Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wicked & Wonderful: Chapter 7 - Tamus

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“You going to eat that?” Milo asked. “Or are you just going to push the poor cherry pie into submission?”

“What?” Madeleine looked down at the piece of pie she had unconsciously disassembled into bites small enough for the entire fairy mound hidden in the Saguaro National Park. “Oh, that…” She laid the fork down and turned away with a shy smile. “Yeah, I just, well, I kind of just got lost in our conversation, I guess.”

He chuckled, and he pushed his own empty plate away. “It’s good to know I’m still a good storyteller.” He glanced at his wrist. “It’s really late. Do I need to let you go?”

She shook her head. “No, I am a night owl. I’m good for at least another three hours.” Milo stifled a yawn. “Though maybe I should let you go?”

It was his turn to look away. “I apologize. It’s been a really long day, and work was hell. I probably should go, but can I call you later?”

“Yeah, I would like that. Just…” Oh, how to explain? “don’t call between five in the morning and seven at night. I’m, um, usually asleep then, or working and I can’t really field calls. Night’s always better for me, anyway.” She threw her hands up in the air. “Like I said, night owl.” She gave him her biggest, most dazzling smile and another little push, a little vampire charisma.

Maybe she had been wrong about him. Maybe it really was too late and all his shielding was down out of sheer exhaustion. But this time he did not act as if he had felt it. His eyes glazed just a tiny bit, as to be expected with her charisma, but nothing else happened. “You look tired. Let me get this.”

He rubbed his eyes with one hand. “No, no, my treat. A girl should not have to buy her own pie.” He waved down their waitress who had been unnervingly attentive tonight and got the check. “Definitely my treat.” He stood up and grabbed his trench coat. “Well, until we meet again?” Milo reached out toward her with one hand.

Madeleine slid her hand into his and her breath caught, sudden and tight, in her throat. She looked down at their entangled palms, and another burst of surprise washed over her. There was magic afoot; she could feel it run from his skin to hers. Part of her wanted to be angry, but when she saw the same surprise on his face, the anger died. He had felt it, too.

She wanted to kiss him, to rip him from his clothing and have her way with him right there, and the suddenness of that want, the need of him without the secondary need to sate her hunger, left her stunned and more than a little confused. She needed to be anywhere but here right now. She needed to escape.

“Good night, Milo,” she whispered, slowly pulling her hand from his grasp.

He swallowed, hard, and nodded. “Good night, Madeleine.”

She grabbed her purse and walked past him, wings unfurling once she was outside. Into the night skies she leapt and stole away to her little house.

Madeleine loved flying. While typified Hollywood vampire lore demanded a bat form or at least leathery bat wings, she found comfort in the dark feathers. It made her feel special, since not all vampires could fly like she did, only her line and a handful of others passed on this dark gift. She loved the way the air whipped the hair from her face, pressed her purse tight against the line of her body (though she had long learned to make sure her purse was zipped closed, the contents safely secured within…nothing like raining cosmetics on the poor drunk gangsta wannabes). She loved the power in her shoulders with every pulsating flap.

But most of all, she loved the Zen of it. Her body knew the way home, and way up here, sliding through the slip streams, she could clear her thoughts and gain a newer, cleaner perspective she did not have when her feet touched the ground.

She liked Milo. Yes, the sheer chemistry was a bit unnerving, but she had to admit that it excited her more than it scared her. The crazy little voices in her head whispered furiously about the possibilities, the probability of it all going down the shitter again, how she should just forget about it, save them both the pain of it, but she pushed them aside.

She wanted to hear from him again and hoped that he really did intend to call her. Would he have asked if he had planned not to? She was not sure. The modern human male tended, at his age, to lay out an elaborate game, though if it was a conscious thought or hardwired necessity, she was not certain.

Milo, despite his age, and perhaps the added burden of his magic, seemed to not be like the others, though that might just be wistful thinking on her part. But she was not thinking forever with him, which half-surprised her (and caused a sudden, unnecessary dip in altitude), but she was thinking of him in a way that could beget such follow on thoughts.

That made her smile, and she was still smiling once her shoes touched down in her backyard.

“Madeleine,” a deep voice thrummed from the darkness.

She froze, her wings a tight feathered shield around her. “You should not be here.”

“Oh, but I am, mon ami.”

She turned toward the familiar voice, and while in her head, she whispered her denial – not there, not there, not there--from out of ivy-covered gazebo in the far corner of her yard rose a giant, black shadow. Two massive horns broke across the starlit sky above what she knew would be a bull face and human upper body that would morph in a forest of hair and giant bull hind quarters and cloven feet. He even had a tail somewhere back there.

“Tamus.”

The minotaur snorted and pawed at the ground. “It is nice to be remembered.”

“It’s hard to forget, considering who employs you. One hundred years around you leaves quite the impression.” Coy was good, disinterest was better. She folded her wings back and faced him with one hand on her hip. “How is your master these days?”

Our master fares well, mon cher, but I fear he misses you too much for his own good.”

Madeleine grimaced. No sense in arguing the ‘our’. While minotaur’s tended not to care about the subtleties of pronouns, Tamus, smarter than most of his kin, knew exactly what swapping said pronouns would do, if she let it. And if there was one thing he liked, it was watching her squirm. She was not about to give him the satisfaction.

As for the rest, well… “Lies do no become you, Tamus. Patrick does not miss me. If anything, if we must play that he misses anything to do with me, he misses my misery beneath his feet.”

He waved her off with one large hand. “Who are we to know the intent of our master? We are but minions, sworn to fealty, obedience.”

She shook her head. “Maybe you, perhaps, but me no longer. I gave that up a quarter of a century ago, and severed my bond with your master in the process. I want nothing to do with you, with Patrick, with that world and that life. I have my own now. Why must we continue to repeat this conversation every time he ‘misses’ me?”

Tamus snorted. “You cannot tell me you do not miss the court, Madeleine. There are ways to exist there, to be free there,” it was her turn to snort in derision, but he chose to ignore it, “where our master can see you and mayhap be less inclined to interfere.”

“He is not my master, you big ignorant oaf!” She stomped her foot on the ground. “And I will not be bullied at his whim! He does not want me! He has not wanted me for the past twenty-five years! Nor the last twenty-five when I held court with him! He cannot interrupt my life whenever he feels I have gotten too much of one on my own! I will not allow it! I will not stand for it! And I will no longer stand for you!”

The minotaur’s eyes glowed red. “I would not say such thing, if I were you, little vampire.” He stepped closer, and she bit back the urge to scream.

He was a massive creature, but his anger inflated his size until he towered over her like a small building. She was strong and fast for a supernatural creature, even harder to kill than most in the middle of the night, but Tamus was stronger, faster, and she was pretty sure he could break her in two over his knee with little effort.

“You owe your life to our master!” he roared in a wave of hot breath and spittle. “He picked you up from the nothingness your Maker left for you and gave you a home! A life! He showered you with gifts and freedoms! And you dared to demand more! Who gave you the right? Anyone would be grateful for what our Master had bestowed on you, yet here you remain, out of his graces, though he looks out for you still, a spoiled brat of a vampire pretending she is somehow still human.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but he grabbed her by the jaw with one hand and lifted her off the ground and closer to his face. “You are vampire. Not human. Never human again. You do not deserve that life, that idle happiness, and it is unfair that you pretend so. This new one, this mage, how long until you grow weary of his humanity, of his foibles, flaws? How long before he too burns atop some pyre because you feel you have been wronged again?”

She pushed against his grasp with her hands, and he let go. Her wings caught the air and saved her a messy descent, leaving her on her feet beneath the massive beast. “There were circumstances…”

Tamus shook his head. “There always are with you. Leave the mage be, and I will do my best to keep my master at bay. Continue on this path, and I will take the necessary steps to stave your course. And you know me well enough to know how far I’ll go.”

Madeleine hung her head and her wings in defeat. “But I like him, Tamus. I really like him. It’s different this time.”
He shrank down until he was just a head taller than she was. “I cannot let you do this.”
A sudden burst of anger ate the fear away inside her. How dare he tell her what to do? How dare he threaten her? She was Madeleine du Court, by the gods, not some child. “You cannot stop me,” she whispered in the space between them.

He opened his mouth, and she raised a hand to stop him, “There are ways, Tamus, ways to keep you in the dark, to keep Patrick in a fog. The two of you cannot decide amongst yourselves with whom I can and cannot spend my time. If he has an issue with that, Patrick can come to me himself and beg me to return to him, something we both know he will never do.

“So if you are done being all nasty and scary, if your message from Patrick is thoroughly delivered, then I bid you adieu. The sun is coming, and I have better places to be than arguing with you in my backyard.”

The minotaur looked surprised. “Bold, very bold, and I will take my leave of you now, but I cannot be held responsible for what may happen next, should you continue with this impending disaster.”

“Then so be it.” She turned on her heels and walked as calmly as she could manage to her back door without a backward glance at Tamus. The air shook with magick, and she felt a portal open behind her. And in an instant, it was over. He was gone. She slammed the backdoor shut and leaned against it, sinking to the floor on the verge of tears.

She buried her face in her hands. What had she done? Would Tamus tell Patrick everything that had transpired? Would he come out here to stop her? Or had she signed her own death warrant, finally crossing that line with him? Her cell phone rang amidst the torrent of thought, and she quickly snagged it from her purse. The screen flashed.

It was Milo.

Continue: 08

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