Sometimes, you have to call it a day


I awaken to a rattling of the doorknob and a squeak as the door swings open.  I’m pinned under Lucy’s rigor mortis weight.  The bodies of some vampires become like marble when they become dormant.  It’s an ancient protection mechanism.  Lucy, still being underdeveloped, only weighs as much as a wood carved statue. Oak, maybe. The room is darm except for the single desk lamp that Lucy had left on.

“Sophie,” he calls as I struggle back from unconsciousness.  “Shit!”

I feel the weight start to release me as Nick pulls Lucy off me, struggling with her form.

“What the Hell?”  His grip slips and the way her foot pointed on the floor causes her to teeter over, leaving Nick only a second to get out of the way as Lucy thuds to the floor right beside Nick, maintaining her curved pose.  Nick stares at her, her fangs barely peeking through her grimace.

“They’re coming out of the woodwork!  What the fuck!”

I try to sit up but only manage to prop myself up on a single elbow and rub my forehead.  “Who are?”

Nick looks back at me, holding my gaze.  “The vampires.”

I sigh.  This wasn’t how I’d meant for him to find out.  In fact, I would have preferred he never even know about Lucy.  But it cannot be undone. 

He gets up and comes over to me again, helping me slowly sit up.

“Good thing I got the door sealed like you asked late yesterday.”

I nod and that, along with my sitting position, sends shuriken into every corner of my cranium.  My head’s pounding still.  The calm from awakening has lasted all of 2 minutes before being brutally reacquainted with my concussion.

“Yes, indeed.”

Nick sits next to me and I hear more than see him contemplate Lucy on the floor.

“She a new client?”

“An old friend.”

“Why does she look like that?”

It’s not really the first question I expect him to ask.  In fact, if I had all my facilities, I’d be amazed at how calm he is.  He’s freaked but managing. 

I try to see what he sees and confirm that blurry vision appears to be another sign of last night’s troubles.  It’s coming and going of its own will.

“Like what?”

“Her face.  It’s all screwed up with her, uh, fangs poking out.  Was she trying to bite you?”

“No.”  I squint and see the curve of her body.  “I believe she was trying to balance herself as her mortis set in so she wouldn’t crush me.”

“Oh.”

He pauses for a moment.

“I have no idea what any of that means.”

“I know you don’t, Nick.  But for now, I need you to help me get her into one of the exam rooms. Away from any light or disturbance.”

He stands up without another question.  He looks down at her and then the room tunnels away for a brief moment.  I don’t completely go under but there’s no way I can stand by myself.

He flicks her skin with his fingernail.  “She fragile?”

“No, her skin will be tougher in this form.  Why?”

He grabs under her shoulders and starts to drag her.  In between pulls, he says, “Because it’s obvious you’re going to be no help.”

I try to nod but it causes me to lose a few moments again.  It takes Nick about 20 minutes to get her into the last exam room and “secured,” which simply means a lightproof sheet tucked all around her, the individual thermostat in the room set to 50 degrees. When he’s done, he turns on the overhead light and he returns to kneel down in front of me. I haven’t moved in those twenty minutes.

“How bad is it?” he asks me.

I drop my hand from my forehead.

He doesn’t say anything as I struggle in vain to fix my eyes on his. A few moments later, I hear him stand up and call for a cab.

“I’m taking you to the emergency room,” he explains after hanging up. “She’ll be locked up as tight as a drum and I’ll come back right before dusk to greet her.”

I sigh. “Help me with this.” I lift my talisman. “You can tell her you work for me.”

A half hour later, Nick checks me into Overlake Hospital. It takes some explaining, the throat bruises, the badly bruised face, the concussion. I admit I was mugged. Within five minutes, two detectives are questioning me but I tell them I didn’t see my assailant, it was too dark, I was grabbed from behind, my assistant found me in the office this morning. They seem disappointed. There have been several disappearances in the Bellevue area, including a body from the morgue. I’m not sure if Nick picks up on it but the UVA in the area is climbing to a critical level. As he leaves, I call the Crimson Kukri and leave a message for Maurice simply stating Lucy was safe and Nick needed protection.

It was all I could do before succumbing to waves of nausea and a splitting headache that the doctor wouldn’t give me meds for.

 

 

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