Harry's hands tightened on my shoulders as I held Art's fist in mine. There was another little snap as I hadn't loosened my grip in any way since the last snap, pop and crackle. I wanted to make Art's left hand useless as he made those kids he murdered. Harry shook me slightly and said, "Gwendolyn, stop now."
I didn't want to stop ever but felt the wave of command drilling through me from Harry. I knew then he was definitely in charge of me because I stopped crushing Art's fist. Freed, Art let a whimper out and turned away from us all. Both Erika and Misty stopped laughing. They looked at us and shuddered. Whatever sort of energy was coming from us vampires was affecting the humans in a big way. They were all dead white and silent. Then the fear crested like a wave and washed over me. It was intoxicating and unexpected. Harry cradled me in his arms as I fell to my knees with the emotion.
"Art, you need to go back to our room right now." There was no room for arguing in Harry's tone. Art pulled his somewhat broken hand to his chest and nodded agreement. He avoided my eyes and scurried out the door without much more than a wince. He really didn't want anything to do with me or rest of the group but wasn't sure how to escape us. I knew he wouldn't be able to dismiss us all that easily.
"Erika, go see what you can do to fix him." Harry sounded less than caring. And Misty looked to Harry for direction. He shook his head and indicated she should stay put. He practically pushed Erika out the door after Art. I was ready to pounce so Harry made a very smart decision. Once they were outside we all looked at each other. Harry stood in front of Misty and said, "Give Cinda back to us now."
Cinda fell back into her body with a start. And a weave and a look of horror flowed over Cinda as she came into her body.
"She's been drinking and smoking," Cinda gurgled before running for the bathroom. Loud sounds of beer exiting her body could be heard in the room by Harry and me. The growl from the cats let me know they knew about the problems Cinda was having. They ran for the door and yowled at me to let them out. I did.
Once Cinda was finished I heard the water running and she emerged looking a bit less green. She held one of the glasses from the bathroom in her hand and took small sips. Harry indicated for her to sit down and she did. From the edge of the bed the cats preferred she shuddered.
"I really hate when she goes crazy like that." Cinda's eyes were slightly unfocused. It disturbed me to realize that Cinda had known about Misty for a long time without ever indicating it to me. She had been faking the spells in and out. But then she probably didn't want me to think she was mentally ill or something. Yet I was still unsettled by the deception.
"Cinda, you can't keep letting Misty run you," Harry firmly commanded. She nodded but didn't agree. I thought she liked being able to blame all of her faults on Misty.
"That said, we need to get out of here as soon as the storm breaks. Art isn't going to last much longer. He has begun to stumble and we aren't helping him. He knows that we know who he is but he still doesn't believe we can pin any of the crimes on him. He's wrong in thinking he is going before any court of law. He has already been tried and convicted by a jury of his peers. We vampires have our own sort of tribunal and he doesn't need to be present. What Erika found out last night I knew before we got here. I hadn't realized he would throw himself right into our path but definitely we will take advantage of the opportunity." Here he paused and tapped a finger to his lip. Harry made a decision and pacing he continued, "Misty will interfere with what we need to do. Mitch has to be involved and Gwendolyn can't be. You need to be here for her."
What Harry was saying seemed to sink in and Cinda nodded. I noticed she still hadn't promised him anything. Maybe she couldn't. Misty didn't seem to be the sort to let anyone push her around, not even her host. I was disturbed by the idea of a vampire tribunal out there. I sure hoped Mitch was in charge of filling in all these little details when training me. I basically heard a death sentence to a human decreed by unseen vampires. Granted they pretty much were the only peers a sociopath would have but nevertheless I didn't much care for the secrecy. What if they were wrong would they just say, 'Oops!' and they would try to not do it again? It was more than a little disturbing to me.
"Okay, but Harry, why do you think that Misty wants something different than I do? I mean really we both know that Art is like totally evil." Cinda was trying to determine what Harry knew that she didn't.
Harry laughed and failed to reply.
"Yeah, Harry, why does Mitch get to play with Art and I don't?" I figured I would see if he would answer me having asked a different question. To my surprise he answered both questions.
He sighed, "Because Misty has her own game and you, Gwendolyn my pet, don't need to be tainted any more by Art than you are right now. Can't you feel how much you taste of his memories and feelings even now not touching him? The stories of his near victims and the bodies he left were enough to make grown men cry. You listened into his soul and aren't clawing out your eyes. Something in his sociopathic personality made sense to you. You didn't spurn all you found. Not saying you are like him," Harry had noticed my slight gasp, "But you have a sympathetic side and just crushed his hand not his head. Mitch has to finish him off and you need to have Cinda around to keep you centered."
I went back to something he had shot into the answer. "'Near victims?'"
"Yes, some of the children he thought he had killed weren't dead. It was in the beginning of his murdering spree four years ago. So we kept the papers unaware of the survivors and isolated them to try to find out as much as we could. Unfortunately they are all broken and somewhat demented from their experiences but enough of their stories were told to give a sketch of their abuser. They are getting as much help as science and therapy can provide." Harry had relaxed his anger and was seated next to me when we heard the cats scratch to come back inside the room.
Harry easily flowed off the bed and to the door with a graceful motion. He did take a second to glance out the peek hole before opening the door. The cats flowed in with even more elegance. They sprang up next to Cinda and allowed her to stroke them both warm. Their fur had bits of ice and I was pretty sure something else. I inhaled deeply and could smell blood on them both. They had trapped and found something alive in the snow. Since they hadn't been outside very long I knew how quickly they must have slain their prey. A feather dislodged from Banshee's belly allowing me to figure it had been some sort of bird. Definitely no longer flying that was for sure. Cinda noticed the feather but dismissed it without saying a word. She didn't want to know what they had been up to either. After El Diablo stretched a bit Cinda took that as permission to leave. Without a word she moved over to my bed and near enough for me to feel her fear. The cats scared her. I didn't blame her but didn't feel the same way. They interested me and I was pretty sure they were more than they appeared. But then wasn't everything lately?
I knew the cats had a sense about the Hellspawn and figured they would come in handy in any sort of battle. They were more bloodthirsty than I was, from what I had seen. They looked at me as one and muttered something more in cat speak which I took as affirmative. Good to know.
"So now what? I mean I certainly don't want to stay here in this motel in the middle of the frozen Midwest with Art the murderer. Can Erika actually fix his hand or she just going with him to keep him out of trouble? Are you going to tell us who exactly Mitch is?" Cinda was back in fine form. I knew there was no chance of Misty popping in with Cinda doing her usual million questions in ten seconds.
Harry chuckled and said, "We wait."
Like this was news? Not like we all could just simply shovel our way out. The storm held us all hostage. I wondered where in his nutty cycle of murder Art was. Not exactly something I could easily ask. But I forgot I was with Cinda, she didn't hesitate.
"And when exactly is Art due to want to carve up another kid?" Her eyes glowed. Harry shrugged, "Not sure. We haven't found his trigger or the time frame for his murdering sprees. They are definitely sprees. He goes and kills about two a year but there isn't a specific date from what we know."
Not good. This up and down was more than a bit disconcerting. But not like I had a choice.
Cinda nodded as she assimilated his reply and had a comment of her own, "So we don't know if he is going to go nuts or not then. And from what you say, Erika can take him 'out' if we don't get him to this Mitch person in time to do whatever it is Mitch is supposed to do. Then basically you are telling us that we should ignore the storm and just wait for the fun and fireworks?"
He laughed and said, "Cinda, you are priceless."
Another non-answer, I noticed. I was amazed at how easily Harry avoided answering questions and nobody seemed to really notice. It was quite a talent. I hoped I would learn that skill. But then rarely did anyone ask me anything; I tended to blend into the woodwork. Somehow I knew that now that I was a vampire, that was going to change. I sucked my sigh back before they noticed. I wasn't ready to play with Cinda and Harry. Too much was screwing with my head. I was beginning to get itchy and wanted to do something violent and blood laden. That couldn't be good either.
Suddenly the cats both rose and jumped over to me on my bed in a single motion of fur and fangs. They purred and rubbed against me while Cinda hopped up from the bed. They did frighten her. I petted them both and waited for Harry to continue. El Diablo pushed his face into mine and exhaled odors of blood, birds and kitty tuna. I felt compelled to ask, "Harry, why are the cats so tuned into me?"
He looked at me and said, "I really don't know."
That stunned me. I thought he knew everything. But even some things were beyond him. It made me want to cause more harm. The cats were rubbing me and yowling out their passions. I was getting very edgy. What did this all mean? Harry was unable to form a reply. Cinda was pacing around the room trying to keep away from the paws of the cats. They did look like they wanted to take a piece out of her.
Looking at them both I said, "Okay, so where do we go from here?"
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