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February 19, 2024

Bohemian Morning 24

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Twenty-Four

The valet in front of the Poseidon was naturally utterly clueless about the still rolling quakes until Harry snagged his keys from the man while we quickly got inside his shiny black SUV (not a shock given his current 'jobs' and various work titles). We watched as the man staggered into a patron holding a rather full glass of amber liquid. When I cast my spell, I made sure to add a little extra bit of fun. Because if I hadn't been attentive to our personal electronic devices, we would've been totally screwed. Most people never realized how much of their lives were dependent on Wi-Fi, computer chips and bricks of electronics buried inside their vehicles. Cars built in the past few decades weren't made for power surges much less spell cast evil ones like I'd triggered. I let my spell fall off, the rolling subsided, and people staggered around nervously chattering and waiting cautiously to see if there was an aftershock or worse an epically larger one coming next, as constantly predicted. Since it wasn't really an earthquake we quickly left before people started figuring out that they were the ones now totally screwed.

All the apps in the world weren't going to help those people as they all tried to use their cell phones or try to drive their fancy electronically wired cars. Their gut reactions to the earthquake had kept them from immediately realizing what had been damaged while the rest of the spell I'd cast to take out recordings and cameras was launched. We were already on Coast Boulevard heading south long before anybody could beg a ride or puzzle how Harry's car wasn't also fried. I was in the back seat where Harry'd dumped the drowsy Violet -- still smelling like crappy cologne. With nobody to see me I mumbled a different incantation that scrubbed all the scents off Violet down to her skin. I'd used more of my magic in the past hour than I'd used in the past hundred years. I really detested that side of me and rarely bothered to play. It could attract attention I wasn't willing to deal with most nights. I hoped I'd gone unnoticed by any of the enforcers or Vampire Council; that was a worry for another day or night. I had to focus on the here and now.

Harry caught my gaze in the rearview mirror and mouthed a 'thank you' for dissipating the woman's nasty stench. I liked the fact he didn't want to engage Violet's muddled mind by speaking too much. He knew as well as I did that she was volatile still, and we'd yet to discuss what to do with her; we hadn't even figured out where precisely we were heading. Harry turned up the steep hill of 15th Street towards old the 101-highway -- El Camino Real and simply asked, "Bethany, right or left?"

Sighing I replied, "Right. Head for downtown."

Arching an eyebrow to me he asked, "New place, old place or the basement hold?"

An icy tremor ran down my spine. I'd thought that I was so clever and hidden from detection, but Harry blew away all my delusions with his query. Giving it serious thought, I asked, "What about our guest?"

Simply he replied, "Snack."

Well that was settled and just like that he sealed her fate and our current destination. "Basement."

Quickly I found he didn't need any further directions from me. Taking advantage of the free time I asked for Violet's cell phone which I hadn't fried in my ugly whammy spell.

Violet had actually fallen asleep -- no help from Harry or me -- but from her pounding down few strong adult beverages while killing an hour at the bar. I'd seen her use her cell, so I knew that she hadn't bothered to lock the device. I spent a mile reading the various messages and a few recent e-mails before deciding to wipe off Harry's and my fingerprints. I then placed Violet's unconscious fingers all over her phone before using her limp grip to toss the phone out, like my personal hand puppet, casually pitching it out the window at the on ramp onto the I-5 freeway. Either a homeless person would find it and repurpose the expensive, sparkly device or not. Either way it wouldn't be traced to my doorstep. Had we decided to keep Violet alive I'd have used the phone to give her disappearance from the Poseidon, where she'd last been seen and heard from, some backstory sort of background. Since her body wasn't going to be found any time soon -- if ever -- I wasn't wasting the keystrokes. From what I'd read in her messages, overheard on her calls and seen in the e-mails I'd scanned it wasn't like anyone was going to miss her any time soon or report her missing.

Our unwilling "guest" stayed slumped, passed out if you will, against the driver's side backseat door while Harry negotiated the roads to my killing zone. As I'd just been there the night before it felt odd to me. Rarely would I visit so soon after I used the location. I knew patterns could be noticed and tried to stay off the radar of nosy neighbors. To my stunned disbelief Harry pulled out his cell phone while he was driving and placed a quick call.

"Meet us at location C, please in five minutes. Make sure to bring everything we discussed earlier. Also, I will need a driver for my SUV in the back alley." He snapped off his call without explaining to me who he'd been talking with or what they'd discussed before our meeting. Again, I felt that shift in power and I was growing aware how I was relying on him actually needing me anytime in the future. I didn't have a crew of minions at my disposal or a job where I could simply 'disappear' inconvenient humans. I wasn't used to a Master's hand, but I was definitely feeling handled. My natural paranoia made me edgy, but I was also aware from what he'd revealed he could've disposed of me long before this evening, so I willed myself to relax and waited in silence.

Again, the human need to fill in the empty spaces had long evaporated in my nature, to me quietness without the words cluttering my mind was welcome. Harry didn't talk, didn't force his thoughts into my mind as we wound through the empty, poorly lit streets. It was actually refreshing.

All too soon we were half a block from the stolen property with my redesigned slaughterhouse basement and Harry pulled to the side of another abandoned home on the street. There was a dilapidated shed that appeared to be falling apart on my side of the SUV when we finally stopped. I felt heartbeats and vampires outside the car.

The shadows emerged and shaped into a few bodies on both sides of the SUV. Harry opened the driver's side door while saying, "Bethany, let Eddie grab Violet. He's going to be helping us. And before you ask -- yes he is."

I'd yet to speak aloud much less actually ask a question but with Harry's door opened I caught the new scents immediately from outside.

Vampires -- check

Witch -- check

Werewolf -- check

I was more than shocked and hopefully not absolutely screwed. Since I checked two of the boxes personally, I really didn't have much room to bitch, but a fissure of 'fuck me' ran through my soul. Yes, I claim to have one of those. Harry's strength had never been in doubt, but I had no clue that he'd adopted all these new acquaintances. I slid out, not quite knowing what was next. There were six of us together in an alley. Not what I'd call discreet by any measure. No, kids, nothing to see here. I consciously shut my trap and waited a foot away from the car while Eddie reached in and physically wrestled a drunk -- waking Violet. His power came from being a werewolf not a vampire.

Harry was on his side of the car handing off the keys to the vampire who'd been at his door. From his scent, the vamp was low-leveled and quiet. Once we all were clear of the SUV, the unnamed minion drove off, leaving Harry talking to a stunning witch who'd been standing next to the vampire who drove off. The reddish-brown hair tumbled around her pale face -- she didn't look anything like Valerie, but I could taste her energy on the wind. Vampires could smell traces of fear like sharks could taste drops of blood miles away in the ocean. I didn't find true witches in or around my existence often, but the power rolling off this creature nearly was choking me. She wasn't trying to invade me, but holding on a whispering conversation with Harry that was well below the normal decibel range of human hearing. But I wasn't a normal human and standing on the hard-packed dirt next to the worn road not more than seven feet away from them. It was the same as if I was right next to them listening to their conversation. The night was eerily quiet, so nothing prevented me from hearing her say, "What the hell, Harry?"

She took a breath with a slight hiccough at the end allowing me to feel her tension. Her gaze flew towards me as she waited for Harry to explain. I liked that she hadn't tried any spells to block me, but that didn't automatically mean that she was unaware of my dual nature.

Harry softly replied, "Jasmine, let's go inside and discuss everything. Trust me." He placed a hand out not quite touching her but a mere hair's width away from her stiff spine. "Eddie's waiting. Ok?"

I noticed then that Eddie had carried the human and now his arms were full of Violet and they were away from the street and he was making for the backyard of the house I'd appropriated. I saw Violet's purse was looped over his left shoulder like it was his not the nasty human's. It really wasn't a question from Harry despite the lilting query. He wasn't trying to ask but simply trying to not give offense. Pretty smart when standing between two witches who'd yet to be properly introduced.

But after giving it a thought, Eddie hadn't been exactly introduced to me, but his attention was noticeably being distracted by Violet. Before they completely disappeared from the alley into the backyard Violet had begun to struggle. Fighting his arms around her, she was flailing as half-awake drunks were prone to do when awakened from naps -- passed out -- whatever. I could hear Violet's strident voice as Eddie continued to haul her resisting, sizable shape through the brush and bushes. I mentally groaned. I was damn sure my hidey-hole basement wasn't going to see another moonrise. I must have growled a bit with my groan because Harry rapidly moved Jasmine across the dirt towards me without touching her. I didn't sense a vampiric push from Harry just his intention. From Jasmine's tight face she wasn't pleased at even that much interference.

"Bethany, I will replace everything, just trust me a little bit longer." He didn't say please but his voice had a most definite pleading tone. Whatever sent him out to find me this evening despite my rather torrid previous night's activities had to be more than what I'd thought as territorial pissing. And from all I'd just seen he brought multiple supernatural creatures from his slice of the world right into mine. Add in the thumping and cursing I was hearing in the distance, Eddie was most assuredly inside my world. I was starting to get irritated and from the light hiss of air that Jasmine had to expel I knew she wasn't in any way overjoyed by the twists Harry threw into her path, either.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-05-03
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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