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January 23, 2023

Patterns in Blood 45

By Lydia Manx

Los Angeles
California
The Present

Nelson clapped his hands together in an attempt to appear in 'control' and then he asked me, "So now what's the game plan?"

His men all looked at me waiting for my reply. It was the first time they had focused on me with any interest but then Nelson was beyond charismatic. So naturally my first instinct was to growl or say something sarcastic, but I skipped that idea given their general size and ability to snap my neck before I knew what had happened. I had to respect that talent, but didn't have to cave and become their doormat. From what I had seen I wasn't overly impressed with how they treated their women.

Seeing how Nelson had basically been bossing me around for the past hour or so I found that his asking me for a 'game plan' to be peculiar but with his wife's death it wasn't unexpected. I think he was starting to get overwhelmed by it all. I felt responsible for her murder, but nothing I said seemed to help. Something in my expression must have revealed my feelings because a small tremor near the right corner of his mouth as he smiled made me positive of my opinion that he was losing it. His eyes definitely had lost their sparkle from earlier in the day. His human guard dogs were all puffed up and ready to tear someone's head off if given the command. They didn't see the look he'd given me, which was good; the dynamics of the situation worked for me. Protective didn't even begin to explain their devotion to Nelson. For all their denial of Brother Georgie's cult it didn't exactly fall short of that from what I'd seen.

Just then Cooper popped back into the suite and said, "Well, the cops are going room to room. Supposedly it's to check for 'injuries' from the shoot out at your room, Nelson. They aren't taking 'no' for answers. And they are using force if necessary to bust into the suites. The hotel manager is opening up the rooms if possible before they ram them. The whole floor is getting really messed up quickly and some conflict of interests seems to be happening. It's going to get ugly fast."

Something snapped back inside his brain and I watched as he mentally stiffened up before saying, "Which set of cops, Cooper?"

Nelson's voice was back to his normal commanding tones and I watched all of his boys snap to attention. It truly was scary. That sort of devotion was something I'd never seen outside bad movies that ended tragically with bodies stacked up like cordwood or in documentaries on real cults with sheets covering shapes behind yellow and black warning tapes.

"Naturally the new ones." I knew Cooper was talking about the ones that had caused us to run up to Lindsey's suite. The well shoed cops that made these men nervous and with the amount of weapons I'd seen that was more than a bit offsetting and disturbing. Nelson's buddies would make most intelligent people nervous. They looked like they were prepared for a war -- which I guess they were.

"Okay, Alanna, we need to head out fast before they get around to checking the other floors. Let's grab my car and you can give the keys for your car to Cooper and he'll make sure it's clean. He'll meet us up the hill." I knew the rental was clean but wasn't going to argue with the man with all the firepower. I pulled out the valet stub and told Cooper that it should be accessible. I'd let him pick up the cost since they weren't exactly giving me permission but telling me. I bristled under the restriction of not having my own car but kept my mouth shut. Nelson hadn't harmed me. But he hadn't helped me either.

Cooper flashed me a slight grin and tipped his head towards me. As he left the room I watched him shift. Not like when the vampires shifted and showed fangs but he literally collapsed and folded into himself and looked a good ten or twenty years older. Had I met him looking like that, I would have assumed he was a middle management sort who was shuffling his way through life trying to avoid conflicts. No longer was he strong and invincible appearing but more pathetic and weak. I spun back towards Nelson.

"Quite the little band of actors you have with you, I see." I wasn't complimenting him, but he smiled and said, "Thanks."

Harvey had been quiet the entire time. I don't think he'd said a word since I'd met him. He quickly began sorting through the suite's closets and pulling out other filled bags. I didn't bother to ask but assumed they were equally loaded with weapons and vampire killing kits. I had so totally pushed vampires out of my mind over the past few years that to see these men so obviously prepared was unnerving. They claimed they had killed a few and yet I was skeptical, having seen firsthand how hard it was to kill a vampire.

"Lady, we aren't acting," Harvey spoke. His voice was firm and rusty, as if he didn't use it much.

Effectively challenged by his acting comment I snarled, "So -- acting or reacting? What'd ya think I am supposed to do? Just run behind your fearless leader and let him lead me down the garden path? Come on. You all watched me crawl out of a vampire nest and now want me to just suck it up and follow you?"

Harvey nodded somewhat dismissively while I spoke then said, "Sure why not? We haven't hurt you, have we?"

He was dead serious. Granted I'd just thought the same thing but to hear someone I didn't know throwing it in my face didn't sit well.

I shrugged as if I didn't care and dismissively turned away towards Nelson.

"Okay, fine let's just head out to the Griffith Observatory and see what carnage awaits us." Admittedly I wasn't being a good sport but at least they had plenty of weaponry. And I wasn't willing to deal with cops -- good or bad -- any time soon.

The men winced at my comment but I was beyond caring. Mostly I was exhausted. Cooper would be driving my rental car and probably dropping some spy stuff inside thinking I wouldn't check. He actually was right, I wouldn't check. I wouldn't drive it anywhere but back to the rental place. I was pretty tired of being tracked like a prisoner. Men loved their toys, forgetting women could and would change their minds quite easily. I didn't need to think on it because I knew I would dump the rental if it survived the Griffith Park journey. I wasn't placing any bets one way or another lately. My current track record was pretty sucky.

My neck prickled again. I glanced around the luxury suite and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Slowly I rubbed my hand over my throat.

The Vampire physically caught himself from tapping on the wall.

'It's not like Alanna would figure out it was me so stop squirming, Sissy, before I give you something not so fun to wiggle on.' She was stupid to piss me off but then Alanna made most women nervous. I didn't understand why a simple human female could intimidate other women but it happened. Alanna made them worry and scurry. Naturally Sissy freaked out. I couldn't fang in and make her go away so I listened.

Sissy had told me when it was safe to come upstairs. Once at the hotel I made my way up to the floor Sissy was staying on and then had to knock to be let inside. I hated doing that but she admitted me and pointed me to the electronic listening gear set up at the wall to the east. The room she'd gotten next to the second set of vampire slayers suites in the hotel was ideal but we wouldn't always get that lucky. Sissy had made the hotel humans cough up information quite readily and I was pleased. But I wasn't happy tonight because there were too many humans in the room next door.

Stupid minion. To hear her squeal all about what she'd overheard and seen before I'd arrived was giving me a headache. That baby doll voice served her extremely well as an exotic dancer with a side job as a mindless sex slave with the human blood donors as an added bonus but I had thought she was faking it. My mistake. I would have ripped out her throat years ago but she did still bring home the bacon. And the liver and the sweetmeats. Ah ... what did she just say?

Good, they are leaving again. It's not like the God boy is hard to find. He doesn't realize how many he's burned over the years in his quest to kill us at all costs. It was so much sweeter of a kill knowing that his wife was Dew Drop. She had told me that much. But it wasn't really necessary because I'd already been told before we'd met. It was wonderful to make her feel like she was betraying her man as she reluctantly told me in between tortures sessions. It didn't save her anything. She didn't even get the last laugh because I now know they were watching. And the angst of the man was positively delightful. Wonder where they were heading after the Observatory? It's not like they can come back to the hotel anytime soon. Well, let me give a call and see if my insider can talk.

Once we all had various satchels over our shoulders, I still had my purse so I stuffed it inside the bag one of them had handed me. Then Nelson told us the game plan he somehow had already fully devised while washing his face and drinking more liquids. I wanted my rental car and clothes and life back and that didn't look likely to happen anytime soon.

"We need to get Michael Stockwell away from the crowd without anyone else being injured," was the first proclamation. It was a nice notion but somehow I was amused knowing perfectly well that the bad cop wasn't going to willingly go with us. I awaited further word from Nelson while keeping quiet.

"Harvey can put him in the cuffs once we get him subdued. And David will make sure we don't attract any notice." I resisted rolling my eyes at the men because they weren't exactly the type of men then went unnoticed. Michael wasn't going to like the welcoming committee in the least and he wasn't going to simply smile and walk up to us and let Harvey cuff him. Maybe I was being too cynical.

"Take your time talking with him, Alanna, see if he looks around or if someone lingers too close. He must have an accomplice." Nelson double-checked something on his cell phone. He clicked a text reply and nodded. All the men double-checked their phones, some answering text messages, others turning off their ring tones, which made sense if they wanted to surprise Michael.

"Marge and Randa haven't left the house since you drove off." So Marge wasn't going to be Michael's back up. Good to know. I might have been forced to shoot her just for my own amusement. That brought me to another question.

"So Marge and Randa, they can die?" I wasn't clear on what a vampire's minion could or couldn't do. I figured I better ask before I had to take a guess.

Nelson didn't answer to my surprise Harvey did, "They can die."

I waited for the rest. I could tell there was something being left unsaid. Nelson gave Harvey a nod and Harvey shifted.

He shifted differently from how Cooper had when he'd left the room. His shift was stronger and larger. Which was pretty intimidating given his size was already nearly broad enough to fill a doorway or two.

Slowly Harvey met my eyes and said, "Everything can be killed. Vampires, minions and as we all know humans." A nod from Nelson and a beat of heavy silence was the answer.

Nothing remarkable, but I was positive there was more coming. Everyone had grown even more markedly still and now they were watching us both closely. A lump formed in my throat. Harvey smiled an uncomfortably toothy smile. I distractedly wondered what tortured road aligned him with Nelson.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-09-29
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