"I mean it, C-girl. I'm here for you if you want some help pushing Kenyon into a box or something." The coffin comment was cute but unnecessary. Both of them knew how to kill other vampires. Hell, she had made short work of Jim's little fang baby, Bethany, just a few days ago. She didn't even want to go face the music with Kenyon. This probably was the reason she was now in this latest mishap with Iris and the sweeper boys, once she thought about it. That thought nudged another.
"Kegs, you want to do me a real big favor and send over a team for a clean up at Iris' home? I need to warn you that there are four bodies, dead sweepers, and add in the fun that her mommy is apparently a witch of some sort. They have an ugly chopped-off vehicle with surfboards in the trunk area, which should be easy to recognize in that neighborhood, I would imagine, and I think the corpse in the kid's bedroom should have the keys in his pocket." Charlotte was compelled to be honest with her buddy.
She might not ask for him to help her fight with Kenyon, but one less place with her slain victims scattering the scenery would be a good thing for a change she thought. She really needed to find a better way to dispose of damn humans. Shaking her head softly, she listened to Kegs sigh as he replied slowly.
"Okay, so that explains why Legs wanted to come with me." He gruffly admitted, which also supported the feeling that Charlotte had about Legs not much caring for her. Legs must have sensed something off in the area and decided to tag along, since Charlotte sort of had the reputation of causing a bit of mayhem at times. Okay, she had the rep of attracting as well as causing if she was on an honesty kick -- which usually she wasn't overly concerned doing, since honesty was pretty much overrated to vampires. That Legs recognized something happening wasn't unusual for vampires but it was for one as young as she was. Kegs' pet vampire had definitely grown in strengths since Charlotte's last encounter with the surly one. And she wasn't so sure it was a good thing either.
"Not a problem. I'll send a fast team out there. Wait, first let me call Legs and have her set it up with Iris. There may be something or other that Iris needs to warn our folks about before they get a limb lobbed off or worse." Envisioning what could be worse, Charlotte nodded. Kegs patted her on the thigh. He groped in his jacket until he found his cell. Then Kegs flipped open his phone and called Legs.
Charlotte tried to tune out the call while sitting straddling the still vibrating bike with her thighs pressed to the back of Kegs' meaty legs. His boots were on the road keeping them upright. Charlotte couldn't have reached the ground without tilting the bike and she trusted Kegs to keep her safe. They hadn't moved from the middle of the lane since he had stopped for the red light a good minute or three ago. Her mind drifted as she caught the pleading tone in Kegs' voice. Some fights weren't hers, and she was actively resisting interfering for a change.
Charlotte hadn't even thought about how easily she got inside to get Iris. Had there been some sort of vampire barrier she missed? She couldn't remember any kind of resistance, but then the sweepers had broken in before she did, and maybe they sprung that trap without any harm. She rolled her eyes, thinking that she had fatally harmed them so it wasn't like they got away either. A chill crawled down her back as it dawned on her she might have been the tool for a witch's curse.
Goosebumps rose on her skin as the scent of magic danced in the breeze. Her face lifted to the moonlit sky and she wondered what was happening. Kegs shut the cell saying, "What the fuck did you just do?"
"Nothing!" Her protest sounded weak even to her own ears. A cloud drifted across the moon shadowing the world while seemingly sending a cold wind around them both. She resisted shuddering any more. Something was watching them in some unusual way. She didn't look around but suddenly felt very exposed.
"Shit honey, if I didn't know better I would say you had been dancing a blood dance or something with some powerful witches. You smell like Legs does after she returns from one of her vision quests. Up until now I figured she went out to the Anza Borrego and chowed down some 'shrooms or something. You have this sparkle that is not vampiric at all." His voice was respectful and fearful.
Damn, Iris' mom had put a whammy on the damn house. Charlotte needed this like a severed spine. She sighed and said, "This is what happens when you try to help strangers."
Kegs laughed. "Baby, some of your best friends started as strangers!"
She smiled. He was right. He had been one of her best strangers.
Laughing she remembered the first meeting with Kegs reminding him, "Honey, you were breaking down a door calling for my head on a pike!"
"And look where we are now." His fingers stroked the grips of his bike and it rumbled as he kicked them through the intersection. His voice was in her head. She tightened her forearms around his chest and grinned into his spine. She hadn't been the vampire who turned him but they had been nearly as close in the past as vampires and their masters.
"On the back of your bike with both of our heads still intact," she smiled and ran her fingernails down his cheek. The bike rumbled and they hit another gear. He purred and said, "You don't mean it."
Still laughing she said, "You'll never know, dear one. Since Legs pretty much would kill me if I poached!" Her hands were now firmly around his chest, off his face, but not before she felt his grin under her fingertips. A stray kiss may have lit upon her hand before she lowered it. Kegs was the last of the true romantics. Legs was a very lucky vampire.
"Damn, vampire woman, you kill me." He sounded choked. Since she couldn't see his face she mentally pictured the grin she knew he was sporting.
"I guess if that is what you're into now I could." Charlotte hadn't had this much fun in nights.
He didn't reply but sped up a bit more. The throbbing Harley was roaring and he was ignoring stop signs and red lights. Her hair streamed behind her as she gripped his back and chuckled. She missed the closeness of other vampires during her road trip. The taste of their spirit and their history was something humans didn't understand. Giselle and Teddy were delightful, but she hadn't spent enough time with them to get back to the rhythm Kegs and she had. Kenyon had been robbing her of her past. She knew that now.
Soon they neared the hotel. Getting off the bike Charlotte was unsettled for a minute. The quiver in her thighs reminded her of all the years she had spent on a bike running in the night. She'd forgotten how much she liked riding -- time tended to rob vampires of such memories. There were so many new ideas and constant changes for a vampire living so long, that over the decades the mind pushed some of the favorites from the past deeper and nearly out of reach. She smiled as she enjoyed the flash back to her past. Kegs nodded at the back entrance and asked, "You going to officially 'check out' like Legs suggested?" Legs hadn't exactly suggested anything but that remained unspoken.
Charlotte laughed, "Get real. I paid cash. And enough cash that the front desk won't notice I am gone for a few days." They both studiously ignored that Legs had pretty much demanded that Charlotte check out. As far as Charlotte was concerned it was a simple suggestion. Kegs picked up on that and wisely left it alone. Besides she didn't know why Legs cared so much, but had no desire to make it any easier on her.
He nodded. "So you going to meet me at Eddie's or should I hang out here and follow you?"
She thought that it was sweet that Kegs was asking permission given Charlotte's current status of possible vampire leper and future death merchant; she also found it very kind. Kenyon would kill Kegs in a second if he knew how much help he was giving her. But then rules were made to be broken, and given the sweepers running sanctioned through Kenyon's town it wasn't like he wasn't breaking a few of the rules. Hell, Kenyon would be staked and his parts scattered for simply running those sweepers -- without a thought much less a trial by the vampire executioners if he was discovered. That was what Charlotte enjoyed dreaming about while she was driving down the highway on the long trip home from Florida. It nearly made up for the ruined vacation of a sort.
"Why don't you wait for me? There's something odd happening around me and I can't quite put a finger on it. I don't think our accident on the freeway was one. I think it was deliberate and I already know that someone wants Iris dead. I have no clue which of us was the intended 'accident' victim but why take chances?" Charlotte had given it some thought while clinging to Kegs on the ride to her hotel.
The car accident was something intended to disable her or kill Iris, and she wasn't going to risk another incident no matter which of them it had been aimed at killing. There were vampires who refused to get on the highway because of the possibility of catastrophes that would result in decapitation or maiming. She never gave it much thought because she always figured if your number was up it was up. Since she had coasted well beyond the normal range of life expectancy she was golden. Yet the idea that maybe some human or near-human wanted her true death was pissing her off. Iris was too young to be killed just because her mom was a witch. Charlotte smiled as it dawned on her she was getting soft in her 'old age'. She wouldn't have cared what happened to a human or a witch fifty or sixty years ago. She blamed it on global warming. Everything else was blamed on it so it seemed a safe bet.
"Got it. I'll be waiting here for you to come down for your car." Kegs shut off his bike and chilled. Charlotte knew if she screamed for help he would be up to her room in a flash. Hell, she didn't even have to scream aloud for Kegs to hear her. She and he were closely linked. She smiled knowing he was a true friend, which in the vampire world was a good thing. And a rare thing.
Charlotte went to the room and made short work of packing and clearing out her stuff. Thankfully most of the loot from her bank spree was elsewhere. She took a second to wipe off all her prints. No need to leave any clues. Kenyon assured all his vampires that their prints weren't in any federal or state computer system. Charlotte figured being on the edge of being persona non gratis she didn't need to document her location for any overeager cops out there following trail of the wrecked car to her room. Kenyon's word wasn't doing much for Charlotte lately, and she was taking precautions where need be. She wasn't sure how Kenyon thought of her currently and saw no need to put up anymore red flags. She knew also Kenyon had hackers monitoring the police sites and other government databases. They might not have her prints, but Kenyon certainly did -- and the software to match up any prints.
Once she was back in the parking lot she found Kegs leaning against his bike talking softly on his cell. Her ears perked up as she thought she heard a whisper of her name from the other side but she wasn't sure.
"Okay, thanks." He flipped his cell closed and said, "There ya are. Let's hit it. You want me to ride back a bit and see if I can find a shadow?"
"Yeah, but my cell may be compromised so just call it to Legs if you see anything." Charlotte resisted asking who he'd been talking to when she came down from her room. She tossed her bags into her car. The back of her head itched. She knew someone was watching them. Looking into Kegs' eyes she said, "Shadows are already here."
"Yeah, I know." He grinned. It wasn't his nice safe 'I'm cool' grin but his 'I am going to slay you' grin. She really liked that smile. His fangs were showing. She smiled back giving him a flash of fang. He laughed and gave her a hug.
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-02-12