Richard receives a phone call from a werewolf in London who needs his help. Can he, Anita and Jean Claude help? Anita Blake / Harry Potter Cross
I climbed into the drivers side of my jeep and sighed. Ever since my power had increased with the last joining of Jean Claude, Richard and I, zombie raising had gone from something I could do in my sleep to something that took all of my concentration. There was a learning curve that I still had to learn I guess.
Nathaniel sat in the seat beside me and rummaged through the glove compartment. I never was able to convince him that after raising a zombie, food was the last thing on my mind, but he insisted. He handed me a granola bar, he had been shopping healthy lately, and handed it over to me without saying a word. I looked at him, but he stared me down. Only Nathaniel could do that and not make me angry. He and I had an enlightening talk about how not feeding one hunger could lead to me going after other hungers. And I would take granola over the taste of blood if I had the choice. It made sense. I hated admitting that he was right.
I ate the granola bar and started to feel the energy inside myself slip out of me. It seemed to seep into the seat of the Jeep and right through the floor of the car to the gravel parking lot of the cemetery. And there it stayed. It didn't travel out to the graves as I used to be scared it would, it just dissipated into the earth. Extra lessons with Marianne, my wiccan therapist had taught me better grounding and centering techniques. Carbs and fibers defiantly helped. I was going to have to remember to thank her.
Nathaniel had come with in case things had gotten out of hand. The last bad experience I had, a zombie I had raised on a federal case, and things had gone from bad to worse. It was the first animation I had done since our triumvirate had strengthened, and I had used Micah, my Nimir-Raj's blood instead of a chicken. Not to mention the fact that the feds hadn't given me all the information I needed to know. If I had known that there was a pedophile scandal, and a boy's body in a car, I may have declined the case. As it were, it almost got Larry Kirkland killed, and myself shot. That is until the zombie blamed someone for his natural death and killed his associate. I wasn't there for that though. I was suffering a fractured skull and a brain bleed.
I didn't know if I would have refused to raise the zombie, I tried not to think about it. Even if I had all of the information, I don't know what my choice would have been. I would have wanted to know who had killed the boy, I don't think I would have known that the zombie was going to go ape shit. Everyone tried to convince me that I couldn't have known. I'm not sure. I just don't think about it now, I had a feeling if I did, I'd be in bad shape.
I started the car, Nathaniel taking the granola wrapper and throwing it in a little garbage bag he had gotten for the car. He left his hand on the center console and I patted it as we pulled out of the parking lot. It was two in the morning, and I was ready for sleep. Circus of the Damned was closer, but I wanted my own bed tonight. It was rare that I was able to make it home this early, and I wanted to get into bed and cuddle with Nathaniel and Micah before we fell asleep. Tomorrow was Saturday, I hadn't heard from Dolph or Zebrowski, I was ready to take a day and just do something normal for a change.
We drove in a comfortable silence, reaching my house sooner than I thought. I parked and we got out of the car, locking the doors. I opened the front door and Nathaniel held it for me as I carried my bags in. Micah was curled on the couch, the cordless phone next to him. He had taken his shirt off in the warm night air and opened an eye as we walked in. He stretched, a catlike movement that made my heart skip a beat and looked to the clock on the far wall. He jumped a little as though startled and he looked at the phone next to him.
"I can't believe I slept that long." He said in a groggy voice. Nathaniel took Micah's empty water glass from the side table and walked it into the kitchen.
"No one called from the coalition?" I asked. It was rare that a few nights went past that we didn't get a phone call about a new shapeshifter that was having control issues. Micah shook his head. There were no missed calls. I doubted he would have missed the phone ringing right next to his head, but he checked anyway.
"No one." He said.
I dropped my bag to the floor and shrugged out of the light jacket that I had put on. Bert, the manager at our office had not so gently informed me that clients could be a little put off by the scars on me. I told him I didn't care, but as of late, there had been additions. So I covered them until they faded to that nice pearly white.
Micah got up and started making his way across the living room. Watching his walk had always been mesmerizing to me, and watching him now had the same affect it always did. I held my breath and watched him, just as much the predator as he was. Nathaniel had emerged from the kitchen, snapping off the light as he went. It was his way of showing that the kitchen was clean for the night, if the light was off, everything was clean and put away. He seemed to go from June Cleaver to some sort of animalistic Martha Stewart in .6 seconds. I was being surrounded.
I gave a small laugh. It was rare that we got opportunities to be alone together. Even Damian my vampire servant and other third of my second triumvirate was gone for the night. I knew he was working tonight, and had been spending more time with Asher lately. Asher being a third of a menage-a-trois I had with Jean Claude, who was another part of a separate triumvirate I was part of. Complicated to others, but simple to me. And that was all that mattered.
I came back to the moment as Micah pressed through the invisible aura that was part of me. As he did, I felt Nathaniel do the same from behind, so that I was pressed between the two of them. I shivered with the raw power that seemed to flow through us as our bodies met. All coherent thought was slowly seeping away when the phone rang.
None of us moved. It rang again, and finally it was Nathaniel that walked to the couch and picked it up from where it had been discarded. When he turned back to me, it was with a strange look on his face.
"Who is it?" I whispered as he passed me the phone.
"Richard." He said. Micah backed a step and sat down on the couch. His eyes said nothing as he watched me put the phone to my ear.
Richard and I had a tentative relationship. I needed Richard, and he needed me. We were bonded with Jean Claude, the three of us forming a base of power that as of late was stronger than any of us ever thought possible. Richard had also agreed to be one of my daytime feeds for the ardeur that I had inherited from Jean Claude, the vampire third of out threesome. Every six hours or so I had to feed it, or the other people that I was tied to would suffer for it. He agreed and because of that, we had started to regain a friendship after a very tumultuous relationship. Who knew that friendship could in fact stem from sex? Only in my life.
I held the phone to my ear and asked, "Richard?"
There was a moment of silence and he replied, "Anita. I'm sorry I'm calling this late."
"Oh, I'm awake, you know me." I said. I knew for a fact that Richard probably had an idea of what I was up to, but he didn't say anything about it. See? He was trying.
"I know. But I had to talk with you. I have a feeling that this is more your alley than mine." He said.
My mind whirled into place like a Rolodex. Something was up. Richard knew better than to call at almost three in the morning for small talk. I waited.
"I just got off the phone with a man named Remus Lupin. He's from London, part of a werewolf pack there. He knew that I was associated with you, and had ties to Jean Claude." Richard said, pausing for a moment. He knew that I was taking mental notes in my head. Dolph would have had his handy little notebook out, but I was better with details I suppose.
"Ok. So you got a call from Remus Lu.."
"Ok, Lupin. And he knows about me and Jean Claude. So what did he want?" I asked.
"Well, I'm not sure exactly. He wants a meeting with us. Something about a Dark Lord. And rogue werewolves. A vampire uprising. I don't know what's going on there in London, but he didn't make it sound like a whole lot of fun. And I have a feeling he was using some 'British discretion' as Byron would put it." Richard said.
"So wait, he wants us to come all the way to London to meet with him?" I asked. Micah and Nathaniel heard the last of it, and both of their faces showed their surprise.
"I think so. He said to talk to you and Jean Claude first. He seemed to think that Jean Claude or some of his London recruits would know what was going on. And then we can make a decision." He finished.
I waited, thinking. I hated planes. There was no way I wanted to get on a plane and hurl myself over the ocean. It was a no as far as I was concerned. Micah could see the struggle I was having, and he put his hand in my free one.
Richard spoke up first. "I'm going to get ahold of Jean Claude now. Anita, this guy was scared. I think he was going against his Ulfric by telling me some of this stuff. Anita, they put themselves near kids when they transform. They bite them young and raise them as animals. I couldn't tell him that we weren't interested. I'm going to call Jean Claude. I'll get a hold of you in the morning. Get some rest." He said, and the line went dead.
After the last exchange of power, it seemed that Richard had gotten a bit of my anger. Ok, more than a bit. A big steaming pile of rage was more like it. He wasn't sure that it could be mine, but after we talked, it was clear that I had gained some of his animal instincts and he gained a helping of my emotions. I was sure that the children being attacked bothered him more because it bothered me a hell of a lot. If getting on a plane was something I could do to help them, I was going to do everything in my power to help. Even hurling myself over the big pond. Hell, I hated going over the Mississippi.
Micah and Nathaniel had stayed quiet, both of them waiting for me to say something. I told them the short spiel of the conversation as we made our way to the room we shared. Micah seemed to be more affected by the fact that someone could intentionally attack a child, and I knew from his experiences that he was close to being a child when he was attacked. Nathaniel got quiet, but I could tell that he was disturbed too. Hell, so was I. Who could do that? Knowingly attack a child and make it serve an evil purpose?
I said nothing more about the case, simply let them know that it was on the table. We stretched out into bed, no longer in the playful mood that we were before. Sure the ardeur would need feeding, but I had at least a few hours before then. I kept the Browning in the holster on the headboard and Micah rested the Firestar on the bedside table and pulled out the current book we were reading. Nathaniel nodded and Micah sat up a little so we could lay under him while he read. Tom Sawyer had never seemed so light hearted as it did that night. Eventually, Nathaniel and I were lulled to sleep by the sound of Micah's voice and visions of the great Mississippi and greater bodies of water.