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Anita Blake Meets...The Lost Boys? by Lilith Knight

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Dedication: To all those who sent me feedback, Trace who beta-read it for me, and Claudette who threatened me and without whom this part probably STILL wouldn't be out. To Brenna, Claudette, Cara, Carla, Crys, Dawn, Epsy35, Erika, Gaze, Jennifer, Jill, Kim, Lauren, Mina, Molly, Otaka La, Pallia, Polgara, Sianna, Sille, Sonya, Tenley, Tina, Trace (my wonderful beta reader), Tricia, Watcher, and Xakana, all of whom gave me some great feedback and some of whom threatened me, which just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. *grins* You guys are the best! (If I missed anyone I'm really sorry and just feel free to yell at me and then beat me with a very blunt object.) To Claudette, Crys, Jill, Kim, Ladynoire, Lexicat, Loz, Sonya, Tenley, The Watcher, and Trace (my wonderful betareader), thank you SO much. (If I missed anyone you can send Edward over to torture me. I'm sure he's bitter about the whole bitchfight thing anyway.) To Asaka J., Aurora, Brenna, Claudette, Dani, Erika, Jill, Kay, Kim, Krystal, Loz, Mina, Sonya, Stardogg, the Watcher and Trace. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!! Did I miss anyone? How about a group hug? *watches as everyone backs away from her in fear* What???
I sighed. I was going to Santa Carla, an experience I was pretty sure I could do without. Jean Claude had gotten a call from the Council "asking" him ("asking" meaning he could refuse and face the wrath of the council or agree and be a good little vampire lackey) to find and "dispose" of any activity causing "unfavorable" publicity for vampires and I had agreed to come with him. I had mentioned it in passing to Dolph and he had informed me that not only was Santa Carla the murder capital of the world but that any law enforcement agents that tried to investigate had the annoying tendency to disappear or turn up dead. Thus informed I decided on a whim to invite Edward along. The conversation had gone surprisingly well. I had called the number he'd given to me and had gotten his answering machine.

"Leave your name, number and reason for calling. I might get back to you. " An electronic beep sounded.

"Hello? Edward? If you're there pick up." There was a pause and then a click as the phone was lifted out of the cradle.

"Hello, Anita. What can I do for you?" came his voice over the line, smooth, calm, and as always, unfailingly polite.

"I have a favor to ask."

"What's in it for me?"

"You'll get to kill vampires."

"Hmmm...." He sounded considering. "And what does
this favor entail?"

"Well, it's in California but other than that you
just need to back me up."

"When are you leaving?"

"In about two days." There was a brief silence then
the sound of pages being flipped.

"Ah, you're in luck. I'm free that day and have no
previous engagements after that."

"You keep your contracts in an appointment book?!"

"Of course. How else do you think I keep organized?"
His voice was amused.

"That's just... so..." I trailed off not being able
to think of a word. Edward chuckled.

"See you Monday," he said and hung up. Nobody ever seemed to say good-bye anymore. That was probably a good thing considering I was still in a bit of shock. I mean, an appointment book?

I finished packing and dragged my bags downstairs. Jason had arrived while I was taking my shower and was flirting with Cherry was trying her best to ignore him. Nathaniel and Zane were there as well, which wasn't exactly unusual considering they, as well as Cherry, lived with me. They were there to help me adjust better to being Nimir-Ra, take care of Nathaniel, and to introduce me to the pard's customs and habits. Nathaniel looked up as I came in with that same watchful, almost worshipful expression that made me so nervous.

"Everyone packed and ready?" I asked. They all nodded.

"Jean Claude will be coming at sunset along with Asher and Damian." Jason added.

We were all going in RV's so the vampires would be shielded from the sunlight and we could all take turns driving while the others slept. It had NOT been my idea to take so many people with us but Jean Claude had insisted and some of the pard had wanted to come along. I was leaving Elizabeth in charge while I was gone. It was going to be an... interesting trip to say the least.

I sat down on the couch and Nathaniel crawled over to me, curled up against my side, and put his head in my lap. He let out a contented sigh and closed his eyes.

I absentmindedly began running my fingers through his silky hair. He almost immediately started to purr, a deep, rumbling sound that had nearly scared the shit out of me the first time I'd heard it. Once I'd realized what it was however, I had to admit the sound was remarkably soothing.

"How come you never pet me or let me lie in your lap?" Jason pouted. I raised an eyebrow.

"Because I know he won't try anything. You would."

"What if I promised to be good?" He was serious or once. I paused, contemplating. I was his Lupa after all... And I could always shoot him if he did try to cop a feel.

"Alright," I said, resigned. Jason looked happy and curled up on my other side, but, true to his word, didn't try anything. Cherry and Zane soon joined them.

This was how Edward found me, after entering uninvited and without knocking. I was sitting there on the couch, in the middle of a pile of purring wereleopards and a 'wolf. He looked amused.

"Well, isn't this a cozy picture?" he mocked. "Anita, you look so cute."

"Shut up, Edward," I growled. He laughed and seated himself in on of the armchairs looking deceptively relaxed and harmless. I knew he couldn't possibly be with all the supernatural beasties in the room.

"So when's the rest of your entourage coming?" he
asked. Jason cracked on eye open.

"They said they'd be here after sunset," he mumbled sleepily before closing his eyes again and snuggling closer. Edward smirked at me. I opened my mouth to defend myself then decided that there was no real point.

About half an hour later Jean Claude, Asher and Damian arrived.

"Ma petite, you look beautiful as always," Jean Claude said seductively. Edward rolled his eyes. I suppressed the impulse to do the same. I was inclined to agree with Edward. I was wearing black jeans and a T-shirt with no make up on. Jean Claude did tend to lay it on a little thick. I'd had him tell me the same thing after a night of raising zombies before I'd even had a shower.

"Are all the arrangements ready?" Edward asked. Jean Claude nodded.

"Yes, we have procured two large RV's that should be sufficient."

"Okay, guys, wakey, wakey. It's time to go." I said
and nudged the sleeping wereleopards and Jason. There were sleepy protests, but they got up. We all loaded our stuff into the RV's, lay down on the cots, and went back to sleep. Edward, Damian, Nathaniel, and Jason were with me. Jean Claude, Cherry, Asher and Zane were in the other RV. Damian and Asher were driving first because it was night. The rest of us slept. Well, except for Edward. I wasn't really sure about him. I think he slept with one eye open... if he slept at all.

When dawn started to approach Damian and Asher stopped to change drivers, waking the inhabitants. Thus ended peace.

Edward took over the wheel. I went back to sleep, this time with Nathaniel curled up next to me. I slept like the dead (no pun intended) straight through the next eight hours, waking only briefly as Nathaniel got up. Bert had had me doing several zombie raisings the night before and I'd had so many things to do before I left for Santa Carla that I only managed to get a couple hours worth of sleep. And besides, it wasn't like I was missing anything... right? Wrong.

When I finally woke up again, it was just in time to hear the last strains of 'Achy, Breaky Heart'. All was quiet for a few seconds then Jason began singing 'The Barney Song'. Nathaniel had just started to join in when they were interrupted by a very pissed off Edward.

"Okay, you've 'sung', and I use the term VERY loosely, '1000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall', 'The Song That Never Ends', and 'Achy, Breaky Heart'. I WILL NOT listen to 'The Barney Song' or any other annoying car songs you can think of! The next person who starts one will cause me to pull over, shoot you, and leave your rotting corpse on the side of the highway!!!" Jason and Nathaniel both flinched slightly at the tone and volume of Edward's voice. I yawned and stretched.

"So did you boys have fun driving Edward insane?" I asked, laughing. Jason, who was out of Edward's line of sight, grinned and nodded.

"Shut up, Anita. if you'd been listening to them for hours you'd be threatening to shoot them too."

"Well, you said everyone had a breaking point..." I teased. "I guess we know yours." He muttered something under his breath that I didn't quite catch, but Nathaniel looked shocked and Jason started cracking up so it must have been bad. Eventually, we all stopped at Burger King and bought an indecent amount of food. Good thing the Council was financing this little excursion. I think the woman at the window almost had a heart attack. We had a small refrigerator for any leftovers. There weren't many.

Between the two of them Jason and Nathaniel scarfed down about two thirds of the food we'd gotten which had been enough to feed a hungry person for about a week. I only had a burger and some fries and watched in awe at the amount of food that they put away. A cup of coffee and I was satisfied. Edward had the same as I did and ate while driving with one hand. Thankfully, we had a coffee maker too. It didn't make the greatest coffee I'd ever tasted but any coffee is good coffee. I watched the two of them seat themselves by the window and begin making faces at the other cars. This was gonna be a LONG trip...
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