There were no lights on at the run down terraced house Laurel rented when they arrived and Michael was certain that she should be awake by now.
â€œMaybe she’s gone out already,â€ Leisa said. â€œShe likes to get out as I recall. I can’t blame her living in this dump.â€
â€œShe does, but she’s not strong enough to go out until full dark.â€ Michael fished the spare key she’d given him out of his pocket and unlocked the back door. â€œAnd this is what she can afford and she won’t let me help her rent a better place. She’s an independent young woman, which might be why her husband poisoned her.â€ He shuddered. â€œIf she hadn’t had my blood in her system she’d be dead.â€ He saw the curious look Liam was giving him and gave a wry smile. â€œLaurel isn’t just independent she’s determined. She was one of my donor circle and decided she wanted to be a vampire. I told her not until I was sure she wouldn’t regret it–â€
â€œSo she bit him,â€ Leisa said.
â€œDetermined indeed,â€ Liam said.
â€œI persuaded her to at least wait out her human lifespan but then her husband goes and poisons her. She had to dig herself out of a shallow grave,â€ Michael said. â€œThank goodness she’d bit me. Let’s check the cellar first. She’s still a little afraid of the sun in spite of my reassurances.â€
â€œHollywood has a lot to answer for.â€ Leisa rolled her eyes to the ceiling.
Michael snorted and flipped the light on even though none of them needed it. The cellar was empty except for some old junk. Not only was Laurel not there but it didn’t look like she was using it for sleeping any more.
â€œWell it looks like she’s getting over it,â€ Liam said. â€œUpstairs then?â€
â€œIt looks like it.â€ Michael smiled with fond pride. â€œShe’s getting very strong,â€
â€œAll your kids are strong, Michael.â€ Leisa swept past him up the stairs. â€œFront bedroom or back?â€
â€œFront, I think,â€ Michael said.
Leisa pushed open the door and headed into the bedroom. Laurel was lying motionless in the bed.
â€œLaurel!â€ Michael hurried over to his blood child’s bedside.
Michael! Laurel’s mental tone was faint even this close to her. I can’t move and I can barely reach you. What’s happening? Why is she doing this?
Michael knelt beside her and squeezed her hand. â€œI don’t know. We thought that she was targeting werewolf hunters but you’ve never hunted werewolves… have you?â€
No… is that why she said I was different from the others?
â€œShe spoke to you?â€ Leisa knelt on the other side of the bed and slipped a hand under the young vampire’s head. â€œNo, don’t strain to reach. Just think your answer. I’ll take the answer and echo it.â€
Thank you. And yes she spoke to me. She’s been feeding me as well. She said this was the only way to protect me, and no she didn’t say who from except that it’s he.
â€œThat’s a hell of a way to protect someone,â€ Michael said angrily. He bent down and scooped her into his arms. â€œShe could just have warned you. I’m taking you back to the farm â€“ if someone is after you then I’ll just arrange a guard.â€
Thanks! Laurel sounded relieved. But what if you can’t fix it?
â€œDon’t even think that,â€ he replied. â€œWe’ll be able to fix it. We already have a thery aout what’s happening to you.â€ He walked over to Liam. â€œWhat do you think?â€
â€œLet me see.â€ Liam laid a hand on Laurel’s forehead for a moment. â€œWell, it certainly feels like elf-shot, but I can’t find an in on it. I’ll call Kate to send James when we get back to your place. I’ll ask her to come as well. He’s great with elf-shot and I want her input on the other things that are going on.â€
Elf-shot? Laurel asked. You think she’s a fairy? She felt like a vampire? And who are you? A fairy obviously.
â€œNo, I’m a daemon,â€ Liam said.
â€œWe think she’s a hybrid of some sort,â€ Michael explained.
Ah! A daemon, of course I forgot about daemons, Laurel said. So if she’s the one targeting werewolf hunters she’s the one responsible for Ian’s death?
â€œI’m afraid so,â€ Michael said.
Damn! I liked Ian. He wasn’t a bad person. I know we could have changed his mind. What about Sal? Is Sal in danger.
â€œSal’s fine. I doubt that she’s a target anyway. I’ll tell you about it later. You’ll be surprised. For now let’s get moving.â€
â€œDo you want us to bring anything else for you?â€ Leisa asked.
My ipod! Laurel said. My DVDs so I don’t hey bored while I’m stuck like this. And â€“ um â€“ my cuddly toy collection. She sounded so embarrassed about that last bit that Michael couldn’t avoid chuckling at that.
David sat with Tyler and continued working on glamouring his eyes fully, while his mother paced the lounge talking to people on jeer mobile. Whatever she was doing she seemed less bereft and more determined than when she arrived. During a break while he tried to clear his head from the after effects of the unfamiliaar effort he frowned over at her
â€œWho’s she talking to?â€ he asked.
â€œSome friends of our grandmother,â€ Emma said â€œShe’s trying to track her down to come and help you.â€
â€œAnd because I want to ask her about this supposed relationship between the Rebel Court and Maelin,â€ Philip said. â€œI know that Liam said it’s rather one sided and I have no reason to disbelieve him bit I just can’t imagine that monster protecting them. I know several members of the Rebel Court and they are generally decent, if somewhat paranoid, people.â€
â€œBut our grandmother walked out on her family, didn’t she?â€ David asked. â€œAnd didn’t she kill people?â€
â€œMum only left us after dad was killed and we were all grown up.â€ His mother had put her phone down and was frowning at him. â€œAnd only because she was getting old enough that even with her glamour she have started raising eyebrows. As to her â€“ um â€“ friends. She made sure they understood what she was and what they were getting into before she bonded with them. She used to cry her eyes out on Dad’s shoulder whenever one of them finally died, as well.â€
â€œThat’s one way to deal with being a bond feeder,â€ Tyler said. â€œThough I think I prefer Meredith’s friend’s method.â€
â€œHmm?â€ she gave Meredith a curious look.
â€œJasmine is an art therapist working with the terminally ill,â€ Meredith explained.
Susan tilted her head for a moment before her puzzled frown faded into a surprised oh. â€œNow that is a clever solution.â€
â€œDo you think you’ll be able to contact your mother?â€ Tyler asked. In my experience when a member of the Rebel Court doesn’t want to be found they won’t be found.â€
â€œMum left me instructions on how to get a message to her if needed,â€ Susan said. â€œSo I know she’ll get it but if she replies is up to her.â€
â€œAnd I suspect that she will,â€ Philip said. â€œLillian always had very strong opinions about family. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s been keeping tabs on her family anyway. More importantly did any of the people you called have any idea why the Summer warrior wants David dead?â€
â€œI’m not sure,â€ Susan said. â€œI think so, but they didn’t tell me if they did. But all three of them had the same reaction when I told them. A long pause followed by a very thoughtful ‘interesting’.â€
Philips lips twitched. â€œI feel like having much the same reaction to that reaction.â€
â€œMe too.â€ She reached for her phone again. â€œAnyway I have a couple of other people to ring.â€
â€œYou can do that tomorrow, Sue,â€ Philip said gently. â€œYou need your rest.â€
â€œNo!â€ she flared before repeating more calmly. â€œNo, I’ve lost Mark and Martin, I nearly lost Emma. I’m not losing David. I-I don’t think I could bear…â€ She burst into tears.
â€œYou’re not going to lose David.â€ Philip pulled her into a hug. I promise we’ll protect him. You know we will. Now go and rest, you need to sleep.â€
â€œI guess I do.â€ She clung to him. â€œBut I’m not sure I can. It still hurts too much.â€
â€œOh, Sue.â€ Philip looked over at Daniel. â€œCan you make her something, please?â€
â€œOf course.â€ Daniel took her hand. â€œCome on, Aunt Sue. Let’s get you to bed and I’ll bring you a tea to help you sleep.â€
â€œThank you.â€ She gave a weak smile and hugged David again before following Daniel from the room.
â€œHow’s the lesson going?â€ Philip turned back to Tyler and David.
â€œLess well than I’d like,â€ Tyler said. â€œBut better David thinks. He’s nearly got the hang of glamouring her eyes.â€
â€œBut?â€ Philip said. â€œAnd don’t say there isn’t a but.â€
â€œThere is a but,â€ Tyler said. â€œAnd I’m not quite sure how to explain it.â€
â€œHe feels like he hasn’t finished emerging,â€ Penny said. â€œBut no way should it not be done by now. It doesn’t take this long once you start and his glamour and Mist powers are already working.2 She scowled at the floor. â€œDo you think Gwen could bee repressing him somehow?â€
â€œYou mean chaining?â€ Tyler looked thoughtful. â€œI think chaining is a myth. At least I’ve never heard of a verifiable case. It’s always turned out to be a late emergence or someone who’s weaker than their kin would like, and yet it does fit what we’re sensing doesn’t it?â€
â€œAnd if anyone has the knowledge and power to prevent or delay an emergence it’s Gwen,â€ Penny said. â€œAnd she appears to know something about David that makes her want him out of the way.â€
â€œYou think this Gwen has been stopping David emerging somehow?â€ Philip asked. â€œAnd now that’s failed she wants him dead?â€
â€œI still think it’s unlikely.â€ Tyler scowled thoughtfully. â€œBut it’s a possibility worth considering. I mean she’s obviously aware of his existence â€“ which she shouldn’t be given how new he is.â€ He paused and smiled at David. â€œSorry, we’re talking about you as if you aren’t here.â€
â€œThat’s okay,â€ David said. â€œI’m more concerned with your theory than if you’re ignoring me. Do you really think I haven’t finished changing yet?â€
â€œIt certainly feels that way,â€ Penny said, â€œAnd your aura is still in turmoil which also suggests it. So same question as yesterday. Any aches and pains?â€
David closed his eyes and considered the question. There wasn’t any real pain anywhere but his entire body felt tight like he needed to stretch. He told them that and Tyler hummed to himself.
â€œIt’s possible that you’re growing though if it’s that mild it’ll likely only be an inch or two. Try stretching and see what happens?â€
David stood up and started stretching gently, it felt so good that he ended up aarching backwards and stretching like a cat. As he straightened the tightness in his spine faded and he sighed in relief and began stretching his arms and hands, then paused when he realised that the others weere staring at him. â€œWhat?â€
â€œYes, you’ve definitely grown an inch or two doing that,â€ Philip said.
â€œNot enough to notice unless you’re looking for it,â€ Penny said. â€œYour fingers have lengthened slightly as well. At this rate you’re going to look like a stereotypical elf, which is odd. Considering the fact that your aura is still suggesting that you’ll be something less straight forward.â€
â€œAnd Gwen wouldn’t want to kill you just for being an Elf,â€ Brenna said. â€œWe’re missing something and I we’ll be kicking ourselves once it comes to us.â€
â€œAlmost certainly,â€ Tyler said. â€œI just wish the Winter Lore Keepers would talk to us–â€ He broke off as Susan”s phone began ringing where she’d left it on the table when she went she went with Daniel. Philip stared at it for a moment before picking it up.
â€œHello, Susan Carter’s pho–â€ He broke off and his eyes widened. â€œLillian?!â€ He listened for a moment. â€œYes, it’s nice to hear from you as well. I just persuaded Susan to go to bed . Do you want me to see if she’s still awake? You heard about Mark I assume?â€ Another pause, â€œYes, of course we’re looking after her and she does need her sleep…. yes, we’ll definitely protect David from the Summer Warrior as well. Are you coming,,,â€ He listened again. â€œYou’re where? No don’t answer that I did hear you. I guess that’s a no then?â€ Another long pause. â€œOkay, I’ll tell her but you should call her in the morning… You will? Good. Talk to you tomorrow.â€ He hung up.
â€œGran’s not coming?â€ Sarah asked
â€œShe is coming but she needs to get a flight first,â€ Philip said. â€œShe’s in Greece right now apparently. I’m surprised she got back to us quite so fast. I mean she’s worried about Sue and David but that was still way too fast, she called right on the back of the messages. Why would she do that unless she knows something? I just hope she’ll talk when she gets here.â€
Michael sat by Laurel’s bed aas she slept. Dawn had come less than an hour ago and plunged his child into sleep. As he watched she mumbled something in sleep and turned over.
â€œShe moved!â€ he gasped.
â€œAnd spoke,â€ Leisa confirmed from where she was sitting on the other side of the bed. â€œSo the paralysis only effects voluntary movement.â€
â€œWhich means that the fact it affects other supernaturals isn’t the only way that it differs from normal elf-shot.â€ Michael stroked Laurel’s hair. â€œElf-shot normally affects unconscious movements as well. How curious.â€
Leisa snorted. â€œCurious is one word for it.â€
Michael gave a half smile and rose to his feet. â€œI’m going to call Merry before the Day Queen arrives. I’m going to suggest we move every one here while all this is going on. I’ve got more room than Tanya’s house and the farm is more defensible,â€
â€œIt is,â€ Leisa said. â€œAnd if it comes to a fight there are far less humans around to get caught in the crossfire there. You should definitely suggest it,â€ She got to her feet too. â€œI need to check something out. I probably won’t be back until tomorrow.â€
â€œWhere are you going?â€ he asked.
â€œI want to chase down some information about a rumour of young vampires dying of convulsions a two or three hundred years ago. I know it’s not the same but the description of the culprit is similar so I’m wondering if it’s connected.â€
â€œSounds possible,â€ he said. â€œBut that’s what you’re doing not where you’re going.â€
â€œI know.â€ She bit her lip. â€œI’m going to drive down to Devon.â€
â€œEdwin!â€ Michael ground out the name. â€œYou’re actually going to ask that bastard Edwin for help?â€
Leisa nodded but wouldn’t meet his eyes. â€œHe doesn’t kill, Michael, and he knows every single rumour in the vampire community.â€
â€œI know, but that’s about the only good thing that can be said about him. You know what he does and you know he’ll make you jump through hoops to get the information if he has itâ€
â€œHe will. And I’ll jump through them to find out in this case.â€ She headed for the door. â€œGet everyone gathered and I’ll see you when I get back tomorrow.â€