At Dark Whispers the next evening
"Jane, what's going on tonight?" Kenyon paced past Donnie the bouncer and into the club, looking around carefully once he hit the foyer.
Jane was behind the window collecting the admission fee from clients before they were allowed entry. She also checked IDs and called cabs for over-served or ditched dates. She was picking at her fingernails since the lobby was currently empty. He didn't see Tony or Kevin yet and hadn't heard back from them since he'd sent them off yesterday evening. Kevin was picking up a few friends along the way. Fellow sweepers -- not so strongly connected to Kenyon but Kevin had sworn they were up for anything. All he could figure was that something had happened at the witch's house but he didn't know what. The normal tie between him and his sweepers was completely gone. He'd never had a sweeper hide from him, but somehow they had vanished in the middle of the evening. At first he had thought it was just a fluke, or it was because he was distracted and had too many vampires after him.
"Nothing, Kenyon. There're only a few regulars inside right now. But, hey, I did see Ginger Matthews come in a half hour ago. She should be at the table in the back corner just past the bar." Jane was looking even more peaked than the last time he had taken any notice of her. She was trembling slightly around the mouth and her eyes were heavily lined with her usual black but she didn't appear to have slept for a few days.
"Jane, you need to get away for a few days -- you look like hell. Why don't you take some cash and head down to Mexico or something for the weekend?" He was worried about her. If she failed to do her job he would end up losing tons of money. Besides, she was looking so bad that she might actually scare away business -- and given his death-worshipping patrons that was saying something.
"Thanks, Kenyon, I'll be fine. Mexico and I don't get along. Something about not being about to drink the water or speak the language in a foreign country doesn't appeal to me. I appreciate the thought." She didn't meet his eyes when she answered.
Taking his fingers and tipping her face up to look into his eyes he saw she wasn't just exhausted but terrified.
"What do you need?" His voice pushed into her with nearly overwhelming force as he used his vampiric command voice.
"Just to disappear," she whispered while her mouth trembled.
"Where do you want me to send you?" Kenyon continued to push and pull from her.
"I can't go anywhere. I am already in hell. All of this would follow me no matter where I go." She yanked her face from his and turned away saying, "Sorry."
There wasn't much Kenyon could say. She was probably right about hell following her. She had been around him long enough to get the taint. Vampires weren't very good at keeping non-vampiric sorts around for long. As prey humans could be around vampires for a long time, but Jane didn't share her blood very often, and eventually that wore on a soul. She let him sip just enough to maintain a youthful appearance and some light vampiric awareness. Kenyon made a mental note he had to either drain her or sip more than a bit soon.
Kenyon allowed her to live untouched by other vampires for decades and it looked like that was a mistake. Keeping his temper in check he strode into the club. He snarled at the first kid to slam into him in the entry way. Jane was acting too much like prey and it was bringing out his darker side. He would work on that once the sweepers issue settled out. The kid skittered away, unaware how close he had come to satisfying Kenyon's growing hunger. It wouldn't do to fang in at the entry of the club. He had enough problems without losing control.
Tim was bartending and saw Kenyon approaching, "Hey boss, you need anything?"
"Nothing for me yet thanks. But what is the lady over there drinking?" He pointed to the woman in the corner who he figured was Ginger Matthews from the notebook on the tabletop.
"You mean Ginger?" Tim confirmed his guess and replied, "She's having a diet soda probably. I didn't serve her but that's her usual drink."
"Never mind. The bar looks really nice," Kenyon tossed a compliment to the man hoping to redirect him.
Tim nodded and thanked Kenyon as he nonchalantly wandered towards Ginger's table. Her head was bowed as she scribbled something in her notebook. She must have felt his approach because her head snapped up and then she jerked slightly seeing him. A flicker in her eyes and he realized that she did know who he was.
Jane was right. He had never seen this woman in his bar before and obviously, if she'd known he was coming in so early in the evening, he instinctively knew she wouldn't have stayed. When she saw him approaching he heard her pulse quicken and saw her eyes dilate. She wanted to be somewhere else, he knew, without peeking into her mind. For all her nervous behavior she didn't appear to be prey to him. Ginger Matthews was confident. Also she was a bit older than most of his usual patrons. But her clothing wasn't flashy or clingy. She looked nice without trying to appear younger. She had a certain amount of dignity in her pose that wasn't usually seen around Dark Whispers. Too bad he would probably have to kill her.
"Hello, I am Kenyon Hudson." He held his hand out to touch the woman. She looked at his hand as if it was a poisonous snake. Slowly she placed her palm in his. With that touch her warmth and love of life flooded through him. It was all he could do to simply shake her hand. She was ripe to him. Full of life and emotions and a wealth of knowledge -- a tempting morsel to Kenyon -- he slowly pulled from the handshake and smiled.
"Yes?" she didn't offer anything more than her hand. Even though he knew her name he had wanted to hear how she said it. Humans gave away much of their personality with introductions. This one was tightly locked.
"I saw you sitting here and don't recall you in my club before, is there anything I can offer you?" He kept his voice soft and non-threatening.
Some spark in her eyes caught his attention. Now he was positive that she knew exactly who he was. Hell, she might even have an inkling what he was. Instead of being scared or threatened she was analytical -- looking at him like he was a specimen on a glass slide underneath a microscope. He hadn't felt a human's attention on him like this in a long time. She wasn't attracted to him, but watching him -- and not in a good way.
"No, I'm fine." She dismissed him and dropping her head continued to scribble in her book. He just resisted shaking her. Instead he nodded and wandered off as if he hadn't been insulted. There was something about Ginger that was causing him to gnaw the inside of his cheek. The blood spilled into his mouth and he shut his lips tightly as his fangs descended automatically.
He strode up to the bar and Tim rubbed a cloth on the counter in front of him and softly said, "Master, there is someone waiting for you in your office."
A client shouted to Tim for him to bring him a beer while waving a twenty. Tim, as a good bartender, quickly left his boss and went to serve the man. Kenyon felt out of control again. Unsure of who was waiting, he went to his office.
The visitor was leaning against the one way glass looking into the somewhat deserted dance floor. He had seen Kenyon get the message at the bar. He didn't turn until Kenyon shut the door.
Even though Kenyon had been expecting Jim Arnold, he hadn't expected the vampire to look so haunted.
"Jim, you found her?" He paced towards Jim. He wasn't going to tell Jim that he had seen Charlotte last night because he wanted to find out what Jim had discovered on his own. Charlotte wasn't going anywhere now that she had found Eddie again, and he could always go get her if she didn't come crawling back soon.
It took a minute for Kenyon to identify the sounds coming from the large man as sobs. Jim turned and Kenyon saw that Jim's light blue eyes were blood shot and tormented. Usually his eyes were dead and emotionless. As far as Kenyon knew, Jim had absolutely no fears or curiosity. Kenyon sent Jim after Charlotte because he was one of the scariest vampires Kenyon owned as well as one of the most loyal. That he was standing in alone in front of Kenyon and Charlotte was wandering free and over at Eddie's bar meant he had failed to bring her back to Dark Whispers. That he was dry sobbing meant he was broken. Kenyon had no use for broken toys.
He reached towards Jim, intending so solve his personal anger issues, when Jane burst into the room.
"Kenyon, sorry to interrupt but there are some cops out front wanting to see you," she was breathless and wrong. The cops weren't out front, but directly behind her.
Kenyon bit back his shout of fury and said, "Jim, why don't you go have something to drink. Let Tim fix you up. There's a really nice lady out there named Ginger I think you need to meet." Dull Jim nodded and shuffled out to the bar. The two cops brushed past Jim after noticing every detail about the vampire. From his ragged looks to his obvious sorrow, they both edged from him as if he was contagious. Cops never were big on emotional displays and seeing such a large man weakened caused them both to roll their shoulders and stiffen their spines with machismo.
The female cop spoke first, "You Kenyon Hudson?"
"Yes, and how can I help you officer?" Kenyon noticed the humans were surprised at his pleasant tone. No need to rile them up -- he always could track them down later and play with them all night.
"Ah, well, there was a disturbance called in over at," she flipped through a small notebook checking the address, "at a residential location in Normal Heights." She proceeded to rattle off a street address he immediately recognized since he had sent Kevin there yesterday. She continued to speak, "The officers at the scene found a car belonging to a Mr. Kevin Preston. None of the officers could find the owners of the home or the vehicle that appeared abandoned. Some signs of a fight were noted at the residence."
Here she paused and her partner took over, "The only thing that didn't fit in the area was the car owned by Preston. He had a few matchbooks in the car with your club logo and address."
Kenyon feigned a puzzled look and asked, "Why does that have anything to do with me? The matchbooks are free at the bar. Not that anyone smokes any more -- they're leftovers from about ten years ago."
"Normally that would've have been my thought but the funny thing was we went over to this guy's place and he wasn't there. His landlady said he was behind in rent and let us take a look inside." The man was smirking slightly. Kenyon had a feeling in the pit of his stomach he didn't immediately recognize. Then it dawned on him that they knew something.
"Mr. Preston is quite the record keeper, it seems. He had written on his calendar a meeting with KH at 4 pm at Dark Whispers two nights ago. So we thought we would come over and see if Mr. Preston was here and could explain his car, and perhaps shed some light on the disturbance." The tones weren't particularly threatening, but the look in the cop's eyes was accusatory to say the least.
Both cops were exuding confidence and excitement. They were pleased at the information they had found at Kevin's place and figured Kenyon would be happy to simply roll over and feed them whatever it was they were seeking. So far all it seemed to Kenyon was a giant fishing expedition -- but he had to handle it correctly.
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