The Marradith Ryder Series, The Art of Shadows, Part 2
Keiko woke with the afternoon sun in her eyes.
She tried to turn over, but realized that she was not on a bed, but in the backseat of a SUV.
Her hands and ankles were bound by some kind of wire. Over her mouth was a muzzle strapped to her face.
She made sounds of protest, but they were muffled.
“I was wondering when you’d wake up,” the man behind the driver’s wheel said.
She leaned forward. Her dry hot mouth and grumbling stomach confirmed one thing.
She needed blood.
The man was a Wolf. No luck drinking his blood, Keiko thought with a shiver of distaste.
And not only a Wolf, but he was Scott’s father: Paul Ryder.
I could do something to cause an accident, Keiko reasoned. But without silver bulletts or a means of decapitation, she couldn’t kill him. If she caused an accident and he survived it, as he probably would, he’d only be more pissed off.
And she would still be at his mercy.
Keiko was thinking about going for it anyway, if only for the pleasure of snapping his neck, when the car slowed to a stop.
Paul pulled over and rolled the window down.
A man was standing on the side of the road. He carried a backpack with him. He grinned, leaning in to shake Paul’s hand.
Keiko caught a whiff of his scent, and her heart began to pound.
“It’s good to see you again, Sir,” he said. Keiko leaned a little so she could get a better glimpse of this man. He had curly dark hair and brown eyes. He was wiry thin, and there was a hardness about his face, and the way that he carried his body, that Keiko found familiar.
Ah fuck, she thought. Another Sojourner. She could pick them out in a crowd like cops. The subtle arrogance. The way they stood, always ready to pounce.
The man’s scent flowed towards her, and she felt her insides stir.
“It has been a long time, hasn’t it?” Paul replied.
The man circled the car. She heard the sound of the backpack being dumped into the trunk.
Keiko expected that he’d come around to sit on the passenger side. She made her body rigid, preparing to rush for his neck as soon as he sat down.
Instead, the door opened on her left, and the sweet scent of his flesh nearly overpowered her. He touched her arm, gently bringing her into a sitting position.
With careful fingers, he removed the muzzle from her mouth. She stared in disbelief as he pulled back the collar of his shirt and leaned towards her.
“Come love, I’m not going to hurt you. Take what you need.”
She sunk her teeth into his skin, drinking greedily. His blood had a spicy flavor to it, something that she could remember tasting only once before.
As she slipped into unconsciousness, she realized her mistake.
His blood was not human.
Paul powered up the partition between the front seat and the back. He didn’t want to see what Keiko and Evan were doing, despite the fact that it was neccessary.
It only took a few moments. Holding a towel to the side of his neck, Evan got out of the back and climbed into the passenger seat.
“That quick?” Paul said.
“Yes,” his friend replied. “My kind… our blood is a natural sedative for them. She’ll be out for a few hours, and when she wakes up, you can ask her anything and she’ll tell you the truth.”
Paul had known Evan for many years. He scratched his head, trying to recall what he’d read about the Sidari; earthbound demons who could exert power over vampires with their blood.
He’d worked a few assignments with Evan in years past, where his skills had proven useful.
“It never fails to amaze me,” Evan continued. “We have to torture humans for information. But vampires? Offer them some blood, and the possibility of pleasure, and they’ll do anything.”
That made Paul laugh. His own wife was half vampire. Still, he found something about their kind – unsavory.
“Where have you been all this time?” Paul asked.
“I moved back up to Toronto about ten years ago. I stayed in the fold. I’d have met you at your house, but I was on a plane from Sydney when Justin reached me.”
“Sydney? What were you doing there?”
Both men chuckled. In their line of work, vacation meant the exact opposite.
They fell silent for a time, and Paul kept his eyes on the road ahead. As the sights began to grow more familiar, he had a sense of anxiety.
“How long since you’ve been down here to New Mexico, Paul?”
“It’s been about nine years. Justin and I brought Scott here. See that shooting range? I remember spending an entire day with the two of them out here.”
“They were looking into training Scott to be a Sojourner back then?”
“Yes,” Paul replied.
Evan nodded. “Speaking of Granthem. What’s this about him marrying your daughter?”
“He did marry her. It wasn’t my choice for her, to be married so young, but…. he takes care of her. With my son in such trouble, I’ve realized far worse things could have happened to her than getting married.”
“Goodness. The time does go. My last memory of Dee Dee was running around your back yard with her on my shoulders.”
” Yes, I remember that ! Don’t call her Dee Dee next time you see her, it’s Marradith. She doesn’t know her Mother and I still call her by that nickname behind her back, all the time.”
In some ways, the New Mexico Compound was where Paul’s life started - it was where he’d earned his first position as a commanding officer within the ranks of the Sojourners. It was where he’d met Nora.
Paul felt nervous. He was the prodigal son, returning after years of being away. If he was going to find Scott, he needed the resources the Sojourners could give him, and the power he’d wield as one of the fold.
“Welcome home, Sir,” Evan said.
©2010 Lori Titus
Lori is currently writing a new book about Lazarus and the dead things that dwell therein. Meanwhile, her nightmares are haunted by zombies, werewolves, and a teenager named Marradith.
Lori’s book, Green Water Lullaby, is available here: http://www.sonar4publications.com/green.html
Vote for The Marradith Ryder Series on Web Fiction Guide: http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=the-marradith-ryder-series.
For more about the author, read her blog: http://loribeth215.wordpress.com