Getting the Kiss-off


Lucy interrupts, “Your phone has been ringing off and on for an hour.”

I let it ring, try to catch Morena’s eyes.  When I finally do, I know everything.  All of it makes sense.  Now I know the real source of Morena’s temper earlier.  Jesper had told her to look after me.  I feel heat rise up within me and I’m unable to decide if it’s anger or flattery.  Which makes me angry.  Meanwhile, the phone keeps insisting.

I snatch it up.  It’s Nick.  “What?”

“Are you alright?  Been trying to call.  Thought you’d stop by the office before your, um, appointment or at least let me know where and when…maybe even throw in a what.”

“Appointment?”ballard

“Yeah, it’s in you calendar.  Sko-Vaj-Say 11PM.  Wow, what a fun name.  Where are you?”

Crap!  “Uh, Fremont.  I’ll be late.”

“Fremont?  Well judging by the traffic map, that’s where you’ll stay for awhile.  Maybe you should cancel…”

“Where’s a public place downtown that’s relaxing quiet but still, public?  Where you can have a conversation and no one hears it but you’re seen?”

“The Ice Lounge, 3rd and Columbia.  It’s in a hotel, kinda gangster-like inside, lots of cushy places to sit…even settees.  But never busy.”  He has good instincts.  “You can be there in, oh, about 15 given a good driver.”

I look at Morena who’s adrenaline is wearing off.  She’s not fit to drive.  “Can you call me a cab right away?” I ask Nick.

” Give me the address.”

I do so then hang up to text Skovajsa.  With no immediate response, I turn back to the room.  Lucy and Maurice are still staring intently at Morena who looks like she’s long past wanting to leave.

“I have to go now.  But we will catch up.”  I start for the door.  Maurice catches me up.

“Auntie.”  The concern is clear on his face.

“Do not worry.  I have always guarded your secret.”

“This vampire you’re meeting, that smells of magic.  He will smell us off of you.”  He’s assumed and gotten it wrong about my vamp clients but I don’t correct him.

Lucy joins him.  “And look at you…both of you.  We were only protecting ourselves but Maurice is strong, no?”

Morena speaks up, testing her elbow.  “She’s right.  I don’t know how I’m going to explain to Jes—.  J.  how I got my ass kicked by teenage vampires.”

I sigh.  “Nor how my client will react to my face.”  I don’t need to see it, I feel it.  Puffy, hot, achy, skin tight.  Yeah, major bruising.  And Maurice had barely moved.

He looks uncomfortably at Lucy.  She nods.

“What?” I ask at their conspiratory air.  She steps up to me.

“We have a way but you’re going to have to trust us,” she says, taking my hands.  Something in this I don’t like, but she’s sincere and I nod to her.  She looks at Maurice and tilts her head toward Morena. 

I watch the child charge he once was dissolve from his frame as I feel him exuding powerful forces of attraction against Morena as he approaches her.  Lucy squeezes my hands. 

“You must tell her to trust him.  He will not hurt her.”

I find myself a little befuddled myself before I realize why.  He’s not yet directing his abilities right at her, instead letting her see the effect on me, feel the effect herself.  She throws a near-frantic look at me.  “Sophie?”

“It will be alright, Morena.  Better this than Jesper’s interrogation.”  Maurice I know, Jesper I don’t.  And he and I are in need of a serious discussion.  I let her how upset I am with him.  Although, I have no idea what this is, really.

Maurice stands in front of Morena and at first, I think he’s going to share blood with her to heal her.  That terrifies me, knowing how viral vampire blood can be, unsure of how it might effect her permanently.  But as if he can hear my thoughts, Maurice says in a soft voice to Morena, as if she were the only woman in the world, taking her hands in his, “It will heal you.  There will be no lingering effect.”

raggedy annShe’s staring right into his eyes, being the same height as him and while there’s fear there, it’s not the only thing I see in her eyes.  As he leans in and she closes her eyes, it’s clear what he means to do and I feel all flustered and turn my head away, embarrassed.  But I can hear it.  And it goes on…for awhile…and gets louder…

“Do you want me to make you not hear it?” Lucy asks me, grabbing my gaze.  It bothers her too, I can see.  Maybe more than she knows.  There’s worry there in her face, like back when she let him lie or do something but she offered up a unified front.  She’s trying not to look too.

“No, no, it’s fine.  It’s just…” A throaty moan.  I swallow.  “Well, maybe we should leave them…”

Then it stops and I can’t help but look over.  Maurice is gently lifting Morena back to her feet, raising his head away from her.  She looks, in a word, dazed, mouth gaping open, eyes still fixed on him.  When he finally tries to step back from her, she moves forward with him until she blinks suddenly, realizes her hands are gripping his shoulders.  She then steps back, blushes deep red.   Then, she looks at me.  And she’s glowing.  Literally.

Lucy sees my shocked expression and looks over.  She shakes her head, “Brother, you’ve gone too far.”

He steps back away, almost sullenly.  “She was more injured than we expected.  She has a high tolerance for pain.”  He stops near his sister who puts a hand on his arm to draw his attention back.  “It was my fault she was so hurt.”

“Now let her go, brother.”

He fights it for a second.  Then, the humming in the room that I scarcely registered goes quiet and he looks at the floor, suddenly winded.  Lucy’s face shows concern but she covers it quickly to look back at Morena, who blinks like just awakening from a dream.  A really good dream.

“We need to go now,” I say.  I take my hands away from Lucy’s and step to Morena, hand on her arm.  This was not at all what she was ready for and soon, really soon, she’s going to crash down from it.  And I find myself more angry than ever at her so-called vampire Master.  He never used these abilities on her and thus, she was unprepared.  She looks at me with childlike eyes when I tug her arm.  The crash has already started and she shakes off my hand and folds her arms about her.

“Let’s go,” she says and storms out, angry, confused, but holding it together for the moment.

I follow her and as I pass Maurice he ventures a look up at me.  And it’s the look of his 12 yr old self seeking some sort of redemption. 

I pause for a moment, as Lucy says, “Probably not wise to tend your wounds as well, Auntie.”

I swallow past a lump of disgust in my throat, the mere thought of Maurice doing that to me.  “No,” I say.  I give them my card.  And I rush out after Morena.

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