Sam stands impatiently at the fax machine, waiting for the last page to come through. She’s already scanned the first page and it looks compelling, Dean is savvy and he’s probably going to accept it. But these investors want thirty percent of the company and that will make it difficult for Sam to get the thirty-five percent she’s now contemplating. Dean won’t want to lose control of over fifty percent of his company.
She removes the second page of the incoming fax just as Dean is approaching her, coffee mug in hand.
“Is that from Joel Anderson’s office?” he asks briskly, eyeing the pages.
“Here you go.” She hands him the draft term sheet with a cheerful smile, her teeth smooth and human-esque in their little white caps.
He gives a brief nod of appreciation as he continues down the hall, eyes pouring over the numbers on the pages in his hand.
Sam glances at the digital clock on the microwave as she walks past the coffee station. Time to head over to Logan to pick up Sandor. Too bad she needs to leave early today; she’d like to find out Dean’s reaction to that term sheet, whether he’s going for it. If so, she’ll need to move quickly. But, can she trust leaving Sandor alone in Boston while she’s in New York? A lot of balls in the air suddenly.
As she walks back to her desk, she passes Gil’s office. There he is, iPod earbuds in place, fingers at the keyboard. Three candy bar wrappers lie crumpled and discarded on his desk. Sam flicks her fingers in a hello, but Gil doesn’t notice, he’s deep into his Python code.
Sam suddenly realizes if the Anderson deal goes through, Dean will be hiring more programmers, he’ll scale up rapidly with such an infusion of capital as was being offered in that fax. This company has momentum and they all know it. She’s got to get to New York and get her partners on board fast. Before the window of opportunity closes.
Sam paces back and forth, beyond the customs area of Terminal E, too warm in her brown leather jacket, annoyed and concerned that Sandor’s flight landed well over an hour ago and he still hasn’t appeared. She’s repeatedly consulted the only photo of him she possesses, sent to her cellphone by her cousin Csilla, the only relation who apparently had the foresight to do so. The photo shows a tall, angular youth with dark hair and eyes, aquiline nose and a somber demeanor. She’s been scanning all the males who look about eighteen years old, as they exit the customs area, and they are all husky, strapping lads with lighter hair and complexions and not one of them looks somber. What should she do? She scans the crowd again, sharply, and suddenly there he is, just outside of customs.
He is easily six feet tall and very thin. His wrists and hands protrude awkwardly from a dark gray fisherman’s sweater, and his corduroy pants hang loose on his frame and look a little worn. His hair is black as a raven’s wing and his skin is a strange ashy alabaster. In the moment before he spots her, she thinks to herself that his physiognomy perfectly fits most humans’ stereotype of what a vampire should look like.
Sam approaches the young man and grasps his hands in her own. “Sandor, greetings and great welcome! Your presence honors our blood!” Sam delivers these words in their common ancestral language; she knows he’s deeply familiar with these ritual salutations, having lived his short life thus far in the mountains of Transylvania.
Sandor directs his intense eyes at her and reciprocates the welcoming pressure of her hands with a quick, light squeeze. “Zaira, it’s good of you to take me in, but must we always speak of blood?”
“Do you speak English?” she asks him, deciding quickly to change tack.
“And how was your journey?”
“Long. Tedious. I was detained both in London and here because I don’t have any luggage. Only this.” Sandor points to the modest backpack on his shoulders.
We’ll need to shop for clothes, she mentally notes.
“You must be tired from your long trip. Would you like to rest first, or see some sights?”
“Zaira, I will do as you wish. I am your charge now.”
He makes her sound like a prison warden.
“Well, you are certainly free to come and go as you please, Sandor. I’m quite busy and hope we can find things of interest for you here. But there is one thing, please always call me Sam. I’m in guise now, you know what that is, and I’m Sam Rush. I work as an office administrator in a small company-“
“What kind of firm?”
They are walking outside in the chilly air amid the throng of people with wheeled bags, oversized rucksacks and totes. Sam and Sandor queue up in the taxi line. She’d taken the T over to Logan, in character with her frugal work identity, but of course she’ll take a cab now. Maybe she’ll have the cab drop them in Harvard Square, expose Sandor to student life, the pubs and cafes. Perhaps he could make some friends his own age. He will only ever get this chance once in all the centuries — of being the same age as those around him.
She explains BubbleTrendz.
“My firm, the one I’m investigating in guise, identifies interesting, timely information — trends. Their applications analyze and present these trends to businesses that would benefit from such distilled data.”
“How do they benefit?”
“Well, they might realize that potential customers would like their product even more if it had some additional features, or maybe people are becoming bored with a certain fashion style or dining fad, and a business could respond and change course before it’s too late.”
“Social media marketing.’
“So you know this stuff.”
“I have friends on Facebook.”
They are waved to the next cab in the line and get in. Sam tells the driver to drop them at Church Street in Harvard Square.
Sam sits across from Sandor in a dark, Irish pub, sharing a plate of french fries with her cousin. He’s drinking seltzer water and she’s sipping a dark oatmeal stout. One is okay if she drinks is slowly. And this amount of carbohydrate won’t throw off their blood chemistry.
The place is noisy and crowded and Sam would love to revert to their ancient Uralic-based language; to the pub crowd here they’d just sound like a couple of Eastern Europeans having an intellectual discussion in a comfort dialect. But, she’s already picked up on Sandor’s prickly ways and precociousness. He’ll battle her about language at this point just to play the contrarian. He apparently has an interest in technology, explore that angle.
“Do you play video games?” she queries, discreetly checking her Android for incoming messages from her New York office.
“I question the morality of playing them.”
“The morality? What do you mean?” She hadn’t expected that.
“They’re generally too easy for me.” He says this without a speck of conceit or hubris. “But the structures of most of them, at some level it’s always about quarry, prey. It’s too close to what we do. It doesn’t feel like a game.”
The conversation stops with a thud. Sam takes a long, leisurely sip of her dark beer, using the seconds of imbibing to think of something to say where they can start again on neutral ground. She’ll need some time with this boy before she thinks it wise to take the big issues head-on with him.
“Have you ever written your own computer programs?” she asks.
“There’s a smart guy at this company I’ve told you about. He writes the applications in a computer language called Python.”
“Like the snake?”
“I suppose so.”
“And, do you drink his blood, this Python programmer?”
It’s too much. “I do not, Sandor. I thought you requested that we not speak of blood?”
The youth glowers at his seltzer, but says nothing.
“Would you like to meet him? The programmer?” Sam realizes she needs to devise some basic schedule for Sandor if she hopes to leave for New York in two days. She would bet her entire proposed investment in BubbleTrendz that Gil will be perfectly safe with Sandor.
— to be continued —