When the work life takes a turn down the darkest alleys, duty can call at any time. For Calleigh, that time came around two-thirty in the morning. The angry shrill of her cellphone startled her from a dark dream; one where she was being changed by vampires and werewolves.
“Ah, good, you’re awake! Were you sleeping, by any chance?”
Calleigh groaned at the perpetual chipper nature of her commander. Having been dropped off by Simon around midnight, Calleigh wasn’t exactly in the best of moods. “Yes, sir. I am… And I was. What’s happening?”
Calleigh heard Myles give a remorseful chuckle from the other end of the line. “We have something urgent we must attend to. Please do get dressed and hurry outside. I can’t wait all night, m’dear.”
Waking reality hitting, the Fae fell out of bed and stumbled to the window. Outside, she saw Myles leaning against a perfectly restored, vintage World War II Mercedes-Benz W31 with his hand waving in salutations to her. Calleigh rubbed her eyes and sleepily began to grab for some clean clothes. Moments passed and she still couldn’t find her jacket. So, swearing, she gave up and staggered out the door to her waiting superior.
“Where did you get this?” she asked, meaning the car. Her wide, childish eyes made Myles smile.
“I shall tell you a secret,” he said as he opened the passenger door for her. Taking his seat in the driver’s side, he finished, “I bought it from Hitler himself, a few days before he died, no less! He and his generals used to use these cars—only fifty-seven of them ever made!—for inspections and whatnot. Too pricy and flashy for everyday use.”
Her sleepy stupor all but abandoned, Calleigh felt the Sandman’s grip closing back on her as the streetlamps passed, their light flashing and fading in an almost hypnotic manner. As soon as her eyes closed, the lass jerked back awake.
To keep from insulting her host-of-sorts, Calleigh asked, “Why did you wake me in the middle of the night and rush us off somewhere like a B-movie date?”
Seeming crestfallen, Myles frowned. “Oh, darn. You found me out. But, no, there’s been an interesting development in the case and it has to be acted upon as soon as…well, you know the saying. So much a good night’s sleep, hm?”
“You read my mind,” Calleigh grumped, matter-of-fact. “But, work is northwest. Are we meeting someone?”
Myles nodded. “We need to get Adrian.”
At the name, the lass felt her heart leap into her throat. After the previous night’s…‘activities,’ Calleigh felt a strange sense of malice whenever words even turned to the icy-eyed Agent. She could almost feel a strong hatred coming from him towards her, and she just wanted to up and smack the man for it. What is it that she had done? Was it because she was a Fae? A woman? The ‘newbie?’ Not wanting Myles to see what was going in her head—though she was pretty sure he had—the young woman turned to fidgeting with her badge.
“What happened last night wasn’t any of your doing, Calleigh,” Myles said out of the blue, confirming the lass’ thoughts. “In due time, you’ll discover why my brother has such a loathing for the world around him. And for me,” he added with a laugh.
But the laugh didn’t register in the girl’s mind. ‘Brother’ did. Turning her head with such a shock she almost gave herself an injury, Calleigh shrieked, “He’s your brother!?”
“I’m a little afraid to reply to that inquiry,” the dhampir murmured. “But, yes, he is.”
That in itself proved to be just another wonder of the world that Calleigh was getting herself into. There could never have been two people, one more opposite than the other, who could have been related. Calleigh could barely see it; but it was there, mostly in their eyes and the elegant ways that they moved. She could see their forced friendship, at the beck of their shared employer the need of Myles’ pertinent personality. Yet, the lass never would have guessed the two to be related.
Before Calleigh could respond, Myles turned the car into the loop driveway of a large Victorian-style home just on the edge of the Hasenheide National Park. She followed Myles to the door, eying the dark décor with a bit of a fright hanging like a shawl across her shoulders. She could almost swear the three-headed dog statue sitting on the porch was staring at her.
“Aren’t you going to knock?” she asked as Myles fiddled with the door. She felt like her superior was being a little invasive, brother’s home or not.
“Oh, fuff,” he replied. “He knows I’m here. Blasted door, he needs to get it fixed. Now then, I’ll warn you right here and now.”
Myles stood as a great barrier, barring Calleigh’s sights from what lay within Adrian’s home. The girl found herself staring up at her superior, shocked by his drastic darkening of tone.
“What you see in here is Adrian’s own. Do not judge nor question. Coping is a skill as unique as a fingerprint. I shall leave it at that. Do you understand?” At Calleigh’s honest nod, Myles returned to his jovial self. “Right, then. Follow me. Welcome to Château du Farronheigh, my lovely lady. At this time of night, or day rather, he is most likely up in his study.”
Upon entering, the darkness set Calleigh’s senses back. Her human instinct kicked in, raising her awareness and making her nervous as to what could be in the shadows. Those feelings of fear were pushed back as her Fae sight showed her furniture with a thin layer of dust, a broken table and a shredded portrait that looked to be centuries old. In various spots, the place looked to have been ransacked. Yet, as another room passed, there were no signs of any disturbances.
“Myles,” Calleigh whispered, fearful of what he might reply. “What happened here?”
Another room, another tattered portrait. This time, Calleigh found herself looking at the left top half of a pretty woman’s face, her golden hair falling in ringlets from a blue ribbon. It appeared that only rooms with a portrait were disturbed. A sudden hand to her upper arm made the lady jump. Yet, not so much as the grim look on Myles’ face.
“Let sleeping dogs lie, my dear,” he replied. “Come on. The King of Grump lies in wait. Just through that door.”
Through the hand-carved oak door, a pristine room draped in scarlets and royal blues came to light. At the fore of the room crackled a jovial fire, adding some life to the cold and hopeless home. Upon seeing the flames, Calleigh felt her ‘shawl’ melt away and replace itself with a spark of life and happiness.
Above the mantle, a small portrait of the same woman from the many rooms before hung as if the center of some bizarre shrine; yet unlike the rest, her face was perfect and intact. The sweet smile shining in her dazzling blue eyes spoke volumes for the one on her pink lips. The shroud of golden curls draped around her shoulders, tangling with the golden threadwork of her green silk outfit.
Before the fire, not more than five feet away, was a clawfoot armchair of the likes Calleigh had only seen within Her Majesty’s palace back home. To its left was a table draped in thin, dark lace. A wonderful shine caught Calleigh’s eyes but as she discovered its source, she began to understand the state of the home and the woman’s meaning. There, upon the table, sat a decanter full of a poisonous green liquid and a wine glad filled with the same hue.
From the chair, a slender, pale hand picked up the wine glass. That hand then disappeared back, like the chair had consumed it.
“Adrian, how is everything tonight?”
Myles received no reply, only the silence of the hand returning a now-empty glass to the table. Shuffling could be heard and Calleigh saw, as shadows from beneath the chair, Adrian’s feet touch down. Like a frail ripple upon the water, the dhampir’s slender form slowly grew from the chair to its full size, blocking out the flames and throwing a cloak of indescribable darkness across the room. While Myles stood with all the confidence in the world, Calleigh shrank behind him, presently hovering like a fluttering leaf or flake of snow. She felt that same darkness ebbing from the dhampir as before, when she and Myles first entered the home.
As Adrian stood there, still as death, he uttered his reply. His voice was somewhat incoherent, like Calleigh had been upon being roused by Myles. She doubted it was from a recent slumber, though.
“Tonight is the same as ever: dreadful yet absurdly entertaining.”
“Why is that?”
Adrian threw a look over his shoulder. Their usual hue of detached hatred was gone, leaving them cold and alone as a winter sky after sunset. However, the bitter hue quickly returned when he discovered his brother was with company.
“I didn’t know she was with you. It’s a little late for a friendly visit. What’s going on? Why is she here?”
“Work,” Myles sighed, trying to divert the blonde’s attention. “Work and more work. Duty calls and so does Simon. Get your things and come to the car.”
Needless to say, Calleigh was more than happy when Myles turned to leave the room. Her eagerness was most apparent as she spied a look of loathing within the blonde’s eyes. All that she saw before descending the curved steps was Adrian as he looked to the table with his decanter of poison green. As the Fae and Myles reached the front door, the sound of shattering glass rang through the foyer.
Moments later, outside, Myles laughed at Calleigh’s yelp; Adrian had appeared at the car’s side like a phantom wind. He entered the vehicle and took his seat in the far back. A nasty air of tension unfolded like the many arms of the kraken.
“This had better be worth it,” the blonde said, his tone sharp.
“Worth it?” Myles laughed. “Is Simon ever a disappointment?”
With Adrian’s snort hanging in the wind, Myles took off.
© Copyright 2017 JD Ledger. All rights reserved.
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