"Delilah, you can't leave just yet." Eddie's voice had an edge of humor that was totally freaking me out. I was capable of some very nasty things and somehow the deity was making me feel like a kindergartener challenging their homeroom teacher. I didn't like that notion at all.
Without a thought I pulled from the air all the energy floating in the room that had been cast and enchanted for what may have been decades, despite the youthful appearance of the four Eddie had sent me to find. Nodding mentally to Sam Fortuna's relentless training, I sent a simple stop spell into the room. Eddie didn't freeze, but both Adrienne and Rena did. Their breathing and their very presence became a cartoon cut-out of their former selves, and I could see through the glamour they'd cast to what they currently looked like. Both were older, but not as ancient as I expected and had the supernatural features of both their parents etched into their frames. I could see the troll and the chameleon dancing with otherly ones. They were frightening, and thankfully totally unaware that I had stopped them.
Eddie began laughing and said, "Really, you thought I wouldn't have installed a safety button on you also?"
Something tumbled in my stomach and I wanted Sam to help me. I mentally screamed out my frustration and precisely where I was. There was this amazing feeling that coasted through me and I sent a final plea to hurry.
Eddie stumbled and faltered while hissing, "What was that?"
I guess he didn't know I could do that. To my utter relief I heard a faint, "I am coming." My heart soared -- I knew that voice. Sam wasn't dead.
Puzzled Eddie said, "What just happened?" He hadn't heard Sam answer me in my thoughts. I quickly thought of exotic flowers that grew around Southern California on the hills and in the deserted land that was growing ever so smaller. My best memory of one of the things I really liked about the town was that of how golden poppies used to line the freeways before San Diego overgrew the small military burg that it had been for so long, and became a real city that didn't roll up the sidewalks after ten at night.
Frustration etched his features, but I was pretty sure that he had no way of digging through my flower-laced thoughts. I began to envision how the freeways ran around the area, and the small highways that had been in the county for centuries. I filled in some minor local history about how San Diego had become the destination for many historical figures. I latched onto one of my favorite men, Wyatt Earp. He had picked up his third wife, Josephine Earp, in San Francisco, California and went into mining over in Eagle City, Idaho. But then he left to race horses and open a saloon in San Diego. I filled in my thoughts with vague memories from the movie, Tombstone. Hey, it worked for me. Val Kilmer's offering to be a huckleberry went traipsing through my mind and I watched him wince.
Eddie snarled, "What is this nonsense about old Westerns?"
I batted my eyes at him and said, "Naughty boy. You are peeking. I was just thinking of my favorite movie and how Wyatt Earp actually lived and had a business in San Diego."
I wasn't great at the innocent look but I did what I could.
Eddie snapped, "So what about the two ice queens here? What's your plan now?"
Looking at him with my back to the door I said, "Waiting for the boys to show up and let you collect your toys and go the fuck home."
He growled, "Language."
I snarled back, "Get over yourself. You are keeping me here. Or I'd be gone."
That was still gnawing at me but I wasn't going to give into the fears and feed Eddie. He didn't have any worshipers to pull from and I certainly wasn't going to be his fix. He was still running on full from the bar crowd he'd swayed to his dark side. Not a good thing by any toss of the dice in my book. I hoped Sam didn't take too long. I really needed someone on my side for a change.
Reluctantly I sat back down in the chair where I had been sipping espresso when all this started, knowing he wasn't going to let me out just yet. I just hoped that Adrienne had pushed hard enough for Prince Mastema and Prince Barbatos aka Matt and Bob to pull their troll asses from the 'awesome' surf. What I knew of surfers was that they were all about the waves, no matter what real life required.
Eddie looked at me and said, "Will this spell harm them?"
Snorting I said, "Please, you already know the answer to that question. Why don't you take a load off and wait for the boys to arrive?" It really wasn't a question, but I amused myself by making it seem like I gave a damn.
Grimacing he said, "You seemed different when you were in-between the worlds."
Grimly I said, "So did you."
To my amazement, he flipped back into the cat form of Jeff without a comment. I couldn't fault Eddie because I was seriously angry and he knew I wouldn't hurt the cat. The eyes were fully Jeff, so I walked past the frozen women and pulled the cream from the fridge and poured him a saucer of milk. Jeff purred and lapped up the cream. All the energy Eddie had been burning through the small young cat showed, and the fattening cream would give the animal energy. Since I hadn't released the two, I began to look around the store and found some lovely salmon, which I minced up on a plate and set on the floor. Jeff's purrs were loud enough that I could hear them easily and once he was done he pawed at the front door. Mentally shrugging, I let the cat out and hoped that either Eddie would flip back and open the door or Jeff would be smart enough to scratch to be let back inside. I didn't bother to lock the door because I wasn't sure which direction the surfers were going to return. Not that it mattered, because either way I was stuck with the frozen women. Hell, given their companions they were more than likely actual princesses in their old world. Eddie had been keeping quite a bit of information from me; I knew that without digging too deeply. It wasn't like I could change it at the moment. Another thing on the 'to-do' list for my free moments.
Sighing deeply I went ahead and began to release the two from the top down while saying, "Be nice or back to your mannequin forms. Okay."
I waited for them to nod once their heads were unfrozen enough, and then I pulled the magic off of them. Rena snarled, "You will pay for that." I guess she'd been able to see through the frozen state and figured out that I'd been responsible for the spell not Eddie. Oops.
At her threat I quickly snapped my fingers and uttered a soft spell beneath my breath. Rena froze again instantly and Adrienne said, "Looks like you're wrong on that one, Rena. You seem to be paying for it quite well." A slightly nasty chuckle accompanied the comment, and she shuddered as the last of her body was freed from the spell.
She slinked over to the elaborate brass and stainless steel espresso machine and fixed herself a cup adding, "You want another one?"
Laughing I replied, "I doubt that would be in my best interest, now would it?"
She laughed lightly and said, "Got me on that one. A girl has to try, you know."
I did know; that was why I didn't allow her to fix me another drink. It would just take an eyelash with a whisper and I'd be dead or worse. Yes, there is a 'worse than dead' state that could happen. From the flicker of her eyes to Rena and back I could still see her weighing the options of trying something. I fluttered my fingers over towards Rena and raised my left eyebrow with a smirk on my lips. She got the message and sat down at a table between the counter and me. Her back was to the front door which told me she figured the guys would be coming in the back door.
Jeff took that moment to scratch on the front door with his kitty claws. I opened the door and allowed the cat to tumble inside with a bit of awkward grace. Despite going back and forth in human and cat forms I could still see traces of the kitten I'd brought with me between-the-worlds. Eddie's hostile takeover seemed to cause the cat to grow each time they switched forms by Eddie's command. Just the thought summoned up the deity, and to my dismay, a flash of nudity and then Eddie's usual wardrobe of jeans, t-shirt and the boots. His smile was naughty and Adrienne said, "Nice trick. But then you are full of them, My Lord, aren't you?"
She either knew him or knew enough about him to be keeping him on his pedestal. I found that slightly telling, but more so that she sketched him a quick curtsy with nearly a formal grace. That was added to my list of questions to ponder in my future free time. Well, if I lived long enough. It's been that sort of year.
"You all have been bad. You knew that when you got here you were supposed to blend in and simply enjoy the freedom we gifted you. But no, instead you began to sup on humans and non-humans with little thought to the outcome. Adrienne, you aren't stupid. You had to know that we would figure out your little games," Eddie's voice was impossibly deep, and stronger than I'd ever heard it before in my head or aloud. He was pissed off and that was coloring the very words. The depth of his unleashed power was bristling on his voice causing me to wince slightly. Adrienne was actually smirking at him. Stunned, I waited for him to notice.
He noticed, and the air crackled with raw power. I avoided the temptation to pull it to me, because I sensed that there was a poison trapped inside that no doubt would cook me in a second. He zapped Adrienne until she let out a scream of pain that I was sure would be heard for miles.
"Delilah, this building is soundproof. Part of the reason is because it's here that they kill their guests, and the other part is because they thought it would keep me from finding them." He watched Adrienne twitch and shriek with a smug look of his own. She wasn't smirking any more in the least. Spittle began to pour out of her lips as she tried to push off Eddie's energy.
He let Adrienne drop and she gasped for air, flailing on the spotlessly clean flooring. I chanced a breath and my brain opened up, and I could hear all the death cries and smell the scent of almonds mixed with coppery blood and burnt meat. I know my eyes were huge as the very air threatened to smother me, my thoughts pushing out the deaths of so many humans and other creatures at a frantic rate.
"Adrienne is the little keeper of the house of horrors they have here. Once I gave her a jolt, she was forced to drop the glamour she was using to misdirect any interest. Isn't that right, my pet?" He was looking down at the twitching body of Adrienne who wasn't exactly at her best. She slowly rose from the floor half-sitting, and swiped the back of her right hand over her face, further messing up the makeup that was literally melted off her face. No, she wasn't looking so hot at all. Wait, she kind of was, but in all the wrong ways.