Jim had Bethany firmly clasped in his arms after Charlotte had spurned her away, disgusted and somewhat concerned. So no longer could she fang into the child without having to go through her master. That master bit still pushed all of Charlotte's buttons. It was a red flag. Bethany was trembling and looking with pure longing at Charlotte. She was struggling against his entreating murmurs.
Charlotte wasn't doing much better with her own wants. Her fangs still were a prominent part of her smile and she could feel the strumming along her body with a need to drain Bethany. The pleas of the vampire girl were filled with power. She was well-trained at pleasing both humans and vampires and had no sense of wrong. Jim had let Bethany become a caricature of a horror film vampire. If Charlotte was able to survive the whole mess, she planned on enjoying every second of Jim's punishment. There was no way Kenyon knew what had happened with the fledgling. Major fines and deaths were sure to follow. She wasn't sure who would be roasted for the abomination, but there was more than enough blame to go around the club.
"Really good, Jim. However did you get all of this past Kenyon?" She was pushing her fangs back with some difficulty. Her hand waved at Bethany still wiggling within his hands. She noticed the large knife Jim had been brandishing at her had fallen to the ground at his feet with his hands so full of his traumatized oversexed fledgling.
"Kenyon is worthless," Bethany hissed, "Jim should have made me. He is more my master than that old fanged freak at Dark Whispers. Jim keeps me well and has been wonderful. Kenyon barely knows I exist. He never let me help with any of the sweeps."
A hiss escaped Charlotte as she heard the word sweeps. Kenyon hadn't taken her with him on any of those either. They were how master vampires protected their area. Sweeps involved late night staking and slayings of vampires and stalkers. Since Kenyon wasn't fully recognized as a true and right Master Vampire, he had been overstepping the boundaries of the vampiric laws. He was still considered 'in-training'. Vampires ruled a bit differently than humans. There wasn't exactly a vampire prison to put disobedient vampires away for centuries to contemplate their errors. Instead there were heavy fines and final true death. Both could apply to vampires who crossed a line. She could see why Kenyon was having so many problems now that she heard of the sweeps. Jim smiled. He had been part of them. She could tell by the smug look on his face.
Without thinking about possible repercussions Charlotte spun down slashing her leg out and swept the knife up from the floor. She flipped it and threw it decisively into Bethany's throat. Problem solved. Bethany gasped and fell gushing her life blood out. Jim moaned and fumbled with the imbedded knife. Kenyon wouldn't know who killed his vampire but would feel the fledgling's death. It was a true and final death since there was no human for Bethany to drink from in time to stop the hemorrhaging.
Jim was horrified at how quickly Bethany was dying. Charlotte was mildly impressed that the child had any blood left. Jim had definitely been keeping her on a tight blood leash. A gurgle and sigh and Bethany was no more. Charlotte wouldn't be using this hotel chain again any time soon. There was no way they wouldn't be blacklisting her for the mess. She couldn't exactly call up the local vampires to clean up since nobody officially knew she was here. She grabbed up a towel from the bathroom and began to automatically wipe the surfaces of the room. Granted she hadn't been here in a few days but she was taking no chances.
With Bethany gone, Jim was no longer in control. He ineffectively was trying to staunch the blood with his hands. That certainly didn't work. But then he hadn't realized yet that his fledgling was completely faded. He wasn't old enough to feel that push of spirit. Charlotte wasn't exactly volunteering that tidbit of information. He had pretty much forgotten Charlotte in his frantic fumbling with the vampire's corpse. Jim brought her to the dance; he could take her away. Charlotte was leaving.
She was glad she had picked up and loaded her trunk already. The drop boxes and bus stations trips where she had stashed the money and jewelry had all been undisturbed. If she hadn't come up to get the last bag of cash and clothes she had stashed in the room, Jim wouldn't have caught her. Sometimes life was too strange. Jim was making some pathetic noises in the back of his throat. It hit Charlotte that Jim genuinely was upset at the vampire's death. Shrugging, Charlotte grabbed the last of her things and headed for the now unblocked door. The corpse had fallen well into the room giving Charlotte plenty of space to move.
Grief lined Jim's face as he noticed Charlotte heading for the door bags in hand.
"Wait," his voice broke. Jim was still holding his vampire in his arms. He hadn't even looked up to meet Charlotte's eyes but felt the movement of her departing.
He carefully stroked the long black hair from Bethany's face as if that alone would bring her back to life. Charlotte was pretty sure now that her hair was real -- not that it mattered any more. At the doorway, holding the knob in her free hand, she breathed in deeply and could smell no humans in the immediate area. There was no chance Jim could bring Bethany back now, but at least she wouldn't have to watch Jim disgrace himself slaughtering someone in a feeble attempt at feeding the vampire's corpse. Not that he could make Bethany live, but it would be really ugly watching him try.
"For what? You brought your baby vampire, she wanted to bind me and she is dead. She should have left me alone. You should have also. I never did anything to you." She was tense but not worried.
Jim's underbelly was plainly visible to her now. He had been trying to splinter away from Kenyon into his own territory. She was to have been the trade with the vampire council to grant him that permission. It nearly warmed her to think that she would have been that valuable, then she drove that thought from her head. With Bethany dead it seemed that he didn't have anything driving him. His transgressions wouldn't be forgiven easily by Kenyon or the vampiric council. Kenyon knew at a gut level now that Bethany was gone. Jim was still unclear on the whole concept. He had truly thought vampires were forever. All the young ones did. It took time and experience to clue the newer vampires in on the reality. It wasn't like there was a handbook out there to guide them. Survival of the extreme fittest was part of how one became a Master Vampire. Not corrupting some child with delusions of grandeur.
"Charlotte, you can't just leave me!" Jim no longer sounded very forceful.
"Jim, you deal with this. I have to hit it." With that Charlotte reached over as if to hug Jim goodbye.
He half-heartedly lifted up to meet her hug. Instead she yanked the knife out of Bethany and thrust it quickly into the edge of Jim's neck pinning him against the wall. He gasped and was stunned by the force of her jab. His eyes glazed over as his blood began joining Bethany's in a puddle on the flooring. It didn't leak into the dead vampire so there was no change in that state. Charlotte knew that Bethany had been dead too long now to become anything more than a vampire zombie. Brain dead zombies with only the desire to drink and slay -- vampire zombies were the true abominations.
"Later, Jim. Don't follow me. Or else." She kicked the door shut as he tried to yank the blade from his neck. He wouldn't die from the wound but he was stalled. She already knew there wasn't anyone around to share blood. She had to get somewhere safe soon. Given the state of the room she skipped checking out and headed straight for the car.
Once in her car it dawned on her that she needed to ditch the gorgeous ride she had got from the Florida vampires. The beautiful blue convertible was probably part of how Jim and Bethany found her. She drove to the first used car lot just off the highway she saw. The line of businesses all seemed closed except for the car dealer. She parked her car behind a neighboring building while taking one of the bundles of bills with her.
The used car business was brightly lit by carefully-aimed bulbs hiding the flaws of the dozen or so available vehicles parked artfully on the dusty patch of land that defined the business. The flapping of tattered plastic red and blue triangles on a line against the surrounding fencing was the only sound she heard in the immediate area as she walked into the business. Her footsteps were soft on the dirt. There was a small trailer at the end of the fenced-in lot and once she concentrated, she could hear the garbled noise from a poorly tuned radio. Next to the trailer was a square canvas canopy used to paint and prepare the cars for sale. The cars in sight had large dingy price tags varying in degrees from reasonable to utterly outrageous. She wandered for a few minutes. Nobody seemed to be around and she began to wonder if she should simply liberate a vehicle.
Seemingly in response to her thought, the screen door on the trailer opened outwards and loudly smashed against the metal siding. The man didn't bother to try to hide that he had been sleeping. He yawned and stretched, wiping a hand across his face roughly. He hitched up his faded khaki pants to cover the gaping flesh that had been exposed by his large loose-limbed stretch and called out with a gravelly voice, "Hi, little lady. You see something you like?"
Charlotte wasn't quite sure how to reply. He ambled towards her slowly while casually tucking in his worn white knit golf shirt into his pants. She could see a food stain in the middle of the man's chest. The red stain made her think of blood, naturally, but she could smell the tomato sauce as he grew closer.
"There are a few cars here that seem okay." She walked around a bright red convertible Mustang and reluctantly trailed a hand over the body.
"That is a wonderful little car. A mere five years old and only one owner." Charlotte noticed the price tag was one of the more unreasonable amounts, not that she couldn't afford it. She continued to walk around when she noticed the dirt hadn't quite covered the various fluids steady dripping from the undercarriage. She peeked under the car and saw long scrapings with decidedly sizable dents marking the path.
"Oh, well, maybe not. The owner did tend to drive over rougher roads than the design of the car permitted," he smiled at her and began to reach out to touch her arm. Charlotte looked at his hand before it could make contact and simply lifted an eyebrow. The man immediately withdrew his hand.
"Perhaps something a bit more stable?" He led her to an older black Mercedes that was parked near the back of the lot.
Charlotte liked the interior and the large well-tuned engine. The salesman continued to talk while she poked and prodded the automobile. It would do. That quickly she decided it would work, and handed over the cash and received back paperwork declaring it hers. He wasn't overly concerned with the wording of the forms once she handed him another few bills.
He promptly forgot why and to whom he sold that old black Mercedes from the back lot. To be on the safe side Charlotte fanged in and did a little gentle reconstruction in his mind about who exactly had purchased the car. Putting the top back on the blue car, she abandoned it after she emptied the trunk. It would take a day or two before anyone would notice it hadn't moved and she would be long gone by then. She drove off and was still mentally grumbling about the stodgy old car when she passed a police car driving towards the lot. She began to slip down in the seat when it dawned on her there was no way Kenyon sent cops. She shook her head at the stupidity. She was definitely losing it.
She had to go back to California. No longer would she be able to hide. The sweeps couldn't continue. Charlotte had to either notify the vampire leaders or choose sides. She hated these wars.