Chapter 44 – Into the Breach

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

It had been many years since Thalia found herself standing in the arrivals area at JFK Airport. She’d offered to fly Desmond Cataliades on Anubis, but the demon turned her down. “First class has better food,” he explained. Thalia never heard any breathers complaining about the food on Anubis, but, then again, she’d never seen any of them eating on a flight. It suited her. The lingering smells never quite cleared, no matter how long they ventilated the cabin.

She scanned the oncoming people again. Many passed closely, some actually brushing against her, their bags careening behind them. “Don’t bite them.” Without seeing him, the attorney had managed to come up behind her. “Here,” he offered. “I picked up some popcorn on my layover in Chicago. Bite this instead. It’s delicious!”

He wasn’t dressed in his usual suit. Texas seemed to have made an impression because the demon was wearing a bolo tie, cowboy boots, and a broad-brimmed hat with his dark pants and white shirt. “I hadn’t heard it was one of those holidays where they dress in costumes,” Thalia deadpanned.

“What?” and Desmond feigned hurt. “You don’t like my Oil Tycoon attire? I assure you; this is all the rage in Dallas.”

Thalia doubted it. She turned toward the exit but the attorney stopped her by saying in a loud voice, “Well, howdy, Little Lady! I got to Adios my bags.”

People stopped and stared and Thalia felt her fangs itch. “Stop it!” she snarled. “It’s bad enough…”

Desmond cut her off. He had a big smile pasted on his face, but his words weren’t friendly. “That you insisted I come here in person? I told you we could handle any business between us long distance, but you and your paranoia…”

“You didn’t attend the funerals.” Thalia growled.

“I sent flowers,” Desmond replied.

Thalia’s lips pulled back as she hissed, “You haven’t seen Fintan’s latest descendent.”

Desmond stopped walking. He just stared until Thalia stopped as well. “You don’t know that,” he said quietly. His eyes were glowing, red flashing just below the surface. It had been a long time, but Thalia recognized her reaction as flight instinct. “Don’t dare think I haven’t been interested in what happened. I knew Rick long before you did and Sookie has been under my protection since the day she was born!”

For a brief moment, Thalia felt incredibly exposed in this busy, human place, but she pushed her chin forward and squared her shoulders. “We haven’t heard from you. Rumors fly and people call, but not you, Demon!”

“Why did you bring me here, Thalia?” the attorney asked. “Was it to track down the Cranes?” Thalia’s mouth fell open as she realized Cataliades had knocked her off her certainty again.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” and Mr. Cataliades shifted. Suddenly, Thalia wasn’t seeing the outlandish garb. Instead, she was seeing the sharp mind that attracted the Supernatural world when they needed help. “You’ve stumbled across something that led you to their New York office. What was it?”

“Payments,” Thalia answered, then realizing she was speaking openly in such a public place, she glanced around.

“Too much noise here,” Desmond assured her. “If there were vampires or anyone else capable of listening to us nearby, I’d know.”

It was how he said it. Thalia trusted him. “I was in England. Somehow, Edward Madden got involved with them. The Fae were paying for information, research, and Edward arranged it. He had people running all over Europe digging into legends about dhampirs. The payments came from this office.”

“And you figured that since this was the address, this was the place to go?” The demon’s eyeroll said it all. “Who does your research, Thalia? I’m sure you have investments. Surely, you realize anyone can set up a post office anywhere. Just because the envelope says New York…”

“There’s a street address!” Thalia interrupted.

“And I’m an attorney!” Desmond mocked. He leaned close and when he was inches from her face, he smiled, revealing a full mouth of shark-like teeth. In an instant, it was gone, but Thalia got the message.

“So, where do we go?” she asked.

“Delaware!” Mr. Cataliades replied. “Where all the best corporations are made. There will be information on the papers they filed with the state that should give us a clue as to where the Cranes have flown.”

xxxXXXxxx

“He isn’t anywhere!” Sookie was holding back her tears.

“Nothing’s missing from his room,” Pam assured her. “Rick’s been under a lot of pressure. He’s probably out in the City.”

“He isn’t answering his phone!” Sookie wailed. Eric understood his mate’s rising panic. He was experiencing similar concerns. Karin was missing and now Rick.

“There are no rumors in the City, no violence,” Maxwell assured them.

“Still, dawn’s coming. Ask the Weres to help us,” Eric ordered. “Karin will go to ground, but Rick will likely go somewhere he feels he can think.”

“I’ll call Jason,” Sookie nodded. “He might be headed back there.”

“Call Rubio as well. Rick and his friend, George, reconnected in Chester. He may decide to travel to Boston,” Eric suggested.

Sookie nodded, but instead of calling, she collapsed onto the chair. “This is all my fault! I pushed him! I should have listened, instead I decided to arrange his life. I know better! Rick is so stubborn! He’s just like you! He’s always been like this, since he was a little boy. The more I push, the faster he runs!”

It was hard not to smile. The traits Sookie accused Rick of having were a blueprint of her own, but Eric could feel his wife’s emotions teetering and so he sent her calm. He could see the moment she felt it. Her eyes narrowed and her chin lifted; aggravation at his interference written on her face and he braced himself for her scolding, but then, she relaxed. “You’re right,” she sighed. “It won’t solve anything if we lose our heads.”

“Do what you can,” Eric told Pam and Maxwell. “I believe if something happened to them, we’d feel it, but it’s imperative we find them quickly.”

Maxwell and Pam headed through the door, but then, Pam stopped. “I let Karin go,” she said once Maxwell was truly gone.

“I know,” Eric told her. He hadn’t, not entirely, but he wasn’t surprised.

“She’s been through so much. Punishing her…” and Pam turned toward them. “I couldn’t stand it! If you need to punish someone, punish me.” Pam’s eyes were rimmed with red. “She loved him; you know? I never thought, not in all these years, that Karin would ever do that, but she did.” Pam’s hand had traveled to her heart and Eric remembered the last time he’d seen his daughter use that gesture.

“I will never forgive myself for not defying my King to give you your heart’s desire,” he confessed.

“I forgave you,” Pam assured him. “I carry her memory. It’s something.”

Sookie walked to Pam, wrapping her arms around her. “We have each other,” she whispered, “and we have this time. We need to learn to be better to each other,” and Sookie turned toward Eric. “I’m not sure how we’ll manage it, but Rick needs to live outside the Palace. He wasn’t happy here before and he’s hating being back here again.”

“I don’t think he should return to Bon Temps,” Eric said.

Sookie thought for a minute. “What about Hadley’s apartment? He and Brigid stayed there that time they visited. It has the apartment downstairs and the enclosed courtyard. It’s not that far away.”

“We could arrange security,” Eric agreed.

“Miss Joy could live right downstairs,” Pam added.

Now it was Eric’s turn. “I think Rick should be asked about Miss Joy,” he told both women.

Pam looked confused, but Sookie’s mouth fell open. “You don’t think he likes her?” she asked.

“I don’t think you asked him,” Eric answered.

“But Rick wouldn’t want to be tied up with baby all the time!” Pam huffed. “No man does!”

Sookie’s mouth dropped further and then she gathered herself. “Rick might,” she nodded, before sighing. “I guess I just fell right back into the stereotype. I figured I knew what was best.”

“It is what’s best!” Pam exclaimed.

“Things change,” Eric told her. “Your brother has always been different. It may be his way to healing is through his daughter. When he returns, we must offer him that choice.”

“If he returns,” Sookie whispered, but then she raised her head. “Of course, he will! He’d never abandon his daughter. It’s not like the boat. There’s no Brigid to save…”

“But,” and Eric’s eyes narrowed, “there’s a mission all the same.” He turned to Pam. “What did your sister say? Did she say anything about what she intended to do?” Pam hesitated. “Russell Edgington!” Eric hissed. Pam couldn’t meet his eyes, but she nodded. “So, did she mention Rick?” he asked.

“She thinks the way you do,” Pam replied. “She told me Rick would want to handle his own child.”

It clicked. “Rick’s with her,” Eric told Sookie.

Sookie stepped back from Pam as it hit her. “Which means they’re headed to Mississippi.”

“Which means they’re in Mississippi,” Eric corrected.

“We’ve got to go!” Now, it was Sookie’s hand that covered her heart. “We’ve got to get there!”

His mate was pacing now, her hand against her forehead, her panic souring his ability to think. “Stop!” he ordered, then grabbed her, literally holding her in place. “Stop, Älskade! Think! We can’t go there. If we do, there’s no defense, none. If they’re caught and we’re here, we can plead ignorance, petition for their release. The circumstances offer some explanation.”

“They aren’t going to get caught!” and Sookie shook him loose. “They are going to get killed!”

Eric was finding it hard to disagree. Karin would force a confrontation. His only hope was that his talented daughter would use enough of her hard-won skills to keep them safe.

Pam was thinking the same thing. “Karin’s a ninja,” she offered. “She’s taken out targets with a lot more security than Russell Edgington!”

It seemed to help a little. Sookie steadied, thinking instead of just reacting. “Russell’s got to know she’s coming. Hell, I can’t say I’m surprised Karin’s there,” and then her eyes welled, “but, Rick! Eric! He’ll be a sitting duck!”

“You don’t know that!” Eric disagreed, although he thought his mate was probably right. Karin could be rash and so could Rick. The odds were against them.

“Rasul’s with them, too,” Pam added, and the picture was complete.

“This is going to cause problems,” Eric sighed. “Two of my progenies and one of my Sheriffs? Even if they succeed, there will be repercussions.”

“I’m calling Grace!” Sookie announced.

“Grace?” Pam asked.

“Grace Adler,” and Sookie had her phone out.

“Thalia ran across her in Boston,” Eric explained. “She’s a witch, one of Fran Miller’s friends…”

“And mine!” Sookie added. There was a faint whirr and then the sound of a voice answering. “Grace?” Sookie said, “It’s me, Sookie. I’m told you offered to do my family a favor and I’m calling to let you know, I’ll pay the price.”

xxxXXXxxx

“Don’t get yourself picked up,” Karin warned again. She emphasized her words this time by flashing her fangs. “Once the sun comes up…”

“Hunter will find me, yeah, you said it!” Rick’s stomach growled again as he cut Karin off. Beside him, Rasul turned and started walking away. Rick realized Rasul had stopped thinking about much in the slow shutdown all vampires experienced once the sun started to rise. Rick realized he was staring as Rasul started taking off his clothes. It was only because he was stupidly tired, but it embarrassed him anyway and Rick blushed. “Sorry,” he stammered, as much to himself as anyone else.

“Hunter won’t be here right away,” Karin huffed. “Maybe you should get some sleep, too. It’ll get warm later. If you want to sleep without sweating, now’s the time.”

Rick’s stomach growled again. “I can’t think about sleep yet. I need food.”

“Don’t be away from here too long,” Rasul cautioned. “The tracker is in the car. You don’t want Hunter wandering around some neighborhood trying to find you.” The Sheriff had tucked his clothes under some tall grass and proceeded to burrow into the ground. Rick had seen it before but watching vampires go to ground never ceased to amaze him. It was almost as though they melted into the dirt, their movements shifting the soil away and then back again so quickly, it made the ground work like quicksand.

Once Rasul disappeared, Rick turned back to Karin. He’d suspected she was older, but Rasul’s early departure confirmed it. “Why is Hunter doing this?”

“It’s his story to tell,” his sister shrugged, but then she leaned forward. “I’m serious, Rick. Do what you have to and get back here. Park the car right back where it is. There’s no line of sight from the road and no one’s going to come snooping.”

Rick stared at the soft ground and stones surrounding them. It reminded him of the cemetery in Bon Temps. “How are you doing?” he asked, gesturing at the graves around them.

“It will be over soon,” she answered. “In another night, maybe two, you’ll be back in New Orleans.”

“Do you really think it will fix things?” Rick asked. “It’s all I can think about, even though I don’t want to. I can’t even think her name without my chest squeezing so tight I can’t breathe.” Rick felt tears threatening, just saying those words.

“It eases,” Karin assured him. She looked around, “It’s different for me. I can’t rest in a bed. I don’t like being under a roof. I don’t think I’ll rest easy until I’ve avenged him.”

Rick caught her doubt about her plan, so he decided to give Karin something else to think about. “I think Rasul has ambitions about being a King.”

Karin’s smile was brief. “I know,” she told him. “Who knows? He might make a good one.” She stared toward a horizon only she could see. “It’s time, Arseling. Just do me a favor and be here when I rise?”

“Only Thalia gets to call me Arseling!” Rick teased. He didn’t wait for Karin to go to ground. Instead, he walked toward the car, trying to remember how to get back to the café they passed on the way here. He forced himself to switch his phone to the opposite pocket, so he didn’t give into the urge to turn it on for directions. He figured someone had a tracer on his phone. It was the kind of thing Eric or his Mom would do. As long as the phone was turned off, he figured he could stay off the grid.

Rick knew his memory was good, but driving through the neighborhood still felt as though he was flying blind. Finally, he just drove in rough circles, adding a block at a time, until he saw someplace that looked open. Still, he pulled over and watched it for a while. It was just dawn and if it wasn’t busy enough, he worried he’d stand out enough to spark a memory if questions were asked later.

Over the next twenty minutes, Rick saw a fair amount of foot traffic. He figured this must be one of the only places offering breakfast at this time of day because the people coming and going seemed from every walk of life. There were plenty of construction types, but there were also people in suits and heels. His stomach growled louder and Rick felt the first pressure of a headache start between his eyebrows. “Now or never,” he said to the rearview mirror.

There was a linoleum table near the door and Rick slid onto the plastic chair, pulling the menu toward him in one motion. “What you want, Sugar?” the waitress asked.

“Two eggs,” Rick said, not meeting her eyes. “Whatever the special is. Eggs sunny-side. Wheat toast.”

She automatically filled his coffee cup and left a small pitcher of cream. Rick reached out in much the same way he’d found this place, starting nearby and then widening his mental sweep in concentric circles until he’d scanned what he figured must be a mile or more. No vampires. No Weres. In fact, he seemed to be the only conscious Supe anywhere. Rick hadn’t realized how nervous he was, but just knowing he was alone with humans had his shoulders sagging.

Almost unconsciously, his fingers reached for his phone. “Shit!” he swore softly, wrapping his hands around the coffee cup instead.

The trip back seemed faster, but still, Rick was so tired he almost missed the small entrance that led to the back of the cemetery. He parked under the large tree, the car angled behind the shed and laid out on the back seat. It was full light, so he cracked the windows before curling up on the back seat. It was Brigid’s eyes he thought of and Diana’s face before he was gone.

xxxXXXxxx

Rick woke with a start. His eyes burned and he rubbed his hand across them. “It’s me!” and Hunter poked his foot. “Why are you here?” Then, without waiting for an answer, Hunter said, “Well, come on. We got work to do!” Rick sat up, his head feeling as if his brain was stuck in cotton. “Guess it’s a good thing I brought some extra,” Hunter said, shoving a blood bag under Rick’s nose.

“Where did you get those?” Rick asked, but he didn’t really care. His fangs descended with a click and he sank them into the bag, drinking greedily.

“Spent part of the night in the Palace,” Hunter explained. His cousin had the door of an outrageous white Cadillac open. He shifted a cooler from the backseat, then opened the trunk to pull out ice bags. “Can’t imagine it tastes good cold, but it’ll be better than spoiled.”

“Where’d you get all this stuff?” Rick asked.

“Walmart,” and Hunter lifted the cooler to sit in the shade behind the shed. “Not the blood, of course.” He jerked his chin toward the Cadillac. “Ride’s from a friend of Heidi’s.” Hunter returned to the Cadillac then came back holding a second bag. “Looks like we’ll need one more,” and he tossed Rick a package holding a phone. “Burners,” he explained.

“How long you been in on this?” Rick shook his head. “Was this what Heidi was doing here all along?”

“Nope,” and Hunter pulled out a knife to help cut open the plastic clamshell case. “Karin came to me with a bullshit story about Heidi. Wanted me to believe she was in trouble, but I could see Karin was lying.”

“How’d you know that?” Rick asked before squeezing the last of the blood into his mouth. “Karin’s pretty good at telling stories. You reading vampires now, too?”

“In a way,” and Hunter gestured at the empty bag. “You need another?” When Rick shook his head, Hunter sat down on a bench meant for mourners. “I’ve been spending a lot of time around them,” Rick’s cousin explained. “They were people once. Still have tells, and when they’re stressed, they’re less careful, just like us. Karin and Rasul were just too slick, so I told them I wasn’t going anywhere until they told me what was really going on.”

“This isn’t really your fight,” Rick said. “I’m thinking this is not going to turn out too well. You’d be smart if you grabbed Heidi and got the hell out of here.”

“Well,” and Hunter stood, crossing his arms the way Rick’s Mom did, “If you believe that, then why are you here?”

“He killed her,” Rick said, “or if he didn’t, he paid someone to do it. And Peter!”

“Shit, Cuz, you act like I didn’t know them,” and Hunter leaned forward, putting his hand on Rick’s shoulder. “How many hours did I spend on that porch? It’s like a big hole, the place they left in me, left with all of us! Have you called Uncle Jason? He’s pretty broke up about all this. What about your little girl?”

“Diana?” Rick shrugged, figuring his cousin was getting to a point.

“You know about my history, Rick. You know my Mama left me and then she got herself killed. My Daddy did his best, but he didn’t understand me. Until Aunt Sookie talked with him, it was like growing up with a stranger. I could ‘hear’ every time I scared him, every time he thought about dumping me in some orphanage, or leaving in the night. Point is, I didn’t have anyone who loved me for me.”

“That won’t be Diana!” Rick exclaimed. “Jeez, she’s surrounded with people who can’t wait to get their hands on her! Pam, my Mom…”

“But none of them are you,” Hunter interrupted. “I grew up wondering why my Mama left me. It made all the things I imagined about being bad or wrong somehow real. You get yourself killed here and your daughter will always be wondering what was so wrong about her that you chose this over being her Daddy.”

“That’s not fair!” Rick protested, but some part of him suspected Hunter was right. He took a deep breath before trying to steer the conversation away from himself. “I hear what you’re saying about having a piece of this. I guess I just don’t see it. You and Heidi, you should get out here while you can.” He glanced toward where Karin and Rasul rested. “Karin doesn’t want to survive, and Rasul? He’s going to claim the kingdom if he can.”

“I’m not here for revenge,” Hunter told Rick. “Sure, I’m here to get Heidi out, but I’m also going to try and even up the fight in any way I can. If this goes down bad, you think Uncle Eric and Aunt Sookie are going to get out of this scot-free? I owe them more than I can say. I’m standing here because of them. If they hadn’t come along when they did, I don’t know if I would have made it.”

“What’s Heidi think about it?” Rick asked.

Hunter gestured toward the cemetery. “She doesn’t know about any of this. I just told her I couldn’t stay away from her anymore.”

It surprised Rick enough that he wasn’t sure he believed his cousin. “Then how did you get the car? I mean, where does she think you are?”

“Heidi thinks I’m right where she left me,” and Hunter gave Rick his ‘aw shucks’ smile. “As for the car, there’s a vampire in the Palace named Bernard who’s friendly. I told him I needed to get away for a bit today, go get some things. Didn’t ask one question, just threw me the keys.”

“And you believed him?” Rick huffed.

Hunter’s smile disappeared, “Well, Heidi does and that’s good enough for me!”

It still didn’t sit well, but Rick decided to give Hunter the benefit of the doubt. “Okay,” he nodded, “but you have to know when she finds out, Heidi’s going to give you hell. No woman likes being played.”

“I’m not playing,” Hunter shrugged. “Well, not in the way you mean. Let’s say you succeed and Russell Edgington is finally dead. Have you thought about what comes next?”

Rick didn’t say anything. He hadn’t thought it through, not really. “Well, I’ve been living in their Courts, so I have a pretty good idea,” Hunter informed him. “One thing y’all have going for you is no one much cares for Russell.”

“I don’t think Mom and Dad qualify as ‘everyone,’ Rick observed.

“I’m not talking about your parents,” Hunter informed him. “Phoebe Golden thinks Russell is a problem for post-Revelation vampires and Maude from Minnesota jokes about Russell finding a stake, but in a way you know she’s not really joking.”

“Two friends bad-mouthing a fellow ruler…” Rick started, but Hunter held up his hand.

“It’s more than them. What I’m saying is that if folks liked Russell Edgington, it would splash back on your parents, but since no one does, if there’s enough folks here to make it look like a legitimate takeover…” and Hunter shrugged.

“Aren’t we supposed to have permission for a takeover?” Rick asked.

Hunter nodded, “Yes, under normal circumstances, but Russell Edgington is the Clan Chief and that’s who you’d ask, so no. I don’t think anyone would expect you to get permission.” Rick rubbed his head. All this talk of takeovers and double-crossing was giving him a headache. “If Karin’s Queen, or Rasul… whoever,” Hunter went on, “that frees Heidi. She and I can go anywhere. She’s paid her dues.”

“And you think she’ll forgive you?” Rick asked.

“I’m playing the long game,” Hunter grinned, “and if there’s one thing vampires admire, it’s the long game.”

“That’s over my pay grade,” Rick huffed, flopping back on to the car seat. “Look, my eyes are burning and my head’s killing me. I need about twenty more hours of sleep and it’s going to get hot out here.”

“Fair enough,” and Hunter stood, checking his watch. “There’s another eight hours until dark. Burners are working. I’ll call you once everyone rises and we’ll come up with a plan.”

Rick watched Hunter drive down the gravel road, the lights on the big fins on the Cadillac flashing. Rick blinked, blinked again, and then he was gone.

xxxXXXxxx

When Rick woke again, it was to the sound of Rasul and Karin murmuring. They’d found the cooler and they were sipping at blood bags. He must have made a sound because both vampires turned toward him. “Hungry?” Karin asked, holding out the half-empty bag in her hand.

“Ate earlier,” Rick told her. He didn’t want to think how cold blood tasted, but he figured not good. “You hear from Hunter yet?”

“He’s some piece of work, your cousin,” Karin groused.

“Told me he saw through you,” Rick answered, figuring he’d score his own points.

“What else did he say?” Rasul asked, cutting Karin off.

“He hasn’t told Heidi, or at least he hadn’t told her earlier. He has a friend in the Palace already, someone willing to hand over his car. He thinks killing Russell is a good idea,” Rick recounted.

“We need Heidi,” Karin whispered.

Rick nodded, “He knows. He’ll tell her. That’s probably why you haven’t heard from him yet. You have the burner phones?” Rasul held his up, letting Rick know they’d found them. “I suppose you could text Hunter. Can’t imagine there’s too many contacts in that phone to choose from.”

“Just the one,” Karin confirmed, her fingers moving. “Of course, if they’ve been picked up, we’re sealing their fate.”

“Was always a desperate venture,” Rasul chuckled. “Why stop trusting fate now?”

“If you mean why not do something stupid, then yes, I agree with you,” Karin growled.

“What’s the big deal?” and Rick stood tall. “You’ve been thinking this is nothing but a suicide run. Why give him a hard time?”

That surprised Karin enough that she drew back, dropped fang, and hissed. “How dare you!” she growled. “You little sneak! Stay out of my head!” Still, she gave Rasul a sideways glance before saying, “I am thinking it would be a miracle if we pull this off, but that doesn’t mean I want to die.” When Rick didn’t look convinced, she pushed harder. “I get it, you read thoughts, but you don’t see everything!”

Rasul was staring at them both, so Rick decided to go all the way. “I know what you’re up to, Rasul. You really think you can be King?”

Rasul just shrugged, “Why not? That would put friends to both sides of the Viking. Stan watches his western border and I’d have his East. With Isaiah to the North, he’d be among friends.”

It was on the tip of Rick’s tongue to question, but Karin’s phone buzzed. “It’s Heidi,” she said. Karin hunched over the screen, first reading, then punching in keys, then reading again. “She says it’s too dangerous to try and get in there tonight. She just found out what we’re doing. She needs time.”

“So, she’s on board?” Rasul asked.

“I’m sure she feels she has no choice,” Karin answered, her fingers flying over the keys.

“If not tonight, when?” Rasul pushed. “Tell her we have to have both Russell and Betty Jo together.” When Rick opened his mouth, Rasul explained. “It’s not enough to topple a King. His Second is sworn to stand with him and in this case, they’ve had each other’s backs a long time. If we don’t take out Betty Jo, she’ll be a constant danger. Better to cut off the head and the tail at once.”

“I agree,” Karin added. “Russell doesn’t do squat without Betty Jo knowing. She had to have been in on Bon Temps. He probably had her plan the whole thing.”

“Just how many vampires are you planning to kill?” Rick asked.

Karin stopped typing, her eyes shining. “How many do you think are too many, Rick? Did you have a number in mind? Just why are you here?”

“For the same reasons you are,” he hissed back. “Stop doubting me!” He stalked to the car, popping the trunk and pulled out his sword. “I know how to handle myself and I have just as much right as you do,” and he pointed at Rasul, “More than him!”

“I am exploiting an opportunity,” Rasul shrugged. “If you were a real vampire, you’d see that I have more standing in this action than someone pursuing their petty revenge.”

“He’s right,” Karin grumbled, then turned back to her phone. “Apparently, Russell is planning on going to Club Dead tomorrow night.”

“I know that place!” Rasul nodded. “Small, the Weres like it. If we strike fast, it could trigger them into shifting.”

“Confusion,” and Karin grinned. “It could provide the edge we need.”

“We’ll need another place to stay tonight,” Rasul said half to himself. “Too dangerous to try staying here a second night.”

“Catch!” Karin called, and threw one of the burner phones at Rick. “Look up Zillow. House for sale, someplace with a basement. Use the filter to find anything that’s been on the market awhile. Means slow traffic. What’s tomorrow?”

“Tuesday,” Rick replied.

“Good! No one looks at houses on Tuesdays,” and Karin typed some more.

Rick found two houses for sale within a few miles of where they were sitting that seemed to fit the criteria. “Let me see,” and Rasul took the phone. “That one!” he decided, showing the screen to Karin.

“I’m sending Heidi the address.” She glanced at Rick. “We’ll need to get you some food. More blood, too. We need to be strong.”

“Clothes,” Rasul added. “Club Dead is dressy. We should blend in.”

“Until we don’t,” Karin agreed. “They’re going to meet us at the house,” Karin said, and in an instant, Rick was standing by himself, sword in hand as the vampires rushed around, packing everything back into the car and sweeping the area to remove any trace they’d been there.

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5 thoughts on “Chapter 44 – Into the Breach

  1. So Rasul is still a friend. Did not see that coming. And Karin isn’t on a suicide mission. Didn’t see that either. Just the 3 of them. Plus Hunter and Heidi. Oh Boy. I do have to say is Hunter is being very smart about it all. He knows more then Rick does. That’s not good in ways.
    Ha Ha, Glad Eric noticed that his son is just like his mother. Sookie always ran, Eric just waited. Took them years to be together.
    Oh, why is Mr. C not his nice self? That was strange and scary.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hope you had a wonderful birthday! Well, seems like Rasul’s motivation has become clearer….. And yes, I still don’t trust Bernard. I think there is a very sneaky vampire behind that fluff and silliness.

    Sigh….I don’t want to see any of our crew succumb to death or final death –but that would be illogical, yes? Now….what can the witch do to tip the situation in our hero’s favor?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So we are nearing the end of this tale, having mixed feelings about that. Of course I want to see how it all comes out, but also will miss time spent with these loved characters and their adventures. You write them so well, they seem real….I found Hunter’s comments to Rick about the importance of being there for his daughter and how he suffered growing up without his mother touching. It needed to be said I think, Rick is still grieving for Brigid, he mustn’t forget that the manifestation of their love is Diana who will need her father even more now. You gave us a different spin on Mr C, imagining him going full out Texan made me smile at the same time loved his edgy approach to Thalia. Also thought Rasul’s desire to be a king could be a very good thing for Eric and Sookie, having allies surrounding their state instead of a shark like Russell can only be a good thing.

    Liked by 3 people

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