For those of you who has this on alert yes I know it was a surprise and you nearly broke your fingers upon seeing the update. Or so that's what I dream...But I am so very sorry for the delay, but classes got in the way, then my friend got me addicted to Gaiaonline, and what's more I was told the horrible news that "Blood and Chocolate" a somewhat decent book with a bit of a rush ending had been turned into a movie (now on DVD). I went into a ranting fit when I learned of it. Well all in all a lot of stuff has come up and gone in my life and it has taken me much to get back into the mood of writing.
Three years really doesn't seem like that much a span of time, one would think that nothing really could happen or change within three tiny little years, but lying in her bed with her sunflower yellow eyes closed tight fighting the lingering nausea of a mild hangover.
Kim Duncan moaned running her thin fingers over her short cut blonde hair still refusing to open her eyes more than a crack to let the noon's sunlight drift into her vision. Over three years ago she joined that ragtag group of Hunters and 'hunted' a pack of wolves under the command of The Company. Three years ago when word got out that the president and founder of The Company Mr. Morningblood got wind of what had happened and fired the dispatcher who had okayed their attack. Mr. Morningblood didn't want the pack killed, which was a questionable surprise in itself. When she had barked madly at Thaddeus Detman demanding to know why they were being suspended he simply stated what he had been told. 'They weren't a threat to us.'
For as long as Kim Duncan had known about the existence of werewolves she had full heartedly believed that they all deserved to either be tamed, placed on leashes and muzzles and locked within cages if not have them all killed. And for the longest time she had believed that The Company she so loved working for shared her ideals. But upon hearing those words slip from the uncaring Thaddeus's lips her world was somewhat crushed leaving her to do a bit of soul searching.
Within three years she and silly Archie had began dating, Archie was so sweet and kind to her, helping her to overcome her tattered visions towards these werewolves as she received less and less assignments from The Company and their little group disbanded. Thaddeus had retired and decided to spend his time with his little family in the middle of nowhere someplace in the mountains, without him their team and 'hunting' just wasn't the same.
Within those three years Archie had proposed to her, and she had said yes.
Turning in onto her side away from the light she opened her eyes to see the pale and thin figure laying in the bed beside her, he looked so different without the thin framed glasses resting on his nose, but those brown freckles on his long face that was the only way she could remember that it was him laying beside her naked underneath the crumple cheap cotton sheets of her bed.
Yes Archie was everything that she ever could have wanted in a man, in a future husband…"Paul." She called pushing him hard against his thin shoulder.
For some reason she had given that up in one night of careless lust and bliss to be with the man beside her, Paul Moore. She didn't know why she kept allowing him back into her bed; she really didn't know why she had given up sweet loving Archie for this man beside her. He wasn't at all the same kind man she had known those three years ago. He was colder than before heartless in a lonely sort of way she could not comprehend.
Yawning deeply Paul moved without so much as a good morning slipping out from beneath the sheets to begin his routine. She knew it well, he would gather all of his clothes off the floor and toss them into her clothes hamper for her to wash before grabbing some of his spare clothes from her dresser and head into the shower.
Without a word she got up, grabbing a cotton robe from off the end of the bed she dressed heading into the kitchen to make a small breakfast for the both of them despite the spinning splitting heads she knew the both of them had.
He never said those nice and sweet things that Archie use to say, he never held her after their love making…no there was no love when it came to Paul, with him it was all mindless sex.
Maybe that's why she liked about being with him, the terms of their 'relationship' was set on terms that meant that they were merely fucking and nothing more. It was a sort of stability that she craved.
As she poured the batter into the skillet Kim could not hold back the feeling of regret and longing lingering in the small corners of her mind. In truth when it began she only wanted that strict routine of lust, to distance herself away from the life of changes going on about her, but she still wanted something, she wanted the connection like she once had with Archie. She wished he would say something to her, anything, talk to her, and treat her like a woman, not a quick lay.
There came a ring from the direction of the bedroom, Paul's cell phone, the ring tone was especially assigned to The Company.
The ringing stopped as Paul answered, the shower still running in the bathroom. "Yeah? Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah I guess I could go, I have nothing better to do here."
Kim winched at his words as she heard the cell phone snapped closed, the sound of the shower head ceased soon after, and still she made breakfast. Ten minutes later Paul finally came into the kitchen, fully dressed and refreshed, he didn't look like he had touched a drop of alcohol last night.
"Breakfast is almost ready," She said with a small smile.
His eyes looked down onto the stove with an unreadable expression but to her it looked like disgust. "I'm leaving." Was all he said before heading out the door leaving her alone with only the lingering smell of his Old Spice body wash in the air.
Holding in the feeling of pain Kim turned off the oven to carelessly throw what she had prepared into the trashcan, she too losing her appetite, to head back to her bed.
As she pulled the covers over her head to hide the sun she fought back the tears. She knew why she allowed him to come back every time, why she let him back into her bed and in between her legs. It wasn't for the security of a routine that she craved but because she had this stupid idea, this hope that somehow she could change him, heal him. With her 'love' she could melt the coldness that had incased his heart and bring back the old Paul she once knew. But that was just some silly nonsense she had allowed to infiltrate her reality from the lusty fantasies she had read from her romance novels.
She missed Archie.
His eye darted about the room once more, the photos of her, why didn't he see them sooner? Perhaps his mind had tricked him into believing that they were old pictures of those old golden days of bliss and happiness he and his pack once basked in those wondrous years ago. At their current home they had pictures of the old pack set out just about nearly everywhere. But no, these were different, the woman he believed was his Carmen was in places and with peoples he knew nothing of, smiling a smile for someone else, and wrapped affectionately around Spike and not him.
There she stood, solid and as real as he dared to believe her to be, her eyes looking towards him in wonder.
The room was beginning to spin uncontrollably around him, his legs usually strong and powerful, were now for once too weak to support his frame.
A guiding arm and soothing words eased him down to a seat onto the green and gold couch placed against the brick wall of the living room.
The woman, this ghost of a woman he had believed dead, carefully hoisted little Franki over onto her right side propping her up with her hip as concerned hazel eyes splashed with flecks of blue looked down onto him. "Are you okay? It's just that you're looking very pale there." She stated in a sweetly mellow voice that caressed and lulled his ears.
Chris couldn't stop the dead name from trickling past his lips once more "Carmen."
"No, the only person I know by that name is Carmen Lander down on Oak Street." Bending down she sat Franki down upon the carpet to play with the stuffed toys littered about the carpet. "I'm Lucinda Detman-Aiden, I know it's a mess to say, but a pleasure to meet you." She smiled kindly holding her hand out towards him.
Lucinda, not Carmen, Lucinda. Now that he was looking at her he could see a difference, her face was round and shaped very much like Carmen's but there were small freckles sprinkled over her upper checks brushing slightly on the bridge of her nose where as Carmen's face had none. Her smile reached to her eyes, eyes that were not the comforting browns splashed with gold, but striking hazel mixed with blues like some odd ember tinted kaleidoscope focused on a blue gem.
"I'm Chris, Christopher Chancellor." He lied taking a hold of her offered hand shaking it firmly. Touching her skin sent a small shiver over his.
"Chris." She repeated his name, testing it out on her tongue as she retracted her hand placing it on her shapely hip.
And her voice was nothing like Carmen's, Carmen's voice was sweet and smooth, like caramel fudge, holding on to the unique accent of her home town, where as this woman's voice was mellow and smooth like velvet, jazzy in a way that he liked but at the same time despised for some reason.
But she looked so much like her; she could have passed as her twin.
"Do you have any sisters or brothers?" Chris questioned quirking a brow at her almost suspiciously. At her confused glance he quickly explained, "You look like someone I knew."
"Siblings? No." She then laughed turning to clean up a few scattered bits of paper work sitting on the simple dinning room table some feet away from them. "Not that I know of anyway."
He watched her move around, busying herself with tidying up her home. Although she looked relaxed he could tell that she kept her senses alert, her ears were taut and jumped as she caught the slightest sounds within the building, her nose twitched taking in the various scents that drifted in through the open living room windows.
So that was how it was, these people and wolves were relaxed but ever ready for any surprises.
Trying not to stare at her for too long, Chris strived to find something, anything to talk about. "Ahem, so why is it that you said my pack can't move here?"
"Like I said this place consists of us wolves that are more or less rejected by our own packs and mainly the rules of the Paramount. How did you find out about us?"
"Cold, she told me about it a few years ago."
"Cold told you? I don't know why…"
"Do you have something against the Paramount pack?" Chris questioned reading her now stiff body language, the subject was somewhat tender and guarded, meaning there was some bad blood between the wolves of this odd 'pack' and the ruling pack Paramount.
"I have something against all of their dusty and ancient rules and regulations; and with the way they strictly enforce such barbaric edicts I believe I have all reason to."
Chris couldn't help but chuckle, some years ago he would have been outraged, bellowing at her and berating her for saying such a thing about their supreme alpha pack. But ever since he took a human to be his mate those proverbial scales were lifted from his eyes showing him how old and out-dated those ways were. Any interbreeding was frowned upon, the offspring usually shunned with extreme prejudice and with no reason other than the poor half-breed was born, and those that had been changed, it was just as bad though slightly easier, and the number of those who were exiled or chose to live the life of a stray were usually because of those old-fashioned rules.
His thoughts were brought to a halt as something tugged on his pant leg. Looking down upon the source Chris smiled as Franki used him to pull herself up onto her own legs. "Trying to walk?" He asked her catching her before she lost balance, picking her up and sitting her into his lap he paused to take a good look at her.
As much as he hated to admit it the spawn of Spike was formidably an adorable child. She was somewhat small for a wolf with lovely slanted hazel blue eyes a wolfish characteristic that shun through her human appearances. Her teeth weren't fully out but he was sure that they would be sharper than most children's teeth should be. Soft eyebrows slowly growing in thick and in between them was a single off centered mole that made it look like she wore a black bindi. She was big for a baby her age, she looked like a toddler but she couldn't even stand on her own for long. That meant that she was quiet healthy, very much like Ian was when he was just a pup.
"She likes you." Lucinda laughed coming to stand before them. He must have looked quizzical for she answered him quite quickly. "She's very picky about who she wants holding her. So far only Spike, Gracie and I can hold her without her fussing."
"Is her name really Franki?"
"Francesca. Spike and I call her Franki for short; Spike wanted a boy and name him Frank like Frank Sinatra. Thank goodness she came out a girl. Everyone seems to like calling her Fran and Franny, but it makes her sound so old."
She was babbling on, Chris noticed, but for some reason unlike all the others her chatter didn't bother him. In fact hearing her talk, despite how much he disliked her voice it was soothing, lulling in a comforting way.
"Hey Franki." He greeted the baby in his hands his mind drifting off to imagine what sort of children he and Carmen would have had.
"So how long are you visiting?" Lucinda questioned looking quite pleased now that all of the paper had been put away.
"I'll be heading back home the day after tomorrow." He answered watching carefully as Franki took a fistful of his shirt just to inspect the button on his collar.
"Oh good, then I guess I could show you around a bit tomorrow, no use you wasting a trip here sitting in a hotel room. Spike will be in the city and I'll be taking care of Franki all day. What are you doing tonight?" She asked holding out her arms to take Franki away from him.
"T-tonight? Well I'm not doing anything, just getting something to eat before going back to my hotel room." He admitted.
The look of utter shock and horror that passed before her face was rather startling. "No you are not!" She declared.
"No, you are coming with us to the Pink Moon. Everyone…well not everyone but a lot of people will be there. It's like a tradition." She ranted hoisting a diaper bag onto her shoulder along with another larger duffle bag. "I have about…forty-five minutes to get ready. Ack, Colin's going to yell at me again for taking my time. Come on you two." She said opening the front door.
Chris couldn't help but get up and follow as she hurriedly ushered him out of the apartment. Moving somewhat briskly Lucinda walked him down the streets pointing out place of interests and waving a greeting to the wolves and humans that were also walking out on the darkening streets.
Finally they came onto a somewhat large yet at the same time small building compared to the rest surrounding it where a small marquee underneath a glowing sign in the shape of a large full peach colored moon. The Pink Moon Lounge. Chris really wasn't surprised by the name though the small near unreadable script wedged in between the words Moon and Lounge is what got his attention, lycanthrope and human. "The Pink Moon (lycanthrope and human) Lounge." He read aloud. His eye drifted down to the names on the marquee when he noticed that he was alone.
"Hey, come on!" Lucinda's voice called to him from somewhere around the side.
Hurrying to catch up to her he followed her into the back entrance where a large and looming man, a werewolf with hairy arms and large bushy eyebrows that seemed to connect with his messy hair glared down at him.
"Oh don't worry about him Peach, he's with me!" Lucinda shouted behind her as she rushed into what he believed was a dressing room.
With a grunt the wolf by the odd name of Peach allowed him to walk by quickly following after Lucinda. "You're late again." A familiar voice stated. "Oh hey Franki love, come to Auntie."
"Thanks Gracie. You're the best." Lucinda stated.
Coming into the dressing room Chris looked upon the scene of Gracie bouncing a smiling Franki on her hip as Lucinda rushed about the room pulling off her shirt. "Man which one should I wear tonight?"
"I don't know about you, but you haven't said anything about my dress." Gracie asked turning around showing off a red slinky dress covered in shiny red sequins with a dangerously low neck line and an extremely long split running up the side.
"Gracie sweetie, you can put on a burlap bag and you look stunning." Lucinda remarked pulling an ashen blue and black dress from off its hanger placed on the bathroom door.
Feeling left out Chris coughed lightly into his hand. "Um should I?"
"Sugar don't worry I'm pretty sure you've seen what we have to offer before. Just as long as you don't touch Cin Spike won't bite you. But then you can touch me all you want." Gracie cooed.
"Gracie! Don't talk like that in front of Franki!"
"Sweetie what the hell is she going to pick up? All she cares about is the fact that your tits are still producing milk, her diaper is dry, and her favorite toy is near by." Gracie went on with her free hand on her hip.
Chris blushed at Gracie's brazen and colorful choice of words. The loud and surprised squeal accompanied by the rolled up nylon tossed sadly towards Gracie gave evidence that Lucinda felt the same sort of shock. "Get out!" She shouted dotingly with humor tinting her words.
Still laughing Gracie took the diaper bag and Franki, with a nod of her head she hinted for Chris to follow her out into the somewhat narrow hallway. Passing the long line outside of the ladies' restroom and the nonexistent one before the men's they turned a corner coming out into a slightly spacious barroom with a small stage. Gracie paused to look around before smiling when she spotted someone waving their hand towards the back corner. Chris looked up to see Spike alone in a semi-dark corner the waitress had just walked by giving him his drink.
Tugging on his sleeve Gracie led him through the growing crowd to the table. "You're here earlier than usual; I never had to come out to check only once." Gracie teased as she gingerly handed Franki and the diaper bag over to Spike.
"So you can leave her with those ditzy barmaids again once the show starts? No, I made sure I came in time. Hey Chris, how'd you get here?" Spike questioned.
Had Chris not known the wolf he might have passed the slight narrowing of his eyes as nothing and nearly missed the lowering tone in his voice that underlined a sense of displeasure. He must have known that he had met Lucinda, his mate and the wolf who looked nearly the mirror image of his deceased Carmen.
Gracie giggled the gender oriented wolf opened her mouth to say something when a low whistle from the stage turned her attention away from them. "Show time. I hope you enjoy the show."
Chris watched as Gracie turned to walk off towards the stage as the lights dimmed, the last of the chairs began to quickly fill with a mix of humans and wolves, at least that's what his noise was telling him. He was amazed at how easily they mixed and mingled ordering drinks as they causally glanced towards the stage.
"Chris." Spike said his name in a low tone once it was apparent that he was not about to move.
"I met your mate Lucinda." He said his voice low. "Odd how much she looks like her."
"It's just a small coincidence. I didn't marry her for the fact she looks like her, my Lucinda is my Lucinda, I fell for her for her. Carmen was Carmen, there's nothing else to be said about it."
"You're one hell of a bastard you know that?"
"Watch your damn mouth and stay away from my family."
Once on stage Gracie grabbed a microphone and everyone instantly silenced the brewing low spoken fight between the two wolves quickly forgotten. "Ladies and Gentlemen we welcome you once again to the Pink Moon Lounge." Gracie smiled as she spoke. It was rather hard to remember that in truth underneath all of that was actually a male. "We are glade to see some returning faces, and really I'm impressed that some of you new guys managed to take the place of some of the old ones, you know you'd better be careful leaving because they are pissed at your asses for stealin' there seats."
There was a scant trace of laughter throughout the crowd.
"Oh you think I'm joking." Gracie went on. "One of you go outside right now, they'll beat the shit out of you and take your place. Look out the window they're looking in here sending you death threats and slashin' your tires." She stated pointing towards the window where indeed there were a few faces peeking in. Seeing this everyone let out a great laugh.
"Hehe, well let's get started, I am your hostess the ultra fabulous Gracie Chambord, although my birth certificate says otherwise. How do you like my new dress? You wouldn't believe how many bitches I had to fight to get my hands on this. It's sad when a dress looks damn good on a queen than a real bitch ain't it?"
The audience laughed then cheered as Gracie slowly turned around allowing for them to see how the slinky red dress clung to her body. A few loud wolf whistles rung from somewhere the back to comment on just how much someone had enjoyed what they were seeing.
"Okay okay, now for the real reason you've all come to hear our favorite wolves howl at you pink moon patrons, they will make love to your ears and you will like it! Introducing first the master of this delicious band, on the keys and the youngest of the group and damn proud of it baby boy Morty!" Gracie waved a hand off stage as a young man, a human man, perhaps the age of 22 smiled as he moved to a piano that was nearly hidden away by the darkness over the stage.
"On the strings the brains behind the music the handsome and the sadly taken Colin!" Another male, this one slightly older and notably a wolf walked on stage with an electric guitar in hand waved as he moved towards the far left of the stage where a large bass sat waiting.
"This group will be once again accompanied by the Pink Moon's own percussionist Marx McCormack aka String Bean." Another man walked onto the stage and gave a bow and a wave, he wasn't the body type that deserved the name String Bean, and he was a little short with a strong slightly stout build. For some reason looking at the fellow Chris could not help but think of a deli, fat sausage fingers, long bologna pack like arms, a small pickle barrel like chest, to name a few features. He squatted down at the simple drum set taking on the appearance of an old toad hunkered behind a pile of rocks.
"On the sax, the most pleasant old fart any of us will ever meet, Mr. Schultz." The words were said kindly as an elderly man with a polished saxophone strapped around his neck was lead onto the stage by Lucinda dressed in the lovely gown. The way he hobbled and took unsure steps gave clue that his eyesight wasn't up to par or perhaps nonexistent at all, but all the same despite this he gave a wide grin as he too waved to everyone. "And accompanying him is my sister and the siren of the city. Most of you remember her as the voice of the seductive Lily Serenity on the now sadly canceled radio show Cherry Hill, Lucinda!"
A cheer let out as all of them settled into their places and Lucinda and Gracie shared a small air kiss to their cheeks and the music began to play in a soft upbeat jazzy tone.
Time went by as she enthralled and hypnotized them all as she sang song after song varying from jazz to blues, to sweet lulling songs that kept everyone silent as they sipped leisurely on their drinks.
She sang, Easy Living, Minnie the Moocher, St. James Infirmary, an odd techno jazz mix of a song she proudly announce that the young Morty had written called If You Say Good Bye. What a Wonderful World, Good Bye My Love where she amazingly hit and held a boisterous note towards the ending. Song after song Chris found he could not take his eyes away from the stage. The voice that he had for some reason hated before he found that he now adored it profoundly for the way it effortlessly swayed him. When the song was uplifting he felt his mood lift, when the song was humorous he found himself chuckling with the rest of the crowd as she moved among them singing and swinging her shapely hips.
She had just finished singing a dedication to 'the love her life' Spike in the form of a Frank Sinatra song that Chris could not identify; according to him Sinatra's songs all sounded the same.
"She's a real peach, I'm lucky to have found and caught her." He laughed looking down at little Franki in his arms. It was a quarter to 10 and Spike waved to the stage and pointed towards his watch signaling to his wife that he was leaving with the sleeping Franki tucked close to his chest.
"Ladies and gentlemen I hope that you don't mind but I'd like to take a moment to say good night to two of the most important people in my life, my mate Spike and our little girl Franki."
All eyes turned back towards them as Lucinda whispered something to the band.
"That's right girls that's her man, fuck with him and you'll see just how much of a bitch she can be!" Gracie shouted from somewhere within the bar.
Everyone released a loud laugh as Lucinda sent a deadly glare into the general direction she had believed Gracie to have been.
Morty chuckled as he began to play the piano in a light simple tune signaling for Lucinda to forget about her rage to Gracie and sing. She moved threw the crowd to there table as she began,
It seems like only yesterday that I can hear my little girl say,
"Daddy, there's a boy outside. His name is Rod. He wants to play in our backyard.
Can he Daddy? Can he Daddy? Oh, please Daddy?"
She sang in a soft slightly childish manner of a little girl growing up throughout the song. Her eyes focused only on Spike and Franki, her hand gently moving to stroke her daughter's little chubby cheek then up to Spike's wiping something away. Chris couldn't believe it, Spike really had tears in his eyes as this woman softly song in that sweet mellow tone the piano tinkling in wonderful contrast to her voice. Spike tried to hide his tears but he couldn't do much but silently wipe his tears away as discreetly as possible while holding the still sleeping soundly Franki closer to him.
"A child, an adolescent, a young lady, a wife
Oh! And oh yes, there's another man in my little girl's life
"Hi Dad! There's a boy outside - his name is Tim.
I told him Grandpa was gonna baby sit with him.
Thanks Dad. Bless you Dad. Goodnight Dad."
When the song ended she dismissed the cheers to smile kindly at Spike bending down to press her forehead to his before kissing him sweetly on his cheek.
Spike kissed her back before composing himself fully aware that he had showed a great moment of weakness before all of those wolves and humans. Standing he gave her one last kiss before scooting from his seat, adjusting the diaper bag and headed out the door.
Chris sat in amazement throughout the rest of the show that ended promptly one hour later. This Lucinda had somehow changed the once uncaring and crass stray into a family man…much like how Carmen had changed him. Looking at her closely he was sure that she was at least related to her. Whatever the case maybe it would prove to be very interesting. Walking out of the 'lounge' before those who had one too many staggered out into the streets to be escorted home one, most likely from out of town called out for a taxi.
"Boy, there's no taxi service here, too small." Someone laughed several feet behind the one eyed wolf.
Perhaps he was making more of it than there was, but something within him told him it would prove very interesting indeed.
I'm not all that pleased with this chapter, for some reason it was rather difficult to get out since not much has happened within except for some catch up on a few characters. This will prove to be a bit harder to write than Friday.
But to yv and all of you I haven't really abandonded anything, just finding it difficult to write.