“There was a message waiting from Governor Burrell when I rose this evening. We have been summoned to his Shreveport residence.”
“Boring!” Godric sighed and waited for Eric to get it all out of his system. Sometimes it took a while, and sometimes it never happened at all. “I am not in the mood to be bored this evening by some political human sycophant who lost his dog, or his mother, or his wallet. Besides,” Eric continued, looking at Godric pointedly, “Burrell has proven that he is no friend to any supernatural, especially vampires. The fact that he would think I would help him only indicates that he is too stupid to benefit from my assistance.”
Suppressing the urge to sigh, and roll his eyes again, Godric warmed himself another blood and moved toward his laptop to see if any other cases had presented themselves while they had rested. “Oh, here is one from the website-.”
“Website? What website?” Eric vamped over to his side and looked down contemptuously at the laptop.
“You’re using that tone again, Godric. Stop using that tone with me.”
“I am not using a tone with you. I am simply trying to explain-” he was interrupted by a tweeting sound coming from Eric’s pocket. “What is that sound?”
“What sound?” Eric took his phone out and looked at it quickly, frowning when he saw the latest tweet from a group called The Hunted regarding something called “roundup”.
1st & 3rd swarming tonight!
“The sound coming from your phone. What is that, the twitter account you had me set up?”
“It’s nothing. We have to go.” Turning then Eric headed for the door.
“Go where?” Godric called out following him. Eric just kept walking grabbing his long coat with the high collar on his way out the door, clearly expecting Godric to follow him. Outside Eric took to the air immediately headed toward downtown Shreveport. He landed on top of building nearly the intersection of 1st and 3rd and hid in the shadows, looking intently down at the street. Godric, taking is queues from Eric, kept to the shadows as well, following his gaze.
Below him he saw several unmarked black vans. There were humans dressed in black sweeping the area intently, weapons poised and ready to strike. They were the only people on the street this evening. Curious for this time of evening, Eric thought. He also took note that each end of the street there were detour signs that said ‘closed for maintenance’. Looking back at the humans, he recognized from the way they moved that they had military training. They swept the area in pairs, communicating via radio signals. He had no problem hearing both sides of the conversation.
“Team two report, any sight of the unfriendly?”
“Negative, we had him in sight for a moment, and then he seemed to just disappear.”
“They can do a lot of thing but they are not invisible! Keep looking! You know how pissed he’s gonna be if we lose this one!”
“You damn well better, roger that, asshole!”
“Fuck you, peckerwood,” the lead soldier muttered, but didn’t transmit that back. Looking at the human beside him he jerked his head and they moved on down the street. Eric’s enhanced vampire senses told him that the leader of these humans tracking below him liked to drink and was unfaithful to his mate. His clothes were permeated with a smell that indicated long term exposure to one female, and that was over laid with the more recent scent of sex with a different female. He also curiously smelled of bergamot and was sweating profusely, his heart racing though on the outside he seemed calm and icy.
Eric could also tell that they were hunting a young vampire that was hidden in the ally they currently headed toward. The quiet of evening was shattered by weapons fire and then the radios lit up again everyone talking at once. The humans that had been hanging back began to rush toward the sounds of gunfire.
“We have him! Hit him with the net!”
Eric and Godric watched the team converge on their target and heard the sound of a weapon fire immediately followed by screams from the vampire. They had hit him with a silver net. Godric immediately started to move toward the vampire to assist him, but Eric touched his arm and shook his head indicating they should wait. Because they knew each other so long they didn’t need words to speak. Godric wanted an explanation but Eric couldn’t provide one, not yet anyway. Trusting his instincts, Godric went against his impulse and his nature and held back. It wasn’t easy.
They watched as the screaming baby vampire was loaded into one the black vans, still silvered. Several of the men ran to the ends of the block and remove the maintenance signs, loading them into the back of the other van before speeding off into the night.
“What the fuck, Eric?! You just let that happen!”
“Follow them from above and let me know what you find. Do not let them see you!”
“Where are you going?”
“I thought you wanted to go see the governor?”
“Now you want to see the governor?”
“No, but you asked me to. Besides,” he smiled down at Godric, “maybe it won’t be so boring after all.” Godric watched Eric fly off toward the governor’s mansion and clenched his fists to center himself and calm down before he followed the vans. Even after all these years, Eric was still the greatest mystery of all.
“Governor Burrell will see you now, Mr. Northman.” Eric rose to follow the woman into his office. Automatically, his senses inventoried his surroundings, taking in everything around him. By the time he was seated in front of Burrell’s desk he knew that the man had a liver condition brought on by too many years of drinking, and that was taking homeopathic medication for illness. He also had high blood pressure, and he was having an affair with his assistant.
Keeping his face calmly pleasant he ignored Burrell’s extended hand and waited for the explanation of why he was here. Burrell, who had extended his hand more from reflex than a true desire to touch the vampire now seated before him expertly swept past the awkwardness of the moment and got right to the point.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Northman, I know you are a busy man.” He hesitated again, he had called this creature a man, but Eric could read the micro expressions that had passed Burrell’s face and knew that he was not considered a man at all. More a necessary evil for whatever it was that he had been summoned for this evening. When Eric didn’t respond, instead merely sitting there completely still staring at him, not evening blinking, Burrell suppressed a shiver that again, Eric didn’t miss, and pressed on.
“A situation has come to light that requires your unique, talents.” Again, the stress of the words talents didn’t slip past Eric. He could hear the contempt raging beneath the fake compliments and the false smile. He hoped this asshole got to the point before he lost his patience and decided use his aortic valve for a sippy cup.
“I was contacted today by Sookie Stackhouse regarding some compromising photographs that she has of my daughter, Willa.”
The governor blinked. “What? She-“
“Whatever she wants, pay her.” It was possible that Eric had underestimated how stupid this man truly was after all. It was curious considering how low he had set the bar already. Everyone knew who Sookie Stackhouse was, and that you didn’t fuck with The Mistress, as she called herself. When she had setup shop in Shreveport fifty years ago he and Godric had made a point to avoid her entirely. She was legendary in her ability to seduce, and cause trouble, though not necessarily in that order. Her exploits held no interest for Eric. She was Fae, and they were full of trickery and deceit. Godric had spoken of her several times when she made the papers with her latest hijinks. As soon as Godric would bring her up, he would either declare the topic ‘boring!’ and leave the room, or just leave the room, effectively ending the conversation. If this man thought he could get one over on The Mistress he needed more help than anyone short of a prescription pad could offer.
Getting himself under control, the governor, tried another approach. “I have been told that your skill and discretion are things I can count on, Mr. Northman.”
“Obviously,” was Eric’s only reply, no longer able to hide his level of boredom with this imbecile. It went without saying because otherwise, the governor would have called someone else to bore to True Death tonight.
“She didn’t ask for money.” The governor said through clenched teeth. Eric raised an eyebrow.
“What did she ask for?”
“Nothing.” Now both Eric’s eyebrows went up and he felt a fleeting sense of surprise. That never happened. “She said she just wanted me to know that she had them. She called them ‘insurance’, and said that there might come a time when she needed a favor.” Eric smiled, if Godric had been there he would have been very afraid at the expression on Eric’s face.
“A power play! No one makes those anymore!” The governor seemed even more disconcerted by Eric’s display of pleasure than he had been by his previous cold contempt. He seemed impressed by her for god’s sake! Clenching his jaw tighter he pressed on to why he had called Eric here.
“Look, Mr. Northman, since The Great Reveal, when all the supernaturals came out it has been clear that when a human attempts to deal with them, it is never as successful as when another supernatural acts as liaison. There just isn’t enough trust between our races right now for me to attempt productive negotiations with her.” He paused to see what Eric would say and became even angrier when he realized that he had lost Eric’s attention entirely. “Mr. Northman?” No response. “MR. NORTHMAN!” The sharpness of his tone pulled Eric from his internal thoughts and evoked his predatory response.
He dropped fang on the governor of Louisiana and smiled when he smelled the small amount of urine that escaped the man before him.
His internal Godric chastised him for scaring the blood bag into wetting himself and out of respect for his longtime friend and companion he forced his fangs back up and tried to look pleasantly at the man before him.
Judging from the additional urine that he could smell permeate the room, his attempt was a failure. “What do you want me to do?”
Gathering himself Burrell attempted to project confidence again. Eric wasn’t the only one who failed in pretending. “Talk to her, find out what she really wants and get those photographs before she sells them to the highest bidder.”
“What makes you think I would be willing to do this?”
“Well, in addition to your reputation of solving mysteries, and the reputation that you have with the Shreveport police department, your website says that you are keenly aware of the importance of racial relations between supes and humans. If it became public knowledge that I was being blackmailed by a supe those relations would take a serious hit.”
“Not to mention the hit you would take when those photos came to light.”
“It seems we both have something to lose, Northman.” Yes, it certainly seems that way, Eric thought. That fucking website. Godric’s hobby was definitely turning out to be more trouble than it was worth. Still though, power plays intrigued him. Intrigue was good. Suppressing another smile because he couldn’t take the stench of any other bodily fluids the blood bag before him might produce, he stood to leave.
Just as he reached the door he stopped and turned back to the man still seated behind the desk. “I couldn’t help but notice this room has such a pleasant smell,” he took a deep unnecessary breath for show. “What is that lovely aroma?”
“Bergamot. I am taking some herbal treatments for an ailment.” Eric didn’t try to hide is smile this time, and turned to go before the man lost control of himself completely.