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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

Further into the Darkness 2

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Two

Eddie froze while standing behind the couch as it was obvious that Jasmine wasn't going to be bouncing right up to finish her spell on me. Gosh, darn, don't you just hate that when it happens? Sure as hell Jasmine wasn't a fan of my invocation that countered her nasty dark spell she'd tried to hit me with a minute ago. Or at least that was my grasp of the scene. The werewolf, Eddie, stayed frozen a mere foot or three from me and put his claws up defensively as if they'd stop a magic spell casting from me. Harry said, "Well, I can't say that I didn't warn her. Bethany, did you hit her full strength?" He didn't look upset but resigned to my reaction. His vampire mind speak whispered into my thoughts. 'She didn't think you were in her class.'

I appreciated his not speaking aloud, even though I wasn't a fan of vampires in my brain. Eddie was wound pretty tight without any more system overload. I shook my head at Harry's question. I didn't want to speak and break both of his toys this early into our questionable partnership. I wasn't quite sure what Harry's plans were for me.

Pushing into Harry's mind, 'Half. She could come around in an hour or so if she's strong. Can't say that I'm sorry, Harry. She'd already started weaving a really nasty spell that wasn't nearly as nice as mine.' I followed the mind speak with a smoking hot glare. Harry knew what I was and how strong my witch side had been a couple hundred years ago when we'd parted ways somewhere around the West Indies or in Florida -- it was so long ago geography grew fuzzy along with the years. I avoided showing my witch spells because it was forbidden by the Vampire Council for vampires to be witches. By their rules, had they known my history, my Master would never have been allowed to create me. Fledglings were vetted and Masters had to petition for the privilege when building their clan. I wasn't pleased to have a werewolf and a witch included in the circle who knew my dual nature. It wasn't the same as werewolves and their dual natures.

It made me wonder if he'd miscalculated on how my skills had grown over the centuries. From the glint I caught in his eyes I was damn sure that it had been another of his little tests. Harry really liked his acid tests for us supernaturals. I don't remember having ever been on the receiving end, but I certainly had seen his little maneuvers during the time my Master and he had been roaming Europe.

Breaking the silence that was in the room, he said aloud, "That was only half strength?"

Figuring Harry wanted Eddie clued in on our conversation I answered, "Or less. Up until ten minutes ago I kinda liked the witch. What the fuck tweaked her? I said I'd help." My tone was petulant -- I mentally growled at sounding like a kid. But she had pretty much ticked me off trying to zap me with her magic. I was feeling battered by her spell -- even uncast.

"She's frightened, Bethany. It's going to be war." It wasn't Harry answering but the rough gravelly voice of Eddie. He hadn't changed nature, so his words sounded even thicker and fuller. Werewolves spoke from deeper in their diaphragm when furred out.

I shrugged and lifted my chin towards the Dark Web Vampire site's loop. "Hell, I have far more to fear than any of you."

That was horridly true as the past few nights had been more than full for me. Harry knew about the human psychopathic crew that I'd taken out -- I wasn't sure about how much he'd told Eddie -- or if Eddie even cared. Werewolves had their own packs and hierarchy -- complex with alphas and lieutenants that were clustered around the country -- I really didn't have much to do with the furred werewolf packs. Too much testosterone coupled with the sheer brutality they rained down upon their females tended to create some very bad encounters. It wasn't like I went looking for trouble but damned if it didn't find me. Women -- weres -- being bitch slapped for small infractions was a common occurrence when I'd been unfortunate enough to be at meets. Vamps and weres didn't meet often but enough that I'd picked up on the trait in the packs. Ever since that nasty bit of drama near a were-biker club a few decades back, in the 50s I think. I stayed far away from any werewolf and they had not expressed any interest over time in me. I liked it that way.

Harry looked at Jasmine splayed out in her spot on the couch they were currently sharing. Eddie paused and with flat predator eyes looked directly at me and asked, "Why would you help us? Harry's a rare vampire. Most vampires don't see us." My head snapped a bit at Eddie's intensity. That he was a stronger werewolf than I first thought was chased away by his direct gaze. He was challenging me. Unbidden a growl ripped free from me. Without a thought I snapped out of my chair in a vampire rush of speed landing directly in front of the now fully furred-out Eddie. His entire body had fluffed up like a startled cat. His eyes still were locked on mine.

While keeping my gaze locked on his I snarled, "Well, Eddie boy, I see you. Hell, thanks to that hot striptease show downstairs -- quite a bit more of you than most vamps I'll wager."

My hands were between us level with my chest prepared to do a few flips and wiggles to cast another spell if needed. I paused looking with clear and direct heat into his now nearly black eyes -- his pupils were blown wide open as I slid inside his mind and mentally began pushing -- it was then I watched him blink.

Not taking my eyes from his, I simply used a soft mesmerizing vampiric command voice and intoned, "Harry asked me. I keep my word. Don't ever challenge me like this again or I promise you I will keep you as my personal pet. And trust me, you would not like being my pet." I didn't say another word aloud just pushed at his core.

His eyes dropped and his body followed with a fluid and graceful motion. With audible popping and nasty wet noises -- magic hummed as Eddie's fur rolled off his body as he switched back into his human nature mere inches from me. Harry watched from his corner of the couch silently. As Eddie's growl began to fill the space Harry quickly popped into my brain -- unasked -- with, 'Bethany, did you just push him out of his form?'

I smiled and nodded slightly, "Hey, Harry," I asked aloud, "does he have a change of clothes upstairs or will he be running around naked?"

Harry shook his head laughing at me.

"Spare clothes for all of us are in the closet over there," he casually pointed to a door at the far side of the room. I wasn't overly shocked; Harry's history of organizing -- running a Homeland Security branch all the while hiding his vampire nature in plain sight -- he always had planned for every possibility even way back when I knew him in Europe.

The magic sputtered in the room and I looked to see the shift was done and Eddie's naked form was trembling as he was curled in on himself on his side before me. He was covered in the liquid remains of his shift -- I never looked too close or mucked around to figure out if it was fur or whatever magic substance that was left behind -- a big ugh. Harry sighed, getting up from the leather cushions and walked over to the closet door he'd pointed out to me without uttering a word. Jasmine was slumped unconscious on the other end of the sofa and Harry lobbed two large dark towels over her that landed directly in front of Eddie. He also pulled out a gym bag he brought with him as he returned to the couch. Before sitting he dropped the bag next to the naked man.

I didn't turn my back on Eddie but swiftly walked back to the chair where I had been sitting. The heavy leather couch blocked my view, so my gaze naturally drifted back to Harry as I dropped into the chair.

"Well, did I pass all of your tests yet?" I said with no emotion. I really wasn't a fan of games but I certainly was being sucked into the current mess spinning like a CAT5 hurricane over the United States. October was actually the end of the hurricane season, but the approaching storm definitely was starting to feel like such an event.

"Bethany, I didn't know they both were going to challenge you." His voice sounded repentant but the evil glint in his eyes pretty much made those words suspect.

"Harry, you knew damn well they both are alpha sorts." I wagged my finger at him while adding, "Maybe not in their covens or packs, but you knew how they were long before you set them on this collision course with me." I arched an eyebrow at him and waited to see how he'd answer my accusations.

With a slight smirk of amusement, I watched as Harry tried to figure out the safest reply. Knowing him, it was all being weighed pros vs cons in Harryland of how to handle supernaturals without triggering an epic response. He was saved by Eddie popping up fully dressed from behind the sofa. I noticed Eddie was wearing almost the exact same things he'd been wearing earlier. Flannel shirt -- blue jeans -- and I spotted as he paced around the couch what appeared to me similar work boots as he'd worn a couple hours ago when he'd carried Violet from Harry's SUV into the basement. (Not a trip that ended well for that skank. She really had pushed all of my buttons and she'd paid with her worthless human life.) Looking at the werewolf before us, I wasn't even sure that the clothes weren't the exact same if it hadn't been for the fact that I knew he hadn't left the room in the last ten minutes. Werewolves didn't move with uncanny speeds like other supernaturals. They were strong and fast but visible. Nope, he hadn't retrieved his stack of clothing from the basement which made me wonder what Harry packed for me in my "go bag" stored in the room's closet. I had to hand it to Harry he was damned good at his job -- Homeland or Vampire.

Eddie ran the palm of his open right hand over his mouth while gathering his thoughts before point blank asking, "May I apologize?"

Harry shrugged and looked over to me.

"Can you and why bother?" I said flatly.

Confusion crossed Eddie's features and panic filled his eyes, "Harry?"

"Eddie, go pull a chair from the kitchen and bring it back. While you are then why don't you grab some food from the fridge too. She doesn't need an apology. Do you, Bethany?" Harry was now obviously amused.

Eddie looked torn. My transforming mental magical push had scared him and he wasn't sure if I was now his master. I hadn't been kidding -- we both knew it. Harry was doing his old vampire thing and giving Eddie nothing to work with -- just sitting on the sofa not interfering. It was my call.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-06-21
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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