A/N: I cooked this up in a couple of hours. Any comments or anything related, either message me or leave a review. If you're a Hollows fanatic and have the books, I would appreciate it if you help me find character and location descriptions (as well as if something seems out of character). I'm trying to stick to what Kim Harrison has written.
Everything here---excluding my character 'Michael Grey'---belongs to Kim Harrison the author of The Hollows Series. If for some strange reason she somehow stumbles upon this fanfiction, she can take anything from it and use it for her book. All I ask is that she acknowledge me if she does so. . .and maybe send me a copy of every book past For A Few Demons More. Hehe.
Also note that this isn't how it was originally formatted. I recommend that you view this in a smaller window so as to better the flow between paragraphs.
This story take place months after 'A Fistful Of Charms'.
I took slow, confident steps towards the big grey church ahead of me. My dress shoes click-clacked on the cement beneath my feet as I primped my black suit jacket. It was early in the morning and most of the Inderland residents in the Hollows weren't even up at this hour. I ascended the stone steps, briefly wondering if waking them up at this hour was a wise thing to do. I just hope the vampire doesn't answer the door.
My eyes quickly gazed up at the plague on one of the twin doors that read, 'Vampiric Charms: Tamwood, Jenks & Morgan", before I hammered at the reddish entrance bound in metal.
"Hello?!" I almost shouted. A part of me figured that if I had knocked normally they probably wouldn't have heard it. "Hello?" I repeated. But before I could knock again, the door creaked outwards, and a woman with frizzing, red hair stood in front of me. She was fairly tall for a woman, my guess would be 5'8", 5'9" maybe? Just reaching my chin in height. Her face was devoid of freckles—which might've been done by a complexion charm since the photo I was given clearly showed she had freckles—and her lilac robe was draped and tied loosely around her. She also smelt strongly of redwood, and I guessed she could probably smell the same scent on me, too.
"You must be Rachel Morgan," I exclaimed, smiling and extending my hand. "I'm Michael Grey."
"Nice to meet you, Michael." She shook my hand, yawning. It was obvious she hadn't had much sleep. She didn't even notice I could see her underwear through her weakly tied robe. Her face flashed in irritation—not because I snuck a glance—before she covered it up with a tired smile. "We're not open for business, yet," she said, stifling another yawn. "If you could com—"
I tapped the lay line running through the graveyard behind the church to get her attention. I felt the rush of energy surge throughout my body, feeling like cold water circulated around my being. Her eyes immediately focused as she sensed it. I dropped the line, feeling my muscles tense as the energy flowed back to its source. I smiled slyly. "Now that I have your attention, there's something I need from you."
Rachel straightened, her eyes fixed on mine. She no longer looked fatigued but I could still hear it when she asked, "What do you need?"
I relaxed. "Do you mind if we discuss this inside? It's freezing out here." I gave her the most amiable smile I could muster, revealing my straight, pearly white teeth. A moment passed when nothing but the sound of birds filled our silence. She continued to eye me, probably analyzing whether I could be trusted or not to be let inside. Her eyes scanned me from head to toe before she pulled the door further out and gestured for me to come inside. I nodded and stepped in.
The first thing I did was look up the support beams holding the roof three stories above me; it really did give the sense of being drawn to heaven as I looked up. Gazing down now, I realized there were no pews in the foyer which gave the place a more expansive appearance. The altar that should've been on the stage was gone, too. I couldn't help but feel awed by the interior. Smiling, I turned to Rachel and said, "This place is beautiful."
Rachel grinned happily, closing the giant door as I passed. I followed close behind her, walking up the raised stage, and through a door at the rear. Still moving, I past two closed doors which smelled like clean bathrooms, two bedrooms, and rounded an open archway into a large kitchen.
I took it upon myself to lean over the centre island in the middle of the room—I was careful to avoid the rack with pots and kitchen utensils—as she brewed some coffee with her back to me. The window in front of her had a great view of the graveyard/backyard behind the church. I waited patiently, occasionally sweeping my side-swept bangs over my eyebrow when it kept coming down, until Rachel could settle herself. While I could have been staring at her uh, behind, I instead chose to look outside the kitchen window where I could swear I heard the delighted shouts of pixies flying about. She has pixies living with her, amazing.
I smelt coffee wafting through my nose after a time. Rachel set two mugs down on the counter—one average sized, the other overly huge—and poured some hot liquid in both. She slid the smaller one towards me, then sipped from her over-sized cup. Her face relaxed as the hot beverage did her wonders. She sighed contently before turning her attention to me. Her face looked a whole lot more serene now.
I was about to speak when a golden blur shot out through the kitchen window's screen.
Our heads turned simultaneously, and our eyes followed a four inch male pixy in gardening clothes hovering between the two of us. He looked about 18 years old in human terms. His hair blond and disheveled, and he brought the smell of green things with him. There was also something odd about him that I couldn't quite figure out. Something about him just looked wrong.
"Hey, Rache, why're you up so—who're you?" he stopped mid-sentence and stared at me. His voice was tiny, yet masculine. I wanted to hold out my hand for him to land on as he flitted and stopped a foot from my face, but I decided against it. He wouldn't have landed on it anyway.
"I'm Michael Grey," I said, nodding respectfully in lieu of a handshake. "I've come here for business." He continued to stare at me. I couldn't help buy smile tightly."I'm hoping to Rachel can help me with my, uh. . . problem."
At that, the pixy snickered. "Hehe. I'm sure Rache can help you there, Michael." He flew backwards and landed on Rachel's shoulder. The breeze from his wings blew a couple of strands of her hair. "She's a wildcat when she's bumping uglies," he winked. "It'll cost ya though."
"Shut up, Jenks," she muttered in annoyance. The pixy laughed and flew to a hanging ladle on a utensil rack. He sat there, watching us. Rachel took another sip from her mug, then said, "What do you need Vampiric Charms for?"
I noticed the smile crept on her face when she said the company name. I belayed the thought of asking her why she had chosen a name like that in the first place. It sounded like a Inderland escort service. "There's going to be a major event happening in Cincinnati—it's a Ball for rich people. I need some protection leading up to it, and also on the day." In order to appear more amiable and trusting of them, I drank a mouthful of coffee from the mug she gave me. Damn, that's good.
She looked at me with suspicion. "Protection from who?" she asked.
I exhaled. "Trent Kalamack."
Rachel stared at me with wide eyes, while Jenks landed on the island counter I was leaning on.
"Tink's bra on a pinwheel," he said with his hands on his hips. "What does he want with you?"
I took another refreshing sip. This is really good. "He wants to buy me out of some of the businesses I own."
Rachel's opinion of me must've shifted into something bad judging by the detesting look she gave me. She asked, "What is it you do, Mr Grey."
"I'm a businessman, Ms Morgan," I said with a smile. "I've bought many things that Mr Kalamack seems to have wanted, and I've also moved into a new market of products." I smiled mischievously. "And I think he's getting angry."
Her facial expression continued to hint her detestment. She stepped towards me, setting her mug down on the counter beside Jenks. "If he's going to kill you, I can't stop him." I knew she wasn't lying. "I'm sorry," she added.
"Oh, but he's not going to kill me," I exclaimed. They both looked at me quizzically. I chuckled, briefing listening to the sound of the pixies shouting cheerfully outside. "He's attempting to buy me out. If he wanted me dead, he would've done it already, but the media shitstorm would be too much for even him to handle if he did. He's hoping to rough me up so badly—to the point of near death, I might add—so that I'll sell what he wants to him."
"What in Tink's panties does Trent want buy you off of?" Jenks asked.
"Just every research facility I own, and a couple of hospitals. I don't know why though," I said honestly, looking at both of them. "What did you think he was buying me out of?"
Ever since I out-moneyed Trent on a research facility—which I only did for kicks—in D.C two years ago, he's been slowly trying to take over my empire one business at a time. I, of course, responded in kind. We kept our little battle underground, away from the prying media. None even suspected a thing. And while Trent may have been richer than me by a few hundred million, I had the advantage of not being well known around the world, given my need for secrecy, so I managed to buy more of his ventures without risking too much exposure while he had to take the slow, careful—and illegal—route.
Rachel and Jenks snuck not-so-furtive glances at each other. I smiled slyly, knowing full well that they were referring, too. Unlike Trent, I at least was a good businessman—albeit, good in the sense that I didn't venture into anything illegal; like the brimstone trade Rachel and Jenks were no doubt secretly thought I had a part in.
Rachel drank from her mug. The sounds of pixies shouting outside tempted me to find out what those little gardeners were up, too. So what if I liked pixies? It stemmed from when my mother gave them our backyard as a gift before she died; I was five when she passed away. Ever since then, I spent almost every day in the backyard, until I grew older and moved away. But I made sure those pixies kept that garden as their own. They still do to this day.
I looked outside and smiled at the excited clamor of the pixies driving a bird out of the garden. Jenks rose from the counter and hovered eye-level, staring outside with me. Rachel did, too. The pride and joy Jenks felt as he watched them was obvious as a trail of golden dust shimmered down from him. Must be his kids.
"Trent'll do anything short of killing me to get what he wants," I said, making sure they knew I wasn't looking for a distraction or biding my time. "He's already sent a couple of bruisers to deal with me in the past. Even a few of warlocks. The most recent being witches."
"If you've survived all that, then why do you need us?" Rachel inquired, still looking outside. "I can tell you're good at magic the moment I caught a whiff of you."
"Yeah you stink of witch," Jenks added.
They both turned to me. I smiled politely, and said, "I know I'm good—" Jenks interrupted with a high pitched laugh. "—but what good's magic if I'm sleeping? My bodyguards have been bribed many times, and I can't really trust any of my employees nowadays."
"So you need us?" Rachel exclaimed.
"For how long?"
"Well. The ball's in two weeks, and I'll need a safe place to stay until after the event. The last place I was in was cursed with all sorts of black magic when I got home."
I saw the gears working inside Rachel's head, trying to come up with a price. "What number am I thinking of?" she asked with grin. Oh, I see how it is.
"How's $50, 000?" I exclaimed nonchalantly.
Her mouth had twitched so fast I wondered if it had really happened. Jenks flitted over to her ear and whispered something. Her grin lessened. "It's not enough for two weeks worth of protection."
"Fine," I said, shrugging my shoulders. "How's $150, 000?"
At that number, her hand shot out. "Deal. You'll be staying with us."
"With you lot?"
"Yup. Where better to put you than with a vampire, a pixie and a witch, watching you 24/7?"
Jenks circled around our heads, leaving a trail of gold in his wake as he shouted merrily. His children were coming inside to see what was going on.
I shook her hand as I would a business partner and pulled out a checkbook from the inner pocket of my jacket. "Just one thing," I said, before I signed the check. "The uh, vampire, Ivy. Will she be alright with this?" They both nodded enthusiastically. "Okay. Just checking." I might need to bring that stabilizer amulet, regardless.