The elevator was large enough to comfortably fit a king size bed with room to spare as I rode it down to the main floor on my butt, lacing up my boots. It reached the lobby just as I stood with messenger bag slung over my shoulder and leather jacket in hand.
I had never been in Hotel Macabre before, but I had seen photos in magazines and it was just as breathtaking. Energy flowed warm through the air, a soft hush against my aura as I set off towards the large glass tinted glass doors. There were supes all around me, Were, witch, Other's and even a leprechaun lounging on the circle sofa reading the San Francisco Times. The top of his flame red hair peaked over the edge and his small hands bunched the sides of the paper were chubby and child like.
There was hardly a line at the front desk, leaving the long mahogany free to look at it. There were designs delicately carved into four foot by four foot recessed squares of full moon nights and forest scenes. The supes manning the desk look bored as they stood there and almost inanimate. I passed them with a glance, letting my hand run across one of the pillars with gold leaf like filigree circle its diameter and one of the receptionists shook his head. With a sheepish smile, I pulled my hand away and left.
The same black town car from the night before waited out front, with a uniformed chauffer standing holding the back passenger door open. He was stoic as I glanced at him before sliding in. He closed the door and got into the front and I relaxed against the leather seat. It smelled like Camille in here. I didn't know if that was a good or bad thing.
I stared out of the window at the Pacific ocean not far off in the distance crashing and frothing against the shoreline, sparkling benignly in the light of the sun overhead. It wouldn't last for long. There were angry dark clouds in the distance circling into the city from the east and we were headed straight for them. The buildings passed by in a blur, the traffic almost none-existent at this time on a Saturday morning.
The drive was peaceful, seagulls danced through the sky in the distance, it was what I needed after the last twelve hours. Before long, the chauffer pulled up across the street from the parking garage where my bike was.
"Thank you." I said and he grunted. He pulled away from the curb before I could finish closing the door and sped off. My stomach growled, reminding me I was hungry. I'd have to eat before I left the city, any time I used my power, it drained me.
I crossed the street when it was safe, leaning back as I made my way down the steep incline into the parking garage to find my bike safe and unmolested. It was amazing how good I felt, Camille's blood had really worked to remove the aches and pains from my body. Sympathy for the Devil began playing from my phone. Jesse. I had forgotten about Jesse. I quickly pulled my phone out of my pocket and answered.
"Hey Babe." I said, leaning against my bike for support.
"Where have you been?" He said into the receiver. Oh God. I looked at my watch. I was supposed to have met Jesse for breakfast an hour and a half ago.
"Oh my God, Jesse, I am so sorry. I'm still in the city." I palmed my forehead and ran a hand through my still wet hair.
I could almost hear my boyfriend frowning. "What the hell are you still doing in the city?"
Damnit, what was I going to tell him. "I ended up going out for drinks last night with the CEO of Dynasty Records." I lied smoothly.
Jesse humphed on the other end and I bit my lip, hoping he would believe me. "You couldn't call me or shoot me a text?"
"Considering it was after one in the morning, I didn't want to wake you. Hell, I just woke up myself. I ended up crashing in her hotel room." I said, trying to sound as sheepish as I could.
Jesse pushed out a breath and I had the sudden realization it was a relieved breath. Had he thought I'd been out with another man? Jesus, he had no idea how much I wished that were the case.
"I'm still mad at you for leaving me sitting in the restaurant looking like an idiot." Jesse said. "I tried to call you multiple times."
I skirted my fingers across the leather seat. "I didn't have my phone on me. I'm sorry baby, I swear I'll make it up to you."
Jesse laughed. "How about dinner tonight instead?"
I mentally thumped through my organizer. "I'm buying."
"As well as you should." Jesse teased and the hand I hadn't was clenched around my heart eased. "Tomatina's at seven?"
Mmmm... My stomach rumbled. "You really know how to turn a woman on."
I could almost hear Jesse rolling his eyes. "Alright, I'll see you then. Love you."
"I love you too." I said and the line went dead.
Jesus. There were way too many mixed feelings and conflicting thoughts running through my head. Jesse was sweet, an amazing boyfriend, someone I had fallen in love with almost immediately when we first met in college. Now there was Camille.
The worst part? I had loved every minute of Camille's domination and it shamed me to feel that way. Did it count as cheating on Jesse? Hell if I knew. Maybe I had been asking for it without realizing it. It wasn't like I could tell my boyfriend I'd gotten into a fight with a thousand year old vampire and said thousand year old vampire had kicked my ass. I threw my stuff into my satchel and pulled on my helmet. My motorcycle rumbled to life and I revved the engine.
The food court was filled with people; their energy swirled around the large room that smelled predominately like greasy burgers and last night's Chinese food. It wasn't the same amped up energy like the previous night; this energy was relaxing and easier to wade through without a headache or a nosebleed as a result. It was so loud I almost couldn't hear myself think.
I sat at one of the long lines of plastic tables centered in the stadium sized room munching on a sandwich, the paper wrapping crackled beneath my nail bitten fingers. It felt like I hadn't eaten in days, but it was to be expected after using my ability so much in less than twenty four hours. Any large display of power on my part always required me to eat almost directly afterwards since my body was the reservoir my ability drew from. I finished my sandwich and made my way to the trash bin, careful to avoid the rambunctious children running around unsupervised by their conversation driven parents. It made me wonder if I would ever settle down enough to be a mother or if my possible future children would be Other like me.
As far as I knew, no one else in my family had abilities. I was the only one, the only Other. If I accepted Camille's offer, I would never be a mother. Made vamps didn't have the ability to procreate like those born of the dark species. I needed to stay away from her; vampires were dangerous folk and nothing to be trifled with. I had learned my lesson. My life would be in constant danger and the possibility she would choose to change me against my will was very real.
Monday, I promised myself as I wove through the maze of tables towards the west exit; I would talk to Henry and get any assignments covering any of Dynasty Records bands switched to someone else. I was sure Laura would take them and if she wouldn't then, Angela would definitely be more than willing. There was only so much I could tell Henry, he was after all human just like everyone else in my life and couldn't possibly comprehend just how deep last night's assault had gone. He would at least understand if I dumbed it down to harassment.
The noise level dropped as I walked through the west exit towards the elevator and hit the down button. The door dinged and opened up to emit people riding to my level to get off. I entered, alone by the time the big metal box reached the parking garage below.
There was no one in sight, my footsteps were heavy, echoing off of the thick concrete walls and support pillars. It was time to go home and relax before my dinner date with my boyfriend later.
Hairs on the back of my neck rose, alerting me to something malicious lurking in the area -it wasn't an energy I recognize. This energy felt slimy, dead almost and I understood why there were no people around. Someone was channeling a butt load of power, creating a web of deterrence that would send anyone unknowingly in the opposite direction. I tested the energy, recoiling when it tried to hook into me and threw up a barrier around my aura. I didn't like this. Whoever was around, wanted me alone with no distractions. My skin crawled in the worst way and fear whispered through me.
The malicious intent behind it was as tangible as the air I breathed. I slowed to a stop and twisted my head around, searching for the source. A lone man stepped out from behind one of the support pillars, dressed in a suit that looked like it cost one month's worth of my rent. His hair was grey despite his youthful looking face, but his grey eyes were dead. Fish eyes.
"You must be Aerie. I've been looking for you." He said, his voice as slimy as his energy.
"And you are?"
"A friend. I'm here to make you an offer." He said, but the weight behind the word told me it wasn't an offer. It was a choice, accept and live, or refuse and die. I didn't like either option. My hands curled into fist and core of power opening, sliding through me like a knife. I shifted my weight to my right foot and cocked a hip like I had seen any superhero vixen do in the movies.
"Why do I get the feeling that I don't have a choice?" I said. "I don't like being trapped."
"Merely a precaution, my dear." The silver haired man said.
"I'm not interested." I snapped and he smiled.
"Oh, I think you will be interested in you want to avoid a world of pain. Do you really think Camille Black won't hurt you? I can feel her blood inside you, disgusting really." He said scathingly and fear flooded through me.
"And you think you're any better? How did you know?" I started edging slowly towards my bike.
He smiled cruelly. "A magician never reveals his secrets." The silver haired man lifted an eyebrow as if amused. "This vampire has hurt you, forcibly drank your blood and in return, forced her blood on you while you lay helpless. Vampire's are scum, murderers, rapists, they kill and they hurt without conscience. We only want to help rid you of your leech problem." The man said, gesticulating rapidly as he spoke and the hint of an accent that hadn't been there before coming through.
He snapped his fingers and six men wearing black t-shirts, blue jeans and matching sunglasses approach from every possible exit in the garage. All of them had bulging muscles, tightly corded necks and thick hands.
"Hello gentlemen, can I help you?" I said calmly, but my hackles rose. I twisted my head, gauging the men.
"If you wanted to talk, you could have come alone or I don't know, called? Instead you surround me with some macho looking brutes like a coward."
That made him bristle visibly and his dead grey eyes twitched ever so slightly.
"Merely a request from my employer." He said with a shrug.
I narrowed my eyes at him and tried to get a reading from his aura. He was the one responsible for the malicious energy rifling through the air and he thought he would be my friend?
"Send your men away and then maybe we can talk. I don't like being backed into a corner." I said in a voice like iron.
"I cannot do that, Ms. Surreal. My men are merely here as a precaution to ensure that I do not come to harm." He said, stopping just behind two of his goons who cracked their knuckles threateningly and I knew they would hurt me without a moment's hesitation. I couldn't get a read on their energy, the silver haired mans power covered them easily and that worried me. Would my ability work? Only one way to find out.
"Then we have a problem." Was the only warning I gave him before I thrust my arms behind me and let my ability flow freely. The men at my back lifted off their feet and slammed into the surrounding cars. Alarms started blaring almost deafeningly in the cramped confines of the parking garage. Good, exactly what I needed.
The other men closed in on me, hands reaching, trying to force me to my knees. I twisted my limbs out of their grip, my martial arts training kicking in, and slammed my hands into their chests, fueled by the power now bristling through me. One crashed into a support pillar hard enough to leave a spider web of cracks and chip some of the concrete off while the other moved in just enough time to avoid the direction of my ability. He launched himself at me, swinging wide with his beefy fist. I dodged beneath his reach and came up, agony radiating down my arm as my fist connected with his jaw. Goon number four land on the ground out cold and I shook my hand to try to make the pain from the impact go away. Body builder five and six circled me hesitantly, dumbfounded by what they thought was a delicate looking woman. These brutes had no idea what I was capable of.
One of the remaining goons cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders before putting his fists up. His buddy pulled a gun and pointed it at me. I threw myself to the floor, my new leather jacket scraped against the asphalt and my knees banged painfully as I dove to avoid the bullet that whizzed past me and took shelter behind one of the structures.
He just shot at me!
"That is so not fair!" I complained and someone laughed.
"If only you would have listened, we wouldn't have had to resort to such violence." Said the silver haired man. The pillar was cold as I pressed my back against it and my mind raced. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, hot and welcome.
"I'm warning you, just walk away now!" I yelled, trying to buy myself time while I figured out how I was going to deal with the gun happy psycho and his friend.
"You only have to say yes and this senseless violence would stop."
"Go fuck yourself." I snapped and shimmied my way up the pillar.
Rambo came around the corner with gun pointed some distance away and fired again. I hid behind the nearest car and crawled my way around it. The other goon -I had forgotten about him- grabbed my ankle and pulled. I hit the ground with a thump and kicked out with my free leg. The heel of my boot connected with his collarbone and cracked beneath the pressure. He let go, groaning in pain.
Gun guy approached and I felt the cold steel press against the back of my head.
"Get up." He said. I did as I was told, standing carefully with my hands up. His buddy got up as well, eyes flashing amber. Great, a Were. Their scents had been cloaked before, but now that chaos had erupted, I got a full on whiff of musk and wet grass. The air shimmered around the goon with the broken collar bone, the shadow of a corporeal wolf circled him and I watched in sick fascination as the bone reset itself. He smiled mirthlessly and I doubled over as his fist connected with my gut. The air whooshed from lungs and I struggled to breathe as he grabbed my shoulder. I barely had time to roll with the punch as his fist slammed into my lower jaw. Pain erupted in a tidal wave, coursing from the point of impact all the way up into my cranium and I tasted blood.
"Feel better now?" I hissed in a spray of blood. He snarled and went after me again.
"That is enough!" The leader said. He appeared in my line of sight, his cold eyes icy and his expression hostile.
The gun happy Were pointed the gun at the ground, motioning for me to get on my knees and his friend locked my arms behind my back. I growled as he fondled my left breast in the process. "Touch me like that again buddy boy, and you're going to be singing soprano."
He pulled back on my arms and I hissed in pain.
"What I don't understand, is why you are defending Camille Black. Has she really twisted you beyond repair?" The man said. I spat at him and he smiled before backhanding me hard enough to turn my head. Pain erupted up the line of my jaw into my skull and stars danced in front of my eyes.
"Shove it up your ass. I'm not interested." I panted.
"If I wanted to join a cult, I would have, thanks very much." Not willing to hear the rest of this psycho babble bull shit, I hopped on to my feet and head butted the goon holding my arms. He released me and I pivoted on my heel, grabbing gun crazies wrist to pull him into my left knee. His breath exploded from him and I slammed my elbow down onto the back of his neck as he doubled over. The gun clattered to the ground and I kicked it underneath the nearest car.
Where the hell were the security guards? There were several car alarms going off now and shots had been fired.
The remaining guy caught me from behind, wrapping his arms around my waist and lifting me into the air. My feet flailed helpless as he back peddled. I jabbed my elbows behind me but he ducked his head out of reach.
"Let me go!" I hissed.
But he wouldn't and that was his mistake. He grunted as my heel slammed into his groin and dropped me. I landed wrong on the cement and my ankle twisted at an awkward. Pain shot up my leg and sent me to my knees.
The silver haired man was the only one left. He crossed his arms in front to defend himself as I sent my ability after him, surprised as he slid back still standing, the air before him shimmering as my power hit.
In the distance I heard sirens and I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally!
"Just walk away or you're next, you arrogant little prick." I hissed as I struggled to my feet but my ankle didn't want to support me.
"This isn't over." Said the silver haired man before he disappeared and left me alone with his six injured body guards.
I sat on the cement looking worn and dirty as police cars came roaring in through the exits with lights flashing. My hands went up into the air as three cops got out and pointed their guns at me.
"They attacked me!" I yelled to let them know I was the victim. The officers surveyed the five men out cold and the only conscious one still clutching his groin and moaning. How was I going to explain that?
"Are you okay miss?" The nearest officer said as he holstered his weapon and approached me cautiously. His badge read Aaron and his energy told me he was human.
"I'm ok but I think I sprained my ankle trying to get away."
"Did you knock all these men out?" He asked as he knelt and removed my boot to check my swollen ankle. His touch hurt as he stretched it and I cried out.
"Yep, definitely injured." Officer Aaron pressed the button on his radio and buzzed for an ambulance. He glanced at the downed men again and looked at me solemnly. "Did you do this?"
I just nodded my head but said nothing. He looked at me seriously. I could see it in his eyes that he didn't believe me. If he were Other, I could tell him, but as it were, he wasn't and neither were the other officers.
"What happened here?" He asked as he helped me to stand on my good foot. I leaned against him for support, feeling the effects of using so much energy weighing on me. My stomach growled and I felt weak.
"I was on my way to my motorcycle when these goons came out of nowhere and attacked me. One of them pulled a gun and shot at me, the gun is under that car." I said, pointing at the blue sedan that had a bullet hole in it.
"Did they say what they wanted?"
"There was another man with him, the leader I think. He had silver hair, a young face and was dressed in a really expensive suit. He just said he wanted me make me an offer of some sorts but I didn't stick around long enough to hear it." I said tiredly.
Officer Aaron glanced at me from the corner of his eye. "How did you take down your attackers?"
Several other police cars showed up with a couple of ambulances and began blocked off the remaining exits while the scene was processed. Officer Aaron helped me onto my good foot and put my arm around his shoulders before leading me to the ambulance. EMT's rushed out to check on the injured men and only one stayed behind to look at my ankle.
"I have martial arts training." Was all I said.
Officer Aaron stayed with me while the EMT, an older woman with flyaway grey hair and a weathered face rolled up my pant leg to check my ankle. I winced as she gently probed the swollen ligament with careful fingers before taking my foot and rotating it in a circle. A gasp whispered past my lips from the surprising pain and she smiled pityingly at me.
"I'm sorry hun, but it's definitely sprained. I can wrap it up and have you ice it for the next seventy two hours or we can go to the hospital and do an x-ray to make sure it isn't more than a minor sprain." She said.
"Just wrap it. If icing doesn't help then I'll make an appointment with my regular doctor." I said. It was already starting to feel better, Camille's blood maybe? She shrugged as if to say "your choice" and dug into her pack for a splint and an ace bandage. While the woman wrapped it, an unmarked police car pulled into the garage and two women got out. The EMT closed the doors to the ambulance and drove off. I gingerly tested my weight on my injured ankle and found I could stand if I didn't put all of my weight on it.
I watched the two women and knew instantly they weren't human. One woman looked barely over the age of eighteen but carefully applied make up gave her the appearance of being older. She was a vampire and her partner -the shorter one- looked older with long honey colored hair and amethyst eyes. She was definitely Other. They flashed their badges and I noticed they weren't pinned with the normal SFPD emblem, this was different and it made my insides go cold. Just who were these two?
Officer Aaron nodded to me and then to the two detectives before walking off to help process the rest of the scene.
"Hello, I'm Detective Stone and this is my partner, Detective Requeem. We need to ask you a few questions about what transpired here." Said the vampire woman. Her voice had a slight Russian accent and I wondered what part she originated from. Her energy was vastly different from Camille's, tainted almost with a strange aura. She surveyed me with dark brown eyes that were bottomless pits of nothingness and it made me shudder.
Detective Requeem approached and held out her hand. I took it hesitantly and my suspicions that she was Other was confirmed when her scent filled my nostrils and her energy rubbed against mine.
"What happened here?" She asked.
"I was on my way to my motorcycle and seven men came out of nowhere." I began but Detective Stone stopped me.
"I see only six men."
"The seventh man ran off as soon as he heard the sirens. They attacked me and I had to defend myself.." I sounded tired.
"So you took down six men?" Detective Stone asked disbelievingly.
I nodded. "I'm telekinetic."
"Impressive." But coming from her, it didn't sound like a complement.
Detective Requeen shot her partner a look and took over. "What did the seventh man look like."
"He had silver hair, a young face and we was wearing a suit that probably cost as much as one month's rent for my apartment. He was the leader, I'm sure of it." I paused while thinking of what else I should include. "He was definitely Other, worst energy I ever felt."
"I can feel it lingering in the air." The blond haired woman said and glanced at her partner who nodded.
At least I knew I wasn't crazy.
"The case is in our hands now, you won't be required to give SFPD a statement." Her partner said and handed me a business card. "We'll need you to come down to the office to have an image of the man pulled from your thoughts by one of our telepaths."
"Just what I need, someone traipsing through my thoughts."
"It's a relatively non-evasive process." She said reassuringly.
I lifted my eyebrows in surprise though whether or not I believed her remained to be seen.
"Am I done here?" I asked hopefully.
"For now," The vampire said. "I'll need your contact information if further questions arise. I'm sure you'll want an update."
I gave it to them and breathed a sigh of relief when they walked away but not before hearing something the vampire said to her partner.
"She smelled like someone I know."
Of course she would be able to smell Camille on me, I briefly wondered what their connection was before I decided I just didn't want to know.
My ankle pulsed when I put weight on it and I wished the EMT had given me crutches. If I had taken up the offer to go to the hospital. I would have gotten some, but it was too late now. Instead, I hobbled my way to my motorcycle and got on.
It was so time to go home.