Celina Holston wasn't disagreeing with Jerry's comment, but she was stubbornly trying to cling to a misguided sense of high-minded entitlement. Jerry Cooper knew she'd broken many of the Vampire Council's laws. The very same laws that she'd personally slain fellow vampires for time and time again -- her sheer audacity and lack of boundaries would've eventually been her downfall, had he not seen fit to pick her up and use her at his pleasure.
Jerry had his own uses for the rogue enforcer that didn't fit with the Council's automatic cleansing that would befall her at the hands of her precious vampires.
Holding the long steel pick in front of her face he returned to the topic at hand. "Celina," he said, using his voice as a lover would, thick and filled with promise, "do not growl at me again. I guarantee that I will pierce your heart and rip it out through your chest if you do."
Something in his tone and his face alerted the half dead vampire that he wasn't joking and deadly serious. Celina wasn't talking, but then he'd only fed her a tablespoon or so of rabbit blood -- not enough to sustain her for long.
With a sigh, he tossed the blood-coated pick on the recently unveiled table of instruments he'd assembled with a casual disregard for where it landed. The metal on metal clank was still vibrating in both of their ears when he yanked open the door to the small fridge where he had the various prey blood chilling.
"What to give the girl? Hmmm," Jerry glanced around the shelves, even though he knew exactly what animal he was looking for, but he wanted to create an illusion that he wasn't one hundred percent sure of what he was going to do next. Every little bit of hope, even a false one at that, he could give her was just one more thing he could brutally take from her. The years he'd had to revisit each moment of his containment and abuse at the hands of Celina and Ben Richland's group of killers gave him plenty of fuel. His imagination stoked the fires.
He pulled out a small container of blood. The label on the side amused him. Sheep. Not much more complex in flavor than the rabbit blood he'd given her a few minutes before but the idea of any predator having sheep on their lips and fangs gave him great pleasure. The last human blood she'd had was from his hacker bitch, and he hadn't allowed her much enjoyment of the woman's blood before he sucked it through her body and deliciously into his. Running the human's blood through another vampire had an odd effect on him, but not one that wasn't enjoyable. Just different. The filter from Celina's veins was slightly dampened by the vial of magic the creature that'd created the blood box had instructed him to drink.
"Can you say 'Bah' for me?" He strolled back while showing her the label. Her eyes flashed anger, but she was learning and didn't make a sound. Her fangs filled her mouth as he pulled back the lid on the pint-sized container. The plastic was opaque but she could smell the blood and wasn't able to resist. This time he stirred the blood with two fingers and dribbled it quickly into her open mouth. Again her tongue had to work to capture every drop as some hit her cheeks and spattered onto her chin. The spots touched by the flat flavored blood were absorbed through her skin and the charred marks disappeared slightly. The deep creases around her once lush lips weren't helping her get blood into her mouth and fangs, but creating small canyons of red. She was a study in flesh gone bad.
Celina made a choking noise deep down in her throat as Jerry dripped another two fingers of sheep blood over her open lips.
"You want me to stop?" He tormented the vamp, knowing fully well she'd choke down any and all blood given no matter what the source, her eyes locked with his and she shook her head very slightly, not willing to risk losing a drop. Had Jerry waited another few hours, she would have not been able to move to feed and he'd have been forced to inject blood into her if he wanted any responses. Thankfully he had arrived when he did.
"Celina, we really need to talk." Jerry's tone brought a slight smile to her sun ravaged face. The sheep's blood wasn't healing much of her features but giving her enough sustenance to begin to get hopeful. Even with the hole still unhealed in her forearm from when he'd punctured her with the pick, she still wasn't grasping the full measure of Jerry's control. He'd take great pleasure in breaking her.
"Talk," she lisped slightly while her thick gray-white tongue licked another drop of blood to her fangs.
Her skin wasn't glowing, but her eyes definitely had a new light behind them. She was getting a little cocky, Jerry thought, but he didn't see her able to do anything to flip the odds any time soon. Sheep blood wasn't ever going to fuel her to higher levels of vampirism.
"I'm not the one who has to talk. You do." With that he tipped the blood-filled container towards her open lips and allowed the cold blood to spill into her mouth and down the sides of her face. She gnashed her teeth as she bit at all the blood, trying desperately to get as much as possible into her veins.
Once the container was empty, Jerry casually tossed it into a trashcan he'd bought just for that purpose. The red plastic liners alerted the disposal service that inside were biohazard contents. The humans feared blood more than vampires because everyone knew that vampires didn't exist.
Jerry was growing used to the chiaroscuro landscape of Celina's ruined features; mentally he superimposed her former glory and bit back a grin. She was still thinking that once she gave Jerry whatever it was that he wanted, she'd be free to go feed herself back to vampiric youth. He never promised her any such thing, but he easily read her demeanor that she thought it, not that he need to slide into her thoughts since she was projecting her feelings so loudly. She didn't have any way of getting blood without him at this point, and he planned on keeping it that way until he was done with her.
Celina was moving her wrists slightly beneath the leather restraining straps. Obviously she didn't think that he'd notice. She was mistaken, because Jerry noticed everything about Celina. He was more than a little vested in finding out what she knew before he carved her black heart out of her chest. Time would tell if it would be done quickly or if he'd flay her open like a frog specimen in a freshmen biology lab.
"What do you want?" She finally had enough blood inside to spit out more than a single word.
"I want Ben Richland, on a platter, served up by you," Jerry honestly answered, adding, "It doesn't even have to be a silver one."
Panic flew over her face as she saw that he wasn't kidding. Ben Richland had been the leader in his capture and detainment, and Celina had been the weapon aimed at him quite successfully to that end.
"Ben's gone." She volunteered, crumbs offered like a meal.
"But he still walks in the moonlight, so tell me exactly where I can find him." Jerry answered.
He watched her try to figure out an answer that would please Jerry while still protecting Ben. She was mistaken in thinking Jerry didn't already have a few good ideas where in Florida Ben currently called home. He wanted to use Celina as bait, if possible, dead or alive. It really didn't matter to Jerry, because one way or another Celina was going to help him capture Ben's attention. It was up to Celina to help him if she wanted a chance at staying alive another day.
"Haven't seen him in months," she worked out the partial truth slowly.
Ben's little hacker, Tricia Sanborn, had exposed Celina's email trail to him long ago. Celina and Ben corresponded not once or twice a year but nearly weekly by emails. The last email he'd seen between them he could tell that Celina was trying to gracefully distance herself from the Vampire Council and Ben without arousing any suspicions. Since she'd created her own minions and fledglings -- violating the very laws she enforced for the Council -- her rogue status was going to be noticed sooner or later with or without Jerry's interference.
Despite Jerry's implications to Celina, he didn't have an army of vampires at his beck and call, and the mental severing of her from her own vampire kin was a combination of his power after drinking from her and the magically powered blood box in the warehouse. Granted, he could put her fledglings under his power, but he wasn't sure it would be wise. Vampires were loyal at times to their Master, but some vamps were simply waiting for an opportunity to betray their Maker. Considering how Celina operated, he was fairly certain that she had more of the latter than the former. Which brought up one of the things that had nibbled at Jerry ever since he found himself in a silver-lined blessed coffin, bound by the silver and the religious icons not to mention the blood box, which cut him off from his family. His own blood had fueled that vampire blood box, blood that somebody near to him and probably quite dear to him had given freely to the Vampire Council. But it wasn't the right time to dig into that subject -- hopefully he'd get to ask Celina before he slew her -- if not Ben would be supplying that answer sooner or later. For all the light banter and her wishful thinking, she was already dead.
"You haven't seen him -- true enough -- but you had communications with him," Jerry meandered back to the tray of torture tools formerly used in various pathologists' and morticians' hands around the country.
He looked slowly at the various devices available and waited to see what she'd say. Not wanting to watch her manufacture lies, he picked up one of the mortician tools and turned it in his hand. The triangular tool was used to insert into a corpse at the end of embalming, after the blood had been replaced with a concoction of the morticians' design, inserted to drain the fluids in the body and even out the appearance of the corpse for the open casket portion of the funeral. The trocar looked innocent enough but would cause wicked pain when inserted into a living creature -- even a vampire. And if the hole wasn't plugged Celina would slowly lose all her blood.
"No, wait," she said while Jerry approached her with the trocar in his hands. He twirled it slowly, mesmerizingly, and deliberately catching her eyes.
"For what? You to lie to me again?" Jerry tapped her already punctured forearm with the tip of the tool. He could smell the fears rolling around in her mind and flowing into the warehouse space. It was ambrosia to him and fed him deliciously.
"No, I emailed Ben last week. He's getting ready to head to the West Coast. There are some rogue vampires out there the Council has put out orders of execution on and he wants in and asked me if I wanted to help." Her voice was soft and barely louder than a child's whisper in the dark. The rabbit blood served her well. She was twitching like a bunny.
"So what did you say? You offer to help him?" Jerry wandered around the cart she was strapped onto and slapped the device loudly into his palm. With each thwack of sound she flinched.
Her face was a study in confusion and pain. The sun really hadn't been kind to her during the hours since he'd last seen her. She was confused because she couldn't see Jerry and figure out what answer he was seeking. Her eyes rolled around in the damaged face trying to find where Jerry was -- unsuccessfully.