Chapter Five Part Three
When Michael woke that evening, Sarah was sitting at his kitchen table making notes in a very familiar leather-bound notebook. He frowned and was about to snap at her about it when she looked up and smiled.
“I’ve invited my brother over for dinner tomorrow evening,” Sarah told her employer Michael when he woke up that evening. He stopped and frowned at her. He bit back a sharp comment about it and forced himself to respond to what she’d said instead.
“Your brother?” he asked. “The one who you’ve barely spoken to for a couple of years?”
“Well it would hardly be the one who was killed by werewolves would it?” she said dryly. Her expression suggested that she’d noticed him trying not to glare at her notebook.
“Well, that would certainly be unlikely,” he said more sharply than he had intended. “So David.”
“Yeah. Dave’s a good kid; he just needed some time after Emma. Dad’s death has shaken him up and got his attention.”
“Yes,” he said. “It would.” He looked down at the book again. “Could you not do that in my house please?”
She sighed and snapped the book shut. “Michael,” she began.
“No, Sarah. We’ve spoken about this. I’ll tolerate your side job because I do understand why, but I’m never going to accept it.”
“You accept it for Meredith,” she said mildly.
“Well Meredith is a special case. I’d rather her hunt werewolves than vampires, and it’s not like leaving the Order is possible.”
“Exactly, I couldn’t quit if I wanted to.” She paused and smirked. “And you don’t want me hunting vampires either.”
“That’s true,” he admitted. “But…” he broke off at the sound of a knock at the door. “That’s odd. Are we expecting anyone?”
“Not that I know of,” she said.
“That’s not a good sign.” He headed for the door. Behind him he heard Sarah’s chair scrape and realised she was following him. He pulled open the door and blinked at the sight of Leisa standing there looking worried. There was a young vampire he had never met with her. “Leisa?” He would have continued, but the sound of Sarah’s mug shattering on the floor tiles behind him cut him off.
“E-Emma?” she said faintly.
“Hello, Sal. I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” the strange vampire said.
“Er… do you know each other,” Leisa asked.
“Your sister?” Michael asked simultaneously.
Sarah didn’t answer; instead, she darted past Michael and pulled Emma into a hug.
“Oh God, Emma! Does Dave know?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” she replied in a tone Michael recognised all too well. He hazarded a look at Leisa and saw the worried expression.
“Come in, both of you, and tell us what’s wrong. I doubt you’d be here unannounced if it weren’t serious.” He lead them into the kitchen and poured them both a glass of blood wine from his personal supply, even though he could see both of them had fed recently. Leisa stared into the depth of the crystal wine glass, obviously gathering her thoughts.
Sarah in the meantime had sat down by Emma and was talking to her softly, telling her about their father’s death. He half-listened while he focused on Leisa. It had been a long time since he had seen his old friend this tense.
A strangled sob from Emma drew both their attentions. She was clinging to her sister and sobbing softly. Clearly she hadn’t known about her father before.
He looked over at Leisa. “Their brother is a vampire hunter?”
She nodded. “Their cousin as well. The Order really has its claws into this family, doesn’t it?”
“I knew about the cousin from Meredith. She told me about it when she persuaded me to give Sarah the job here,” he said. “I think I can work out how the brother got recruited from there…” He trailed off and looked at Sarah.
“I had no idea Dave was a hunter. Meredith never told me.” Sarah grumbled under her breath. “She must have known!”
“Who’s Meredith?” Emma asked. “A friend of yours?”
“Sort of.” Sarah gave her sister a serious look. “She’s a werewolf hunter.”
“What!” Emma choked slightly. “What the hell are you doing hanging out with a werewolf hunter?”
“Werewolves killed Martin,” Sarah replied flatly. “I’m going to make them pay.”
“Martin died? He didn’t just run away?” Emma frowned at her. “Wait! You’re a werewolf hunter? Isn’t that a tad hypocritical?”
“I’ll explain later,” Sarah said. She looked back Michael. “Do you want me to call Dave and cancel?”
“He’s coming here?” Leisa asked.
“Sarah’s invited him over for dinner tomorrow night,” he explained. “And no I don’t think we should cancel. He would wonder why. I’ll just have to be careful.”
“Eat Italian,” Leisa suggested. “I’m sure that he misunderstands the garlic thing like most hunters.”
Michael chuckled. “That’s not a bad idea.”
“Er?” Emma said. “We can eat normal food? Food with garlic in it? I bit someone who’d eaten some lasagne once.” She winced.
“I use lazy garlic from a jar,” Sarah said. “The fresh stuff has a nasty effect on Michael when I’m preparing it.”
“Garlic does something to blood that makes it taste awful, it burns if they’ve eaten enough, and you want to keep away from raw garlic and the flowers,” Leisa said. “But we can eat normal food, even food with cooked garlic in it, but we gain no benefit except for the taste.” She cocked her head at the girl. “You don’t eat?”
“No. I never thought to try.” Emma shook her head.
“You should,” Leisa told her. “It tastes good.”
“Didn’t your blood master tell you all this?” Michael asked and blinked as the girl swore at that.
“He abandoned her, Michael,” Leisa said softly. “He never intended to turn her and he seems to be something of a sick bastard as well.”
“Ah.” He gave the girl a sympathetic smile. “So is that why you’re here? To introduce her to me? Or because of her brother?” Michael asked, even though was certain that it wasn’t either. Both warning the others about a hunter and introducing a new vampire to the group would have waited until Saturday evening. Sure enough, Leisa shook her head.
“No, that would have waited. I was hunting. When Emma here accosted me to ask what my intentions were towards her brother. We were talking about that when I noticed someone familiar coming out of a pizzeria in town.”
“From the look on your face and the fact you’re out here, it wasn’t someone who you wanted to see either.”
“No,” she sighed heavily. “It was Ragnar, Michael.”
“Damn!” Michael swore softly. “We will have to warn the kids about him.” He frowned briefly. “But I thought that he tended to avoid towns where you were living?”
“He does, I doubt he knows that I’m here. I made an extra effort to shake his spies about ten years ago. I was getting tempted to do something more permanent about them, but it’s not their fault he’s using them. You know what he’s like.”
Michael shuddered briefly. “I do.” He paused and frowned. “A pizzeria? That suggests he’s got a victim at the moment.”
“Yeah, and I think he may be behind something else that’s going on.” She tapped her tongue against her teeth. “You know how he tends to keep a procurer around?”
Michael nodded. “Usually a psychic, as I recall.”
“Yes. I think another of the Order’s hunters hit Ragnar’s procurer by mistake.”
“And Ragnar seems to have decided the hunter girl will be a good tool. At least, I think it’s him who’s messing with her head; I’d need a closer look at her mind to check, but someone definitely is.”
“We’ll need to nudge both of them away from him as well. I don’t think any human would stand a chance against him.”
“Not on their own, no. A group might stand a chance with the right weapons. I’m going to try and track his lair down. Will you help?”
“Of course I will,” he said. “I want to see him dead, or at the very least a long way away, as much as you do.” He considered the matter. “Should we wait until Saturday to tell the others?”
“Hmm, I’ve been considering that, and I don’t think we should unless something else goes wrong. I don’t like calling the kids together unless it’s a real emergency. They tend to panic when we do, and that leads to the sort of mistakes that get people noticed.”
“You’re right,” he agreed after a moment. “We’ll talk to them then.” He turned to Emma with a smile. “Will you be joining us?”
“Hum, yes. I think I’d like that. Is it here?”
“Usually yes,” he said. “I have plenty of room.”
“Okay then.” She smiled. “Er… should I bring anything?”
“Just yourself,” he said.
“I’ll see you then.” She turned to Sarah. “I think we need to have a long conversation. We have some catching up to do, and you have some explaining to do.”
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