I sat across from Kirk Grady and was amazed at how little this man actually said. I was used to batting my eyes and having a guy spill his entire life story and follow up with all the assorted tales of loved ones in the space of a second or two, no vampire glamour needed. Yet here I had sat across from Kirk in the diner waiting for him to tell me why my 'cousin' Greg was on Homeland Security's alleged watch list and he didn't say a word. I still didn't buy Kirk being from Homeland Security. I thought it was more likely some obscure black bag group that was funded under the banner of Homeland Security but not actually part of it. But I didn't bother to ask knowing Kirk would probably lie.
I sipped at my coffee while Kirk waved for more decaf coffee as his cup was empty and Rosie cheerfully refilled his cup. He added cream and drained a second cup, still under the illusion that Rosie even served decaf coffee. I smiled from behind my cup and suppressed my laughter. Kirk worked on his third cup while waiting for his chef's salad to arrive. I had yet to say another word and all he had said was directed at Rosie and her coffee carafe. The thought of how he would be buzzing from the caffeine was the only thing keeping me there. I could find out more about Greg and Elisa's being slaughtered from Kenyon and his crowd than this clown. I waited hoping there would be something Kirk would reveal while he was working his way through his third, and hopefully for his sleep cycle last, cup of coffee. His salad arrived and he had yet to say a word more about Greg's blood coated van and the fact both he and Elisa were missing and presumed dead.
A clock ticked on the wall above the cash register as Kirk worked his way methodically through the rabbit feed. I waved Rosie over for my check. She disregarded Kirk's mumbling while handing me the bill. I tossed a twenty at her saying, "Keep the change. Talk to you later this week." She smiled and I got up. Kirk frantically chewed the mouthful and said to me before I had my jacket fully on, "Wait!"
"For what? To watch you order a slice of pie? Get real. If my cousin is out there horribly hurt I need to find out. If you know something you better tell me." My eyes were large and filled with anger. It seemed to finally sink in on him that I was truly not going to stay and watch him eat. His sitting there just being quiet was a control issue I knew well. I had no desire to play that game.
He swallowed more coffee before saying, "I don't think you will find your cousin."
I stood and finished putting on my jacket.
"I won't while standing here that is for sure." I arched an eyebrow. He gestured for me to sit back down. I slowly returned to my seat while removing my jacket. The hook was baited finally and I figured he would tell me what I needed to know. Or he would be my next meal. I had little patience left and New Year's resolutions to meet.
"It looked like he was killed in the van and dumped in the river. There is no way that much blood was spilled and two humans walked away. The dogs reacted to the blood and kept pointing to the water. Sorry, but I don't think you will be finding him wandering around the van. If that had been the case our people would have found him and the woman already."
"So why exactly did you invite me here? What reason could you have to drag me out late at night and tell me such horrible things?" I really should have gone into acting instead of photography, I thought as I caught my reflection of tragedy in the mirroring of the window. A sudden motion outside caught my eye.
A shadow edged into the border of the street lamp just off to the corner of the lane. Kirk would not be able to see the barely illuminated shape while I was trying to casually look and not get caught. The features were fuzzy for a minute and then I could see who was standing there. In my distracted state I had forgotten I had posed a question to the man seated across from me. He sat there sipping his coffee while I had drifted off.
He answered slowly, "We knew you had little to do with your cousin up until last night. We were hoping that someone you both met with last night will be the link to his disappearance and maybe his associates we are watching."
That was a completely useless reply. He just wanted me to list out the party attendees from Kenyon's little gathering last night at Dark Whispers. I was not going to do that ever. I didn't get the vampire hunter vibe off this human. No, he was simply preying on his own. He liked instilling a bit of fear and making people panic about who they knew or what they didn't know.
My disgust at this waste of time grew as I saw him indicated to Rosie for another coffee refill. I had no use for him and put him on my short list of humans to slay. Looking disturbed I asked softly, "Do you have a card or something so I could contact you once I put a list together?" I tried to sound fearful and cowered. Not a convincing part but Rosie smiled as she walked away. I watched her make another pot of coffee in the orange banned carafe with extra coffee grounds. I was shocked Kirk hadn't even noticed the kick to his heart yet. He solemnly handed me a nicely neutral business card printed with very little information. His name, phone number and email address. Nothing I couldn't print up down at Kinko's for twenty bucks.
"Is there an address I can mail it to? I know you must be busy and I don't use the internet." That was a lie but not unlikely. Not everyone was computer literate and I was not giving him any access to me via the net. He sighed and pulled out a different card. This one had more details like a job title and his physical office. Perfect. Now I had the location to pick up my future hot meal. My visitor outside was getting impatient.
I made my way up slower and more subservient.
"I really need to go home and make some calls."
He nodded and said, "I will call you tomorrow on this matter. Until then I would advise you to keep my interest in your cousin to yourself. You never know who is part of this."
Right. He was so full of himself it was nearly amusing.
Nearly to the door I turned and asked Rosie in a somewhat loud voice, "When did you start serving decaf?"
She grinned and answered a bit louder, "Cassie, you know I would never serve that swill. What a waste of money." She waved to me as I left and continued to wipe the clean counter.
I smiled back and watched Kirk look down at his cup in horror. That alone was worth the trip. Well that and talking to my shadow friend.
Harry had been consigliore to J. Edgar Hoover back in the day. Hoover was one of the most intense megalomaniacs in our recent history. And Harry was the guiding light, as it were, behind some of Hoover's search and destroy missions he took upon himself to conduct during his years as head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. By being part of the problem and a confidante of the man, Harry had traveled well under the radar while removing all his enemies whether real or imagined. And Harry was quite capable of imagining things even I shuddered to think of even to this day. Harry was extremely intense and more than a bit paranoid. What better qualities could one ask in a vampire?
Just one. And that was met since Harry was one of my best vampire buddies. We tended to hunt away from each other but he and I watched the other's back. In vampire land that was critical. Humans have nothing on us vamps for high level backstabbing. I walked away from the light Harry had been lingering around and found him next to a large tree. He liked trees. He said they were the most stable elements around him and I saw he had pulled out his knife and carved his initials in a heart on the trunk. Harry liked to mark everything. I smiled and said, "Boo!"
He finished his carving by adding my initials inside the heart. Good, he still had me high on his list. He snapped his Buck knife closed and put it in his pocket while saying, "What mess have you got yourself into now?"
He hugged me while drawing me further out of view. We had no need for light and continued deeper into the shadows while linking arms.
"What part of the past twenty four hours are you referring to, Harry?" It could have been a manner of issues. I smiled up at him and he bestowed a kiss on my cheek. I had missed him. "Cassandra, you have been far too busy. Kenyon told me about your New Year's resolution. Nice, I will help you out wherever you need, my darling. But this mess with Greg, that is so not going to be good. Kirk is not some simpleton to delude with some glamour and a bit of flash. He has been around the block a few times. And we will need to dispose of him."
Oh, goodie. I was happy Harry was in agreement with me since he was the one I was going to tap to help me disposed of Kirk when the mood suited me. I hated waiting but Harry was a necessary element to any play I did with government agencies. That Kirk was known to Harry was not a surprise to me.
"Harry, I need to dispose of him soon. His even being near all of us from last night wouldn't be good. Speaking of that, where were you last night? I would have figured you would have been tormenting Kenyon with your mere presence."
He laughed, "Trying to find that human, Lani. Greg and Elisa were too caught up in each other to see her fleeing the night Elisa was made. Lani ran to ground that evening and has not been seen since. It is rare for humans to drop out of sight so easily. I will find her. Kenyon knew Greg didn't have enough backbone to finish the job."
He smiled at me, "So besides Kirk, who's on your 'to-do' list?"
I laughed and said, "Dunno, only time will tell. Right now I just need to figure out if Greg's being slaughtered will screw up my amusement. Damn idiot, ruins my fun with his ill-timed death. I don't care who killed him. But I need to be careful." I was angry but had to deal the hand given.
Harry was much older than me and laughed, "Cassandra, you are always too impatient. This little delay just makes the meals partaken that much sweeter."
I laughed. Harry always brought out the best in me.