Just Makes Me See Red
I sat back on the couch and admired my new necklace. Harry had spent some serious bucks on the gold cross and chain. The ruby set in the middle was stunning and made me think lusciously rich blood-laden feasting thoughts. I turned to Harry and said, "Thanks, hon."
"Cassandra, I know you want to just go out and slaughter them all, but we really need some sort of a plan." He sounded reasonable and very somber.
I laughed at Harry's attempt to make me part of one of his plans. He knew me better than that. I was more of a spontaneous sort. "And your plans have worked out so well how?"
He shot me a look and grumbled.
I sketched Harry a quick kiss on his cheek and said, "I am sorry, sorta. But still my plans tend to bring prompt results."
He laughed, "Yes, like poor Mac and Art down by the van. Definite results. What were you going to do if the dogs scented us? You know how well they like vampires."
He did have a point. It took some nice bribes to keep dogs from snarling at vampires. They tended to see us as the competition for scraps, and being heavily scented of borrowed blood, that confused them in a big way. It would set off the howling and growling if not checked. Generally we avoided dogs. Harry learned to carry snacks. Thankfully their brains are pretty 'now' centered, and a good doggy reward shuts them down.
"Hey, they were worthy of the disposal. Besides I didn't need to see the van anyway, as you well know. We were given visual evidence of anything the van would have revealed."
"Nice try. You didn't know that when we headed down. You just got lucky." I flashed Harry a grin and agreed.
"Nothing wrong with that. Luck is part of what has kept me walking this earth this long. I will take all the luck dished."
"Okay, Cassandra. But we do need to figure out how to proceed." Again he had his serious look furrowing his brow.
I bit back a grin and nodded, saying, "Sure, Harry. Sure, Harry." I uncoiled from the couch and admired my necklace in a mirror by the front door. Yeah, that's another myth. Of course, we have reflections. We are supernatural creatures, but most of the legend out there about vampires is crafted to keep us in plain sight without natives running after us with pitchforks and hatchets. Returning to the mirror image, I saw how nicely the necklace hit the middle of my chest.
Harry watched my preening. Certainly my sweatshirt didn't bring out the shine nearly as well as say, an evening dress, but I liked the necklace. I lifted the chain and dropped the necklace inside my sweatshirt. The initial warmth from the cross touching my skin made me smile. Time healed many things, and teaching my body to take crosses was worth all the pain it took to get there. I beamed back at Harry and spun around to say, "Okay, let's give all this a rest. From what we saw on Lani's tape, Greg won't be popping up causing us any worries."
Harry looked over at the still blinking red message light on my answering machine. He tilted his head towards the device.
"You going to check that?" It bothered Harry when folks didn't answer phones or even attend to unheard messages.
I shrugged, "You can if you want. Not like you don't hear all my messages at some point in time." Discomfort flickered over his features; he didn't meet my eyes. Got it right again, I thought. I was pretty sure that he had my phone tapped, but his avoiding my gaze confirmed my thoughts. That didn't upset me, but rather comforted me that he kept close tabs on me after all this time.
Harry tried to resist and lasted for maybe a full minute and gave up the pretense of not itching to hear my messages. He quickly walked to the machine and hit the play button. The calls recorded began to fill the silence.
"Cassandra? Why didn't you call? Are you ok? Zack has called me like ten times today. Call me, I'm worried!" Liz sounded a bit frantic. My best human friend and I completely forgot to call her in all the chaos. Shoot.
Harry said, "Save or erase?"
I glared. "I will remember to call her. Erase."
He tapped the delete button and poof went Liz.
A hang up was the next call. Harry erased that without asking.
"You certainly have your share of those." Harry felt the need to comment as another hang up followed time stamped a mere ten minutes later.
Without a thought I said, "And you know who makes them?"
He shook his head slowly and hit the next call up for us to hear.
"Ah, Sandy? Hey, you there? Come on, pick up." Oh damn, it was Zack. Didn't the guy like get a clue? "Ah, okay, so I didn't hear from you today. I mean, I thought like you were totally hot." I was amazed this guy ever passed the bar. For a lawyer he was pretty sucky on the phone. Not to mention pretty stupid. I sighed and listened to his feeble attempts to get me on the phone. "Sandy, you are there. I, um, know you left but I think you misunderstood." I laughed aloud as I could hear the giggly teen in the background calling out, "Zacky, who ya talkin' to? Come back to bed!" The call ended abruptly.
"Gee, guess he got over me," I said with a smirk to Harry. He hit delete without a comment.
Kenyon left a terse, "Call me." Deleted.
Another hang up call from the deep breather was sent quickly into delete land. "That really can't be good, you know," Harry felt compelled to say before hitting the next call up.
The time stamp was roughly an hour or so after I had left to meet up with Kirk and then Harry.
"Hello, Ms. Pepper. This is Barry Parks from the Gentle Acres Community. I don't know what you may have heard about us but we are quite willing to help you meet all your ultimate needs. Most young folks don't realize how long term pre-planning can take the worry out of an uncertain and trying future. We here at the Acres, as we like to call it, take the time to find out what your plans are for your after life and what we can do to facilitate your transition into a final resting place." Harry hit the pause button. Laughing, he turned to me and said, "When did you sign up to gets calls from the local ghouls?"
Confused, I looked at him. The man's voice had been calm and very soothing. I didn't have a clue who this Barry was.
"What are you talking about?" I asked, exasperated.
Harry could hardly contain himself. "Cassandra, that guy is from the local cemetery or mortuary and is trying to sell you a plot or crypt." Here he doubled over laughing and hit the play button to finish out the sales pitch. He was right. That loser wanted to sell me an 'afterlife package.' Soon the irony caught my funny bone and I was laughing too.
"Save that one!" I cackled and Harry agreed.
Another hang up after some snorts and sounds best left to the erase key. Then Harry and I sobered up to hear, "Cassandra, this is unacceptable. YOU must call me." Kenyon was not happy.
I rolled my eyes. I knew that Kenyon was fretting about the Greg's disappearance, and I didn't care. Greg being permanently gone, he wouldn't be able to cause media hoopla or further problems for Kenyon's club. Harry hit the next one up for us to hear.
Two more mystery calls with the assorted breathing and nasty sounds. Then another Kenyon rant. He was less than nice and Harry hit the delete button the second his voice started.
"Hello, Cassandra, are you there? Please pick up. I need to talk with you."
It was the call from Kirk playing, "Okay, when you get this, call me back. It's about your cousin. Oh, wait, don't call my office, call me back on my cell." His cell number was rattled off for my tape. It seemed like weeks ago when Harry and I watched him place that call. I had no desire to return his call this late.
Harry said, "Good news. There is only one call remaining." I was amused; he really was funny about having to hear all the messages. I would have bailed on them after the sales call. I planned on playing that again, and probably paying good old Barry Parks a visit up close and personal. He needed to be introduced to the finer points of my afterlife plans. I grinned with my fangs down a bit and Harry joined me in laughing. Catching my eyes he said, "I want to go with you when you decide to visit Barry boy. I think it will be quite entertaining."
"Okay, hit me with the last one." I was still grinning when the call started.
At first I thought it was the hang up breather guy because I could only hear a deep sigh. Then the call began, "Casssaannndra, I know you aren't there right now," I went closer to the answering machine. Harry leaned in with me as we tried to figure out whose voice this was. It wasn't any of the folks we had been around the past few days. At least not anyone I could remember off the top of my head.
Harry paused it and said, "God, you know who that is?"
It came to me in a flash, "Morgan."
Morgan wasn't his real name, but the last one I knew him by over twenty years ago. He had been around for far too long and was one of the darker angels in our little pantheon of vampires. He was also a vampire executioner of the highest caliber. He was the clean up crew for the vampires Harry or I couldn't track and kill. He never called me.
Harry wrapped his arm around me and reluctantly pushed the play button.
"So, I hear you are a busy little bee lately." His voice hissed anger and venom. He never played well with others. I didn't like being on his radar. "Cassandra, you should redirect your energies. I would hate to have a conflict with you. This is not sanctioned. You should stop with the local dramas and get back to your normal world. Such as it is. I hear Selma is having troubles. Why don't you head out her way and let me clean up the mess here? Oh, and that wasn't really a suggestion." With that he hung up.
"Don't delete that. I may need the ammo if I have to go before the council." I was furious as I stepped away from Harry's embrace. I mean, to have Morgan call and tell me off on my answering machine was beyond simple arrogance. He had overstepped. I had not been told to stop by the council, and his little call was a power play to tell me he was also watching what was going on in my corner of the globe. Hell, there were plenty of rogues out there for him to bug, but no, he called me!
I paced and stormed around the living room. Infuriated by Morgan, I was ready to tear off someone's head.
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