Please refer to the disclaimer on any of my other chapters…
I'm very sorry I took so long to post this chapter but I hope you can forgive me. Thank you all again for your reviews!
UPDATE: I know I really need to start using beta readers!!! I'm SO SORRY I totally posted the wrong file for this chapter and this is a rewrite. Please tell me what you think.
Once back in the car Henry tried not to wake Vicki, writing down everything he could think of and after another coughing fit of hers he still didn't say anything.
Vicki passed Henry a slip of paper with the address of a small bistro where another potential cheater might be. She drank water and steeled herself for another hour or two of being stuck in a car. Her body would obey her and she was determined not to quit tonight. Reaching into her pocket for the small bottle she'd filled with cough syrup. The hardcore stuff she'd managed to get past Coreen's purge, it had codeine. Vicki read Henry's notes, sneaking looks at Henry to assure he was distracted setting up the sound equipment and then wondered how good his sense of smell was. She probably shouldn't risk it. The urge to cough was overwhelming, so she settled on another cough drop.
"Good job, Henry. Although what's this informant's name? We may need to get a hold of her again."
"How did you know it was a female?"
"A hunch." She smirked.
Vicki went back to her notebook, making a mental note to bring the laptop next time. Sketching some ideas out; she circled a particular phrase as she brainstormed, letting her mind wander.
"Sex games?" Henry's exclamation interrupted her thoughts, the incredulity evident.
"Yeah maybe like a contest or-" she paused moving around the cough drop in her mouth. "What else could it be? A bed swapping game? The sixties and their key parties involved both partners but not this…"
Henry had his eyes trained on the couples leaving the establishment looking for the next suspect. He didn't know what to think about Vicki lately.
The target couple was sitting next to a window just a minute ago, but they had not left through the back or the entrance. And Henry could hear some commotion in the back of the building next to the kitchen.
"I think… something is going on with Mr. Richardson." Henry could clearly hear the suspicious sounds in the small bistro, he studied Vicki's reaction, it was her call from here.
Vicki groaned, unwrapped herself from the blanket and started to change her appearance. She quickly let her hair down, put on some lipstick and removed one of her sweaters before stepping out of the car. She now had a scoop neck pale lavender shirt under an unbuttoned sweater. Henry tried not to grin too eagerly.
"What are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?"
As Henry got out Vicki was already walking towards the entrance. As he caught up with her he stuffed a small notepad in his pocket. Henry offered an arm and they walked in, changing gears from stakeout to a fake date almost too quickly to think about it.
Once seated amid candle light, Vicki commented on the situation, "I really don't feel like being here right now, but I'm going to go check out the restrooms, meanwhile just order me some coffee." She didn't want to let him know she was relieved that she was inside anywhere. Opening the door to the restroom she could hear everything moans, giggles, the creaking of the stall door being used as a wall, clicking on her small recorder she stationed herself in front of the mirror next to their stall. Vicki was taking her time putting on her makeup. The hostess had been nice enough not to comment on the age difference, but Vicki was much too aware of her dark circles not to feel self-conscious. As the long minutes ticked by she wondered if she should hide in one of the stalls. Feigning an exit, she silently stepped into the next empty stall. As the lovers spoke she tried not to think about the fact that this was a romantic little bistro, the staff probably used to this sort of little fling in their establishment. The kind she rarely ever got to go to for a legitimate date with Mike. Everything with him had been so work-oriented. Get a grip Vicki, I'm still on the job. It was true she was here with Henry… but to tail a cheater. Sitting on the closed toilet she sighed, noting that they seemed to be leaving; the fumble of clothes, the sound of the stall door opening and shoes clicking on the tile. She leaned closer into the crack between the opening of her stall door, getting a picture of the two.
When she returned to her seat she asked for her coffee, Henry looked up from his little angle where he could clearly see adulterous couple in the mirror over the bar.
"Sorry no coffee, you'll never get to sleep, it's much too late."
Vicki didn't know how to respond, she was at a loss, what the hell?! "I hardly think you should e lecturing me on the importance of a good-" she was cut off by a waiter bringing a glass of warm brandy.
"What is this?"
"You didn't really think I would deny you a hot drink did you?" Vicki picked it up it was deliciously warm in her freezing hands. She risked a sip. The warmth of the liquid seemed like a small miracle to her chilled body.
"Thanks." She was very grateful but it was a small thanks.
Henry didn't mind though, and waving it away changed the subject, "I don't understand this habit of doing it in bathrooms. Seems so very unhygienic, anyways the smell alone..."
Vicki raised an eyebrow at him but didn't have a chance to retort, as another waiter approached with a soup. It looked delicious a simple French onion soup, with some baguettes for dipping. She didn't give up the brandy though; the richness of the taste and the instantaneous comfort it gave continued to muddle her thoughts. Who was she to fight this sort of comfort anyways?
A small smile crept into her face, sitting with Henry, relaxing in the nearly completely candle-lit restaurant. The music from the piano was enchanting.
"Debussy, Claire de lune." Henry uttered quietly, his voice stirred her out of her still revelry, as the increasingly strong notes gave way to a beautiful meditation of achingly tender notes played out. Caught though she was in a rare moment of enchantment, the music was perfect.
The piece finished, and the moment gone. Henry cradling his own glass of warmed brandy. As soon as she was finished she insisted they follow go on to another couple because she still had another hour.
As soon as she was finished she insisted they follow go on to another couple because she still had another hour.
"How do you reason you have another hour right now?"
"Yeah we were in that little bistro for over an hour you owe me another hour of stake out."
Henry didn't know why he bothered to argue with her, and off they drove.
After another hour of sitting in the car, during which of course they got the dirt again. This time the unrepentant adulterers did it in the car a block away from the apartment the husband lived in with his wife and two kids. When the duo returned to her apartment it was none too soon. All that listening in on others' affairs, the sounds of lovemaking fake and true orgasms coming to them through the headsets was put aside and Vicki felt again rooted in reality. Feeling the bite of the cold after the heater had to be turned off because it interfered with the sound equipment. Shaking off the dreams that threatened if she happened to nod off, the last one she had when Henry was in the bar left her believing in it. Stepping out of the car she reveled in the bone-chilling cold that made the car seem warm and toasty.
Vicki concentrated on the steps she took into her building, the cement and the dull thud of her footsteps, the brown of the tree stark and naked in its winter nakedness. On the familiarity of the walk, aware of her surroundings, focusing on Henry's quiet measured steps behind her, catching a glimpse of him in the glance, she tried convincing herself that it wasn't any goddess that would visit her in her dreams. its just all this research, Vicki get a grip, there's nothing to these dreams. The supernatural doesn't interest me, nor the freaky. She tensed as Henry's hand lightly touched the small of her back as she began yet another cough. There see? He's real…she reassured herself, and a vampire prince. Once in her apartment that looked remarkably like her office in its use of solid wood pieces spare of knick-knacks but cozy albeit it bright she turned down the brighter ones, knowing Henry's eyes were very sensitive. She took a deep breath focusing on her muscles and getting rid of the tension. Away from the strain of the office and work, finally feeling like the dreams were just that Vicki and Henry settled down to watch some movies. Henry let the calm of the night seep into them as they watched some old movies. He drawing and letting Vicki fall asleep peacefully, it was quickly becoming a routine to the both of them.
"Ok why are you back again? Seriously I could do with some falling in the darkness dreams right about now."
"Do not worry Victoria, all is well this time Elietheiyeia's presence still lingers on you."
"Wait that's my doctor's name…you can't mean…" Vicki looked around at her surroundings the blue forest was wilder, wetter but still the same moon hung in the night sky. "That's too obvious I mean her name is Woods! Do me a favor and never try to hide me."
Artemis laughed with her eyes, her mouth smiling, but seriously Vicki was beginning to irritate her. "Elietheyeia is a part of me, one of me, there are actually more representations of me than this form and almost as many personalities that we inhabit. This is not all that I am."
"Okay so what was the deal last night? My tattoos and you leaving I felt him."
"It seems it was a combination of things first of all you dreamt of…" Vicki shot her a deadly glare so Artemis just skipped over 'kiss', "and when Astaroth lat tried to come through, used your marks that alerted him, had him watching you. Every time you use them they call him since you do draw on his power."
Artemis watched this beautiful warrior as she mulled over the information.
"And you? How come you left? Is it because of Astaroth? Is he stronger than you?" Artemis didn't know how to best answer that and still have a chance at convincing her of what needed to be done.
"No he is not stronger than I just more ruthless, because he is a demon and has not the power of a god he gambles with the lives of his followers. Ultimately it will have to be a blood sacrifice that brings him through. Henry is marked by him as you (but much less so than you are.) Though his hold on Henry does not have as much appeal for him. Henry's life sacrificed for Astaroth would still help him and will continue to lure evil to him but Astaroth's urgency is with you for your time is limited. And you are a child of light."
"Back up there Clementine."
"Yeah 'she'll be coming down the mountain when she comes,'" Vicki was talking about Artemis' habit of revealing herself over a mountain or hill like the first night she came to her in her dreams. Artemis couldn't help smiling at Vicki's lovely lilting Southern drawl as she said it though, "ok if you're stronger than Astaroth how come you left?"
"If Astaroth discovers how much you really are a favorite of mine and if I pass on any help to you it will make you more powerful; and therefore an irresistible temptation. Even if he suspects and then decides you are more powerful then it won't matter to him that your haven't choosen him. He'll take you regardless."
"So you're doing the running and hiding bit because of me? Then why even contact me? Aren't you causing me more trouble?" Vicki inspected the goddess, her perfectly high breasts, small waist and face was indeed similar to that of Dr. Woods, but in the next second the resemblance was gone, the goddess' countenance seemed to be like a river constantly changing underneath the surface but placid and calm on the surface. Vicki had the vaguest thought of, This isn't me I don't inspect girls…
"You really do not recall do you? It's never occurred to you why I chose you?" Artemis' eyes seemed to hold more than the blue, as Vicki gazed into them, they seemed to know the depths of the rainbow in an opalescent splendor. Vicki could feel the pull of that gentle moonlight as the wind caressed her face, her body and finally shivered down to a secret place.
Ok this really isn't me. She stared at the sky wondering why a Virgin goddess would make her feel these things, because Vicki knew she wasn't the one starting them. She wanted get angry at the way the wind even seemed to act as an extension of the goddess but didn't think it wise to accuse Artemis. She really didn't need another supernatural entity being angry with her again.
"Artemis I'm cold, I assume you could make the wind stop blowing?" Vicki tried to keep her mind on that and just saying the request Artemis let the wind die. "So even though this is my head you are very much in it and able to control the elements in it can't you?"
"Then you know what is in my mind, what's to stop you from controlling me? From possessing me?"
"Gods cannot possess fully it would destroy your corporeal form."
"That we can do, but most chose not to, after all it is the generations and masses of worshippers who give Us our power."
"Be careful who you worship huh? Never mind, we'll come back to that meanwhile, is Eileithyia going to know everything that happens here?"
"Yes." More than anyone else Vicki could not handle anymore control being wrenched from her without her consent, Artemis knew that, respected that, allowed Vicki to question, calculate, above all take things at her own pace.
"Then why not restrict contact to me through her form?"
"Would you have believed her?"
"No, I guess not." Vicki sighed the moon in the night's dark blue sky had gone farther down and she knew the dawn fast approached. She was about to ask something else but Artemis beat her to it.
"If it makes you more comfortable Victoria I will have Eileithyia come to you instead. For now another needs your assistance and will take you away from this path. You must not remember these conversations. Do you consent?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I want your permission to hide these memories." Seriously Vicki was beginning to irritate Her.
"Why do you have to hide them?"
"Because Vicki the memories alone could incriminate you, or endanger you when this new situation arises."
"Can you put a time delay on when I'll forget?" Artemis had ceased to be surprised at Vicki's ingenuity.
"Yes I can make you forget at a later time."
"Ok make me forget when the new situation arises. And promise me you'll bring me my memories back to me once it passes."
"You do know you will not always get your way?"
"Yeah yeah whatever can you promise me or not?"
"Yes Victoria you have my promise to delay the forgetting and to restore your memories back to you when the situation has passed." Had Artemis been a mortal she would have been exhausted of Vicki's controlling nature. As it was she was quite amused. She reached out to Vicki in an antiquated version of a handshake, touching her forehead to Vicki she released the mortal woman from the dream state.
As Vicki roused from her sleep she grabbed the nearest thing to her, it happened to be Henry's arm as she was still on the couch.
"Nothing nothing's wrong. Just dreaming." She had her glasses on still, her eyes greedily taking in the mundane beige and lack of blue in the room and Henry, his very real presence comforting her.
"About?" He could tell she hesitated about something.
"Henry how much time do you have?"
"Until the sun rises? About two hours."
"Okay totally not enough time. Cliffs Notes version, what do you know about Artemis?"
"Humor me Henry. And hand me some paper please, also I need light right now."
"Well Artemis, the Virgin huntress Goddess of the moon there's several inconsistencies about her. Why?" he had everything she'd asked for her but still wanted to know what was behind all this.
"Does the name Eileithyia mean anything to you?"
"She's the side of Artemis closely associated with child birth. Vicki stop, what is this about?" Why couldn't she just sit back down? Thought Henry irritably.
"Ok if I tell you that I can't remember any of this tomorrow don't fight me on this just go with it ok? Also this will go faster if I type and I need you to get several things for me. Don't breathe a word about it to Coreen."
"Vicki do you have a fever?"
"NO DAMNIT HENRY!" She took in a deep breath and started coughing violently. As soon as the fit was over Henry helped her up off the couch and walked her back to her bedroom.
"Vicki, I will do as you ask but only if you listen to me for a moment. I will not be a party to your self-destructive behavior. If you fall again as you did last night FAINTING from exhaustion you will force me to put you back in the hospital. I'll vamp Coreen into locking out clients and persuade Mike into ignoring your requests. I'll make it so no one will speak to you. Do you understand me?" Henry was not just the royal as he said this, but his hands were at his side, voice measured, eyes humanly blue, he meant to show her his humanity as he said it.
"Leave Henry." Vicki was shaking with anger. How dare he give her an ultimatum?
"I SAID LEAVE." Shouting the words she shut her eyes not wanting to see his handsome countenance.
The vampire rose in response, his control gone and he seemed to roar at her though his voice didn't rise just the violence behind it. "I WON'T HAVE YOU KILL YOURSELF FOR SOME INANE CHEATING HUSBANDS."
Henry's voice was commanding and forceful the full vampiric intent that didn't work on Vicki, and yet he didn't retract the vampire for another second letting her see the fangs and the eyes. Vicki wasn't afraid of him, but she hated being threatened into submission, and being given an ultimatum was unacceptable. Henry took a second to let the vampire fade away and he continued completely human, "I'll leave now and you can choose to ignore me but I don't say this for my sake. Unless it is for my sake that I ask you to allow yourself to rest enough to regain your health…" He could hear the coldness in his own voice, but nothing could be done for it, "that's all I wanted Vicki. Good Night."
Vicki stared after him venom in her stare and slammed the door shut. All thoughts of Artemis were receding from her mind as she considered Henry's words. He'd definitely promised her a discussion of this the first night of her hospital stay. She took a deep breath and knew the newfound closeness and the unspoken understanding they'd established had been torn to shreds. Slowly she changed into her pajamas, putting on her favorite sweatshirt, an old college one the heather grey faded and the softest flannel pants she had. All thoughts of everything supernatural she forced away from her thoughts. She tried to sleep.
"Artemis, please go away." Would she ever be allowed to rest?
"I have to bestow one last thing on you, and I'm Eileithyia to be precise."
"Like it matters."
"It does actually." Artemis' form shimmered and Ellie Woods stood before Vicki in her own bedroom. "You see I'm going to heal you." And with those words Eileithyia reached into Vicki's chest with both hands. Time seemed to slow into a single moment in time, and slowly Eileithyia withdrew. Vicki drew a deep breath. It was free and clear of pain and there was no urge to cough.
"You are most welcome Vicki, now go to sleep."
As Vicki struggled against the impulse to sleep but soon drifted off to sleep, Eileithyia, walked over to the window and opened it to stand next to Henry on the veranda. He had watched the entire thing from the slightly opened door because he'd returned as soon as he heard Vicki fall asleep. To him it had seemed Vicki was sleeping and then Dr. Woods had appeared her hands deep in Vicki's chest. Rooted there by Artemis' sudden invisible hold, held in a deathlike grip the vampire was raging and yet physically was unable even to breathe. He was forced to watch as he could do nothing. But suddenly his vision shimmered and he saw for a moment the blue forest and Eileithyia in her true form, not the Artemis huntress, but the healer and midwife. Suddenly he knew that she was no threat and he was released.
Now he stood in the shadows Vicki's living room, her utterly human scent the only thing to comfort him. Wondering what sort of magic could possibly have occurred before his very eyes to cause the change in Vicki's health, her face getting some color back and as he strode to her side he could hear that her chest was considerably clearer. Her breathing easier. Relief flooded through him but there was something else to attend to. He walked back to the veranda, inspecting Eileithyia closely, trying to discern why the smell of roses and eucalyptus were the only scents emanating from her. Like she didn't have fresh blood or flesh that smelled…
"Who are you?" He asked though he could not smell dark magic and she was no threat it was no reason to abandon caution.
"Dr. Ellie Woods, or Artemis Eileithyia, which ever you prefer. You can go now."
"You haven't the right to dismiss me." Henry allowed the vampire to show, controlled ferocity emanating from his very being.
"Fine, although she is healed now, let her rest. And Henry…"
"Yes?" a hissing growl.
"Forget." Eileithyia reached forward and with a touch of her hand to his mind he forgot he had ever heard of Eileithyia Artemis, from Vicki or seen anything at all. As he came to he had just enough time to leave before the sun came up, thinking only of the words of anger and not remembering what exactly had led to them.