Today I’ve decided to share with you Chapter 2 of my novel A Mouth Full of Teeth. I’ve been putting off posting it because I’m neurotic and because I’m admittedly less confident in this chapter than I was in Chapter 1.
This chapter is told through the point of view (POV) of my other main character, Gabriel. Since Gabriel and my female lead, Jade, are so different (and since it is someone else’s perspective) I tried to make the tone and voice of Gabriel’s chapters different than that of Jade’s. I think I succeeded in that, but please don’t be shy in voicing your opinion of how well executed my attempt was.
As usual, comments are welcomed and encouraged! Any feedback at all is most helpful! Happy reading. =)
It was unfortunate that we had to kill the vampire at dusk. It would have been ideal, safer, to kill it during the day. But there were almost as many Gendarmes and tourists in Pere-Lachaise cemetery as there were on any random street in Paris, so we’d had to wait until every last visitor had gone and the guards had locked the front gates.
The sky was a light shade of pink. It would be growing darker by the second. If we got to the coffin fast enough there was a chance we could still kill the vampire before it awoke. I put my leather bag of weapons over my shoulder, climbed over the tall, wrought-iron fence and hit the ground running.
“Move faster!” My father barked at me, glancing over his shoulder.
I adjusted my bag on my shoulder and picked up my pace. I had to be careful not to misstep and break my ankle on the uneven cobblestones. One mistake, one little accident could mean the difference between life and death.
We snaked through the sprawling maze of streets in the old cemetery. We darted between mausoleums just to find ourselves back on the steep, cobblestone roads. The paths turned and intersected with one another, some of them looped around in a wide circle so that you could end up right where you had started without even realizing it. We had to keep our wits about us.
The shadowy tombs seemed to be absorbing the sun light as it grew darker and darker. We passed a gravesite that had caved in on itself and a little stab of fear twisted in my stomach. The vampire we were looking for was very old, and very dangerous. He also wouldn’t be the only one here. There could be dozens of the undead in this cemetery tonight.
We turned a sharp corner and my father finally stopped in front of a grey, marble sarcophagus. It wasn’t ornate like some of the other graves. Just a plain, stone rectangle.
Dad looked to the horizon as the final rays of sun slipped away.
“Get ready,” he warned.
I set down my bag and pulled out two crow-bars, a silver cross and a large wooden stake; tools of the trade. With the crow-bars I helped my dad pry up the huge marble slab that topped the sarcophagus and pushed it off to the ground.
And there it lay: the coffin of Maurice Baudelaire.
Breathing hard my father turned to me, “Brace yourself, son.”
I nodded and handed him the cross and stake. We stood on either side of the coffin. My job was to wait for my father’s signal, pull open the lid and stay out of the way.
My dad whispered a prayer, crossed himself and then nodded at me. My heart skipped a beat as I reached across the wooden casket. I grabbed the lid and yanked it back. My father lunged.
“Son of a bitch!”
I came around to his side and saw that the coffin was completely empty. We looked at each other. It was the right tomb, of that we were certain. But where was Maurice?
A hissing noise came from behind me. I turned just in time to see a man flying through the air. He hit me square in the chest and I fell flat to the ground.
Hissing still, he pulled my shirt away from my neck, baring his huge fangs. I pushed against him with all my strength and fished around my chest to find my cross necklace. I found the small relic and pressed it against the vampire’s white face. He screamed in pain and jumped off of me. I was instantly on my feet, still holding out the crucifix.
A small pink cross had been burned into the vampire’s cheek. His eyes glowed red with rage. He screamed and charged me. I froze, unable to think or move. My father leaped between the two of us and drove a large wooden stake through the vampire’s heart.
“Go back to hell where you belong!” My father shouted. The vampire’s face turned from rage to shock, and then burst into dust.
And like that it was over; as quickly as it had started.
The adrenaline left me breathless and shaking. I hoped my father didn’t mistake that for weakness. He looked me over.
“Are you alright?” He asked.
I nodded. I felt like I had been hit by a truck, but there were no holes in my neck. I looked down at the pile of dust on the ground. A familiar twinge of guilt twisted inside me.
I knew that vampires were evil, and that it was God’s will for my family to rid the earth of them. And one had just tried to kill me, but after every kill I felt regret. Evil as they may be, there was something magnificent about them. Something I could never explain to my father.
My father had already put his tools back in the bag, except for the silver cross.
“Gabriel,” he said, pulling me from my thoughts and tossing a small gun at me, “We have to get out of here, quickly.”
“That wasn’t Maurice.”
I looked around, searching the dark shadows of the cemetery for any movement. The sky had turned completely black, and the moon had risen as a sliver crescent high in the sky. Without another word I followed my father, running down those same, steep paths, keeping alert for any signs of life – or otherwise.
Within minutes we had climbed back over the fence and dropped down to the well lit sidewalk below. We put our weapons back into our bags as a group of French teenagers walked past us. They glanced at us with only the vaguest curiosity but continued on without asking a thing about us.
“I don’t understand.” I said in Romanian, as we found two seats on a crowded metro train, “Why would he have not been in his coffin?”
My father’s brow knitted in concentration. “He must have known we were coming,” he snapped.
My dad was always serious; all business all the time. He didn’t have a sense of humor. He dedicated every moment of his life to hunting monsters. But tonight he was particularly edgy. Part of that was my fault for getting jumped by a vampire. What really bothered him was not killing the right vampire.
I didn’t bother to ask him how Maurice could have known we were coming for him. I knew I wouldn’t get an answer. I watched my dad from the corner of my eye. He was still breathing hard from the fight. His thin, dark hair was wet with sweat. He tried to act tough, but my dad was approaching fifty. His past injuries were catching up with him and he just wasn’t as strong as he used to be. It wouldn’t be long before his body completely gave out on him. I just hoped he would know when to stop.
Dad caught me looking at him and his eyes narrowed. He turned on me.
“You need to be more careful, Gabriel,” he ridiculed, “More aware of your surroundings.”
“He surprised us both. And I handled it.”
“I handled it. You have to be ready for anything, son. Always prepared, always on alert. The creatures we hunt have almost every advantage over us. They’re faster, they’re stronger and they are very clever. You can never be too careful.”
“I know.” I had heard this a million times. I had spent my entire life in training. There was no lecture I hadn’t heard
“You almost got yourself killed tonight.”
I was irritated but I kept my mouth shut. I saw where this conversation was headed and I didn’t want to deal with that. Another word and he would bring up my brother. I distracted myself by reading the names of all the stops on the Metro map posted inside the train.
Two years ago my older brother, Josiah, had been killed by a vampire. He had gone alone on a hunt to Romania to take out a small coven. The coven was lead by Maurice Baudelaire. Josiah had succeeded in wiping out all but two of the coven. He let his guard down one night at the church he was staying in. The remaining vampires had taken one of the monks hostage outside the church, Josiah went out to face them but he was overmatched. Maurice Baudelaire killed my brother.
My father had always despised vampires and werewolves simply for their existence. But his oldest son’s death had taken his hatred of nosferatu to a whole other level. This wasn’t just a holy mission. This was revenge.
Our stay in Paris would be extended.
I waited outside the Notre-Dame de Paris while my father took care of business inside. I watched the people going in to confess or take pictures. It was early in the morning so there weren’t many tourists gathering around yet, but every once in a while I’d see a scruffy looking college student with a backpack or a jet-lagged family who were obviously on a very tight schedule to see everything. I wondered what it would be like to be one of them; to be normal. To get to admire Paris for its beauty and history and to not know that monsters – real monsters – existed.
I turned and looked up at the giant, gothic church. I had seen the cathedral dozens of times, but never as a tourist. The Notre-Dame was one of my Dad’s headquarters so I had spent much of my youth learning and training in secret chambers and vaults. Even so, I could still marvel at the beautiful stained-glass windows and the ancient sculptures of gargoyles and saints. Staring up at the cathedral in admiration made me feel like I had something in common with the strangers around me. It amazed us all to think that it had endured 600 years and several wars and was still a beautiful work of art.
It reminded me of vampires.
The sweet smell of crêpes wafted towards me and turned me from my thoughts. I knew exactly where the smell was coming from. I crossed the plaza toward the left of the Notre-Dame, and darted across the street just as the crosswalk sign changed from a walking person to a standing person, narrowly escaping a speeding moped.
There, outside of a restaurant, was a little metal stand with a French woman happily making fresh crêpes. The sizzle of the crêpe batter on the skillet made my mouth water. Fortunately there were only four people in line so I took my place behind a girl with jet black hair.
I was more focused on planning my order than the people around me, but then the girl in front of me turned to look over her shoulder and I saw her face. My heart jumped in my chest. She was beautiful. Startlingly beautiful.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. All the sounds of people talking, all the noise from the motorists drained away. Everything around me stopped and the only thing I was aware of was this woman. I had to speak to her. I had to find out her name and be the object of her attention for at least one fleeting minute. I needed to hear her voice.
“Bonjour,” I said in my best French accent.
Slowly she turned around. Her big, bright green eyes looked me over. She had smooth, fair skin, high cheekbones and perfectly curved lips. Her silky, black hair framed her face and fell to her shoulders.
“Hi,” she said.
My confidence doubled.
“You speak English.” I remarked happily. I was fluent in several languages, but French wasn’t my strong suit.
“So do you.” She said. She smiled, showing off perfectly straight, white teeth.
“And you’re American,” I said. Then I realized how ridiculous this conversation was becoming. I decided I should tell her something she didn’t already know. “My name’s Gabriel.”
“I’m Jade.” She said. She stuck her hand out toward me.
I grasped it, a little too eagerly. I was delighted to get to touch her. Her hand felt small and warm.
“Out doing some sight-seeing?” I asked.
“Not today. I’m sort of here on business.”
“Oh, me too.”
And then we just looked at each other. I had no idea what to say to this woman. I racked my brain for something to keep the conversation going. “Is this your first time in Paris?”
“No, my friend Etienne lives here and I come to visit him from time to time. I’m actually staying with him while I’m here. The best way to see the city is with a local. Is this your first trip?” Jade asked.
“Actually, it isn’t. My Dad and I come to Paris a lot. For business.” I added. I wondered what the deal was between Jade and her French friend. I tried to think of a way I could ask her more about it without coming off as a creep.
It was Jade’s turn to order and she told the woman what she wanted in cautious French. She looked back at me with a mischievous glint in her eye. “I always feel like I’m full of shit when I try to speak French.”
I laughed and she stepped aside so I could place my order.
I glanced over at Jade. She flashed her eyes on me and smiled flirtatiously. My heart was humming like a generator. Electricity sparked all through my body. I wanted to say something to impress her, but telling her that I hunted vampires for a living didn’t seem appropriate. So instead I paid for her crêpe before she had a chance to pull her money out of her back pocket.
“You really didn’t have to do that.” She told me.
“I know, but I wanted to. It’s not every day that I get to do something nice for a pretty girl.”
I hoped I wasn’t coming on too strong, or too lame – I really had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t been socialized like most American kids; I had been home schooled and had toured every country in Europe by the time I was 14…hunting vampires and werewolves.
Jade giggled. “Well, thanks.” She started to back away.
“Hold on,” I said coming after her. “Can I join you? To eat, I mean?”
Jade bit her lip and looked me up and down again. “I would like to, but I have to meet someone.”
I fumbled to come up with something to keep her longer. “What are you doing tomorrow?”
Jade smiled. “I’m going to the Louvre tomorrow.”
“What a coincidence. So am I.” Or at least I was now.
“Maybe I’ll see you there.”
“You will see me there.”
Jade laughed as she turned away. “Goodbye Gabe.”
“See you later, Jade.” I called after her.
I watched her until she disappeared into the crowd forming in front of the Notre-Dame