Monday, December 10, 2012

Wicked & Wonderful: Chapter 15 - Decisions

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Maybe it was the blood talking, but about one quart of sangria later, Madeleine had come to a decision. She liked Milo, and she was not about to let her neurotic past screw things up with him. Come hell or high water, of which she was aware was rather possible in her world, she was going to pursue this matter until he decided otherwise.

Or so she was telling Abby over the phone.

“You’re drunk,” the witch giggled over the phone.

“I am not!” she protested, but then she hiccupped, let out a giggle of her own and sighed. “Okay, okay, maybe just a little. But you are, too!”


Her best friend’s giggles erupted into hysterical laughter. “I’d argue, but really, what’s the point?” She paused in an attempt to regain composure.

“Did you really give up Martin?”

Madeleine nodded, and then realized that Abby could not see her. “Yup. Gave him up.”

“For this Milo.”

She leaned her head against the comforting coolness of her kitchen counter. “Oh, Abby, if you met him, you would have done the same thing.”

“Well, it’s for the best, all around.”

The vampire harrumphed into the mouth piece.

“You are doing just fine without all the strings a live donor requires,” Abby countered in a tone that Madeleine knew was paired with an eye roll.


“I don’t care if he was just a blood ‘ho…”

“Blood doll,” the vampire interjected.

“Whatever.” Madeleine could almost see Abby waving off the technicality with one hand. “The point is that he has other clientele whose money is just as good as yours, and given enough time, he’ll be over the joy that is ‘Madeleine the Vampiress’ and all enamored with some other dark-haired maven.”

She thought about it, while drawing pictures with the rings of condensation left from her mugs. “You think so?”

“I know so.” And her confident tone eased the guilt just a little. “As for Milo…”

“Yeah?”

“Call him.”

Madeleine shook her head. “I don’ t know, Abbs.”

“Think of it this way. If he was going to kill you off for being a big, bad vampire, he would have done it during the day when you were helpless and vulnerable. You’re still alive, so to speak, he must not want you dead. And…hey!” she commanded as the vampire’s lips parted to play devil’s advocate. “Hey, and he said he would like to do it again sometime, didn’t he? Minus the inadvertent biting, I’m sure, unless he’s into that kind of thing and you just surprised him last night.”

She smiled. “Yeah, he did. Thanks, Abby. You’re the bestest bestie ever.”

The witch hiccupped and giggled again. “Well, duh. Go, call the man already, Maddie. I’m going to manhandle a psychic. Wonder if he’ll see it coming.” She started laughing hysterically and hung up the phone.

Madeleine lifted her head off the countertop and stared at her phone. Abby was right, and really, what was the worst he could do, aside from the obvious guillotine act? Tell her he did not want to see her again? And since she had resigned herself to that possibility already, would it hurt as badly? No, she guessed the worst thing he could do is tell her that he did want to see her again, because then she would have to come up a plan that did not involve a voluntary hermitage under a mountain of blankets.

“Fine, I’ll call him,” she told her phone before dialing Milo’s number.

It rang four times before he answered. “Hello?”

“I know it’s late,” she started, wanting to get it all out before he could object. Though she guessed he could always hang up on her. Too late to stop now. “And I know you’re probably heading to bed here soon. And I don’t know if you’ve forgiven me for last night yet or if you ever will, but I wanted to tell you something, Milo, okay?”

“I’m listening,” he replied with more than a little amusement in his tone.

“I like you. I mean, I really like you, Milo. Even if you are a mage. Wait, that sounded wrong. I mean, well, you know what I mean. And I’m thankful that you didn’t decide to cut off my head,” she could hear a muffled chuckle from his end of the line, but she pressed on. “But I can’t get you out of my head, and I want to see you again. And I promise not to bite you. Or I promise to try really hard not to bite you, but I like how you kiss me…” Oh, man, full out rambling now. “And I’d like to be kissed like that again.”

“Yeah?” He sounded surprised.

She cleared her throat, suddenly embarrassed. “Um, yeah, because, um, I haven’t been kissed like that in a long time, and I realize I’m slightly neurotic—oh, who am I kidding? I’m very neurotic—and I can promise you nothing beyond right now, because I just can’t. But if you’re at all interested in the ride—even though I’m pretty sure this is going to crash and burn like the frickin’ fourth of July—I’d love for you to come along with me. You know, if you’re at all interested.”

Milo laughed, a good-natured melody playing through the phone. “Crazy woman, I’m interested.”

It was her turn to be surprised. “Oh, yeah?”

“Yes, and if you’re not busy in about an hour, I’d love to take you out to eat. Any good vampire dive bars in little Sierra Vista?”

She chuckled. “No, no vampire dive bars, but I know of a place we can go.”

“So it’s a date.” He said it with a confidence that left her no room to debate. Oh, sure, she could have, but she kind of wanted to see the man, and if he wanted to call it a date, so be it.

“Yeah, it’s a date.”

*****

Madeleine had given him the name of the place and directions before they had gotten off the phone, and she called the restaurant to make reservations. Such short notice would have given anyone else pause, but she was ‘Madeleine the Vampiress’, as Abby had so nicely put it, and the staff at Dante’s Inferno knew her all too well.

She showered, did her makeup and hair, and slipped into a slinky red dress that did nice things for her cleavage and rear, um, assets. She took a snapshot with her camera and examined the results. No straps showed, her twins were not attempting to escape, and her make-up was well-applied and not reminiscent of a streetwalker. All good things.

It had been an unexpected discovery, and at first, all those years ago, she thought it was a fluke, but despite not having a reflection, vampires showed up on film, be it 35mm or digital cameras.

Odder still was the fact that not one vampire had been able to explain to her why. She was certain it had something to do with the space they were occupying. Vampire or not, they were physical, tangible manifestations, and what the film caught was what was in that slice of space. She had wondered how well the photos represented her and had been thankful when Abby had assured her that she did, in fact, look like the woman in the pictures.

Her doorbell rang—Milo had convinced her in a subsequent conversation to let him pick her up—and she hurried to the doorway. He was an hour early, though. Wonder what’s up…

But it was not her intended at the door.

“Would you like to buy some cookies?” a rather diminutive ugly child asked, all tangled blonde braids and glittering blue eyes, a grimy open box in her hands.

Madeleine wrinkled her nose at the subtle scent of sulfur. “Disguises do not become you, demon. And Girl Scouts hawk their wares neither at night or at this time of year.”

The childlike thing gave her a large toothy grin. “You always were a smart one, says our Master,” it hissed. “I bring you tidings.”

She shook her head. “Tidings are good things. You are a harbinger, not a herald, aren’t you?”

The demon had the audacity to look hurt. “I bring you tidings from our Master,” it repeated.

She waved it off. “I don’t want them.”

The braids shudders around its shoulders, like convulsing little snakes. “That is not an option.”

“Oh, but it is.”

The demon stamped its little foot on the stair. “No, you will listen to the words of our Master! You will listen and obey!”

“Oh, that’s it.” She knelt down and grabbed the creature by the front of its little uniform and jerked it hard. “You listen to me, you little piece of shit. I don’t know what you’re doing here, and quite frankly I don’t give a shit. You will take your little stinky ass back to whatever crack from hell that you crawled out of and leave me the hell alone.”

“But Master said...” Oh, gods, it looked like it was about to cry.

She shook it in an angry flurry of arms and legs, and oh, yes, such a demon, leathery wings. “I. Don’t. Care. If Patrick wants me to know so freakin’ badly, he can send me an email. Or a text. Doesn’t matter, because I’ll delete them both than listen to him carry on. I have plans tonight, and I don’t have time for anymore of his stupidity.”

That hurt shifted into anger. “Master is not stupid.”

Madeleine bared fangs. “Oh, yes, he is. And if you were smart, you would run away right now. I haven’t had a fresh kill in days.” Its eyes widened, anger to sudden fear. “And while I’m not partial to demon blood, it’s better than what I have in the fridge right now. And it doesn’t require a microwave, because it’s already piping hot.”

The demon little hands morphed into talons, and it took a swipe at her arm. The first one missed and sent it flailing backwards, but the second one had the added momentum forward and caught her, drawing four red lines across the white field of flesh. She dropped it in a fury of curse words and punted it across her front lawn. It scurried to its feet and headed for the gate.

“Go back to your Master, and tell him that I’m not interested,” she yelled after it.

“This isn’t over!” it screeched as the ground opened up before its feet. “Your magic man cannot save you!” It hissed at her with its forked tongue extended and hopped into the hole. The ground closed seamlessly with a puff of smoke.

“Great,” she muttered. “I freakin’ smell like sulfur now.”

Not to mention the blood dripping down her arm. She closed her eyes, shook her head and closed the door. She padded back to her bedroom, pulled the dress off and tossed it into the trash. Back into the shower, and as she washed her hair, she thought about the demon. It had not been a coincidence that the filthy, little thing had shown up on her doorstep on a night she had a date with the man she had been warned to leave alone. Patrick was continuing to keep tabs on her again, but how? She had not left the house, and had only spoken to Abby and Milo. Unless…

She stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around her, as she peered around the bathroom. Kind of stupid, considering the vampire was not about to use mundane, human method to determine what she was doing. She twisted another towel around her hair as she contemplated her next move.

He had to be spying on her through other means, and unless he was employing humans or supers, she was not going to be able to detect anything. That, or blood magick, because she could smell that. But as she had not already, Madeleine discounted that option. Hm.

What she needed was a magick-user.

The doorbell rang, and the light bulb went off in her head.

She flew to the doorway in just her two towels, and then she opened the door.


Continue: 16

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