Stranger Things Under the Sun
The medium called Jasmine was the first to speak. I wasn't sure of what I felt for her. She was Morgan's creature to be assured, but not a vampire, so I really wasn't eager to assign her any space in my world. But she did let me have that tasty mortal Jackson. I was regretting not tormenting him longer, but we vampires tend to be a bit hard on our playmates. I didn't think he had it in him to last more than an hour from my brand of entertainment.
"No, Cassandra, this will not be 'fun' but I do appreciate you taking care of my problem, and I will help you in any way I possibly can."
She was sweet to offer, but I still didn't get how a dead-speaker could help me. I had dispatched a lot of humans in my years of survival, and I personally had no desire to meet back with any of my ill-fated meals. Funny that ... the idea of chitchatting with someone I had enthralled and sucked dry didn't seem like a good use of my time.
Morgan thumped his hand on the table, "Drop your illusions, Cassandra! Jasmine is NOT like others. She is more than a 'dead-speaker'. She has many things to offer. I wanted you to meet her because she is vital to our survival." The choice of the words 'dead-speaker' and 'survival' was his way of telling me he was definitely eavesdropping on my thoughts.
With his white cool hands confidently placed on Jasmine's silk clad shoulders, firmly anchoring her in front of him while he looked at me with his dangerously angry eyes, I kept my backbone straight while I thought about what he had just thundered at me. I was being more than just spoken to, I was being warned off in no uncertain terms.
"Morgan, I am not arguing with you. I simply am waiting to hear more. I just met this woman less than twenty-four hours ago -- for all I know she has you bewitched in some manner and will be the ruin of us all." My voice was deadly soft and I believe my eyes were more than a bit wicked. I might not be as old as Morgan, but I wasn't some fledgling vampire with her fangs barely wet.
Okay, I knew better than to push back at him, but at the same time I wasn't willing to let Morgan steamroll over me to keep his gal pal safe. I was ready to keep battling Morgan when my cell vibrated in my pocket. Reluctantly I pulled it out and saw that Kenyon was on the line. Holding up a finger for a minute, I turned away from them all and answered, "Yes, Kenyon?"
"Cassandra, good, so you aren't dead." His tone was unsurprised and somewhat droll. Since he was part of my vampire tree, he would have had some idea if I was slaughtered, I would think, since we had been together for so long. The slight buzzing in my ear alerted me that he had me on speaker phone, so I quipped back in my most sensual tones, "Oh, Kenyon, baby, are you still waiting for me all hot and --"
I didn't get to finish the taunt as he whipped up the receiver and purred, "I forgot how much you hate speaker phones."
"Imagine that," I was less than tolerant with my tones. He almost never saw me and now he was calling me nearly daily. "What is it, Kenyon? Your newest flavor of the day boring you already?"
He sighed, and replied, "No, she is missing, apparently. I strongly suspect she has become less than accessible to me -- for say, the rest of my unnatural life. No note, no call. She has to be with your cousin in the flaming afterworld by now, nearly as I can suppose."
I said aloud for my own audience, "Kenyon, your latest drain bimbo is gone, and you don't really know where she is, and it is fine, and you are making jokes? Aren't you perhaps a bit concerned she will be turned and come back for a piece of Kenyon pie?" Half-turned vampire bait had a way of getting a little irritated with those of us who never finished the whole vampire transformation trick. Once newly dead, there frequently was a lovely battle of the near master against the brand new fledgling. Three guesses who won those fang games. Few fledglings lasted more than a turn of the moon or two without extreme one-on-one guidance, and some major rules and regulations drilled into their blood-addled brains. Morgan had dispatched his full share of baby vamps, as had Harry and I. It was never pretty and always a pain.
"Very well, Cassandra, but I called to let you know that Donnie and I are heading out for a while. There's too much heat around the club with all these deaths and mutilations for my comfort. I won't close the place, but just decided I needed to tend to some of my interests out of state, if not out of the country." His voice had dropped and it sounded like he was walking and talking.
I guessed he wasn't informing any of his companions about the upcoming relocation. "So why did you call me?" I was irritated by his running, but not greatly surprised.
"I don't plan on being away for long, but presumed you'd need to know, and in case you want to reach me, use this number." With that, he babbled off a new cell number. I scratched it down on a message pad on the counter.
Harry flipped the pad around and tabbed it into his PDA for his own records. A few swipes of the buttons, and he flipped the screen around for me to see that the name on the cell account was not Kenyon's, but Greg's. Really clever, hiding behind a dead guy. But then we do that pretty well as a rule.
I asked, "Kenyon, you aren't telling the cops or your club folks, so now what -- you'll just leave me alone to face the music?"
Kenyon apologized and mumbled, "Oh, I have to go someone is at the door. Later."
Dead air greeted my end of the call. Jerk.
"You aren't alone," Morgan quietly spoke. His anger had diminished with my call. That worked for me.
"I know, but I was trying to get more information out of him. He and Donnie are bolting, leaving us to face the cops. Damn vampires. We are so flaky." Here both Morgan and Harry couldn't help but grin. We could be pretty self-absorbed most of the time, and we all knew it.
"Okay, Cassandra, what is it you need from us?" Jasmine was trying to establish herself as part of our little team.
Hell, with Kenyon's defection she was probably better than vampires I had known for decades. That thought floated out and I noticed Morgan smile slightly. Damn, I had to keep blocking him. He smiled even wider.
"Right now? Damn it, I don't know. We need to get out of this place once it gets dark. There are far too many watchers on us. Vampires, Goths and apparently psychotic lawyers, I mean come on already. I just want to check my home, and then I think I want to find out what exactly has Kenyon spinning out of town. He has weathered pitchforks and villagers for longer than I have walked this earth, and yet he sounded nervous," I replied while touching Harry for some energy. His soothing spirit was helping me and his hand reached up to cup my face. I smiled at him.
The fact that Kenyon was running was really bothering me. Lani and her Goths must have captured another toy, and from Kenyon's remarks, he knew she was dead. She was probably more than half vampire if he could sense that. I wondered which of the females she was, the one on New Year's Eve or later. He tended to change his drain bimbos like most guys changed the sheets on their beds, semi-frequently and whenever they expected company.
"Understood," Morgan responded while adding, "We need to get out of here anyway. Jackson is gone. Long forgotten, he won't be found anytime soon." Here he smiled a very nasty little grin, making me suppress a slight shudder. He went on with, "Let's go to your home and see what is up and then go from there."
"Sure, but do you have an internet access I can spend a little time with?" I asked. I had no desire to pluck at the small keyboard of Harry's toy.
Jasmine nodded and said, "Sure do. I have a T-1 line with my own server and some lovely little programs to re-route you via some obscure links. Not 100% untraceable, but pretty good in my opinion." She did sound like she knew what she was talking about and Harry nodded his approval.
"Do you mind if I dabble with the system a bit?" Harry asked politely.
"Of course not. I want you to feel comfortable, Harry. Morgan has vouched for both of you. What is mine is yours." She was serious. I wasn't used to non-vampires helping. I kept that thought buried deep, as Morgan tended to over-react where Jasmine was concerned.
We went back further into the large home. Since all I had seen of the house was the kitchen, the basement and a bedroom just off that door, I was impressed by the casual California elegance, mixed with some odd pieces here and there of some vague indescribable use. Jasmine had a mixture of old world with new world. I noticed pre-Columbian figurines of a maternal nature that made me think of Italy alongside Native American medicine sticks and drums. Quite the eclectic combination of beliefs and values from what I glimpsed. Morgan had chosen an interesting lover.
We eventually wandered into a luxurious den with a computer setup that was all Jasmine promised. Harry was first on the keyboard once she used her various passwords to get him online. After a few hard earned keystrokes and swear words he pronounced, "Yours now, Cassandra."
I sat down and let my fingers fly. Morgan grunted his approval as Harry rubbed the back of my neck gently. Jasmine sat feline-like in a large overstuffed chair that was next to the doorway. She kept her thoughts to herself and I respected it. Morgan soon joined her; he perched on the arm of the chair and stroked her. Harry watched me and kept quiet. Again it was greatly appreciated with all the multi-tasking I was doing.
Finally I pronounced, "Okay, the Goths are online gathering their followers. They are using club and gaming sites to drum up 'demon slayers' -- and from what I see they are getting recruits. Lani is not having any trouble getting us watched, because these kids don't have jobs and are ready to believe not only that we exist, but that they are chosen to annihilate us. Joy! ... And it also looks like Zach's law firm employs cheap IT guys."
With that I began to reconstruct what information Zach Lee had on his webpage at the law firm that employed him. Bad me. I had the various New Year's Eve snapshots available from a website download I had done half asleep before this madness had truly begun. Soon Zach had a new show-and-tell shot or seven.
Harry laughed when he saw what I was putting up. I included a nice little bio about how Zach was happy to give his full attention to any and all small matters before him. The picture used was of him groping the rather dismal chest of the teen. The intense look on his face illustrated rather well his dedication to the finer details in life.
Jasmine wandered behind me to see what I was doing. "Well! Remind me never to get you mad at me. He was what, just a casual blind date fix-up?" She was more than a little startled by my snapshots and creativity.
I didn't hold grudges, I just got rid of the problems. Witness Jackson.