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December 04, 2023

Further into the Darkness 12

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Twelve

As Harry spoke, I felt something kiss my thoughts -- Harry was really pushing for me to go to Balboa Park tonight. The air started to crackle and Zach leapt out of his chair like he'd been zapped by a high voltage taser.

"Ouch, Bethany, stop!" Zach sounded hurt, petrified, and confused. I didn't think I'd been consciously doing something in the magic range, but from his reaction I must've tripped some spell or at least my vibe was in the magical range. Zach's exclamation triggered immediate motion from Valerie and Jasmine, simultaneously the two witches started using their hands and fingers in what I quickly saw was a combined casting and I instantly took offense and was blazing with unleashed energy -- not light and airy kind either.

Harry moved with his vampiric speed and snatched both Jasmine and Valerie to him like an actor in a B-movie sweeping them up like they were young naive maidens being taken back to his lair. Instead of dashing them off into the night he pulled them swiftly together grabbing their faces with quick fingers he looked deeply into their eyes and growled, "No, this is forbidden."

His command voice whipped with strength while an energy I couldn't identify flexed in the library's stale air. Then Zach collapsed on his chair with a boneless crumpling of his body. The null wasn't able to contain all the raw energy scattering through the room. The supernatural overload from the two witches, Harry and myself unleashing into the house wasn't something he could absorb -- oops maybe that's why I hadn't met one before -- from all I was seeing I could possibly damage the null if I pushed. I was a vampire made with trained witch blood in her veins, and before my transition it seemed my power, coupled with Harry and his witches, we were not good for the null. Jasmine and Valerie had been pulled away physically from trying to harm me. With how hard Harry had zapped his two companions I could see their eyes were glazed over still.

Caleb pleaded with me, "Bethany, drop it. Whatever it is that you are doing, hell, thinking -- it's triggering Valerie and Jasmine to fight you. Bethany, they look nearly crazy and Zach's going to pop a blood vessel if you don't fix this fast."

His voice actually crept into my world and consciously I forced out my anger -- pushing the energy deep down into the earth beneath the house. I felt it flow outward -- not dangerous but not exactly benign -- but best for me the way I did it slow and steady -- immediately I noticed it dropped off the stress locked into my body. The energy I'd been adding to the situation was causing Zach and his abilities to become frayed and unsteady. Don't get me wrong, I was still unsettled and absolutely furious at Harry for once again manipulating all of us.

His mantle of power was often helpful for other supers but his inability or refusal to explain his current choices and his balls out manipulation of us like little more than pawns on his board was over the top. I felt my anger lapping at me and pushed it back and down. I had no desire to see Zach's head explode -- inside or out. Caleb kinda heard my thoughts or appreciated the fact that Zach no longer looked like a Warner Brothers cartoon character ready to blow into blood-soaked chunks. I had to admit Caleb caught up with the supernaturals in his world without so much as a blink. I guess his pricy education gave him the proper tools. Mine wasn't doing me much good at the moment -- I was still upset with Harry, a fat lot of good that'd do me.

Abruptly standing away from Harry, Jasmine shook her head, clearing her face from the slack jawed stupor Harry had caused with his command. "I've changed my mind. Make the meet at the Lily Pond in Balboa Park. We will need the extra help." She further tore herself from Harry's orbit and plopped back on the couch. Valerie slowly sat back on her chair while Morgan had returned to his when the two women had attempted to cast a spell on me a few minutes ago. Everyone sitting back down did lower the tension in the room, for the most part. But both Harry and Morgan physically balked at her words. I watched the looks pass between them -- frustrated -- I wasn't willing to risk opening up any sort of portal mentally between any of us. There were too fucking many unknowns in the dynamics. Zach really couldn't take another hit of raw magic -- he'd be fried for sure. His eyes were now hollowed out with deep dark circles -- his face was memorable now. He looked like death warmed over in all kinds of nasty bad ways imaginable -- his eyes were nearly citrine yellow. Those golden glints in his formerly hazel eyes were chased away by the vivid bright gem color glow. Tad freaky but there was so much magical energy in the library, I wasn't overly shocked.

Watching Zach closely, I wanted to see his reaction on our taking Jasmine with us to meet at the Lily Pond. From how Harry and Morgan snapped out earlier with that name Miguel it was pretty obvious there was more going on that simply a watery pond near a huge botanical garden. Something crazy must have occurred at the site with Harry and Jasmine -- from something in Morgan's protective stance I picked up the vibe that the werewolf hadn't been there to help. It still bothered him and he physically hovered over her.

Mentally I pictured the huge turn of the century Botanical Building in my mind. The Lily Pond and Lagoon, as they were officially labeled in the park, made that structure noteworthy even a century later. It had been heavily photographed from the very beginning. Water lilies and lotus flowers decorated the pond with eye catching colors along with a peaceful setting for family photos and wedding parties. Technically the plant-filled building was closed by four in the afternoon, but the reality was that plenty of people still strolled around the area taking their stunning photographs and ubiquitous selfies that constantly littered Instagram and other social media platforms.

I started rapidly shaking my head. I could feel all the pressure from everyone to make this all-important connection this very night with Jason. Everyone had some reason either revealed or craftily still hidden -- I wasn't in control and I was not a fan of being someone else's puppet.

"Okay, Jasmine, why the hell should I meet Jason at one of the most popular and well photographed locations in the Park? Who precisely are you calling to the party? Hmmm. I need some explanations. Don't forget your 'friend' Miguel -- or is he a foe? It's not like I don't already have a whole army of those after me -- oh, yeah, wait! I do! Speak witch." I wasn't playing nice and if our energy popped Zach like a full, fat tick on an old hound dog in summer -- so be it. Like I keep bitching, this is Harry's rodeo -- I was chomping at my bit to get real information from anyone at this point. Harry began to put up a hand -- as if to stop me -- but once he caught the gleam in my eyes, he clamped his mouth shut in a fierce straight line while his hand dropped back unheeded to his keyboard. Maybe he finally was figuring out I had reached my wit's end.

Morgan moved from his chair to a near kneeling position by Jasmine on the couch. He pulled the empty plate from her unresisting hands -- placing it on the coffee table alongside the others with half-eaten food that they were nervously nibbling off of when not dry swallowing their fears. Jasmine's plate was pristine -- I hadn't seen her lick it but from the shiny surface it wouldn't have been a shock had she done so when I wasn't watching. Morgan took up her hands tugging her to face him crouched by the couch.

"Jasmine -- it doesn't need to be there. The last time nearly destroyed you. We don't need to pull Miguel through you for a meet with this vampire -- Jason. Between Zach and Harry, the vamp won't have any teeth much less the ability to get free. Bethany knows him -- she has her own skills, too, you know. It doesn't need to be an insane merging of your magics. Harry, tell her. You know this could easily go completely fucking sideways. We have to be smarter than the creatures we hunt or we'll never make it." His pleas sounded painful. It was obviously hard for him to ask Harry, or anyone, for help. Damn macho male coupled with the fucked up werewolf stuff -- alpha male with more testosterone than the normal dude. Eddie hadn't made any movements from his chair next to me but I could feel he'd tensed up and was watching Morgan, fascinated by the stoic man's appeal to Harry. This wasn't pack behavior and Eddie didn't quite know how to turn it to his advantage -- yet.

Harry was slowly shaking his head. From all appearances, he didn't seem to have control over the group. I wasn't sure if that was true or just another of Harry's long game vampire manipulations. I was weary and decidedly wary. I'd escaped these sorts of blatant and convoluted conflicts -- so I had thought. Now, I was fang deep into the latest event -- courtesy of Harry and the ubiquitous and unseen Vampire Council.

Jasmine ignored us all. Instead she flashed her somewhat glowing face towards Morgan -- obviously attempting to shut us all out and speak privately with her partner. Not a one of us turned away from their intimate conversation and I, for one, didn't feel a shred of embarrassment watching them. There should be no expectation of personal privacy in the rather full library of the house -- knowing how Harry had wired the place for observation -- complete with infrared overhead spy satellites along with over a dozen pinhole camera lenses scattered throughout the place.

There wasn't anywhere they could go for secrecy. Not that anyone besides Harry and I knew about the active spyware in our location. From what I knew about Harry -- he'd probably had random humans from different departments fix up all my Southern California homes. I knew from his comments last night when I supposedly got to decide which of my three local homes we went to after meeting up in Del Mar and dragging an unconscious Violet away with us. Knowing Harry and his planning and plotting he had a host of humans working non-stop to outfit each location with cameras, food, and furniture as he thought would possibly be needed. I wondered if he'd installed the sunken Jacuzzi tub in the house not far from this place. I shook my head at the ironic loop -- the only reason I'd been out at a local bar was my growing frustration with various overpaid sub-contractors trying to pad their work orders with unwanted and unnecessary extras. From my unplanned visit to the bar, I'd caught the eyes of Bob and his psycho pack of human rapists and murderers. Irony now was that I probably had a completely rebuilt second home a few blocks away with a luxurious hot tub and top of the line appliances. Harry always liked the finest things that money could buy. Hell, at this rate I'd be giving that place to Harry -- I hated knowing I'd be filmed 24/7. Harry always had personal boundary issues when he wanted something. And he wanted a big something -- dirt on the elusive European Vampire Council by hook, crook or blood -- as long as I wasn't the one who'd be giving up a pint or two of my own blood, maybe I'd survive this whole situation.

Yeah, that's right, I was calling this mind fucking catastrophe a 'situation' like a South Jersey Shore cable TV show kid. Damn, I was in trouble. I shuddered at the thought.

Jasmine placed a hand on Morgan's sinewy forearm and pleaded, "It's the most logical way to help Harry. Miguel is under my control. He can help us if Jason isn't on Bethany's side."

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-08-30
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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