I followed Joel's car while listening to the GPS call out directions mirroring the route he was taking. It seemed like he'd programmed in the address he was heading towards, but I wasn't sure I was going to continue to follow. My problem was that I didn't know where else to go. The flipside of that was that I could follow him and find myself ankle deep in hostile vampires. He'd sworn he wouldn't harm me but then I'd overheard him talking to his servant Ridley. That conversation had wigged me out. After telling me he was taking me 'to his home' Joel told Ridley there was no way he'd be bringing me to the mansion where Ridley was.
He had his vampires holding my husband, Billy, over in some secluded spot I figured, and my house was more than likely on all scummy vampires' lists of hot spots for kinky sex. The past hour or so had been ugly with revelations I still wasn't thrilled by, and nothing looked any better with time just yet. Joel was capable of taking care of Billy and Oliver, along with having his friends knock off whatever porn sites they'd downloaded the vampire sex files for fun and profit that I was pretty sure they'd created. Oliver had been too quick to come over to see if Babette was dead. He'd known about her and more than likely her playmates. Tammy and Greta were currently traveling inside a carpet van to a site unknown, where the vampires would be debriefed about their time in my home. Joel had his work cut out for him. I really saw no need to complicate those arrangements with his having to worry about little old me.
Besides, since I had a nice and thick wad of cash that I'd pulled out of the bedroom safe while he was busy talking trash about me to Ridley and whoever else he was talking to while I was packing, I had some other options than just blindly following Joel. All it would take was a few sharp turns and he'd be clueless. I had let off the gas when we hit the freeway and quickly the space between our cars grew and other cars were quick to fill the gap. Like any good driver I resisted tailgating and fell further back.
Bright headlights lit up my car as my cell rang. Disregarding the legalities of answering the phone hands free I pushed the send button and answered, "Yes?"
"Josie, those lights behind you are friends of mine," Joel's voice was strong and slightly mocking. "After all we've been through I don't want you to get lost."
Sandwiched between the vampires I didn't see any chance of that occurring.
"Thanks, my GPS is working fine. I appreciate the concern." I kept my tone light. I'd have to figure out something else.
"Not a problem. Drive safe and don't worry, we should be there in an hour or so." He hung up. I'd noticed he wasn't one for formal farewells much less casual byes.
I tossed my phone back into my purse and pushed down on the gas pedal. The gap closed and his 'friends' dropped back. I no longer felt illuminated by the headlights but was still aware they had me in their sights. My feeling of superiority and cleverness faded as he'd easily outmaneuvered me. It dawned on me that he probably had more than a few vampires hanging around my neighborhood the entire time he'd been talking with me. I wasn't as smart as I'd thought I was, thinking I could just drive away undetected. Of course there was someone following him. After all, anyone of his level wouldn't just wander around unprotected. I really was a fool.
Sighing, I flipped off the GPS, already tired of hearing the woman's voice. It wasn't like I was going to get lost now. I pushed the radio on and aimed for some mindless talk radio. The hour he said it'd take to get to his 'home' was going to eat at me if I didn't keep distracted. There was nothing I could do to change anything at this point. Nothing.
The political talk show host was busy ranting and screaming about some injustice in the world, and I was trying to disconnect my mind from the vampire problem. He started screaming how the world was going to hell and nobody gave a damn or had any idea how to fix anything anymore. I wanted to dial into the show and tell the host he should pull out some stakes and get some holy water and let's concentrate on the real issues facing our country. I resisted calling. Instead I listened as the first caller from Podunk told the host how he thought that the aliens should be held accountable. Momentarily distracted, I wondered if I'd dialed in a UFO talk show when the caller added that illegal aliens needed to be shipped back to their country. The host agreed and added some rude comment about the undocumented workers getting a free ride. Having personally done more than a few hours of yard work at a time I knew how exhausting and back breaking it could be. I never saw working in the fields picking veggies for twelve hours or more day in and day out to be exactly a 'free ride' by any normal standards.
Disgusted, I pushed another button on the radio for a different host and heard a woman sobbing how her boyfriend was so cruel because he wouldn't let her buy any more shoes. The female host asked how many pairs she owned in a very reasonable tone. I laughed aloud when the caller whined, "Only two hundred."
I had to hand it to the host she didn't miss a beat in replying, "Well, your boyfriend isn't cruel but a saint to put up with that many shoes. Get yourself into therapy and find out what's missing in your life that you think buying shoes will fill. Call me back once you get a handle on that."
She clicked off and answered the next line, and asked the caller, "Please tell me this isn't about shoes?"
I was giggling and feeling better about my life until I heard the voice, "No, it's about my wife."
The voice sliced through me. I waited for more since it sounded like it was my damn husband Billy. On the radio. How the hell did he get a phone? Last Joel had told me he was tied up with Oliver somewhere in the lair of his vampires zonked out of his mind waiting for the inquisition about the porn sites.
"Does she have hundreds of shoes?" The host was laughing. I wasn't. I sucked in a deep breath and held it.
"No. I think only a few dozen." His tone was serious. He was right, I did have a few dozen. Most of which were still nestled cozily in their spots side by side on the shoe rack in the walk-in closet in the bedroom of the damn house I'd abandoned because he couldn't leave vampire tramps alone. Yeah, this wasn't pretty.
"Okay, then, caller, why don't you tell us about your problem? But first let's pay the bills and after these commercials we'll get your answer. You all stay tuned, this will be good." Then they abruptly cut to bad music followed closely by even worse ads.
I grabbed my cell phone and redialed Joel's phone number. It was easy since I'd just called him before departing on this nasty little game of chase. He answered with a dry, "Yes?"
"Put on your radio and tell me how the hell Billy got a cell phone."
He kept calm and asked me what station. I babbled off the station and hung up to listen.
The commercial was some pill pushers who recommended nagging your doctor to get some pill with side effects that sounded worse than the disease. Unsurprisingly it was followed by an ad for those special little blue pills that would put a bounce in a man's step and have his wife running for the spa to escape his hours of driving home the point of the pills. The warnings of after four hours of undiminished excitement he was supposed to go see a doctor seemed ridiculous to me. Hell, most men after three hours would be calling their buddies to share their pills. Which naturally brought the talk show back to Billy. Talk about good product placement.
"Welcome back, listeners. So my caller was going to explain what is wrong with his wife. Caller, you still there?"
"Ah, yeah. So like Josie, hey can I say her name?" Nice of him to ask after the fact, I thought while bile drifted into my throat. Any doubts about the identity of the caller were erased with his saying my name.
"Well, you already did. Now didn't you?" Host was laughing. Ha ha. Glad she was amused. I was sick.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry. So like Josie, my wife, like I said. Okay, I mean she found me in a bad position?" He was nervous and his voice rose making his comments into questions.
Excuse me? Bad position? He called me to help him dump his dead bimbo girlfriend. Or should I say undead vampire girlfriend? It wasn't like I wandered in on my lunch hour to find him screwing her. He'd asked help disposing of her body. Any screwing had already finished which was how she ended up flat on my bed with my kitchen spoon staked through her ribs. But he had overstated her death given she wasn't truly dead.
"How bad a position we talking about here, caller?" Gee, I wonder what she expected. Oh, yeah I caught him eating ice cream from the carton -- that was it.
"The worst. She totally freaked. I came home tonight to tell her I'm sorry and it won't happen again and she isn't here?" Billy sounded really broken up about it. Again he'd turned the comment into a question and I wondered why he was calling into a talk show.
"Do you blame her? She probably isn't even missing, but just taking a little time out. Maybe she went to a friend's house to cool down. We are talking about how you cheated on her, right?" Boy, was that calmly asked. And what the hell did Billy mean he was at our house?
Chills ran up and down my spine as unbidden a host of thoughts raced through my mind. I unconsciously followed Joel's car as we headed further away from my home and seemingly Billy waiting for me. I was stunned by the call. Yeah, I was heading to some friend's house -- a vampire friend of Babette's.
"Honey, is that you? Hey can you like hold on? There's someone at the door. It has to be Josie. Maybe she forgot her keys." The clank of him setting the receiver down was audible on the radio and then I heard Billy calling out my name and the sounds of popping. Definitely not a car backfiring I quickly gathered as the talk show hostess let rip a major swear word. The station flipped right to a commercial while the host was screaming for someone to trace the call. The ad was the pill pushers again and I was horrified.
My cell rang and I slowly pulled the phone to my face.
"I have someone checking on it right now." Joel sounded as shocked as I felt.
"Sure, and that was Billy so they better send the carpet van back for another clean up." I knew in my heart Billy was dead. I didn't need confirmation from outside sources to know that.
"We can't do that, Josie. The show goes out live and they'll have called the cops by now." I shuddered knowing he was right.
"Fine. So who was in charge of Billy? Was it another of Babette's conquests?" It was my turn to bite.
"No, it was one of my enforcers. Excuse me, I'll call you right back, I have an incoming call." Like that he was gone.
So what were vampire enforcers? I'd already seen vampire sex sluts and didn't find them scary, just nasty. Both Greta and Tammy had some cool moves but they weren't exactly bouncers. And Babette was just a sensual creature who liked married men from what I'd gathered. No strike that, she liked men period and married ones were just part of the smorgasbord.
I kept my frustration in check as the miles flew by and Joel still hadn't called me back. The talk show came back on air claiming technical difficulties and ran a 'best of' program to fill the gap. The current repeat caller was discussing her guilty pleasure of going commando to board meetings wearing short skirts and attitude. From there the callers tried to top each other with sexual misconduct and some deviant behavior. I found a jazz station and let Miles Davis soothe my edges.