Home > Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(23)

Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(23)
Author: R.L. Mathewson

Ephraim turned his attention from the shop window to the elderly man. “Everything’s fine, Mr. Watson. Is my order ready?”

Mr. Watson smiled. “Both of them are in fact.” He opened the large shop safe and pulled out a small velvet box and a long thin wooden box and laid them on the counter. “I wish you luck, my boy.

Ephraim placed the boxes in his jacket and nodded. “Thanks again.”

“No problem, my boy. You have a good night.”

“No chance of that happening,” he mumbled to himself.

He walked past the line of shops to the parking lot. Today was not going as he planned. He hoped she was over this so he could give her a good birthday, but she clearly wasn’t. Chris was right. She was looking for a fight. He wanted to avoid one at all costs. She didn’t understand and now he was pissed off.

How he was going to smile through the next three hours of her surprise party he didn’t know. One thing was for certain, she wasn’t going to be happy with the gift her bought her. She’d just see it as an attempt to buy her.

His hand froze on the door handle of his cruiser. “Shit,” he muttered. He dropped his hand and turned around. A hand shot out to strike him. Ephraim caught the very feminine hand before it made contact.

“What the hell do you want?” he growled.

The small petite blond just smiled and pulled back her hand. She looked him over slowly. “I see the years have been very good to you, Ephraim.”

“What are you doing here in Rascal?” he demanded.

She gestured casually. “This and that.”

“Uh huh, why don’t I believe that?”

Eve placed a hand to her bosom. “Me lie?” She gave him a wicked smile. “Never.”

His eyes narrowed. “It’s just a happy coincidence that you’re here.”

She stepped up to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Why? Didn’t you miss me?” She pulled him down and pressed her lips firmly to his.

*******

This day was just getting better and better. She paced the front of the school again, making sure to avoid Jill’s eyes. Jill seemed to take eye contact as a signal to start crying. “I think your mom forgot to pick you up again, buddy.”

Chris threw the pebble he’d been toying with across the school’s front lawn. “She didn’t forget, Miss. Soloman, no need to soften the blow for me. I told you a half an hour ago not to worry about it. You could have gone home then. You didn’t have to wait.” Chris' usual calm tone was gone.

She considered him for a minute. He did tell her not to worry about it. Normally he practically browbeat her to sit with him and wait for his mother. His mother was either late or sent someone else to pick him up, usually whatever loser she was sleeping with at the time. This was the first time he told her not to worry about it.

He’d been in a good mood until she mentioned his mother. Then he slowly sank into himself. “You knew she wasn’t coming, didn't you?”

“Yeah, so what?”

“Where’s your mother, Chris?”

“Doesn’t matter,” he mumbled.

“Chris.”

“Just leave it alone, Miss. Soloman. I’ll be fine.” He stood up, brushing his hands off and tried to walk past her. She grabbed his arm.

“Chris.”

“Let me go.”

“Not until you tell me what’s going on.”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t give me nothing. Where is your mother?”

He turned his head and rubbed the back of his sleeve across his face. “Nothing,” his voice broke.

She gently cupped his chin and turned his face. He was crying. She never thought she’d see the day when Chris cried. He was a tough kid. He had to be with his upbringing. A mother who abandoned him on a whim and no place to go but foster homes as rumor had it where he wasn’t treated very well.

“What happened?” she asked softly.

“Nothing.” He wiped his face again and tried to walk away. “Nothing important anyway.” He forced a smile. “Did I forget to tell you that I’m a man now? Yeah, good old Mom declared two weeks ago that I was a man now and didn’t need her. She was just waiting for the right moment. Of course it didn’t hurt that the right moment came when Eric Bell left his wife and decided to shack up with her. Fortunately for me on that very day I suddenly became a man. Good thing too because Eric didn’t want me around. Isn’t that great timing?” he asked bitterly.

“Oh Chris.” She released his arm and pulled him into a hug. “Where have you been staying?”

He took in a deep breath. “The trailer. It was paid up until last weekend.”

She pulled away. “Where have you been staying since?”

“Here and there.”

“Chris, you need a home. You need food.” She looked him over. “You didn’t eat today because you didn’t have any money not because you were in the office. Mason might be a jerk, but he wouldn’t starve you.”

He shrugged out of her hold. “It’s fine. I have a line on a job. I can manage until I have enough money for my own place.”

She shook her head. “No, you’re sixteen, Chris. If you start work now you’ll quit school. No, you need a home. Does anyone else know about this?”

His tone turned harsh. “I’m not going into foster care.”

“No, I wouldn’t send you there. Is your mother still in town?”

“Yes, she’s staying with the bastard in the same trailer park. Can you believe that?”

“No, I can’t,” She sighed and looked at Jill. “Well, it’s time to go home.”

Chris mumbled, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Madison grabbed his arm. “Let’s go.”

“Where are we going?” Chris asked cautiously.

“Home. Congratulations, Chris, you’re now a boarder.”

He smiled weakly. “Really? I’ve always wanted to be a boarder. Do we have any special powers?” he asked jokingly, but she could hear the tremor in his voice.

******

“Why does he get to sit in front?” Jill whined.

“Because my mommy doesn’t love me and you won’t stop bitching. Now sit back and let me enjoy shotgun.” Chris gently pushed Jill back with a finger to her forehead.

“Jerk.”

“You know it.”

“Will you two please stop it?” Madison was getting a headache. For the past hour she had to deal with this bickering. Of course that wasn’t as bad as dealing with the manager of the trailer park who confiscated all of Chris’s things when he kicked Chris out a week ago.

She had to kick herself. If she’d been at work last week she would have noticed he was wearing the same clothes every day. When she asked why he didn’t smell he nearly fell over with laughter. Seems Chris was sneaking into the school every morning to take a shower.

After threatening the landlord with child services the manager bitched and whined, but cowed. A large thrash bag full of his clothes now kept Jill company in the back seat.

His mother was another issue. She didn’t know what possessed her or if it was even legal, but Madison refused to leave until the woman wrote a letter handing over custody to her. God she was an idiot. Eric Bell and the manager were only too happy to sign it as witnesses. She groaned. What was she supposed to do with a sixteen year old boy?

“So, I was thinking since you’re my new guardian and all I should call you Madison. Just seems more natural don’t you think?”

She waved a hand. “Whatever, just not at school.” She wanted to go home and curl up in bed and forget this day.

“Of course, Madison. I would never call you Madison at school, Madison.”

“You’re enjoying calling her Madison, aren’t you?” Jill asked.

“Yes, I believe I rather am,” he said with a sniff.

“Oh my god, Madison, pull over!” Jill shrieked. Both Chris and Madison jumped.

Madison hit the brake, bringing the Jeep to an abrupt stop in the middle of the street. She looked around the street. Oh no, did she hit someone? “What’s wrong, Jill?” she asked as her eyes ran frantically around the front of the Jeep.

“Megan’s over there.” She pointed past Madison. “I need to go talk to her.”

“You just scared the shit out of us for that?” Chris threw her a disbelieving glare.

Jill opened the back door. “I have to talk to her so get over it. See you at home, Madison.” With that she closed the door and beelined for her friend.

“I didn’t want to say anything before, but your sister is a bit of a spoiled brat.”

“Shut up,” she groaned.

Chris laughed. A few minutes later they were driving through the center of town. “Whoa! Hold up! Go into that parking lot!”

“Chris!” she warned, she was not in the mood for games tonight.

“Go in the parking lot!” Chris sounded more urgent.

She stopped the car. “Fine.” She started to turn in the parking lot. “What the-”

“-hell is he doing kissing another girl that’s what I’d like to know.” Chris bolted out the door and started running towards Ephraim.

******

Ephraim pushed Eve away. “Get the f**k off me.”

She kept herself tightly against him. The window behind him shattered violently. He tried to jump away, but Eve tightened her grip and kept him pushed against the car. Two large hands shot out and wrapped tightly around his arms and waist. Another set appeared from beneath the car and hugged his legs. Yet another was suddenly around his neck. He heard the movements, but too late it seemed.

Eve backed up, laughing. Her fangs dropped as she eyed him. Ephraim was normally stronger than any vampire, but three vampires holding him like vice grips was too much even for him. They were crushing him. The one on top had him in a good choke hold.

He couldn’t move. “What the hell do you want, Eve?” He tried to struggle against the hold. They wouldn’t give an inch.

She laughed lightly. “What the Master’s always wanted of course, Ephraim. Your blood.”

“I told you, Eve, my blood will not change any of you. You’re not the first vampire to steal my blood. It won’t work!” It would kill her, but he wasn’t about to tell her that.

“I don’t believe you.” She moved back in and pressed a kiss to his neck. He tried to struggle. “Don’t be selfish now. I think you can share. Just think how nice it will be to share the sunlight with your closest friends. I just want a little taste before we bring you to the Master.” She sank her teeth into his neck.

He squeezed his eyes closed and half screamed half groaned. She was sucking on his neck viciously, greedily. She was afraid she would be stopped before she took enough. What she didn’t know was that a spoonful of his blood would kill her, slowly. The amount she was stealing would probably kill her within a few minutes.

She pulled back. “Well, boys, don’t be shy. If you wait until I’m done there won’t be any left.” She struck his neck again.

On the other side of his neck a new set of fangs sunk it. The man hiding in the car sunk his teeth into Ephraim’s side and ripped the skin violently. The one holding his legs did the same. They were too greedy to do this right. The blood was going to come out too fast for them to catch it all in their mouths.

“Hey, ass**le!” Chris yelled.

Ephraim forced his eyes opened and looked over Eve’s head to see Chris running towards him. Madison drove up right behind him. The headlights hit him full blast. He knew the instant Chris saw the entire scene, he froze.

Madison jumped out of the car and started running. Chris grabbed her around the waist and pulled her back.

“Get out of here!” Ephraim yelled. “Go now!”

“They’re eating him!” Chris yelled.

“Let me go!” Madison fought against his hold.

She watched helplessly as four vampires fed from him. It didn’t look like they were being gentle. Blood was streaming from their bites onto the ground quickly. All the color in his face was gone. His head dropped back and she got a good look at a black man on the right side of his neck and a blonde woman in front of him, latched onto his neck. She was holding Ephraim by the back of his head so he wouldn’t disturb her bite again.

Loud growls filled the air. She watched as the black man shook his head violently while keeping his teeth in Ephraim’s neck. Blood began pouring from that wound at an astonishing rate.

His eyes shut and he roared. “Go now!” It was soon followed by a scream of agony. The man on his torso pulled back dissatisfied with the flow of blood and ripped into Ephraim’s arm.

“No! Ephraim!”

His head dropped to the side. He was out. The vampires tightened their hold on him so that he wouldn’t drop to the ground. They weren’t about to lose any blood when they were this close to their goal.

“We have to get help, Madison!” Chris tried to drag her back.

The blonde woman pulled back smiling. The bottom of her face was covered in red blood and shined grotesquely under the headlights. “Oh, don’t rush off on our accounts we’d….we’d..” Her hand went to her stomach. She moaned softly and then groaned. “Why does it hurt?” She dropped to the ground and started screaming.

One by one the men released Ephraim to grab their stomachs. They were thrashing and screaming as Ephraim fell to the ground with a loud thud.

“Grab him!” Madison finally managed to get away from Chris. He was too stunned to hold her at the moment.

   
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