a while now.”

“I didn’t realize it’d been so long. Time goes so fast, doesn’t it?”

“Definitely.”

“CANNONBALL!” Derrick yelled as he burst through the pool room doors and immediately launched himself into the water.

“Hey!” Grandpa shouted when Derrick’s splash soaked us both.

“Sorry, Grandpa!” Derrick said. 

“Again! Again!” the twins begged Derrick.

“Well, I think we should probably get out of these wet clothes and put on something more suitable for the pool, don’t you think?” Grandpa asked me. “Before Derrick gets us again.”

“I think you’re right, Grandpa. I’ll let Derrick know we’re going to go change really quick.”

Grandpa waited for me outside the pool room as I let Derrick know we were going to change. He apologized again for splashing us before starting a splash war with the twins.

 I doubted they would even know we were gone.

As Grandpa and I headed for the elevator, there was a sudden shake of the building. We both stopped walking immediately, my eyes wide with fear as I looked to Grandpa. I didn’t think earthquakes were common for the area, so I knew whatever this was, it was going to be bad.

“Do you hear that?” Grandpa asked me, the color draining from his face.

All I could hear was the sound of my heart pounding in my chest, but when I took a deep breath to calm down a bit I noticed something else too: chanting. It was in a language I didn’t understand, and growing closer and closer, each shake becoming more intense as the chanting grew louder.

“What is it, Grandpa?”

“Latin,” he said. “We need to get back to the kids. Now!”

He turned around, and began to run back toward the pool, but he didn’t get far before the whole wall to our left was suddenly knocked down, landing in a pile of rubble on top of him.

“Grandpa!” I yelped as I began to kick debris out of the way so I could get to him.

I coughed as the dust and the dirt of the demolished wall swirled around me, stinging my eyes and lungs. When I saw a man lift Grandpa out of the rubble ahead of me, I thought I must be hallucinating. This stranger was dangling Grandpa in the air by his neck with only a single hand. 

Then, in one quick, unbelievable movement, the person tore open Grandpa’s neck with his teeth and began to drink his blood. 

My breath caught in my throat, and I fell to my knees, unable to tear my eyes away from what I was seeing.

This couldn’t be happening.

I had to be dreaming.

This couldn’t be real.

The strange man threw Grandpa to the side, and turned around. His eyes were dark and bloodshot as they met mine, his lips and chin stained red with blood. 

I screamed and jumped to my feet, finding enough strength to run as fast as I could toward the hotel doors. 

The boys, I thought as I reached the hotel lobby. Adam. 

I couldn’t leave without them. I had to know they were okay.

I jumped behind the front desk to hide. I noticed the concierge had the same idea, he was crouching behind the desk, his knees shaking, his eyes wide and filled with fear. I bet I looked just as terrified as I slumped to the ground beside him, hugging my knees tight to my chest. I couldn’t get the image of Grandpa’s lifeless body as his blood was drained from his body out of my mind. 

I dug my nails into my flesh, hoping I’d wake up from this nightmare.

It didn’t work.

Suddenly, a woman leapt over the counter. I didn’t even have time to think before she was tearing into the neck of the concierge, his blood splattering onto my face and clothes. 

“No!” I cried. “No, no, no, no, no!”

I squeezed my eyes shut tight, and banged my hands against my head. Wake up! I thought. Wake up, wake up, wake up!  But when I opened my eyes, I saw the dark, bloodshot eyes of the woman drinking from the concierge. She lifted her mouth from his neck, her lips curled in a twisted, blood-stained grin.

"Please," I begged, knowing it was probably a futile attempt. 

I was going to die, and there was nothing I could do about it.

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