I was tired by it all. The spell I was using still rang out with the harmonics of Ruby's earlier lies, but she'd finally spoken the truth. Archie wanted me badly enough to violate the very office of the Council he held. I didn't have a clue what wonky title he was boasting, but allowing a witch to use dark magic in order to track down a Hunter -- under the umbrella of the very Council Archibald was a part of -- definitely violated every law I'd ever known. I wished that I knew if Sam was dead or alive, but I hadn't a spare second to seek him and now I was unquestionably in trouble with the Council. Sam would've defused the bullshit and actively helped me, but Archibald had no loyalty to anyone but good old Archibald.
Feeling my stomach churn, I felt like the vise grip of the Council was closing on my head, with Archie raising the flag in front, waving anyone to me and everyone was surging forward with ill-intentions. Then I at last shook off the thought when the cat softly stabbed my legs with his claws. I knew Eddie was trying to keep me focused on the here and now and didn't bother to dump the cat off my lap. Jeff, the real cat, was far away inside the cat's body and I could see that Eddie's eyes looked up at me. They were compelling and disturbingly green. Naturally they were glowing softly; I shook my head at the idea I felt pushing out from the cat. Eddie was impatient with my delay and wanted me back on task. His task: to find the missing four creatures that he'd let loose on Earth with the help of his buddies in the symposium of supposedly gods and goddesses. I wasn't willing to concede that they actually existed, but it was looking like a sure thing. Not something I wanted Eddie to know just yet.
Hissing my own discontent, I cursed out the word that stopped the spell. Ruby wasn't completely free of the truth spell, but it wasn't as torturous to her and would diminish enough for her to protect herself from discovery. I tucked my pendant beneath my clothing, feeling the warmth as the stone returned to its normal spot against my skin. Thankfully the cat stopped clawing into my leg and I lifted Jeff off my lap and let his seemingly boneless body pour onto the bedspread. The cat was back in charge; I could tell by his fluid movement and his eyes faded back to the normal shade normal cats sported versus Eddie's green glowing eyes.
Ruby stumbled a bit as she tried to walk towards the door. She had gotten up carefully holding the breakfast tray between us. The thin line of blood was dripping from her nose onto the tray slowly, as if it was made of molasses not blood. She swayed and softly spit out, "Thanks for not killing me. Let me clean up. I'll be in the kitchen."
I noticed that she hadn't completely turned her back on me since she'd been freed. I stood up and went towards her. Her eyes fixed on mine as she skittered a step outside the bedroom. Keeping mine latched onto hers, I simply closed the door, shutting her outside in more ways than one.
Eddie didn't waste a second in transforming back into a naked man. His clothes took a minute to join him but I knew enough to keep my eyes on his face. He grinned, knowing my impulse to glance at him had been firmly shoved back inside my wants. I wouldn't call it a need, but his flavor of power was hypnotic at the very least. I could easily see how he gained his powers from the worshiping masses. His smile faded as he willed clothing to cover him.
"She's a greedy soul. Her weaknesses will overwhelm her good intentions." It wasn't a question but a statement that I was forced to accept. Eddie hadn't been walking on Earth -- this time -- for long, but he was adept at interpreting humans or at least near humans. I flicked away that thought knowing that he'd use it against me if I wasn't careful.
His quick grin disappeared as he caught the fleeting thought and my dismay. He wasn't one to forget and I would be playing with that later. Now I was focused on how to get out with all my things and not be caught by Ruby to be basically sacrificed to the Council. I figured we had a half hour tops.
"Allow me." It was a statement not a request, but to my stunned amazement he waved at my luggage and assorted bits and pieces and everything disappeared. I consciously kept my mouth shut as I was starting to get used to the weird things Eddie could do.
"Everything is now back in the 'cavern' as you so quaintly call the room between our worlds." Again I kept my mouth shut, but it was a tad harder since I couldn't see any of my stuff left around but my backpack. I'd packed it well, but in the back of my mind I was doing the mental list of what I'd brought with me in case I had to accuse a deity of stealing from me like an underpaid airlines employee. It was then I noticed that he'd actually swept the room completely. The stray bits of dust I'd noticed in the corner of one of the shelves were gone as were any signs that I'd been sleeping on the bed. I couldn't see a single strand of hair much less a feather from the down comforter Ruby had placed on the end of the bed.
"Yes, there is nothing of you or us here." He quirked an eyebrow while his eyes swept down his current form. Eddie had erased both of our presence in the room -- and the cat. I was pretty sure if a government run lab had looked for any trace evidence from our stay they wouldn't find a single cell. Grinning back I smiled and softly applauded. I had to give him props for anticipating my next set of concerns.
"Okay, thanks." I sincerely meant it. But now I had to figure out how the hell to get out of Ruby's home without ending up in some cell deep beneath the ground watched by the Council and their enforcers. I wasn't under any illusion what Archie was pushing for, even though he hadn't had more than a ten minute conversation with me. One more time he'd popped into my thoughts because next thing I knew we were standing down the street near Ruby's favorite bar, my backpack over my shoulder and Eddie grinning. Fortunately there wasn't anyone nearby to see our unexpected arrival.
"There, that's done." He didn't look in the least put out at bailing on Ruby. My tummy rumbled reminding me that I didn't much care either. The fog was still thickly covering much of the landscape but still I felt a twinge of awareness.
"Something is out there watching us." I said quietly. Eddie grinned and said, "Nothing for you to worry about at all." There was a clap of thunder and a scream in the distance as Eddie obviously had taken care of who or whatever had seen us.
We walked into the bar since it was the only place I was familiar with and as I'd slept into the day it was well past noon so there wasn't too much of a taint asking for liquor. The bartender was not the same one that Ruby had been acquainted with but he was quick to come over and ask us what we wanted.
"I'll have a chardonnay with a glass of iced water, please." I said while watching to see what Eddie would do. He hadn't asked my advice and seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere.
"Jack with beer chaser, please." Like I said, I didn't think this was his first spin on the planet Earth.
The bartender nodded and slipped a bowl of questionable pretzels and nuts between us. Skipping the snack, I watched while Eddie chowed down energetically, enjoying the offering. Soon the drinks were placed on the paper coasters that I'd seen last time and the bartender wandered off to do various duties of stocking and shelving what he'd need in a few hours for the happy hour crowd.
"Give me a shout if you need a refill or want to order anything," the man called over his shoulder while handing a menu to an older couple half way down the counter.
"Why did you pick here to drop us?"
"I found it in your memories, and there wasn't anything worrisome in the recall." He sipped the shot of Jack Daniels then tossed it back with a pleased look.
"Okay. So now what? I don't have a ton of cash to play with here." I felt stupid but knew that I had to let Eddie know that the current economy was cash-based, not pulled out of the air. But given how he'd popped us to the bar I wasn't entirely clear on what powers he had here.
Laughing he said, "You know you worry about too many things that are not important?"
Sighing, I refused to answer but instead drank the wine. It was better than the brand that Bobby had served Ruby and I what seemed to be years ago.
I chanced a glance at the new bartender's name tag but he'd spun to serve another customer further away so I remained ignorant. Eddie said, "His name tag claims that he is Todd but his real name is Robert and he doesn't use it because there are too many Bobbies and Bobs around for him. He's not into drama but is working on his masters in communication."
Growling again, "I didn't ask."
"Ah but you were interested." He tipped back the beer and an odd look crossed his features.
"Draft beer sucks. You named your liquor but not the chaser," I felt obliged to explain while enjoying the lightly oak-flavored chardonnay.
Smiling at my explanation, Eddie cleared his throat slightly and the bartender hurried over with an eager look on his face. It took me a moment to figure out what that expression was and when I did I felt something twist inside my thoughts. Eddie already had curried a follower in the few minutes we'd been in the bar. Old Todd-Bob was enthralled by the deity and waiting to serve.
And Eddie beamed back and ordered another Jack Daniels but with a locally made beer advertised on the paper coasters. The bartender served him quickly while I declined another wine, but did ask for the appetizer sampler plate that Ruby and I had shared what seemed years ago. Eddie nodded his agreement and Todd scurried away to do Eddie's bidding. I looked around the bar ... to see there were quite a few people staring at Eddie with adoring and lustful looks flowing over their features and nearly reaching out to us. Eddie was aware of the fans, and his glowing eyes met mine. "I really do like your world."
"Of course you do," I said dryly while sipping from my water glass. It wasn't going to take much for Eddie to become a god here, I could see that, and how that was going to figure into our 'rescuing' the trolls and pals was another twist in the plans as far as I could tell.
"You worry far too much, Delilah. You must learn to savor life more. You are such a contrary creature, you know?" He actually was asking me if I thought that I was difficult. I didn't bother to answer, mentally thinking about how he'd asked me for help so he'd better shut the hell up with his criticism. A wince across his features at my swearing merited a slight smile from me.
"Keep out of my head, Eddie." I snarled while sipping from the wine glass.
Todd-Bob brought out the appetizer platter just then, making me think that he'd snatched it from someone else's hands. It looked great, but I sincerely doubted it was the platter we'd just ordered. Shrugging with a grin, Eddie proceeded to dig in while waving for another beer. He'd quickly begun inhaling the food to my dismay. His appetites were huge and that was itching at the back of my brain that this was going to be a possible problem for us in the near future.
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