Looking the vampire over I wondered what sort of Master vampire picked such a creature for their minion. I knew my own fledgling, Damson, was pretty bad, but this vampire was just as arrogant and proud -- despite the deaths of all his associates by our sword. A flash of hatred and a look of anger briefly covered the fledgling's face before he adopted the bland uncaring look of a smug young man. The heavy black mascara on his long, femininely pretty eyelashes and the thick kohl lining his dull brown eyes accented his pale white skin -- he was a caricature of a bad B movie vampire. With his wardrobe of a long Matrix style black leather jacket and the black t-shirt and tight jeans it was more than apparent he'd watched far too much coming from Hollywood either before his turn or right after. The stringy dark brown hair was a discord but maybe he'd run out of Nice 'n Easy Midnight Black hair dye. It had to be tough to keep that vampire Goth look going at times, not that I could tell from any of Kenyon's club members. This vampire didn't smell like Kenyon or any of the Master vampires that I had met.
"Does he know anything?" I asked Harry as he yanked the vampire upright.
Then I saw a ripple of fear roll through the assailant's frame when he felt Harry's iron grip on the nape of his neck. It was obvious now to the vamp that Harry could've easily snapped his spine with a shake of his fist. Suddenly he wasn't quite as cocky as he'd been when we first got jumped by him and his buddies, but then Harry had some time to bend his mind and kick in a few stray thoughts of punishment despite the vamp's apparent distain of us. It was slowly dawning on him that the ambush had completely failed and he was the trophy to play with, and when we were done with him it could mean his true death. And if that ended up being the case he'd be more than happy to die once Harry was finished with him.
"He knows enough, Natasha. Once we have him inside I'll finish his questioning." It was a straight out statement from Harry. There wasn't any wiggle room in his book.
I heard a slight whimper from the captive vampire and then he spit out through clenched teeth, "Well, fuck you both. You are all dead meat. My Master won't let our deaths go unmarked and my Master will avenge us all before the next dawn!"
"Sounds like your Master is as delusional as you," a voice came from behind me. A very familiar voice at that and a chill raced over me.
Harry laughed and said, "Simon, I see you decided to join us."
Putting off listening to my cell phone messages seems to have bitten me on the ass, was my first solid thought. I should have called him earlier slid through my mind. I sucked in a breath, but bit back a cough from my deep inhalation of the wet marine air. Anyway I looked at it I was probably in some sort of trouble, it didn't matter what I should have done or could have done differently since my Master was here. He'd kept his presence well cloaked until he mocked the stray vampire.
Simon was walking slowly from the edge of Harry's perfectly manicured lawn. The gray fog lingering seemed to drift with him like he had his own smoke machine. My stomach tightened and my blood rushed painfully through my body. I had an ache that started in the center of my core and spread rapidly. It had nothing to do with the injury the vampire had inflicted on my side back by the roadside when we'd been ambushed. I'd been away from my Master too long and this was the painful reality of my vampire line. Our blood ties were unusually tight and highly addictive. I never understood how Damson, my fledgling, endured our long separations. My tie to Simon dampened some of the stress on me, but DB was usually out on his own -- small wonder he was crazy.
I tipped my head and waited for permission to speak. Simon was a vampire who demanded respect and got it. My fingers and toes were tingling with a buzz. From that I knew that Simon wasn't as composed as he'd appeared.
Though Harry had the rogue vampire in his grasp the punk was pushy and snarled, "Who the hell are you?" Harry cuffed him after his outburst.
"Natasha," Simon spoke to me while pointedly ignoring the only vampire left from the ambush down the road, "You look tired." He nodded, letting me know that I could speak freely. I wasn't so stupid to assume that meant disrespectfully or casually in front of Harry and the other unknown vampire.
"Sire, you look well." And he did.
Simon Conner was the Northern California and Nevada territories Master vampire. He hated flying this far south -- and not just because it was Kenyon's domain. He felt that the best parts of California ended once you hit the Los Angeles county line. That he was here at Harry's could mean many things. So many I didn't even bother trying to figure out why but simply waited. He was a strong Master but when pushed he could be beyond ruthless.
I knew it because I was his executioner. Not that anyone called me that to my face, but I knew my unofficial job title. That was why I'd been sent down to Southern California in the first place, to find out if Kenyon's plans to marry Renee, his vampire, to Carlos, the alpha werewolf for the area, were the start of something more than just solidifying his own territory. I'd discovered it was far more than a simple marriage, and that Kenyon was reaching for the entire western half of the United States from all I'd seen and heard. Shaking my head I focused on Simon. Looking at my Master wasn't hard to do. He was a bit over six feet tall, he had been a giant in his time from the stories I'd heard, with a full head of ash blonde hair. His eyes were green with flecks of gold that glowed when he was happy or angry. Currently they weren't glowing so I took that to be a good thing. His features were strong and defined by decades of royal blood -- he'd come from Central Europe after he'd been turned. The council allowed him to reign uncrowned in California. He found it to be extremely funny at times -- other times it angered him. He talked about wanting to return to Europe some day to take back his rightful throne and live the way he deserved.
No matter, my blood ached for him and he nodded. I could feel him slide inside my mind pushing and probing for information. The caress was erotic and scary at the same time. Standing between Harry and Simon was stressful. I waited for him to speak.
"My Child, you haven't been answering your cell phone," he chided me.
"I am sorry, Sire." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a smirk cross the rogue vampire's lips.
Without asking, I simply slapped the vampire hard across the face. His head snapped back and he spit out a glob of blood. Harry chuckled.
"You have no right to be amused. Your only 'right' is to bleed until you die." I hissed. He didn't know enough to ask for sanctuary or even a rep from the council. His supposed 'Master' was nothing in the hierarchy for this vamp to not know anything to protect himself and both Harry and Simon knew it as well. He truly was a rogue vampire as far as the council was concerned. We didn't need to seek any sort of permissions or request anyone's approval to act against the vampire. Our being attacked had pretty much negated the council's rules.
Simon looked at the vampire carefully then said, "You weren't turned with approval of the council. You have no rights, like my fledgling said. If you wish to see and fear another sunrise you should rethink how you answer us."
Harry nodded, "Let's get inside and finish up this incident." I knew he meant the staged accident and attack but he also was alluding to the vampire we'd brought with us.
He yanked the vamp to the porch. Taking one arm he spun the vampire and pushed his face into the corner of the doorway while Harry coded into his home with his free hand. Simon and I had stayed at the bottom of the steps, allowing Harry privacy. Soon we all were inside and Harry set the alarm again. The house all had the fancy bells and whistles any rich person could desire. Including security shutters that rolled down when the homeowner left town. Or in the case of vampires staying up during the day they worked far better than blackout curtains. Once the front door was shut it was very dark inside. He shoved the vampire further into the foyer and hit the lights.
Slowly we moved into the living room. Harry hit a few more buttons and we had more lights. He also checked a few text messages on his cell phone and nodded as he absorbed the information. We didn't ask and tried to not listen when he retrieved some cryptic voice messages.
"Harry, what is this stupid creature's name?" Simon asked once Harry pocketed his phone.
He'd made himself comfortable on a plush, gray suede sofa in the room. I perched next to him on the edge nearest my Master. Harry had initially yanked the vampire into the room and let him stand pouting near the fireplace. Harry sat on down in the matching love seat right across from us. The rogue vampire looked put out at not being offered a chair but he was lucky to still breathing as far as I was concerned.
Chuckling Harry said, "He keeps saying 'fuck you' but I doubt that's his given name."
We all grinned. The sullen captive snarled ineffectively -- he had yet to realize how out classed he truly was.
"My Master will have all your heads!" He cluelessly spit out.
Simon laughed while Harry said, "We seem to have hacked off all of your friends' heads quite easily."
In the vampire's angry distraction his mind opened up slightly. I was tuned into the room since I was waiting to find out why Simon was here. With the opening, I slipped into his mind and began tearing through his thoughts and memories. The vamp really needed to work on his buffering. It worked to my advantage and would save on having to keep listening to his lies.
Once I'd found out every bit of information possible I grinned to Simon and nodded. He knew my talents and what I meant. He slipped into my mind and smiled even wider at the wealth of information I now possessed.
"Pleased to meet you, Geoffrey Peterson. How is Glendale? As you are living there you should be under Kenyon's rule but instead are pledged to a woman from Arizona." The dry delivery of the facts caused the vampire to fall to his knees and cry out.
There were vampire Masters that were female, but they were far more rare than most suspected. The council favored men as a rule for the top vampires because of centuries of tradition more than anything. If you were born four hundred years ago it's hard to suddenly have to meet with a female born perhaps only three hundred years ago and bow to her. But slowly women were carving out their territory despite the chauvinistic views. I hadn't realized that a female vampire had taken over the Arizona area.
Simon cleared that up with, "Ah, so you are a rogue made by a rogue. Your 'master' is nothing -- a nobody to us."
"Master Cynthia is a goddess! She won't tolerate you and your fledgling. You have killed hers and she will get vengeance," Geoffrey snarled at both Simon and I. He really wasn't getting it. I looked to Simon for permission and was thrilled when my Master gave me the nod. I still had the Civil War Confederate sword and swung for the back of the room. The vampire didn't have time to even look frightened. The wet noise and thumping of his head falling satisfied me. The vampire crumpled into himself and began to sizzle. He hadn't been old enough to survive the separation and we wouldn't need sunlight to make his corpse disappear. His Master wasn't strong enough to sustain his body from the distance.
Harry shook his head and said, "Well, that'll leave a mark." The blood flow didn't last long and soon there was nothing but a stain on the rug. I knew that Simon would pay the cleaning bill.
Shaking his head, Simon said, "What a way to start the morning."