Said woman strode past both of the Keattings, looking mad as all hell as Brendan transformed back into his normal shape. His clothes—what was left of them—had blood splattered all over. He glared her down as she glared him down. He crossed his arms over his chest, just before she holstered her gun and then gave him a ferocious shove that didn't move him even an inch. "You fucking bastard!" she shouted at him. "Why the fuck didn't you say something!? I feel like such an ass trying to keep you fucking safe all the damn time! You could've taken care of your damn self!"
Brendan snarled at her. "Like you should fucking talk, Grant! I was waiting around for you to finally fucking own up! Figured when you trusted me enough to tell me about yourself, I'd enlighten you."
She kicked his shin—hard. He growled at her but had no reaction to the kick. "Right! When was that going to happen? I was fucking petrified because I'm a freak, and—what. Wait you knew?!"
"I've got a nose for these things. Besides, you weren't as damn subtle as you think you were. When you're pissed you kind of forget that I might notice."
"I figured if you noticed you'd SAY SOMETHING, you retard!"
"No reason to call you out when you were so damn nervous about it!" he bellowed back. He looked like he could crush the woman he was practically a foot taller than, but she held her own with a growl of her own.
"If you'd said something about yourself I wouldn't have been nervous about it!"
"There's kind of a big fat reason I don't talk about the fact that I'm a damn werewolf!"
"Well, if you knew I was psychic clearly it would've been a fucking issue!"
"Werewolves are a lot fucking scarier than telekinetics!"
"So you thought I was going to cower away in horror like a pitiful little miss?" she mocked.
"I'm NOT fucking psychic!"
"Brendan Fitzgerald Graham, I'm going to beat you within an inch of your fucking life," she hissed.
"I want to see you try, Evey Penelope Grant!"
"I hate you so much right now."
"Yeah, well, I'm used to it, and you'll get over it. Now can I get my shit and get changed? I reek of vampire funk." Brendan made a disgusted face.
"Fine." She paused and jerked her thumb behind her. "Who are these two?"
"The Keattings. Jon and Will." He tossed her a smirk, before moving past her to collect his coat, boots and socks. "They're vampire hunters."
Evey snorted. "You have got to be fucking kidding."
She paused. "Wait. Are these the guys the chief's been aching to pin the murder on?" She suddenly recalled the chief grumbling about a pair of Irish bastards, and the name Keatting rang a bell. Since there was nothing to hold them on, their name hadn't gone public. And if they were hunters, it made sense why Brendan wouldn't have mentioned it, trying to keep her in the dark. Which made her mad all over again. "Fucking hell, Graham, how much haven't you fucking told me about these damn murders? We're supposed to be a team!"
"Hey, just because I knew you were psychic, didn't mean I knew that you knew about cruenti," Brendan said grabbed his stuff.
"More horse shit."
Brendan shrugged. "I wanted to protect you too, dammit. I don't know if you've ever fought vampires before. You pelted that one between the eyes, which wasn't going to kill him you know."
"Yeah, well, I don't normally dip my bullets in holy water."
While the two partners argued, Jon made his way over to his brother to check on him. Will's eyes were still glowing dimly, but he hadn't had enough of the cruentus' blood for its benefits to linger too long. Still, Jon frowned while he reached over and gave his shoulder a squeeze. "You're crazy, you know that? What if you hadn't killed him...?"
"And what if Brendan's partner hadn't shown up?" Will countered immediately, looking at his brother with a frown. "Jesus, Jon. That was too close for comfort." He wasn't going to scold him for almost getting killed, for using a crossbow instead of a sword, for not keeping a vial of vampiric blood on him to drink. It bothered him, knowing that if Jon had been willing to admit what he was, he could have held up so much better against that vampire than he did. But he wasn't going to say that. He knew it was a sore topic, and right now, he was just glad his brother was alive.
"Yeah," Jon agreed with him idly, unaware of his thoughts. He looked over at Brendan and... Grant? He and Will exchanged quick looks when the woman gestured towards them, then the brothers approached together while the werewolf explained who they were. "So, you're Grant." Jon couldn't help himself and gave her a lopsided smile. "If it makes you feel any better, Brendan didn't tell us much about you either. Hell, we had no idea you were a woman."
Will elbowed his brother in the stomach and rolled his eyes, then turned to Evey. "You'll have to excuse my brother, detective. He's kind of stupid. Though it is true that we sort of just assumed Brendan was talking about a man every time he referred to his partner Grant."
Brendan just snorted and headed toward his car. He needed to get into normal clothes before they headed toward this cruenta's house that Will and Jon knew.
Evey finally looked away from Brendan, which was probably a good thing, because he was already taking off his shirt. Man needed to change so she gave him her back and focused on the Keattings. She placed her hands on her hips and looked over the pair with an eyebrow arched. "That's fine. I don't think Graham goes around announcing much, all things considered. In fact, if you did know all about me, I'd be really, really pissed." She looked them both over. Obviously brothers all right, though she imagined they didn't vampire hunt for a damn living. Still. Sword? Crossbow? These two sure had a flair for the medieval. "So since Graham has been such a closed mouth bastard, why don't one of you tell me why you're working with my partner on these murders—which by the way," she said over her shoulder directed at Brendan, "I guessed were cruenti committing them. I didn't tell you because I thought you were NORMAL."
"Shows how much you actually know about the paranormal," Brendan shot back. "Clearly you never met a werewolf before."
Evey rolled her eyes and returned her attention to the Keattings. "I get since that the murderer is a vampire, you two have reason for your interest. Though, I got to say, I've met a lot more vampires than I have vampire hunters. I thought I was the only one in town that had killed a couple of them." She tilted her head to the side. "So do you two know anything about this mess? Oh, and what are you two going to do with the bodies?"
"Burn them," Jon said, already walking away to do just that. "Since they're ambae, they won't disintegrate in the sun, and besides, we've got a long while til dawn anyway."
Will rolled his eyes again while he watched his brother leave, then turned back to Evey to do more explaining. "We don't know much more about this than you do, honestly, aside from the fact that we've both come under more scrutiny because of the deaths and disappearances. We're going to cross-reference the latest list of missing persons to see if any names match up with known blood dolls or ancillae, and once Brendan finishes getting dressed we're heading over to a friend of ours who happens to be a member of the Council of Elders to see if she can't offer more insight."
"Your friend," Jon shouted back to his brother while he burned the bodies. "She sure as hell isn't mine."
"No, she's your ex, you bitter ass," Will muttered under his breath, shaking his head before addressing Evey again. "Anyway, Kei tends to be reluctant when it comes to matters of the Council, but for this, she might make an exception. By the way, my name's Will, and that's my older brother Jon back there. Can really go on a last name basis when there are two of us."
Her golden brown eyes widened and then her expression became suspicious. "You have a friend that's on the Council?" She glanced at Jon briefly before looking back at Will. Why the hell hadn't they gotten information out of this cruenta already? "His ex? Jesus Christ, that's convenient. I'm surprised you haven't asked her yet what the fuck is going on." She shook her head, her suspicious expression falling away. Brendan wouldn't be working with them, if they weren't to be trusted. At least that much she knew. "Nice to meet you, Will." She put out her hand. "Wish it could've been better circumstances than an ambae fight and murders."
"Got you to finally own up," Brendan shouted from behind his SUV.
"Only because I followed you after that suspicious bull shit you pulled at the precinct," she shouted back.
"Think I hadn't noticed you were tailing me?"
"I know you didn't notice. I'm damn good at tailing."
Brendan snorted. "Not going to regret that though. Nice to finally have you on board."
"Could've been on board ages ago if you'd said something."
"Don't start this again, Grant."
Evey rolled her eyes and returned her attention back to Will. "He's the most annoying big brother figure in the history of the universe." She smiled and then looked behind him at Jon burning the bodies. "Hope they turn into dust. Gonna be hard to explain ashes and all that blood in the middle of a damn crime scene." Her brow furrowed. "Graham, how ARE we going to explain vampire blood and your blood all over the crime scene now?"
"It's not in the damn crime scene. The fight happened further down the alley. No one's going to notice, especially since the guys finished collecting everything they want from there already." Brendan came out from behind the SUV, fully dressed in fresh clothes. "All right, I'm ready. Keatting, you done over there?" he shouted before walking past Evey and Will toward Jon.
"Almost." Jon straightened, watching the bodies he'd ignited smolder into ash. "Thankfully, cruenti burn much more quickly than the average corpse. And less messily. It'll be nothing but dust soon enough."
"And before I forget," Will said after shaking the detective's hand. "How [i]should[/i] we address you? Detective Grant? Grant? I'm afraid I missed your first name, but if you don't want us to call you that, fair enough. Took months before Brendan let us use his."
"Done over here," Jon called, kicking the now completely burned ash and scattering it. "Oh, and to answer your question about Kei: it's because she's a secretive bitch..."
"Jon, that's utter bullshit! Stop being a dick just because she managed to trick you!" Will huffed, wrinkling his nose before correcting his brother's assessment. "It's because she's one of the younger members on the Council, and she doesn't want to lose her standing by telling us too much. The Council of Elders knows us, and they treat us with a great deal of caution and scrutiny. We have to watch our step, and we certainly don't want to risk losing our one good connection to the higher workings of the cruenti."
"That's because I didn't like either of you bastards," Brendan stated. "Now I like Will better than Keatting here and mostly because of that bull shit that just came out of his mouth." He glared at Jon. "Seriously. If I didn't fucking know better, I'd say she dumped YOUR ass rather than the other way around with the way you're so fucking bitter about it. Where the hell is your sense of humor anyway? So she got you because you were thinking with your dick. Normal for all men. Laugh at yourself, Keatting. You got fooled by a particularly sharp fem vamp who's older than god knows. Can't be too hard on yourself when she's got centuries on your ass. If you don't relax, I'm going to shove a chill pill down your damn throat."
"I'm not as much of a pain in the ass as Graham is," Evey stated. "You can call me Grant, or Detective, or Evey. Totally your—"
"Grant! Where did you park your car?" Brendan called before Jon could start doing something stupid like argue with him.
Evey rolled her eyes. "A block from here. I'll walk, you'll drive past, I'll follow." She lifted a hand and ran it through her short hair. "As for your cruenta, uh, ex-sister-in-law, friend, whatever, she's going to have to enlighten us tonight. If she's on the damn Council and you two know her, Graham and I won't be leaving until we have some answer or at least a direction to head in. Because if this keeps up, cruenti are going to be out in the open and a full on war is going to start. Last thing we need is a town full of vampire hunters, utter chaos, and lots of dead people and most of them innocent bystanders. Thanks but no thanks."
"Not sister-in-law," Will quickly corrected, casting a worried glance towards his brother who (thankfully) seemed to have missed the remark. "Kei and Jon dated for almost a year before it ended."
"Sure felt like a whole lot longer than that," Jon grumbled.
"Anyway, Brendan was already nagging us about heading over to her place, so I'm all for shipping out, though I do have one suggestion." This time, Will turned towards the other detective. "Why don't you let Jon give you directions and I can ride with your partner to do the same? Easier than trying to follow blind, I think, as her townhouse is kind of tucked away."
Brendan arched an eyebrow at Will. Then his gaze narrowed. "Why do I get your brother? There a reason you want to dump him on me? I don't want to listen to him whine the whole way. He might not even give me proper directions because he doesn't want to go." Brendan also didn't like the idea of Evey being alone with Will. Evey alone with Jon, he didn't care. Jon was too much of an idiot and still horribly bitter about his ex to be a threat. Will, on the other hand, had way too much charm and Brendan didn't like it.
"Oh, get over it, Graham. Jon will tell you how to get there, because otherwise you'll kick his ass," Evey said. "It makes sense so I don't have to follow your shitty driving and we can get there faster. And this way, Will here can bring me more fully up to speed. I'm on board now, so I need to be updated so we can both ask the right questions."
Brendan grumbled and then glanced at Jon. "You done yet? I want to get out of here before the locals start wondering what the fuck is going on."
"Been done and waiting," Jon said, holding his hands up defensively. "You lead, I'll follow. And I promise I will take you there directly." He rolled his eyes, propping his crossbow over his shoulder. "With any luck, we'll get there before the sun fully sets and I won't have to deal with her. If you don't mind me sitting in your car while you all talk."
"I do mind. You don't want to go in and accompany us, fine, but I'm not leaving you in my damn car. You and your brother are lucky I chauffeured you both here to begin with." He unlocked the SUV and opened the door. "Only person I trust in my passenger seat is my partner. But seeing as the circumstances are pressing, I'll give you a lift. But you're not staying in my car." The last thing Brendan was going to do was pander to a man who was whining over dumping a woman. Cruenta or no.
"Glad you don't mind me riding with you," Will said to Evey while they began to part ways. "Please tell me you drive more sanely than your partner."
Evey laughed. "Only just." She hooked her thumbs into her jeans and strode toward her car. Brendan's was a mighty, black SUV, Evey's however was a red Camaro. "Brendan drives like he's going through the mountains or forests," her brow furrowed and she lifted a shoulder in a shrug, "though I think I understand that a bit more now, all things considered. He drives like he's always on rough terrain with a four-wheeler." She unlocked her car. "I drive like I drive a red sports car." She smirked and got in.
Will whistled before hopping in on the passenger's side. "I can deal with that. Sports car driving isn't too far off from motorcycle driving, my main wheels. The only reason we took Jon's car to the police station is because it's a little awkward having two full-grown men armed with a sword and crossbow ride on one Kawasaki." He smirked in return. "Mine's red too."
"Nice," Evey said as she closed her door and buckled up. She turned on the car and put in gear. "Always wanted a motorcycle, but they aren't that great for perps. Had to take into consideration work when I got this one. Hopefully Graham or I will be able to get you two back to your car later tonight. Depending on where you parked it." She put the car into gear, checked the road and pulled out into it. "Now, which way am I going? Fastest way is best."
Will rattled off directions: it was a simple enough drive, with only a few turns near the beginning, then a straight shot up until the end. "I'll give you turn by turn once we get onto Feldspar," he finished. "That's when it starts to get a little complicated, but once you've been there once, it's easy enough to find again." The hunter leaned back in his seat and propped his hands behind his head, taking a minute to get a look at his new acquaintance. Evey was definitely cute, but judging by the look Brendan gave him when he suggested riding with her, she was probably off limits.
At least for now.
"So," Will said after she pulled onto the straight stretch of the drive. "Telekinesis, huh? Did that come naturally to you, or something else? Brendan made it sound like you've always had the talent, even if you try to hide it, but I'll be honest: I've never met anyone without cruenti blood in them that can do that."
"I have limited knowledge in cruenti," Evey stated. "Maybe they can sense it, I don't know, but anyone who has noticed outside of Graham, has approached me thinking I was one of them. Most of my experience with them haven't been good. I know what solis, ambae and noctis are, I know what a blood doll is, but that's about the extent of it. Over the last couple of years, I've tried to avoid them as much as possible, as I have a bad tendency to kill them." She shot him an amused look. "But I'm definitely not one. I don't know why I have it; I can only assume it's from my mother's side of the family since I have no idea who she is or where she came from. Even when I did research on her, I turned up squat. And there was nothing strange with my dad or down his line. So…" She shrugged. "Been able to do it since I was a kid. It was second nature to me, and Dad thought it was some kind of miracle, though he was always insistent that I hide it. Took that to heart. Science classes taught me how to use it more effectively, and when I did run into cruenti that thought I was one of them because of it, I learned pretty quick that I can do it better than them." She turned as he'd instructed earlier. "I'm more Xman than I am vampire." She slid him a glance. "Not so in your case. I have no clue what a famulus is. I assume you must have cruenti blood in you, since you mentioned it." Evey wondered what was wrong with her that she thought what he'd done had been hot as hell. She'd been stunned by Brendan, and he'd just been another guy fighting that didn't seemed bothered by the abrupt werewolf present, so clearly he knew about it. But then he'd pulled that shit and suddenly drawn her attention, especially when he got the vampire's abilities and demolished it. This Will Keatting was a good looking man. Handsome, well-built, and seemed nice enough. Clearly Brendan liked him, which was odd because Brendan liked next to nobody. But what the hell was he really?
"Wow. Okay then." Will laughed and undid his ponytail, brushing out his hair with his fingers. "That was a lot more of an answer than I expected, but I guess I've just gotten used to Brendan. He's either blunt and to the point, or tells me it's none of my damn business." He held his hairband between his teeth while he gathered his hair back together. "And yeah, you'd be right on your guess about me. Jon too, but he tries to pretend he isn't infected by his genetics." Will turned towards her while he started pulling his hair back again. "Since you didn't mention it, let me explain another cruenti term to you, since it relates to what I am: ancilla. An ancilla is a human who has been fed vampiric blood, and in doing so gains some of his power, though really, it's limited to physical feats that are just beyond what is typically the human norm. Ancillae are stronger, faster, and sturdier than normal humans, however they are both reliant on and addicted to the cruenti blood that grants them this strength. Ancillae are slaves to their vampiric masters." He sighed as he finished with his hair and sat back again. "Both of my parents were ancilla to a powerful noctis named Madison, completely enthralled and completely addicted to his blood to the point where they could barely function without regular doses of it. This was, of course, before either Jon or I were born." Will looked Evey's way to gauge her reaction. "We're both famulus, or famuli in the plural: second-generation ancillae who aren't reliant on cruenti blood, but still gain strength from it, even more so than our parents. We still run the same risk of becoming enthralled when we drink cruenti blood, but we can process it better, so we gain a measure of a vampire's more supernatural abilities (like their claws, for instance) depending on the age and strength of the vampire we've fed from. Basically, we have the same abilities as a normal ancilla when we haven't fed, and temporarily gain the strengths of a vampire when we have."
Evey's brow furrowed and silence fell between them for a long moment while she waited at a red light. "That's… awfully complicated." God, were they born to enslaved parents? No wonder they were fucking vampire hunters. She sure as fuck would be too. "So…on an every day basis you're stronger, faster and sturdier than everyone else. But if you feed on vampire blood you get a vampire's powers except you've also got a fifty-fifty shot of becoming their slave?" She shot him an incredulous look. "Then what you pulled in that alley was ballsy as all get out. Good thing those fuckers were stupid." Her brow furrowed again as the light turned green. "Or are the chances more like 70/30 or 80/20?"
Will smirked. "Depends on the age of the vampire, really: the older they are, the higher the risk. On average, there's about a five percent chance of of getting hooked on a solis' blood on the first sip, about a ten percent chance on an ambae's (like those bastards), and twenty-five percent chance with a noctis. Now, that risk doubles each subsequent time you drink from the same vampire, so ten percent, twenty percent, and fifty percent, respectively. And that's true of anyone, human or otherwise, who drinks a particular vampire's blood." He paused to pop his neck. "It's because of this that there's a saying among noctis: once I, accept; twice, I allow; thrice, I refuse. Three sips from the same noctis, and it's guaranteed enthrallment." He snorted. "Another reason Jon dislikes Kei."
"Kei… this cruenta we're going to see." Evey glanced at Will briefly as she turned onto Feldspar. "His ex. I doubt she gave him her blood, so…I assume you take it?" Well, so much for the man being hot and available. She hadn't spotted a wedding ring, but enthralled is enthralled. Nothing anyone could do about that. There was also the issue that Evey wasn't a damn fool. Cruenta, specifically, tended to be on the stunning, mind-blowingly beautiful end of the pretty spectrum. She mentally threw Will Keatting as a dating possibility out the window. Oh, well. "Are you enthralled then?"
Will chuckled a bit and shook his head. "No, thank God. Though, as far as cruenti go, Kei's probably one of the least worrisome ones you could be enthralled to. Turn left up here on Jasper." He waited for her to take the turn before he continued. "She never wanted to be a vampire and had the condition forced on her, from what little I've heard from her about her past. So, she's been passing the centuries trying to discover a cure. Became quite the chemist in the process, along with making some other, extremely useful discoveries. Right here." He waited again. "One of those discoveries is a formula she calls exilis, or thinner. Mix it with some vampiric blood, and presto: all addicting properties eliminated. Also gives a nasty taste to human blood, or so she says. I'll just take her word on that one."
Evey listened with growing curiosity as he explained. So this cruenta didn't want to be one, searched for a cure, and created a mixture that removed addictive properties… "Removing the properties that make it addictive wouldn't necessarily remove an enthralled effect though, would it? Addiction is just the need and the craving for your drug of choice. Enthrallment is a whole other thing… If it's part of the high then addicted or not, you'd still get it. You might not be addicted to marijuana, but you'd still get the high from it. Unless… I suppose, the high comes directly from that addictive property." She shook her head in disbelief. "That's a hell of a chemist to isolate the those particular properties specifically in vampiric blood of all things and then create a solution that will isolate and nullify it." Evey blinked when she realized she probably sounded like a total geek. A brief flush crawled to her cheeks. "So, uh, she created something for you to drink her blood, not get enthralled and not be addicted, and your blood tastes nasty to vampires to boot. Not a bad deal in the slightest. Awfully nice of her considering you're her ex-boyfriend's brother. Did you know she was a vampire before he found out?"
"Eh, first a little clarification." Will turned to her, his brows knotted, a bashful smile on his face. He hadn't expected her to be so interested in how ancillae and the formula worked, hadn't even thought of it, really, since these were just everyday things to him. "I meant addiction and enthrallment as the same thing. When someone becomes enthralled to a vampire, they become addicted to that specific vampire's blood, which only strengthens the enthrallment each time it's taken. Getting an ancilla 'off the habit,' as it were, is just as hard as trying to get a chain smoker to quit cold turkey. And all the times I've taken the exilis, it's been mixed with Kei's blood, so it has no effect on the taste of mine. Apparently, that only happens when you shoot it straight. Don't ask how she came to this conclusion; I didn't ask and don't want to know." He figured it had been when she was experimenting on herself with it, but as far as he was concerned, that was for Kei to tell him in her own time, if she wanted to.
The hunter sighed and focused on answering her other question. "I knew," Will admitted. "She told me a few months in, after she found out that we were vampire hunters, a fact we'd been hiding from her for her safety. Go figure. She was scared as hell to tell Jon, and I feel really bad about it, because I told her he would be understanding. I did not expect him to react the way he did."
Evey winced. "Why did he react badly? He must know there are good and bad cruenti, just like everything else. Given, I've only run into nasty ones, but that's just luck. Despite that I know there are decent ones otherwise what's happening now would've happened ages ago and we'd be living under vampiric rule right now." She sighed softly. "Hindsight is twenty-twenty, but you probably should've told him then. At that point she knew about you two, and you knew about her, waiting any longer was just going to blow it up. Which, judging from your brother's reaction to just coming here, it did." She shrugged. "Not that I'm telling you anything you probably didn't already know anyway, I guess. Just… sorry. I don't have any siblings, so I can't imagine how he felt when he realized you knew the whole time."
"I would have told him, but I promised her I wouldn't." Will rubbed the back of his neck. "She wanted to do it herself, knew she had to, but things became intense for a while and they saw each other less over the months, so the opportunity didn't come up again until they'd almost hit the year mark. Kei was stressing about it the entire time. I'm not sure who was hurt more when it was finally called off." Will frowned. "I found out after the fact that Jon was so pissed about it because of an incident with his girlfriend before Kei. Long story short, she was changed while they were dating, and was unfortunately one of those cruenti who became monstrous after getting that first sip of blood, and she wound up using him, particularly the knowledge that he was a skilled hunter, for her own devilish purposes. In the end, Jon was the one who had to slay her. He'd never said anything to me, so I didn't know; that happened while he was away at college. When he found out Kei was a vampire too..." He shook his head. "Now he thinks the same thing is starting to happen with me that happened between him and Sybil, despite the fact that Kei's only my friend." Will cast a quick glance at Evey. "Don't you dare breathe a word of this to him. He'd kill me."
"Jesus Christ," Evey muttered. "No, I won't say a thing. That's your job." She shook her head. "Sounds like a hell of a clusterfuck if I've ever heard it. I guess all that can be done is remind your brother that Kei isn't the same as this person. That this Kei doesn't WANT to be a vampire and is actively trying to find a cure. Eventually, one would think, he'll figure out that it's not the same situation. Still I'm sorry for them. That must've been really hard on the both of them. But I can see why he'd be worried if you haven't told him about Kei trying to find a cure, and her exilis thing, and the fact that she doesn't want to be a vampire, and that she wanted to tell him sooner. Sounds like you need to have a sit down with him and get this all out in the open, if you haven't already." She shrugged again. "Then again, I'm just somebody you just met, so I don't really have a right to offer any advice. Technically, I'm only here by accident. Tends to happen a lot to me actually."
"I have told him all this," Will growled, rubbing his forehead. "So has Kei, but that doesn't help. He's so convinced she's going to end up turning on us that it's a wonder he tolerates her at all. I know he's just waiting for her to do something lethal enough to give him a more legitimate excuse." He sighed and leaned back in his seat again. "I think the only reason he hasn't already tried to kill her is because first, she's my friend and hasn't done anything to hurt either of us, and second, part of him still loves her." He turned to Evey while he pointed through the window ahead. "You'll need to make a sharp right here, then parallel park in front of the brick building marked 259, unless you want to pull into the alleyway. She has a garage back there with her car in it, but the driveway is kind of a narrow space to park on."
"Parallel it is then," Evey murmured as she made the sharp right and turned on the windshield wipers just as it started to rain. She said nothing as she parked the car. Brendan hadn't been far behind her and Will, maybe a couple of lights, so she waited for a beat as she turned off the wipers and then the car. "So… your brother basically has issues that make him a liability. Good to know. At least now this cruenta friend of yours will have Graham and I to help keep your brother from being fabulously stupid, because if she provides us with information, Graham is going to make sure she stays whole. But I promise, if I have to shoot your brother, I'll aim for his foot or hand." It was an enlightening drive. She opened the door and got out of the car just as Brendan pulled up behind her. She closed the door to look up at the townhouse, only to see a woman with an umbrella waiting for them.
Evey cursed mentally. Okay, maybe she understood a little bit why Jonathon Keatting didn't believe Will's lack of enthrallment. Jon was probably still 'enthralled' himself. Why couldn't there be any ugly vampiresses? Did they all have to be knock outs? Evey felt like an ugly, drowned cat in comparison and she hadn't even met the woman yet.
Of course, it didn't help that the rain was already starting to pick up.
"I was hoping you'd make it before the storm," the woman said as she waited on the steps. "Good thing the coffee's already done." Kei was quite petite; even standing on the landing, it was easy to see she was a good few inches shorter than Evey. Her black hair was pulled back loosely, a few stray locks framing her pleasant face. There was something vaguely exotic about her appearance, especially since her skin was not the usual alabaster pale that was expected of vampires, particularly ones five centuries old. Rather, Kei's skin was a light shade of olive, and still looked to be darker than Evey's. She smiled, opening the door behind her and waving for them to join her. "Well, come on! The weather's only supposed to get worse, and I know we have a lot to talk about."
Will had just gotten out of the car and pulled his jacket up to shield him more from the rain. He looked at Evey before nodding towards the house. "I like the sound of that coffee. You?"
"Yeah, sure," Evey muttered as she moved after him.
Brendan got out of his car and moved to the passenger side where Jon got out as he lifted his collar and he looked over the petite woman as she spoke. She wasn't just beautiful. She was a bloody knock out. Her voice was as sultry as her mouth. When Jon closed the door, Brendan locked it and then his hand moved like lightning to smack Jon in the back of the head. What man in their right mind dumps a woman like that? Vampire or no vampire, but especially one his brother vouched for? He didn't wait for Jon to retaliate, but started moving, catching up to Evey and Will with a couple of long strides. This was certain to be interesting. How had she known they were going to show up? Had Will called or texted beforehand? Jon sure as fuck hadn't. He'd brooded in the passenger the seat the whole way only grunting out directions.
Jon winced when he was struck, but didn't ask. He was sure he knew why Brendan had smacked him. He was half-tempted to continued leaning against the car, but as it began to rain more, he decided he could at least stand under the awning.
Kei, of course, noticed that he was actually approaching her house along with the others. "I pulled out a mug for you," she said, her black eyes locking on him. "Are you going to come inside this time?"
"I'll stay on the porch," Jon grumbled. The cruenta sighed, folding her umbrella and tucking it inside while she leaned against the door frame.
"It's only supposed to get worse, you know."
"I don't care."
"Jon, don't start this with me. I'm only asking you to come inside from the rain. You can brood in the foyer if you don't want to look at me."
"I'm fine right here." He sent her a determined glare. This, unfortunately, didn't help his case. Kei's eyes narrowed and she propped her hands on her hips.
"Mr. Jonathan Keatting, do I have to embarrass you in front of your brother and friends just to keep you dry?"
Jon grunted in response, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall. For the briefest instant, it looked as though Kei's eyes flashed red. She quickly turned to Will while he was helping Evey hang up her coat. "Would you mind holding to door for me? Your brother is being predictably stupid."
Will did his damnedest not to grin, still smiling while he nodded and moved to the side, holding the door. Kei gave him a grateful smile before she stepped up to Jon on the porch, raising her chin to look up at him. "Last chance."
"I'm. Fine." Jon gritted through his teeth.
Kei growled, wrinkling her nose, muttering something under her breath before she suddenly tackled him around the waist. Without much effort, she flipped the much larger man over her shoulder and turned around, marching into the house with her head held high and a satisfied smirk on her face. Will was trying so hard not to laugh his face was turning red, and a few chuckles escaped as he closed the door behind them.
Lots more exposition this time around, explaining things more than the last time. I adore Kei's revamp (pardon the pun); she's got a lot more character now than she did before, and a lot more complexities regarding her relationship with Lios. If you haven't read the original, don't worry: that will be explained soon enough.