The club wasn't overly full and there weren't any humans other than the three in their party. Eddie's wasn't very crowded and Charlotte looked around casually while winding through the small tables and heavy wooden chairs. Most of the vampires she saw weren't familiar or even particularly memorable. Relief washed over her. She hadn't realized how tense she was until she started up the stairs, and once she figured out that there weren't any stronger vampires than the ones she came with, she felt her shoulders shift downward and she calmed a bit. Add in that the few vampires with any years who were in the club she knew that she could snap like twigs with no real effort on her part. And add in a quick head count she saw that there were around ten or fifteen vampires of lower ranges and maybe three of those at most with any sort of vampiric strength. The vampire whom the bartender had slammed with the bat was still slumped unconscious in the corner and nobody nearby seemed to care in the least. She had to grin at how self-involved vampires truly were. Nothing like a little violence, death and destruction to prove that they didn't give a damn about anyone but themselves. Some things never changed.
As Charlotte went up the staircase directly behind Legs and Kegs, she remembered (back when she had been present for Norbert's slaying) that the vampires in the room had all been old, mean and well-aged in the vampire community. There weren't any fledglings hanging around back then and all the vampires were well fanged and pretty strong. Something of what she was feeling must have drifted from her because Iris squeezed her fingers back with an anxious little twitch as they rapidly climbed up the stairs. She hadn't even noticed Iris slide her fingers back into her hand. Iris kept creeping around and touching her without any notice. Charlotte wasn't sure how that kept happening. Few humans ever got close without her knowing, yet Iris continued to slip in and out of her personal space.
"Charlotte?" Iris whispered up softly as they climbed up the stairs.
"What?" She tried to be polite but was still nervous.
"Do you think I am safe?" Iris wove her words with anxiety and trust. Charlotte bit back a sarcastic reply. The kid hadn't asked to be dragged into the whole vampire mess, but was a reluctant passenger.
"Dunno, Iris, but I will do what I can to get you back to your mom," she automatically replied while mentally slapping her brain at the promise. Vampires rarely promised anything. It was more than just words to vampires. Since they lived so long, a vampiric promise was a pledge not to be given lightly -- yet she gave her word. Iris couldn't know that but Charlotte did and wondered why she had so easily spoken the words of hope to the kid. Iris squeezed her fingers and shut up.
Eddie was in the lead with Toby right behind him. She saw that he didn't overly worry about the two humans he was dragging up the stairs, and she observed how a few of the steps loudly smacked them on their ankles as he moved them quickly upstairs, still suspended from his hands by their necks. One of the louder cracks sounded decidedly like a broken or shattered ankle. Thus one less human to run away, was all she thought. From Kegs soft chuckle she knew he caught it also. Legs had yet to stop bristling. Even if she wanted to it wasn't exactly something Charlotte could fix.
They went into the room at the top of the stairs and Charlotte was stupidly surprised to see Eddie had redecorated. Gone was the bare open space of decades ago and there was actually furniture in the room. Trying to keep her mouth from gaping open she saw he had a huge plasma TV on one wall with a large overstuffed black leather couch stationed in front for premium viewing. The chairs scattered nearby were equally as posh and not a single strip of duct tape decorated any surface. A rarity -- since the downstairs bar stools and old barely padded chairs had some major use of the silver adhesives as part of the basic biker bar ambience. The former flooring had been concrete and a patina of old blood stains. Now there was wooden floor with nice rugs thrown artfully around the room. This wasn't exactly some place she thought where vampires were executed anymore. She didn't have a clue where they could even question the two humans without messing up the decor.
Then she saw in the far corner a door that certainly hadn't been there the last time she was upstairs. Toby continued to walk through the rather plush room towards the other side where there was that new -- to her -- door, slightly ajar. Her mind quickly calculated the space and she now noticed that the room was smaller. When Norbert was executed she had been watching from the doorway and as they walked across the large beautiful room she could see that the latest space in Eddie's vampire slaying room was smaller. A good ten feet smaller. The artful use of rugs and large furniture had thrown her.
Eddie picked up a remote and turned on the plasma TV with a casual flick of his wrist. The sporadic white noise of some nonsensical talk show began to fill the space crowded with vampires, humans and a little witch-spawn. Toby nudged the door further open with his foot and they all trailed after him. Charlotte was surprised to see a motion detection sensor illuminating the room without anyone flipping a switch. A useful little device when carrying humans or corpses she figured.
Slowly they all filed into the room and Kegs closed the door, shutting them all inside. They hadn't picked up any new vampires on the trip up the stairs, quelling the slight worry Charlotte had about it being a trap for her. She couldn't afford to assume she was safe ever until she fixed the matter with the vampires about the banks. The jewelry and gems still lined various bags and suitcases hidden around town and in a few lockers. It all weighed her down. She had just wanted to have some fun for a change and look where it got her. Smiling, she did look around and it dawned on her it got her back with her friends.
"So how do we unwrap the spells from your mother's little helpers?" Legs asked Iris, who was still hidden behind Charlotte.
"You don't." She smiled and finished, "I do."
All the vampires stared down at the little girl in confusion.
"So mom's not the only witch in the house huh?" Legs asked while regarding the two humans still suspended from Toby's grip.
Iris rolled her eyes and didn't answer. Charlotte had to hand it to the kid for figuring out that a smart ass reply could prove a tad awkward with Legs' current attitude.
Kegs picked up on the undercurrents and said, "Do we pull them back from sleep first or let you do something?"
That was a good question. And unfortunately Charlotte could see that Iris didn't have the answer. Iris wiggled and then looked up at Eddie with big eyes, "Where's the lady's room?"
Confusion ran across Eddie's face. It wasn't a question most vampires were ever faced with given their alternative life. Bodily functions were more along the lines of draining blood. Amazement crossed his face overriding the confusion as he tried to visualize his club and then Charlotte could see that he didn't have a clue and he asked, "Toby, is the women's bathroom still downstairs?" He was asking softly, but also wondering if it was clean they all could see by the frown creasing his brow. Some things were obvious even to vampires. A little girl in a biker club was bad enough but having to use a restroom was a possible catastrophe.
"Sure is, Boss. Want me to take her down there?" Toby dropped the humans on the floor. They didn't thud as much as she expected and then Charlotte noticed that the flooring was covered with heavy layer of plastic unlike the rest of the loft room. No fancy flooring or a plasma TV in the room to confuse anyone. Underneath the plastic drop clothe Charlotte could smell the old blood and dead human scents. Eddie had kept using the upstairs -- just a bit more discretely than a few decades ago.
Iris widened her eyes and Charlotte was pretty sure the kid was faking shock. She looked up at Eddie and slowly fluttered her lashes. It looked silly, but Eddie was thrown for a loop. He probably didn't have much to do with the under fifty or sixty set given his vampire age and social set. A small human girl wasn't exactly an every night experience for an older vampire running a biker club.
"I can go by myself!" All the men squirmed at the direct reply. Legs and Charlotte met eyes and Legs said, "Sure ya can, but I need to check my lipstick. Let's head out."
Iris yanked away from Legs' proprietary hand on her shoulder trying to guide the girl. The door closed behind them as Iris headed for the downstairs bathroom. "Whatever!" They heard Iris say while leaving.
The kid had her attitude well tuned and it was pretty obvious that she didn't much care for Legs. Charlotte wondered how the hell they rode over on the bike. Did Iris hang onto the bike with her body not touching Legs? Shaking her head from the distracting thought she turned back to Kegs and Eddie. The humans lay crumpled at their feet, discarded for the moment.
Charlotte was relieved that Legs volunteered to take Iris since she needed a quick word with Kegs and Eddie. Legs hadn't been watching out for anyone's interests but her own and Charlotte wasn't ready to battle her for dominance. That little treat loomed in the not so distant future, she well knew.
"So boys what's going on?" She asked while wandering away from the group. "Why did you come to my call tonight, Kegs?"
They must have known she was still alive at some point. It wasn't like she had ever consciously blocked them out once she figured they were dead or moved on to another territory. The buzz of delight at finding them had begun to fade and she was now curious. Kenyon had lots to answer for once she got her claws and fangs in him.
"C-Girl, I had to. You were close and the kid amplified your need," Kegs admitted slowly while giving Eddie a look. Charlotte didn't have any idea what passed between them but something was unspoken and agreed upon without her any the wiser.
"So what about the watchers outside the club? Are they sweepers or something else?" Charlotte knew by now they were running the plates on the vehicles. Toby looked at Charlotte and nodded.
"The plates are being run and we are running a few of the faces through some data recognition programs." Toby answered informing them all while still trying to look innocent. Pretty hard to do when you were well over six feet tall and a wall of rippled muscles and sinew. Charlotte had to give him points for effort.
Eddie said, "Kenyon kept you locked up tight for the first ten or so years. You stopped looking for me after that, and I knew Kenyon wasn't going to give you up without a fight. I didn't have the vampires to battle him. And I knew you were safe. He couldn't afford to piss off the vampires higher up the food chain. Also you were smarter and stronger than him. I knew it. It looks like you finally figured that out."
Charlotte wasn't so sure but nodded. Kegs grinned and said, "See baby? You were ready to come back and play with us. Eddie told me it was okay to come. He heard you also."
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-03-26