Ever Softly We Go
Jasmine's discovering in my New Year's Eve photographs that her nephew, Grady, was also our seriously deceased pal, Kirk, made a huge problem for us. Nobody was willing to venture deeper into the conversation about what exactly had transpired with Kirk, but we all knew he wouldn't be making the annual family picnics any time soon. Jasmine admitted she hadn't seen him since he was about ten, and last I noticed, he was well into his mid-forties, so it wasn't like she had this huge close and personal relationship. But still, I didn't think Morgan wanted to discuss the final arrangements with his lover. Harry was staying very still, trying to avoid notice. I finally broke the silence.
"Yeah, your nephew, Grady LaFee was known as Kirk Grady to me. I met him in his apparently unsanctioned investigation into Greg's blood soaked, body-free van. But now it looks like Kirk was well aware of who was who at Kenyon's club, and all he was trying to do was trip me up. Had I listed the party goers and left out someone, he would have considered that a clue." I was also mildly disturbed to find that Kirk had been such a good liar.
Both Morgan and Harry looked relieved that I had been tricked also; it made them feel better in some macho man sort of way. I tried to keep a pleasant smile on my face but felt my fangs prickling ever so softly against my lips.
She was standing alone in the room, looking puzzled. I think it dawned on her that we had a bit more information about her kin than we were volunteering. Wisely she refrained from asking anything that was flowing through her mind, but I could tell by the horror in Morgan's eyes that he caught every unasked query and was less than happy. Okay, it wasn't like I could do much with unspoken questions. Not my problem.
Harry saved the situation by keying off the computer while saying, "We need to get to Cassandra's home and find out what we are up against."
Everyone quickly agreed and we organized ourselves to go find what was left of my house. Morgan was going to drive since his urban assault vehicle was large enough to fit us all. Soon we were outside and heading back to my place. The back of my neck was prickling as we got in the car. Once inside, Jasmine said what we all thought: "At least two sets of watchers. One human and the other not."
That left it wide open. Not human. I wasn't ready to ask what else there was. I knew they weren't vampires, because we were hardwired to find each other easily. Since Jasmine didn't say anything about it being other mediums, I figured I would just leave it alone for now. Part of my brain thought, lawyers aren't truly humans. Morgan caught the thought and chuckled. Harry smiled weakly. We really had to cut out some of the audience soon. As far as I was concerned, next time we got a bit parched, I think we had a list of ready made volunteers.
Once on the road Morgan took a circular route to my place, obviously trying to keep the followers jumping. The ride was done in near silence with only the radio blaring out some rock tunes from a local alternative station. Morgan's taste in music was pretty good for an old guy. Harry nudged me at that thought and held my hand firmly. We were in the back seat while Jasmine was perched up in the front. She had changed into an elegant linen suit that seemed overly formal, but worked with her looks and demeanor.
Before long we were at my house. It looked different -- just knowing that so many people had tramped through it was coloring my view. But still, I was irritated at having to look around and figure out what was missing and what was new.
Harry had been busily keying in his PDA and announced, "They did get a chance to change the locks in all the doors. The sweep was done and a ton of new bugs found. They left them in place. And the key is coming right now." At that a car drove up with a messenger service banner visible on the door. A small girl dashed out of the car and dropped an envelope on the door step as we drove into the driveway. She sketched a wave to us and ran off without missing a step.
I went to the front door and picked up the newly arrived envelope. Opening it, I removed the set of keys and opened the door. Once we were inside, the alarm began its annoying bleating. Harry keyed in a code while we got inside.
Knowing there were unseen ears listening, we pandered to the audience cravenly seeking the most informational of phrases. Leaving the bugs in place made for fun. Centuries of walking the earth ... this wasn't new to us and we were careful to not overdo the shock and awe.
"Cassandra, this is horrible." Harry began the play unasked. He and I had a dance long established for bugs and eavesdroppers.
"Damn, if Liz hadn't got hold of me, I would never have known how bad this was." My eye roll was not recorded for posterity since Harry had assured us that there were only listening devices and no cameras. I did wonder at his phrasing of tons of 'new bugs,' which reaffirmed he had his in place still. I shrugged and began to nonverbally directing them to the spots of interest in my world.
While mindlessly chattering about the damage and how unexpected it all was, we methodically searched my place. Between Harry and me, we checked all my cubby holes and found nothing missing or messed with in any manner. Since one or two of the safety devices required a drop of vampire blood to open we were fairly sure that the invaders were human, or at least not vampires. That said, I was pretty sure they were more than a bit pissed off at how little they found. Which completely explained all the damage. Having been a vampire so long, I didn't really get attached to my clutter much, but still it burned. Payback was going to be fun. To say the least.
A knock interrupted our exploration and sporadic clean-up efforts. We vampires hired this sort of work out as a rule. I went to the door slowly. A quick peek yielded a fish eye view of the cops from last night. Not greatly surprising given how thinly stretched the police were, but still something rumbled in my stomach.
Quietly I mouthed, "Last night's duo. Anyone who doesn't want to play with the boys can head upstairs." Nobody took me up on the offer, which didn't surprise me, but still was nice to know. Harry had his hand on my back as I opened the door.
"Officers, what are you doing here?" I feigned mild shock for my human audience. The Irish cop, Officer Burroughs, looked straight into my eyes saying, "There was another report that some child was screaming here." His tone was now a bit skeptical and the partner, Paul Madison, I thought that was his name -- as humans blurred in my head after a while -- looked ill at ease by the whole discussion.
I sighed, "Was it Zachary Lee again?" I had the tone of someone exhausted by the simple act of speaking.
Officer Madison nodded and said, "Is it okay if we come in and check everything out?" Again not a question but a demand. Luckily we had tucked away all my lovely toys after establishing they were still in place, even though it wasn't like they could spring the doors on anything.
Jasmine was subdued and closer to Morgan than I had ever seen her. She was nearly enveloped by his size and manner. That caught my eye. I slid an eyebrow up for Morgan, and he spoke into my head that something was different about the two men since just last night. I nodded my head slightly and went behind the red-headed cop. With a slight mental push, I separated him from his partner. Harry shadowed my move and physically pushed Officer Madison into another room opposite the one I had chosen.
I fanged in deeply and began to absorb the nuances. Jasmine was right. The cops had been tainted. I repressed my desire to kill him, and mentally told Harry to refrain from gutting the lying cop in his arms. We were in deeper than we had known. Not only were humans and lawyers after us but now it seemed we had attracted the attention of something different. A spirit of some sort.
Harry and I met up in the hall dragging the humans. Jasmine looked even paler than Morgan. We were having a lousy effect on that poor medium. Morgan helped her to my completely slashed couch and said, "This is not good."
A big duh on that one.
Morgan stood in the hallway looking at the two dazed cops we had dropped to the floor. "Well, we can't exactly leave them here, now can we?"
Another stupid statement was what I thought, and then I decided to keep quiet since Morgan had whipped out his cell and was making calls. Oh, joy, more folks would be arriving. But at least they would be vampires. I hoped.
We stood silent for a moment regarding the vampire-stunned cops lying passively on the floor between us. We hadn't drained them as much as just absorbed their thoughts while calming them. Jasmine was muttering something in the distance that I guessed was a protection chant or something along those lines.
Our mental pushes kept the cops down and out for the count until we released them, but we couldn't keep them in that state for more than a few hours. And given they were cops, that would be too long. A half hour tops before they would be missed by their dispatcher. More police would not help anything.
Morgan snapped his cell phone shut saying, "Okay, I have had these two put on a special assignment for the local office of Homeland Security, and they no longer report to their precinct. Bradley Terrill will be here soon to help with the clean up and reconstruct. He is bringing his crew."
I was stunned, and catching the look in Harry's eyes, he was also caught by surprise. Bradley Terrill was a vampire executioner along the same level in our pantheon of blood suckers as Morgan. Brad usually resided in the northern part of the United States and bounced back and forth between America and Canada, keeping things even and quiet. Translation being, he got to thin the newbies and re-educate the older ones who were straying for most of the Great White North and areas in the upper USA. If that didn't work, he took them out, same as Morgan did for the South and Midwest part of the United States.
Like I had thought earlier, Morgan being in our town was definitely a new shift in power, and since Bradley was on his call list, it meant the higher ups were restructuring the entire world again. Neither of them actually was in charge of the Wild West. Hell, I wasn't sure who was anymore. The last known executioner fell off the face of the earth a while ago and nobody was quite sure if he was still active or permanently inactive.
Harry and I had had little interaction with Brad since the mid-nineteen-twenties. Chicago had had a slight problem and Brad was the clean up crew on that little episode. The bodies still hadn't been found that he had 'disappeared.' Of the two vampires, I don't know which one was scarier. The thought they were both going to be in my little nest made my skin itch.