The Mondragons moved into Rouge Nest a little past midnight.
Vladimir Mondragon drove the U-Haul. He wore a long coat and round glasses perched atop his sharp nose. His wife Ambrosia sat in the passenger seat and their daughter Drusilla chattered away between them.
“This is it!” said Vladimir when he turned into the neighborhood.
Dark houses lined the streets and a few figures ran on the sidewalk. One of them waved at the Mondragons as they drove past.
Under the light of the full moon, the neighborhood came alive.
Vladimir drove around a biker and pulled into the first cul-de-sac on the right. He snuck a glance at his wife and daughter when he stopped in front of the new house.
They both gasped.
“It’s so pretty!” said Drusilla. She lifted the doll in lap. “See, Miriam? It’s perfect.” She waved the doll’s arm and giggled, her curls bouncing with her laugh.
Vladimir glanced at Ambrosia, who smiled at him. “It really is perfect, Vlad.” She pulled her jacket tighter around her before opening her door.
He grinned before following suit. “Then let’s get to work! Come on, Dru!”
Dru hopped out after him and bounded to the yard, when she plopped onto the grass and bounced her doll.
“Stay in the yard, Dru!” called Ambrosia. Vlad walked over to his wife and wrapped his arms around her waist as they stared at the house.
It was dark, a blood red that happened to be Vladimir’s favorite color and the color of his wife’s hair. Black shutters clattered against the window and budding rose bushes lined the porch. The house almost glowed in the moonlight.
A faint breeze rustled through the yard and Vladimir inhaled the scent of roses.
“You did good, honey,” murmured Ambrosia. She turned her head and pressed her lips against Vlad’s cheek. He sighed at her touch.
“I really did, didn’t I?”
Ambrosia laughed and gently pushed away from his embrace. “I’ll start unloading the truck.”
Vladimir nodded, smiling, and turned around.
Vladimir jumped at the figure who seemingly appeared out of thin air. He wore a crisp suit with a red tie, and slicked back hair with enough gel to fill a swimming pool.
“Sorry--didn’t mean to sneak up on you. I’m Stuart.” The man--Stuart--held out his hand.
Vladimir shook it, chuckling. “We all forget our silence from time to time, don’t we? I’m Vladimir, and that’s my wife Ambrosia and daughter Drusilla.” He pointed to the back of the truck, where they could just see Ambrosia’s legs, and Drusilla laughing in the yard.
Stuart smiled. “Where are you guys coming from?”
“A nest down south. Relocated--my company needed a marketing guy up here. This is our first time moving...but we heard this was the best neighborhood in town!”
The smile slid from Stuart’s face. “Who told you that?”
Vladimir blinked. “The--the realtor. And all the websites….”
“Huh. I’m surprised, to tell you the truth, even for bloodsucking realtors,” said Stuart, nodding toward Drusilla. “Didn’t think people would be encouraging anyone with young ones to move here.”
Vladimir tilted his head. “What do you mean?”
Stuart glanced around and whispered, “You know, because of the hunting.”
Vladimir’s eyes bulged. If he had a beating heart, it might’ve thudded straight out of his chest. “Hunting? Here? No one ever mentioned that!”
“Yeah, well…” Stuart scratched his head and lowered his voice. “Got to keep up appearances, right? It happened to the Powers in the cul-de-sac on Polidori Street, and to the Bloodtears a few houses down. All in the past few months. We’ve got people on it, but...just be careful. And get some security cameras.”
He shook Vladimir’s hand again before walking away. Vladimir looked over at Drusilla, walking Miriam through the blades of grass. He swallowed hard.
“He said there’s hunting here?” Ambrosia hissed. She slammed down a pair of candlesticks and flashed her fangs.
They were in the living room unpacking box after box while Drusilla brushed her teeth upstairs. Vladimir had made sure to take her aside after Stuart left.
“You’re not to go outside until we say so, Dru,” he’d said, staring hard into her black eyes.
“Do you hear me? It’s not safe for you.”
She crossed her little arms. “I can handle them! I’m eight” She flashed her fangs; her adult ones still hadn’t grown in yet. Vladimir’s lip twitched.
“So fearsome!” He poked her stomach and she giggled. “But we need you to stay inside, just for a little while.”
She sighed. “Ok, Daddy.”
“I thought you said this was safe!” said Ambrosia.
Vladimir shivered at her glare and shook his head. “That’s what everyone told me! I already called for a security system. It’ll be installed on Thursday--I’ll be at the office but you can call if anything goes wrong--and the doors and Dru’s windows will be watched at all times.”
“This is ridiculous, Vlad. Humans. Humans here.” Ambrosia pressed her fingers to her temples and closed her eyes.
Vlad walked over and wrapped his arms around his wife. “We’ll be fine, Ambrosia. We’ll be fine.”
“We’ll be fine, Vlad. Us. They always go for the children.” Ambrosia pushed him away, not meeting his eyes, and started to walk up the stairs. “I’m checking on Dru,” she called over her shoulder.
But Ambrosia wouldn’t find Drusilla in her new room, for the young vampire had spotted a curious thing from her window: Miriam, lying in the yard a few feet away.
“Oops!” Dru stared at her doll, then glanced at her bedroom door. She’d only leave for a moment; Daddy and Mommy would never know.
She climbed out of her window and jumped to the ground. Thank goodness her bedroom was on the first floor.
Drusilla ran over to Mirium and bent down to pick her up, but another hand grabbed it faster.
“Hello, little one.” The stranger wore a pretty dress and shiny high heels, but she smelled...strange. Drusilla wrinkled her nose.
“You have my doll!” she said, pointing at Miriam.
“Ah. I’m sorry. I saw you playing with her earlier and I thought she was a rather nice doll.”
Drusilla shuffled and glanced back at the house. “Well, she’s mine.”
“Of course, little one. Oops!” The stranger dropped the doll and Drusilla leaned down to grab it. She didn’t see the woman pull out the wooden stake, sharpened to a point.
The Mondragons were the last family to move into Rouge Nest.