Would You Like Brains With That?

Currently re-writing.

Portal Keepers Book 1.
A job at a café for the Undead, a ghost best friend, and an annoying handsome vampire protector. Danira has it all.

Danira isn't your average girl. For generations her family has looked after the portal that links the Realm of the Undead to the Realm of the Living, by running a cafe for the Undead that are travelling through the portal. Then news reaches Danira and her parents that the Vampire Lords want to take over control of the portal and wreak havock amoung the Realm of the Living.
An adventure of hot vampires, zombies, ghosts, mummies, and life-threatening danger is thrust upon Danira, and she must try her best to protect the Realm of the Living, by preventing the Vampire Lords from obtaining the Infinity Blade, which has the power to change the portal. As well as saving her world can Danira resist the dashing vampires that cross her path? Some are more dangerous than others.

Cover by Zillah Designs.

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13. Secret Societies and Dealing in Socks

 

I was silent and deep in thought as I met Ridge in the hallway. Without a word we followed the butler, who it seemed had been waiting for me, down the hallway. I had thought that he was taking us to the front door, but instead he led us outside to a pristine looking wooden building. It looked out of place amongst all the rundown buildings around it.

“Where are we going?” I asked Ridge.

He turned and looked at me for the first time since he had come out of the parlour. “We need to go north-east to Bloodlust. Lady Prenalla is allowing us the use of her horse.” Ridge seemed distracted and I knew better than to ask him what was wrong. It was obviously something Lady Prenalla had said, and it would be rude to pry.

“She has a horse?” I asked instead.

I wondered how a living horse had been kept alive for so long in the Realm of the Undead. Surely the zombies would have smelled it and eaten it?

The skeleton butler opened the huge wooden door to the building and I was surprised to see that it was a stable. Ridge and I followed him as he strode across the hay covered floor to the end of the barn where I could see a black horse in a pen.

“Are we getting a horse each?” I asked looking around but was unable to see another horse.

Ridge shook his head. “No, we are sharing. At least that way you can sleep as we ride.”

I nodded silently watching as the butler put the saddle on the calm horse. “You know where we need to go then? What the clue means?”

He gazed down at me, and I had the feeling that he would have smiled if whatever it was Lady Prenalla had said to him wasn’t bothering him so much. “Yes I know what the clue means, well some of it at least. I will explain it to you later.”

I turned back to see that the horse was ready. The butler gestured for us to move outside, and as Ridge and I did so he brought the horse after us.

“I will mount it first.” Ridge said, and promptly jumped up onto the horse’s back.

I narrowed my eyes at him. What a show off.

“Come on,” he said extending a hand down towards me. “It’s easy, just put your foot on the stirrup and then I’ll help you up.”

After what seemed like a considerable amount of effort I was on the horse’s back, sitting behind Ridge. The skeleton butler bowed to us before disappearing off into the windmill. Ridge grabbed the reins and flicked them. The horse snorted and started trotting. Reluctantly I wrapped my arms around him to make sure that I didn't fall off.

“I just need to make a slight detour.” Ridge told me, guiding the horse down a narrow street. “I cannot tell you how relieved I am that you are safe. I came through the portal fearing the worse.”

“The skeleton was waiting for me. The portal spat me out at the Murderous Marshes. How did you find me?”

The horse came to a halt and Ridge hopped off. Holding a hand out he helped me descend. “Fortunately I came out at the mashes too. I followed your scent, though it was much weaker than I had expected.”

“That will be because of this.” I held out my wrist with the enchanted bracelet on. “The butler gave it to me. Apparently it makes me appear to be a vampire.”

He nodded, his dark eyes curious. “Yes, that will be why I can't hear your heartbeat.” he reached out a hand and pressed a cold finger to my neck. “Hmm, yes you are alive, good.” he gave a small smile.

A vampire that had been passing us paused and narrowed his eyes.

“Just a bad joke.” Ridge said, still smiling.

The vampire nodded and carried on his way.

I breathed out a sigh of relief, watching the Undead that were milling around. There were hundreds of them and I felt dread seep into my bones. If one of them realised what and who I was, then I was doomed.

“Oh, I brought this with me. I thought you might want it.” withdrawing my bag, which I had filled with stuff not long before my abduction, from the folds of his cloak, he handed it to me.

“Thanks,” I smiled, putting it on.

“Come on,” Ridge said,  taking me to a rundown building that looked like it sold various charms and potions.

We went inside and I was surprised to see a ghost hovering behind the counter. While I stared at all the curiosities that the shop was filled with, Ridge went up to the counter. I pretended to be absorbed in looking at a jar filled with what seemed to be a dead flower, but I was listening to Ridge and the ghost’s conversation.

Ridge spoke first. “Pandora’s Box is closed.”

What was he talking about? What did Pandora have to do with anything?

The ghost’s answer was barely audible. “And it should remain that way.”

It dawned on me that this was probably some sort of secret code and I peered around eagerly. Maybe they would do a secret handshake or something? I suppressed a laugh which disappeared completely when I realised that both the ghost and Ridge were watching me. I gulped and looked away.

“Come over here.” Ridge said kindly.

I approached them cautiously and stopped a few paces away from the counter that the ghost was hovering behind.

“Is this her?” the ghost rasped.

I blanched. Ridge had told people about me! I prepared myself to bolt for it, but Ridge grabbed my arm.

“This is Howard.” he told me calmly. “We can trust him.”

I frowned. “I still don’t know if I can trust you.”

Howard laughed revealing that he had only two remaining teeth. “That’s it lass. She’s a tough’un this one.”

“Stubborn more like.” Ridge grinned.

I tore my arm from his grip and glared at them both. “So what, you two are in a secret organisation, devoted to... protecting the balance of the Realm of the Living and the Realm of the Undead?” I joked.

Howard was suddenly serious. “You told her about us?”

I gaped. “I was right?”

Ridge was frowning at me. “How did you know?”

I was shocked. “I... I didn’t, I guessed.”

Howard and Ridge exchanged a look and I rubbed my neck feeling embarrassed.

“You two had better come around the back.” Howard told us, and we followed him through a doorway that led to a surprisingly big living room.

The furniture however was extremely dated and was falling apart so I was wary as I sat on one of the armchairs. There were cobwebs everywhere. Ridge sat down in an armchair beside me and Howard hovered nearby. I listened as Ridge explained to Howard why we were in the Realm of the Undead.

Howard rubbed his bearded chin and looked at me. “It is very dangerous to have her here.” he told Ridge.

“We have to get to the Infinity Blade first.” I said with determination.

Ridge nodded. “Danira is committed to this task. I need to send someone a message. Can you deliver it for me?”

“I can do that,” Howard said with a smile. “But for a price,”

I rolled my eyes. I should have known. Ghosts were notorious for never doing anything for free. Except Bertie, who had only done that in the early days of our friendship.

Ridge was annoyed. I supposed that as they were both in this secret club or whatever, that he wouldn't have to pay. “What do you want?” he asked eyes narrowed.

“What have you got?”

I pulled my bag from my back and put it onto my lap. Opening it I rummaged around inside. “I’ve got some books, jewellery, socks...”

Harold looked interested. “Socks? Show me.”

I held up a pair of stripy socks.

“Aye, those will do nicely.”

I frowned but said nothing, placing the socks on the table which was barely visible from the amount of everyday human items which were stacked on top of it.

“Give me the message then.” Harold told Ridge, his eyes still on the socks as if he feared they would disappear.

Ridge plucked a piece of paper from his pocket and showed it to the ghost who nodded. The paper was angled so that I couldn't see what was written on it. I felt annoyed and suspicious at that.

“Come on,” Ridge said, replacing the paper into his pocket as he stood up. “There's no time to waste.”

Before Ridge and I left the strange shop I asked Howard. “Do you know a ghost called Bertie, he’s young and about my height?”

Howard nodded. “Aye, I know him.”

“If you see him, can you tell him that I’m here and that I’m ok?”

“Aye, I will, lass. Good luck to you both.”

Ridge helped me back up onto the horse.

It was so strange that Ridge was in a secret society to protect the balance between the Realm of the Living and the Realm of the Undead. Did that mean I could trust him then? If it was a lie, then it was a pretty elaborate one.

I didn’t speak until we had left the town of Gore, and were travelling through the barren surrounding lands. “So are you going to tell me about the clue?” I asked, bouncing in the saddle as at a flick of the reins, the horse went from a trot to a  gallop.

Ridge turned to face me. “I only understand the first part, ‘Blood was my beginning, blood was my end.’ It refers to Bloodlust, who was one of the greatest vampires in history.”

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