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September 26, 2022

Strange Bedfellows 07

By Lydia Manx

The entrance to Dark Whispers usually was lined with humans three and four deep waiting to be permitted inside the exclusive club. The bouncer, Donny, wasn't manning the rope or the door. In fact the door was closed, with the private party sign affixed. It looked abandoned not just closed. I had to check to see if I could even feel any creatures inside. A casual mental dip and after a heartbeat, I could feel minions so I knew some vampires had already arrived. I could have drilled mentally further into the club and found out which specific vampires, but time would show me that and I didn't need the distraction. Harry was smiling as he walked with me. He probably knew which vampires were already there without much effort. I refused to ask and appear any sillier than I already did. Some nights I felt like a fledgling and Harry's decades made me feel like a high school kid at a college function.

"Natasha, we should probably go around the back. I sincerely doubt Kenyon left Jane at the cashier counter waiting for everyone to stroll in like it was just any night at the club." He was right. I was ridiculous for somehow thinking I was going in the front door like just any party going fool. I blamed the distractions of the feeding earlier and the zany way I always ended up acting around Harry. He really did have a certain quality.

To both of our shock the front door swung open and DB stepped out meeting us with a hiss of words, "Took you enough time."

Damson was wearing black jeans, a tight black t-shirt and had a large cutlass in his hand. Disconcertingly, his weapon was already tainted with blood. His pale skin glowed with energy and I knew whoever had tasted the blade's edge also donated a few pints down DB's fangs. He wasn't discreet in the least. Someone had crossed him and paid with their life. From the coppery clear scent in the air it'd been a young male. Thankfully I couldn't smell any supernatural flavor to the blood, so the human hadn't been a vampire's minion or a werewolf. After the past night's murders I counted this in the win column. The werewolves were already angry enough and DB killing some of their pack would just complicate everything that much more.

"Yeah, I had to grab a bite to eat and all." I smiled with a flash of my fangs and added, "You've been a busy little vampire, haven't you?"

His smile wasn't as pretty as mine. Those creepy needle thin fangs had made more than one woman run screaming. He liked that response. I really hadn't clearly thought out making him a vampire, but he was my fledgling for now. The glint in his eyes betrayed his momentary thought of using the cutlass on me. He'd taken one liberty too far and I quickly repaid him.

I pushed into his head and swept through his mind hard. He fumbled and unwillingly fell to his knees. The cutlass clattered to the floor and Harry kicked it clear saying, "Damson, are you such a fool as to draw on your Master on the doorstep of Kenyon's club at a vampire-called meet?"

Harry didn't say it too loudly since Kenyon wasn't aware that DB was my vampire. I pushed past my fledgling and sighed, "You really are going to need some serious deprogramming."

He wouldn't remember any of that because I slammed more into his head. The fears and pain could be rewards for DB so I had to be careful in how I controlled him. His whimper was mostly happy but I slimed him with a thought of fuzzy bunnies and cute chipmunks. That got him. He briskly shook his head once I'd freed him from my intrusion into his mind. The cutlass hadn't been given back to him but Harry had kicked it further into the lobby of the building.

Shaking his head Harry said, "You are a cruel woman, Nat."

"Keeps me in chocolates and champagne so I'm not complaining." I grinned. Vampires didn't need to eat but over the years we all have had our little snacks. I wasn't cruel by most vampire standards, but Harry was right -- I did have a cruel streak at times.

Laughing softly, "True. And I'm not complaining either. We need to hurry so let's get inside and find out what new horror Kenyon's concocted."

An earthy scent drifted towards us as we cleared the threshold. It wasn't vampire but furry. There were a larger number of werewolves inside with the vampires than I'd expected to show up. A few humans were amongst them, but they had to be minion or fang freaks. I doubted they knew the werewolves were attending because most vampires kept far away from fur folks. Most of the humans probably thought the werewolves were other fang food offerings. The werewolves weren't anymore out in society than vampires, but once you knew about vampires it wasn't that hard to stretch to believe that there were other unexplained creatures going bump in the night.

The odor of cheap cologne and stale beer, mixed with human sweat rich with fears and raw sex entwined was nearly overwhelming me as we went inside the foyer, where Jane usually set up shop selling entry into Kenyon's slice of hell on earth. I automatically checked her spot, expecting her to jump out at us and ask us for our driver's licenses and ten bucks cover charge. I knew she was somewhere lurking. Hell, if Dark Whispers had been a playhouse I'd have looked for her in the rafters. She always lurked around the corners and shadows waiting for Kenyon's smallest need. Jane was still a minion last time we met but I knew the night would come and she'd be sporting a set of fangs. Kenyon wouldn't keep her once she aged too much more, because feeding vampires kept humans looking younger than their chronological age only for so long. Her years were numbered and she'd be plucking out grays sooner rather than later if I did the math correctly.

Harry saw my eyes stray and said, "She's back in Kenyon's office setting up the camera and recording devices."

I giggled and punched Harry's arm softly. DB was ahead of us by a few long paces and pretending like he couldn't hear us. I knew that anyone within twenty feet heard us. Werewolves had good hearing also. But I didn't detect any heartbeats or flow of blood in a good fifty feet. Most of the bodies inside were at least a hundred feet from the front door. I'd sense any other vampires close enough to hear us so I wasn't worried about them and DB already knew what we were talking about so I just walked with Harry towards the gathering.

It was not a shock to hear that Kenyon wasn't above blackmailing the werewolves. Jane knew more than her share of secrets and Kenyon wasn't going to let this meet go unrecorded, but he couldn't appear to know about the skulking in the back room. Having Jane set up and run the equipment gave him a level of deniability if caught.

Harry chuckled and said, "I know. Remarkable, isn't our friend?"

"He's something all right." I agreed.

It was odd to walk into the club and find it somewhat lit. The various bars around the room were manned by Kenyon's usual men and women and they were serving drinks to whoever bellied up to the counter. I didn't see any money or credit cards changing hands other than the green bills being stuffed into the tip jars so I figured Kenyon was giving away the liquor in hopes of making some friends or at least softening them a bit. Vampires couldn't really get drunk easily so it was an extremely generous gesture. Werewolves had a fast metabolism from what Jessie had told me about her boyfriend, Buddy, so I think they also burned through the liquor like we did. Kenyon really wanted to push the marriage and merge of supernatural creatures through at any cost. Liquor-fueled supernaturals wasn't my choice of companions.

The numerous bodies in close proximity to each other didn't enhance the smell of the darkly painted bar. Pheromones were pushing around, as was a heavy level of testosterone and the expected machismo, clouding the boundaries of the men and women crowding the floor. I saw the DJ booth was unmanned but I could hear a soft bit of music coming through the speakers mounted in the walls. It was some unrecognizable bit of classical music with no words and little to add much but noise to the room. It served a secondary purpose to block out the possibility of parabolic directional microphones being used to listen into Kenyon's meet and greet. He was covering the bases as best he could without being obvious.

He'd be the only one with any sort of records of this event. Jane was the perfect minion and he didn't seem to fear her leaking out any of the tidbits from the recordings. I'd wondered what he'd do if Jane ever left him. Once she was turned she wouldn't be able to run things like she did now and could resent his changing the rules. Time would tell on that one. That was if Kenyon survived his current game, of course.

A motion caught my eye from one of the tables set along the west corner wall. DB had slithered off once he'd led us into the room. I was surprised to see it was Renee. She wasn't a close friend of mine but I guess with Jessie's death I was going to get to know her regardless of what I wanted. Her gesture was discreet yet noticeable. Harry smiled and said, "I'll let you catch up with Renee. Don't leave without me."

"Not a problem." I said and wandered slowly through the crowd towards her table. She was with two werewolves. It took me a second to identify them as Carlos and his second in command, Marcus. The two werewolves were on either side of the intended bride and I wasn't sure if she was there voluntarily or not. Her smile seemed brittle and didn't match her eyes. They were shell-shocked and wary.

Once I was closer she said, "Natasha, so good to see you. I am sorry for your loss."

Nodding slowly I looked to Carlos and said, "I am sorry for your pack's loss."

I didn't know how Buddy was related to the werewolves in Carlos' family but he acknowledged my comment with a tilt of his head and Marcus said, "Your words are felt deeply by us. Thank you."

I felt a bitterness scenting his words and I figured that nobody had approached them to offer any kind of sympathy. Just another sign that Kenyon wasn't paying proper attention to the werewolves -- he didn't get the protocol with them and wasn't making any effort to figure them out -- this would cost him down the line with or without the vampire Masters' decision. Harry had disappeared from immediate view and was probably busy finding Kenyon. I'd yet to see the Master anywhere in his club, which was unusual. He tended to be present and sucking up the attention whenever I'd been at Dark Whispers. He loved running the club.

The bartenders were pouring drinks faster than I thought humanly possible for the vampires and werewolves. The soft laughter and open chuckles struck me as wrong. I saw Renee flinch as a high-pitched shriek cut through the air.

The gal shrieking wasn't a vampire, and from her face full of dark cosmetics, probably a newly acquired blood toy for one of Kenyon's clan. Her hair was bright crayon yellow in color and tied up with a complicated array of silver chains and butterfly clips. From the horror etched on Carlos' face, I gathered the jewelry poked and pushed into her face, ears, nose, tongue and lower lip were also all pure silver. I didn't bother to glance any further on her body not needing that nightmare haunting me. She had her black shellacked talons on the arm of a rather large rugged looking male. He had an equally horrified look on his face. I quickly figured out he was probably a werewolf.

Very softly, nearly under my breath I said, "He's were, right?"

Marcus nodded.

"New to the pack?"

Another nod and we watched as the yellow haired idiot chuckled and touched the young werewolf.

"Still sensitive to silver?"

"Pretty much fatal if he's under six moons." Marcus told us in an equally soft tone. I was perched on a bar stool next to Carlos at the table. He quickly froze his face in a mask of calm acceptance. There wasn't anything they could do without giving away the young man's vulnerability. He'd have to figure out how to declaw the girl without doing any harm.

To be continued ...

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-05-04
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