Harry looked at the Militi vampire, Camilla, hiding within Daisy's body and answered her question, "We were about to give you the relic and let you both leave."
He looked over the table to me and confirmed, "Isn't that right, Natasha?"
Slowly I sipped at my iced tea, "Yep, Harry. We think Solomon's Fang is too strong to have around to tempt the masses." I didn't much care for Camilla but hadn't got a chance to explain why to Harry. It was a long bitter tale from when she came to Simon for sanctuary. It nearly proved to be my true death. Camilla thought her past with Simon, my Master, could override his attachment to me. When we had met she'd tried to kill me. Simon had saved me and banished her from his territory, but not before some nasty words were exchanged. Sharp teeth and words were the least of the weapons used during that encounter. She still hated me; I could tell even from behind Daisy's eyes. Camilla would take my head in a second if the opportunity presented itself. I wasn't under any illusions.
Solomon's Fang just came into our protection again and Harry had immediately contacted the vampire council. They were riding the minions who'd shown up to collect the relic. I hadn't known Camilla was part of the clan. She wasn't from the direct bloodline, but somehow related. I wondered who she'd betrayed to be trusted by such a powerful clan as the Militi Family. She had used an artifact to shade her scent on Daisy -- her smile had given that away. Harry knew as well as I did that using the relics cost the vampire something. Nothing good ever came from playing with such dark magic. We knew that Archer had had the Fang, but other than a betrayal at the council level, we didn't know how he'd got it out undetected. The vampires guarding the Fang never let humans close, so it followed that one of the vamps had stolen it.
It was tough on me being so close to the Fang. There was too much raw power for me, and the longer it was in my presence, the deeper of a pull was seeping into my bones. Not a good, happy place, but a wickedly tempting spot promising me carnage and death of rather epic portions. That and more was being whispered into my soul from within the box that the Fang was being held.
Harry looked around and saw that the waitress, Brittany, was still in the back and leaned towards the center of the table saying, "Beholden to none. The talisman has begun, the final reign of those under our power and our domain."
Magic flowed from his words. I nearly could see the enchantment Harry had spoken aloud dance into both of the vampiric council's minions' brains. I was amazed at the immediate effect. Hugh's eyes rolled back showing all whites and a thin ring of dark while he slumped inside himself, and then his thin body dropped down slightly on the bench seat next to Harry in the booth across from Daisy and me. Daisy tried to fight whatever it was that Harry had proclaimed, but the words were much stronger than her will. The two minion were the only non-supernaturals in our visual range in the diner. Thankfully the other humans in the diner were safely in the back -- we really didn't need any more newsworthy incidents clouding our existence. Dark Whispers, Kenyon's club, that was basically a nest of vampires and murderers, had already enough attention on it without adding in some humans freaking out running crazily into the middle of the street. The nasty fires burning in the East County were more of our work, and I didn't think any sort of news coverage at this point could be anything but bad. Maybe I was just a skeptic but somehow I doubted it.
Renee whimpered from the table behind us. The three werewolves looked ashen, and somehow less vibrant. They were stunned into an uncanny stillness. I, on the other hand, felt nothing. The Fang and the words Harry had spoken transfixed everyone else.
Harry flashed his fangs briefly at me and said, "It's because of the other night, my dear Natasha."
It dawned on me slowly that feeding on a vampire of Harry's strength had more perks than just a lovely blood buzz. I was the only one unaffected by the spell. Harry was vibrating sheer otherly energy. The feeling of Harry's strength and control was amazing, but I wasn't ready to cave in and let his feelings flood me out of my mind. Since both Hugh and Daisy still looked like they were being tugged by the vampires, long distance, I wasn't going to fold. I remained calm and waited to see what Harry had in mind.
He pulled out the engraved box that had housed the relic and set it in the middle of the diner table. A hush stretched between us. I could feel the throb of mad desire to caress and stroke the box. Then he opened it up, revealing the Fang, and I trembled. The power was amazingly raw and sexually charged. I wanted to lick the tip and let my blood fill my mouth while suckling the artifact. It wasn't a clean impulse but naughty. Vampire treasures were double-edged swords and I knew in my heart that the relic had a bite that would do more than just slice a hunk from me. It would eat me whole -- and I would gladly let it.
Harry carefully pulled the Fang completely free from the engraved box and handed the empty container to Daisy. She mechanically put it in her purse, seemingly unaware of her actions. Then with a swift motion he plunged Solomon's Fang into Hugh's neck. It disappeared beneath the skin -- no blood flowed just raw waves of mindlessly intense magic.
Hugh didn't even flinch but just straightened up suddenly alert, "So you'll send it back next week?"
"Sure will, Hugh, sorry you guys came all this way for nothing more than an empty box. I had stored it in the safe last night and it must have been dislodged in our rush to meet you. We'll be heading out east soon enough and I'll bring it then. I know you have a return flight in a few hours and need to get going." Harry's response was smooth as was his explanation for the empty box now in Daisy's purse. They both nodded. I wondered how Harry had shut the Militi vampires from their remote viewing through their minions' eyes. Then it dawned on me that he hadn't. The plan all along had been to use the humans as smugglers -- mules for the relic. Pretty clever, but part of me wondered if the removal was as seemingly painless. I didn't think Camilla cared much either way.
Daisy and Hugh finished up the plates in front of them silently while Harry and I watched. Their hunger was nearly hypnotic. Once their plates were clean they both looked up and waited for some sort of instructions. Nobody said a word about the Fang now buried inside the human. I had to admit that it certainly wasn't something I'd ever seen before nor did I expect to see again. Hugh's pale skin pulsed with his steady heartbeat and an added kick from the Fang made it nearly incandescent to my vampiric vision. It wasn't as tempting encased beneath the human's skin, but still, I could feel it calling me. Renee looked stunned from their table. The werewolves looked a bit queasy. Daisy still even didn't have a clue; she rubbed the spot between her eyes still chasing away the brain-freeze memory that Camilla had left inside her head after gulping down the shake in a single gulp.
"Thank you for meeting with us, Harry. I will pass the information on to Camilla and Tiziano Militi." At Hugh's politely worded reply, I watched both vampires flicker briefly over their minions' faces. I didn't think Hugh needed to tell his handler nor Daisy's. I wasn't familiar with Tiziano but Harry definitely knew the vampire. I knew from how Harry had spoken the name that Tiziano was directly bloodlined into the higher levels of the family, not just a hanger-on like Camilla.
"We won't keep you any longer," Harry dismissed them, and they wandered off full of food and Fang. I wondered how the pre-flight screening handled that sort of thing. It was bone-like material near as I could tell imbedded with gold and etched with symbols and letters so I pretty much doubted it'd register on any normal x-ray device. Gold wasn't a metal that set off the bells and whistles at airports as a rule, but had the Fang been left incased in the box it definitely would have merited secondary inspection if not full-fledged panic. I easily understood why it was sheathed in the human.
Brittany wandered back in and politely asked, "Was everything okay?" The two minions had all but licked the plates clean, so obviously wasn't anything wrong with the meals. I could hear the radio in the back giving dire fire updates. Not that we needed them, since the TV had been left on and was still flashing burn zones and huge flames licking up the land on the screen, with the red banner on the bottom scrolling vast amounts of information over and over.
"They had a plane to catch," Harry said softly. The waitress nodded and went to Renee and the werewolves and told them their meals would be out in a minute. She went back to check on the food, leaving us all alone.
Harry pitched his voice a bit louder and asked Renee how she was doing.
"Fine, Harry." She didn't offer any more.
Marcus scoffed slightly.
"You want to add something, Marcus?" Harry asked with a slight coldness in his tones. He was pissed. We needed Marcus, but he still was a werewolf. I found it odd that he even made a sound -- he knew us better than that I'd have thought, after the time we spent underground with him in Archer's hell hole cavern. Archer's stupid idea for 'team building' had backfired on him in his own territory out at what was now ground zero in the flamb&eacure;ed acres ripping across the countryside. He sent us out to be picked off and slaughtered by his werewolves, and we'd beat him on his own turf. Nevertheless it was bold for Marcus to push himself into vampire business.
"Yeah, Harry, actually I do." Yep, Marcus had grown a backbone. I heard Carlos' hiss of anger at his second-in-command's words. Then to my stunned disbelief Marcus rose from their table and joined us.
Naturally he sat down next to me. His hip pressed against mine. The warmth of his body against mine was startling. I hadn't realized how much my body temperature had dropped in the past few hours. I'd mistakenly thought that the Chinese delivery would have kept me full for a while. Harry had been so sweet to arrange the meal, but now I was craving blood. The tensions and magic floating around for the past few days and nights had drained me fast. Faster than I'd expected, even taking into account the supernatural element of my existence. The fact that Marcus felt like a furnace against my thigh let me know how quickly I was losing my body temp, and weres ran hotter than humans, but still, it wasn't good. I looked to Harry with worried eyes.
He caught my glance and looked to Marcus.
"So what is it you have to say that's so important?" He wasn't a happy vampire. Marcus looked directly into Harry's gaze and said, "We are all fucked unless we work out some sort of real alliance. This mockery of a marriage between Carlos and Renee is Kenyon's game, not yours. What can we do to become part of your alliance, not his? Carlos and I know that Kenyon wants us for his cannon fodder in a war between the vampires. We don't want to be killed for his misguided principles and vengeance. Direct us, change us, and accept us. Your alliance means more to us."
There was a pause as Harry took in Marcus' words. I tried to keep from gasping. This was huge. The leaders of the werewolves were offering us first choice in their world. No matter how much vampires dismissed werewolves, both Harry and I knew that meant more than a mere nod and smile. It was sincere. It was huge. It was world changing.
Maybe this meeting was going to make a difference.
Lydia Manx will be on vacation until December.