I couldn't believe I was listening to a phone call between two vampires seemly rationally discussing Billy and Oliver's possible vampire porn site and how best to clean it up without attracting attention. I had to say that Babette sure had been busy in my house. I wanted to vomit. Joel had said earlier that she'd been stashed in a hole somewhere by him and his vampires. And yet even seeing both her vampire playmate friends who were rolled up my ill-used bedding and a now expendable office rug while waiting to be picked up on the landing, it wasn't helping my mood any.
The stupid refrain that the truth is stranger than fiction kept jittering through my mind as I tried to keep my mouth shut. This phone call wasn't about me yet and as I wasn't exactly in the best place to offer any opinions much less draw some unnecessary attention to myself, I kept quiet. My skin was crawling.
"Call over to the house and have Ridley get the information necessary from Oliver and Billy to shut down any websites they've been posting to no matter what's on them. No need to risk finding they have hidden levels on their sites." Joel said. His casual talk about crashing numerous sites was eye opening. I was pretty sure it wasn't easily done but Joel seemed positive that Jason would be able to handle it.
"Wow, Ridley still running the mansion? That's good. He's an upstanding man. Jeff will start crashing and smashing the moment Ridley gets the addresses. Piece of cake." Jason's voice was still booming out of the cell phone in Joel's hand.
"Ridley'll be happy to assist you. Just let him know precisely what you'll need." I gulped, figuring it wasn't going to be a good night for Oliver or Billy with these men looking for information. I very well knew without asking that there was no way Babette would've known they were being filmed having sex and whatever unless they'd asked permission -- which wasn't Oliver's style in the least. Oliver was sneaky and slimy not to mention happy to exploit any and all females available.
Tammy and Greta hadn't moved since bound and wrapped for removal. They were probably also in the footage of suspected sex games. I still had no interest in seeing the possible porn shots online of any of the combinations of those five folks. Three female vampires and my husband not to mention his jerk of a best friend wouldn't be pretty no matter what kinds of filters and thumping crappy music was used. There was a real nightmare in the making. My brain was flipping around the likelihood that there was footage out there with Billy and me playing but it'd have to be more than a few months old since Billy hadn't been doing me anytime recently. The pit of my stomach plummeted further as I thought of what sorts of sex the others had been having in the master bedroom. Unbidden a visual flittered through my mind and spun more dark thoughts into being.
Thinking of that I said, "Have him also check for the horror snuff sites. Seriously. Oliver is sick enough to have posted whatever the vampires did on that sort of site. I heard him once tell Billy that it was a real sick world out there and he planned on making his fortune off those twisted puppies."
Joel looked startled, then repeated my idea into the phone. Jason's laughter filled the room. The man had to be a mountain to produce such a bold sound. I was picturing a pirate with fangs. Joel caught the thought met my eyes and nodded. Wow, I guess I did have an untapped talent. I could figure out what sort of human the vampire used to be. Shuddering, I didn't even want to think how that'd serve me.
Jason said he'd call back when he knew more and disconnected. Joel sighed and said, "Nothing's ever easy with you is it?"
"Excuse me? How the hell is this my fault?" I was offended and angered by the idea.
As it was, a bit of guilt was already eating at me because I didn't much care what was happening with Billy. Over all I was worn down by the whole notion of vampires among us not to even mention the ones in front of me -- bound and unbound. The idea of my own ass and more being flashed all over the Internet wasn't even the worst part of the day. So for Joel to claim this was somehow my fault just pushed a button.
Looking amused he said, "Well, it is your house not mine."
I jumped up and said, "Screw you, asshole. This is not of my making. If you'd kept your three vampires under control I wouldn't have ever met you much less got the thrill of hearing your misogynistic bullshit and verbal ramblings about your supposedly superior creatures and how wonderful they are to humans. You are one old damned vampire and totally clueless."
On that note I headed out of the office. For my impulsive action I damn near got the pleasure of launching myself face first over Tammy and Greta and down the flight of stairs. Instead I did an awkward stumble then a hip-hop jump and landed four steps down hard on my ass. I waited for Joel to laugh but was greeted instead by the sound of someone pounding on the front door.
"Your friends I gather?" I hadn't moved. My tailbone hurt but I wasn't in a rush to get up and see what else wasn't working a hundred percent.
"Yes. May I invite them in to remove the gals?" He indicated towards the two wrapped vampires with his chin. I wasn't even curious why he felt obligated to ask. The Byzantine rules and regulations that dictated the vampires' behaviors and actions didn't concern me. I just wanted the nightmare to end.
"Sure, what the hell. Sorry I snapped at you, but this is not my fault." I growled, not caring that I didn't sound very sorry.
"Not a problem. We'll get back to that later. Let's resolve this issue first." Joel walked past me without a smile.
He was not dropping the blame game subject it seemed, but then he had already proven to be stubborn. He greeted someone at the front door and invited them in with a mumble of words. I didn't hear what was said, but sat back on the step to catch my breath while I watched the vampire allow two strangers inside my tainted home. He introduced Gustafson and Sanders to me and they nodded from the foot of the staircase. Figuring out that they couldn't carry the bound vampires past me on the stairs I carefully grabbed the hardwood banner and moved off the step slowly. The railing supported my shaking form and I took a cautious step. I was sore but thankfully, nothing twinged out of place. Taking my bruised dignity and sorry ass down to the entry hall, I nodded back to the newcomers and went to the kitchen. I could hear the men discussing logistics for removal and possible dump locations but didn't feel like getting involved. I guess they wanted to keep Babette far from Greta and Tammy as possible while still having access to them for questioning.
The idea of creating distance between them suddenly stuck me as funny, since I was definitely involved. Something along the lines of up to my damn neck and sinking fast danced along my thoughts. I reached into the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. Twisting the top off I drank deeply hoping to rid myself of that unsettled feeling still carving a trail along my spine. A curse and a thump let me know that the movers were definitely moving. I wondered if vampires bruised.
After a bit I heard Joel thank them and the front door slam shut. I tossed the empty water bottle into the recycle bin and waited for Joel. I didn't have long. He strode into the room and his eyes flew around the space quickly seeking me out. I felt exposed leaning against the countertop. I still was angry at the comment he'd made somehow assuming all this was in any way my fault. I wasn't the head vampire here just the abused spouse of a sexual deviant and his crappy friend. They were the ones at fault here not me.
I did find it a bit ironic that he'd had to move two bodies today when hours before that's what I'd been faced with coming home. Unlike my earlier confusion when I was faced with Babette's 'corpse', he knew exactly whom to call and how to dispose of the bodies without my neighbors noticing. He had 'people' on speed dial to fix his messes. All I had for my day's discoveries was a fully furnished house to dump on the market and a life in tatters.
"Where were we?" He leaned next to me and smiled. No fangs in view I was happy to notice but there was a look in his eyes that made me uncomfortable.
"You were disposing of your vampire sluts while having your cyber boys looking into the online peek shows and I was contemplating my kitchen." I went for the smart-ass comment rather than reveal my fears. I doubted he'd much care about my mere human worries given his little nest of nasty vampires out there with web exposure a major possibility.
Somewhat confused he looked around, "What's wrong with your kitchen?"
I was happy to see that I had thrown him for a loop. Tapping a finger to my lips -- bad habit I really needed to break -- I launched out on the rant that was pushing for my attention. Nothing like a bit of female babbling to screw with a man's sense of equilibrium I'd always found, as I pointed around my kitchen and tapped down the mental scream in my brain while telling him what I'd change. It wasn't perfect but it'd do for now.
"Well, the sink as you probably already noticed is in a really lousy location -- not close enough the fridge for easy cleaning of veggies and the like. I think the countertop tiles need to come up and be replaced by something a tad more modern. Obviously a splashguard would be necessary to kick up the look and it would be nice I think to put in a solid hunk of marble in the counter for pastry prep. Then as you can clearly see there are the appliances, totally ancient. I mean a Viking stove would be a delightful addition as well as a new Subzero refrigerator but anything made in the past five years would be better than those old things. That said," his face was filled with horror as I'd rattled off the changes that I had actually planned on making a mere two weeks ago, "none of that will be done now that I have to dump the damn house on the market 'as is' and find a new place."
"What the hell are you going on about?" His voice no longer sounded strong and vampiric but older. A lilt of a British tongue had slipped out in his frustration. I guess he wasn't as American as I'd first thought. Nothing like screwing with a man's mind to get him to drop his pretenses, I'd always found. Billy had taught me how best to be caustic for effect or fun. And I liked throwing Joel off balance for a change. Sure beat me standing there with my mouth gaping like an idiot while he lectured me on the splendors of being vampiric.
Placing both hands on my hips I glared and said, "Well, I can't exactly stay here at the apparently well-known vampire hotspot for whores now can I?"
He put his hands up defensively and sputtered, "Why ever not?"
I pushed up into his face, "Because your vampire tramps seem to have made my home their little pleasure nest and I don't want to find any more wandering in some night while I try to sleep, now do I?"
Still angry I added, "And I'd be forced to stake them or whatever it takes to kill them. Then disposing of them would be an ugly mess not to mention without your list of friends I'd probably end up dumping them on one of the many local church's doorsteps. Then the local nightly news would have a real lively story to cover now wouldn't they?"
Horrified, "You wouldn't dare."
"Sure I would. And I'd do it at dusk so they wouldn't catch too many rays. A call to the church and mentioning my gift I wager would draw out a crowd pretty quickly." I was warming to my topic as I had finally figured out a few things.
Showing no fear seemed the best course as well as my decision to stop being a victim. I realized that nobody was going to bail me out and I had to make a stand before Joel just rolled over my wishes and I was under a new master. Changing one pushy husband for a pushy vampire didn't seem like an ideal plan.
"So, Joel, if you want to blame me for something, fine. But keep in mind blaming me won't make any of this crap my fault and I will fight you every inch of the way. I am sick of being screwed with by men. Dead or alive." I growled.
He began to laugh.
It wasn't that mocking laughter he'd barked out earlier but an honest to goodness full belly laugh. More believable than the laugh track one too, it was nearly infectious. If I hadn't been so angry I probably would have smiled. He slapped the counter and said, "You really are something else, Josie!"
"Whatever," I snarled tired of being mocked and shoved around by everyone and everything.
"As if I would let you do any of that to any of my vampires..." He was now trying to keep a straight face and failing. "You are precious." He smiled.
"Fuck that. I mean it. And you have to sleep some time!" I hazarded a guess and smiled my own grin. He really was underestimating me.
Most men did.
He'd also missed during our heated discussion I'd been moving around the kitchen. I was now a whisper away from my chopping block and the knives. I cooked. I therefore had the finest steel instruments to slice and dice. While holding his gaze I reached over and grabbed one of my smaller chef's knives from the wooden block and spun closer to him with the blade point out.
He moved but not fast enough, I had the tip at his throat.
"The jugular is still as vulnerable for vampires as much as humans I wager." It wasn't a question but a logical leap of faith. He blinked.