"Okay, Harry. Even while keeping out of the mainstream vampire spots, I heard about your La Jolla estate being attacked. So where do you want us to move to afterwards?" Using my right hand sweepingly indicating Valerie and Caleb's nearly clean plates, I went straight for the meat of our issue.
I'd watched his pupils dilate and flicker in shock at my insider's news. So, I hadn't known it was positively Harry's home, but it was an educated guess coupled with some leaps of logic. The psycho blood I'd sucked up well into late last night had thankfully started to be diluted by my nature and what little left that was considered my own blood. Now I was an older, stronger vampire, not like some two-bit crazy bastards less than a few decades old, like the common West Coast vampires. Add in that the last time Harry and I spoke was in the Florida area centuries ago and since then he'd been heavily seen -- and photographed -- along the East Coast and Midwest in the past fifty years. The advantage of this age meant that I still kept informed via the Dark Web and various vamp sites that had their own popular gossip spots just like humans. I wasn't my Master's fledgling, easily overwhelmed by Harry anymore.
Trying to regain his "cool" Harry said, "So you figured out about my La Jolla location." I had pieced it together and from what I read it had been an epically upscale house and very secluded off the beaten path. The blown-up home had been written off as something like a gas leak and random chance but to me it had been layers of vampire style erasing the mistakes that had been made. From the street gossip I had heard -- that was definitely a possibility -- if not a hard fact.
"Yes, that was what? Just average results from allegedly tangling with the local vampires, witches and weres?" I sipped from my lemon water watching his eyes flicker again.
Harry'd forgotten that my ties always ran deep. I may not play well with others, but I'd learned how to keep my finger on the pulse of the city I roamed. Time hadn't made me totally stupid -- despite my evening's fun the night before -- I paid attention to details as well as the lack of details. The devil was in the details -- and when those were erased -- it made truths harder to dig out but not impossible.
Harry broke out with a melodic chuckle that turned into outright mirth. I'd definitely shocked and amused the older vampire. A sliver of Master energy ran over my skin. Automatically my cells pulled the unexpected gift into me. I'd forgotten how Harry's temperament could caress me. I felt a flush of strength and knew that a ghost of a smile danced across my lips as I remembered my wilder side while in the West Indies.
Feeling a burst of anger directed at me and building up to a strike I glanced at my tablemates. Then, I swear a soft growl came from Valerie's lips that danced up into her glowing green eyes. Automatically -- with my vampiric speed -- I snapped an open palmed slap on her cheek. Her face flushed red and I saw her balling up her fists. I tapped her forehead and simply commanded, "Sleep -- forget." She slumped right into Caleb's shocked arms. Guess Harry 'forgot' to mention to Valerie that my mother had been an old school witch. I'll grant that it wasn't well known but I knew from my shared past that Harry was aware it was true.
Raising my voice slightly I said, "Caleb, hon, looks like Valerie's tuckered out. Can you catch an Uber and get her home?"
His face froze but then Harry defused the situation by sliding a room key over the table with a crisp hundred-dollar bill saying, "She's checked into a suite down on Shelter Island. The information is on the sleeve of her key card. I really appreciate it if you stay with her until we contact you." Harry used a trace of his vampire command voice, but Caleb, without protesting, nodded and physically hoisted her up. His backpack was casually snagged and slung over his right shoulder while he supported Valerie with his left arm. She ragdolled under Caleb's power and he helped her out of the restaurant. All those years of surfing gave him plenty of upper body strength to move her smoothly out and into the parking lot. I saw Crystal meet him by the hostess stand and I could see that she ordered an Uber from the restaurant's cell phone. She waved off his money, I guess she'd counted the wad I'd given her earlier and helped him with the door.
Jen, observing the departure, came to see if everything was okay or if there was anything she could do or get for us. Harry said just the check then comforted Jen's concern about Valerie's abrupt departure by explaining, "Sorry, my friend is extremely jet lagged. She flew in from the East Coast and has been burning the candle at both ends." I bit the side of my cheek to keep from breaking out in my own laughter. I had to confess that the evening hadn't transpired like any of the exotic scenarios my thoughts had cooked up in the past few hours. Harry Adkison was the unexpected kink in well-laid plans even centuries later. Shaking my head, I waited for Harry's thoughts.
Jen bounced over to us putting the black folder with the meal ticket and dinner receipt inside on the table, Harry picked it up, he didn't even do much but glance briefly at the total. Smiling nicely, Harry pulled out a few more hundreds from his pocket, massively over-tipping. Jen politely inquired if we needed any change. Crystal definitely had a good waiter. Harry softly chuckled saying, "For the coffee alone it was worthy every cent. Don't bother to bring any change. This has been a truly memorable meal, do you mind if we finish our coffees?"
"Oh, stay as long as you need. Please visit us soon." She bounced off glowing at the tip. I saw her slip Crystal a folded stack of twenties from her pocket discreetly as she brought the check to the cashier in the front. Crystal tried to wave it off but Jen whispered an amount into her ear.
Crystal turned to look over to Harry and me and quietly nodded her thanks. Yeah, I needed to make a point of visiting soon; the staff was excellent and the beach view stunning. After Harry's remark to Jen, I sipped at the refreshed coffee enjoying the silence. With Valerie gone the spell she'd cast had dissipated and the soft crashing from the breaking waves vied with the murmurs of casual conversations from the other tables on the patio. If this had just been a dinner with Harry, I couldn't have asked for a more pleasant setting. But sadly, this was anything but normal and I knew more was to come in my twisted reality.
A new couple was being brought over to sit at the recently vacated table next to ours -- closer to the beach. The young lady may have clocked in at the legal drinking age -- in parts of Europe -- but the rather older gentleman loudly asked for the best champagne and two glasses even before the waiter had brought them water. She fluttered her heavily glued eyelashes at the thin, overly tanned man saying in a squeaky girl voice, "Baby! You are too good to me!" He puffed up and preened at her praise.
On the other hand I was trying to not wince from that young child's baby doll voice. Yup, the kid was using a very cloying tone humans were usually smart enough to only use in private. The man -- no way could he be confused as anywhere near age appropriate -- chuckled softly then said, "Just a taste of what you deserve, Kitten."
Yes, the creepy man called his child date Kitten. I somehow doubted it was her given name considering she had a swath of gold necklaces and chains around her thin, toned throat. One of them had "Cindy" scrawled largely in gold cursive with a solid karat or so of diamond dotting the "I" -- from the way her fingers ran over the script it was a recent addition to her collection and from his shoulders rolling up that gift was from him.
The waiter showed up next to the table with Crystal. I noticed he didn't have an open bottle of champagne in his hands but two glasses of ice water. He slid them magically in front of the two while Crystal moved next to the couple.
"Steve, how nice to see you again. Will your wife Nancy be joining you two soon? I know how she loves the champagne." Crystal wasn't serving the child alcohol and risk losing their liquor license. Something like that would ruin a popular spot in hours.
Steve sputtered before saying in obviously false tones, "Oh, no. We separated."
Crystal matched the fake tone saying, "Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. When I saw her yesterday at lunch, she told me all about the new additions to her stables. Is this one of the new girls she hired to ride? She didn't mention you had separated but she did say that one her old studs was due to be put down."
Steve's face paled to a new shade of white, his tan pallor erased along with the preening posture. Sitting less than four or five feet away from our table I found myself sipping from the abject fear and hatred wafting from them. Kitten -- Cindy was looking remarkably confused as the bunnies that bounced in the cartoons running in her brain began translating what Crystal had said and asked of Steve -- Baby.
"Hey," she finally squeaked out at Crystal, "I don't ride horses!"
Crystal did a slow glance at Steve then said, "No, just old asses."
She flushed and whined, "Baby, wait you aren't divorced?"
I was trying to hard to keep still and not break out laughing or applauding the little drama. Dinner and a show -- truly a dying art -- it was the best entertainment I'd seen in quite a while.
Steve tried for the wronged customer -- failing miserable from his first poorly thought out response, "I'll have your job for this treatment."
Crystal sighed heavily before replying, "I doubt you could wear my heels, unless you're kinkier than Nancy told me. I must say though that I really liked hearing about the bridle in your mouth while you were being whipped with a leather crop."
His face went bright pink as sweat formed on his upper lip as he gasped out, "I never."
Eyes brimming with unshed tears his date screeched, "Oh my God, Steve! You told me you never did that before and I was like totally the first! You made me wear those icky cheap ass red pumps and smack your ass for hours. Gross." She jumped up and tossed the napkin from her lap onto the table then stormed off. She practically ran through the restaurant as some other patrons who had been listening applauded her departure.
Crystal said softly to the stunned Steve, "Get your stupid ass home and beg forgiveness from Nancy unless you want to be a busboy next week. Your prenup fucks you. Nancy knows about the side chick and told me not to serve you here without her, ever. Are you understanding me?"
Steve's bravado failed him as he understood exactly what Crystal told him. He pulled a few bills from his wallet and tossed them at the empty table. He slunk out without another word. Crystal turned to us saying, "Nancy owns that man's ass. She didn't want to deal with a messy divorce yet and knew Steve was stupid enough to bring his bimbo here. I can't tell her a single thing, but she figured it out when her jeweler asked who Cindy was last week. She's been on the warpath since then."
I laughed lightly and said, "Definitely lively here. Thanks again for a great table."
She laughed heartily and touched my shoulder saying, "Now you know what you've been missing. Great seeing you again."
Harry shook his head, "You do seem to find where the action happens. Ready to get out of here or do you want to see if they have a second show?"
I laughed, "In this crowd it's always a possibility. Let's go."