Now that for the time being Angus and Bobby had stopped their territorial pissing match, at least in front of Uncle Harry and me, I pushed my shoulders down and rolled my head, popping my neck and crackling a bit of my spine. Both Angus and Bobby literally sprung apart and looked at me with shock. Like they'd never heard someone crack their neck?
"Harry? What the fuck is Esmeralda exactly?" Angus had a decidedly unpleased look on his face and looked at me again but this time with more than just alarm -- because for some reason I disturbed him beyond the usual teenager versus the adult. It took me a second to figure out that he wasn't happy leaving Uncle Harry with me. I went back to trying to not chew the corner of my thumb, and instead went back to looking over the pages Uncle Harry had given me, actively ignoring them all while I settled down. There were way too many alpha males posturing in my book.
Instead I looked at the birth certificate that Uncle Harry had shared with me; it still rocked me to my core, but I flipped past it and went back to the felon shots and carefully read the synopsis on each creature below the pictures. The rogue gallery of nasty boys and girls Penny'd given to Uncle Harry was pretty darn scary. Penny had a decidedly dry tone but she was crystal clear in that everyone in the stack of papers were people she'd seen or found in Florida -- who had been somewhere near me, whether by my neighborhood or in my school.
Reading through the comments, I noticed that there had been some ugly bits and pieces in all of their pasts, and more likely to come in their futures, as revealed by her words and the judgments of various courts and legal actions that she had unearthed. I'd found out that my high school chemistry teacher who had been watching me was more than a bit disturbing, but Uncle Harry had assured me I didn't need to worry about that jerk any more and that he'd be taken care of quite soon. I took him at his word and went to the next page in my fist. Looking at the shot of the creature called Owens I shifted in my seat and tried to maintain focus. It didn't work because for me Paul Owens was more than a bit creepy even before I'd even heard the word 'fey' applied to him. Far as I knew he was some creature that lived a long time and that he was working with bad vampires, which was pretty much was that all I'd been told at this point. I lightly ground my back teeth and tried to think 'happy' thoughts. It wasn't working.
All three men were staring at me with extremely wide eyes -- even Uncle Harry.
"What?" I looked up and wanted to check to see if my clothes had shifted and like, exposed something in the naughty bits range. I quickly flicked my eyes down my body and since nothing was immediately noticeable I calmed down.
With great restraint I resisted a complete wardrobe check and instead I looked at Uncle Harry for explanation. He caught my plea and nodded. Then he replied, "Child, you are projecting very loudly. And none of us can shut out the babble and anger." This disturbed them all while I found it pretty funny.
"So? You guys are like what, just big bad vampires and werewolves -- you seriously need to like get over it." The two werewolves all jumped back a foot. Uncle Harry just chuckled.
"When did you tell her?" Angus spit out. His eyes were wild and he glared at Uncle Harry with fire in his eyes.
"I didn't. You both gave it away." Uncle Harry was still comfortably ensconced in his lush bedding and showed no signs of getting up. His dry tones were perfect and he gave me a quick wink as Angus and Bobby glared at each other. He seemed pleased that I'd figured out something supernatural on my own. I was, too, but I didn't think gloating would be a good thing.
Bobby ran his fingers over his face flipping back the fall of russet hair that was covering most of his features and said, "But why can't we push into her mind?"
A quick smile flashed over Uncle Harry's face before he said, "Because she's special. That's why you are here. Too many creatures want her dead or under their control."
Angus grumbled out, "But, Harry, should I still go or stay here now?" It was tearing at him because both Uncle Harry and I knew perfectly well he wanted to help out Penny.
Looking at me slowly, Uncle Harry tapped a long slender finger to his lips and finally he said, "No, let's stick with the plan and you take the jet and head out to help Penny. And if it looks like you are being followed, land in northern California and drive down from anywhere north of Bakersfield. Make sure you aren't followed here." Angus grumbled again, but it wasn't nearly as convincing. I think it was more for show than anything else, because it didn't take a second for Angus to agree and get on the move. I don't think every other step hit the hallway as he fled the master suite. There really was no other word for it. Bobby watched the fleeing figure with a slight disgusted look on his face. Catching the look, I said, "Gee, you wanted to go with?"
Yes, I did say it with a bit of snotty teenager attitude. I was getting tired of feeling like I was the hot potato that needed to be handed off quickly before anyone got burnt fingers. Uncle Harry chuckled, but Bobby shook his large furry head furiously and denied the obvious feeling of being left behind to baby-sit me. I appreciated the attempt at denial but wasn't fooled.
"Uncle Harry, where can Bobby and I go?" I asked, and looked pointedly around his room and rather directly at him in his robe. He was kind to entertain us for so long but he had things he needed to do. I don't know what but he seemed to have some serious money and I knew that wasn't something that just fell out of the sky. So there had to be work involved in keeping the coffers full and the house pretty and nicely landscaped.
Laughing, he said, "Anywhere you want in the house. Stay inside and meet me back here in about five hours, okay?"
Bobby and I shrugged at each other and I got up from the chair where I'd been perched, making sure to flip my backpack over my shoulder. I wanted to be able to leave at will and even though I trusted Uncle Harry, I was still nervous. We shut the double doors and walked together down the wide hallway.
I was a good foot or more shorter than Bobby but he was kind enough to shorten his strides so I didn't have to run to catch up with him. He shot me a glance from the side of his eyes through another thatch of his hair that had fallen into his face. He seemed to be trying to figure out how to say something to me. As we continued down the corridor I kept waiting for him to say something but he wasn't ready to spit it out so I finally said, "Well, what is it? Am I like too much a freak for you to watch?"
Laughing ruefully, he said, "Nothing like that. Hell, my question is how the did you know Angus and I are weres?"
Looking at him with huge eyes I said, "If I say you smell like wet dog would you be pissed off?"
Before he could answer, I stopped dead in the hallways and burst out laughing, putting a hand up at the absolute horror that filled his features.
"Sorry I couldn't resist. It's been a crappy week. No, you and Angus move fluidly and have power that rocks through you both. It was like, if Uncle Harry could be a vampire, what could you be? And it popped into my head that you both had other shapes and I figured werewolf cause you didn't move like cats." It was a lot of words for me, but I didn't know how tightly-wrapped old Bobby was, and didn't want to be on the wrong side of an angry werewolf.
"Oh," was his only reply and he continued to walk so I quickened my steps to join him. We were back near the foyer and there was another hallway. We took the turn and began peeking into rooms. I discovered a few bedrooms and a really nice bathroom while he found a library, entertainment room and a few more bedrooms and bathrooms. We finally arrived at the kitchen and it dawned on me that I was starving.
Without a word we both turned to the large refrigerator. I dropped my backpack on the floor next to a huge oak dining room table and headed towards the appliance. The double door subzero stainless steel fridge was filled. I grabbed some cheese and a bowl of raspberries while Bobby laughed, pulling out a butcher paper-wrapped bundle. I wasn't overly shocked when he opened it up on the cutting board in the middle of an island to reveal a slab of deliciously marbled ruby red beef.
"Guess you will be having yours raw?" I couldn't resist quipping.
"No, contrary to popular belief, we are not savages." He pulled a cast iron skillet off a hook suspended over the island with other types of skillets, pots and pans and took it to the gas stove. Heating the pan, he grabbed some extra virgin olive oil from a cupboard and drizzled it onto the sizzling surface. After a minute he took some sugar and sprinkled it on a plate and then dipped the meat into sugar and tossed it into the pan. It wasn't in the pan for more than a minute or three before he flipped it and repeated the process. Even to me it smelt divine.
"Okay, not a savage, can I have a nibble?" I asked nicely.
Laughing he cut me off a few slices and put the meat onto one of the two plates he'd pulled from one of the many shelves that lined the kitchen. Handing me a knife and fork he went to the table while I added some cheese and raspberries to my plate before joining him. He had about a pound of meat on his so I gathered he was good. Silently we consumed the food. We didn't speak but concentrated on fueling our bodies. I was ravenous and from Bobby's inhaling I gather he was also hungry. Once there was nothing but forks left on our plates we looked at each other over the oak table.
Bobby blinked first and said, "Okay, we need to stay here from what Harry said. Now what?"
Obviously he'd never babysat. I smiled and said, "Dishes first, then we explore."
I wasn't ready to veg in front of the TV just yet and wanted to see if Bobby would even do dishes.
Grinning, he said, "You wash -- I dry." He must have had siblings -- or littermates? Another topic I wouldn't broach but really wanted to know the answer. I pondered the library we'd seen and made a mental note to spend some time pursuing the tomes. I doubted Uncle Harry had the usual lighthearted mysteries and New York top ten list of bestsellers.
"Okay." I didn't much care. Again we quietly did the dishes. Neither of us seemed to be into filling the empty space. Once everything was back in place and we were pretty much done I looked at Bobby and said, "So I need to find a spare bedroom and grab a nap."
From the utterly stunned look on Bobby's face I knew he'd misunderstood me.
"Hello, no, that wasn't an invitation. I am exhausted. Can you watch me and make sure I stay asleep?" I didn't think I said it right but I truly wanted to sleep.
Bobby's eyes were huge as he said, "I guess so."
Shaking my head, I led him down the hallway back to the string of bedrooms we'd peeked into on our journey to the kitchen. The house would be interesting to explore, but I needed to sleep. Bobby walked slowly behind me without another word.
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