Max was thoughtful as he entered the restaurant. Dracula, he noticed, was sitting alone in a table near the entrance, apparently engrossed in the newspaper. Max walked past him to his usual table. Having ordered his usual breakfast, he watched his quarry. It was surprising that he should have remembered Lucard so clearly. But now that he was seeing him, Max could see that every feature was just as he remembered. Of course, at ten, Max had not really noticed how good looking the vampire was, though he was noticing it now. Max scowled so fiercely at that thought that the waiter who brought his breakfast became quite flustered.
Max forced a smile at the man and took his eyes off the vampire and attempted to concentrate on his breakfast. He might have been chewing sand paper for all the enjoyment he derived out of it. And the coffee which he knew was made just the way he liked it was as tasteless as water.
I am too wound up, thought Max, forcing himself to relax. Though he had not expected to run into a vampire here, now that he had, there was nothing for him to do, but to accept it. The only trouble was, Dracula was hardly any vampire. And Max was almost certain that Lucard was there because he had received information that Hawthorn was there. Of course, Max could try to attack Dracula, though he was not an easy prey. Max knew it was quite possible for the hunter to become the hunted while dealing with Lucard. His chances of success were nearly zero, he knew.
All Max could hope now was that his enemy did not know what he looked like. But even if Lucard didn’t know him from Adam, it was still possible that he might recognize him as Max. And once that happened, there was no doubt that he would be putting two and two together. Max gave a mental shrug. It might be better to turn his thoughts to something else. There was nothing he could do about the present situation unless he went through with his plans for leaving. And that, he realized, was the last thing he wanted to do. In spite of the danger, he wanted to stay.
Max picked up the newspaper. Maybe, he would find something in there to divert his attention.
Alexander caught a whiff of a familiar fragrance as the young man walked past him to a table at the other end of the room. He looked just as good fully clothed, thought Alexander and was startled at that thought. He studied the young man over the top of his newspaper, trying to figure out where and how he knew him. That he was fairly well acquainted with him was certain. But try as he might, he could not remember. He frowned. It was not normal for him to forget. It was even more unlikely that he might have made a mistake.
He recognized the young man’s smell. And therefore he knew him. But the surprising thing was, how he could have forgotten a man as remarkable as that one. It was not the looks that made him remarkable. He was good looking, true, but not exceptionally so. It was something about the look in his eyes, the set of his jaws. Resolution. Determination. Character, thought Alexander. But not at the first glance. Only when you observe closely. And Alexander was observing very closely indeed.
It was no blinding flash from above, but Alexander was certain that if Hawthorn was indeed in this godforsaken resort, then he had found him. He studied him with even more care than before. Taking him out might be harder than he had anticipated. Of course, he had not expected it to be easy but having seen his enemy, Alexander had the feeling that he may have met his match. It was equally certain that the vampire hunter might have recognized him. Which meant that he might well be the one in danger.
But he was not going to turn tail and run, though that might be the prudent thing to do. He was intensely curious about how and where he had met Hawthorn and how he had forgotten. Alexander closed his eyes, trying to remember that scent and what it reminded him of. But it was not possible. The various aromas in the restaurant was interrupting his concentration. With a sigh, he opened his eyes.
Just then, the young man rose from his table, having finished his breakfast. Alexander drew a deep breath. Hawthorn, if it was him, will have to pass him on the way out. Alexander closed his eyes again, blocking out every thought and sense. If he could simply concentrate on that particular smell without any distractions, he might be able to remember.
The smell came then, tantalizingly familiar. And with it came a memory. A dark night and an enemy he had destroyed. And-. Alexander’s eyes flew open. He looked around, almost wildly, but the young man was gone. Alexander sat there, stunned. If he had a heart, thought Alexander, it would be racing now. His breathing was certainly fast. He signalled for his bill, his mind in turmoil.<br />
It was not surprising that he had forgotten. How could he have known? He rose from his table and strode to the reception desk. He had to make sure. It was not likely that he had made a mistake. But it did not hurt to have confirmation.
He smiled at the reception clerk, a different girl today.
“Hi,” said he with his most charming smile. “An old friend of mine is staying here. Could you please give me his room number? His name is Townsend. Max Townsend.”
The girl checked her computer. “Mr. Townsend is staying in Room 202, sir.”
“Thank you,” murmured Alexander.
He felt almost dazed. Max was Hawthorn! His mind could not accept the fact. Though Max had always wanted to be a vampire hunter, it had never occurred to Alexander that he could end up being the cold blooded killer that Hawthorn was reputed to be. In fact, Alexander always felt that Max would grow out of his fascination with the supernatural. The Max he remembered was too nice, too compassionate for his own good. How had that child turned into this man?
Alexander stopped. He was standing in front of Max’s room. He knew Max was inside. He also knew that he should turn around and go to his room. And then do the sensible thing and pack his bags and leave. After all, Max had saved his life once. And even if he was planning to forget that, there was nothing he could do right then. It was daytime and he had no vampire powers.
Ignoring the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, Alexander knocked.