Best Laid Plans
The fire cracking behind the grate threw soft orange light through the otherwise dark room. Shadows softened on the edges, highlighting the coat of arms over the fireplace. Portraits stared with judgmental eyes, staring down at the man in the room. He sat in a green velvet wingback chair, his feet propped up on a matching ottoman. A glass of port filled one hand, light glinting through its purple-red depths.
Twenty years. Twenty years of waiting, planning... He couldn't believe he'd failed.
Vlad Masters stared into the deep ruby recesses of his glass and took a long, uncivilized pull. It didn't matter at the moment. Civilization was not something he'd been born into, was not something that came naturally, was not something he felt he needed to uphold right now. Not while the servants cleaned up the spectacularly destroyed first floor. Not while the architects argued over what to save and what to replace.
Not while he was still wallowing in the frustration, the shame, the unfairness of it all. Twenty years of planning brought down by children. Children!
Vlad growled and took another long gulp of port. This was supposed to be a fine vintage but he couldn't taste it. Its luxury was wasted on him as he guzzled it like it were cheap vodka. He glared into his empty glass and reached to the table for the bottle.
Vlad got up, his half-ghost physiology scrubbing the alcohol from his system far too quickly. He made his way over to the wall and threw open the doors to the liquor cabinet.
Hmmph. Vlad squinted through the darkness. Too dark. He willed his ghost eyes to manifest. Ah, there. He perused his collection before deciding on something for nostalgia's sake. He pulled the bottle of vodka from the depths of the cabinet and popped the cork.
Tonight was a night to get thoroughly sloshed. He meandered back to his chair, pulling swigs directly from the bottle.
It had been a perfect plan. Play nice and civilized until the reunion. Seduce the Fentons into lowering their guard. Make them believe that there was nothing to fear here. Then during the reunion he would strike. Possess Jack, force him to perform like a trained monkey. Use him as a flesh-suit while he wrecked the reunion and worked to destroy any credibility the huge oaf may once have had.
His dear, sweet Maddie had been the one to throw the first crippling blow. That RV was a menace, decked out in more weaponry than Vlad cared to remember. Of course none of the lasers hit their mark. The lightning just sort of tingled when it hit, Jack's jumpsuit being resistant and his own elemental affinity taking care of the rest. But that shot of ectoplasmic goo knocked him out of Jack and threw him against the wall.
It was just enough of a distraction for Jack to be dragged into the RV. They were about to get away when Vlad dove through, dragging Madeline with him as he went. Never again would he let her go, he said. Never again.
And he would have managed it, too. Jack leaped from the cab of the RV to follow them on foot, firing randomly with whatever ectogun he'd managed to pull out of that expansive bulk of his. Vlad shot back, toying with him for a few shots while Maddie struggled in his hold.
Through it all, he'd forgotten about the children. The boy Daniel decided to defend his parents, unlike the girl Jasmine who was off cowering somewhere no doubt. The boy was just as proficient with button-mashing as his idiot father but...
Vlad insisted it was a lucky shot. It had to have been. There was no other way he could have fallen to the same weapon twice. He was going to be washing green goo stains out of his cape for weeks. Jack caught Maddie as Vlad dropped her, as he was thrown back into the wall again. And then he was faced with two well-armed ghost hunters aiming rather large weapons at his head. It was all he could do to teleport out of there before they fired.
The scorch marks on the library floor attested to how close a call it had been.
It was so bad he couldn't even bring himself to act a good, civilized host and see his guests off.
Vlad upended the bottle, guzzling the cheap vodka. Its burn was comforting. He pulled off to gasp for breath, realizing he'd almost managed to drain the bottle already.
Impressive. He belched, putting a little bit of energy into it, just for show. A gout of flame spilled from his lips before vanishing in a puff. He giggled.
Enough obsessing over his failure. Tonight he was going to feel better. And then tomorrow he was going to come up with a new plan. If he was going to keep her then he needed to get her away from the rest of her family. Tomorrow he would set something up.
Tonight he was going to get dangerously drunk and try to set his breath on fire.