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AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY

by

Fred Saberhagen

Credits

Copyright © 1979 by Fred Saberhagen

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Paper edition first published by Tor Book 2006

E-editions published by:

JSS Literary Productions

PO Box 11243

Albuquerque, NM 87192

www.fredsaberhagen.com

JSS Literary Productions electronic edition:

ISBN-13: 978-1-937422-19-6

E-Cover: based on an istock photo

Saberhagen’s Dracula Series

In the order they were written

Each novel is independent

and

may be read out-of-order

1. The Dracula Tape

2 The Holmes-Dracula File

3 An Old Friend Of The Family

4 Thorn

5 Dominion

6 A Matter Of Taste

7 A Question Of Time

8 Séance For A Vampire

9 A Sharpness On The Neck

10 A Coldness In The Blood

CHAPTER ONE

   It looked like the North Atlantic raging at the Devon coast, Kate told herself, recalling a childhood trip to Europe, and the enduring memory of the ocean pounding at those rough English rocks. Now, under the glare of the close-raked floodlights along the Outer Drive, she saw the black lake reach a fist in past the wintery void, where summer knew a strip of sunwhite beach. Above the icedraped slats of snowfence the fist shook spume at city and civilization, then crashed down, dissolving itself in an open-handed splash that washed across six of the eight lanes of forty-mile-per-hour traffic. The traffic wavered, minimally slowing, some of it skidding perilously in the freezing wet. If things kept on this way, the police were going to have to close the Drive.

   Twenty or thirty yards inland, on pavement separated from the Drive and the reaching waves by a wide divider strip of frozen parkland, Kate’s Lancia purred sedately south. Most of her attention was concentrated upon the task of reading addresses from the endless row of tall apartment buildings fronting on Drive and park and lake. The particular numbers she had been looking for now suddenly appeared, elegantly backlighted against a towering granite wall. She slowed and turned. The righthand curve of driveway went down to a basement garage, but she stayed with the left branch, rolled past two parked Cadillacs and a Porsche, and pulled up under the building’s entrance canopy.

   Despite the heatlamps fighting down against the wind and cold, the uniformed doorman wore earmuffs above the collar of his winter jacket. His eyeglasses were so thick as to resemble frost protective goggles of some sort. Taller than he, Kate swept in through the door that he held open for her, meanwhile pulling back the hood of her warm blue jacket from natural blond curls.

   “I’d like to see Craig Walworth. Tell him Kate Southerland is here,” she told the man when he had followed her into the lobby. A few moments later, after the intercom had brought down Craig’s acceptance of her visit, she was alone in a small elevator.

   If Joe were with her now, he’d be worrying about what the doorman was going to do with the car—or about something else, about anything, maybe just about dropping in on a party unannounced. But then if Joe were with her tonight, she wouldn’t be coming here at all. Which, of course, was really the whole point. She hadn’t made any commitment to Joe—not yet. If and when she did, things would be different.

   And how they would.

   Maybe the real point was the fact that she felt compelled to make the point. If she was so certain of her present freedom, why was she here trying to prove something to herself? She could have gone Christmas shopping instead. And she probably should have. For one thing she still faced the problem of a gift for Joe, who was certain to spend too much of his money buying one for her…

   The elevator, having gone as high as it could go, eased almost imperceptibly to a stop and let Kate out into a small marble lobby from which two massive doors of handcarved black wood, one at each end, led to two apartments. A small decorative table, ivory-colored to contrast with the doors, stood in the middle of the lobby facing the two elevators. On the wall just above the table there hung a picture, or perhaps it was a mirror, of which only an edge of antique gilt frame was visible. Someone had draped an old, worn-looking raincoat over it, perhaps thinking that the loser of the garment would be sure to see it there if he came back. He’d need something warmer than that if he came back tonight.

   The right hand door stood slightly ajar, and through this opening came sounds of subdued partying; music, an alto laugh, a glassy clink, and voices murmuring. Kate pushed the thick door fully open and slowly walked on in. She stood in a brick-floored vestibule, from which two interior hallways led of at right angles to each other. A third wall was taken up by a great guest closet, open now to show a modest miscellany of coats and scarves, some fallen from their hangers. It didn’t seem that any very large party was going on.

   “Hi.” The greeting was conspiratorially low. Simultaneously a black-haired, black-bearded head bobbed into Kate’s view from two rooms down the hallway to her right. Craig Walworth was three or four years older than her twenty. No more than an inch taller, but so wide across the chest that he looked larger than he was. Often, as now, his shirt was worn halfway open down the front to display some hair and muscle; and he tended to have his large hands planted on his hips—one of them was there now, the other holding a drink—so that standing near him put you at some risk from jutting elbows. “Glad you could make it, Kate. I was starting to think you were really out of circulation.” The drink he had been holding somehow already

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