Chapter 2

Pam pulled her laptop out of her bag and started drafting an email report to Eric. I made myself a cup of coffee while she asked Stan some questions and he dictated his view of things for her. By the sounds of things he was pretty happy with the work I had done, even if my attitude required some readjustment. Isabel and Rachael had spent quite a bit of time on their phones trying to round up all of the humans again … it looked like I would be in Dallas for another night at least.

“You know what would speed things up?” Pam looked over the screen of her lappy and raised an eyebrow in question. The other vampires just looked at me with that ‘The human is making noise again’ expression. “If we had one of those guys who draw portraits of people when witnesses describe them; that would make things easier. I have a great picture of the guy in my head, we could show the drawing to the group and it would be easier to weed out those he had spoken to and those he hadn’t.”

“That would be a good idea.” Pam turned to Stan and continued. “Do you happen to have any contacts in Dallas PD? I’m sure they could spare a sketch artist for a couple of hours tomorrow.”

Stan shook his head. “There won’t be any need for that. I’m an excellent artist, I’m sure I can draw a portrait of this … uh … bushy moustache guy.”

For a second I thought I saw the ghost of a smirk appear on his geeky facade, it disappeared as soon as it arrived. It was one of those moments where you really wonder if you actually saw it. Pam smiled at him, I smiled at him too but they only seemed to have eyes for each other at that moment. I cleared my throat, earning a scowl from both of them.

“That would be fantastic Stan. We’ll return at first dark tomorrow night and get cracking on that. I’ll do some recon with Tray during the day tomorrow around the area where the Fellowship church is.” I wasn’t quite sure how to broach the next subject but it was important that I did. “Do you think Farrell is still … around?”

“It’s possible that they have sent him to final death already. But knowing the Fellowship in this area, they like to invite the press to witness ‘God’s judgement’.” He frowned slightly. “They already have a renouncer, Farrell loved his existence, why drag him along with Godric?”

“There were plenty of other vampires in The Bat’s Wing that night, but Farrell seemed to be the only one anyone remembered Godric talking to. Like he was targeted.” I was mainly musing to myself but Stan leaned forward a little and ran with it.

“Farrell liked men, young men and Godric was just his type. But how would Godric know to approach him? How did he know Farrell would follow him into the facilities?”

Everyone stopped and looked at each other. There was only one way that Godric would know to approach Farrell. Insider information. If the Fellowship wanted to kidnap a vampire to meet the sun along with Godric (or Godfrey) they couldn’t risk making a scene. It had to be a vampire that would willingly follow Godric out of the Bat’s Wing so Godric could over-power him somewhere away from witnesses.

Did one of the people that visit or live in this nest go to the Fellowship and tell them everything about the vampires in the nest? It didn’t seem like these guys were the type of vampires that sat around chatting with their humans. I thought about the Royal Compound and how any human might find out information like what kind of partner a vampire liked. They’d have to spend a lot of time observing and listening to the vampires and that would get noticed. Surely that would get noticed?

“Are there humans that live here?”

Stan, Isabel and Rachael looked at each other before Stan answered. “Not full time, we have the facilities to make a number of humans comfortable but none of them live here. They may stay a couple of nights, I think I remember Isabel’s human, Hugo, spending a whole week here a couple of months ago. But that is the longest a single human has been in residence.”

Well, there goes that idea. My train of thought clattered sluggishly along the tracks in my brain. The room was silent except for the noise of Pam tap-tapping at her keyboard. She was typing a lot of words at a very fast pace. It sounded a little like a teeny tiny person using a teeny tiny pneumatic drill. Rachael muttered something about trying the new Asian girl that had been hired at the bar and disappeared. Isabel asked Pam what the accommodations at the Silent Shore were like. I thought about what an off-hand comment it was and that it was the kind of thing that the Fellowship would have wanted to listen to. But how could they listen to everything?

It seemed ridiculous to even consider the possibility, but sure enough, when I checked under the table, there it was. The tiny device the Fellowship had used to hear every word and unguarded comment the Nest made. A bug. I stood up and asked Pam if I could use her lappy, if anyone had wondered what I was doing crawling around on the floor, they didn’t say anything to me. I opened the notepad on the screen and typed ‘The room has been bugged – it’s under the table’.

Stan looked at the screen and parted his lips slightly before pursing them. He leaned in close to Pam’s ear, I saw his lips move slightly but he whispered so quietly it had the same amount of decibels as someone farting next to me. Pam stood and picked up my half-full coffee cup, then pointed to the table. We both squatted down and I held the cup while Pam tentatively assessed the bug.

“You clumsy oaf! You’ve spilled your foul drink all over my new shoes!”

She flicked the bug into the cup and poured the contents into the garbage disposal, grinning at the destructive noise as she turned it on full power. Stan looked peeved. More than peeved. He was enraged. No wonder, someone had come into his home and planted a bug that led to a vampire Stan referred to as his brother to be taken and sent to final death. I felt my stomach turn as I remembered the how angry I had gotten at Waldo and squeezed my eyes closed, trying to repress the memory of my actions. I didn’t need to be thinking about that right now.

“So … how did that get there?”

I looked to Stan and Isabel in turn, both looked back at me blankly before sharing one of those Vampire looks where they seem to communicate without words. One thing was for sure, they were a hell of a lot unhappier than they were when they just thought Farrell had been kidnapped. I let out a yawn I’d been holding back for the last two hours and Pam packed up her things. My cell phone rang when we were in the cab on the way back to the hotel, it was Eric.

Hello Dear One.

“Hi Eric, did you get Pam’s email?”

Yes, you’ve uncovered quite the conspiracy. As usual. It’s unfortunate that you’ll be away from me for longer but, to my thinking, that gives us more to … catch up on. Yes?

“It certainly does.” I flicked my gaze to Pam who was smirking as she watched Dallas go by through the window. “Hopefully we won’t be there so long tomorrow night and I can call you and talk for longer. Right now I’m beat.”

Beat? Didn’t Pam protect you?

“No, not beat like beaten up. Beat like really tired. It’s been a while since I’ve had to … deal with so many people at the same time. My brain hurts.”

I understand. Would you like to know how I spent my night without you?

I frowned, not really knowing what to expect. “Uh … sure.”

Bill arrived from New Orleans and we went Maenad hunting.

“Did you find her?”

Unfortunately, no. But when we returned to Fangtasia a … message had been left for me.

“Like a note?”

No, like a half-dead girl.

My hand instinctively flew to my mouth. Even Pam turned around and looked at the phone in my hand. “Is she … did she … how … what happened to her?”

We’re not sure what happened exactly. Her boyfriend brought her to me. Apparently they had been to a party and had an argument … I didn’t listen to the stupid boys ramblings all that much to be honest. He heard her scream, found her and she told him she was to be taken to Northman of Fangtasia in Shreveport.

“How do you know it was the Maenad?”

Scratches. Her back had been ripped apart; I called Doctor Ludwig to diagnose.

“How is she? Did the Doctor manage to heal her? Did you heal her?” I felt the colour drain from my face as I thought about Eric giving another woman his blood.

She was very close to death; we had to drain her of the poisoned blood. We were supposed to transfuse her with bagged blood but we were unable to source an adequate amount. Pam is the best at that sort of thing.

“So … you just.” I lowered my voice from a screech, remembering that we were in public transport. “You just drained her and put her out of her misery.” My heart was hammering in my chest. This poor, innocent girl had been killed by vampires I knew as they tried to save her from an injury inflicted by a crazy Maenad.

Not quite. The girl had ID and we consulted with her parents and the Queen. A rash decision was made that Bill is most unhappy with.

“Bill?” I looked at Pam, she had her eyes closed and seemed to be holding back her amusement.

Yes, in three nights Bill will be rising with his first child. Whether the girl will be just as sorrowful as her maker will be seen then.

“Oh.” I knew Bill well enough that he liked being footloose and fancy free. There’s no way he’d be delighted about being a maker. “What’s her name?”

Jessica. I’m sure she’ll be annoying and drive Bill demented, choosing someone to be your child should be a longer process but her parents insisted.

The cab drew up outside the hotel and Pam handed the cabbie a $100 bill. He grabbed it and gave us a look that said ‘get the hell out of my cab, you crazy bitches’. We did. “Okay, we’re back at the hotel now. I need to speak to Tray about some … errands we have to run tomorrow. I’ll talk to you tomorrow night?”

Certainly. Unless you would like me to read you a … bedtime story.

I giggled; I could picture the leer on Eric’s face as he said those last words. “If I … need you, I’ll call you.”

Pam grimaced as I whispered an affectionate goodbye and stalked off to find someone for a nightcap. I saw Tray walk towards me from the bar; Pam had sent him a text message as we got out of the cab. My view of him got obscured by a group of businessmen heading right for me, they looked real angry but just as I tried to move out of their way, they rushed at me. My arms were grabbed and I dropped my shields but I was bombarded by their hostile thoughts. They were all focussed on me. On what a whore I was. On that I was a vamp-fucker. On what was going to happen to me when they got me back to base.

I tried to scream but one of them put his hand over my mouth and slammed my head against the doorframe as they bundled me out of the hotel. The last thing I saw over one of their shoulders was Tray, struggling to get to me past two more ‘businessmen’ with his cell phone at his ear.

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