by ‘Teresa Devereux’
The phone rang. I wondered who would be ringing me? I answered it cautiously, to hear a man’s voice on the other end. “My name is Jan Hicks. Get yourself cleaned up and change. I’ll be there soon to get you.” I said “who are you?” He replied “Gordon sent me. Get ready.” He hung up before I had a chance to speak further. I thought perhaps Gordon was sending someone to collect me. Yet he didn’t sound like a servant? His voice was forceful and rough. Not knowing what it was about, I decided to do as he asked. Perhaps I could ask him more when he arrived?
I looked frightful, so I went into the bathroom to wash my face. I grabbed the face washer and looked up to the mirror. Someone had written on it in lipstick! It said “I am not your friend, and I was never your sister.” It was signed with the letter ‘R’. It could only have been Rhiannon. But how did she get here before me? The writing looked odd, neatly written, yet it was as if it had been done to look hurried? For a moment I thought perhaps it was forged, yet no one by Rhiannon and Gordon knew about what had happened. I couldn’t begin to fathom the meaning of it all, so I wiped the lipstick off, and mopped the blood from my face. The jagged edges of the wounds seemed much better now, and by the time I had dressed, all that remained were a few light marks. With all that the past few days had revealed, I could only accept this miraculous healing as yet another unexplained occurrence.
I dressed in a long beige skirt and matching jacket, and sat on the edge of the bed to wait for ‘Jan’. Soon enough the doorbell upstairs rang. The more I had thought about my mystery phone call, the more apprehensive I became. I was having second thoughts now about letting a stranger in. Again the bell rang, and someone was now banging on the door. I stood, just as I heard the front doors crash open, after being kicked in. Now I really was worried. As I listened, whoever was up there ran up the stairs to the top floor, and I heard the sound of china smashing. I could hear footfalls from several people now, and one had found the basement door and was walking down the stairs. I had to hide! I went to the open closet, and managed to close the louvered doors before being seen. I quietly watched the room, and saw a woman brandishing an overly large firearm, for a woman of her small stature. She walked past the closet door, slowly looking around the room.
I went to move to the back of the closet to hide behind the hanging clothes, but the metal hangers tinkled slightly as I moved. She stopped,and turning to face where I hid she said “I know you’re in there. We can either do this the easy way or the hard way.” I crouched down so I was out of her direct firing line. I heard footsteps upstairs and the woman called out “DOWN HERE!” A man then walked down the steps, his footsteps making a ‘thud ching, thud ching’ as he neared. Looking up through the louvres, I could see he looked to be in his 30’s, with shoulder length dark hair. He was reasonably attractive, despite his rugged clothing.
I had been so scared earlier that I had frozen, but I knew that I had to move now, if I had any chance to escape. In one motion, I leapt up from my crouched position, and burst out of the closet. The two people were momentarily pushed backwards by the doors, and I sprinted to the side door that led outside. Just as I neared it, a deafening shot rang out as the woman fired her weapon at me. Thankfully it narrowly missed me, but then I was suddenly stopped in my tracks. I don’t know how, but the man was now in front of me, and had both my wrists held tightly in his hands. He threw me forcefully onto the bed behind me. I said “who are you, and what do you want?” He said “My name is Jan Hicks. You were supposed to be expecting me”. I said “yes, but I was hardly expecting this!” Annoyed now, he said “You were supposed to be waiting for us. When you didn’t answer the door, we figured something was wrong. I thought a werewolf had beat us to you”. Calming down, he looked me over and said “well, you can hardly fight werewolves wearing that. Get changed into something more appropriate.” “I’m sorry. Fight what? What are you talking about” He rolled his eyes then and said “Werewolves. Lupines....”. Seeing my lack of recognition, he continued “just get changed....... And put on some decent shoes!” He began to turn to leave.
I seized the moment, and said quickly “Wait! You said you knew Gordon?” He turned back to me and said “look. Gordon sacrificed himself for you, and he asked me to look after you. The least you can do is abide by his wishes. Now hurry up”. He then turned and walked back up the stairs with a ‘thud ching’, that I could now see was due to him having a spur attached to only one boot. I wasn’t exactly sure what this ‘Jan’ was talking about, but decided to change my skirt for a pair of trousers, and my heeled court shoes for flat dress boots.
Ready once again, I walked out to the main room. I found the woman extracting the bullet with a knife from where it had missed me, and embedded itself in the wall beside the door. I looked at her, eying her up and down. She was wearing clothing that was only appropriate attire for a street urchin, yet she stirred something deep within me. The feelings reminded me of the woman that had been in the library some time ago.....
She was wearing camouflage pants, with black leather chaps, and had several small platts with Indian feathers and beads in her hair. I also realised that she only looked to be a teenager, perhaps 16 or 17 years old. As I was staring at her, she turned and looked at me, oblivious to my secretly admiring gaze. Bullet in hand, she said “well, silver is hard to come by. It can’t be wasted. It’s the only way to kill a werewolf you know.” Looking at my now confused face, it seemed she understood that I didn’t know what she was talking about! Looking me up and down, she smirked and shook her head and said “Let’s go. Jan is waiting.” Then more seriously she uttered “a word of warning for you first. Don’t cross Jan....”
We walked upstairs together, to find several scruffy looking men in the kitchen milling around. They were all dressed in a similar fashion, something between army guerillas and American Indian warriors! I saw Jan standing in the light of the open fridge. He looked up, closed the fridge door, and walked over to us.
He said “if you want to live, you have to come with us now...... Everyone! Out to the car!” With that, everyone started heading for the door, now only splintered wood hanging from the hinges. I walked as well, and pretended to go along with it all. As we neared the outside however, I lagged back and stood to the side, with the intention of quietly sneaking away. I took a step back, and hit something hard behind me. Spinning around, I met Jan’s eyes. He looked down at me, and said “if you stay here alone, you will die. Now get in the car.” I protested at this and said “no, I don’t want to go with you, I am going to stay here until you tell me what you meant about Gordon sacrificing himself.” He then looked at me intensely and said forcefully “get in the car”. As much as I really didn’t want to, I found myself heading towards the vehicle parked outside. Walking up beside me, Jan whispered in my ear in a low quiet tone “some questions are best left unanswered.” I can only think he was talking about Gordon’s fate. I still wasn’t any the wiser, but it seemed I wouldn’t get any answers from Jan, as he hopped into the driver’s seat. I would have to find someone else to ask about Gordon.
The vehicle was a ‘hummer’, with bench style seats in the rear. I went to sit down, but someone pushed me to the side, and I landed on the floor below their jeering faces. They seemed to be heckling me, but in an unfamiliar language. Perhaps German? I sat at the back, my arms folded across my chest. They continued to talk in their language, now and then breaking into laughter as they looked over at me. I could only assume I was the butt of their jokes. There was a man who looked Spanish sitting quietly in front of me. I decide to tap him on the shoulder and said “what are they saying about me?” to which he said “I don’t know. What makes you think I would?” I said “well, because you’re with them!” He said calmly “no, I’m not. And I have no idea what they are saying”. Disgruntled by his reply, I sat back and wondered where we were heading.
Before long we pulled up outside an imposing office building. Jan was the only one who got out, and he walked over to a limo that was parked outside the main entrance. A well dressed man got out and walked with Jan inside. After a while of sitting there, some of the people got out of the hummer and stood around talking. Two of the men then broke out into a disagreement, pointed their pistols at each other, and seemed to be daring the other to fire first! It was then that it started to rain heavily. It broke up the two men at least, but there was no roof on the hummer, and we all started to get wet. No one else seemed overly bothered by the sudden deluge, however I grabbed a newspaper that was wedged behind the bench seat, and propped it over my head for cover. The others seeing this all pointed and laughed, but I was used to being treated inferior, so I didn’t concern myself.
As the rain poured down, I looked over, and decided it was ridiculous to sit there, so I hopped out and walked briskly to the lobby of the building. The security guard stared at me, but didn’t approach. I turned and saw the Spaniard I had spoken to in the hummer had followed me, and was now standing in the lobby nearby. I heard the ping of the elevator, and looked over as Jan and the other well dressed man stepped out. They walked over to the guard, and in a flash the other man twisted the guards neck around, snapping it. No one seemed to be disturbed by this, other than me. I could hear parts of the conversation they were having, about files being thrown everywhere, and somebody was missing? They walked outside to the vehicles. I was determined not to stay with this ‘Jan’ and his rabble. He walked over to his hummer and said “are you coming?” I looked to the man getting in the limo and said “err, excuse me sir. Is there a chance I could ride with you?” Jan shrugged and walked off, and the man said curtly “Who are you?” I said politely “my name is Teresa Devereux, and you?” He said “Van Myers...” He then looked over my shoulder to the Spaniard that had followed us out, and said “what about him?” I said “no. He’s not with me!” The man shrugged and started to walk off on his own. I was grateful I didn’t have to share my ride with him. Van Myers looked back to me and said ”Get in”. He didn’t seem impressed, but at least I would be dry and comfortable.
To my disappointment, the limo was following the hummer anyway. Van Myers subsequently ignored me, making business calls on his car phone. The hummer stopped up ahead at a red light, and the woman got out and headed over to the limo. Van Myers wound down his window and she said “Jan wants to know why you’re following us.” He said “I thought that’s what Hicks wanted me to do”. She said “not unless you want to hunt Werewolves. Can you shoot a gun?” He said “well, reasonably enough” She said “that will get you killed. Better you don’t”. He turned to me and said “well?..... Get out.”
There was no way was I going with Jan again. I said quickly “judging by what I overheard at the office building, you are now short staffed, and I am good at filing. Perhaps I can help you out?” He seemed annoyed by this, but not really bothered enough to argue with me. He said “whatever” to me, and directed his driver by saying “home”. We were driving along quietly, and I thought to myself “now what have I done”. In my haste I had not really thought through the consequences of my request. I knew nothing of this man, other than he was obviously a powerful businessman, and that he had killed a man in cold blood. Perhaps I would be better off going home. Surely no one would think to go looking for me there again?
As the limo pulled up outside a huge mansion, Van Myers said “well, are you getting out?” I said “well Sir, I really don’t want to trouble you anymore, but perhaps I could just get your driver to take me home instead?” He seemed too tired now to argue, so he closed the door and spoke to the driver. I was relieved to be out of yet another sticky situation as we drove away. Despite what Gordon had said about not seeking him out when he ousted me from his home, I was still deeply concerned for him. I asked the driver if perhaps he could drive by Gordon’s home on the way to taking me home. He said “I’m sorry ma’am. My orders were to drive you straight home”. I tried to say gently “but surely, it is just a small detour?” He faltered for a moment and said “well, what’s in it for me. What can you do for me”. I wasn’t at all sure what he meant, and sensing my confusion, he seemed to regret speaking, and said “forget I said anything ma’am, I’ll take you home”.
Pulling up at the gates at home, I thanked the driver and walked towards the house. I stopped, and decided perhaps it would be wiser to stay hidden in the garden for a while, at least until I was sure no one was around. After a short time, I heard crunching on the driveway, and looked to see two men I didn’t recognise walking along it. They were better dressed than Jan and his crew, and seemed much safer. Not wanting to display my presence immediately, I remained hidden in the bushes and waited.
The taller of the men who was wearing a cowboy hat went to the now broken door and yelled out “Hello. Is anybody home? Miss Devereux?” Figuring that since he knew my name, and seemed harmless, I stood out from the garden. I called back to him and said “yes, hello, I’m over here. I’m Teresa Devereux.” The taller man turned and said gruffly “you have to come with us”. Not again, surely! Now what was wanted of me? The shorter man took off the beret he had been wearing, to reveal a balding head with an atrocious comb over of hair. He said apologetically “you must forgive my friend, Miss Devereux. The Sheriff is... a little harsh at times. My name is Louis Martelle, and this is Bryant Jones. We have come to collect you on behalf of the Prince. He wishes to see you.” I was a little dumbfounded by this, and said “the Prince you say? Which Prince is that?” He said “why, the Kindred Prince. The Prince of the City. If you’d like to come this way...” as he gestured towards a waiting taxi. It isn’t everyday a Prince sends someone for you, and I was suitably impressed. Since their manner was so much more refined than Jan’s, I decided I may as well go with them, rather than fearing that Jan would turn up again. During the ride, I asked Louis which royal family the Prince represented. He said that he was “more a political Prince, rather than royal Prince”, ..whatever that meant?
We were driven to the Meridian Hotel, one of the most expensive and lush hotels in the City. I was escorted inside by Louis, who introduced me to a lady by the name of Gabrielle Fabrice. She was a breathtakingly beautiful woman, with a lean body, flawless skin, and flowing long red curly tresses. She would have looked at home on the best catwalks in Paris. She and Louis seemed to have more ‘tolerance’ than ‘affection’ between them however. He introduced her as “the Princedom’s fashion co-ordinator.” She looked me up and down with a distasteful look on her face and says “oh dear, Tsk Tsk. This will never do. We can’t have you being presented to the Prince looking like.... this!” She called for a hand maiden who was directed to take me away, dress me, and give me a makeover. The look on both their faces was that I was a pitiful wretch, and below them. I recall that same look from my mother when she was around me. I felt deflated, and quite unworthy in their presence.
I was taken to a boutique in the hotel lobby, where a dress was picked out for me. It was an obscenely high price, but I was assured the amount was not a consideration. It was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen, let alone worn. After selecting matching shoes, I was whisked off to the hotel salon, and my hair was washed, dried, and set in a flattering 'up' style. I was also made up by the beautician, who did a wonderful job of making my plain looks more appealing.
Finally ready, I was taken back out to Gabrielle who now looked pleased at my transformation. She said “ahh, yes. Now that is much better.” Louis then interjected and said “now, there are a few things you need to know before you meet the Prince. When you are presented to him, introduce yourself, then your clan, your Sire, your Sire’s Sire, and so on.” Nervously I interrupted him and said “err....my Sire’s Sire?...Umm,...I’m sorry....But...” Shaking his head, Louis said “This is so like Gordon...” obviously disappointed in my lack of tutoring. He continued his instruction by saying “if you join in a toast to the Prince, never lift your glass higher than his, and wait to sit until after he is seated.” He was now giving me basic information, so I halted him by saying briskly “yes, I am aware of general etiquette.” Raising an eyebrow slightly, he said “Just do your best, and you’ll be fine.”
Gabrielle now took my arm in hers and said “come now, I will introduce you around”. She introduced me to so many people, their names and faces all became a blur. As we walked around the ballroom, I became aware of a man who stood out from the sea of faces. He was in his mid 40’s, very refined, and I found myself looking over to him on several occasions. I could almost taste his presence in the room. He was not only attractive, but alluring. Gabrielle continued to escort me around the room, then stopped in front of the very same man I had been admiring! She introduced him to me as “Carson Jager....the Prince!” I was taken aback at first, as I wrongly believed my introduction would be much more formal than this. I immediately caught myself, and remembering my etiquette, I thought it best to curtsey and offer my hand. I kept my head bowed down, and said “your Highness, my name is Teresa Devereux. I am so glad to meet you”. After what felt like an eternity, he took my hand in his, and I stood up in front of him. With a smile he said “yes, ...Teresa, ....we shall talk again...” and with that he casually dismissed me by walking off.
Gabrielle seemed amused by something, but then turned and led me away. She said, a little too eagerly I thought, “well, come on then, time to get changed, so you can leave.” I looked at her quizzically and said “Excuse me, but was that it? I was expecting something a little more.... formal?” Gabrielle shrugged, and I was led away to the dressing room. It seemed that was the extent of my presentation to the Prince, at least for tonight.
I felt like I was a Princess wearing that dress, and wished the night could have gone on longer, but I was grateful all the same. Smiling to myself, I changed leisurely into my suit, which had been cleaned and pressed in my absence. I was putting my shoes on when I noticed someone sitting in a chair in the corner of the room! How could I have not noticed him there before? It was the Sheriff, just sitting there, looking over at me. I said to him “have you been there the whole time?” to which he nodded. I was shocked to think that, unbeknownst to me, he had seen me so intimately. I said “do you have no shame?” To which he shook his head rather nonchalantly. I felt ill at ease, knowing that he had watched me in my state of undress, but it was too late now.
Seeing I was ready, he stood and said “come on. Hicks is waiting for you outside”. His words were like a pin, bursting my bubble of happiness. I couldn’t believe this. I felt like a puppet on strings, being forced to go here and there, by people I didn’t even know! But I knew I didn’t have a choice, and walked outside with the Sheriff behind me. Jan was outside waiting for me, with five burly looking hotel security guards standing nearby eying him intently.
Not looking at me, he said “get in the hummer”. I looked over to the rabble sitting in the nearby hummer, and noticed the Spaniard sitting in the back. He was tied up with heavy duty chains and handcuffs, totally immobilised. He looked like a madman, his eyes ablaze the rage, and was struggling against his shackles violently. One of Jan’s men was sitting in front of him, with a wooden stake held in front of his heart! I said “I’m not getting in there with THAT!”. He looked at me now, stared into my eyes, and said forcefully “GET IN THE HUMMER”. Against all my willpower, I found myself getting in. I don’t know how he managed it, but there were times when I was completely powerless against his orders. I sat as far away from the Spaniard as I possibly could, watching him out the corner of my eye. The last time I saw him had been at the office building some hours earlier, and he seemed fine then. I don’t know what had happened to him since, but it wasn’t good.
Jan was about to drive off, when he said in a very matter-of-fact way “we’re all crashing at your place.” It was bad enough I had to sit near a raging animal! I certainly wasn’t letting him, or the other ‘ferals’ into my home by choice! I had been through a lot in one short night, and my patience had finally run thin. I said rather boldly “excuse me..., but I don’t think so!” Suddenly he had whipped around, grabbed me around the throat, and yanked me over two seats! His face so close to my own I could smell his vile breath. He said “LISTEN! THIS IS YOUR FAMILY NOW! WE ARE ALL THAT YOU’VE GOT. GANGREL STICK TOGETHER. DON’T BLOW ALL THAT GORDON SACRIFICED FOR YOU BY FORGETTING THAT!” He threw me backwards into my seat, spun back around, and started driving.
I could hardly argue with someone who could have easily have snapped my head off like it was a twig! In shock, I sat there very quietly, and noticed everyone else was now silently regarding me. I heard very faintly the woman’s sing-song voice saying “I told you not to piss him off!”. We were headed to my home, whether I liked it or not.......
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