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September 18, 2023

Further into the Darkness 5

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Five

As everybody continued to glare at each other, they reluctantly put their chairs around the coffee table where both laptops were running. Mine currently had the Council's decree on the screen while Harry was searching and clattering away on his laptop's keyboard and had yet to look up or even acknowledge his creatures' arrival. As this wasn't my little coffee klatch nor my idea, I kept my thoughts off my face and out of my mind. Without knowing who all these supernaturals were I had no desire to give anything away as the numbers definitely weren't in my favor -- and I didn't have too much hope that would change any time soon.

The silence stretched; even Caleb was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. Other than letting me know by his slight nod about his gun which was readily available in his backpack for my use we'd yet to really communicate at all. I wasn't even sure how soundly Caleb was even wired at this moment. Last I'd seen him, he had been taking an unconscious Valerie out of the expensive coastal restaurant to head down to a suite on Shelter Island at a vampiric command. That they both appeared to be angry at each other now, it meant some sort of drama had happened since they'd been getting pretty cozy last night. I hadn't a chance at all to catch up with Caleb since I'd been forced to knock the witch out. Valerie hadn't glanced at me much and to my amazement and to my surprise neither Eddie nor Viking werewolf were looking towards me. I expected something from Eddie, but his focus was elsewhere. I wondered if Eddie had shared my interaction with Jasmine on the way over or if Harry had somehow told the werewolf to keep his muzzle shut.

Tension was pulling at us all as Harry kept pounding away on his laptop. Mine still had the nasty war words that had been posted by the Vampire Council in the past twenty-four hours for us all to read.

Giving it a thought, I deliberately turned the second laptop with the scrolling message declaring that there was to be an all-out war towards the others. This was the message that the Council had decided to send out to all. I'd read it plenty of times, so it was pretty much memorized. Silently I watched as they all begin to read the words -- it was at mid-challenge that was displayed on the laptop's screen facing them in their chairs. Well, not Jasmine as she was currently knocked out by yours truly. The Viking werewolf was seated next to her holding one of her unresponsive hands in both of his, next chair had Valerie, the male who was neither witch nor were but had unleashed power, then there was Eddie and finally me. Caleb wasn't reading it because he was next to me between me and Harry, clueless that we were both uber strong vampires.

I didn't think Caleb would care at this point about what was rolling over the computer's screen. He was focused on me while alternately glaring with pure hostility at Valerie. Major drama fluttered between them unfiltered by logic, just emotional overload. Eddie was tightening his body as the yellow words kept appearing line by line. Eventually the loop started back at the top and they all got to read it from the start of the complete notice scrolling up the dark background ominously. Nobody said a single word.

The declaration had finished a full circuit and began again. I saw everyone except for Jasmine, Harry, Caleb and I pretty much frozen in their chairs rereading the words of an impending possible apocalyptic world -- well, that was if they survived. I mean, I understood it wasn't every morning you discovered the Old World vampires had unilaterally decided to annihilate any and all living supernaturals in the West. My comprehension of the letter left me feeling horrified and a tad concerned. The Council didn't delineate the starting acreage for their proclaimed new 'bad lands' but a vague 'West.' Like West of what?! West of the Atlantic Ocean? West of the original thirteen colonies? West of the Mississippi River? West of the damn Continental Divide? So many questions were bouncing around in my thoughts at the lack of information.

The other nasty bit of wording that had naturally caught my eye was how open ended the entire thing read. They weren't just calling for the true deaths of vampires, fledglings and the associated minions but any and apparently every supernatural creature who had possibly crossed archaic, poorly written laws (I must add very open to interpretation). It spelled out slaughterings on an epic scale at the discretion of some unnamed executioners who seemingly were already or nearly here in America. Nowhere was any offer of negotiations for amnesty nor any possibility for the judgments to be amended or revoked. Neither did I see parole or pardons on the page discussed. Bloodshed for all -- a promise not a threat -- one that claimed full dominion over the entire hierarchy of world supernaturals -- as of yet named or unnamed in the display. No, not pretty. My brain was busy trying to wrap my thoughts around the notion.

The werewolf next to Jasmine, who I didn't know yet, had started to mutter beneath his breath and unlike Eddie earlier -- it most definitely wasn't English nor remotely comprehensible to me -- hell, it sounded like some incantation yet I didn't feel any kind of supernatural energy behind his whispered words. Eddie had yet to identify the newcomers to me. Considering the number of bodies in the room I kept from bursting out with some smart-ass bitching about rudeness. I wasn't even sure I'd survive a battle if the weres flipped out much less spare witch and unknown male, who for some reason kept disappearing from my thoughts. Yeah -- No.

Valerie finally spit out what they were thinking in a rush of anger, "Damn -- we're all dead. This is telling you vampires," here she bothered to throw me a nasty glare then wasted a glance over to Harry's bent head -- unseen, "Vampires!" she repeated with more heat, "to prepare for the end of your world -- and ours. They are just going to come and kill us all. No real chance to defend ourselves much less put up any sort of arguments to tell them if they fucking got it wrong!" She spit out. Valerie was far younger than I'd initially guessed. She was strident in her belief that justice was a possible venture if given the opportunity to talk with the Council. Somehow, I doubted I could ever explain how wrong she was in her interpretations if I spoke non-stop for thirty days and nights. She had a shine to her that experience and age usually knocked out of people with time.

Jasmine had started to move -- nothing extreme just small twitches and soft fluttering beneath her eyelids letting me know that she was beginning to come back to consciousness. Her werewolf companion continued holding onto her left hand with his but now softly said, "Jasmine -- honey -- wake up now, please." The large blonde man sounding much younger than his appearance indicated. His affection for the witch was quite obvious to me and possibly everyone else in the room. From the huge eyes Eddie was now flashing at the couple, the softer side of this large creature -- it was all new to him. I guessed that they weren't very close. I wasn't even sure they belonged to the same werewolf pack or alpha territory. So much that I didn't know about other supernaturals was starting to bug me. The Viking-looking werewolf had abandoned the chair he'd been perched on and now he was kneeling by Jasmine's side of the couch.

Harry finally glanced up to see where the group had sat in relationship to him. I well knew it was a long-crafted display -- we vamps always had a tremendous spatial awareness -- it could easily be the difference between life and final death -- it kept a vampire alive and able to defend self and others.

Valerie -- so young -- simpered, "Harry, what are we going to do?"

I was still stunned by the difference between how she'd acted last night versus this morning. I hadn't done more than knocked her out with a simple sleep spell. I didn't see her hit her head or anything to explain the differences in her. Shoving the worries aside for now I paid attention to what I was noticing. There was a sexual tension rolling off the witch that was nearly choking me. I saw out of the corner of my eye that Caleb stiffened. Suddenly all of the puzzle pieces snapped into place. Caleb must've tried to make a move on her last night back at the suite once she woke. From the look I saw pass over Valerie's features -- I thought she might have been fine with it even encouraged his attention. What had clicked into focus for me was instant knowledge that Valerie had intended for Harry to see her in a sexual situation with my sometime stoned and easily available companion Caleb. Hell, I had rented him through an app more than once when I needed to appear like I could be normal in certain critical situations. He was good looking, smarter than he appeared to be and wickedly fast in dangerous conditions. She had plotted for it to appear that she needed to be rescued from unwanted attention. Harry didn't come back last night so he wasn't able to conveniently walk in on them at the right time -- possibly half undressed with Caleb's hands in the wrong places and Harry would be called to rescue her. In my dark mind's eye, it really was far too easy for me to picture how all the events unfolded.

Sadly, women could play games with men easily and from my read on Valerie she'd seen Caleb as a big patsy to be used to attract Harry's attention. I shook my head mentally as she was so fucking young. From Caleb's face I read disgust and a healthy chunk of unleashed anger -- not an emotion I saw on him as a rule -- he tended to overthink and overanalyze situations. At college he knew better than swimming in the possibly underaged pool of baby sharks than were in that pond. Sending him off with the unconscious Valerie -- my fucking bad -- had shifted him away from his usual self-preservation of caution. Then she went and woke up with her half-assed and ill-thought out plot to land Harry. And I had to confess for once Harry was utterly blameless, I could guarantee that he still would have to suffer the consequences. I really didn't have a choice; if the word got out I let Harry's witch run a scam on me and my associate I would be in trouble.

Using the oh-so-helpful vampiric mind speak Harry popped into my thoughts with, 'Bethany, we really need to present a united front here.' I slammed the barrier down between us quickly. I wasn't ready to play. These were all Harry's chess pieces -- okay, not Caleb he'd been mine yesterday, but then again, I wasn't in charge here. Harry's eyes glittered as my thoughts were shut to him. I hadn't forgotten the games he and my Master played and I felt he was a better gamer now than he had been a couple hundred years ago. If anything, Harry was even more dangerous. Back in Europe they only had a couple dozen of fledglings and minions to call -- now Harry had a larger machine behind him. He had all those well-dressed gun toting Homeland Security folks at his command along with what appeared to be allegiances with both witches and werewolves. Not to mention the silent man seated next to Valerie -- I still didn't know who or what he was. Valerie had just flown in from the East Coast according to our dinner conversation last night.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-07-12
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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