From my understanding, Jason could not have received the Vampire Council's death notice when he first e-mailed me -- that had not been globally launched until about twenty-four ago. But Harry also just mentioned he'd heard of a few executioners recently on the prowl. That meant possibly way before my public display of sociopathic bodies hit the town. After the local deaths were in the news, Jason had e-mailed me I was kryptonite and he'd indicated that he wasn't going to meet me as planned later at Balboa Park. I e-mailed him to his JimmyO inbox telling him to flee town and that I wired him a bunch of money -- the money I'd snagged, okay stolen but let's not quibble on terms since nobody was going to be looking for it, from Bob's blackmailing buddy. I figured he would take me seriously since I rarely paid top dollar, but I did pay well.
Sucking in a lung full of unneeded oxygen I keyed into my LanaL account. Once I filtered out the obvious spam -- shockingly large number for an account I never used on anything or gave out to only a few vampires I knew. Mentally I shrugged off the fact that Harry had also known to communicate to me on that address -- I did wonder if Jason was somehow connected to Harry. I wasn't willing to open my thoughts back up -- just to satisfy that little itch. A message from Jason had been sent late last night -- after the dinner with Caleb, Valerie and Harry.
Subject: Oh, NO you didn't
So like totes this dude never hit Main Street cause like it looks like Disney is a bust. Evn CA Adventure wasn't happenin. Damn grl I so wanna be at Magic Kingdom not stuck at the gates. Its sry & toxic hanging out to dry.
Hit me at the old Park, like same place you go around. Bring me donuts bitch -- you owe me. Jason
Then a string of emojis that I had absolutely no idea what they meant. Like all of Jason's e-mails it took me a partial lobotomy to even start to understand his bullshit. Yeah, I was a cranky bitch -- but I was rather weary. Near as I could figure I'd been running non-stop for over forty-eight hours with little more than a few hours of down time. Something vibrated in the air because I looked up to see Harry watching me. Concern was written on his face. Even knowing that the others could easily overhear if they wanted, I decided to share the gist of Jason's e-mail. Knowing Harry he'd ghosted my login and was reading the message also.
Aloud I casually volunteered, "So Jason wasn't able to leave 'California Adventure' Disneyland in his terms. He said he wasn't able to leave because the borders were closed. He double and triple talks with vague references but his 'never hit Main Street' was code for California along with 'Disney is a bust' -- means stuff closed to vampires like known safe routes. Add in that he wants a meet tonight in Balboa Park but not at the merry-go-round. The reference to 'donuts' was his heavy handed way of saying he needs more dough. So he also is wanting more from me, however I can swing it in cash, because he wants to leave town with serious money immediately since I gathered that he can't get anyone to take the bitcoin that I already gave him. He'll wait for me to set up the where and when -- that's the 'owe me.' So, there is that." I spit it all out while my brain kept moving at warp speed. Jason was one of the best connected vampires short of Harry who I knew. He always had an escape route. From Harry's frown I realized that he already knew that Jason wasn't gone. Hell, Harry very well could've been one of Jason's back up plans.
Before either of us could speak all the boys and girls slowly and deliberately loudly tromped back into the library. They all had fully loaded plates of food. Like any group they all reclaimed their previous spots. Even being a supernatural creature didn't override hard wired conditioning. Territories were important even in a microcosm of society.
"Who the hell is this Jason?" Valerie's voice cut into the silence. I'd thought Jasmine would be the one to ask -- before the unprovoked attack on me this morning she had been the one I had connected with the best.
To my surprise Zach answered the witch, "Jason is one of Bethany's friends here. He was a ward of her Maker's and has been here in California since the late twenties, I think." He stared then, noticed how that was confusing Caleb and Valerie by their blank looks on both of their faces, adding, "The nineteen twenties. Right. About the time Hollywood was becoming a focal point. He never was a screen actor -- he always liked the fringe groups of up and coming actors but also was known to befriend those down and out or who never made it big."
Here Zach paused to take a polite bite from the sandwich he'd built for himself in the kitchen. Unlike the werewolf plates his was a modest arrangement of sensibly layered meat, cheese and veggies. He continued to chew his mouthful of turkey and cheddar. I noticed Zach had carefully cut his wheat bread sandwich into two diagonally cut pieces. He'd placed the partially eaten triangle back on his plate while chewing carefully. Definitely a more civilized diner than Jasmine -- who was still scarfing proteins at an unusual pace. I admit that I was starting to be a bit freaked out at her insane hunger. It really smelled like possibly a witchcraft casting from my chair. Again -- not my rodeo and she had not in any way asked for my assistance. I did plan on alerting Harry to the probability of her being cursed -- I wondered why Zach's null skill hadn't stopped the hex or spell. I really didn't know enough about the null and his talents to even venture a place to start much less stop the magic.
As Zach continued to slowly eat his sandwich, I felt as all eyes turned to me to fill in the rest of the blanks. I didn't speak immediately to fill the air with mindless chattering, over-explaining words. Instead I mulled over the fact Zach knew all about Jason before he'd got here and that he referred to my Master as my Maker along with Jason's early Hollywood years. He wasn't wrong, nope, just scarily well-informed.
Before I started to answer Jasmine mumbled something unclear with her mouth full of what looked like a huge chunk of a standing rib roast. Harry's kitchen remodel had been pretty thorough with plenty of food for everyone. Morgan nodded and then translated, "Jasmine wants to know if Jason's a friend or foe. How well do you really know this vampire?"
I looked at Harry who had stopped keying and was now watching us intensely. I quirked an eyebrow while tilting my head slightly indicating with a single gesture of my upturned palm that it was his turn to fill in the blanks. I wasn't sure either about Jason -- maybe he had uncovered things with his networks that I didn't have any access to in the least.
Harry nodded back to me accepting the non-verbal tag and said, "Jason was one of the vampires who had been acquired from a rogue Master who'd been sailing the Mediterranean Sea and bits of the ocean over two hundred plus years ago. He wasn't strong but at the time a new fledgling when his Master was slain. After ocean transatlantic travel became less dangerous for us vamps, he arrived in America without a recognized Master. He had been told by Bethany's Master to find her, and keep in contact with him. Alas, by the time Jason was able to travel to America, her Master was already true dead. While still in Europe Jason had a meeting with the Council and they offered him a chance to live and eventually permanently relocate to the Americas. All they asked in return was for Jason to act as the Council's eyes and ears and report about the rogues and other supernatural creatures in the New World. In exchange for the constant flow of reliable information he was allowed to stay in America on a longer leash. After many decades of tattling and surviving the difficulties of living in a wasteland of savages amidst the growing pains of a new country taking up democracy and forming a new nation, he was told that he'd earned his freedom -- mostly."
My brain tumbled with shock by Harry's revealing words. I felt the impact on my soul as if his words were actually silver bullets -- shot from a gun close and hitting vital parts of me. He'd just blown away a part of my life in California hitting my core and the very foundations of me. Jason had known my Master, but he'd also worked with the Council. He'd been keeping an eye on me -- I could see no other explanation. But why had he warned me about the executioners being sent to the West Coast? Confusion raced through me as I waited to hear more of what Harry had been keeping from me. Somehow, he was the key to the current troubles. Caleb saw my problem and asked, "So is Bethany boned or has Jason actually picked a side?"
Trust Caleb to cut the fat away and get to the meat of a problem. I smiled at him while still wondering what Jason was playing at now with the meet he called to happen in Balboa Park tonight. What did he want to negotiate for? More freedom as a vampire? Permission granted to build his own vampire clan? Or had he truly decided to help me?
Harry cleared his throat before saying, "I don't know."
Silence filled the library then Jasmine crunched down hard on one of the beef ribs from the roast. She snapped the bone open sucking out the marrow with gusto. Her face was even more gaunt than an hour ago -- her life was draining out from her before our very eyes. I'd worry about Jasmine soon enough, from the look on Morgan's face he'd also noticed the rapid decline in his mate's body weight too. Before I could speak up about Jasmine, Eddie directly hit the topic and asked, "Morgan, what's wrong with your girlfriend?"
Morgan growled softly not bothering to verbally reply -- he obviously didn't have a clue either. Macho men never admitted to other men that they didn't know the answer to something or have an explanation.
My mind made a leap from something Jasmine had spoken about during her introduction speech earlier. It wasn't totally clear, but the idea danced and grew into a possibility. With Zach here and Harry's knowledge I allowed myself to take a risk with my leap.
"Jasmine is a death speaker, right?" I ventured slowly my thoughts still working through the tenuous connections my brain synaptic nerves were making.
Valerie snapped out, "Yeah, so what?!" Damn, she really hated me. Her words might as well have finished that with 'you fucking bitch' since her tone pretty much already added the phrase. Disregarding the snippy witch, I turned to Zach, "Is it possible her talent has sucked in a spirit who is killing her from the inside?"
His startled gaze met mine then flew to Jasmine. I watched as his face went still -- nearly waxen -- his eyes then lost focus, but his entire body was vibrating with an energy that was nearly palatable to me. I could almost taste him in my blood. Shaking, his whole body was quivering as it seemed he was pushing physically to find an answer to my query. His shoulders slumped and his eyes returned to mine and softly he spoke, "Yes."
Horror etched into his face as he went on speaking, "Something inside her is clawing through her reserves trying to get free. I've never seen anything like this, nothing ever before or even heard about such a thing. It shouldn't be possible."
Harry and Morgan said with nearly the same voice together, "Miguel."
I didn't know anyone named Miguel that I could remember but then like I'd said before -- vampires tended to change their names every few decades because not noticeably aging tended to be a slight problem within our world. I could easily have known a few Miguels over the years.
Eddie asked, "Miguel, who is that?"
They both shut down, unwilling to share their knowledge. Not much I could do -- we did have other problems to deal with -- like I said Jasmine wasn't asking us for any help -- yet.