Legs finally untangled from Kegs. Safely nestled within his arms she turned back to Charlotte saying, "I see you found your way. So what are these humans doing watching you?" Legs was stronger with Kegs by her side. Charlotte could see that they both pulled something from the other. She enjoyed the company of vampires but never really had that strong a bond with another of her kind. Hell, Kenyon would soon as cut her throat as take her out feeding. She caught Legs still looking down her nose at her waiting for a reply. Oops, she forgot to answer.
Charlotte bit back a vicious reply since obviously they had been watching her. She didn't much care for Legs' tone but as far as she knew she didn't have the necessary vampire backing of anyone in the club. Naturally starting something over Legs' attitude could prove to be very vampirically fatal. She dropped Iris' hand to give herself basic fangs and claws for weapons if need be. She had no clue what Legs was aiming for but she was ready. Kegs met her eyes over Legs' head and silently begged for leniency. It took all of her control to not lash out. Legs might not recall Charlotte in a bad mood, but Kegs had plenty of past events to recall and no desire to see them fight. Charlotte wondered who he thought would win such a battle. She mentally shook herself away from such fruitless wanderings and concentrated on the current situation.
"I don't know. How about we ask one of them?" She carefully smiled without fangs, looking down at the two humans crumpled on the floor. She hated appearing subservient to Legs, but certainly wasn't ready to face a challenge. Obviously Legs was spoiling for an excuse to bite out at Charlotte. Besides Charlotte had absolutely no intention of doing anything other than dropping the sleep spell from her female victim. The possible backlash from whatever 'protection' they did or didn't have wasn't something she was ready to play with, given Iris' house. She'd be happy to let Legs catch anything lashing out in the fangs, rather than having to suck it up herself.
Toby came in the back door saying, "Kelly relieved me so I can help. You want me to help carry one of them upstairs, Kegs?" Charlotte figured Kelly for a newer vampire since the name rang no bells.
Iris was staring at the two humans intently with a puzzled look on her face while Kegs and Toby shifted them somewhat upright against the wall.
Suddenly she said, "Hey, I know them."
All the vampires stopped moving and looked at the small girl. Her glasses glinted with reflected candlelight masking her eyes from normal view. Since the vampires' view wasn't 'normal,' they all could see how large her pupils had become with the shock of recognition. A ruffle of magic scented the air and a soft swirl of energy embraced them all and the vampires stiffened. Charlotte heard someone out of view gasp and moan. She wasn't sure if the energy feeling came off Iris or the two slumbering humans.
Legs went to her knees and looked into Iris' face and demanded, "Who are they?"
She glanced up at Charlotte as if asking permission to answer Legs. Feeling weird, Charlotte nodded her consent. Iris seemed relieved and flashed a quick smile. Legs grew impatient with the delay, and forced some of her anger into her eyes.
Meeting her eyes Iris reluctantly replied, "Friends of my mom."
In Charlotte's book, that certainly explained why they were so positive earlier that they were protected. They probably did have some sort of magical whammy on them. How else did they know to go to Charlotte's hotel was one of her questions running through her mind. From the way Kegs frowned, she could see that he also was curious about that little detail, and if their vampire-induced slumber command broke some little rule of the witches.
"Focus here, Iris," Legs was slightly strumming with her own earthy powers and another ripple ran around the club. One of the unseen vampires huddled over at the darkest end of the bar exclaimed, "Fuck this shit, I'm out of here!"
A resounding crack was the answer. It sounded like a tree had fallen or a very large log at least. The bartender casually put away a large dented metal baseball bat underneath the counter. That vampire definitely wouldn't be getting up anytime soon, Charlotte thought. She didn't recognize the voice so didn't much care.
"Sorry I took so long," another blast from her past walked into view. Eddie smiled at her as he came from the shadows. Kenyon had lied to her, yet again, when he told her two decades ago that Eddie had been slain. Charlotte leaped into Eddie's open arms and laughed.
"A few decades! I was told you were dead." She couldn't stop from grinning. Eddie's bear hug would have cracked a human rib cage. Hell, she'd seen him do it before to humans -- to their surprise and demise. Smiling she just snuggled against his smooth face happy to see he was alive. She and Eddie had become much closer after Norbert's trial and execution. Kegs had pushed them together often telling her they were just evil enough they deserved each other. And after she got to know Eddie much better she did have to agree with Kegs.
A booming laugh broke loose from both Kegs and Eddie echoing in the space warming them all. Well, except for the two sleeping humans. Even Iris smiled. Charlotte felt like pieces of a difficult puzzle were snapping into place.
Eddie smirked and said, "Kenyon?"
Still in resting on the giant vampire's chest she nodded from his grasp. She'd forgotten he was so big. Catching her glance, he lowered her to the ground and continued to smile down on her. She was pleased to see that his shoulder length blond hair was just as sleek as ever, pulled back somewhat with a leather strip; his light blue eyes twinkled at her filled with laughter. The dimples that grooved his face gave the mistaken impression to people that he was a nice man. He wasn't a nice man but a deliciously vicious vampire leader. Not a full master though, which was why Kenyon had pulled her away from him and his vampiric biker followers. It wasn't part of Kenyon's plan to have strong competition in the area while he was desperately trying to secure his holdings. She wondered why Eddie hadn't been able to contact her. It dawned on her that he might have tried and wasn't allowed to by Kenyon.
"C-Girl, Kenyon's lips were moving right? You knew he had to be lying." Kegs was right. Charlotte had questioned Kenyon and pestered him for details back then and he had a story that worked. Looking back she figured that she hadn't pushed enough, and part of it was she had been in disgrace then, with that unearthed attorney mistake. And she really didn't want Eddie to be told to give her a 'trial'.
Instinctively Kegs and Eddie had known who had delivered to her the misinformation. She was stacking up the lies the more she was away from Kenyon. And here she had been worried about what he was going to do to punish her? It seemed that Kenyon had plenty more to worry about than she did. He had been up to absolute no good -- in that she was positive. He had crossed more lines than she had. She would turn his ass in if it guaranteed his real death, but unfortunately the Byzantine political world of vampires wasn't so cut and dry from what she had seen. She could end up being on the pointy end of a stick without a heart or a head. It had happened before to lesser vampires than her with far less cause. Add in the current little misunderstanding she had about the bank vaults to be cleared up, she wasn't exactly operating on the best side of the vampire masters. She bit back a sigh of disgust at her mismanaged world. No need to clue Legs in about those little incidents.
Legs looked up from where she was crouched down in front of Iris and snarled, "Enough of Kenyon. What business did your mom have with these two humans?" She asked Iris practically spitting out the word humans.
Charlotte gathered that Legs wasn't happy about something. And she was pretty sure it was more to do with her, given the glares Legs threw her way when she thought Charlotte wasn't looking. Legs obviously was amongst the 'doesn't play well with others' variety of vampire. She certainly didn't seem to share well either, Charlotte figured from her possessive clinging to Kegs, not that he minded from what she observed.
Rolling her eyes, Iris said, "They were pretty much like her fetchers. She needed something, one of them would show up with a box or bag in the middle of the night. Mom never had them around me. I saw them coming and going all the time from my room. Mom usually sent me away whenever she was expecting them, but couldn't always get me out of the house in time so I was shuffled upstairs to my room. Once the girl, Janice -- I think she's called -- tried to knock on my door and my mom pulled her away saying I was sleeping. It was only like six at night and the idiot believed her."
Iris wasn't overly attached to the couple, Charlotte was happy to hear from the tone of her voice. Legs was glad to note that also, and she nodded, tapping the kid's nose just like Toby had done earlier to Charlotte in the parking lot. It seemed Legs spent lots of time with the boys. She wasn't sure how she felt about it, but then up until a few hours ago, the whole group had been dead in her mind. So it wasn't like she'd been around to be a part of all the fun and blooding. Kenyon had lots to explain. She hoped it would be at fang point and soon. The strumming of impatience was now running through Charlotte nearly as much as Legs but for an entirely different reason.
"Eddie, so where we want to do this?" Standing up, Legs cut to the chase. Quite the control freak, Charlotte thought then quickly pushed her bitchy side down she tried to feign interest.
"Upstairs. Back room." Eddie was talking about the place where Norbert got parted from the world. Charlotte had a small chill run down her spine. She always wondered how the vampires ever moved Norbert all those years ago. He wasn't a small vampire. He had been roughed up but not like he couldn't have broken free when first grabbed. Something innocent let the executioners get close enough to nab him. Part of her natural cynicism made her wonder if she was being set up to die upstairs like old Norbert the pervert vampire. Shrugging, knowing she couldn't change it, she asked Eddie, "You want them awake now or upstairs?"
Eddie looked at the two wretched unwashed figures and said, "What do you think, Legs? Are they trapped?"
"Definitely." Came her reply and Iris nodded and edged back to Charlotte's side her hand sneaking back like a hermit crab into its shell. The shell was Charlotte's palm and she tightened her hand around the girl's fist and felt a flex of answering energy. Iris wasn't just the witch's daughter. A curl of fear had begun to weave around them all. Magic again whispered.
"Then let's take them upstairs still sleeping. We'll work out the magic crap once we have them tied down or something," he jerked his head towards Toby who casually picked them both up like kittens by the scruff of their necks. They dangled from his hands lifeless -- an eerie foreshadowing of their future, Charlotte thought. Legs snagged Kegs' arm. Pulling his face to hers, she laughed something softly into his ear. Toby shook his head and walked towards the staircase.
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-03-19