I was just getting around when a knock sounded at the door of my chambers. I pulled on a pair of jeans slung over a chair, and called permission for entrance while I shrugged on a black t-shirt. Barry walked in followed by a tiny woman, five foot nothing with short jet black hair, spiked and streaked with blood red accents. She wore knee high lace-up high-heeled boots, a red plaid pleated skirt, and a black velvet tank top, complemented by silver bangles that rose up her arms.
Finally, another ally. “Winifred. I am so glad to see you. Barry, thank you so much for bringing her, and if you would return shortly to escort her back, it would be much appreciated.” He nodded his agreement and walked silently out of the room. Win crossed the room and folded herself into my arms. I had missed her.
“How long has it been?” I whispered against her head that fit snugly into my line of my collarbone.
“Too long Er,” she said, shortening my name. “May 22, 1983, The Ramones. We had been winding our way through the streets of Detroit, dining on the locals and dancing through the night. You’d saved me, but we parted and I headed off to seek my fame and fortune.”
The night bloomed in my memory. I smelled beer and cigarettes, remembered the music ear shatteringly loud. I’d found her the year before in an alley, abandoned and scared. She had no idea what she was or how to deal with it. I’d taken care of her as long as I could, but she wasn’t one to stay in one place for long. I wondered if she had ever figured out who turned her, but we didn’t have much time.
I released her and she crossed the room to sit on the edge of the trunk that sat at the foot of the king-sized bed. “So what’s up? What do you need? Bubba, interesting choice of messenger by the way, made it sound like you were in some kind of trouble, though he didn’t elaborate.” She leaned back against the foot board and crossed her ankles as if she didn’t have a care in the world.
“I am here against my will and I need people I can trust at my side when I attempt, for lack of a better word, a coup against Queen Freyda.” She sat up straighter, looking directly at me, a smirk playing at the corners of her lips.
“Is that so? And you want me here for my fierce ass-kicking ability.”
I nodded my assent and continued. “Yes. Despite your fashion sense, you look harmless enough. No one would suspect you, but first I need to ask you to take a trip for me. Have you ever been to Louisiana?”
“New Orleans. Oh please tell me I get to go back there. So many frat boys willing to walk on the wild side.” Her eyelids fluttered a bit and she sighed sweetly.
“No, unfortunately not, but if we survive this I promise I will send you there for as long as you want. Hell, I’ll buy you a house in the Quarter if you want. I need you to go to a city by the name of Shreveport. My child Pam runs my bar, Fangtasia, in my absence. I want you to touch base with her and see how she fares. She’ll have word of another one of my children, Karin. I need to know about anything that has been happening there. Stay as long as you want, but you’ll need to be back here by Halloween. I promise there will be bloodshed and a chance for you to stretch your skills, as it were.” Though she was tiny, Win had turned out to be one of the most vicious fighters I’d seen in my very long life.
“Oh goodie!” She clapped her hands, jumping up and half-dancing her way back to me. I had to laugh at her joy. There were few who enjoyed a good fight like she did. “Promise me Eric.”
“I promise Win, you will have the battle the sings in your blood. I only ask that you leave the Queen for me, but if you’re very good I’ll let you have the King of Nevada. How’s that sound?” I held my hand out for her to shake and she jumped into my arms instead. I forgot sometimes that she was just a child really, only nineteen when she was changed, not that that had ever stopped her from anything she wanted.
“Oh thank you thank you thank you! You give me the best presents. I promise I’ll go to your little bar and check things out. If there’s any news, I’ll bring it back for you.” She slid out of my grasp and danced around the room, spinning like a little girl in a princess dress.
“Please be careful Winnie.” She winced at the name, but it slipped out so easily when she was in the throes of her enthusiasm. “I’m sorry, I know you hate that name, but this is serious. If you are caught it’ll blow the whole plan and I’ll be stuck in Oklahoma for the next two centuries.” I shuddered at the thought. “And I don’t want to lose you. You are precious to me you precocious little twit.”
She crossed her heart and gave me a look of utter sincerity. “I promise Eric.” Another knock sounded and Barry returned to ensure that Win got safely back to her vehicle and wherever she was staying.
“I’ll see you in a few weeks. It’ll be too dangerous for us to meet again, but when the time comes Barry will fill you on all the details. Now go, I’ll see you soon enough.” She kissed my cheek and turned from me, gathering her composure and walking out of the room with Barry by her side.
I heard the door click closed behind them and I wandered over, bending down and reaching for the rug that covered the floor, pulling back a corner. I pushed on the corner of a length of wood, revealing the stash of weapons I’d hidden there. It had been difficult, but I had been gathering them from the random corners of the compound. There were enough swords and such placed in various places that no one would notice they were missing until they were too late. I took out my favorite, a beautiful katana with a well-worn dark wood handle. I fondled the blade with fondness. It kindled the vengeance waiting in the wings.
I whispered to the curved steel before replacing it, “Not much longer my love and blood will drip from your edge.” I wanted to slice through the air with the viciousness that echoed in my bones, but I didn’t dare. Freyda might enter the room at any time. She had changed her tune with me, trying to ply me with gifts in an attempt to sway my loyalty. I was playing along, but she really was a fool. It might have worked on your average vampire, but I was anything but average.
I needed to make an appearance downstairs and gathered my wits about me; it would be another night of ingratiating annoyances. I closed the door as I exited and wandered through the hallways down to the area that was used as Freyda’s sitting room. It was where she gathered nightly, allowing those vampires loyal enough to warrant a room in the compound to seek her presence. I approached the room and heard her voice echoing with derision to the crowd seated around her.
I walked into the room and she paused in her conversation. “Eric, darling, please come to me. I have a present for you this evening. You have been such a good consort lately that I thought I would reward you. Jerry?” Her lackey slunk to her side, a silver tray in hand that had a small black box sitting in the center of it. She grabbed the box, placing it in her palm, and holding out her hand to me.
I knelt in front of her. She gave me permission to rise, and beckoned me forward. I took the box and opened it slowly. There were two keys on a ring nestled in the tissue paper. I look at her questioningly.
“Your corvette, which is not so much a present as a reward, but the other key will start the Harley Davidson parked next to it in the underground garage. I know how much you like to drive and I thought this would be an apt gift to you.”
I glanced at her, looking for the catch. She just smiled, but there was no kindness there. It was calculating. She was waiting for my response to see if I would be dutifully grateful.
I could at least appear to give her what she wanted. “Thank you my Queen. This is incredibly kind. I do enjoy the feel of the road beneath me.”
“Then you will be even more appreciative when I give the evening off. Go, take your new bike for a spin. I will expect you back before sunrise to await further orders, but for now, take this freedom. You have earned it.”
I was shocked, but I tried not to show it. Bowing again, she held her hand out to me. I kissed it and thanked her again. I may not like her, but I knew what she wanted.
“You are excused. Go enjoy your new toy and remember this kindness.” She dismissed me and went back to her entertaining.
I headed right for the garage, anticipating the rumble as the landscape sped past. I saw the red of my corvette and was tempted to drive her first, but the shine of the Harley caught my eye. It was red like the ‘Vette, and I approached her. It was one of the newest models and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I slung my long leg over the seat and started up the engine. The bike roared to life beneath me and I backed her up slowly. I pulled out and headed for the long straight strip of highway.
The bitter wind of the night surrounded me and I headed west. It took all of my willpower not to head straight to Sookie, forcing her to acknowledge me. I wouldn’t do it, she didn’t want me and I would not beg. It was beneath me. Yes I insured her safety, but I refused to degrade myself. One day she would remember what we had, but until then I would enjoy the feel of the power of the machine and the freedom I had for at least a few hours. I was almost to Texas before I turned back. The road screamed my name and I didn’t want to turn around, but I needed to get back or who knows when I’d get to ride again. The stars streaked like comets in the sky above and I looked forward to the night when I wasn’t at the beck and call of anyone. It wouldn’t be much longer now.