Earlier in the evening, Beau departed the Italian restaurant with his heart pounding from fear and anger. He half-expected his friends to kill him even after they discovered he was not infected with vampirism. They were no strangers to murder. He was certain one of their old companions from Arkham, John Drake, who had disappeared in a remote region of Greenland on an expedition, would have killed him just for becoming a vampire’s lover.
Beau sighed. He felt like an idiot, like a smitten teenage boy. Lucy made him feel that way. He didn’t care. For years he had shed blood in fighting. What difference did it make now that he shed blood willingly for someone he loved?
He stopped abruptly. A man walking behind him nearly collided with him and stepped around with an irritated sound. Beau ignored him. He felt light headed.
“I’m in love,” he said aloud to himself. “I need a drink.”
Beau saw the lighted sign of a pub on the street up ahead and he hurried to it. He stood at the bar and ordered a whisky and when he downed it he motioned for the barkeep to keep them coming.
“Are you alright, sir?” the barkeep asked.
“Terrible,” Beau said. “I just discovered I’m in love.”
The barkeep smiled. “Don’t feel bad, sir. It can happen to anyone.”
Beau felt the warmth of the whisky spread through his body as he poured another down his throat. He drank a third quicker still. “Awful thing to happen to someone,” Beau said slightly slurring his words.
“First time?” the barkeep asked, refilling his glass.
“No, I’ve been drinking for years,” Beau said, raising the glass.
“In love, sir?” the barkeep clarified.
“Oh,” Beau said. How many drinks had he just downed? The room seemed to be spinning. Was he under a magical attack from Vance’s friends? “Yes,” Beau thought aloud. He grabbed the edge of the bar. “It might be fatal.”
“Very rarely, sir,” the barkeep said with a chortle. “But I think I’m going to have to cut you off there. Shall I hail you a cab?”
Beau wanted to argue, but then thought better of it. “I’m walking,” he said. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a bill. When the barkeep went to hand him change, he motioned for the man to keep it.
“Thank you, sir!” the barkeep said.
Beau waved and walked into the night air. Too risky, he thought. He should be watching his back, he should be sober, and he should be taking dozens of different precautions in the event he was being stalked by Vance’s necromancer friends. Oh, look. A park! He wandered into it, walking as straight as he could, until he found a bench and sat down. A fog had crept in low and shrouded the street lamps. He felt warm, though, and content. He liked the quiet. The traffic sounded distant. The stars and full moon shined bright, painting the low-lying fog in silver. He had made a mess of his life with too many sins to contemplate. And from experience he knew how quickly life could end. At the moment he didn’t care. He was happy.
“Been there long?” he asked.
“No,” Lucy said from behind him. “How did you know?”
“Your perfume,” he said. “The breeze shifted.”
She walked around the bench and sat beside him.
He took her hand and went to kiss it. She pulled it away with a laugh. “You reek of garlic,” Lucy said, laughing louder. “And whisky. You’re a positive assault on the nose. Your coat still has the stench of werewolf, too. Disgusting beasts. I should have thrown it out the other night. You and Nellie will never get the stench of werewolf out of your clothes. They carry a strong, musky scent and once one touches your clothes, you might as well throw them out.”
Beau sniffed. “I don’t smell anything.”
“You wouldn’t. So who are you in love with?”
“What?” Beau said in surprise. “What makes you say that?”
“You said so.”
Beau turned to look her in the eyes. “How long were you following me?”
“From your flat to the restaurant to the tavern,” Lucy said.
“You should have joined us,” he said.
“You’re avoiding my question,” she said.
“You know the answer,” Beau said. “You.”
“I just wanted to hear you say it,” she said.
Beau bent to kiss her. She backed away again, putting her hands up to stop him. “Not when your breath is filled with garlic,” she laughed.
“That’s right, you said that earlier,” he said. He felt like he was sobering up. She put his arm around her and leaned into him. She liked the feel of him and gave his arm a squeeze.
“You said something else earlier, what was it?” Beau asked. He snapped his fingers and stood up. “You said Nellie smelled of werewolf, too. But Vance never came into contact with her during the fight.”
“He must have,” Lucy said. “The scent was quite strong on her jacket this afternoon.”
They both looked up at the full moon overhead. “He is hunting her,” they said at the same time.
“Go to her,” Beau said.
“She’d never trust me enough to listen to me or let me in,” Lucy said.
“Could you fly me there?”
“You’re too big to carry so far,” she said.
Beau took off running for the street with Lucy following easily behind.
He hailed the first cab he saw and they jumped in. He gave the driver the address and asked him to hurry, holding up a 10 pound note. The cabman sped off. Minutes later they were outside of her building. Beau looked up to the bedroom window of her flat. “Her light is off,” Beau said.
Lucy raced down the alley. “There’s a window open in the back,” she said from the corner. “We must hurry.” Beau picked up a rock. “I’ll get her to come to the window and let you in,” he said, tossing the rock up. It bounced off the window frame and landed on the trash bins with a crash.
A moment later the light in Nellie’s bedroom came on. Lucy’s wings sprouted suddenly from her, tearing through the back of her white blouse and light jacket. She flew up.
“Nellie,” Lucy whispered from outside the fourth-floor window.
“What are you doing here?” Nellie demanded.
“Let me in,” Lucy said.
“You must. Now!”
“Don’t try your mind tricks on me, Lucy.”
“You don’t understand.”
“I understand –“
Lucy interrupted her. “No, you don’t.” Lucy pointed behind Nellie. Nellie turned slowly. Behind her towered the werewolf Cyrus Vance, his fangs bared in a leering grin.
Nellie cursed and swung the bat hard, but Cyrus caught it with ease and before she could react and let go of it he used it to pull her close to him. His paw-like hand covered the lower half of her face. The rough padding of it pressed tightly over her. She tried to scream, but could not. His strength was immense and she could feel him towering behind her. She felt terrified. She had faced death before, but that was it: she had faced it. She could not see him from behind her, but could feel his body and his breath on the back of her hair and neck. She trembled, powerless against him. She hoped she died quick.
She tried to bite his hand but the hand held her lower jaw shut.
“I do not know why you’re here, vampire,” Vance growled, the words barely comprehensible as they were formed by jaws never intended for human speech. Nellie nearly fainted at the inhuman sounds. Her knees grew weak. “But she is mine.”
Nellie’s eyes met Lucy’s. There was no sympathy in them, just a cold, dead stare. Lucy gave her one last look, and disappeared into the darkness. Nellie whimpered in her despair at being abandoned to her fate. With the claws of his free hand, the werewolf tore her robe and nightclothes from her, leaving her naked before him. His coarse fur pressed against her bare skin and she tried to scream, but he held her mouth shut.
Suddenly the window shattered and glass shards flew into the room as Beau landed on the floor, tossed inside by Lucy. Beau shouted, “Enter freely and of your own will” as he rose and drew his gun.
Vance hurled her across the room where she slammed into her dresser. The sharp pain filled her mind with black dots and for a moment she thought she would lose consciousness.
Beau fired the large semiautomatic. The werewolf, however, had already fled and the bullet hit the door frame just behind the werewolf. Nellie saw Lucy fly into the room like a torpedo, her wings folded close to her body and disappearing in a blur of speed. She landed at a run after Vance. Nellie heard the sound of bodies crashing into furniture followed soon after by the sound of plates shattering.
Beau rushed from the bedroom and Nellie picked herself up. There was a slight cut above her brow and a line of red ran down her face. She had to get back into the fight, though. She grabbed her baseball bat with a determined grip and followed the sounds of the struggle. From the kitchen door way, she saw the vampire and werewolf rolling and crashing into smashed furniture and cabinets. Blood and tufts of fur seemed to fill the air like red and brown confetti. Nellie barely dodged Beau’s body as he was knocked off his feet back through the doorway. Catlike he was up instantly. Nellie saw her gun and the contents of her purse kicked spinning across the kitchen tiles to the other side of the room. Broken glass and plates covered the floor. Beau’s gun also had been knocked from his hand. She scanned the floor for it, but didn’t see it on the jumbled mess on the floor.
Just as quickly the combatants pulled back from each other. Lucy’s face was impassive, but her eyes glowed red. The werewolf bled from numerous wounds across his back and arms.
Beau took a side step towards his gun, but the werewolf stepped toward him and Beau stepped back, his arms raised like a boxer’s.
“Leave her to me and I’ll let you live,” the werewolf growled.
“Not a chance,” Beau said.
Vance ran at Nellie with the intention of fleeing with her thrown over his shoulder. In a smooth, fluid motion borne out of the experience of many fights, Nellie swung the baseball bat hard, connecting with the top of the werewolf’s head. She heard a crack and for a moment thought it was his skull, but it was the bat. The werewolf landed at her feet and she dropped the bat handle onto the wreckage of her cabinet and turned to dart for her gun. His paws grabbed her by the ankles and tripped her. Before he could pull Nellie to him, Lucy dove on his back and locked her fingers around his muzzle. She appeared on the verge of breaking his neck when he let go of Nellie and reached back to grab Lucy’s arms. He hurled her over his shoulder and slammed her into the debris of the shattered china cabinet.
Beau dove for his semiautomatic and fired at the werewolf, striking him in the calf as Vance lunged towards Nellie just as she reached her handgun.
The werewolf turned back to Beau with a snarl and then crashed out through the kitchen window just as Nellie fired. The two of them raced to the window, but Vance had landed from the four-story fall and raced off down the alley behind the building.
“After him Lucy,” Beau called, stepping aside from the window. He turned. Lucy had not moved from where the werewolf had thrown her. Beau hurried to her. A pool of black ichor spread across the broken wood and dripped onto the floor. A small black circle spread on the front of Lucy’s white blouse. He opened it. The splintered end had pierced Lucy through. Beau grabbed her in his arms, hugged her tightly to him and wept.
Continue to Chapter 12.