Darkness Is My Friend
Harry said, "I thought you hadn't developed any of the pictures from New Year's Eve."
I looked at him and explained, "Remember the night you showed up at my place and Kirk was there the next morning?" Here he nodded, realizing I was going to be revealing something pretty personal from my intense gaze. "Well, I woke up about four feeling restless and developed the roll in my bathroom. I scanned them to my website for this purpose," I indicated the newly improved site for the lousy lawyer, Zachary Lee, who had put the cops on us, claiming a child was being harmed when we had Jackson to dispose of the night before. That and he was a bad date -- most women would agree that was enough to hang him out to dry. So now Harry could either explain how we weren't sleeping together that night in my room or how was it that he was completely unaware of my movements around the room while he slept. Both comments would generate more questions. I raised an eyebrow and waited.
Jasmine cut in with, "Okay, so you have a darkroom. Do you have pictures from all of New Year's Eve, or just the party where your lawyer dumped you for a kid?" She didn't pull any punches, but gave Harry a way out of replying.
I answered calmly, even though I was less than thrilled by her pointing out I lost a date to a mere child, "Yes, I have a darkroom in my house. And yes, I developed all the film. The pictures are here," with that I clicked open the file I had used when I downloaded candid shots to help with Zachary's career enhancement. It had all of the pictures of Zach mauling and pawing the teen on New Year's Eve that I had shot that were now loaded onto my personal website. The pictures had not been shown during my re-tooling of the law office's website because of the type of program I had used. A few clicks of the mouse further and the entire screen filled with dozens of one by one inch pictures. They all leaned in to see what I had been shooting all night. Morgan grumbled something underneath his breath and Harry finally said, "Screw this."
He moved my hand from the mouse and began to click some more spots that made the computer display the pictures as a slide show slowly changing the small pictures into individual screen shots that were much larger and much easier to see. Morgan said, "Thanks."
It was odd having them all studying my photographs so intently. It was a hobby of mine, not a career, at least anymore. The digital camera craze pretty much wiped out most professional photographers. No need to wait weeks for the pictures to come back after a wedding. Immediate gratification for the 'me generation.' Harry stopped at one picture as Jasmine let out an audible gasp.
"Who is it?" Morgan looked at the frozen moment in time. It was taken later in the night when I had went over to Kenyon's club, Dark Whispers. In the frame was Kenyon, a small pale female and Greg nuzzling Elisa's neck.
She leaned in even closer and softly spoke, "Here, behind Kenyon, next to that little bitty near-vampire looking at him," she tapped the monitor slowly in the shadows, "This one."
Harry still had the mouse so he focused on the area and enlarged the picture. A now-familiar face was looking right at me when I took that picture. I never even noticed when I was taking the pictures nor developing them. The little bitty almost-vampire I figured must be the long dead Tiffany. She definitely looked like a Tiffany. But the one that Jasmine had found in my shot was a complete surprise to us all.
"What the hell is Kirk Grady doing there?" Harry finally had to ask. The picture was well-framed now that Harry had sharpened the focus and cropped in on the figure Jasmine had spotted in the darkness. I hadn't known who Kirk was at the time, so I had been clueless that he had ever seen me. Both Morgan and Harry had their jaws gaping and Jasmine nodded.
"You said his name was Kirk?" She was very curious about Kirk. I guess Morgan had never formally introduced her to him.
"Wait a minute, my dear, why do you ask it that way?" Morgan was looking even more upset than Harry, if it was even possible. Harry looked like he had swallowed something under-cooked and still wiggling. But then hadn't we all at some point? Oh, maybe that is just vampires. Hungers do the strangest things to us vampires.
She tapped her lips with a forefinger and reflectively replied, "Because I knew him as someone else."
Both Harry and Morgan were stunned. I was past amazement. Kirk had played off both Morgan and Kirk for however long, and it now seemed that neither really knew him. He had been pretty good to fool these two vampire boys so well. From the looks on both of their faces they were wishing they hadn't killed him already so they could kill him again and with more toys. Growling softly Morgan hissed out, "Who the hell was he to you?" The scary vampire executioner tone was back. It reminded me of the message he had left me on my answering machine. Oh, damn.
"Harry, we left Morgan's message on the answering machine remember?" Harry looked at me and recalled the one I was talking about from the other night. Warning me off 'or else' basically and continuing by telling me I should go play with Selma. I had been saving it for a future call to the council if I needed to bail my tush out from reparations for my recent activities. In our haste to leave and bring Kirk to Morgan I had not even thought of it. Now that my house had been compromised, so much for that overpriced security system, the messages on my machine must have been heard by the police.
Flipping open my cell phone, I turned away from everyone and began to filter through all the voice messages that had been left in the past ten hours plus. Seeing my cell, Harry asked, "What did you do with the PDA I gave you?" He sounded a bit hurt. I had completely forgotten about it with Jackson and the cops. I shrugged and tried to concentrate on the messages.
There were the half dozen from Liz growing more frantic in each one as I failed to respond. Since I already knew why she had called I deleted them all. Scattered and quickly deleted through most of Liz's messages were a few nasty ones from Kenyon about my supposed loyalty to him and his crew. Yeah, right, this from the guy who ran at the first signs of a little heat. Okay, maybe more than a little, but come on already, he had been around long enough to handle a little unscheduled programming. He was whining as far as I was concerned. I had one message from Zach that I made everyone gather around and listen to.
"Okay, Sandy, I know you never leave your cell phone off," he sounded quite sure of himself about that. Harry caught my eye and grinned because he knew I wasn't one to run to catch a call. But then Zach wasn't exactly a rocket scientist, just an attorney and not a very smart one at that. Zach continued, "I met up with a few of your friends yesterday when I went over with some flowers. I found Lani and Seneca waiting for you also at your door. They said that you dumped me," how soon he recreated that little mockery of a date, "for some loser named Harry who is a pervert. I can't let you harm yourself like that. I am going to save you." At this everyone started laughing.
"Damn, Cassandra, if he wasn't so serious this wouldn't be half as funny," Harry said while still laughing aloud. I saved the message just for kicks and giggles.
Jasmine was smiling and laughing when she stopped suddenly. "Oh, my." She looked pained by something.
Morgan grabbed her as she slumped to the floor, dizzy. She shook off his attention and got up slowly. Her eyes had taken on this spooky otherly look. Eyes no longer focused, but glazed and she was mentally watching something in her brain. Morgan grimaced as he backed away from his lady a bit.
"Sorry, honey, I can't help that the other side isn't that crazy about you," Jasmine feebly spoke while trying to find more words. Considering how many Morgan probably helped find the other side, it didn't greatly shock me. If you have a 'dead speaker' for a girlfriend her family will be the least of your problems. Seemed there was some more than a little baggage that went with that mating.
"You have no idea," Morgan growled while getting a glass of water for Jasmine. He handed it over gingerly trying not to have his fingers meet hers on the tumbler.
Since her hands were still trembling, she inadvertently brushed her finger tips over Morgan's. He let out a slight groan of pain. She looked sick. Harry met my eyes and blinked slowly. We were glad not to be strong enough to read any of that by-play. We would wait for the Cliff Notes version.
It wasn't long in coming. Once Jasmine had drained the glass and put it on the countertop without walking anywhere close to Morgan, who had stumbled to a chair and sat holding his head, she began to speak.
"There are shadow players without souls who have you in their sights." Was the first thing out of her.
Her voice had more of a pronounced drawl than her usual speaking voice. It was slower and deeper, more fitting an older person. But then she was probably much older than I knew, due her close association with Morgan, for the lack of a better set of words, and a side effect of being a vampire's lover. Most vampires stuck with the usual random humans who aged about one year for every seven to ten calendar years that passed, but even that sort of estimation could be off for mediums. It wasn't like I could consult a book on the topic. Up until last night I hadn't even realized vampires could stay around mediums for as long as we had much less have a relationship with one.
"The children are all watching -- live and dead. The darkness doesn't hold them. They have no fears of you and yours." Okay, this was starting to creep me out a bit. I found my fangs had descended unasked. I concentrated on keeping my cool. Harry was having a similar problem. Morgan still was holding his head and appeared to have taken on a greenish gray cast to his usually pale white skin color.
Jasmine shuddered and left whatever was on her lips unsaid. Closing her eyes she opened them to look very dismayed to find all of us frozen and obviously waiting for her to continue. Catching sight of Morgan bent over on the chair she flew to his side. He didn't even flinch when her hands brushed his hair back from his face. What had kept him in pain was no longer present.
"This is not good. I don't usually have any issues when Morgan is here. They really don't like him. My head has been much quieter with you all here. But that picture triggered something I fear." She brushed a kiss over Morgan's brow while staring off in space.
Harry asked, "Who was Kirk to you?"
"My nephew, Grady LaFee. Last time I saw him was years ago. He was maybe ten. But he is the spitting image of my deceased brother, Garth. This is not good. You said you both knew him as a Kirk Grady?" She still hadn't processed the entire events of last night, and neither Morgan nor Harry were in any hurry to clue her in on Kirk's passing and their help in getting him there.
And I certainly was in no hurry to tell her.