"Well," the witch's voice fluted softly through the magic-spilled killing room, "I really hate to be a bore but Iris needs to get home and I need to clean up this mess," Marissa's hand swept in a regal gesture towards her two humans motionless flat on the ground at her feet as she spoke. Iris was still on her knees while her mom talked to the vampires. Eddie nodded and tried to look somewhat interested in the humans. Since they were no longer his concern he did a good job of faking interest, Charlotte thought.
"Please, feel free to use the front door on your way out." Eddie offered, breaking the hard fast rule that humans never left the club alive. But given Marissa and Iris' nature it was probably a wise move. Besides it wasn't like Garry or Janice had seen where they were from inside the trunk of Charlotte's Mercedes while under the vampiric sleep command. Hell, they couldn't describe more than a few minutes worth of the upstairs hidden room given how quickly they were put back to sleep by Marissa. Charlotte still wished she could make that a permanent blood-drained sleep but now it was out of her hands. Her blood lust was still riding her back like a junky looking for a fix.
"I will," Marissa sparkled again with light and joy. Whatever kind of witch she was it was obvious to them that she wasn't afraid of the vampires in the least. But then neither had her child shown any fears. They all mentally kicked that to the back of their minds and avoided making any comments.
"Edward, I'll contact you one evening this week and we shall come to a financial arrangement about the losses and discuss how Leticia will be handled." Marissa said softly while looking at her child with a slight frown between her brow. Charlotte didn't want to see how Marissa and Iris interacted for some strange reason. Iris made a point of looking at her fingernails as if she was unfamiliar with her own hands. Dried blood still coated her palm Charlotte noticed. Watching her daughter's face closely Marissa continued, "Leticia needs to be guided between the two paths before she ends up in jeopardy."
It took them all a second to process that she was talking about Legs. Nobody had called her that in decades. Hell, Charlotte barely remembered that was Legs' given name. How Marissa knew her name when she hadn't been introduced was another point of interest they all avoided talking about, while weighing out what constituted jeopardy to a witch. And that Marissa was aware of Legs being other than just a vampire didn't make any of the vampires feel very comfortable. Charlotte also noticed Marissa assumed that Legs would still be alive later in the week. With the look on Kegs' face she knew Marissa was correct in knowing Eddie wouldn't have immediately killed Legs. But she didn't think Legs would be leaving the basement anytime before the phone call. The tightness around Toby's lips pretty much assured Charlotte on that point.
"Toby, can you assist Mistress Marissa with her humans?" Eddie requested and Toby nodded saying, "Of course."
"And Tobias, try not to damage them too much more on the way back down, please." Marissa added her request to Eddie's while using Toby's formal first name, impressing upon Charlotte that names were critical to the witch and she used them with power. It also let them all know that she knew he'd broken Garry's ankle when dragging him upstairs. But then in Toby's defense nobody even dreamed that they would be alive on the way out.
Toby jerked at his full name spoken by her and quietly replied, "As you wish, Mistress."
A chill ran through Charlotte at the tone of voice Toby used. It wasn't his usual strong deep vampiric voice but one of a small child -- cautious and needy. That was totally creepy to her and she hoped to avoid the witch's attention. The mere thought obviously gave Marissa an idea and she saw the green eyes turn to her with an arched eyebrow.
"Charlotte," Marissa rolled her name from her lips like sipping a fine cognac and finding its heat, "Again I thank you for saving my child. I am sorry she wasn't a better guest. She and I will be having some lessons about civilized interaction with others and her use of talents."
Iris groaned softly and Marissa gestured sharply at her child. A crackle of energy rolled over them all and Iris shut her mouth. Whatever Marissa did hadn't harmed her daughter just startled her. The vampires felt no fear just an anxiety level spike in the kid. The magic was rolling around everywhere and ebbed out of the room gradually.
"Mother!" Iris trailed out the title a good three syllables. It was obvious that Iris was fighting whatever sort of spell her mom had hit her with as she struggled to speak. "Please, let me talk." The words seemed stuck and Iris seemed to choke out each sound. The magic flew between the two family members and the vampires were stuck watching. While neither mother nor child were chanting, speaking or wildly gesturing -- like the more traditional witchcraft they'd seen earlier -- nevertheless, the vampires knew they were spell casting.
Marissa all but rolled her eyes and said, "Fine. But be quick." A slight hand motion accompanied the words and Iris' shoulders dropped a mere speck of space but they all knew the child was free from whatever she had been hit with by her mom. Mommy Dear was much stronger than her child, but Marissa would be having troubles in the future as her girl's power grew. Charlotte wondered who would be giving who lessons then.
Primly Iris said to her mother, "Thank you."
"Okay, so I mean to say like, Charlotte, I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to hurt you or your friends. I know that if you hadn't taken care of the sweepers I would have been captured." Iris took a deep breath of air. Charlotte was still somewhat surprised to hear that Marissa really had Iris cosmically lo-jacked in some manner, and when the kid had told her she hadn't taken any precautions. But it didn't matter; what was done was done.
A flush of emotions ran over them all and they simply looked over at Marissa who was now glowing an unusual shade of purple. Charlotte knew without asking that purple wasn't a good color for the witch. It had nothing to do with her hair and eyes but the wrong feeling to the grape stain dancing around her body.
A hiss and Marissa interrupted with, "Kenyon will have to be dealt with soon. Mark my words."
They all did and tried to not edge away from the obviously upset woman with nasty little tricks up her sleeve. Iris simply ignored her mom and added, "And I didn't mean to worry you with Janice and Garry. When you had them downstairs I wasn't sure how to tell you that they weren't really that dangerous." This hiccough sob wasn't faked. Or at least if it was the crocodile tears were very impressive rolling freely down her cheeks, "And I wasn't trying to scare you guys or start some sort of bad thing between us and vampires. I was sure I could handle them once they were awake again."
Charlotte looked at Iris and simply smiled saying, "It's okay. Your mom'll fix your mistakes. Iris, whatever she tells you to do, can you do me a favor and listen?"
Charlotte couldn't believe she gave the kid a break. But the joyful look running across the child's face was rewarding. A thought ran through her mind that maybe that was why humans had kids just to see that sort of look. Maybe that's also why the vampires made fledglings -- for the near human feelings. Shrugging in her brain, she waited to see what Marissa thought about her comment.
Marissa glowed a sparkling green yellow shade that flowed over them. It wasn't like the painful flash of light when she entered the room. It was more along the lines of grandma's quilt covering a sleeping child. Familiar and happy warmth without any sort of damage associated with the feeling or memory.
"Thank you all for your courtesy to Iris. She will be writing you each a letter outlining her plans to make restitution for her mistakes. It is the least she can do considering all you have done to help her." The air dropped at least ten degrees as Marissa chastised her child in front of them. Marissa was still a tad upset with her girl but trying to keep it together. "And we will talk, Edward."
With that Marissa headed for the door with Toby following, again hoisting Janice and Garry up like kittens by the scruff of their necks. Charlotte saw that he was careful to clear the doorway without any bruising of the humans. Iris shuffled behind them tossing Charlotte a glance.
"Sorry," was all she said to Charlotte as she trailed after her mom down the stairs. Kegs and Eddie joined her in the lounge area and together they watched while the witches and humans left.
"It has been quite the interesting evening hasn't it?" Eddie said, and looped an arm over Charlotte's shoulders.
"To say the least." Charlotte stood staring at the empty doorway until Eddie guided her to the leather couch in front of the plasma TV. She sunk into the black soft couch somewhat stunned, while Kegs sat in the chair to her left and began to flip through the channels with the rapid strokes on the remote that was universal to males -- human or vampire. The kaleidoscope of sounds and colors blurred, through no fault of Kegs changing channels, but how her mind was working through all the events of the evening. She felt like she had been on a nonstop roller coaster. Dawn couldn't be far away and she was beyond exhausted.
"I am assuming you are staying with me tonight?" Eddie asked while watching Kegs continuing the search for whatever it was worth watching on the TV at nearly four a.m. Eddie's question would have been more provocative had the men both not been watching the flickering shows flash by with blips of colors and the horrible snippets of infomercials offering slashed prices on plastic pieces of junk for a limited time only the 'low, low price of nineteen ninety nine'.
"But don't call yet! If you say the magic word you will get this --"
A short blip of bad seventies music and scantily clad females and then another infomercial promising remarkable results with the pills guaranteed to work or your money back. Even Kegs grew tired of the nonsense and hit the off button.
"Eddie, I'm going back to my pad. Talk to you tomorrow, okay?" He really didn't wait for approval but left. On his way out Toby came back and said, "Boss, she's in the basement but muttering now. Just in case, I think I better stay down with her tonight."
Eddie nodded to his two friends and the room was suddenly quiet. Charlotte looked at Eddie and asked, "Where is it you sleep?"
"Next door. I own both buildings. Come on let's find you a room." Eddie offered his arm elegantly.
Exhausted, but grinning at his seeming to offer her a choice of 'rooms', she linked her arm with his saying, "Onward. Tomorrow is another day." She put a little south in her mouth and caught his dimpling grin.
He closed the door and led her through the bar towards the exit. They both could feel dawn's reach over the horizon and hurried to get in bed before they fell down with exhaustion. Charlotte was more than ready to let someone else make a few decisions for a while.
Kenyon pulled back from the corner of the building. He had to get back to his club. Since Eddie had found Charlotte before he did, it didn't look like she would come back to him willingly. Kenyon saw that she paused before going through the door of Eddie's other building. She looked around and her gaze faltered for a second in his direction, but she shook her head as if erasing a thought. His motorcycle wasn't as flashy as Kegs' or as pricey as Legs' but it had the added attraction of being a new purchase and Charlotte hadn't seen it yet. The helmet he wore was a serious construction of plastic and foam completely hiding his features from detection. He rode down the street and headed back home, wondering what his next move should be.
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