Sunday, September 24, 2017

(13) When all else is lost the future still remains

“Dead, dead, and happily married,” Addie said, scratching three more names off the list Shan had worked up of people who might possibly have it in for him.

“You’re too good with that thing,” Shan commented as she punched the last name into a computer search engine he’d never even heard of before tonight. “How did you get to be such an expert?”

“Necessity for the job,” she said tersely as her fingers flew over the keyboard.

Behind them, Race watched and listened. He had the feeling, from the tone of her voice, there was more to it than Addie would say aloud. And from the tenseness in Shan’s shoulders it probably had to do with why they were the only two alive of all the people in the pictures on the wall beside him.

“That leaves us with the one you’re looking for. If he doesn’t pan out then we’re back to what we’ve been thinking all along.”

Shan nodded when she pointed to something on the screen, saying, “He’s eliminated.”

“Yes.” She stopped, cocking her head for a moment and then she was on her feet. To Race she looked for all the world like some warrior princess ready to do battle. “We have company,” she hissed. “Or will have in about thirty seconds, at the front door. Security’s on?”

“Always,” Shan told her. “Any idea who or what?”

“Vampire, that’s all I’m reading. Let’s get down there. Race, you’re to stay up here. Got that?”

“Yes ma’am.” Race might have saluted but he knew now was not the time. On the other hand he wasn’t about to hide upstairs while they dealt with uninvited company. Cautiously he inched his way to the top of the stairs and, feeling like a kid waiting for a particularly nasty version of Santa, sat down to wait and watch for what happened next.

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (11)

"Yeah." Vic blew out a long breath. "I know you're right, but I still can't stay here and put you in danger. You're not trained for it."
"What part of 'I was in the Army' didn't you understand?"
"As a medic."
"A combat medic. I saw my fair share of battle. I know which end of a gun is which and I was taught hand-to-hand fighting after I enlisted."
"You're not going to give in on this are you," Vic muttered.
"No. First and foremost because I was a medic. I can't in good conscience let you leave until you're in better condition than you are right now."
"And while I'm sitting here recuperating, the blackmailer is trying his damnedest to get Marshall to pull out of the primary race. Presuming, of course, that's what he's going for. From what I was told when I was hired, Marshall has a week to make up his mind before the blackmailer goes public with his information."
Evan frowned. "How long since you took the job?"
"Four days now. Three following the husband around on campaign stops and at fundraisers, and then last night and today here."
"Then we don't have much time to come up with some other way to find out who the blackmailer is."
"Any bright suggestions?"
"No, but between us, we can probably figure out something. Like… catching those men when they come back here and doing a little interrogating of our own."
"Somehow I doubt they're going to spill their guts to us about who hired them."

* * * *

"Shall we tell them?" Dom asked.
He and Paddy had returned to Evan's house as soon as they'd gotten what information they could out of the minds of the two men they'd captured. Once they had, they dropped the men back at their car, having convinced them, telepathically, to forget the interrogation and just tell their boss that Evan had security on his house they couldn't bypass. 
"It would mean revealing ourselves," Paddy pointed out.
"As if we haven't done that before when the situation warranted it."
"But does it now? All we learned was that they work for someone who wants Vic stopped, although they don't know who it is."
"Agreed. We do have the phone number they use for reporting in."
Paddy looked thoughtful. "What if…? No, a strange note showing up in Vic's email, and that's presuming he'd even think to check it right now, probably wouldn't do the trick. He'd think it was a maneuver to throw him off the scent."
"I would, if it were me."
"The same if we wrote out the information and stuck it in Evan's mailbox." Paddy paced until Dom told him to stop or he'd wear a hole in the carpet.
"In this form?" Paddy replied scathingly. But he did come to a halt. "We don't have to 'appear'. We could come to the front door and say we're… the police? That we arrested two men who'd been seen trying to break in to houses in the neighborhood and they'd copped to why they were?"
"Given the way Vic feels about the police at the moment, you probably wouldn't get past 'Police' before he slammed the door in your face."
"You're trying to make this difficult."
"No, I'm just being practical."
"Revealing ourselves is practical?"
Dom nodded. "Once we get them to suspend their disbelief. And appearing in front of them should go a long way toward doing that, as you well know."
With a sigh, Paddy admitted he was right.

Friday, September 22, 2017

(12) When all else is lost the future still remains

“Wait, let me guess.” Race looked at Addie. “You said you knew vampires who were beautiful creatures, Shan. She’s beautiful so I’m betting she’s one of them.”

Addie smiled. “Thank you for the compliment, Race, and I am. Did Shan really call me a creature?” She shot a glace at him, pretending to be upset.

Shan held his hands up in mock surrender. “I did, but you know I didn’t mean it that way.”

With a kiss to his cheek she told him, “I’ll forgive you, this time.” Then she turned her attention back to Race. When he looked at her she locked eyes with him for a very long moment and the nodded. “You’re quite right you can’t be mesmerized, not even by one as old as I am.”

“So you’re going to tell me you’re around two-hundred, too, like Shan.”

Addie laughed. “Not even close. I’m well over one thousand, and no jokes about how I only look such and such, I’ve heard them all.”

“Honestly, if I’d been guessing, I’d have said you were only a couple of years older than me.”

“As Shan told me that you’re twenty-one you’d be spot on.”

“By the way,” Race said, “I did feel you touching my mind. And you, yesterday,” he added as he glanced at Shan.

“Now that’s very interesting.” Shan looked at Addie. “He’s sensitive in more ways than just the physical touch thing. I wonder…”

When Shan didn’t continue Race asked, “What””

“Nothing, well something but I need to give it some thought before I say anything.”

Addie nodded. “It’s a possibility.”

“Now I feel like I’m in some bad movie where everyone knows what’s going on but the dumbass hero,” Race grumbled.

“I’ll tell you in time,” Shan said, gripping his shoulder. When Race jerked away Shan pulled his hand back, apologizing. “Sorry, I forgot.”

Race let him think he’d done that because of the touching but it had been more than that. In the brief seconds of contact Race had felt the overpowering sense of loss at the core of Shan’s being. And once again he wanted desperately to help him get past it and move on with his life.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

(11) When all else is lost the future still remains

One look at Race’s face as the young man came into the living room told Shan that something had happened. He gave him time to put down his pack and collapse onto the sofa before asking what. Quickly and succinctly Race told him. When he’d finished Shan asked, “Are you certain it was the same man?”

“I wouldn’t take a blood oath on it, no. But if it wasn’t it was his doppelganger, unless there’s a whole troop of men wandering the city dressed like that. And in this heat I sort of doubt it.”

“I agree.” Shan paced for a moment before saying, “This sort of puts a whole new light on things. After all, the man who gave you the message obviously knows where I live.”

“That’s what I was thinking, so why follow me?”

“As a part of his game, especially if he’s aware that you didn’t leave here until this morning.  Quite possibly he intentionally allowed you to see him at the end so you’d come back and tell me.”

“It worked. So what are we going to do now?”

Shan smiled slightly at the ‘we’. “I am going to go get a friend of mine and bring her back here. You are going upstairs and unpack your bag while I do.”

“I can’t come with you? Bummer.”

“Trust me we’ll be back before you’re half finished. Now get.” Shan pointed to the stairs.

Race muttered softly under his breath about bossy men as he headed up. Shan chuckled, not bothering to inform him that, with his hearing, what he's said had come across loud and clear. An instant later he was gone from the room, only to appear two minutes later with Addie.

She grumbled, as always, about how much she hated teleporting and then looked around the living room. “So, where’s the kid?”

“I’m not a kid,” Race announced as he came down the stairs.

“I can see.” Addie smiled, holding out her hand. “I’m Addie and you must be Race.”

Race hesitated for a moment, glancing at Shan, and then touched Addie’s fingertips. “Another one,” he said, drawing his hand back.

“Non-human but a different species,” Shan replied in agreement.

Monday, September 18, 2017

(10) When all else is lost the future still remains

Mid-morning of the next day, at Shan’s insistence, Race had gone to collect what little he owned from the two spots he’d called ‘home’ for the last couple of years. He’d always considered himself lucky that no one had hassled him at either place, or stolen any of his meager belongings, which amounted to one battered backpack crammed full of stuff—all he had to show for his life on the streets.

He headed back to Shan’s later in the afternoon, wondering how soon it would be before he ended up out on his ass again, searching for a new spot to call his own. He knew good and well that the two squats he’d been using would be snapped up within days by other unfortunate kids needing a safe place to bed down.

As he walked the narrow path along the edge of the river he got the creepy feeling that he was being observed. It came from the sort of sixth sense any long-term denizen of the streets developed in order to avoid cops and other predators. Clambering up the grassy bank to the sidewalk above, he shaded his eyes, searching for the source of his nervousness. There were plenty of people around, as he was fairly close to tourist section of the city, but none who seemed the least bit interested in him.

Adjusting the pack on his shoulders, he joined the flow of pedestrians along the walkway leading to Riverwalk and the Aquarium. A few minutes later he was sitting on one of the benches between Jackson Park and the Cathedral, trying to look like nothing more than a wore-out tourist taking a break. With the shadows lengthening as the sun began to go down, he decided he’d better keep going before Shan began to worry, presuming of course that he would.

As he stretched and started to get up, he again had the sense of being watched. Casually he looked around. He was about to give it up as before, thinking it was just nerves, when he caught sight of someone standing in Pirate’s Alley deep in the shade of the Cathedral wall. He might have thought nothing of it but the person, a man from his height and build, was wearing a long coat that reminded him of the one the guy who had hired him had worn.

Now why are you following me, if you are. You know perfectly well where Shan lives so you can’t be trying to find that out. He started walking slowly down Chartres in the opposite direction from Shan’s place, dodging tourists while using them to cover him as he checked shop windows to see if the man was behind him. At first he though he was in the clear, then he saw the man’s silhouette in the last light of the sun on the horizon. 

Turning the next corner onto one of the side streets, Race ducked through the first open door he saw, finding himself in a small knick-knack shop. The cluttered aisles gave him a perfect hiding place, while allowing him to watch the window. Moments later he saw the man pass by. Race waited for several minutes, toying with the ubiquitous strands of beads that almost every shop in the Quarter carried, and then cautiously he left, retracing his steps back toward the Cathedral and from there he hurried on to Shan’s home.