Night Blooming Jasmine
In the dead man's car, Harry was driving ahead of us to the spot we had picked to stage the 'fatal' accident. The plastic we had used would melt right off the quickly chilling Kirk corpse, leaving a faint oil residue for the cops to dismiss as just another part of the car. Morgan drove along, quietly at first, while leaving a bit of distance between the vehicles. Harry still could 'hear' me if I wanted, but Morgan would know, and that would pretty much defeat the purpose. He was a stronger vampire than either of us and would easily hear Harry and my mind whispering.
As we continued down the highway heading out to the desert, yes -- a common dumping ground -- the night sparkled with stars. Even with the tinted glass I could see how brightly the stars lit up the dry landscape. Shadows chased across the sand and rocks as we whizzed by, heading deeper into the Anza Borrego desert. The tires hissed and thumped along the asphalt. I was lulled by the monotony of the road.
The silence had gone on for so long, I had forgotten who I was sitting next to -- my bad.
"Why are you so determined to slay humans?" Morgan spoke softly while allowing a further gap between the cars. His SUV could have flown past the government sedan with minimum pressure on the gas; I could hear the car's engine protesting the slow speed and pondered if he really wanted me to answer that question.
He was staring at me while driving and not watching the road. His gaze was intense and I was concerned we would end up running off the road. But then with this vehicle I would be safe, but the nearby brush would be mowed down. I looked away and finally said, "Why not?"
My tone was less than respectful and I knew that was stupid, but I felt stupid explaining myself.
"Look at me, Cassandra." I was commanded.
"Why?" I knew that senior vampires could pull your soul out and drain you dry with little more than a glance. The stories were all out there for us to heed. I really wanted to follow the rules on this one, but an unwelcome resentment still colored my tone.
He pulled over to the side of the road swiftly. I watched Harry continue on the deserted highway, momentarily unaware of our stopping. Something in my heart hiccoughed and I tried to keep my cool. This was so not good.
The big engine ticked as the oil cooled in the desert air. Morgan laughed, "Seriously, why humans? It's not like they aren't already willing and able to support your needs. Your little pal Kenyon has created quite the sweet little setup with his moveable feast of clubs."
Yes, he had a point, but I had no desire to agree with him. I had my reasons. Which made me recall something, "Hey, you owe me a hot meal!"
Realizing I was not going to be distracted by his attempts to push in my mind, he re-started the car, pulled back onto the highway sighing, "Fine, I will let this go for now. But there is too much going on that needs to be explained. This Goth leader, Lani, has to be turned or made to disappear, fast and permanently."
I kept my thoughts hidden while feeling my smile lengthen with the addition of the slight extension of my fangs. I let the silence gather inside the car, trying to figure out what Morgan wanted with me. Up ahead I saw that Harry had slowed down and was nearly at a crawl waiting for us to catch up. I mentally sent out happy vibes and renewed my question, "So when do I get to feed?"
Morgan chuckled, "You just like it your way all the time, now don't you?"
"And your point?" I was beginning to see that Morgan was coming to like Harry and my little slice of ground, and needed to keep him on our team. To say the least. There was definitely a division of vampires happening, and I had no desire to find myself playing for the wrong side. If Morgan joined us, there was no way we would be beaten. And he had the backing of other vampires, better than any I could name.
"Okay, what say we take care of the trash, and go back into town and get you fed?" He was smiling now and agreeing with me. Morgan's smile was a bit disturbing even when it wasn't directed at me.
It took about another hour to find the right location and set up the single car accident. Harry joined us in Morgan's car once Kirk and his vehicle were fully engulfed. The dark smoke followed after us as we sped away from the scene. Morgan used the gas pedal on the way back and the miles disappeared rapidly. The stars gave way to city lights and light fog lining the highway.
"I've decided to take you to a new spot," Morgan said. We had been traveling in complete silence. Harry was unsure of what had gone on while he was ahead of us and didn't want to misspeak. There hadn't been enough time to fill him in while lighting up the desert with car-b-que.
"Okay," I said. Harry glanced at me with wide eyes as if trying to saying something. We were so used to talking silently inside our heads -- Morgan's presence definitely was cutting into that aspect of our relationship. I thought Harry was trying to reassure me that he had my back, but then he could have also been trying to tell me to run when we slowed down. I took his reassuring presence on trust; if nothing else, I would have a kickass good time fighting Morgan. Nothing like going out challenged by the best, I figured.
The car slowed down in a residential area of the city I was vaguely familiar with as being, as the crow flies, about three miles from Kenyon's club. There was no night spot here as far as I knew. We stopped in front of a rather large house. The architecture was pre-nineteen-twenties. The heavy Spanish influence in Southern California housing was built into the design with use of stucco and the curved arches. I had never been on this street. Morgan pulled into the driveway and parked in front of the garage.
Okay, but where was here? It would be impolite to ask, and I just shrugged my confusion to Harry. He arched an eyebrow at me and nodded.
The house was set back from the road and surrounded by a mixture of palm trees and lush plants. The side windows were covered with ivy on the outside and heavy drapes on the inside. I couldn't figure out why we were here, but got out of the car anyway. Harry was quickly by my side, waiting for Morgan to join us. Morgan stayed in the car and was speaking on his cell phone. When he closed the phone, the front door opened.
The woman holding the door open was unbelievably beautiful. Her pale skin was accented by waist-length russet hair. Her green eyes glowed and made me take a step back. Harry was behind me and cupped my elbows and murmured into my ear, "She's not truly human." I wasn't sure what he meant until I looked again. He was right, of course, she was something else.
Morgan finally left the SUV and was walking towards the lady saying, "Jasmine, how kind of you to receive us at such an hour."
He was suave and extremely debonair in his language and general bearing. His vampiric presence was rolling off him, to the exclusion of Harry and me standing there open-mouthed. This woman was somehow in both the human world and not. A smile stole over her face and no teeth descended. Maybe she was a partial vampire? Nearly turned? I couldn't figure it out. And from the pressure on my elbows, Harry was having trouble with it also. We stood back on the walk and watched the two approach each other with an obvious familiarity.
"Morgan, my love, I will always welcome you. You know this." The voice was soft and sultry with a hint of a southern influence. Her lips went to his and briefly they touched.
Most vampires avoided kissing humans. We found their blood tempting and their humanity disturbing at times. Playing with our food was common enough, but to see what looked like a human actually kissing a vampire and the vampire returning the kiss made my stomach hurt. Harry pulled me sharply back as I had unconsciously leaned forward to a predatory pose. He was right, I was ready to snatch at this being.
Morgan waved to us saying, "Jasmine, these are the two I was telling you about earlier."
Fun, we were the topic of conversation in this strange woman's life. Morgan completed the introduction while guiding us inside the home. He shut the door while saying, "Cassandra Pepper and Harry Adkison -- it is still Adkison isn't it?"
Harry nodded his greeting to the woman while I was compelled to touch this Jasmine creature of Morgan's. My hand went out to meet the white palm Jasmine extended to me slowly. Time froze as my fingers crossed her palm. With a soft gasp I let her wrap my hand within hers.
"Morgan, you've been a very bad boy," I bit out while shuddering slightly. The waves of emotions and thoughts were stunning -- and not only mine, but hers and hundreds of others.
Jasmine muttered something herself that only Morgan caught. It was nearly inaudible to me standing there, still holding her hand and vampiric hearing is very good. I think she said, "Oh, I am damned for sure now."
Morgan heard my silent query and said, "Yes, she is what you think."
Harry grumbled at being left out, and I could see him toy with the idea of touching her himself. I stopped him with, "She's a strong medium."
I released her hand and added, "And she has fed Morgan for decades."
We were quickly guided past the front door and into the main living room just off the entryway. The room was lush and fitted with classic furnishings. And a stunning blond man, draped half asleep on a dark green velvet sofa. He saw Jasmine wasn't alone and pulled shut his shirt that had been opened to his waist. I was not alone in observing the taut stomach, nor the signs of slicing. He wasn't a Goth, but definitely a vampire toy. The movement only attracted our eyes and his drowsy smile revealed he knew it.
He slowly stood and spoke, "Jasmine, my darlin,' who are these folks?" The voice was at odds with the laser sharp blue eyes; he knew very well what we were, just as we knew what he was. His accent was a carefully-doctored country boy sound that could be real or learned. It didn't matter. I heard Morgan speak clearly into my head. This toy was mine.
"Jackson," Jasmine introduced me to my meal, "meet Morgan, Harry and Cassandra." The man ignored both Morgan and Harry without even glancing their way. As far as he was concerned they weren't even there. Not a smart move, but they let it pass.
Jackson walked up to me and looked me up and down. His eyes were not kind, but cruel and piercing blue. He was used to dominating vampires. The sheer amount of corrupt energy that rolled off him was nearly toxic.
That was how he had survived so many feedings without being slain. Oh, well, I guess his time had come. I knew mine had.