I had been to Turkey Run State Park on a sixth-grade field trip. As Brad drove on, I thought back to that day when I was running along the dirt trails of the woods, holding hands with one of the students. The boy and I stopped for a secret kiss in the Devil's Ice Box, and a wasp stung me. Come to think of it, that was the start of the curse on my love life. Hopefully, this trip wouldn't be so traumatic.
Brad pulled up to the guard gate and paid the out-of-state admission fee. The female ranger handed him a map and took longer than necessary to give him directions to the sites. I felt like telling her, "Hey, they're on the map, lady." Brad's patience with the fawning ranger was infuriating. Finally, he thanked her explaining that he'd been to the park before and pulled away.
"You've been here before?" I asked.
"I come here to get away from the demands of progress," he said. "I hate the city."
"Then why do you live there?" I asked.
"So I can keep a close eye on the business," he said. "I can't trust anyone...not completely. I tried that once. It was a costly mistake."
"I would rather not talk about it."
"Did you lose a lot of money?" I asked, deliberately not taking the hint.
Brad's mouth was set in a grim line.
Teasing, I said, "Wow, you must have lost a bundle."
"I lost a lot of people, is what I lost," said Brad. "A lot of people died."
Shocked into silence, I felt like cutting my tongue out. How could I be so stupid? Dealing with vampires was never simple. They were a violent race by nature and business could turn bloody at the drop of a hat. For some vamps, it wasn't about money so much as it was about power.
Brad parked in a parking lot closest to the guest cabins. "We're in Cabin "C", he said.
"Don't we have to check in?" I asked.
"My contact in Dana has already taken care of everything," said Brad. "I have our key right here." He held it up for me to see.
"When did you arrange this?"
"Last night while you were sleeping."
"Aren't you the efficient one," I said.
"Lots of practice," he said.
Brad unlocked the cabin door and held it open for me. The small cabin was stark in its simplistic atmosphere. An old TV stood on a small two-drawer nightstand. One faded armchair stood in a corner. The only splash of color was the lightly worn starburst quilt and shams. The tiny bathroom housed a shower, sink and toilet. I was already beginning to feel claustrophobic and Brad hadn't shut the door.
"We won't be spending much time in here," he said.
"That's good news," I said. "Where will we be spending our time."
"The park trails are closed at night," he said. "That's where we'll be. You don't need an audience or distractions during your training."
"Let me get this straight," I said. "We're going to be roaming trails, streams and canyons in the middle of the night?"
"Just what kind of training are we talking about?"
To be continued...