"What's interesting?" Charlotte asked softly.
Nathan finished reading his email and said, "Well, it turns out the house is registered to a trust not an individual. Unlike vampires most human homes aren't put into trust unless the owner is aged or rich. Nowhere does Tim or his alleged Aunt Maddie show up on a title search. Which means that Tim's aunt isn't exactly above board -- not a shock but noteworthy given her earlier claim of it being hers and the deed allegedly was in her name. So my friend dug deeper. It turns out that the trust is a family named Preston. Tim's last name isn't Preston neither is Maddie's. I had my friend continue to search and Preston traces back to Lynette's family. Remember that vampire I showed you earlier? That was Lynette Robison. Her mother's maiden name was Preston." Nathan stopped talking. Charlotte and Eddie absorbed the information.
"What's Lynette Robison to you? She is your what?" Charlotte asked. She sensed a tie between them not a fledgling sharing a master but a connection.
"Oh, sorry, she's my birth mother." Nathan continued to attack the keyboard and didn't look at them. He launched an email response while Eddie and Charlotte digested his revelation of newfound information about his parent.
Eddie fielded that question, "Nathan, you're saying that your real mom is also a vampire?"
"Yes." The short answer.
Both Charlotte and Eddie were stunned to silence. The sound of fingertips hitting keys filled the void. Three or four full minutes passed before Charlotte volunteered, "You mean to say that in fact your mom is also a vampire like you?" They both wanted a more detailed answer and the quick yes hadn't satisfied either of them. She also wanted to know who was her master but waited to see what Nathan would say.
"Since I was born. She was turned a year after my birth." He didn't continue.
Eddie then asked, "Did you know your mom was a vampire?"
"Not at first, I was raised by my grandmother. Naturally I was told my mom had died in childbirth. Since I was so young I didn't know the difference." He continued to tap and type not meeting their eyes.
Looking at each other Eddie gave Charlotte the nod to ask the next question, "When did you find out that your mom was a vampire and still walking around 'alive' so to speak?"
"Oh, I knew before I was turned. I got turned when I went to find her." That pretty much contradicted the earlier tale about simply being out around town clubbing and getting randomly picked up by a vampire and turned. The master was probably the newscaster he'd shown them but it sounded more like Nathan had gone out to find vampires. This new story rang true. It also explained why he was with Eddie. Eddie had always had a good infrastructure of vampires and a healthy awareness of other vampires. Nathan used that Eddie's connections to find out what he needed. Pretty smart -- nearly dangerously so -- he'd sure figured out quickly the local vampires.
"Who does she serve?" Eddie asked.
"Besides herself? Nobody now. She killed her master. Granted he was a weak-willed vampire named George who living out in the middle of nowhere in the desert. Dear old mom wasn't fond of being owned and the Anza-Borrego desert is a very harsh landscape for humans and nearly always deadly for vampires. She decided that she didn't like being held there so she killed George." Nathan was quiet when he answered and the unspoken hatred of his mom spilled over and they both felt his confusion and passion. He would've pulled George up from the grave if given the chance and killed the vampire all over again they both knew without asking. There was a huge feeling of hatred and poison scenting the air. His emotions washed over them both yet they didn't feed. It was a private emotion unintentionally shared. He wasn't as calm and collected as he liked to appear.
Eddie shrugged at Charlotte. He obviously didn't recall such a vampire out in the wild running such a nest. But then there had been so many in and out of the local landscape it wasn't unusual for an alleged 'master' to come and go in the space of a decade. The more she thought about it she hadn't kept track of many of the newer vampires in more than a few decades. Charlotte hadn't bothered to learn many names in the past century just for that reason. That further proved how out of touch she had become as Kenyon's pet vampire.
Nathan kept typing and waited for them to talk to him. Eddie asked, "So do you talk to your mom much?"
A dry laugh, "No, she doesn't know I am alive. As far as she knows I am long dead and buried."
Charlotte bit, "Your mom really doesn't know you are a vampire?"
"Nope, she dumped me on her mom years ago and never looked back." Nathan wasn't judging, just stating a fact.
"Yet you know she's a vampire and she thinks you're dead?" Eddie asked.
"Pretty much. Grandma ran ads looking for me after I was turned and eventually she held a memorial service deciding I was dead -- it was sparsely attended. Dear old mom sent flowers I think. My grandma was devastated and hurt but I couldn't come back into her world once I was changed. So I keep track of mom for the simple reason that she's poison." Nathan wasn't angry but merely telling them the score. His tones hadn't changed in the least while talking about his vampire mom.
"Fair enough." Charlotte answered. There was no way she was going to open up that baggage. Nathan seemed perfectly happy with his dysfunctional existence and she had no need to upset that apple cart. Nathan didn't strike her as one to appreciate interference. Eddie didn't say anything but waited to see what Charlotte was going to say. As silence stretched she gave in to the pressure.
"Now what?" Charlotte asked while tapping a finger to her lips. There was more than what Nathan and Eddie were confessing to but she didn't have any more energy to spare. Life had become far more complicated than usual. Which, given her world, was saying something.
"Well, we could take a road trip and liberate Jim," Eddie grinned with fangs. His wicked smile lit something inside Charlotte. A taste of what could be done.
"Who'd we take?" She grinned back, like she didn't already know. Nathan chuckled figuring out his work was done. He wasn't the type of vampire that went out on raiding parties, they all pretty much gathered.
"Kegs, obviously." Was Eddie's first reply.
"Then do we even need anyone else?" Charlotte laughed. They thanked Nathan for his help and headed back down the stairs with the address in hand. No words were spoken but Eddie and Charlotte were going to sleep on the idea. They would discuss it when they woke. Unspoken they were determined to rattle Kenyon's cage as much as possible. What did they have to lose after all?
Eddie's the following evening just after dusk
Charlotte headed for the bar once she awoke. She was starving. It wasn't like she needed to fang in nightly but all the stress and chaos was making her jumpy again and a good pint or two of blood would go far to take the edge off that potentially dangerous feeling. She'd slept in a different room the night before -- one without the distraction of Eddie. Even though he'd allowed Belinda to be killed Charlotte wasn't ready to get a new master. Eddie was too much of a control freak to let her do what she wanted. That's what she got for liking the stronger vampires. He was tasty enough but not worth the hassle. Yet.
The night air was lightly scented with jasmine and vampires. There were more vampires close by than the previous evening Charlotte knew. She resisted glancing around and losing cool points. She did wonder if Kenyon was watching. She took a deep breath of air and didn't smell him and there was no feeling of him on the breeze.
The bar was open for business. Something unusual since she'd been visiting, Eddie hadn't allowed any humans inside after she'd initially brought in Iris and the witch's two servants. Besides the new vampires lining the bar there were a few men who'd obviously staggered in sometime during the day and had been steadily drinking. The pictures from the night before had been removed from the dart wall. Their pumping blood and the human innate fears of new situations was taunting and feeding the crowd. They had been allowed in for the express purpose of being used; not a one of them was of what one would mistake for quality folks or very memorable for that matter. And the best part none of them would be missed. They were all off the map, some place they'd never been to or told anyone they were heading for, it was an impulse. Granted Eddie's tended to pull in the strays by design and Toby let them in after a quick once over to make sure they wouldn't be found or missed. Adding into the mix was the four men inside the club were all nasty evil humans. Something that was truly a fine vintage for vampires to dine on when available -- and they were definitely available.
Toby appeared as if she'd summoned him by the mere thought of the vampire. A slight smile played upon his lips, "See something you like?"
Grinning back, "You mean besides you?" Charlotte wrapped around him in a full body hug without a thought. She definitely was relaxing around the club vampires and old friends. The idea of warring with Kenyon was adding to the excitement. Most vampires didn't have the level of activity Charlotte seemed to breed and feed. Which reminded her, "Which one is mine?"
"Which one do you want?" Toby had yet to drop her to her feet. Definitely willing to play with him she whirled a fingertip around his ear while growling, "Do I only get one or can I have the sampler platter?"
Laughing loudly he spun her down to the ground saying, "You're totally out of control you know right?"
"Hasn't she always been?" Eddie had found them. He placed his hands over Charlotte's shoulders slightly edging Toby away. A little territorial marking between old vampires always had the decidedly dangerous edge that came with predators who could and would cause harm if for no other reason than boredom. She felt the crowd stir. Vampires really tended to lack basic impulse controls when together.
"Okay, boys, let me have one. I think the man in the suit is sleazy enough to tempt me but why does he seem familiar?" Charlotte strolled away from Eddie's grasp not willing to turn her fate over to him. Yep he was obviously looking for a mate now that his last one was gone. That he'd nodded permission to Kegs to kill Belinda wasn't even a consideration. They all knew she wasn't going to leave the club and fade gently into the night. She was the idiot who'd promised to try to destroy Eddie if she could.
She looked over the male potential fang filler and tried to figure out where she knew him. Hank something. Looking at the gray haired man she knew he'd been on the news for some reason. Granted she could have simply sipped from his mind and had the answer but she wanted to figure it out on her own. Hank Rabbit? No, that's not right. Hank O'Hare!
Sliding away from them she went to the barstool next to Mr. O'Hare. The man didn't even glance over at her. He stared into his scotch and soda and swirled the ice slowly.
Most men at least glanced at her. She slowly amped up her vampiric mystique quality that attracted blood donors. He shuddered fighting the pull. Well that made her a tad upset. He was just a human.
He lifted a wild thick gray eyebrow at his reflection in the bar mirror and toasted himself with his half empty glass. It was only then that the face --- much younger -- flashed into Charlotte's brain. He was an old news story. He had been caught with an underage girlfriend down in Mexico playing on the playa. His wife had been less than thrilled by the breaking news and his daughter utterly mortified since it had been her best friend until her daddy got involved. The meteoritic crash of such a human would have been less damaging had he not been on the city council at the time and had made some rather decisive moves towards running for mayor. Which was probably the reason his little dalliance was so well documented. The political arena in town was extremely bloody for humans. And then there was a follow up tale or two about his divorce and being taken for every dime and the underage girlfriend showing up pregnant at the divorce. The next sob story of the week involved the girlfriend's revelation the baby wasn't his but some surfer she'd been seeing on the side the whole time. The whimper of emptiness finished that tale for the news viewers and Hank faded off into the bars.