A Lullaby For The Lost

Chapter 19: Karma

Chapter 19: Karma

At last, there was silence in the ballroom. David had begrudgingly revoked his earlier statement declaring that Leah Emerson was no longer allowed back to the cave. She sat in Marko’s bean bag chair, wearing Dwayne’s long thermal shirt as protection from the cold that always seemed to permeate the Boys inner sanctum. Finally, after eating a bloody hunk of fish, she had found the strength to resume human form, and the joy she had felt at being reunited with her father had almost been heartwarming even for a vampire.

Even for a vampire that hated Emerson’s.

Sam Emerson was obviously still in shock from the bite wound that the now deceased Detective Branch had inflicted upon him. Since Commissioner Erickson was still alive and would pull himself out of the cold and onto the Pacific beach within the hour, he couldn’t be left there. David and Dwayne had little choice but to airlift him and Leah to the hideout. After all, Sam Emerson would never be the same again. He would now be a creature of the night, just like his daughter. He would need to live by a new code and learn the rules. David had plenty of pilfered books from the Frog brothers that could start his education off right. Just wait until those two do-do’s figured out what had become of their friend!

There was no need to flush Sam’s wound with immortal blood. It would heal on it’s own in a short amount of time. David had checked him over to make certain he wasn’t wearing any silver jewelry. The only thing that looked suspicious was the Rolex watch, but Sam informed him that it was made of stainless steel. Now, Sam was stretched out on the couch.

Karma, indeed. David had to give his eldest Childe some credit. Being a werewolf was worse than death in David’s book.

Quietly, David scribbled the events of the night down in his journal, making little noise so that he wouldn’t disturb the two resting guests. Eventually, they would lose Leah. But, in some ways, David had to admit that he felt better about her fate. She was being returned to the family she belonged with. Things would never be the same, but when did life ever stay the same?

Well, some things did always manage to stay the same. He’d come very close to losing Dwayne. As he’d always known, losing his eldest Childe would be like losing his sanity. Once Dwayne’s safety had been assured, David’s rationale had been returned to him, and the decisions he’d made were much more reasonable. They had to be, in order to keep Dwayne from being banished….or worse!

Yet, he couldn’t completely credit Dwayne with keeping him sane in this round.

Across town, sleeping fitfully in a bed with another man; was a woman pregnant with his child. She had begged him, for his own sake; not to bring any harm to Sam Emerson. In the end, he had promised her. And, in the end, it had been the Commissioner and his men that had done the evil deed. Sam Emerson himself would testify to that. In some ways, it was a damn shame that Montgomery and Branch were fishy food in Davy Jones’s locker. But, the Commissioner would live for his retribution.

Somehow, David suspected that the Lt. Mayor and his boy would come up with clean noses. Yet, he didn’t hold any animosity towards them, really. Especially towards the kid. Teenagers did stupid things. Hell, he’d been young once, and technically, he always would be. Fathers protected their kids. Hadn’t Max always done his best to protect his Boys? At least Jake Martinez had let Leah live. Later, apparently, he’d tried to make amends and bring her a stuffed kitten, as either a gift or an apology. Obviously, he felt bad about his actions, which was more than could be said for the Commissioner or his hired mutts. The kid deserved some mercy. The Lt. Mayor might deserve to be fired if he didn’t have a family to feed. The Commissioner, on the other hand…

David nearly broke his pen thinking about it. He knew what Dwayne would say. Karma…

Yes, Karma would come around and bite Erickson in the tail. He knew what Shelby would say, too.

Don’t take personal vengeance out on him yourself. You and your boys won. Keep it that way.

It was almost over. Tomorrow night, Jake Martinez would make his statement at the police station, and finally tell the truth. It would go on some unofficial record, but he would know that Leah Emerson had finally been found. He could sleep peacefully at night now. Whatever punishment he was in store for would be meted out, but he could live his life in peace. Chances were, he’d get a slap on the paw, and his punishment would be meted out by his pack, and not by the long arm of the law. After all, as it turned out, Leah Emerson was not a local. She was a girl from Los Gatos. Only certain family members of hers were locals, but she herself did not qualify as one. He had not been on the beach that night in a pack of more than two. Though the girl was not a vagrant or a runaway; and even though eating ‘tourists’ was ‘frowned upon’, there was technically nothing in the Trammel Edict that he could be prosecuted with, anymore than there could have been anything to prosecute Dwayne with. Tori Finch had called David up a little while ago and informed him of this, and asked him to pass that on to Dwayne. Even if Dwayne had been responsible for Leah’s disappearance, he would have gotten off essentially Scott free.

Further more, Jake Martinez had never lied to law enforcement agents about what had happened that night. Neither, actually, had his father. In fact, records had it that David Martinez had gone straight to Erickson the following day and reported the incident as soon as his son told him about it. He had done the right thing. The cover up had come from a higher level…the Commissioner’s office. He had pulled the police Lt. and the squad already assigned to the investigation off of it, and put his own men on it. David only hoped that Erickson wouldn’t try to implicate Shelby in the whole deal. He also hoped that Lt. Chelli wouldn’t take the heat. David had a personal interest in Lt. Chelli, even if Chelli didn’t know it. He may have a vendetta against Star, but he had no wish to see an innocent man, who was coming up on retirement age, and had put in extra hours on the job, go down for something a crooked werewolf had done. That was dirty pool…but it was something the Commissioner would do.

Maybe David would put a bug in Shelby’s ear the night after tomorrow. City Hall would be closed for New Year’s Day, but would resume on the Second.

He heard noises in the upper chamber, and knew that Dwayne had returned from his first feed of the New Year. He also had Laddie in tow, along with Leah’s belongings from the storage facility they’d broken into after hours. The kid needed her clothes back.

Thorn had curled himself up on his Master’s chair, but now, he obediently jumped down, full of the vigor and youth he always possessed.

Another person was with them, wearing a gold 2007 crown atop her head. It was Alex. She carried a bottle of sparkling apple cider in one hand, and a bottle of Champagne in another.

“Happy 2007!!” she cried enthusiastically.

“Well, I can’t say it’s been happy yet, but…”

“David, I have something I want to ask you, and I’d like to wait until Paul and Marko get back, but I don’t think I can. Neither of them will make it back until almost sunrise, so maybe we’ll just have a surprise waiting for them when they return,” Dwayne said.

“A surprise?” David questioned.

“Yeah. Laddie’s been waiting an awfully long time for me to…finish what was started a long time ago. Now that I’m whole again, what do you say?”

Suddenly, there was a stirring from the couch. Sam struggled to sit up.

“You mean you want to be a vampire, Laddie?”

“It’s been my destiny for a long time. I can’t explain it, but…I guess if you were in my shoes, you’d understand,” Gabe replied.

“You’re going to have to kill people!” Sam protested.

“Can it, Emerson. In less than a week, you will too,” David told him.

Sam’s jaw closed with an audible gulp.

David turned to Dwayne, and then to Laddie.

“Are you sure this is what you want?”

“Yes. This is what I want.”

“Then, by all means. Welcome back, in full. But, Laddie, this time, it’s for good. No half status. You will be expected to make your first kill within a reasonable amount of time.”

“If it’s alright with you, Alex and I would like to do it together,” Gabe said.

“When are you planning to do it?” David asked, affording Alex a severe look.

“Isabella is set to be born on March 7th, but babies don’t come on a reliable schedule. However, she has to be born sometime around then. My mom is marrying Dean on Memorial Day Weekend when she knows she’ll be able to enjoy her honeymoon. After that, I’ll be ready. I don’t think I’ll be able to hold out much longer,” she replied.

“Fair enough. You two have until June 1st to get your affairs in order,” David issued.

Two matching smiles beamed in unison.

David knew he was being rather lenient, but he remembered the consequences of the time when he wasn’t.

Gabe eyed the bottle.

“No, not that way. There’s none of my blood in it right now. It will have to be this way,” Dwayne said, enfolding Laddie into a deadly embrace. Without warning, he sunk his fangs into the young man’s neck, eliciting a gasp of pain and surprise from Gabe. Yet, he hardly struggled. Soon, he sagged against the taller vampire as his life’s blood was pulled from his body. His eyes remained open but unseeing.

Alex looked on, half in horror, but half in wonder. David watched with a small smile.

Then, Dwayne gnawed at his wrist with his fangs, causing his now warmed blood to flow copiously. When he pressed the flow to Gabe’s mouth, he instinctively began to draw it in, becoming more animated with each mouthful he took. Soon, he no longer needed his Sire’s support to stand. Then, David rose, slashed his own wrist, and gave some to Gabe to drink. After a few swallows, he motioned Alex over to do the same. Finally, he lifted the bottle to Gabe’s lips. The bottle had been filled earlier with the blood of Paul and Marko to heal Thorn’s wounds.

“Now, you’re one of us. You’re the Childe of Dwayne, but a part of us all. Welcome, Brother,” David announced.

Gabe slid boneless into a chair that Dwayne offered him, and Alex began pouring glasses of champagne into mismatched mugs and Styrofoam cups and passed all the way around. She would have poured a glass of sparkling apple cider for Leah, but the child was still curled up, fast asleep. She even passed one to Sam, who watched the proceedings with part revulsion and part fascination.

“Cheers to the New Year, and Cheers to the New One of Us!” she cried, lifting her glass.

“And Cheers to Peace. By the way, you’d better hope there’s some of that left for Marko and Paul, or our new found peace will be short lived…,” David announced.

“There’s plenty,” Alex replied.

They all lifted their glasses and drank the bubbly wine in one sip. Gabe felt the rush hit his head almost immediately, and he smiled at the warm flush that went through him.

“So, any thoughts about your job? How are you going to cope with a swing shift while you’re a half vampire?” David asked.

He shrugged tiredly.

“Right now, I don’t give a rip,” he replied.

“Maybe that half vampire lawyer I met tonight could give him some tips. He’ll need some if he plans to stick it out ‘til June,” Dwayne said.

“Yeah, well that’s all fine and great, but don’t let her talk you into working for San Francisco P.D. as a sketch artist,” David warned.

“I don’t think she was really serious.”

“You never know. Look, San Francisco is fine for an occasional hunt jag. But if any of us were to stay there for an extended time, the local gang there would run us out on a rail, so don’t get any ideas,” he stated.

“Alright, fine. Maybe she could just give Laddie some tips on staying awake during the day, that’s all. Period,” Dwayne pouted.

“What’s the matter, Dwayne? Is somebody hot for the lawyer lady?” Alex teased.

“What? No. I don’t do college type chicks,” he answered abruptly.

“College type chicks?”

“Yeah. College type chicks that look like they have degrees pinned up on every wall in their big, fancy apartments. She’d be the sort that’s in to Plasma TV’s. I’m the sort that’s into Blood Plasma. Say’s no to me.” Dwayne answered smugly.

Alex giggled heartily.

“Well, maybe she likes art…”

“Enough out of you, Yenta,” David snapped.

Then he muttered to himself:

“Every time I think that girl can’t possibly be Paul’s daughter, she wings a surprise on me…”

Before the conversation went anywhere else, a loud snore issued from where Gabe had chosen his chair. He had fallen into a deep half-vampire’s sleep, further exaggerated by the cup of champagne he’d had.

“We’d better get him home, Alex. Dump some cider into a cup for Leah, pour the rest of it out and give the bottle to me,” Dwayne ordered her.

She did as she was told, and watched as Dwayne once again gnawed his wrist open to give Gabe a booster of Sire’s blood to keep at home for when the first cravings hit him tomorrow. She would be on hand to tell him what to do….if he didn’t already know. He corked the bottle and handed it to her when he was finished. Likely, he would need another kill before the night was through. Then, he lifted Gabe in a fireman’s carry and started out of the ballroom; Alex hot on his heels.

“Happy New Year, everyone!” she called as they parted.

^..^

January 6, 2007

Jennifer Britton had a hard time believing the incredible tale her daughter told when she’d finally been returned home a few days ago. Unbelievably, it had been her ex-fiancé, Sam, and his mother, Lucy, that had brought Leah safely home. Then, Sam had launched into this incredible tale about how Leah had been bitten by a…werewolf…

And hidden by a foursome of…vampires…for nearly a month for her own protection…

And that half the police force in Santa Carla had covered the whole damn thing up. Yet, Leah backed her father up emphatically, while Lucy stood by with a shocked expression on her face, looking like she needed a drink.

Then, Sam had laid the big one on her. He said that it would really be in Leah’s best interest if she lived with him from now on. Jennifer protested and told him to go straight to the depths of Hades. Just because he found her didn’t give him the right to exercise paternal rights over her when he’d hardly paid her any mind before. Besides, there was one other issue that he had yet to overcome..

Sam had blatantly laid that one out on the line, right in front of his own mother.

“I don’t need cocaine anymore. I’m changed. Since this whole thing happened to me, I haven’t needed a single hit. Maybe it’s the best thing that could have happened to me. I don’t know…Time will tell…”

“Cocaine! Sammy?” Lucy squeeled.

“Mom, I can’t believe you didn’t know. I’m surprised Mikey didn’t rat me out,” Sam said.

“Michael knew and didn’t tell me?”

“Mom, it’s not his fault. The blame is entirely mine. I was clean for awhile, but I had a relapse. Well, truth be told, I’ve had a couple. But, I’ve been clean since this whole thing happened, and I know it’s for good.”

“You’ve said that a hundred times,” Jennifer argued.

Sam looked down at his feet.

“Jen, if I didn’t mean it this time, would I be saying it in front of my own mother and in front of my own daughter?”

“We need to talk about this some more. You can’t just uproot a child from everything that’s familiar and throw her into a new environment and expect her to be okay with it….”

“She’s like me now, Jen. You don’t understand.”

“No. My decision is final. How many times have you flaked on her visitation? Let’s start there, Sam. Let’s start with visitation, huh? Why don’t we start with weekends? I’m willing to give you a chance. You show her that you really mean it, and we’ll talk. Maybe by summer, I’ll have a change of heart…..”

No one in the room could argue that Jennifer wasn’t being fair, even if she didn’t understand. In the end, Sam was forced to admit defeat. He returned home. The first night of the full moon came that evening, and he experienced his first changes.

He found himself running for his life. San Jose was full of native werewolves that didn’t want him there.

Jennifer didn’t understand why she found her daughter’s bedroom window open each morning, and why there were course hairs sticking to the window frame and the sill each time she went to shut it. She couldn’t afford to heat the great outdoors. Yet, she’d find her daughter in bed, peacefully asleep each morning.

On the night of the 6th, the last night of the full moon, everything changed. The local werewolves of Los Gatos knew there was a strange wolf in town. They knew she was reckless unschooled, and not a member of any local pack. Her presence was unwelcome. That last night, she was followed home.

Leah sensed them on her trail, but she was unable to jump through her bedroom window, transform, and slam in closed enough in time to prevent two werewolves from jumping in after her. They tried to pin her against a wall, but she leapt over her bed and dashed through her bedroom door; much more familiar with the layout of her house than they were. Madly, she dashed through the hall, transforming as she went.

“Leah?” Jennifer called from the living room. She was working on a sales report from her laptop in the living room. The sight of her daughter dashing through the hallway, buck naked, had her instantly alarmed, and she rose from her seat and started towards her.

“No, Mommy, RUN!” Leah cried.

“Leah, what is it?”

Suddenly, the two wolves burst from the girl’s bedroom. One made a beeline for the child. The other made a dash for Jennifer. Before Jennifer had a chance to react, the wolf was on her, tearing at her throat, ripping it out. Sprays of crimson shot out on the walls. Leah shrieked in horror, her feet carrying her subconsciously past the horror show of her mother’s mauling and into the sanctuary of her bedroom. The wolf pursuing her was close behind, but not so close that Leah didn’t have a chance to slam her mother’s bedroom door shut, buying her a few precious seconds.

What to do…What to do…

What had saved her before?

Silver.

Silver jewelry.

Mommy had lots of it in her jewelry box.

Leah located her mother’s jewelry box on her dresser and lifted strands of necklaces, bangles, and rings from the box, sliding them on her neck, hands and wrists by the dozens. She didn’t care what was silver and what wasn’t, at this point. Then, she backed herself into her mother’s walk in closet and waited for the inevitable. Tears slid down her cheeks as the horrid scene replayed in her mind. Her pretty mother being attacked by a wolf, just the same as she had been…just the same as she was….

The closet door crashed in, and a black wolf with silver eyes and salivating chops glared in at her. He approached her warily; his eyes taking in her talismans. Then, he backed away with a snarl. This dog was smarter than the one that had bit her had been. He knew he’d been outsmarted.

There were some more sickening noises out in the living room. Leah didn’t want to think about what was happening. She just wanted to call her daddy.