For those of you who have read my blog long enough, you know that not only am I a genealogist, but I’m also an author. Among my novels is a series I wrote where I used my real life Wells ancestors as actual characters, mainly Randall Wells (1747-1821) and his wife Lois Maxson (1748-1819) of Hopkinton, Rhode Island. To grant myself my fondest genealogical wish of meeting my 4th great grandparents, Lois and Randall, I took the facts we know of their lives and weaved a story around them, breathing literary flesh over those dry bones of the dates of birth, marriage, death. Then I brought them ahead a few hundred years and made them living people in the modern age we live in today.
How did I do that? Well … I made them vampires. Each book in the five book series reveals more of their story, like peeling back the layers of an onion. So for Halloween, I thought I’d share with you a little of how their story begins to unfold in book one of the series, The Purity of Blood.
To set up the quote below, I will introduce Sara Donnelly, the protagonist of my novels. Like me, she is also the 4th great-granddaughter of Randall and Lois, at least the literary versions of them. It is through her eyes that we enter the hidden world of vampires that secretly coexists with the humans of the Earth. But these vampires are not like the ones of popular culture. Vampires are not immortal. They can walk in the sunlight. For the most part the are solitary creatures that have an innate need to hide their existence from the world.
In this conversation, Sara is talking to Daniel Bennett. Daniel is the adopted son of Randall and Lois. He is also a vampire, but though he is well over a hundred years old, he has never killed a human. He was raised by Randall to be as close to human as a vampire can possibly be, and because of this unique lifestyle, they have extended their lives well past the accelerated aging most vampires experience.
Now read as Daniel explains the beginning of Randall and Lois’ back story.
“So, Randall and Lois. You promised to tell me their story when there was time.”
“I did, didn’t I.” His smile faded a little. “It’s not a very happy one, are you sure you want to hear it now?”
“Well, give me the highlights; you can fill in the details some other time.”
He settled back in his chair and began.
“I guess I have to go back farther than just when Randall became what we are now. You should know that their marriage was arranged by their parents. In those kind of small isolated communities like Hopkinton, most of the time marriages were partnerships more than emotional relationships. Randall will tell you he fell in love with Lois the moment he first laid eyes on her. She, on the other hand, was a sensible woman and only agreed to the marriage because she thought Randall would be a good provider and partner in life. She didn’t love him, but she also didn’t think it was important that she did either.
“He married her knowing this, but he was convinced that in time she would eventually grow to love him. Her sensibilities and his expectations were more common than you would think back then. The lifelong journey together often took two people from strangers to friends, and from friends to lovers. This was what Randall hoped would happen for them in the end.
“Years passed and Lois was an excellent wife providing for all his needs, raising his children and supporting him in every way she could. But he knew she still didn’t love him the way he wanted her too. Still he loved her with all his heart and believed that someday she would return his love with her own.
“Their life went on like this for many years so I’ll skip ahead to 1819 when he was bitten. Randall was an older man when it happened, seventy-four. He had gone out of town for a few days to settle some business up in Providence, I think it was. He was travelling back to Hopkinton in his carriage when he came across what looked like a body in the middle of the road. He got down to see if he could help, but the body was a vampire lying in wait for him. He sprang up, attacked Randall then left him for dead deep in the woods.”
He paused when he saw the look on my face. “You’re wondering why the trap. Why not just drag him down off the carriage and kill him.
I shrugged my shoulders as I chewed.
“Vampires are people too, Sara.”
Then he kind of chuckled when he realized what he’d said. “They get bored and find new ways to capture prey. I have to assume that was why. Anyway, there in the forest, Randall went through his transformation. It took a couple of days he thinks, but you can’t keep track of time when all this is happening to you. The pain is too excruciating.”
“Do you think his attacker meant to leave him alive?”
“He doesn’t know and there’s no way to say for sure now.”
“What do you think?”
Daniel paused for a moment then said “Yes, I think it was probably on purpose. But I’m the only one who thinks so.”
Then he turned to watch a couple at another table kissing in the corner. Although I had no clue why, I think it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, so I changed the subject.
“So what happened next?”
“When he regained his senses he knew something was wrong. He felt the remains of the bite marks on his neck and when he held his hand up to his chest, he couldn’t feel his heart. Even though his throat burned with an overwhelming thirst he didn’t understand, none of it mattered, his only thought was for Lois.
“He ran back to the house only to find her sitting on the back porch waiting for him. She took one look at him and knew something was terribly wrong.
“He told her what had happened, that he’d been attacked and had woken up in the forest. Of course at this point he had no idea what had really happened to him. Then he reached out, took her hand and placed it on his chest so she could feel that his heart no longer beat.
“Did he look younger then?”
“That must have freaked Lois out.”
“Yes, I believe it did.” He sighed, I think uncomfortable with the subject.
“So what happened next?” I asked as I twirled my fork around in my pasta.
“She started to cry and told him she didn’t want to be a widow. I think part of her thought he was dead already – some kind of a ghost. She broke down and told him how she’d desperately loved him for years, but had kept it hidden from him because of her pride. She’d thought that if she ever told Randall how much she loved him, that things would change between them. She said she wouldn’t be able to stand it if he ever tired of her and looked at another woman. She knew that by denying him what he’d always wanted most, her heart, that she’d kept him all to herself. And here in the end, she finally realized she should have confessed her love for him years ago.
“Randall was stunned, he’d had no idea. He said in that moment of revelation, he could feel the warmth of her hand on his bare chest. Swept up in his lack of understanding of what was happening to him, he felt her blood as it surged through her hand faster and faster, her pulse quickening under her emotions. He could hear her heart beating so loud and so strong. And in that singular moment, he realized that after all these years, it finally beat only for him. He said he’ll never forget how his eyes stared at her hand on his chest, and how he followed the blood in it up her arm until he looked up to see the desperate emotion that filled her eyes. That was when he lost control. The thought of a life without her overwhelmed him and … he bit her.”
Daniel paused for a moment, waiting for me to take in the enormity of what he’d just said.
“Suddenly realizing what he’d done, he dropped her and ran off, leaving her barely alive. He still didn’t know what he’d become, but he knew what he’d done to Lois, and unable to live with the knowledge of it, he fled.
Totally wrapped up in the story, I stared at Daniel.
“You’re not eating, please finish,” he softly urged.
I cut up a meatball and took another bite.
“So then what?”
“I suppose you could say that’s where their story really begins, but let’s save that for another time.”
He reached over and gently placed his hand on mine, and for a moment ran his thumb across my knuckles. It was the smallest of contacts, but even this small sensation generated a tingling down deep inside me. When I looked up into his eyes, he smiled, then pulled his hand back to pretend to take a sip of water as our waitress passed.
I was satisfied for tonight, but I wouldn’t let him forget to tell me what happened next. It would give me something to look forward to. Of course, I was also wondering how I was going to translate all this new information into my genealogy program. I’d have to give that some more thought as well.
I hope you enjoyed this spinet of my novel. If you’d like to read the entire novel and the four more that follow to experience the entire story of Randall, Lois, Daniel and Sara, go to Amazon.com to purchase the books as either paperback of ebooks: