Charlotte looked over at soon-to-be-dead Hank and nodded.
"Yes, I think it's far too crowded in here. What say we head up to my place?" She purred, making the question the not so much a request as a command. He was clueless. Just the way she liked her meals. Eddie did say he was hers eventually. It would give her some character to wait.
"Well, yeah. Let me settle up my tab." He was trying to appear relaxed while she could feel his heart quicken and his blood rushing to all the unnecessary spots of his anatomy. She didn't plan on using anything but his car keys and his jugular. Naturally, once they got access to Jim and the cameras were covered. With so much to do so little time she smiled softly at the fun ahead. After all it was another road trip.
A laugh spilled happily from Charlotte.
"That's taken care of already." Eddie's didn't really take money. It was meaningless at the club they since they traded in favors and blood. Not blood gifts, but bringing in willing and the not-so-willing humans at times. Eddie ran his bar more along the line of feudal systems where the peasants were taken care of by the lord or master, as it were. Charlotte wasn't even sure if he had a working cash register. The one at the end of the bar was dusty; she was pretty sure but she'd never seen it used.
"Well, yeah then. You want me to follow?" Ever the gracious leech. Hank wasn't going to run from her even if she wasn't a teenager he could play and obviously he was quite willing to follow. Her vampire talents kept his interest even while his blood was probably well over the legal limit for alcohol.
"Nah, I didn't drive here," a lie, but she didn't know if Kenyon had seen her car. "So I'll let you take me home." She put a coquettish spin in her voice and baby-dolled it for his sick desires. He responded.
"Why sure. No problem. But to be honest with you I probably shouldn't be driving so I'll let you drive if you don't mind." It took something from him to admit it. The rusty-voiced confession did somewhat amaze her since most men never admitted they were over the limit even while falling-down drunk. Charlotte was glad because she wasn't sure how she was going to get his keys. It was pretty hard to give directions aloud when a vampire like Eddie was whispering the real directions in your brain. Just a bit distracting to say the least.
He handed over a set of keys. They weren't more than a simple set of car keys with a single house key. That was telling. Most humans weighed themselves down with a dozen keys. Work, play, locker keys, keys to friends and family -- what have you. That Hank had only three keys on the worn leather fob showed how alone he was. Charlotte had to push her fangs back at the desperate feeling of loneliness the once popular man emitted. Fears and insecurities wrapped with his own personal poisons were so tempting to Charlotte.
Fangs still hidden inside her mouth she carefully smiled nearly sincerely as he relinquished his keys slowly. His fingers stroked her palm as he finally let them go. It was all she could do to keep from draining him. Then it rolled through her mind that Eddie didn't say she couldn't have a taste just that she couldn't drain him dry. Looking deep into his eyes she pushed. She didn't flood his mind with sex and love but insecurities and fears. His personal demons rose up and added to the mix. His eyes rolled back and she fanged in, drinking a pint of pain-ridden guilt and gloating. With the fanging she saw that he didn't regret the girl -- just the part of his getting caught and slammed in the press since she'd been one of many such dalliances he'd had over the years. Then there was the bit about the kid getting pregnant that pissed him off because it made him feel less of a man, but he didn't bother with DNA testing because he really didn't want anything more to do with that mess once he'd got caught. He was such a stand up guy. Charlotte drank down all that and more.
She felt the wall of vampires surround her. They all respected her, yet were drawn to the spectacle. And his fears were feeding them. Eddie got her back saying, "She isn't to be bothered. She isn't sharing. Kirk has called a few outsiders and in the next hour we will have some delivery. They are all for you. Let Charlotte feed." The crowd stirred and walked off reluctantly only because of Eddie's promises of Kirk calling for more humans.
Hank was shaking and shivering not in pleasure but in fear and bone-deep pain. Reluctantly Charlotte unfanged and let his marks close up. She swiped his brain enough to let him remember she was there but not what she'd just done. He interpreted his fears as anticipating what could or would happen later when he got to 'her' house. Boy, was he in for a big surprise.
During the feeding she'd handed off Hank's keys to Eddie; he in turn tossed them to Toby to bring the car around so she could leave unseen by Kenyon or any of his spies. Toby would know what car Hank had brought since there were only four humans in the bar, and the rest of the vampires would have checked in with Toby before passing the front door. She gave Toby a mental thanks and he grinned while heading out. Hank was busy downing the beer he'd received from the bartender. It was then it dawned her that Kirk was the bartender. It made sense because he looked like a Kirk.
Wiping the blood off her lips with a quick swipe of her tongue she then slowly licked and sucked on her bottom lip enjoying the coppery pain flavored droplets left. Kirk saw the haphazard tongue-lashing and grinned tossing her a semi-clean bar towel. Hank was still reeling from her supping and quickly draining the mug of beer. She tossed the used rag back and nodded her thanks. Her fingers found Hank's elbow and she edged him from his stool. The wobbly legs could have been the long accumulation of liquor drunk or the loss of a pint or so of blood; either way Hank swayed like a teenager at a rock concert. Her fingers held half of his body upright as she headed for the back door.
"Later, Eddie," Charlotte called out while going back into the night. Toby had the car running and he was waiting to make sure she could get Hank into the car safely. It was sweet of the old vampire but unnecessary.
It was then it dawned on Hank he didn't know her name.
"Damn, hey, my name's Hank. What's your name?" His voice was fairly loud and it was all Charlotte could do to not slap her hand over his mouth.
She gave him points for not slurring but had to resist laughing in his face at such a stupid move so late in the game. He definitely wasn't ready for prime time women and she could see why he played with the baby set. They didn't have enough self-worth to kick such idiots to the curb. He was truly a stupid man. Oh well, it would get her in the door so she didn't care.
"Oh wow, didn't I tell you? I'm Honey." Charlotte hated giving her name to fools. Besides it wasn't like he would remember it much less be able to recall it in a few hours.
"Wow, really?" He was stupid.
"Yes, Honey. Mommy wasn't fond of branding kids." Charlotte said while elbowing Toby in the ribs.
The tall man was smirking. He pushed into her mind softly, "Honey baby?"
Ignoring Toby she poured Hank into the passenger seat and walked around the back of the old BMW heading for the driver's seat. The car was obviously the last vestige of his prior life. When he'd purchased it back then it was probably top of the line and specially ordered from Germany but now it was just an old beat up BMW. The paint was sun worn and peeling in a few stray spots and since it was California there wasn't any visible rust but Charlotte was pretty sure there was some undercarriage damage by the way it squeaked when Hank flopped into the seat.
She popped the clutch and ran through the gears leaving Toby laughing in her brain. Damn vampires always had to have the last word. She mentally bonked him one and blocked out his mocking laughter. She didn't have a clue where she was going other than 'North'. She did mentally check the parking lot before she drove out into the street and didn't feel any watchers. But then Eddie probably had the whole area swept before she even got up. He knew the night was going to be busy and didn't need any unwanted observers. She hit the highways and she noticed that Hank was busy trying to find a brake pedal on his side of the car. She loved the handling of the stick shift transmission and quickly found the sweet spot on them all. Hank was decidedly green sitting in the passenger seat unable to control how she drove. She loved it.
"If you're going to puke lean outside okay?" That was all she said. Hank was busy trying not to vomit to engage her in meaningful conversation. She enjoyed how well the car handled and didn't miss the verbiage in the least.
Soon Eddie tapped in and said into her brain, "Hi 'Honey'. Found the address from Nathan. You need to head to up interstate five and then over on something called fifty-six, it's that new East to West freeway they just finished a year or two ago. Once there take the first off ramp. I think it's called Carmel Creek. I'll give you more directions once you're off the freeway. Nathan is downloading the exact directions right now."
Charlotte mentally nodded while she cruised up the highway in Hank's old BMW. The night was crisp with a hint of a Santa Ana wind pushing the dry desert air through the night sky. She felt the crackling ions of energy from the unusual weather pattern. She could smell a fire burning unchecked off somewhere in the canyons. It could be the beginning of a forest fire or the campfire of a migrant worker not watching. The potential for disaster was in the wind.
Santa Ana winds were ion-loaded insanity for humans and even as a vampire she knew this fact. Charlotte could feel the fears and energy levels rise in the humans when the Santa Ana winds whipped through the desert to the ocean. The fires started and if coupled with a full moon the shootings and beatings were nearly a given. She mentally marked where she'd smelled the fire and planned on giving that area wide berth until it was contained. Fires in the night tended to get away from the firefighters rapidly because most humans weren't out and reporting them and the few that were in charge of watching couldn't watch every acre. The dry chaparral fed the fires rapidly and small fires had gotten out of control more than once with disastrous results. The drive was uneventful as Hank was pretty well drained due to her fanging in before they left the bar. Once Eddie had given her directions he was pretty quiet. She enjoyed the night drive. Hank wasn't able to add much to the conversation in her head and she ignored the crappy drivers and headed for the fifty-six freeway. The other drivers seemed to sense she was higher on the food chain and gave her wide birth. Hank still was tapping the floorboards every now in then when he apparently thought she was too close to other cars. Thankfully he stopped making that noise in his throat making her think he might not vomit in the car. It was touch and go and soon she was cutting over to the new freeway and found the exit. Mentally she shot out a thought towards Eddie.
"So where do I go once I get off this Creek exit?" She pushed out into Eddie's mind. The freeway was fast and the cars spun past her like she was invisible. Her earlier predatory vibe was fading as she was unsure exactly where she was headed.
Silence greeted her first thrust and she waited while she drove towards the exit. Once she hit the traffic light she was happy to feel Eddie answer. He was agitated and quickly tossed directions her way. She replayed them in her brain and drove.
Quickly the streets began to piss her off. Hank was starting to feel the effects of being drained and was now slumped semi-unconscious over on his side of the car as his blood loss was affecting his body. She didn't care. His fears had subsided and he was little more than a lump of flesh on the seat next to her. If she had to push his ass through the house to trigger the vampire traps she would. All the streets had the same names. Creeks and Caramels and Carmel something or another they all seemed to be the same. She kept trusting her instincts in the cookie cutter similarities between the abodes and soon she found herself in front of the house she thought was the where they had Jim. A quick swipe of her mind and she grinned, assured of her choice. Even with all the confusion and misdirection she'd found Jim.