Authors: Jackie Ivie
Tags: #paranormal romance, #vampire assassin league, #short story, #vampire romance, #anthology
Oh…geez. She was dreaming of vampires now? She
needed a life.
“I’m fine, Missus Gibbons!”
“Lenna? I’m really starting to get worried!”
Lenna’s whispered answer had gone unheard, there wasn’t much way to open the door because her own refrigerator was on its side, barring it, and she really had to handle her injection. She probably should’ve knocked or somehow alerted her neighbor before checking her blood sugar, though, because once that had happened, it didn’t matter what noise Missus Gibbons made.
The little screen on her glucose indicator read 101.
Lenna had gaped. It wasn’t possible. It wasn’t even likely. She tested it three more times and got the same reading every single time, although the numbers went all over the spectrum before settling on 101 again. Every single time.
“I’m calling the police!”
Lenna barely heard Missus Gibbons. She’d stood just inside her bathroom in semi-shock, before it turned to sobs. That had metamorphosed into little hops in circles, while she enjoyed every bit of the elation. She hadn’t cared who Missus Gibbons called or what she told them. Lenna had bigger, broader, more fantastic things to consider. She was cured! She’d have to get it medically verified…but she could swear she didn’t have one symptom or sign of the disease that had haunted her life for seven years now. Seven years.
Oops. Back to earth, Lenna
. She’d celebrated her sugar reading over two hours ago, and right now she had to deal with the fall-out. She had two police officers, Missus Gibbons, and it looked like even the building superintendent had joined in from out in the hall. Lenna didn’t know who else might be with him. She didn’t have a door to bar anyone, and the light was too bright to check.
The policewoman sat facing Lenna while her male partner stood over in the doorway. It was the same set-up used when she’d reported Chet. Lenna didn’t trust them. They might act empathetic, but it was an act. Nobody would believe her, just like last time. Back then, they’d written their little notes, and then they’d gone and reported it right to her parents, turning her into a pariah in the only home she knew. And since that was followed by what they termed a suicide attempt, she’d received a nice stay in the psychiatric section of the hospital. She’d spent the last half of her seventeenth year in that little wing of the hospital with no handles on the insides of the doors, no phones, no outside contact. She wasn’t going there again.
She didn’t trust anyone. Period. Heck, they’d probably already received and read her history, despite it being sealed.
Lenna focused on the little span of linoleum that designated her kitchen. She altered that. She focused on what she could see in front of the seventeen cubic foot refrigerator/freezer on its side atop the faded pattern of linoleum flooring.
“Let’s start with the elevator. What happened when it got stuck again?”
Lenna pulled in a large breath. She felt and heard it as if wind was blowing through the tissues of her own body. Another oddity. She swallowed, sending a weird sensation through her throat. It really was too bad she didn’t trust them.
“I told you,” she replied finally. “I called 911.”
“There’s no record of a call. We already went over it.”
“Check my cell phone. I called somebody, because…”
Her voice dribbled off. Somebody came, all right. The shadow man got more definition, and holy smokes! If her recollection was correct…wow! He’d been amazingly handsome. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Looking a bit like that science guy who designed the first power plant at Niagara Falls. She couldn’t place his name at the moment, but she remembered his picture.
Bad call, Lenna
. The guy who’d rescued her was a lot hotter. There wasn’t anyone she could use for comparison. She debated telling them about him, before discarding it. They’d never believe her. She didn’t even believe it. She’d never been imaginative…but she’d also been a Type One Diabetic, too. Type One. The childhood diabetes. The toughest challenge. Tossing her for a loop when she was most vulnerable – like she received the punishment for what Chet did, not him.
“We don’t have your cell phone, Miss Hendershott.”
“Oh. It’s in my gym bag. No. Wait. I dropped it. Uh…somewhere in the elevator. After I panicked.” She felt the flush of embarrassment.
“It wasn’t there, Miss.”
“It has to be.”
“Take a look. Here’s everything we got from the elevator.”
She narrowed her eyes to visually check the belongings on the small folding table she used. They’d stacked everything in neat little rows. Her backpack. Water bottle. Her sports bra. Tank top. Shorts. Her track shoes.
“You didn’t find my cell?” she asked. “But who would take it? And why?” She had her client list in there. Good thing she’d sent the backup last night from the bus. Lenna smiled to herself.
“That’s what we’re trying to find out.”
“I’m sorry. I really can’t remember.”
“After you called 911? You can’t remember?”
“No.” The flush deepened. She’d always fancied herself level-headed. Able to cope with any emergency. Nope. She’d gone completely crazy.
“You don’t remember getting out of the elevator? Breaking your door?”
The policeman spoke from the door. He sounded like he was trying hard not to laugh. Lenna shook her head.
“Well…I really don’t think we have anything here, folks. We’re just wasting time.”
Lenna listened as the woman officer closed her pocket-pad and stood. She didn’t have to look to verify anything. Her hearing seemed at a hyper-sensitive level, too.
“Now, wait just a minute. I’ve got an elevator with bowed doors. We can’t even get them to close properly. It’s like some unseen force yanked then open like a tinned can. A-a-and look! Just look! This door’s going to need a new frame!”
There was a momentary silence as the building superintendent finished. Lenna had never heard him stutter before. That was almost enough to make her laugh.
“I’d suggest you get busy, then. I don’t see much of a crime here to follow up on. I see a young woman who got frightened, and with a surge of adrenaline managed to free herself, reach her own apartment, break in…and then she even managed to secure it.”
“By dropping her own fridge on its side? Are you seriously going to put that in the report?”
“Adrenaline can make people do amazing things, Sir.”
“Adrenaline? Looks more like PCP.”
“Your tenant is a diabetic. Not an addict. Isn’t that right, Miss Hendershott?”
Lenna nodded. She’d been right. They had her entire history downloaded on their pocket-pads.
“I still want her charged.”
“Vandalism? Miss Hendershott was terrified and acted accordingly. Now that I think of it, I believe I’m going to list faulty maintenance as an underlying issue to this complaint. What do you think, Officer Lindle?”
“I agree. Make it easier for litigation and liability issues. Should Miss Hendershott wish to proceed with charges.” The male officer answered her.
The superintendent wasn’t blustering anymore. He sounded a bit unsure for a change. Lenna almost snorted the amusement, but swallowed the bubble of it down. As if she’d sue anyone for anything. She just wanted this little episode over so she could get her results verified. Because if what she suspected were true…
Wow. She’d been spontaneously cured. It just didn’t get any better.
“Do you have anyone you can stay with until your apartment is secure again, Miss?”
“She can stay with me. Just don’t you worry, Lenna. I’ll take care of you.”
Missus Gibbons? No way. She’d rather camp out at the gym. Just get these people out of here so she could schedule an appointment with her doctor. No. Wait. A doctor visit would cost too much. She’d get her glucose checked at the clinic, and if it was still in the normal range, she’d hit the library to access client files, reschedule everybody, and then…maybe, just maybe she’d think about a real celebration. And then she turned her mind to wondering if there was anyone who cared enough to join her.
She heard the officers leave, taking the superintendent with them, Missus Gibbons trailing after. Lenna could always party with her nosy neighbor if she got desperate. Is that what her life had become? Being self-supportive and confident was a good thing, wasn’t it? She was alone a lot, but not lonely. Most of the time.
This sure wasn’t one of them.
Lenna sighed and started gathering her stuff off the table.
“VAL. Private line. Who’s calling, please?”
“You know my—”
The link went dead before he finished. Rafaele looked at it for a moment and then plugged in the next number up in the sequence. A moment later Sir Tristan answered and Rafaele repaid his lack of manners.
“VAL. Private line. Who’s call—?”
“Rafaele de Jesus y Santiago. Read my electrical code this time.”
“Oh. Hi, Rafe.”
Rafaele swallowed the instant retort. He hated that nickname. And the knight knew it. “Listen, Invaris. I’m sending you SIM card data. I need you to run it.”
“No can do, Sir.”
“What? It’ll be easy. Check your monitor.”
“One moment, please.”
Rafaele really needed to find another word to vent frustration. He knew exactly where he was being directed, too: The boss. He had to portray his usual
attitude before the connection resumed, so he leaned back in his chair and watched the link shrink to a pin dot of white in a screen full of black while nondescript music violated his speakers. He had his fingers linked behind his head as the view changed to a darkened alcove and a desk. Nothing more. As usual.
“Good evening, Rafaele. Fancy hearing from you.”
“I was speaking with the Crusader.”
“Asking him a favor, were you?”
“Well, he’s on a short leash for a bit. No favors without my knowledge.”
“It is. You still aboard that black yacht owned by Dane…what is it this time, Monroe?”
“Morgan. It was Monroe last go-around.”
“Oh. I know his name. I just like making conversation.”
“Can I just tell you what I need?” Rafaele asked.
“I already know. Patience, Santiago. That’s what you need. A little more patience and a lot less Spanish machismo, although I understand it still drives the women wild.”
“You have a point to this?”
“You ever speak with your landlord?”
“What landlord? I’m a sailor aboard a ship. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
“Sure you are. And the illegal slaver that disappeared from radar last summer off the coast of Africa had absolutely nothing to do with you and that big black yacht,
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Of course not. But I have a message along with a hefty reward for you, nonetheless. Seems one of those beautiful young maidens you freed comes from a family of some substance…and a rich husband-to-be. You’d think kidnapping and trafficking in women was a thing of the past, wouldn’t you?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“If you have to go sinking ships and rescuing maidens and doing the pillaging and plunder stuff, you might try wearing a mask next time. It’ll cut down on trouble.”
“I hear they’ve got an issue with the ladies now. They saw you. It ruins them for any other man…including said fiancé. Or so, I’ve been told.”
Rafaele sucked in his cheeks and regarded the screen for several long moments while he waited.
“Is there a purpose to this conversation, Akron? I really need some information. That’s the only reason I called.”
“Oh. I know. Don’t worry. I just enjoy conversing with you. Always. Have any issues reaching us tonight?”
“Why don’t we just skip to where I ask you what happened last night, shall we?”
“I handled the hit. Without help, I might add.”
“Impressive. And rare. I had 4-D Team Yellow on call for you.”
“I told you. I handled it.”
“I know. There wasn’t even your usual mess. Or haven’t you seen the news?”
“Apparently, well-known Minneapolis entrepreneur, Mister Eddie Vega, along with a few of his associates, had a very bad train versus vehicle collision. The bodies are so mangled it’ll take weeks to sort it out and know for certain. Don’t know why those vehicles keep thinking they can take on a train. It’s a bad gamble.”
“Eddie Vega’s one of them. I guarantee it.”
“I know that, too. I spoke with his driver just a few moments before the fatal collision. A guy named Daniel. Great driver. You know I can always use a good driver. You want to tell me how you lost your phone yet?”
“My phone?” Rafaele asked.
“Your phone. Last night. After the hit. Why do you think we’re on alert at the moment? Training?”
“I may have lost it but it was dead. Unusable.”
“The police have access to technology, too, Santiago.”
His voice choked. He came out of his indolent pose to perch on the front of his chair, glaring at the screen. He’d been so certain she was fine! If anything had happened to her…! Rafaele didn’t have a heart with any life to it but everything in his chest seized up painfully.
“Minneapolis’s finest have possession of your previous phone. They’ve about given up hacking our system, but we had to be sure.”
“She’s going to be all right, isn’t she?”
There was a long pause as his words finished echoing.
“You want to tell me what we’re talking about? Or do I have to guess?”
“I found her, Akron. My mate. Last night.”
Akron gave a long sigh, redolent with amusement. “Not another one.”
Rafaele jumped to his feet, knocking the chair over. “I have never had a mate! I will never have another. And if anything has happened to her, I swear—!