"So how do you want to handle our watcher?" Charlotte softly breathed out while still stowing her baggage in the car.
Somehow what she had taken into the hotel seemed to take up more space on the way back out than she recalled going into the room. She hated packing and it showed in the overstuffed bags and her use of the trash and laundry bags from the hotel. She also tossed Iris' bag in the backseat with hers. Looking at the mess crammed into her, car it dawned on her that she really needed to get her vampire servants back. But given her current standing in the vampire community, she seriously doubted it would be happening any time soon. Growling softly, she finished jamming her stuff into the back.
"Fangs and fists suit me fine," Kegs wasn't kidding she knew since she saw that his fangs were ready.
He roguishly tossed her an air kiss and ran towards the end of the parking lot where there were some dense bushes lining the property. Charlotte slammed the lock on the car door and pocketed her keys while quickly following Kegs. He knew exactly where the shadows were. The shadows there were plural. Kegs had definitely surprised them with his quick movements and unexpected aggression. Both of the kids were around mid-twenties with a matching set of unwashed features suspended in his palms. Their unlaced shoes barely brushed the ground and they frantically were clawing at Kegs' hands.
"Don't break them yet. We need some answers first." Charlotte looked at them and knew they had been spying on her. They both had an aura of knowledge. They knew exactly who she was and weren't shocked at the fangs she and Kegs were sporting while he was manhandling them -- or vampire-handling them as it were. The male was turning lightly purple and the female was flushing up a lovely bright oxygen deprived red and yet she was still trying to scratch Kegs' eyes out. Her mistake. He shook her by the throat while saying, "We only need one alive to get answers."
The girl's eyes bulged and she pulled her hands from his face, holding them up, indicating she gave up. Kegs nodded to Charlotte for permission. She shrugged, then Kegs dropped her down next to Charlotte and said, "She's your problem now."
Quickly gasping in air she spit out, "Don't tell them anything, Garry!"
A brave but stupid move, Charlotte thought while she snatched the girl's arm with a firm grip. She had no clue why the female thought she was going to let her run away. But then humans didn't always make smart moves, she had observed over time.
"So, Garry, you goin' to be good?" Kegs asked while relaxing his grip a bit on the kid's throat. Garry also stopped trying to move and Kegs dropped him to his feet while still holding onto the boy's neck, but not as tightly and the purple color faded slightly with the access to air.
"Yeah, you got us. So what!" The girl couldn't keep her mouth shut. Charlotte looked into the brown eyes and said, "Why don't you go to sleep now?"
It was with relief when she felt the girl slump. She wasn't going to have to get physical. Men tended to wig out a bit when women were harmed; she liked roughing men up over women when there was an option. Kegs flashed a grin to her knowing her thoughts.
"As you see your little girlfriend here is taking a bit of a nap," Kegs' voice was threatening a more permanent sort of nap without saying the words. "So talk to us."
Garry looked ill as he saw his friend wasn't moving but slumped in Charlotte's grasp loosely like a rag doll. A flicker of something went over his face. It wasn't fear. Charlotte said, "He doesn't believe us."
Kegs laughed loudly. It was a decidedly predatory sound of mirth, yet still Garry had defiance dancing in his somewhat bloodshot eyes. The heavy rings underneath his hazel eyes were from exhaustion, and an over abuse of black mascara and eyeliner.
"You can't kill us. We are protected!" Garry wasn't operating on both cylinders if he thought just words would change the events as they were going to unfold. Granted both Kegs and Charlotte changed their immediate plans. But nothing was guaranteed with vampires -- they could always fang in later and sip.
"Shit. I hate when they get cocky." Kegs snarled then hit Garry with a word, "Sleep." It was like he'd used a hammer. Garry just crumpled.
Charlotte looked at the two sleep sprawled figures barely held up by the two vampires and shook her head. There was no discernable magic dancing around them that she could see, but after the incident with the sweepers over at Iris' house she wasn't completely sure.
"Wanna take them in the backseat or the trunk over to Eddie's?" Kegs asked while dragging Garry's unconscious body towards her car. He wasn't lifting the man up very far and Charlotte could see his hands dragging along the parking lot. The human's flesh was tearing.
"That'll leave a mark." She said then glanced at the unkempt couple and added, "Trunk for sure."
They tossed the two into the trunk with a minimum of effort. Charlotte smiled, "This reminding you of the good ole days yet?"
"Girl, with you any night will do. There is always something happening!" His voice was amused and slightly mocking as he slammed the trunk.
Charlotte bit back a defensive response because Kegs was absolutely right. Life tended to be a bit more exciting for her than other vampires she knew. Not that anyone would listen to her or sympathize much with her dilemmas. Most vampires were bored after an extra fifty or so years of vampiric life. They whined incessantly about ennui and assorted boring things humans didn't know about or much care. Like the quality of the blood -- there were some vampire snobs walking the night who only liked refined blue bloods or 'pure' humans. Not something that exactly cluttered the Southern California countryside.
"Got me there, Kegs. Boredom isn't something I am usually troubled with -- hell, the opposite usually." She shot him a grin. With a sigh, "Well we better head over to Eddie's before Legs sends out some help."
Kegs cell phone rang and he looked at the screen and shrugged while blushing slightly, not something many vampires could do, Charlotte was impressed. His beard was dark shot with silver-white but his ears and cheeks were still red as he spoke into the phone.
"Hey Legs." Charlotte grinned as she wondered what he had been thinking to feel so guilty. She resisted peeking into his mind since Kegs was a true friend. He turned slightly away from her and spoke even softer. She headed for the front seat while Kegs listened to whatever Legs was telling him. He snapped shut the phone saying, "They are already there and were wondering what was keeping us."
"Sure thing," she kept the sarcasm out of her voice but found it humorous that Legs was apprehensive enough to check up on Kegs and her.
But she could be personalizing it since she hadn't spent much time with Kegs since he and Legs became exclusive, so she had no idea if they were tightly leashed by cell phone. She didn't recall Kegs even owning a regular landline phone last time they ran together. Mentally shrugging aside her curiosity, she got in the car and headed to Eddie's. His bike was a bit further behind her than most humans could follow but still he was in vampiric sight. She put some normal rock tunes on the radio and didn't bother thinking about the humans in the trunk. Not like they would be her problem in a few minutes. Eddie's was a rough and tumble vampire hangout. Humans were welcome as appetizers and main courses. A few were even served up as desserts but rarely did the humans leave under their own power. Eddie's wasn't a fuzzy fern bar but more along the lines of a local dive. She hadn't been there in decades. Kenyon frowned on his vampires going anywhere but his place.
She noticed the neighborhood was still run down. New graffiti covered the sides of buildings and the local kids were still hanging out selling drugs on every other corner approaching the club. Once they were on the street of Eddie's club the vampires replaced humans hanging out and swapping packages. They weren't selling drugs but paperwork and addresses of tasty humans. 'Free' trading locations and for hire humans were given to those with the right fangs and cash.
Charlotte saw that Eddie's still had a parking lot with a vampire guard. The large two storied boxy building was run down and sported the required black iron bars of that side of town. They were actually to keep humans inside if the truth be known. She pulled the black Mercedes sedan into the narrow opening to the fenced in lot. A large shadow loomed over her window and she rolled it down, smiling up at the fanged face.
"Hey, Charlotte, long time. Legs said you'd be here." The vampire's voice rumbled into her car. A purr of satisfaction rolled along her spine. She knew the vampire.
To her delight Toby was still alive. That gave Charlotte a good feeling. Sometimes when she hadn't seen vampires for a few decades or heard anything about them, naturally she assumed they had been slain or decided to end their lives. It was a common affliction with vampires of a certain age. Toby was a large dark skinned vampire. He wasn't recognizable as any specific race because he wasn't from the current era. His genetic line had long been assimilated in the various human migrations. Toby had been around an awfully long time by any vampiric standards. His face was closed and somewhat cruel around the edges. He had frightened a few humans just with a glance. Basically he was scary wherever he prowled the earth. And like Kegs he went way back with Charlotte. His granite strong body had broken more than one fist. She stroked his face and smiled.
Toby leaned into her car and inhaled. "Oh, you brought fresh meat!" He was teasing but acknowledging he could smell the two humans in the trunk -- like she had ever doubted his skills.
"After they spill their secrets you can do whatever you want. But first we need to make sure they aren't booby-trapped." She smiled fangs out in pleasure at the idea Toby would get to drain them. Being watched by humans really pissed her off.
Toby tapped her lips saying, "Thank you my friend."
She felt richer for having found these vampires again. Maybe she would survive Kenyon's punishment for stealing from the bank vaults. If not, they would vindicate her death. Kenyon had robbed her of those memories. Keeping her stabled in his club with his other toothless vampires who had no power and apathy in abundance had made Charlotte less than what she truly was. What she deserved to be!
"Booby-trapped?" Toby looked at her directly. His eyes were nearly black and lit from within with a flame of energy. He was ready to take on whatever the humans had, Charlotte could tell. Toby would tear up anything threatening Eddie's she knew, so bringing in the humans was more than likely going to result in fangs and death. Oh well, it happened.
"Yep, these humans said they were protected. Since Iris got hit at home by Kenyon's sweepers I am not going to jump into the fray. Her mom may have put a whammy on the house since not a one of them survived. Granted I may have had something to do with them dying, but I don't know what the witch uses to protect her kid. And if these two are protected by witches, not humans, I don't need the karmic backlash." Charlotte tried to keep her voice steady but the whole witch angle screwed her over since she didn't know enough about witches.
Toby laughed richly at Charlotte's worry about karma.
"Charlotte, honey, you make your own luck! We both know that," he smiled and leaned back from the Mercedes. The throaty roar of Kegs approaching cut their conversation short and they remembered there was more to do.
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-02-19