August 27, 2010

Artwork by Ana M Berry

It was early but it was hot, as August in the Southern United States tends to be. Anna had her hair tied back and the top down on her 1968 Pontiac GTO. Radio didn't travel as far as she was going so she'd turned it off and listened instead to the sound of the wind rushing by.

This particular trip had started after dinner the night before in Joliet, Illinois. She had driven through the night and watched the sun come up; she hadn't expected it to bring so much heat so early in the day. She watched the heat play on the hood of her car and on the pavement ahead of her. From time to time she would loose her vision and watch the heat in undulating waves of light rise into the air and dissipate.

She was on her way to the Sapphire Club, an immortal haven in Savannah, Georgia. She was on the trail of an immortal called Sugar. Fenton Sugar. According to Mr. Joefre, the head of the safe house in Joliet, Sugar, as he was called by most, was a close friend of quite a number of Elite, which could mean he knew her father. 'Friends with an Elite' was an odd concept to her. As Jonas had told it the Elite were more solitary than most, due in part to their position. Before Jonas had found her again, she'd never thought of him as a Lord, as a harbinger of death, as someone she should fear. But her eyes were open now, and the stories he'd told her of the heartless rule of the Elite under the directive of Argus would never be the same in her thoughts again.

She arrived in Savannah, shortly after noon. She checked into a hotel, went for a swim and then went shopping. She picked up a golden yellow dress with brown trim and shoes to match.

Information had been more forthcoming from those who were unaware of her connection to an Elite and so, as she had become accustomed to doing as of late, she wore her locket beneath her dress and close to her heart.

The Sapphire club was more crowded than she had expected a bar to be on a Wednesday night and rich with immortals, many of them, with exposed eyes and teeth. Some were even directly feeding off of humans.

"That is so far out!" An extremely intoxicated woman exclaimed as she poked her finger at the fake fangs of a man wearing a Doors T-shirt. "I love vampires," she cooed. "Bite me!"

Vampires. Anna cringed. She was in a fucking vampire bar. She clenched her teeth and took a deep breath in, hoping that her visit would be worth the atrocity of a vampire bar.

She made her way to the bar and ordered a white wine. "I wonder if you might be able to help me," she said to the bartender, "I'm looking for someone."

"Aren't we all?" he smiled, ogling her.

"He goes by the name Sugar? I was told he might be here."

"You're looking for Sugar?" a man sitting next to her scoffed. "What the hell for?"
"My reasons are my own," Anna turned. "Do you know him?"

"Pansy-assed little prick who seems to be under the mistaken impression that being an Elite is some sort of elected position? Yeah I know him. My name's Wade," the man licked his lips and leered. He was an immortal. His hair was blond, and his eyes shone a slivery blue. He wore tight blue jeans and a blue shirt, undone halfway down his chest. "I don't believe you and I have met yet," he said. "Why is that?"

"I'm curious," Anna said, terse. "Does your disdain for Sugar stem from jealousy, or from fear?"

"It's hard to be jealous of a court jester." Wade laughed. "Whatever it is you think that toad can do for you, I promise you I can it better, longer, harder... and to your utmost satisfaction."

"So it's jealousy then," Anna concluded.

"This is not going to end well," said an immortal woman in a blue dress sitting on the other side of her. Her hair was wild and black and her eyes were a beautiful shimmering deep chocolate brown.

"Cool it Wade," The bartender said. "Let this lady do her job. Sugar probably paid top dollar for her," he smiled at his insinuation. "When he's here he spends most of his time at Lady Della's booth." he offered, motioning toward a booth at the back of the room.

Anna picked up her drink and started for the booth.

A strong hand caught her by the arm. It was Wade. "Where do you think you're going?"

"You're not actually planning on going back to Lady Della's booth are you?" The woman in the blue dress asked. "Honey, just because she lets Sugar hang out with her, doesn't mean that hospitality extends to you. Don't you know who she is? She's one of the Elite."

"Yes, I gathered that by the designation of Lady. But I can assure all three of you that there are far more terrifying things than the Elite," she said.

The woman in the blue dress scoffed. "Like what?"

Anna met her eyes then the bartender's then Wade's. "Like, someone who is unafraid of them." She glanced down at Wade's hand on her arm. He let her go. She smirked and walked away.

"Bullshit!" Wade said a second later and lunged toward her.

Anna turned, set her drink on the end of the bar, and picked up a bowl full of peanuts. She continued her turn and slammed the bottom of the bowl into Wade's snarling mouth as hard as she could sending a spray of peanuts and blood in all directions as Wade's head popped backwards. He stumbled. Anna grabbed his shirt and directed him to a barstool.

Wade reached to his mouth and pulled out his misplaced eyetooth. "Fuck!" he screamed. "You just knocked out my fucking fang!"

"Yes. Now, if you'll excuse me." Anna handed him the bowl, turned and retrieved her drink from the end of the bar. All eyes were on her now, she knew, but at least she had established that she was not someone to fuck with. She despised how much it thrilled her, how exhilarating it was.

"You handled yourself well," Lady Della said as she approached.

Lady Della had curly red hair and soft brown skin. She wore a long rusty gown that complimented the color of her hair. On her left hand she wore the unmistakable blue stoned sapphire ring etched with a peacock feather that marked the Elite.

"Thank you My Lady," Anna said.

"Who are you?" Lady Della asked.

"My name is Anna..." Anna paused, considering her last name then opted not to give it. "I was told I could find a man by the name of Fenton Sugar here."

"Really?" Lady Della smiled. "And who told you that?"

Anna smiled. "May I?" she motioned to sit.

Lady Della eyed her, amused. "Please," she said. "I'm afraid Sugar isn't here. But I'd be happy to deliver a message for you the next time I see him."

"I don't think so," Anna smiled.

"I see," said Lady Della. "Well Anna," she laughed. "While I am very amused by you, I'm afraid you're going to have to give me a little more reason for me not to kill you."

Anna sighed. "Understood," she said as she pulled her locket out from her dress.

"I see," Lady Della's smile faded as she leaned back in her seat. "I thought there were two of you," she said.

Anna nodded once.

"It was tragic what happened to Nespa. I hope you and your sister have given poor Jonas some solace from that heartache."

Poor Jonas? Nespa? Anna had no idea what she was talking about. She'd never even heard the name Nespa.

"I don't suppose you'd like to tell me why you're looking for Sugar." Lady Della casually changed the subject.

"I'm looking for someone," Anna said. "Rumor has it that Sugar knows, well, pretty much everyone."

"Does he know you?" Lady Della smiled broadly.

"My Lady?" A meek voice called. It was Wade. He was holding his elongated eyetooth in his hand. "My Lady, I demand justice."

"It looks like you got it," she said.

Wade's eyes darted toward Anna, angry. Then he caught sight of the locket around her neck. He turned and hurried away.

Anna slipped the locket back into her dress. "So much for keeping a low profile."

Anna stayed and listened to Lady Della tell her stories late into the evening. Until it was quite clear that Fenton Sugar would not be returning to the Sapphire Club that might.

"I've enjoyed our time together," Lady Della said.

"It was lovely meeting you," Anna affirmed as she left.

Anna left the Sapphire Club, fully intending to return the following night. It was nearly four o'clock in the morning. Her hotel was ten blocks away. Six blocks to go she became acutely aware that something was off. She stopped, loosing her senses to observe the area. She turned in a full circle, nothing.

She continued on.

"Anna," came a voice from nowhere, and everywhere. It was a voice she knew and hadn't heard in years.

"Meline?" she spoke to the ether.

Silence.

She focused, trying to connect with her sister, to locate her. Nothing. A horrifying thought invaded her mind of a time she thought she was dying and had called out to her sister. She started walking again, focusing as hard as she could on one thing. Meline.

"Anna," came the voice again.

"Meline," Anna spoke again, but still there was nothing.

"Anna," the voice spoke. This time it was not just a voice in her thoughts.

Anna turned.

The figure of her sister stood before her, as solid and as real as the sidewalk, the buildings, the trees, but she felt as empty as a picture.

Anna reached her hand to touch the figure in front of her. As if she were a reflection, the figure put her own hand out in response. It was only when their hands touched and their fingers entwined with one another that Anna was sure she was not looking at an illusion.

"Meli, what has happened to you?" Anna asked.

Meline burst into tears and clutched Anna in her arms.

"We can't stay here," Anna said. She took hold of Meline's hand and they hurried back to Anna's hotel room.

"Talk," Anna said once they were both securely inside.

"I didn't know you ran with vampires too," Meline said.

"I don't," Anna retorted. "And since when do we refer to immortals as vampires?"

"Get with the times, Anna. We've been calling ourselves vampires for years now."

"No we haven't," Anna said, terse. "Obviously you're still running with a questionable crowd. I would appreciate it if you would please get to the point Mel."

"I'm pregnant."

"No you're not," Anna countered. "We don't get pregnant."

Meline shrugged. "Anna, I'm afraid. Galen, the man I'm with, he doesn't know the truth about what we are. He thinks we were rogue's who surrendered ourselves to Jonas."

"You're with an immortal now?"

"He's one of the Elite," Meline sighed. "I didn't mean to fall in love with him. And he really didn't mean to fall in love with me. It just sort of... happened."

"How nice for you."

"Anna, I need your help."

"Why doesn't your Elite lover help you?"

"Haven't you been listening to me? Anna, he wouldn't understand. You're my sister and even you don't understand it. Don't you see? Don't you feel it? How different I feel to you? I can feel your mind searching for mine like we used to when we were young. I'm right here Anna, I'm right here and you... you can't find me. That was my first clue that something was wrong. Not wrong," she corrected, her hand on her stomach. "Different. I thought about going to see a doctor, a human - mortal doctor but... I didn't know if they'd be able to tell I wasn't..."

"Just a moment," Anna said. She crossed to the phone and began dialing.

"Shh." Meline said, crossing quickly over to the phone and pressing down the plunger. "Do you smell that?" she whispered.

"Meline," Anna said, perturbed.

Meline shook her head. "It's vampire blood."

Anna smelled the air. Nothing. "Meli,"

"Sorry. Immortal blood," Meline corrected. "Anna my senses are crazy good right now and I'm telling you something is wrong."

Anna hung up the phone and was considering her options, which were decidedly slim, when the faint sound of a key being inserted into a lock caught her senses.

Anna shoved Meline toward the bed, retrieved her .25 caliber Beretta from the holster on her thigh and pointed it toward the door.

The door swung wide to an empty hallway.

Anna caught the odor of the immortal blood then. Wade. "This is a bad decision Wade," Anna said.

The window shattered behind her. Meline gasped. Anna didn't fall for it. She paced quickly toward the hallway. As soon as she caught the first glimpse of Wade she fired. Out in the hallway she fired again, and again, and again. Each shot hitting center mass. At point blank range she raised her hand and slammed the butt of the gun into Wade's face. She grabbed him by the hair as he coughed and sputtered and dragged him into the room.

She kicked the door shut behind her, and shoved Wade into the room. He fell to the floor coughing and spitting up blood.

A brunette she didn't recognize had a hold of Meline from behind. Meline was kicking and struggling, but was obviously still completely inept when it came to fighting. He didn't appear to pose an immediate threat to her and so Anna turned her attention back to Wade.

"You bitch!" Wade spat.

"This doesn't have to be a fatal mistake you've made Wade. But I think the powers that be would agree that I would be more than justified in killing both you and your friend.

Meline gasped. "Get off!" she yelled.

A second later the brunette who had a hold of her fell to the ground in a fit of convulsions. Meline moved away from him, her hand clutched to her neck, bleeding. The smell of her blood was sickly sweet, but with a hint of something... different, almost floral.

Anna emptied the rest of her gun into Wade. He stopped moving and fell to the ground unconscious, near death, dead or dying. It was difficult to say. With time she knew he would recover.

She rounded the bed to Meline and the two of them watched in shock as the brunette convulsed on the floor before them. "What happened?" Anna asked.

"I don't know," Meline said. "He bit me, and then..."

Anna examined Meline's wounds. They were nearly healed. "It's time to go," she said. She grabbed her keys and the brunette by the arms. "Grab his legs," she instructed Meline.

They carried the brunette onto the elevator then Anna gave Meline her keys. "I'm the Yellow GTO," she said. "Put him in the trunk and wait for me two blocks west of here. Got it?"

Meline nodded. "What are you going to do?"

Anna hesitated. "I'm going to tell the front desk that my keys were stolen."

Meline looked upset. She nodded then pushed the button on the elevator.

Anna returned briefly to the room and disabled the smoke detector. "I really didn't want things to end this way," she said as she shook her head and lit a match. She dropped the match on Wade's chest. He immediately burst into flames.

She ditched her gun in the toilet and washed the powder from her hands then left. She waited for the police to arrive before she stumbled into the lobby with the story of her stolen room key. Then quietly disappeared after mentioning a jealous ex to the desk clerk once the fire was discovered.

The flames and smoke were clearly visible two blocks away where she met up with Meline, who had dumped the brunette into the back seat where he appeared to be resting comfortably.

"I see you haven't changed much," Meline said, her brow tense as she eyed the smoke and flames.

"Neither have you," Anna motioned to the brunette with a nod. "Scoot over, I'm driving."

"Where are we going?" Meline asked.

Anna sighed, knowing that she had probably completely blown her chance to find Fenton Sugar. "To see a doctor."
 

 

Chapter 35 - Misdirection

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart