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July 15, 2024

Strange Bedfellows 38

By Lydia Manx

"Well, that certainly went better than expected!" Renee was trying to put a happy face on what had just happened.

"Sure, now all we need to do is make sure Scott's pack has a nice table at the wedding reception," Carlos said while looking at Renee. She held her head high and didn't reply after barely meeting her fianceacute;e's direct gaze. It wasn't a challenge from the werewolf but close. We vampires rarely cared much for challenges and tended to do whatever we wished to do -- come hell or high water or a combination of both at times.

Marcus cuffed at the back of Desiree's head as she had started to edge after the fleeing pack. Looking at me he snarled, "Natasha, why don't you see if we can get this show on the road before Scott pays us a personal visit."

I arched an eyebrow at him and said, "Not my call, fur boy." I knew that Marcus was acting out because his alpha, Carlos, had pretty much lost face with Renee's interaction with Scott, the resident alpha for the area of Kentucky, where not only had she obviously grown up, but where she had also pretty much played with werewolves. Renee really had some layers to her and it wasn't like we could object.

Harry laughed and finished up another text message and said, "We have a helicopter meeting us two hours north of here. Let's get a move on and see that we make that meeting without any more interaction with the natives."

Nodding in agreement, Marcus had Desiree in her wolf form go into the furthest bench seat in the back of the SUV. We then headed out through the winding country roads. I was seated between Carlos and Marcus since we figured Desiree needed her space and nobody wanted to smell Randy's scent on her fur from any closer than necessary. The air conditioning was cranked high but it didn't really help much. Harry drove with Renee giving him directions from the front passenger seat. Other than that, the trip was made in complete silence. There weren't exactly any safe topics. The house Renee had directed us to for 'safety' was anything but that and now there was a slight misunderstanding between two Kentucky werewolf packs by the unauthorized visit of three werewolves. We three vampires hadn't necessarily followed all of our council's rules but at the same time we weren't as territorial as the werewolves. Besides, with all the clan ties Harry had made over the decades, he was able to usually appease a few folks without having to resort to bloodshed.

The only bloodshed in the past few hours had been done by our little cozy group had been from Desiree when she'd snipped and bit at Randy. And even though most of the blood she'd bit and clawed off Randy was pretty much gone but I still could smell his stench on her. Riding in the car with the air conditioning running simply circulated the stink of Randy in bits and pieces. I knew that Carlos and Marcus both had excellent sense of smell and were just as overwhelmed by the odor. Desiree wore it like a fine perfume -- proudly. I sincerely doubted that Marcus would be getting her to shift back into her human shape anytime soon. He, too, must have figured the same thing out. He snapped his fingers in front of her and tossed two pills down her throat once she reluctantly opened her jaws.

Personally I wouldn't breath a sigh of relief until we were back in California looking to lop off Kenyon's head with a dull blade. Okay, we didn't have full permissions to do that yet, but I am always of the school of thought that it is easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. Harry grinned so I knew he could read my face. I really needed to work on my deadpan expression around the vampire. He was amazingly good at reading me.

There were actually two helicopters waiting for us when we got to the spot earlier given to Harry. Harry casually tossed the keys for the rental to one of the men waiting for us. He wasn't werewolf or vampire but human. He didn't even raise an eyebrow at Desiree in her woozy werewolf form jumping out of the back of the SUV and weaving next to Marcus. I wanted to get a dozen or so of those tranquilizers Marcus fed the werewolf soon -- they were obviously good. What struck me was that most humans would have at least flinched seeing an animal that big off the leash and staggering around without a muzzle. Harry's crew didn't even give Desiree a second glance and she still had that cocky grin on her fur face. Werewolves didn't look like wolves exactly -- their gait and manner of moving varied but there was a decidedly 'other' vibe that came from weres even when they were trying to blend.

Harry split us into two groups. The werewolves went in one helicopter and vampires in the other, which to me made perfect sense. The best part was that we got to keep our Civil War swords. I was happy when Renee said we should have them. Harry noticed my grin and offered to store the blade until everything settled down. I didn't know how long that would be but I was pleased. The Confederate swords were rarely found fully intact and the gift was appreciated. For now we just put them in the back of the helicopter. We both thanked Renee and during our short helicopter flight. We were heading to an airfield to get a plane out of Kentucky and with the noise we didn't talk much. Harry did some messaging and laughed when Renee freaked about his using his cell phone in flight. He explained that he wasn't going to interfere with the pilot and to relax. She didn't relax but she did stop asking questions. I didn't even turn on my cell phone since I very well knew I had a few calls from my Master, Simon, and they wouldn't be good. Just knowing we were heading back to California gave me an unsettled feeling. There were some things that had happened that I'd sooner forget.

Both helicopters arrived at a small airfield in some undisclosed area nearly together. Marcus' lips were thin and angry. Whatever had transpired on their flight wasn't good. From the glint in Harry's eyes it didn't matter; he'd get the information from his pilot or whatever listening device he had in the other helicopter. The werewolves didn't exactly bounce out of the helicopter but slowly slunk out in their human and fur forms.

Carlos spoke, "Ah, so now what?"

Harry replied, "We go back to California and see what hasn't burned to the ground. I took the liberty of getting a private flight."

He wasn't kidding. There was a sleek Lear jet was waiting for us. I looked over to Harry and smiled. I loved how Harry traveled.

"Do we get stewardesses with this flight?" I quipped.

"Actually I ordered in some hot food and I think we'll all be able to relax." Harry replied calmly.

We slowly went into the belly of the jet. The space wasn't as large at what was on a 747 but there were more luxuries and Harry's crew. I bit back a grin at the flight staff. Harry hadn't been kidding. The 'hot food' was in the form of vampire fang bangers -- those humans who liked being fed on by vampires and had sweet, lush blood. I was happy to see the choices weren't just Chinese and Italian but also Greek and Russian. Harry really aimed to please. For the werewolves I could smell at least two full sides of beef, half a pig and tons of chicken. Nobody would be hungry by the time we landed. Harry let us take turns with our temptations in the back bedroom on the jet. It was a tight space, but we all worked it out. I went third in the line up and could smell the scents of the previous occupants. Instead of freaking me out it aroused me in an odd way.

The Lear was fast and soon we were chasing the night heading back to California. Harry consulted with the pilot and came back to tell me what he'd discovered.

"It seems we can't land in the East County and will have to fly into Palomar Airport -- it's north about forty five minutes or so from downtown. They have the room to land jets and the smoke from the fires hasn't yet shut down that area. The winds are blowing off the ocean keeping the airways clear for now. The only concern is the fog bank that's been playing hide and seek with the runways." Harry spoke softly to me; Renee and Carlos listened from their seats on the left side of the plane. Marcus was in the back bedroom letting Desiree play clean up with the remainder of the raw and semi raw meats Harry'd had stocked. The four blood donors were sleeping two rows behind us oblivious to much of anything.

The jet landed smoothly and we were met by some of Harry's associates with cars and tight faces. They weren't the friendly type so I kept quiet and watched. The airport wasn't far from the sea and I could smell the salt from the ocean in the winds. Fog was rolling in as we unloaded and arranged who was going where. Harry consulted with Carlos and decided that he'd take Renee with him and the werewolves to a North County pack location and we'd head back to Harry's place. I settled quickly into the Lexus that one of Harry's team had delivered. We quickly got on the road. Dawn was a little over an hour away and I was weary.

"Harry, what are we going to do?"

He was quietly driving. We'd traveled for about ten minutes down the coast highway in silence. The ocean was dark and the fog somewhat gray and wet. We were isolated inside the car insulated from humanity. In the car we were self-contained by the fog and darkness. The Lexus handled the roads well and Harry dropped his speed whenever we hit a pocket of heavy white-gray. I hadn't seen many cars on the roads but the surfers along the beach were unloading their boards and slipping into wet suits. I couldn't see how large the waves were but the number of surfers led me to believe that they were expecting the surf to be breaking well along that slice of the ocean. The ash from the fires drifted into the fog at times. In the headlights the flecks of ash looked like dark snowflakes.

"Sleep?" Ever the smart ass Harry flashed a slight grin.

"Right. We left California for a reason. I don't see that we are any closer to settling this mess with Kenyon." I sighed.

Just then I could feel my fledgling fall into a deep sleep. Now that I was back in Southern California the blood tie was active. I didn't like Damson Barlow now anymore than I'd ever but since he was the vampire I'd made I was stuck with him. After he'd tried to kill me I was less than thrilled with him than usual and I hadn't been a fan of his in decades. I'd have to get permission from Simon, my Master, to kill DB. I was considering calling my Master before I fell asleep. One of the things holding me back was he probably was still a bit mad at me -- I'd half to think it over carefully. I didn't see Simon letting me kill DB because the vampire was working for Kenyon undercover for our clan. But I wasn't so sure that DB was working for anyone but DB anymore. Kenyon's clan was darker and nastier than Simon's. Dark Whispers, Kenyon's club, was also something Damson liked. The clientele was a mixture of vampires, wanna-be vampires and fools. Just Damson's type. He wasn't overly burdened by a moral compass or much in the way of social graces, him being a serial killer in his former life.

"I've had some of my friends working on a few ideas. Also, they put tracking devices on all of Kenyon's cars and even a few of his vampires. It's amazing what toys have come out of the defense industry in the past few years." Harry had the right connections. His vague job history included a stint with the FBI and the CIA to name a few alphabet type agencies. Currently I think he was associated with Homeland Security, which would have bothered a few uptight Washington types if they knew. Harry was a strong well-connected vampire and certainly not their servant despite their illusions. Harry reinvented himself every few decades and always seemed to land with a smile and a new job title.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-05-17
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