Charlotte hoisted the bag over her shoulder while the kid ran up the stairs. Her leg had finished closing up. She fingered the bloody hole in her pants and sighed. She hated cleaning blood out of clothing. Another shopping expedition was needed as soon as she fixed things with Kenyon.
Iris grinned and ran to her room. Charlotte continued plodding slowly down the walkway while mentally running through how she got sucked into this mess. Then it dawned on her that she had chased the problem down. She needed to get her head looked at sometime. But there wasn't exactly a listing in the yellow pages for vampire shrinks. And she certainly wouldn't go to one if she saw such an ad. She certainly had been a bit obsessive and impulsive lately, that was just a fact.
Nobody was around, and the scent of vampires still floated on the wind but she didn't see or feel anyone nearby. She could hear the neighborhood humans sleeping and dreaming. Nobody fanged was hiding in the shadows so she briskly walked to the rented car. It dawned on her that Iris must have found a few more treasures because she couldn't hear the kid coming down the stairs once she had retrieved her keys and opened the car door. Shrugging, she wondered if she should have told the kid which direction she had parked.
The night pushed in on her and she couldn't hear the insects or the birds. The neighborhood was too quiet. She stored the kid's bag in the back seat and once seated, she drummed her fingers over the steering wheel trying to figure out how long she should wait. The answer was not a second more as Iris sprang into the car with an equally large bag she was struggling with in the front seat.
Watching Iris work her newly stuffed bag around her feet Charlotte gave in and said, "Toss it in the back with the other one, okay?"
Iris looked at Charlotte quietly for a second assessing what she meant by the remark and decided that she was sincere. She tried to keep her temper in check because kids really frustrated her. There was nothing she could offer to the odd child.
She started the car as soon as Iris had the second bag crammed in back with her first bag and her seatbelt fastened. The heat kicked on and it dawned on Charlotte that it was pretty cold outside. Vampires rarely noticed such things. As she continued shooting down the road it also dawned on Charlotte she couldn't exactly go see Kenyon with a weird kid in tow. She had enough troubles ahead of her with Kenyon and his issues. Damn, being a vampire was such a pain some nights. But then she had to admit it beat the alternatives. Charlotte wondered where to head but figured she would work it out eventually.
Maybe that's why she'd followed those sweepers. They looked like trouble and she really did like playing with trouble. She headed for the freeway while Iris began to push buttons on the car stereo. To her dismay the kid landed on that damn rap station she had turned off when she got in the car hours ago.
"Turn it off or find something that doesn't promote raping and pillaging," Charlotte was horrified to hear the words roll off her tongue at the decidedly gangster beat blaring from the car's stereo. Iris laughed and grinned at Charlotte's discomfort. The kid was still smirking and she fingered her glasses back up her nose while broadly smiling. Charlotte felt every century of her years. Real music was something decidedly different than what current society pounded into their brains at markedly loud decibels. Music went through periods of good and bad, she'd found over the decades. She definitely had heard more than her share of awful music lately.
"It's not that bad!" She was shuffling and bopping in her seat as the bass boomed and the boys cajoled their listeners to slap up their mommas and bust something or other. Charlotte cringed and tried to resist reaching over and pushing the buttons. Children made her feel old. She hated that. She was still trying to figure out how suddenly it seemed all she did was breathe and she was attracting kids like flies to a dung heap. She took a deep breath and couldn't smell anything different. Her mind spun into the vampiric anger at currently being somewhat trapped.
"So Iris, your mom a hooker or what?" That slapped the kid back, Charlotte saw. Her wince was sharp and the kid's face reddened.
"My mom is NOT a hooker!" Iris practically shouted in her face. A very brave and foolish move for a human, even one with some sort of enhancements Charlotte had yet to figure out. The barb definitely had speared something. Charlotte was intrigued.
Biting back her smile she purred out with, "Well, let's see here, she disappears for days at a time and leaves you alone without calling. Add in that the house looked pretty hooked up with alarms, state-of-the-art electronics and decidedly pretty things." Charlotte kept her fangs in as the kid whirled towards her angrily from her side of the rented car.
"She's a consultant!" The kid was still upset. The vampire was smug as she definitely had tagged something. Charlotte really liked those strings on humans. They were so nice and easy to tug and pull.
"Sure she is. So then what company does she work for?" She needled deeper.
"She's not a whore! She's a witch." Defiantly Iris sat back.
So did Charlotte while she continued to rush in and out of traffic. That was not what she was fishing for in her jabs. Witches and vampires didn't mix. There was nothing in her existence that prepared her to play with witches. It really was frowned upon in all vampiric circles. Kenyon never brought them around and just because once in a while she got in a bit of trouble, she wasn't exactly out there looking for new buddies. Witches weren't something she knew much about other than they weren't fond of vampires as a whole, from what she'd been told. Keeping that in mind she pushed a bit more on Iris.
"Yeah, right," Charlotte kept her face still as she aimed another barb, "And what like your dad's a werewolf?" The child's scornful reaction was interesting.
Iris laughed, "Not hardly. He's some sort of accountant."
Charlotte wasn't so sure but she let it slide. From the scent of the Stonehouse home 'daddy' wasn't there much -- if at all. The entire flavor of their place was female. But truthfully she didn't know too much about witches and that could have been tainting the masculine odor. Mentally Charlotte shoved it all back and waited to see what more Iris would add to the conversation.
The music continued to annoy Charlotte but she drove aimlessly down the road waiting to see what was happening in Iris' head.
"Where are you taking me?" Iris finally couldn't resist asking.
Charlotte had continued to wind around the freeways a bit aimlessly since she didn't have any clue yet herself. Dark Whispers, Kenyon's club was out for sure. Headlights flickered behind her and she cursed at how close some fool was following. Iris sighed as Charlotte had delayed replying. She moved over to the fast lane and punched the pedal down, helping kick the car out of the pocket she had been in. She felt a bit better as lights faded behind her.
Iris punched another button on the stereo and mellow rock flooded the car. The landscape of the freeways went through some dips and turns and she relaxed with the clanging in her ears reduced and thought about where she was heading with Iris. Iris was right in asking because she didn't have a clue.
Charlotte turned to give some sort of reply when suddenly she found herself jerking violently forward and her forehead painfully slamming into the top of the steering wheel. Somebody's car had struck her from behind, she concluded as she spun the wheel slick with her precious blood trying to keep on the road. Despite her efforts the rented car slid off the highway into the center median and she frantically cranked the wheel to avoid hitting the sign pole looming largely in her window. The left front fender clipped the concrete edge of the stand and the car crumpled and spun so she was facing oncoming traffic. Iris didn't utter a sound but Charlotte watched her head also slam into the dash. The seatbelts in the cheap car weren't holding either of the occupants in any helpful manner.
A rather sizeable black SUV smashed into them and Charlotte figured out that it was the vehicle that had initially tagged them. Thus with another bump, the car was sending them back into the traffic with a wicked screech, and the bumper car games began. Charlotte lost count of how many trucks and cars struck them but noticed something sailing overhead as one those high profile jacked up trucks ran up and over one of the low slung expensive exotic sports cars. Iris was bouncing around the interior of the car and the vampire frantically worked to keep them from becoming just another California traffic statistic. The pink auto continued to slip and slide within all the glass and fiberglass flying on the road. Something huge caught Charlotte's eye and she turned to see a semi heading right for her. Wrestling the wheel and punching the gas Charlotte said, "Oh, hell!" and aimed for an empty space.
Another car hit her broadside sending them back into the fray and she screamed, "Why don't my airbags deploy?"
Iris laughed and said, "Because this isn't a fatality."
Just then Charlotte caught the song being played on the radio, "Fly Like an Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band. She grimaced at the possible foreshadowing as she fought to control the newest spin. Iris heard the lyrics coming from the speakers and laughed even more.
There was a decidedly maniacal sound to the laughter coming out of Iris and Charlotte figured that the kid was finally getting that her mortality was up for grabs. As a vampire, Charlotte was pretty sure she would crawl away from the wreckage if nothing else. Well that's unless something staked her or cracked her spine off or maybe sliced into her neck severing her head from her body which in massive accidents was always a distinct possibility. Charlotte laughed and loved the rush running through her body. There was such an uncontrolled element to the now huge disaster that she enjoyed. This was why most vampires stayed away from humans. They were so unpredictable.
That said, Charlotte watched the back window implode and some part of Detroit's metal works sail through the new found hole. Something in the metal and glass family. Charlotte thought that it was a large piece of the side mirror off of one of the large trucks involved in the massive debris field scattering the scenery behind them. The pieces of safety glass flew through the interior of the car and Iris finally reacted -- but not how Charlotte expected. A chant began filling the car as Charlotte continued battling to keep them flat on the road. She watched out of the corner of her eye as another car was airborne.
That car didn't give easily into gravity but twirled nearly gracefully before a tip of the red sports car -- a real one, not like the rent-a-wreck that she was driving -- must have found something. It was only then that the sleek plastic car began a dance end over end.
Bits of fiberglass and junk metal blew out the windows of the rental car as shards of real metal from other cars and trucks slamming together in the mess began slicing through their wreckage soon their cascading splinters of horror were now inside seemingly filling the car. Iris finally was screaming, her chants long forgotten. Charlotte figured the torn piece of flesh flying past the kid's face had finally keyed something primal into Iris' psyche. Charlotte was drinking in the fear and death rushing around her and sating her blood need, for now.
"Save me!" Iris screamed into Charlotte's face as another stray bit of humanity twisted past their faces and forcibly punched out the front window. Charlotte noted it was a foot with part of a shinbone attached. The shoe was still on the foot and the heavy heeled boot left a small bit in the corner of the window left. The vampire in Charlotte knew it had been attached to a male in his mid-thirties with some sort of skin disease. Her brain had automatically catalogued the blood potential without any effort. Iris was less thrilled by the leg bone no longer connected with the shin bone to the hip bone. Or whatever bit and piece that hadn't been mangled in the crash that smashed up the man's body, Charlotte thought snidely not caring about what bits of human remains no longer remained.