Monday, October 15, 2018

(56) Two vampires, a ghoul and a shifter.


Linden stepped out of the house Helmut had transported them to and asked in astonishment, "Where in the world are we?"

"The place where I grew up," Helmut replied, coming up behind him, wrapping his arms around him.

"It's—breathtaking," Piers said softly.

"It is, isn't it? It's been a long time since I've been here. I forgot how beautiful it was, even at night."

"Is your family…?" Linden looked down the narrow dirt road that ran between the few buildings that comprised what he supposed had once been a tiny town.

"They're long gone, and before you start feeling sorry for me, I mean they no longer live here, or even want to. When it was safe, they returned home."

"Safe?" Piers asked.

"Remember what I told you about my connection with the revenant? My grandfather fled here after that war to escape the revenant's followers, bringing his wife and children with him. His son, my father, met and mated with a shifter who lived a few hundred miles from here. He remained there and, in time, my brother and I were born."

"So you have family still?" Linden looked up at him, seeing a flash of pain that came and went in an instant.

"Somewhere, yes," Helmut admitted. "I've been estranged from them for a long time. They don't quite approve of me, of what I am, because I won't be siring any children. Males are supposed to add to what I suppose you'd call the pack for lack of a better word."

"That's horrible," Piers exclaimed, echoing Linden's thoughts.

"It's life," Helmut told him with a slight shrug of a shoulder. "Come, let me show you the rest of your new home," he said, changing the subject.

"Our new home?"

"For the foreseeable future, yes. I hope you don't mind terribly that it doesn’t come up to the standards you're used to."

"No mod cons?" Linden asked, afraid the answer would be that there weren't. He was happily surprised when Helmut told him that indeed there were, up to a point.

"The last time I was here, I installed a couple of industrial grade generators, one for the house I always use, another for the one across the street. I will have to make a trip to town to get gasoline for them before the few appliances I have will work. I do have kerosene for the lamps that should still be good. And of course there are the fireplaces so we won't freeze. However," Helmut chuckled, "there's no television, not gaming systems, so you're going to have to rough it as far as that's concerned."

"Well, damn," Linden muttered, but he wasn't all that certain he minded, at least not for the moment. He had the feeling there would be more than enough to do to fill their time for now.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Guardian Angels – Ambivalent - 20


Detective Massey chuckled. "That's walking a fine line, but I'll go with it. However…" He paused, looking thoughtful. "You changed your name when, Mike?"
"Two years ago, so I could get into the Thirty-Day program."
"Good. That works. I let it slip to the reporters that I checked you out and discovered your real name was Michael O'Donnell and you changed it after you ran away from home."
"How could you check, and why would you?" Mike asked.
"I'd figure, because you were a runaway, you wouldn't have wanted your family to find you. So, being the smart cop that I am, I ran your name through the system and found out you'd legally changed it from O'Donnell to Desmond."
Looking a bit panicked, Mike said, "But you won't really do that?"
"No. I'm sure I wouldn't find anything. However"—Massey looked sternly at Mike—"it might be a good idea if you did go the legal route at some point if you want to avoid trouble in the future. Another officer might not take your word for it that Desmond is now your legal name." Then he shook his head. "How did you manage to get me to go for this—this plan you've concocted?"
"You want to catch Mr. Keefe."
"I do. I don't like killers. Especially hired ones. Now we just have to make certain he doesn't manage to get his hands on you."
"That's why I'm around," Paddy said.
Massey looked doubtfully at him. "What sort of experience do you have?"
"I'm a licensed private investigator, working for Vic Kingston."
Massey nodded. "I know who he is and have dealt with him a time or two, so that gives you legitimacy. I didn't realize he'd begun adding people to his firm."
"We're old friends," Paddy told him, not blinking an eye. "I came to town, needed a job, and he hired me on an as-needed basis."
"All right. I'm still going to put someone else on Mike, just to be sure he's well protected. You can't be with him twenty-four seven."
"I could be if we were rooming together."
"What?" Mike stared at Paddy.
Paddy shrugged. "It's one option. They umm…raised your rent. You need a roommate to share the expense now. That is if there's more than one bedroom."
"There is, but…"
"Do you have a better idea?"
"Well no. But…"
"If I assigned a man to you," Massey put in, "he'd be watching from outside. Having Mr. O'Brian on the premises might not be such a bad idea. We can presume from the fact that Mr. Keefe managed to open the well-secured door to the shelter's basement that he has above average breaking and entering skills"
"Vic's boyfriend is a security expert. I'm sure we can get him to upgrade the protection on Mike's apartment," Paddy told Mike.
Mike snorted. "What security? All right. If we can catch Mr. Keefe all this will be worth it."
"Exactly." Paddy turned to Massey. "How soon can you get the story to the TV stations and the newspaper?"
"It should hit the five-o'clock news tonight, and the paper in the morning. I will put a man at the shelter. Probably as a new volunteer."
Paddy chuckled. "The shelter's going to wonder what's going on. Two in a couple of days."
"Just people willing to do their civic duty," Massey replied with a grin. "Now, unless you two have any more wild ideas, I do have a job and they like me to handle all my cases, not just Micky's."
"Okay. We'll keep in touch," Paddy said as he got up.
"I will too, and with luck we'll catch this bastard before he attacks another innocent kid."
"Or me," Mike muttered.
Paddy nodded. "Or you."

Saturday, October 13, 2018

(55) Two vampires, a ghoul and a shifter.


"Get your charges out of here now!"

Helmut spun around to see the vampire who had helped with the destruction of the revenant standing in the middle of the room. He immediately went on the defensive, growling, "Why should I do what one of the King's minions orders?"

"I am no more his minion than Roderick is, now. Fortunately, the King doesn't realize that yet. He does however know that your friend has switched allegiances. Roderick escaped by the skin of his teeth and is in hiding. It would behoove you to remove the young men to somewhere safe. The King's agents are on their way to kidnap them even as we speak. He plans hold them hostage to force Roderick to reappear."

"Damn. Thank you my friend, we owe you." Helmut clapped his hand on the vampire's shoulder and then vanished from sight.

Seconds later, he reappeared in Piers' bedroom where the two young men were in the middle of a hard-fought game of chess. Linden looked up, started to smile, and stopped when he saw the look on Helmut's face. "What's happened?" he asked fearfully.

"It's Roderick, isn't it," Piers cried out, springing to his feet.

"He's safe for now, but you two aren't." Without another word, Helmut gathered them to him.

"Damn," Linden said when he dared to open his eyes again. "Where are we?"

"Somewhere where no one will find us," Helmut told him.

"Even Roderick?" Piers asked fearfully.

"Even him, but don't worry, we have contingency plans. I'll get him, too, when the time is right."

Piers stared at him in disbelief. "Why not now? Why wait?"

"Piers, I swear he is in a safe place, but my going to get him at the moment would bring the King's agents down on him. Trust me; we know what we're doing."

"If Helmut says it's so, then it is," Linden said in stout defense of his lover. "You need to stop worrying, and the best thing for that is to explore this place and see what's what."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

(54) Two vampires, a ghoul and a shifter.


Two weeks later, Roderick knew he would soon get the answer to Helmut's question.

He understood and agreed with the vampire Pavoni's reasons for wanting to be able to run his region by his own laws. As he had said, "The King is too old; his laws are archaic, based on times so long past they are lost in the mists of antiquity. You and I may be old, Roderick, but I believe we have kept up with the times. My subjects, many of them, are young, relatively speaking. I cannot expect them to live by laws that I myself find too restrictive." He had outlined the ones he meant and Roderick had to agree he was correct in his assessment that they were outmoded in today's society.

Pavoni had suggested that Roderick talk to a few of the other regional kings, giving him the names of some who he knew agreed with him. Therefore, before returning to report in to the King, Roderick had taken a whirlwind tour of the world after sending Piers and the others back to the estate.

Because his own attitude had changed, Roderick now heard what he had loath to listen to on other visits with the vampires in question. They were all chomping at the bit, wanting to break free of the King's despotic rule but afraid of the consequences. The King might be a despot, but he was a powerful one with equally powerful subordinates unwilling to give up the benefits that came with standing with him as he ruled with an iron hand.

After his visits with the kings, Roderick returned to the estate. There were things he needed to do before reporting to the King. The most important one was ensuring the safety of everyone he cared about, from Piers on down to the least of the servants. To that end, he summarily dismissed the guardian vampires, replacing them with ones he trusted not to betray him to the King. Something he realized he should have done years ago.

Then, with Helmut's assistance, he came up with a safe place to send Piers and Linden if the shit hit the fan. Actually, it was Helmut's suggestion. As a shifter he had access to a few well-hidden areas that no one but another shifter could get to, and only if they knew of their existence. One of them was his secret, one he had never revealed to anyone.

With everything that he could think of in place, Roderick was ready to leave the estate.

"Keep them safe, my friend," he said to Helmut before gently kissing Piers yet again, whispering, "I love you. I'll be back soon, I promise."

"And I'll be here, waiting for you." Wrapping his arms around Roderick's neck, Piers kissed him, pouring all his love into it, knowing the kiss more than any words would tell him how he felt. Then he watched as Roderick walked swiftly from the room and out to the waiting limousine.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

(53) Two vampires, a ghoul and a shifter.


Helmut still found it hard to believe Linden had pulled it off. It was even harder for Helmut to believe that as a result he was now Piers bodyguard when the young vampire accompanied Roderick on his assignments for the King.

"Aren't you just throwing your relationship with Piers right in the King's face," he'd asked with some concern when Roderick had told him what he wanted.

"Not if we're both careful. He's come on trips with me before, both him and Linden. They usually stay at whatever house I've been given for the duration.

"Houses staffed by the King's people, I suspect. That's going to play hell with your love life."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, be ready to leave tomorrow evening."

"For where?"

"Napoli."  

"Where love is king," Helmut said with a bit of a smirk. "I'll have to dig out my old Dean Martin records."

"Only you." Roderick shook his head in amusement. "Seriously though, be prepared for anything. The regional king that I'll be dealing with wants to break all ties with the supreme King, which obviously doesn't sit well with him."

"So you're going to try to negotiate some sort of truce?"

"Hopefully. The King is willing to make some small concessions if absolutely necessary, but he'd much rather I put this one in his place before any of the others start getting ideas."

Helmut nodded. "What are your feelings about that?"

"That's a good question. Until a few days ago, I would have said I had no real doubts as to what the outcome should be. Now, I'm not quite so firm in my belief that what the King says must always be adhered to. Linden made a very persuasive argument against that, at least on some levels. So my dealings with Signore Pavoni may be more impartial, perhaps, than they would have been before. That will depend on his reasons for wanting to break away of course."

"What happens if you side with Pavoni?"

Roderick smiled tightly. "Only time will tell."