Again, many thanks for the lovely reviews. Those of you who wondered who it was who made the announcement of a 'situation developing' will find out who said that in this chapter. Warnings for spicy language, what can i say, Mitchell is a bit of a belligerent drunk so apologies for a foul mouthed vampire (or two) in advance. All errors are my own, as always, thoughts appreciated.
"Do I know you sweetheart?" Mitchell frowns deeply as he seems to try to place her. He watches how her big blue eyes widen with outrage. She storms towards him, her earlier hesitancy forgotten and now replaced with what seems like ardent indignation instead. It is ardent indignation that is aimed squarely at him.
"How can you say that….how can you stand there and …" her voice rises a couple of octaves. Mitchell regards her with open insolence as he swigs at his beer.
"Say what darlin'?" her mouth drops open. He then grins.
"You bastard!" she screeches and she flies at him. The bottle hits the floor as he catches her by her wrists and he holds on tightly. Her eyes flash black and Mitchell chuckles.
"Oh look at you sweetheart, like a little angry kitten." he laughs. He pushes her away and he looks down at the floor. He sighs melodramatically.
"And you've made me spill my beer. I'm going to have to get another one now." Unsteadily he leans down and picks up the bottle, ignoring the beer leaking out onto the carpet.
"You don't remember me." her voice is barely above a whisper. He straightens up and looks from the bottle to her face and he sees the tragedy etched there. Her black gaze has disappeared.
"Why would I need to remember you sweetheart?" he jabs and he sees how she frowns, how fat tears well in her eyes and threaten to spill over.
"Because of who I am, what I became…it's all your fault!" her voice rises to a shout and he sees the anger flare in her eyes afresh. She flies at him again, her fists hitting his chest and the strength of her rage knocks him back a step. The bottle hits the floor once more and he sighs.
He grabs hold of her shoulders and holds her at arm's length watching her as she writhes and hisses and tries to kick him.
"Jesus, will you calm down?" he demands as he dodges to avoid flying feet.
He then catches the drift of something in the air between them, a sweet old fashioned perfume. Watching her temper tantrum amuses him for a moment before the memory triggers and he tightens his grip and he spins around. He pushes her up against the wall and he glares at her, his previous amusement forgotten.
"It was you wasn't it?…in the locker room…that was you." Mitchell's voice is low, almost a growl and Jessie's eyes go wide.
"What…" she exclaims as one of his hand winds around the front of her throat and he pins her up against the wall. She cries out and her hands wrap around his wrist and she tries to wrench it free but it's no use. He's angry and he's strong.
"Attacking Shannon like that…you were interrupted, remember?" he bends his head slightly and closes his eyes as he gently inhales. His eyes are intense when they open again.
"Oh yeah that was you alright. I recognise that perfume now, violets. It's the twenty first century darlin', you should really update it."
"I didn't know….who she was…" her voice is choked and her eyes widen in alarm. He shakes her very slightly. He slowly loosens his grip but he doesn't let go of her.
"No you didn't. I should thank you because that's how I got to meet her, got to know her so there's that but sweetheart, here's a newsflash for you. I didn't make you what you are. That is not my fault so you need to pull your fuckin' head in." he takes a breath.
"What are you doing here?" she demands.
"Could ask you the same question darlin'."
"I'm not your darling, don't call me that…"
"Oh for fuck's sake…" Mitchell snarls at her as he lets go of her. As quick as lightning she retaliates and strikes out and her punch catches Mitchell square on the jaw. It rocks him back on his heels and the taste of blood blooms in his mouth. His eyes fade to black as he looks at her. Something inside of him lets go. He feels it detach.
"Ow! What the hell was that for?" he snarls.
"Fuck you! She was there, she was game, you know the rules!" she bellows at him and he frowns at her and then he shakes his head.
"The rules? Is that the best you can do?" he bellows at her. He reaches into his jacket and he pulls out the stake. Jessie's eyes go wide and she gasps when she recognises it. She remains frozen to the spot.
"She was an innocent, there to change her clothes. She wasn't expecting you; she didn't deserve what you had in store for her. You had no right." He wields it in his hand as if testing its weight.
"Since when do you care about them, you're a vampire Mitchell, supposedly one of the legends or have you forgotten?" Mitchell shakes his head.
"No, I haven't forgotten." he mutters and he takes a step towards her.
Cutler starts when he hears the shrill scream that echoes from inside of his house. It sends a shiver of alarm through his system and makes him drop the paintbrush he's been holding.
"What the…" comprehension dawns and his eyes widen in horror. "Oh… Christ…" he gasps. He tears out of the conservatory and inside of the house.
"Mitchell…oh for God's sake!" Cutler yells as he runs into the living room. He races towards him, seeing the other vampire holding a wooden stake aloft. His eyes widen further when he sees who he has captive, who his black eyed rage is directed at. He pushes his way in between them.
"Mitchell…no…for the love of …please not her…"he manages to get in front of Jessie and he yanks Mitchell's hand away from her and he turns to face him. He sees the blood on Mitchell's bottom lip. He reaches for the stake and he wrenches it out of his hand and he throws it down on the floor between them. He puts his hands on his shoulders.
"You need to calm down…you're drunk, you're hurt and you're tired and that's not a very good combination. Take a step back…" he lowers his voice. A movement makes him turn his head and he sees Jessie straighten up. She has something in her hand and he quickly turns, knocking Mitchell off balance as he lunges for her arm as it rises up and he sees the intention in her eyes, the determination. He grabs her wrist and tightens his grip. They sway in a wicked parody of a waltz as he tries to regain control. She's surprisingly strong and it takes him a moment to finally yank the stake free of her grasp.
"No…absolutely…no. There will be no killing in my house today…or any other day for that matter. Jesus what is the matter with you two children?" he hisses. He places a hand on Jessie's breastbone and gives her a stern look. He looks at Mitchell over one shoulder.
"I see you've been reacquainted." he comments, breathing heavily and Mitchell glances at him as he pulls fingers through untidy hair. He touches the side of his face and opens and closes his mouth, flexing his jaw experimentally. He then wipes at his bottom lip and then goes to sit on the arm of one of the armchairs.
"Bitch nearly broke my jaw." he mutters.
"Bite me!" she snarls and his head whips around in her direction.
"Don't fucking tempt me darlin'" he hisses back.
"Okay….that's enough…please…just put a lid on it!" Cutler interrupts impatiently. There's a brief but sullen silence. Jessie sighs.
"He doesn't remember me." she informs him.
"Of course I do, I was just yanking your chain." Mitchell snaps.
"Why?" Cutler demands sharply and Mitchell shrugs.
"Because I can…because I fucking felt like it." he retorts crossly. He glances at Jessie. He slowly stands up and shrugs off his jacket. He flexes his shoulders and drapes it across the chair. He rubs his jaw again.
"Who recruited you?" Jessie watches him with wide eyes.
"Why do you care?"
"Well to be honest I don't. I just know it wasn't me. So who was it?"
"Eleanor Brennan." she confesses. She watches as he slowly begins to nod, his expression darkening. He turns his back on her.
"When?" he snaps out.
"The party you took me to. She took a shine to me. You left me there Mitchell, you dazzled me, you promised me the world or at least the chance to further my career and instead you let them have me and I became this…thing!" her voice shakes with new anger. Mitchell spins around to regard her.
"It was nothing personal darlin', it was just business. I'm sure you know the story now, a vampire party, someone had to provide the in house entertainment and I was that someone and I chose you. I saw you at the tea room, I liked what I saw." he stands in front of her, ever mindful of Cutler standing in between them watching and monitoring. He watches her expression crumple and more tears slide down her cheeks as she seems to bend over, her arms going around her waist. Cutler gives Mitchell a look of alarm. He shrugs subtly and moves away as Cutler turns to her and gently puts his arms around her. Mitchell watches them dispassionately.
"You've been Eleanor's companion for seventy five years Jessie, why all the hatred and why directed at me? I wasn't the one who recruited you, that was Eleanor, if there's anyone you should be mad and screaming at, then it's her." Slowly Jessie straightens and she wipes at her eyes, leaving sooty black marks beneath both eyes. She glares at him.
"I wish I'd never agreed to meet you John Mitchell." She hisses and he shrugs.
"Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? I can't change the past sweetheart. Are you expecting me to apologise, to get down on my knees and beg for your abject forgiveness? Did you really think I would care? I don't. You're a vampire, you've lived a very comfortable seventy five years being looked after and coddled by Eleanor, get the fuck over it." His expression is cruel and Cutler watches Jessie's eyes widen with shock.
"I should've staked you in that alley, like Flynn told me to." Just like that Mitchell is front of her again. He glances at Cutler as he pushes up against his chest, his eyes flashing an unspoken warning. Mitchell ignores him and he stares at Jessie instead.
"Then why didn't you? Too much of a coward or did you realise that you'd bitten off more than you could chew? Another one who thought that because I'm off the blood that I'm weak with it and unable to defend myself. You're all the fucking same, idiots the lot of you." he sneers at her.
"It wasn't the right time…"
"You were in that alley watching me and you ran like a scared child. Two women died and that's on you." he hisses at her and he takes another slower step back. He deliberately nods and his face twists with scorn.
"I couldn't stop him, I tried but he was intent on getting his revenge, i didn't know about about those women I swear!" Jessie cries out in distress but Mitchell shows no reaction. He pulls his fingers through his hair again and he takes a deep ragged breath.
"Flynn thought he'd killed Shannon…a twisted revenge for something he couldn't let go of and no doubt you've got your own version in your head too. Come on then darlin, what are you waiting for?" he pulls open his shirt "the first try is for free." He holds his arms out at either side of his body and his smile is cold.
Cutler rolls his eyes.
"Oh for crying out loud…hasn't anyone had enough of this drama for one night? I know I have. Button up your shirt, there will be no talk of revenge, no staking and no blood will be shed. I need to get some sleep or I'm going to seriously start banging heads together." He looks at Jessie and his expression softens when he sees how pale she is, how exhausted she looks.
"You need to sleep sweetpea," he whispers and then he looks at Mitchell and his expression hardens again "and you need to fucking sober up. I'm going to make some coffee and you're going to drink it if I have to pour it down your throat myself." He lets go of Jessie and he looks back at Mitchell.
"Kitchen, now. I don't trust either of you not to kill each other yet." He heads off towards the kitchen. Mitchell stands still and watches Jessie who is staring back at him. She's trembling now and he sees how close to coming undone she is. He feels the faintest stirring of sympathy for her.
"Mitchell…now please!" Cutler shouts. He rolls his eyes, swears beneath his breath but he does as he is told.
Eleanor bends down and she picks up what Edgar Wyndam has thrown at her feet. A pair of trousers, a shirt and a jacket. She looks at him in askance.
"There was some trouble in the city earlier, a bit of a battle by all accounts. Do you know who the combatants were?" Wyndam watches her and sees her shake her head.
"Oh come now, really? You honestly have no idea at all?" his voice rises sharply. It causes an icy pool of fear to gather in the pit of her stomach as she clutches the items of clothing between her hands.
"Let me refresh your memory then shall I? It came to my attention that a certain Irish vampire returned to Bristol recently and I'm not talking about Herrick's protégé here." He pauses and regards her for a moment.
"Donovan Flynn. Imagine my surprise when I heard that name again." He waits for another moment and then he moves further into the living room and goes to stand in front of the fire. He stares at the flames blazing merrily in the grate for a moment. He reaches for the poker and slowly, deliberately he extracts it from its stand. He turns slightly and examines the length of it. He glances at Eleanor out of the corner of his eye and he notices how she has stiffened, how her attention has fixed on that poker. His answering smile is slight and knowing. He turns back to the fire and stirs the white hot coals for a moment before returning the poker to its original resting place. He takes a deliberate step back and he lifts his head very slightly and regards the painting on the chimney breast wall. It's a large oil painting which has graced that particular wall for close to a century and he looks at it for a good few moments.
"She really was a beauty wasn't she? Quite literally heart stopping." He glances at her over his shoulder and his grin is quick. He looks back at it. He sees the portrait title, 'Lily Vale, 1900' She's lounging lazily in a throne like chair, her head thrown back and there's a hint of a smile in those lovely dark blue eyes of hers. There was always a challenge in them, he muses. Her hair is properly dressed and nothing untoward is exposed but he sees the acres of milky white skin, the curve of that bottom lip and he fully understands how she was able to bewitch so many. Until John Mitchell came on the scene and oh how she had underestimated him. His lips twitch with a faint smile at the memory. His sharp blue gaze catches the signature in the bottom right hand corner
One of the very few times he used his real name he believes.
"He was in the neighbourhood, came for a visit and I invited him to stay for a little while. What happened?" she glances down at the bundle of clothing that she still holds.
"He was ended in a tawdry little alley near to the hospital where John and his lady friend work. He was hanging around after a celebration and he attacked two women, one with red hair whom I'm led to believe he thought was Miss Parker." Slowly he turns around and regards her.
"Imagine that." There is silence apart from the sound of crackling flames.
"He was ended by John Mitchell himself." He offers a tight lipped smile.
"I'm sorry to hear that…"
"Are you? Are you really?" he interrupts sharply. He folds his arms.
"Jessica was fond of Flynn, she'll…she'll be very upset to hear about this…" Eleanor stammers and her words falter when Wyndam begins to slowly shake his head.
"I know your game madam. You must think I came down in the last shower. Shame on you, shame on you indeed. After what I instructed." He laughs humourlessly.
"Fond of Donovan Flynn? I think you'll find Eleanor that you have the wrong vampire. Jessica wasn't keeping company with Flynn. Oh she aimed much much higher than that upstart."
"I don't understand…"
"I think that you do, I think you understand me completely. I can imagine that you've been pacing this room constantly checking the time and wondering where she is. Who do you think accompanied Flynn on his mission tonight? Who do you think took off at the first sign of defeat and where do you think she is now?" he takes several steps towards her and he pauses in front of her.
"She'll be in Jude Cutler's bed if I'm very much mistaken." he whispers.
He watches her reaction. He slowly smiles as her eyes widen and she goes rigid with shock.
"Do you think I'm lying Eleanor? Do you think I would deliberately deceive you over something like this?" he turns back to look at the painting.
"But why would you care…why would you care about Jessica?" she asks and he spins on his heel to regard her. His arms are locked loosely behind his back and he scans her expression, the faintest of smiles still on his face.
"I don't." he confirms.
"It's the company that she keeps my dear, the vermin she associates with that concerns me. You remember our Mr Cutler don't you?" he nods his head towards the painting.
"Such a talented artist…and there are scores of vampires just waiting to be immortalised on canvas which is handy considering we can't be photographed or filmed. He's made a killing, if you pardon the pun…just not the way he should." Wyndam grins once more.
"He's dangerous Eleanor and your darling Jessica is vulnerable. She's been a little bit rebellious of late has she not? Disappearing for hours upon end, being mysterious and secretive. Does she remind you of anyone?" his tone turns sharp. Once more he turns.
"But she's been playing her cards close to her chest. Lily may have been open about her…peccadilloes…but this one…this one has been very tight-lipped but not tight lipped enough and it needs to be nipped in the bud." he inhales and then slowly exhales.
"She's weakening and becoming further sucked under his poisonous influence and we can't have that. I won't allow it." He pauses and he seems to think.
"She needs to be brought back into line."
Mitchell sits quietly at the kitchen table. The steaming cup of coffee remains ignored in front of him. Cutler sighs quietly and sips at his own.
"I meant what I said earlier, you can drink that or I'll force it down your throat myself." It gets Mitchell's attention and slowly he lifts his gaze up to his.
"Don't goad me Mitchell…I'm not in the mood, just drink your damned coffee, my sanity demands it." Cutler sighs. Mitchell sighs roughly and reaches for his mug. Cutler watches him take a sip.
"You're thinking about Shannon." Mitchell doesn't reply but instead replaces the cup on the kitchen table.
"I could talk to her if you like?" That does get his attention and Cutler isn't surprised at the strength of the glare that he receives.
"Or not…it was just a suggestion…"he murmurs and he watches as Jessie slowly, hesitantly enters the kitchen. She gives Mitchell a wide berth and comes to stand beside Cutler. He smiles kindly at her and slips an arm across her shoulder. He briefly hugs her to him and pours her some coffee and hands the cup to her.
"Oh you should see yourself…" Mitchell drawls and Cutler turns his head and looks at him.
"Give it a rest John; you're doing yourself no favours here." Cutler retorts and Mitchell shrugs slightly.
"Eleanor is planning something." Jessie is looking at Mitchell when she announces this. Mitchell lifts his eyes and he looks at her. He doesn't speak and he just waits instead.
"Do you know who arranged the attack on the family who lived in Shannon's street?" he asks. He watches her nod.
"You do too, if you think about it." Cutler injects and Mitchell looks at him. He scowls instead. Cutler sighs and rolls his eyes.
"Oh excuse me, after all the alcohol you've consumed over the last six or more hours I'm surprised you can even think at all…"
"Oh fuck off Cutler…"
"Don't you wish?" Cutler snipes back and then he stops and shakes his head.
"No…I just won't…it's too easy…" he takes another deep breath.
"It was Eleanor Brennan, she and Jimmy Fitzgerald orchestrated and carried it out. If Shannon had been home, more than likely she would've been the intended target." He watches the anger emerge on Mitchell's face.
"And right now you want to find them and rip their heads off. Not a good idea my friend, especially with a gut full of booze, no sleep and a threatening hangover. She'll be waiting for you to connect the dots and show up on her doorstep full of righteous indignation. No…what you need to do is sleep last night off, make things right with Shannon if you want to and get the hell out of dodge, with me." He looks between the two vampires.
"What? We can go anywhere…do anything…Europe, Asia, oooh maybe even Africa…imagine that." His eyes widen as he warms to his idea.
"I have influences, friends so getting out of the country won't be a problem, it'll be wonderful." he looks at Jessie and he smiles affectionately.
"I could show you so much." He looks at Mitchell.
"If you want to, and if she's agreeable to it, we could even take Shannon along for the ride." Mitchell slowly shakes his head and reaches for his coffee cup once more. He drains the cup dry and both of them watch him slowly get to his feet.
"I'm going to get some sleep." He mutters at no one in particular and turns to leave.
"You can have the blue bedroom, first one on the left at the top of the stairs." Cutler calls out after him. He looks at Jessie again and draws her into his arms.
"You were right…about Mitchell…he doesn't care does he?" Cutler draws back and looks at her.
"Did you want him to?" Jessie gives a tiny little shrug.
"Maybe…but he doesn't, he doesn't seem to care about anything." Cutler briefly tightens his hold on her.
"He's had a really awful night, two people were killed, his lady discovered his secret and she hasn't reacted well which to be honest isn't that much of a surprise. I've yet to meet someone who reacts to the news that someone they know is a vampire with anything less than complete and abject horror."
"Aren't you afraid he'll leave?" Jessie asks.
"He won't, at least not just yet. He needs a place of safety for now and I'm the only one who can give him that. I don't have an ulterior motive, well not completely." He draws her back and he smiles at her.
"But first of all we need to sleep my darling, we need to rest. Once we've done that then we can talk some more, there are plans to make, adventures to be had and all of that!" his eyes twinkle and she smiles hesitantly at him.
She stands in the entrance of her bedroom and she stares at the unmade bed. She closes her eyes for a moment and she remembers the feel of his mouth against her skin, how his hands felt on her body, how he made her feel. He made her feel so much and so quickly. She opens her eyes and she blinks.
She hurts. Everything just…aches and there's no relief, no comfort no…anything.
Mitchell is a vampire? She frowns at the memory of his revelation. Does such a creature really exist? She sighs raggedly and rubs at her face. Her eyes feel gritty and too big for her head. Her make-up is long gone.
What else can explain that full black shiny gaze, the reaction to the sight of blood? He stood there in front of her, trembling with blood dripping from his fingertips and all she was able to remember was the girl in the locker room with the exact same eyes. What else exists if vampires are real?
She thinks of him now, so remote, so isolated. It makes sense now. He's darkness and fear and death. His face is angles and planes and shadows, so many shadows but before she knew about the shadows he had been someone special and he had made her feel so alive. Isn't that a contradiction in terms given his confession?
She feels overwhelmed; there is so much to contemplate and to absorb. Everything has changed beyond recognition. She sees the small brown bottle that is on the coffee table and she stares at it. They gave them to her before she left the hospital, to help her to sleep, help her to function but she regards them warily. She understands their uses, she's advocated them to patients but now she's in the same boat and she regards them with an air of distrust. She sighs and it shakes out of her. She closes her eyes once more.
Her thoughts go back to Mitchell as they have been doing constantly ever since all of this unfolded. She wants to see him, she wants to talk to him but she doesn't know whether she's ready to understand. The words tumble haphazardly around inside of her head. She wants him to put his arms around her and tell her that everything is okay, that everything will be okay. She wants to open her eyes and realise that it's all been a horrifically vivid nightmare. She inhales sharply and finds herself staring at the pill bottle again.
Her eyes are wide open and everything is still the same.