Mom never did let go of how her family suffered. It was hard to watch her go through the motions after her aunt died. My dad provided for us, but it was just enough for Mom, Majun, and I to get by. But, she sought out a new life. Mom was a beautiful woman, smart, easy to get along with and willing to learn anything.
A foreigner came to our province and took her in as a servant in his household. He was a strange man with strange ways even for Westerners. But mom came back with, for lack of a better word, magic tricks. He was teaching her the dark arts.
Then she wound up pregnant and we did not know for sure that it was dads. After which the Westerner bit mom and disappeared, but after her aunt died. So, she’s been pissed off ever since. Not because she had been bitten, or even because of the timing. She was angry that the only way she felt she and her boys would have enough time to get somewhere in life before dying a natural death was to be immortal and she lost what little bit of a normal life she had left.
But, mom’s resilient. She wrote her godmother under the alias of Frightfully Ashamed or something like that because they would not even allow her prayers to be placed in the temple after her aunt’s burial. Being a vampire had its downfalls.
* * *
“I don’t know why. But, I trust you.” I told Bryan after he explained why he was so distant from his family.
His mom was the mother of all vampires in Korea, although he and the dragon were her biological offspring. I’ve only been undead for ten years. I’ve got nothing on these guys. They’ve been around for over 200 years and still carry old wounds around like it was yesterday.
“I don’t see how you could.” Bryan said somberly.
Bob, Majun, whatever his name is. The Dragon. He’s off looking for Paul like he’s supposed to be. I don’t like that. What if he finds Paul and then all of our chances for regaining our humanity go up in a puff of smoke? I mean, this Paul is pretty crafty himself, but what a time to get caught! Lilli, she’s a tough cookie. I’m glad my girlfriend is alive again and not headless, handless, and somehow still able to hug me despite the gore. I’m just glad she wasn’t in a coma after being sewn back together.
“You are just as screwed as I am so that helps.” I said grinning.
“This is true.” Bryan thoughtfully replied as we pulled up to the airport.
Leaving his mom’s ice cream parlor with a viable plan made me feel better. Maybe I could go home after this. Maybe I’d get to Guam to find out if there was anything I could secretly send Paul to help him accelerate the process of becoming human again. Maybe Bryan got over Lilli. I can only hope so. I mean, she is my girlfriend.
The plan, as concocted about 15 minutes ago, is to send Lilli back to report that after her injury she needed a few sick days to recover. I am still on the mission to hunt down the dragon and not off the grid, Bryan came to help me and will return to England shortly afterwards. We made a few calls and voila. No one has a kill order hanging over their heads from Primus. That’s not to say we didn’t, but we’re in the clear now. Bryan’s boss had a fit, but Bryan explained being swallowed by the Siren trying to get home and that seemed to smooth things over for a while.
“What’s in California again?” Lilli asked as we got out of the car.
“A cloaking pendant. It makes the unnatural appear natural. So if say, a water demon such as the Siren or a dragon like my brother were to walk around town, they’d look human and not terrifying.” Bryan explained.
“Thank you guys for getting my head back on. Hell is a strange place to be a spectator. I’ll tell you about it when you get home.” Lilli continued as we got her boarding pass and waited. She rested comfortably on my arm and seemed to fall lightly asleep while we waited for her plane to start boarding.
“How did you know to come looking for us?” I finally asked Bryan.
“The moment I heard “dragon” I knew it had to be my brother. There’s only a handful of them around. I figured an extra pair of hands wouldn’t hurt since a scaly dragon could just as easily have been summoned.” Bryan explained.
“You are a good friend. But, I have to ask. Are you still in love with Lilli?” I dared.
“No, I think I just loved knowing someone knew me and cared. That’s what drew me to her. I’m more concerned about getting slapped across the face when I see my mother at the moment.” Bryan sighed.
“Left on bad terms?” I pressed. If we are going to work together I might as well make my girlfriend’s best friend my friend. Keep the competition closer at least. No one falls out of love that easily.
“More like I left with Genevieve.” he looked at me smirking.
“The Genevieve?” I asked shocked.
“Yeah.” he said looking around as though she’d mystically appeared after speaking her name.
“The one who triggered Linus the immortal (who now pursues us to the ends of the earth), got attacked by blood demons, is currently possessed, and working for Primus. That Genevieve?” I continued feeling like a gossiping teenager.
“I was in love.” Bryan offered.
“She’s the Wicked Witch of the East even for us man.” I continued still trying to imagine mild mannered Bryan with HER. “She makes the Ancients look like feeble old vampires. She’s a freaking serial killer for hire.”
“She’s also a good cook.” Bryan said laughing. “Look, I followed her to the ends of the earth. Literally. I knew she was good at her job, but that’s not the Gen I knew. I had a sweet albeit high maintenance girlfriend who knew how to come home and leave work at the door. We didn’t talk about our missions. Of course I’d hear about them later. But, whatever. I was committed. We broke up because she cheated not because she was evil.”
“You have a high tolerance of this kind of stuff.” I admitted.
“My brother is a dragon. So, Gen wasn’t so bad. Lilli on the other hand is a badass. She singlehandedly slaughtered a group of Silver Banshees while Linus was chasing her. If he gets called in… We’re in deep shit.” Bryan said.
“Still telling that story huh?” Lilli asked yawning. “I had help with those banshees and if I told you who we’d all be killed.”
“Was it Amelia?” I asked.
“No, but she knows the guy that showed up. Apparently, Nephilim have angelic powers much like Lith’s have dark ones. This one in particular could mess with nature. You know, water, sound waves… that kind of thing. If he hadn’t been there the banshee’s shrieking would have caused my brain to ooze out of my ears. Or at least that’s what happened to the humans within earshot.” Lilli continued as her flight began to board.
“You’re still a badass.” Bryan teased her. We rose and stood in line with her until security told us we could accompany her no further.
“You two be careful. I like our little family. Come back whole.” she said and kissed me. Lilli’s eyes were playful and she had a mischievous grin. She has absolutely no intention of just going home and keeping her head down like I asked her to. I half expect her to beat me to Tibet. But, that’s my girl.
We waved goodbye and made our way back to the car.
“Amelia is at the Jade Gates and we have to get there.” I told Bryan.
“That presents a whole ‘nother problem. The Jade Gates are guarded by an archangel and they have an Oracle protecting its borders. Let’s just make it to California first.” he said.
Step 2 in our plan is to somehow “commandeer” a small submarine and get to Baja. Good thing I know a guy who knows a guy. Our chances are good… I think.