Before I could explain any further, I heard movement from inside the estate and the rattling of the front door lock. I was not ready to face Coveton  nor endanger this woman. Reaching out, I clamped my hand over her mouth and gripped her body up against my own. The groceries spilled over the pavement. A sweet scent caught my nose and brought with it a hint of another time when I held Emily last. It was several years ago, before her departure, at a park bench with a row of trees fenced around us and the smell of my wife’s apple cake.

The woman struggled, and a slap broke my brief mental wandering. But I had the resolve of a man with a higher purpose and endured the kicks and scratches to grapple her into the bushes beside the house. Youth would not win against determination.

“Stop fighting me. It will do us both no good.”

I looked past my flailing captive to the front of the house. My eyes failed to see great detail but it appeared that a tall, dark figure was standing near the woman’s vehicle.  It must be Coveton.

Locking my hands more tightly on the girl, I ran us both to the back of the house in the hopes to regain some control of the situation before my inevitable battle. She fought hard, with her feet dug in the ground and fingers prying at my skin.

“Stop! If he finds us, he will kill us. You don’t understand what he is.”

Whether it was the shock of my words or some sudden realization of the futility of her situation, the woman ceased her struggling.

“I will let you go, but you cannot scream. I promise that I mean you no harm but if we hope to remain alive, we must be quiet.”

Though I did not trust she would heed my warning, I released my grip. Time was running out for me.

“Whether you think me crazy or not, I do not care. But the man inside this house is evil. He means to kill us, a goal I will not allow him to accomplish.”

“Why are you acting like this,” she stammered. Even in this extreme predicament, as I stood on the verge of fighting my most powerful enemy, and all the cells of my body agitated, I felt safer in her presence, like she had some force that would carry us away from any harm. I had not seen Emily in over a year, as she disappeared from my life unexpectedly, but this woman gave me the same feeling that I always had in my daughter’s presence.

“That man inside the house… the one you know as Henry Coveton, he is a vampire.”

“Vampire?!” she said with an almost hysterical laugh. “Do you even hear yourself?  There’s no such thing as vampires, dad.  Henry is a good person.  I know you don’t like him, you blame him for sending you away. We did the best we could, but we had no choice.”