Sunday, March 6, 2016

60: At the Center of it All – Pt. 1


“Going somewhere?”

“GEEZ!” Victoria turned with a start, placing a hand over her heart. “Derrick…you scared the crap out of me.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to.” He loomed in the doorway with the glass he’d fetched from the kitchen, watching as she finished dressing. A smile crept on his face as he listened to her rapid heartbeat and he set his drink on the nightstand.

“I’ll never get used to that,” she exhaled and looked back at the mirror and the absence of his reflection beside her. Touching a hand to her face, she puckered her lips and gently brushed her cheek. “Do you ever miss it?”

“Sometimes,” he answered, watching as she primped herself.


“Do you remember what you look like?”

“More or less,” he replied, pausing briefly he looked at Victoria through narrowed eyes before shaking his head. “No. I told you before I don’t like spells cast on me.”

“Not on you,” she grinned. “The mirror. And it’s really minor. Reflexio revelare!” She invoked before he could offer up more of a protest.

The mirror began to glow and Derrick stepped closer as an image slowly appeared in front of him. His eyes opened wider once it was finished and he froze at once. “Whoa…”

“It’ll only last a minute so…”


“Is this how my hair usually looks?” he asked, moving his hands through his dark mane and then over his face and chest as he checked himself out for the first time in a few centuries. “This is how you see me?”

“Not what you remember?” He opened his mouth and examined his fangs and tongue. Pulling at his eyelids he inched forward and studied his eyes, his eye color and his hairline. Skirting his hands down his sides, he chuckled and touched the definition of his abs.

“Damn!” he exclaimed, inspecting his chiseled chest and tracing the lines of his tattoos. “No wonder you can’t keep your hands off of me. I’d want to be naked as much as possible with this too,” he smirked and reveled in the devilish glint in his eyes. And just as he began tugging at the buckle of his jeans, the image started to fade.


He looked over at Victoria with a frown before pulling her against him and giving her a soft, sensual kiss. “Thank you. That was really nice.”

“You’re welcome, Derrick,” she sighed and pulled away. Grabbing her keys from the nightstand, Victoria started for the door, stopping as Derrick again called for her.

“You never told me where you were headed.”

“Pierson Bay; I got a message on the Moonlight voicemail from a client asking me to meet her. She didn’t leave very many details but I figured I’d check it out.”


“Wait. You received a mysterious phone call asking you to come to a park alone at night and you’re going? Did part of your brain leak out in the shower? That’s crazy! You have a threat looming over your head and there’s no telling where or when this guy will strike next and you’re giving him the perfect opportunity!”

“Geez, you and Mike really need to lighten up. I’m not helpless. I’m taking my gun not to mention my magic and if that’s not enough,” she said, opening a metal nail file on her keyring. Victoria stabbed at her heart with the object and Derrick watched as it bent upon contact, unable to penetrate her skin. “I’ve cast a protection spell on myself. See. Not crazy. Just…curious. But, if it’ll make you feel better, you’re more than welcomed to tag along. Here,” Victoria tossed her keys at him and he caught them with his right hand. “You can even drive. I know how much you love playing chauffeur.”


A steady April rain shower pattered on the windshield. Water dripped down the passenger window creating small streaks in the drips that had clustered on the glass and Victoria stared out through the clear spots as the scenery went by. It was only 5:00 p.m. and already almost full dark outside. Low clouds and a misty, Avondale drizzle cloaked the city and traffic became a watery blur behind rain-streaked windows. Thunder rolled across the sky and Victoria rubbed a hand over her arm, smoothing out the goosebumps the scare had caused.

Pierson Bay Park was only a twenty minute drive from Derrick’s place and even with the wet conditions on the road he’d somehow managed to get them there in ten. Raindrops plunked into puddles as they pulled into the parking lot. Sliding out of the passenger seat, Victoria unfolded her umbrella, kicking herself for not bringing her raincoat, and glanced over at Derrick. He stood unprotected beneath the downpour as if the water had no effect on him whatsoever. “Stay close,” he said before leading the way through the gate.


Keeping his head on a swivel, Derrick’s eyes fell on every dark corner of the vast field in front of him where he felt Victoria’s killer may be lurking in the shadows. Thoughts sifted silently like smoke through his mind as he contemplated the many things that could go wrong. If he’d been smarter, he’d have tried harder to talk her out of this senseless meeting. However, he knew how stubborn Victoria could be and had he tried to stop her, she’d have likely slipped out the back door when his guard was down. At least this way he was with her.


They stopped between two benches near the fountain at the center of the park and Victoria took a moment to gather herself. The night had closed in around them and without the dim glow of the lamps above her she’d barely be able to make out her hand in front of her face. Turning towards Derrick again, Victoria started to say something but paused. Derrick’s hand shot up, silencing her before she could utter a word. He stood beside her, waiting, watching for signs of movement and stilled as something snared his attention.


Rubbing, the whiskers on his chin Derrick motioned for Victoria to stay put and slowly made his way forward, being as quiet as possible. She watched as he investigated the area near the playground before disappearing behind the restrooms. Her hand moved to the weapon on her hip and she unhooked the buckle. A flash of lightning lit up the woods around her and with the light slowly waning, her eyes struggled to adjust. As time ticked on, Victoria grew more distressed and as her eyes finally dilated she realized someone was standing in front of her. 


“Derr…” she gasped, her mouth opening to form his name and just then, she was grabbed from behind. Slipping on the wet cement, Victoria landed hard on her side, her gun fell from its holster and clanked to the ground beside her. She looked up through a haze as her attacker started towards her. Rolling to her stomach, she quickly crawled forward, reaching for her fallen weapon and felt a hand wrap around her ankle and yank her back. “Derr…!” Her words were again cut short as a heavy fist plowed into her jaw.


Victoria’s head snapped back and she closed her eyes as she waited for the pain…but it never came. As the stranger’s hand made contact with her face, he was thrown back into the benches behind her. The protection spell, she thought as she got to her feet and rushed for her gun. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted movement again and slid the safety off with her thumb. As Victoria turned and aimed, she watched as a black blur tumbled to the ground at her feet. There was a brief struggle before Derrick stood and started towards her.


“Are you alright?” he asked, checking her for injuries.

“I’m fine,” she sighed, dropping her weapon to her side. “How did you know?” He pointed to the bracelet on her wrist. Even in the murkiness of night she could see it had changed to a bright yellow color, signaling for Derrick’s prompt arrival.

“Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yeah. I’m just a little shaken, that’s all. The spell worked. He couldn’t hurt me.” She holstered her weapon and moved behind Derrick as he rolled the mystery man on his back. “Is he dead?”

“No just…out cold.”


“Who is it?”

“From the looks of it, another cult member. I guess they’re not too happy that you stopped the ritual.”

“Great. As if I didn’t already have enough to deal with. There were two. Did you see the other one?”

“No. I didn’t see anyone else, I probably scared him off but given what happened the last time they came after you it doesn’t surprise me that they’d be working in pairs,” Derrick sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “And that’s not all. The woman you were coming to meet. Did she say what she would be wearing?”

“Yeah. She said to look for a yellow raincoat.” He nodded as though he’d expected the answer and stood.


“There’s something I think you should see.” Derrick led her behind the restroom and just beyond the duck pond. Huddled beside a tree on the opposite side of the water was a body; draped in a yellow raincoat. “Is that her?”

“Damn,” Victoria sighed as she knelt beside Derrick to get a closer look. “She sounded scared on the call. I guess I can see why. What happened to her? She looks…”

“Exsanguinated,” Derrick completed her sentence. “She’s been completely drained of blood. Remind you of anyone?”

“No. It couldn’t be. He doesn’t have what he needs to complete the spell.”

“Doesn’t matter. Victoria, this was a trap. And I think it would be prudent if you and I got the hell out of here right now.”

“Yeah. I’m with you on that.” Victoria led the way towards the jeep with Derrick close behind.


The rain fell harder and she quickened her pace to match. Evidence of the homicide was being washed away with every drop of water that fell. The police would have no chance of solving that poor woman’s murder without a little help. “Wait. We need to call someone,” Victoria said, reaching for her phone.

Derrick placed his hand over hers, stilling her actions. “First, we get out of here and then you can make an anonymous call from my place.” She nodded and again started after him. Another flash of lightning sparked close by and Victoria gasped as the shapes of three more figures illuminated along the tree line.

“Derrick, there,” she said, motioning to the area in which they’d appeared. He turned in time to see the outlines of the unknown persons moving towards them. 


“Victoria, get to the jeep, hurry!” She ran, pumping her legs as fast as she could with Derrick right on her heels. “Move!” he shouted as hurried footsteps echoed around them. Victoria withdrew her gun, quickly thumbing the safety once more as she prepared herself for combat.

She picked up movement over her left shoulder and without hesitation, she turned and aimed. “Victoria, no!” Derrick shouted. But Victoria heard it a little too late. Her finger pulled back on the trigger and he watched as a bullet whizzed through the air instantly connecting with the side of the woman’s head. The girl spun once, her neck making a stomach-churning crack before her eyes rolled to the back of her head and her body hit the pavement with a loud thump.


Derrick rushed over, moving to the unconscious victim lying in a lifeless heap in the dirt. Victoria stood over them, mouth wide open, eyes denoting shock as she watched Derrick check for signs of life. “She’s gone.” He looked up at her, shaking his head no and immediately Victoria backed away, crumbling to the ground as her stomach lurched. Puke churned upwards through her chest, burning the back of her throat and she held back the need to vomit as she stared at the woman in front of her.

“What have I done?” she asked once Derrick fell to her side, pulling her against him as he tried comforting her. “How could I have…I killed her.”


“No, Victoria, it was an accident.”

“An accident? She’s dead, Derrick.” She stood up, pushing herself away from him before trying to move on shaky legs towards the body.

“No.”

“Stop, I have to see her. I have to help her!”

“She’s gone, Victoria! There’s no helping her now. The only thing you need to do is get out of here before someone sees you.”


“What?” she asked, looking up at him in shock as he thumbed her hair behind her ear. “How can you say that? Let them see! I did this! I have to do something!”

“Victoria, stop, think about this. You’ll be throwing your life away over something that couldn’t have been helped. Please, listen to me. Go home. I’ll take care of this.”

“But…the blood. What if you…?”

“I'll be fine.” Derrick spoke calmly, watching her eyes moving constantly as she thought over the situation. “Victoria!” he nearly shouted, shaking her in his arms to gain her attention. “Go home.”

Derrick released his grasp and Victoria nodded slowly while backing away from him towards the clearing. He watched as she disappeared through the thick brush of trees, making it safely to her car before pulling away.


“Victoria?” Derrick called for her as he entered the front door. Ducking around the corner, he found her pacing back and forth in her living room. A bottle of wine sat opened on the bar and two glasses sat on the table beside her. “Hey. What are you doing? Why are you here?”

“What do you mean? You told me to come here. You said ‘go home’ so I did.”

“Yeah but I meant…nevermind. What is all this?”

“A spell, or rather the messy conclusion of one.”

“A spell for what, Victoria?” Derrick asked, seeing instances of black magic scattered beside the other mystical ingredients on the floor. “Victoria, PLEASE tell me you didn’t do what I think you did. You’re not trying to bring that woman back from the dead?!”


“No, Derrick! I’m not. I wouldn’t…I just…I don’t understand.”

“Understand what? She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This wasn’t your fault, Victoria. It was just an unfortunate mistake.”

“No. There’s more to it than that,” she said, pointing to the ground. “This was a memory spell. I needed to see how I could have made such an awful…but I didn’t, Derrick. She wasn’t there. I’ve been replaying it over and over in my head and she’s NOT there!”

“Victoria, you need to try and get some rest. You’re not making any sense.”

“I can’t,” she sobbed, and fell to the couch. “Someone is dead, Derrick, and it’s because of me! Only I don’t think it is.”


“Ok,” he said, kneeling down in front of her. “Let’s try this again. What did the spell show you exactly?”

“You and I were running from more of those cloaked psychos, one of them caught up to us. It was raining pretty hard but I could still see it very clearly. It was a cultist, not a jogger. I turned and fired and the cloak dissipated and…it was her.”

“And that still doesn’t make sense. The only way you and I could have both seen the same thing is if…”

“Someone is using magic to set me up. What I don’t get is why?” 

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*Author’s note: Reflexio revelare means “Reveal Reflection” in Latin.*

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5 comments:

  1. Well damn. Vik has really stepped in it now. Two dead women, first the one that called her and then the jogger. I don't get the first vic,I mean come on, if she was really scared, why not ask to meet at Vik's office? Why at at park, in the rain, at night? Clearly she was right to be scared since she's dead, unless that was a set up too.

    That jogger. So Vik thought she was shooting a cult member, but it wasn't? Some one is really out to set up Vik. I do agree with Derrick, for her to be a cop, I don't get why she didn't think it was odd to go out and meet some stranger without back up. She wasn't even planning on asking Derrick to go. She likes to take unnecessary risks sometimes and this was one of them.

    LOL Derrick and seeing himself for the first time in centuries. Not conceded at all that one. ;)

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    1. Shit has hit the fan! Excellent question :D Why would a scared client meet at night in the middle of a park? O.o

      Sadly, yes. She saw a cloak and reacted but things didn't turn out like she thought. Someone is out to get her, and soon we'll learn who and why. Victoria knew Derrick would try and stop her so she didn't want to argue the point. She just wanted to investigate. It's very dangerous how she acts first. She really ought to practice more caution.

      Ha! He doesn't even know the word "vain."

      Thank you for reading :)

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  2. Wow, all caught up finally. Mike is walking so that is good. Vic is mixed in something really bad I just have a feeling about that. I hope Derrick can help keep her safe. I do wonder who will be at the center of it all....Is it a stranger or someone you'd least expect and that they know?? Is the woman really dead or is it magic? I can't wait to read more.

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    1. Mike is back up on his feet. He's very happy and grateful for that!

      Oooh sounds like you might be on to something there :D

      Victoria is certainly headed down a dark road. She will need the help and comfort of her close friends if she expects to survive what's coming.

      Thank you for reading :)

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  3. Victoria really gave Derrick a gift, allowing him to see his reflection for the first time in centuries. Sure, he comes off cocky in the end because, seriously, he's a stud. But when he asked Vik, "This is how you see me?", I sensed he was also looking for validation from her. It reminded me of when a woman asks her boyfriend, "Do these jeans make me look fat?", even when she knows damn well she looks great in them. Or I could've read way too much into that line. LOL. It happens.

    Too many things are not adding up in what happened that evening. It does look like someone's trying to frame Vik or, at the very least, mess with her mind. I haven't forgotten about the actual physical attack either. I'm glad she armed herself well, especially adding the protection spell. But planning on going it alone was just foolish. As a detective, I'm sure she was trained to always have backup and not rush into obvious traps, which is exactly what she was about to do. I'm glad Derrick was around to help keep her safe.

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