Guiding Jezz carefully toward the warehouse, Evey made sure that no one, anywhere, could see them. She stretched the limits of her senses, making sure that there was nothing otherworldly around as well. All was quiet except for the usual sounds of an empty street until they reached the door of the warehouse. Julian opened it before Evey could knock. He looked at her with his eyes narrowed.
"No," he said sharply. "I can't watch after her."
"Please," Evey said, releasing Jezz's hand and cupping hers together in a plea. "Jezz is in danger, you and I both know it, and I need her safe. If I we can convince you she's not a burden and she'll do exactly as you say to keep her safe, will you? Please let me convince you?"
As she said this she kind of pushed her way in, bringing Jezz along. Even if she couldn't convince Ju, she didn't want anyone seeing them hanging outside his door.
"How do you expect me to guard her?" he asked, growing more irritated as he was pushed aside. "She doesn't know anything about what's going on. I can only hide so many secrets."
"Just keep her here. If anyone comes to see you, you'll know, so have her hide in a back room. Somewhere that no one will be able to detect her. And if they do, well, lie or something. Say she's your assistant or something."
Jezz was nervous.
"It's okay, Evey. I could leave town..."
"It would take too long. You could be dead by then."
Jezz paled, her freckles standing out all the more.
"Please, Ju. If Cheron had the guts to burn my office down, that means he's after me and those I care about. Except for Jezz, we can all protect ourselves. Please, I need your help."
His face softened for a moment, but then Julian's brows furrowed.
"What about when I need to feed? What then? I scarcely leave my home as is, but I certainly wouldn't be able to take her along on a hunt!"
"I can cook," Jezz offered helpfully. Her expression was confused. Probably because of the mention of "hunt." Evey couldn't help but smile at that.
"I thought you had a supply of people. Like KC?"
"People?" Jezz asked quietly, looking even more nervous. Julian glanced towards Jezz, lips turned in a thin frown.
"That's for emergencies. Cold blood is far less satisfying than fresh."
Jezz gaped. Evey sighed. Well, if this was Ju's way of trying to get Jezz to take the initiative and say no, then he was about to be very surprised. Evey looked at Jezz with a rueful smile.
"Jezz, this is Julian Kent. Ju, this is Jezz MacAllister. Jezz, Ju is a vampire. Commonly called by those of us who know of their existence, a cruentus. I've known about vampires my entire life. I have a sixth sense that allows me to sense them, I can block my thoughts from them, and I have telekinesis. I still haven't figured out what I am yet, but I'm not a vampire. Will is a Hunter. My friend Cei is another vampire she works with Ju and a clairvoyant. Ju has ESP, and Graham, my cop friend, is a werewolf."
She pointed out the door.
"The guy who burned down our office he's an angel of death working for someone and hunting another friend of mine, who is also a demon."
She tossed a glare at Ju.
Jezz stared. She looked from Evey to Ju and then back.
"Holy shit. That soooooo explains a lot."
She bit her lip.
"An angel of death is after you?"
"It seems that way, yes."
"That's a hell of a project you're working on."
"Tell me about it."
Jezz turned to Ju.
"Um... I'll stay here and hide while you hunt people."
She wrinkled her nose.
"You... you don't kill them, do you?"
Evey arched an eyebrow as she turned to Ju as well. He sighed, defeated.
"It would make things incredibly difficult if I did. Just... don't touch anything without asking first, alright? Keeping things in a specific order helps me maintain control over myself."
Jezz immediately put her hands into her pockets.
"I won't touch anything, I promise. Um..."
She looked to Evey.
"What am I going to do about food and clothes?"
"I'll pass by your place and pack your things. Make it look like you left town in a hurry. I'll bring you some food too, if you need it."
Evey looked over at Ju.
"I'll let you work out the details about whether or not you're going to be doing the cooking, or if you'll let her touch your kitchen so she can cook her own food."
Evey gave Ju a quick peck on the cheek.
"Thank you so much, Ju! I really appreciate this!"
"Thank you," Jezz said, blushing a little. The vampire was startled by the sudden kiss, and he froze in place, as if he was having trouble figuring out what had just happened. Snapping out of it, he shook his head to pull himself together.
"I'll set up a room for you where you can mess things up. How long do you plan this to be for?"
Jezz looked at Evey. She shrugged. Evey was the one who answered.
"Until all this is resolved, and Jezz isn't a target anymore."
Again, he sighed.
"I'll do what I can."
"Thank you, Ju," Evey said softly. "I'm sorry for putting upon you like this."
"Me too," Jezz said.
"Just try to get this resolved," he practically begged as he showed Evey to the door. "If you can find a safer place, do it. This is a very twisted predicament, and no amount of knowledge I have could even begin to explain it."
"I'll do my best. Hopefully, if Jezz is out of sight long enough then I can get her out of town without anyone suspecting us."
She looked back at Jezz.
"You do what Ju tells you and don't leave the warehouse. Understood?"
"You will bring me clothes and food right?"
"I will, as long as you're not too picky about how I fold them."
Jezz cringed but nodded.
"I won't complain," she said softly.
Evey put a hand on Ju's.
"Thanks again. Call me if you need anything."
Julian nodded slowly, pulling his hand away.
"Ask Cei to give you some Mordax before you meet with Jesse. You might need it."
Mordax? Evey nodded.
"All right. I'll tell her."
She gave Jezz a final wave and then left, hurrying as stealthily as she could back to her car. With things the way they were, it probably wasn't a good idea to go back to the office, and Will still didn't know what had happened, so Evey made her way back to the diner. Given the circumstances, she was sure her boss wouldn't mind the extended lunch break.
Will was waiting out in the parking lot when she pulled in, looking towards the dying smoke from the fire. Evey smiled at him weakly as she got out of the car and headed toward him.
"Hey," she said as she moved beside him, facing the same direction. Will turned when she spoke, wrapping his arms around her.
"God, I'm so glad you came to lunch today..."
Evey let herself finally relax. His arms felt warm and safe. She put her face against his chest, hugging back. She was so happy he had come into her life, even if on accident.
She couldn't remember the last time she felt safe.
"Me too," she whispered against him. She lifted her head to look at him, and felt a shiver run through her. God, she could've died today if she hadn't come to see him. Jezz too if Evey hadn't brought her. Will pressed his face into her hair, inhaling deeply before he pulled away.
"Are you going to be alright?" he asked. "What happened to your friend?"
Evey smiled up at him.
"Somewhere would she be safe. Hopefully, someplace too that if they find her they won't bother her either. As for me..."
"Graham was right. I'm a target."
"I wish you weren't," Will couldn't help but sigh. "I was hoping that you would be passed over... Just allowed to be left alone..."
Evey smiled up at him.
"Me too. But that kind of all went to hell when I found out who I was last night. I wonder who else knows, or if it's my own mother who's trying to kill me."
She put her face against his chest again. She didn't even want to imagine it. He ran his fingers through her hair. It was silent for a few moments, except for the distant sirens from the fire.
"What will you do now? Were you able to recover anything from your office?"
Evey shook her head.
"The cops weren't going to let me in anyway. If they do salvage anything Graham will tell me. All my important files and work weren't at the office anyway. They're at my house or on me. That's why I have a giant purse, bag, thing."
She looked up at him again, but made sure not to dislodge his fingers. They felt nice in her hair. Comforting.
"How come you're out here and not working?" she asked him quietly. Will frowned, looking back towards the diner.
"I got fired."
Evey gave him a horrified look.
"Oh god! I'm so sorry! Was it my fault? Oh, Will, I'm so very sorry!"
Had she caused him to get fired? He shook his head.
"No, it wasn't your fault; he's been disappointed with my work for a while now, on account of my other job. This was just the last straw for him."
She bit her bottom lip.
"Because you were worried about me? Or because I barged into the back?" she asked, her voice low.
"Because I asked to leave early to make sure you were alright," Will said. Evey scowled.
"That's so not fair. Your boss should understand. There was a bloody fire."
She shook her head.
"I'm sorry, Will. I'll help you get a new job."
He smiled at her, leaning in to kiss her forehead.
"I'll be alright until the musical is over; I do get paid to help with the tech work, after all."
"All right. I don't know what's going to happen with my job."
"Jared already paid me, but I don't know how I'm going to get much work now with the office charred."
"Not that I'll have much time trying to solve the current dilemma."
"You could audition for the show," Will suggested. "Or help me with tech. Either way, it's a decent temporary paycheck."
Evey nodded. It didn't seem like a bad idea. She hadn't done any acting since high school, but it couldn't hurt to audition. If she didn't make it, she could always help him.
"That sounds good. At least I will stay out of a trouble. At least a little."
She gave him a weak smile.
"My personal investigation has me swamped."
He smiled back at her softly, brushing her hair one more time.
"Go get some rest. I need to head home and break the news to Jon about the diner. Give me a call when you're less exhausted, alright?"
Evey nodded. She was going to have to go out for most of the night and deal with Jesse. She wondered how that would turn out. Best to be in the best conditions.
"I'll be at home. If you want to pass by later, before I go out with Cei tonight, give me a call. You're always welcome."
Will nodded, giving her one more kiss before he let her go and headed towards his bike. It would be getting into evening soon.
Evey got into her own car and wished briefly that Will was coming home with her. She shook her head and drove home. She made sure she was locked in tight, stripped out of her clothes, keeping her bag and its precious contents close to her and flopped on the bed.
She grabbed the pillow that still smelled like Will and curled around it.
She fell asleep hoping that she didn't dream of fires and vampires.
As Evey drifted into slumber, only the vaguest of dreams haunted her. It was as if everything was washed out by bright lights, and all that she could make out was what appeared to be the figure of a young child. The small girl was praying, but Evey couldn't understand the words. Just as the child looked towards her, the ringing of her cell phone shattered the vision.
Evey started awake, barely grasping onto the last edges of the strange dream. She kept the girl's face in her mind as she flipped open the phone and grumbled a half asleep, "Grant."
"Wakey wakey, sleepy head," Cei giggled on the other end of the line. "The sun set an hour ago and I was wondering when we were going to hook up to head over to the bar."
Evey woke up more, sitting up in bed and yawning.
"Sorry. Been an... eventful day."
She rubbed her temples. Fuck. All her days lately had been 'eventful'.
"I'll be ready in half an hour. Do you want to pick me up, want me to head over there, or do you want to meet there?"
"I'll drive; I have some packages I need to get over to Jesse, and I already have some in my trunk. I'll just head over now. What's you're address?"
She was so unnervingly energetic, it was almost exhausting to listen to her talk. Evey rambled off the address for Cei and got out of bed.
"Call me when you get here, Cei. See you in a bit," she said before hanging up. She went to the bathroom for a quick shower, got dressed (she was torn between something for a bar and business) and made herself some coffee to go, by the time her phone went off again.
"On my way downstairs," she said to Cei as she grabbed her bag. She locked up and headed downstairs toward Cei and her car. The cruenta was leaning against the side of her car when Evey came towards her. Decked out in a short plaid skirt, cropped blouse, and fishnets (of all things), Cei certainly didn't look her age: her real one or the one she normally appeared to be. She waved at Evey, unlocking the door for her.
"I hope you've prepared yourself," she began as she started up the car. "Almost all of the patrons of the Ally Kat are cruenti."
Evey nodded as she got in the car. Her own clothes certainly didn't match Cei's but she had gone for a more casual look. A black straight skirt and a black stringing halter top, both topped with her brown overcoat.
"Yeah. They won't be able to read me."
She had already prepared her mind to block off any infiltration. They wouldn't be able to tell what she was or who she was. As far as their mental abilities were concerned, to cruenti, she wouldn't even exist. Cei nodded as she continued to drive, and after a few minutes, they arrived at the brightly lit parking lot of the Ally Kat. The vampire, reached over into her purse and pulled out two glass vials.
"Here," she said, handing them to Evey. "Drink the one with the green cap before we go in. The other is Mordax."
Evey stilled, holding both.
"Ju said to ask you to give me some Mordax before we went in. Why the green one and not the Mordax? What are they? What is that green one?"
She arched an eyebrow as she looked at Cei. She just wanted to know what the hell she was putting into her body. Cei pointed to the one with the green cap first.
"That has my blood in it, mixed with Gracilis, or Blood-Thinner as it's more commonly known. It's a formula I stumbled upon during my research; I use it when I give my blood to the Keattings, to keep them from becoming ancillae to me. Since you're human, the other cruenti in the bar will be extremely... interested in you, but if you smell like an ancilla, they're more likely to leave you alone."
Evey's eyebrows arched in surprise. That was interesting. She had been wondering how John had not noticed. Being ancilla was fairly obvious, even to someone who refused to see the truth. He may not have suspected Cei, but he would've been aware of what he was.
Evey took the vial like a shot and winced.
"I'm not going to need more of this will I?"
Cei shook her head.
"That'll last you the night. The Mordax you'll have to take right before you meet with Jesse. Hopefully, the precaution will be unneeded, but better he's mad at me than at you."
"So is he going to believe I'm a cruenta too, or will he just be upset because I don't smell like a human?" Evey smirked. Cei laughed a little.
"No, no. That's in case he tries to feed on you. He has a bad habit of draining individuals he gets upset at. Shall we head in, then?"
Evey gripped onto the vial and nodded. Drain her, huh? If he tried he would have a hard time of it. She didn't really think she could stand up to him unless it was with the Mordax, since he was so powerful, she thought as she got out of the car and followed Cei into the bar.
But she did hope that realization of who she was (if it came down to it), would keep him at least at bay.
God. Where the fuck was she even going to begin? Cei led the way to the door, giving the bouncer a toothy smile as she hooked her arm around Evey's.
"Hey Kevin," she greeted him with a wink. "Got room for me and my doll?"
He returned the grin, showing off his fangs.
"Nice to see you with a guest for a change. Head on in!"
Evey made sure to keep her expression pleasantly blank until they were passed the bouncer. Then she leaned closer and whispered, "Doll? Do I have to play a part you forgot to tell me about Cei?"
The vampire giggled as she pushed a path towards the bar.
"It just means that you're safe to bring in. 'Doll' is just another terms for 'mortal I brought to feed on.' Don't worry though; I had something before we left."
Evey blinked. But wasn't the vial she just drank supposed to not make her look like a mortal for them to be attracted to? Ah, she'd ask Cei later and get it straight. Evey focused on the people around her, analyzing the bar, the locations of the tables, where the people were, how they moved, who they were talking to and who they were with. She searched for the exits and let her mind plan the myriad of escape routes, should she need to use any.
"I'm not worried about you," Evey said softly, her brown eyes darting around in observation, though her body seemed as relaxed as any ignorant human. "I'm worried about everyone else in this bar."
Evey thought of what she could do to stop most of them with her TK before they got to her or knew she had the ability as well. Her mind was sealed away from every cruenta present. She just hoped none of them felt inclined to pry and saw the formidable block to their invasion. Normal humans, after all, couldn't do that.
"Don't underestimate them," Cei warned as they sat down at two empty seats at the bar. "Even a solis has potent abilities."
Leaning across the bar, she whistled at the man tending it.
"Jesse! Long time, no see!"
He turned around at the sound of her voice. God, the man could have been made out of marble: his features were as smooth, symmetrical, and perfect as a Greek statue! Golden blonde hair was tied out of his face with a red ribbon, of all things, and his rich green eyes seemed to glow as he watched them, coming towards them on his side of the bar.
"Cei!" he exclaimed before leaning in and kissing her cheek. "How have you been? That Keatting treating you alright?"
He glanced over at Evey briefly.
Evey smiled at him. Jesse Taylor was handsome and definitely had the air of a powerful cruentus. She looked to Cei. The cruenta was the one giving the cues. What was she supposed to say to that?
Evey kept her voice low when her brown gaze met Jesse's without fear, square on, and without bothering to hide her awareness of the situation. She didn't know what Cei had planned, so she did the most natural thing.
"Evey Grant. I'm not Cei's pet." She gave Jesse a nod. He returned her nod and smirked.
"Didn't figure as much, though I must say, you're the most forward mortalis she's brought in. What can I get you two to drink?"
"You know what I like, Jess," Cei said with a shrug. Jesse looked back at Evey.
"Well then, what will you have? We have plenty of non-sanguine drinks, and I can mix up just about every cocktail every invented."
Evey arched an eyebrow.
"Jack and Coke. In a tall glass, thanks."
She kept her guards up and watched Jesse, trying to figure out how best to approach the subject of his brother. And their mother. Jesse set about fixing their drinks, making idle conversation as most bartenders do.
"So what brings you to the Ally Kat, hm?" he asked. "It's rare enough you came here, rarer still with a friend. What's up?"
Cei looked over at Evey, giving her a small smile.
"Well, my friend here was a witness to the accident. She wanted to talk."
"Where people can't hear us the better," Evey added. "There are... things that don't want me alive because I know too much about Roderick's death and the situation surrounding it."
"Up to you of course."
Jesse's smile faltered slightly as he set their drinks in front of them.
"Give me an hour to get someone else back here," he said, his voice steady and serious. "But in the meantime, I've got a question for you."
"Oh?" Cei asked eagerly. "And that is...?"
"Well, two questions, actually. First, did you bring me another shipment?"
"Yep. Got it in my trunk. The other question?"
"Have you heard about the charity ball Kelly wants to plan?"
Kelly? Evey didn't know who that was, but she paid attention. Cei shook her head, not knowing what he was talking about.
"No, but I assume this has something to do with the fire."
"Yeah, he said he overheard one of the other guys on the force talking about it, and he offered to arrange it, since he has 'ties with the media.'"
The bartender rolled his eyes as he wiped off the counter next to them.
"Wish he would have asked me first."
Cei leaned over to Evey to explain.
"Jesse inherited the local news station."
"The fire, huh?"
She looked from Cei to Jesse.
"The same fire that was supposed to kill me? Is that the one? Or was there another fire in downtown today that I'm unaware of?"
It was Jesse's turn to look confused.
"He failed to mention that it was a targeted attack. All he said was 'accident.'"
"Oh be real, Jess! How many accidents have been truly accidental lately? My guess is that we're talking about the same fire. The one at the PI office, right?"
"Yeah," he said with a nod. "That'd be the one."
Evey rolled her eyes. She would have to ask Graham about this Kelly person. If he knew who it was, she could find out more info about him. Best to keep tabs on everyone she could. Anyone of them could be more deeply involved than she believed.
"Well, now you know who they were trying to kill and why," Evey said and gave him a tight smile.
"No, not the why," Cei corrected. "We really don't know the motivation behind why you're being targeted. That's still under investigation."
She took several sips of the drink Jesse had mixed up for her.
"But you can explain more to Jesse when you guys have your little chat."
"Let me go see who's available to take over," the other vampire said, moving down the bar. As soon as he was out of earshot, Cei turned to Evey.
"Well, I guess the charity ball will be the subject of the next council meeting I go to."
Evey looked at Cei and smirked.
"I guess so. But I've gotten to the point where I'm suspicious of everything. If there's anything that even seems a little out of place about this charity ball, let me know, all right? I've got a lot of puzzle pieces. I just need to put them all together somehow."
"I will, but it's likely you'll be invited if it does get held, seeing as it was your office that burned down."
She stirred her drink idly.
"You should probably drink that other vial now, before Jesse gets back. You'll likely be having your private meeting soon."
Evey arched her eyebrows. Invited to the meeting. Holy shit. She took a sip of her Jack and Coke, pulled out the Mordax, drank it, winced, and then put the vial back.
"Would they really invite me? A mortalis?"
"No normal mortalis, Evey. You're starting to attract the attention of some pretty powerful entities. It's very possible you'll be asked to sit in one night."
That was intense. She hadn't intended to get involved in cruenti business, but it seemed inevitable now. Even if she hadn't taken Jared and Drecks' business, with her mother beeing Jesse's mater... It had only been a matter of time. She nodded.
"You'll have to give me more of that Mordax then. Just to be safe."
She took another sip of her drink. Cei laughed, finishing her cocktail.
"Oh, I'll have plenty for you if you need it!" she assured, just as Jesse was returning.
"Orlando's gonna take over for the rest of the night. Shall we take this to my place?"
"I'm afraid I'm her driver for the night," Cei quickly cut in, but he shrugged her off.
"Nonsense! I'll call a car for her when she's ready to leave. You act like you don't trust me..."
He gave the cruenta an unusual look, and she sighed, nodding slowly.
"I'll explain at the next meeting Jess. Now's not the time."
"Right then! Miss? Are you ready?"
Evey wasn't sure about this, but then, nothing was certain anymore. She shrugged, took another sip of her drink and stood. "I'm ready," she said softly, looking Jesse over. How would he react when he found out the truth about her? He was the most powerful vampire in the city supposedly.
She just hoped he was more afraid of his mater than anything else. Not that there was any guarantee that her mother would come to her aid, but he didn't know that. Jesse made his way around the counter to offer his arm to Evey, waiting to escort her out of the Ally Kat. Unexpected and suspicious, but Evey took the offered arm anyway. Without glancing back to Cei, she went with him out of the Alley Kat and to his car.
But as they walked through the rows in the lot, they didn't stop by a car at all. A black motorcycle, painted with flames, was Jesse's ride of choice. There was only one helmet, and he tossed it towards her.
"Here. I don't really need it."
Whoa. She caught it. Evey kept her expression passive until the helmet was over her head and face. What was with this? He looked a little like Will and had a bike too? No wonder Will said they didn't get along. They apparently had a few things in common and for a hunter and cruentus, having things in common probably didn't sit well.
She got on the bike behind Jesse and wished silently that Will was with her. She mentally reached toward him. I'll be okay, she thought silently, thinking of him. I promise I'll be careful.
"Hang on!" Jesse shouted, his only warning before he revved up the bike and took off. He drove down the street like he was being chased, bringing the motorcycle low to the ground with every turn.
Evey was freaked out for a moment and then found herself laughing. The rush of the speed of the motorcycle had her lightheaded and dizzy. This was awesome! The surprise and the thrill caught her off guard, but not enough to drop any of her defenses. She was, however, much more relaxed and actually having fun.
Within a few minutes, they pulled into the parking garage of a nice set of buildings. The space was number, and Jesse hopped of the bike as easily as sliding off a chair. He held it steady to let Evey off.
"Just up those stairs, and we'll be at my penthouse."
Evey got off the bike and took off the helmet, handing it to him. Her face was flushed, recovering from the excitement of the ride. She tried to return to being indifferent and expressionless, but was having a hard time of it while her heart was still racing.
Jesse offered her his arm again, and took her up to the penthouse. He pulled out his key and unlocked the door, opening it for her.
"Make yourself comfortable."
Evey slowly recovered and got back on the defensive. She was in a cruentus' home. She was here assuming Jesse didn't know anything about what was going on with his mater and Cei's pater and everything else. For all she knew, he was very much aware of it and in on it, despite his brother's death.
A human in a cruentus' home was never safe, and there was no indication that Jesse was like Ju or Cei at all. Cei and Ju were freaks among the cruenti, not the common. Jesse was the eldest of those "common" vampires.
She found a seat and sat, crossing her legs at the ankle. A hand held onto her bag. She had all the proof she needed in here to show him. She just hoped that he wasn't in on this. If he was... Her eyes immediately took in the penthouse, analyzing any forms of escape.
Jesse was certainly into luxury, that was for sure. The living room had crisp, modern furniture, some facing a theater style wide-screen TV, some facing the huge, floor-to-ceiling windows. The shades were pulled half-way up at the moment, offering a breathtaking view of the entire city. A small platform stepped up to where a grand piano was situated. So far, the only obvious means of exit was the door she'd just come in.
On a knee-wall that separated the living room from the kitchen were several picture frames. The largest was a family portrait of Jesse and a man who had to be his brother, Lucius. His twin looked in every way like him, except his hair was cut shorter... and he looked much more serious.
Evey stood up when she saw it. She walked over to the image, looking over at Lucius, the man who had drawn such a beautiful picture of her mother. She wondered what he had been like? She wasn't sure what would happen now with Jesse, but if Luke had been still alive would things have been different?
She knew his death had hurt Jesse. Maybe it could help her win Jesse over.
"So..." Jesse began, sitting sideways in one of the armchairs. "What is it you wanted to talk about? Lord only knows it must be important, otherwise Cei wouldn't have said anything."
Evey put the image back and turned to him.
"I'm a private investigator. A man named Drecks hired me to find a book, which happened to be in Cei's house. He's the man who died with Roderick." She opened her bag and pulled out the paper and the photograph, but she didn't approach. "I believe the reason Drecks and Roderick were killed was to scare the both of us. I believe my office was burned down and that I was the target because of what I know."
She walked toward him.
"I know Lucius was your twin. I know he was great artist. Cei had a premonition that mentioned you both, my mother, your mater, and her pater. I think that the person who killed Lucius is the same one who killed Roderick, an angel named Cheron. It's my guess he's the one who probably burned down my office. Whoever is pulling the strings is interested in us both and in Cei."
She handed him the drawing and the picture.
"Lucius drawing was in Drecks' book. I don't know when he drew it."
She pointed to the image.
"That's me with my parents. My mother's name was, or at least when she married my father it was Cassandra. What's her real name, Jesse?"
Jesse ran his fingers slowly over the drawing, tracing the lines of the woman's face, just as Evey had. He stared at it a long time, mumbling softly in some language (it sounded like Greek, but it was hard to tell) before he finally spoke in English again.
"Luke drew this in Athens," he said, rubbing the edges of the paper between his fingers. "Nostra mater... she was wearing a red drape..."
He then looked over at the photograph, eyes narrowing as he scrutinized it. Jesse stared at the photograph almost as long as he stared at the drawing, but he wasn't as calm when he looked up from it.
"How would I know her real name?" he asked bitterly, handing the photo back to Evey. "I don't know this woman."
Evey sighed, shook her head and shrugged.
"Your mater and my mother are identical. They even have the same look in their eyes. I was shocked when I saw the image and realized it was Luke's mater. If your mater is my mother then it would explain why I'm a target, and why I have the abilities that I do."
"My mater is dead," Jesse snapped, quickly rising from his seat. "She's been dead since the French Revolution. Any similarities to your mother are pure coincidence!"
It wasn't hard to see that the pictures had hit a sour note with the cruentus. He might have been saying it was impossible, but the shakiness in his tone was enough to reveal his fears that it might be true. Evey looked over his expression with complete calm. She gave him a small smile.
"My mother disappeared when I was a child. I was convinced for a while that she had to be dead, because I couldn't understand her abandonment. But I still, on occasion, looked for her. My first clue that she may still be alive was Cei's premonition which connected me to you and Lucius. Brothers of mine that were mirror images. You can believe what you want, Jesse. But I thought you had a right to know. According to Cei's premonition, the woman Luke drew is alive and working with Cei's pater, Crudelis. I don't know why yet, nor do I like the sound of it. This is the only information in my possession that is worth killing for. You needed to know that the man killed with Roderick was the owner of the book that had Luke's image hidden inside. You needed to know that your mater was still alive. Whether you believe it or not is irrelevant. I'm going to continue to investigate the matter and find her myself."
She took a step back.
"Roderick may have been killed as a warning to you. I think that Luke's image was supposed to come back to you and that's what whoever is pulling the strings didn't want that. I think I'm a wild card in whatever is going on here. They didn't expect me to find Lucius' drawing, and I think my office was burned down to prevent me from giving it to you. I think that the angel that killed Roderick and Drecks is involved somehow, but the information I have is limited. I'm going to keep digging until I find out what's going on."
She took another step back.
"I just wanted you to have Luke's picture. I wanted you see that she was still alive. I didn't think it would upset you. I wanted to let you know I existed, and that I'm going to find out the truth. I wanted to let you know to be careful and trust no one, because I don't know who is working with who. I wanted to let you know that we're on the same side. The more I find out, the closer I get to finding out who killed Luke. So whether or not you believe it at least you know there's someone trying to find out the truth of what happened to your brother, and who won't stop until she finds out."
Jesse frowned, moving towards a desk in the corner.
"That's all well and good," he said, a laugh oozing with malice escaping him. "But you know too little of the ways of cruenti."
He yanked open a drawer, almost pulling it out of the desk. It was filled with dead roses. Not good that.
"You'd be surprised at what I do know."
Evey was making her way to the door, she was already unlocking it with her telekinesis.
"To be honest, Cei has been the strangest one I've ever met."
God, she sure hoped he wasn't planning on killing her. His eyes shot to the door, and a deep growl rose from his throat, his eyes starting to glow a blood red.
A nearby bookshelf tumbled in front of the door.
"If you know so much, then you should know to respect the elders! Why did you really come here? To taunt me of my losses? First my brother, then my child, and now this?! It's bad enough I've gotten a bouquet of these retched flowers, just to have some stultus mortalis tell me my mater has returned?!"
Evey froze and her eyes narrowed.
"Yes. There is no hidden agenda. How have I not respected you? I didn't come here to taunt you. I came here to tell you that it's not some stultus mortalis that is being threatened and therefore shouldn't concern you. And if you've gotten a bouquet, then you know what I've been saying is true. You're just as much a target as I am. I came to tell you the truth because I thought you had a right to know. Perhaps it was wrongheaded of me, but I thought the eldest cruentus in the city would want to know that his mater lives."
Evey bowed and then straightened.
"I'm sorry, if I overstepped my bounds, but that was not my intention. I only wanted to give you the truth and warn you that you may be a target too. Nothing more."
"Narate mihi aliquid nescendo!" Jesse shouted, baring his fangs at her as angry tear fell down his cheeks and the red glow in his eyes brightened. His posture was shifting, his fury overwhelming him and sending him into a blind rage. Another bookshelf flew up into the air and into the other blocking the door, just missing Evey in its flight.
Evey dodged the bookshelf. She honestly couldn't understand why he was so pissed. Yeah, it hurt. Dammit, it hurt her too, but she would've been glad to hear the truth, not pissed about it. From that last yell, she figured he must've already been targeted just like her. That's probably what he was so pissed about.
"I can find out who's behind it," she said, moving away from him and keeping a look out for anymore flying objects. "I already know more than they want. I can find out who's behind this, but I'm the only one with a chance. I'm not in the cruenti circles. I don't have to play politics. As far as anyone is concerned, I'm just another mortalis. Let me try to help!"
But Jesse was too absorbed in his rage now, leaping from his place by the desk like some wild beast, landing with a growl right in front of Evey before he tried to lunge at her. Evey dove away from him, toward the window, the glass shattering thanks to her telekinesis and the pieces flying toward him, the largest sharpest piece shot straight toward his heart with incredible speed. She knew it wouldn't kill him, but it should give her time to find a way out or at least time for him to come to his senses.
The door was blocked so she headed to the window. There had to be a way to get out without killing herself from jumping out of it. If only they weren't ten stories up.
Jesse roared in pain from the glass shrapnel that hit him, and he paused to concentrate on healing his wounds. Swiftly, the cuts sealed up, but he'd lost quite some blood in the effort. He eyed Evey, a hunger in his eyes unlike any she'd ever seen.
Evey lifted the coffee table and smashed it against him, breaking it apart. She tore off a piece that was large enough, moved as fast as she could as she focused on sharpening the wooden piece and continued sending items anything she saw toward him to delay him and keep him busy so he didn't notice what she was doing.
Everything she could lift she was tossing. If she got out of this alive then she hoped he wouldn't make her pay for all of this. But then, she could fix most of it.
The moment the leg piece she had broken off was sharp enough, she brought it up behind him and stabbed him in the area of his heart through his back and ribs.
She broke through his flesh with such force that the ribs the stake hit broke with an audible CRACK! Jesse roared as the leg pierced his heart, but then abruptly froze, paralyzed by the wooden knife. He quickly calmed, now that he was unable to move, and fell in place, eyes open in an unblinking stare as the glow in them faded.
Evey heaved, trying to catch her breath and slowly putting down the three vases she had taken off the mantle and had been ready to toss at him. She didn't know how long she had until he came to again, so best to hurry and get the hell out of Dodge. She picked up the picture of her and her parents, but left the image Lucius drew. It belonged to Jesse anyway.
She quickly made her way to the bookshelves. She dumped out all the books so they'd be lighter, and then using both her physical and mental strength, moved them just enough to get to the door and open it.
Jesse groaned, trying to get Evey's attention. Unable to move at all, it was the only thing he could do to try to get her to come back. Evey wasn't going to leave him. She rolled her eyes. She just wanted a clear path of escape should he try to kill her again. Taking a deep breath, she went back to him and crouched down beside him.
"Sorry about your place. I'm leaving Luke's picture with you; after all it's yours. I know it must piss you off to hear a weak mortalis telling you to be careful, but please be careful? I don't want you to die Jesse Taylor."
Evey turned him around and with a tug fueled by telekinesis, she pulled out the stake. She quickly stood up and scooted away, backing toward the door in case he leapt at her again.
Jesse rolled on his stomach, coughing as the wounds on his back closed up. He was breathing heavily, the effort of the fight having exhausted him.
"Blood rage," he said softly. "Emotions... aren't kind to us cruenti... Sorry..."
The elder was apologizing? A pissed off vampire was scary, but she knew how to deal with it. When they were apologetic after trying to kill you well, that made her even more wary. She tried to sense his intentions, but she still slowly eased her way to the door.
She didn't know how to respond to his apology anyway. "Apology accepted," or "you're forgiven" would probably piss him off. So would "no problem." Manners and common courtesy were always an iffy thing with cruenti. He had already mentioned once that she wasn't treating him with respect, probably because she wasn't acting inferior to him. Acknowledging his apology could very well have the same affect. And she really didn't want him to start raging again. Then again, saying nothing could also do it. This was one of the many reasons she avoided cruenti. But she still found herself getting involved with them, no matter what she did. It figured.
"S'okay," she muttered quietly, hoping that was ambiguous enough. He seemed to accept it, slowly rising, bracing himself on an overturned chair. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath.
"Go before I realize how hungry I am," he sighed. "But one last thing: her name was Carmilla."
Yeah, didn't want him hungry Mordax or no Mordax. But she latched onto the name and found herself smiling.
And without waiting a moment more, she hurried out the door. Bypassing the elevator, she rushed down the flights of stairs, feeling a little more comfortable fleeing under her own power.
She grabbed her cellphone as she raced down them and dialed Will. God, she hoped she didn't get him while he was working...
Evey gets to me the oldest vampire in the city, Jesse Taylor. Boy, what a meeting...