Back at Eddie's Biker Bar and Grill nearly dawn
"So what do you mean that's all?" Charlotte bit out in frustration.
Somehow they had never made it back to the other building. Once Belinda had shown up it seemed that the bar was where everyone was going to work their magic connecting with vampires in town or nearby. Charlotte was still trying to keep a low profile and was stuck handing out the sheets and monitoring the phone calls. Nevertheless the past few hours had flown by with a blur of phone calls and incessant typing on various keyboards from the rest of the vampires present. She was growing restless feeling useless while everyone else was occupied.
Eddie sighed and said, "What I mean only is that this is the list of vampires who will come. Even then to watch what happens if nothing else -- nobody claims that they will do much to help us. Nobody is guaranteeing anything more." Eddie held a stack of print outs from earlier with notes scribbled on the edges by whichever vampire talked with the vampire on the pages they had handed out. Nathan had brought down a few more information sheets of the vampire names and contact numbers after he had finished with the sites that had been blocked.
The bar was pretty full of Eddie's pet vampires who'd all worked for the past few hours on their cell phones and Charlotte was surprised to see that a few were still on their laptops roaming the internet. For hours nearly everyone had been busy calling and emailing the numerous vampires without known allegiances. Some had headed out to personally talk with some vampires listed and called back the results. Rather large red felt pen 'X' marks decorated the pictures of the vampires that responded in the negative or weren't in the least interested in helping. Those heavily marred pictures decorated the wall of the dart game area of the bar. Tape held the snapshots up mocking them. They far out numbered the list of vampires willing to show up at Eddie's.
Drained by the lack of numbers, Charlotte paced, saying, "This is stupid. Don't they realize there will be repercussions for their inaction? Don't they know they must pick sides?"
"They don't care. I gathered from a few of the conversations I overheard that some of the vampires contacted simply are packing up and leaving town. They are all quite aware that this will be a bloodbath. Some will stay and come forward to fight in the last moments on whichever side they perceive as winning. Others will keep the dirt over their graves and not come out for centuries. This is nothing unusual in vampire wars -- just we now have a list of those in the future who won't ever be trusted." Eddie pointed to the wall. The faces seemingly mocked their hard efforts, Charlotte thought.
Definitely the names and faces were being etched into every vampire's brain. He was correct. The technology that uncovered them would be used to brand them the cowards they truly were. The web would be filled with shots of those vampires' faces and known tracking information once the conflict was done. Charlotte wasn't sure if she would've joined any war had she not been on the ground fighting already. That didn't sit well in her stomach but she was being honest. From the fidgeting around the bar she knew she wasn't the only vampire with that thought bouncing around their brain. Eddie ignored the discomfort of his vampires and tried to rally to battle some of the doubt-filled vampires present.
Charlotte eased back onto the barstool she'd been perched on and let Eddie pace and rant. Pep talks from vampires never failed to amuse her. Most master vampires or old ones were lousy at rally cries. Eddie wasn't half bad at giving speeches.
"We need to unite. Kenyon's club has festered long enough in the shadows sucking at the very core of this community and now he is making vampires without the council's approval. And they in turn are making their own blood monsters. And they are monsters, don't make any mistake. Kenyon has brought back sweepers and blood drenched fear feedings. His minion in turn has brought back blood gifts." A gasp went around the bar. Until now Eddie hadn't shared that morsel of knowledge with all of them. The implication of what was happening was sharpened by that fact. Blood gifts were worse than the sweeps in the vampire hierarchy of errors to make. They all well knew that vampires tended to overstep the boundaries of polite society with the vampire made rules if left unchecked until the council came down and forcibly cleaned house and city.
Hell, Charlotte still was having a major problem with that bit of news about the blood gifts and she'd had plenty of time to absorb the information. Now she wished she hadn't killed Bethany so quickly. That bitter little vampire had certainly been complete blood poison and Jim Arnold wasn't anywhere done building his empire no matter what Kenyon mistakenly thought. Kenyon wasn't known for his ability to control his vampires -- she was prime example of that little fact if nothing else. So mostly it was the innate fear of the council that kept them leashed.
Kegs had slipped in during the evening and at the moment Eddie began his speech was on his cell softly talking in the corner. Charlotte had been drawn to watching him all evening. He was nearly undone by his mate's vampiric betrayal. To find she was dual natured was causing him worry but there was nothing Charlotte could do to help. He ended his call and caught the last bit of Eddie's proclamation. Snapping his phone shut, he rose, growling, his large form seeming to grow even more as he added, "And Marissa, the witch, just called. Both of her human servants gave her some rather interesting information."
Belinda asked, "Who the hell is Marissa?" The waspish tone was grating to Charlotte's ears.
Eddie obviously hadn't brought her up to speed on the witch. In fact, now that she thought about it, Eddie hadn't been near that vampire much all night. Charlotte avoided looking at either Eddie or Belinda instead concentrating on her buddy -- Kegs.
All eyes were drawn to the large figure. Sensing the attention, Kegs grumbled, "Garry was reluctant to share his knowledge at first. Marissa said she was forced to damage Janice just a little bit. Iris then figured it was all taking too long and decisively kicked Garry's broken left foot. Naturally that freed up the info rather quickly." Kegs drolly painted a picture for them.
Picturing it perfectly, Charlotte and Toby chuckled softly. Had those two humans been left with the vampires, instead of Marissa and Iris taking them home, Toby would have probably snapped more than the ankles to start a 'meaningful dialogue.' Meeting Toby's gaze, Charlotte quirked an eyebrow. He smiled wickedly and nodded confirming her stray thoughts. There really was nothing quite like a good bit of torture to raise one's spirits.
Belinda was still whining out questions that everyone pointedly ignored. Eddie finally hissed for her to stop and she froze stunned and amazed by his behavior. She glared at Charlotte as if it was her fault Eddie wasn't treating her nicely. Charlotte just smiled because she hadn't been interrupting Kegs' relaying of his conversation with Marissa with pointless moaning and groaning.
"So Marissa and Iris did some of their spell stuff and cleansed all of the memories of those two. The witch didn't give me much details but she also found out that Kenyon has been sniffing around your club lately, Eddie. She finished saying that she didn't think Garry or Janice would be looking for vampires any time soon." Kegs grinned.
"Thanks, Kegs." Eddie didn't say a word about Legs still being held in the basement and Kegs hadn't said when it was that Marissa planned on calling back. The dual-natured Legs wasn't a comfortable topic and not everyone was aware of what had happened the night before upstairs. Charlotte was pretty sure Eddie would have been forced to tie Belinda down had he mentioned anything else she hadn't been told about in front of the whole group. Belinda wasn't going to be the flavor of the night for much longer Charlotte was pretty sure.
Nathan had joined the crowd during the speech. Charlotte had caught the flicker of movement at the staircase out of the corner of her eye. He had a stillness about him that reminded her of ancient vampires yet she knew that he was young. She figured it was just his manner held over from his human life. He settled on the edge of the room without making a stir. Catching Charlotte's eye he nodded and pointed upstairs arching an eyebrow. Shrugging slightly she tilted her head towards Eddie. Nathan nodded slightly and quietly began back up the stairs. Charlotte met Eddie's eyes and trailed them over to Nathan's retreating back. Nathan seemed to have already forgotten them and went back to his computers. She headed to the foot of the stairwell and was unsurprised to find Eddie's hand cupping her elbow as she hit the first step.
Kegs restrained Belinda physically as she saw Eddie touch Charlotte. It was an innocent enough gesture but Belinda was insecure and began to spew curses and threats. Her words were nearly incomprehensible but the rancor was completely clear.
Pausing in the middle of the stairs both Charlotte and Eddie turned as one to look down on the angry vampire.
"Belinda, contain yourself." That was all Eddie said. He did accompany it with a glance. The entire bar saw the cutting look and the promise in his eyes. Belinda finally put two and two together. Eddie's hand had trailed naturally from Charlotte's elbow to the middle of her lower back. Belinda's eyes flashed hatred at Charlotte and her fangs filled her mouth.
"Damn you, Eddie! I did everything you ever wanted and more! I am not going to be cast aside like this. I curse you and yours forever. You aren't worthy of being the master of this city. You asshole!" Her fangs caused a slight lisp as she spoke. She was spitting as she shrilled her venom.
Kegs raised an inquiring eyebrow and Eddie inclined his head a mere inch. It was like she was little more than a mad animal. Her entire world ended with that ever so slight nod. Kegs placed his hands around her head and he slowly snapped Belinda's neck. The entire bar heard the decisive snaps of the bones and sinew being torn from her spine. She wasn't going to rise to see another night. The stunning vampire was simply dropped to the floor for all to see. She was no more than trash to be picked up and disposed of by the cleaning crew. Charlotte knew she would be heading out in the morning with the laundry in one of the many vans.
Necks snapped so brutally were pretty final in humans and vampires. In order for Belinda to be brought back it would require effort beyond the mere mouthful of ruby red blood. Well aware that she could -- in theory-- be brought back Kegs pulled a blade from his boot and tore open her neck with his first swipe and severed her head fully from her spine with the second. He wasn't a weak vampire and had the added strength that came with the knowledge that if someone resurrected this particular vampire the future war would be compromised by her knowledge. The hush in the bar was respectful. Everyone knew the slaying of Eddie's former vampire was telling. War wasn't for the weak.
That done, everyone resumed their conversations and Charlotte and Eddie hurried after Nathan. Nathan was by his keyboard busily fussing and tapping. From somewhere he had found another monitor. It wasn't nearly as large as his main monitor. But both screens were flickering and filled with figures moving. It appeared at first glance Nathan was watching two different movies. Then a face moved and caught Charlotte's eyes.
Hissing, "That's Kenyon!"
Catching the face of the other screen she moaned, "Hell, that's Jim Arnold. Eddie, he looks nearly drained."
Nathan spun back to them saying, "Nice of you both to make it up. Everything okay downstairs?"
A smiled played around his lips belying the need for either of them to fill him in on Belinda's fate. Somehow he knew she had been killed. Charlotte pondered that for a second then said, "Your master didn't only make males now did he?"
"Very good." Again the twitch of humor framed his lips.
"Belinda was a fledgling of your master, I gather?"
"Yes." That explained his knowledge he had felt her leave. It didn't seem he cared much about the loss of Belinda. But it wasn't like Charlotte would shed any blood either over the bitchy vampire. She wasn't coming back, so why bother?
Nathan tapped his main monitor and said, "This is from one of the more obscure sites. It's currently not a live feed. It was a while ago but now it's a replay of the earlier 'show'. It normally is a site for voyeurs of rather exotic natures and perverted dark desires."
Both Eddie and Charlotte drew closer. Nathan tapped a few more keys and slowly sound could be heard on the computer. The speakers made it seem as if they were all standing in the same room as the vampires.