Walter Solomon opened his eyes, and thought for a moment he might be in heaven.
Before falling unconscious, he’d been in all kinds of pain; needles of ice piercing his skin, his crotch constricted in frozen piss, and his head ringing from the sledgehammer blows that freak of a woman had landed against his ectoplasmic shield. Passing out on the grime- and blood-strewn floor of the dock warehouse had been a mercy at that point.
But this tiny room he found himself in now – once his bleary eyes found focus – was clean, almost unnaturally so. There was not a lick of furniture or other decoration to be seen, only blank walls lit by the soft, white light of sconce lamps. His clothes were gone, the modesty of his flabby, pale body only preserved by the swathing of bandages around his groin and thighs, that whole area mercifully numb. Vaguely he wondered what had become of his suit. A cheap thing, but he liked how it fit him and hid the bulge of his tits.
Behind him a door opened, and in trying to turn to look Walter got the first hint that this might not be paradise. The chair, so comfortable that he’d scarcely noticed it beneath him, suddenly arrested his movement, bound to the armrests by wooden shackles that seemed to contour to his wrists perfectly.
Well, whoever was fucking with Walter Solomon had sorely underestimated him. He drew in a deep breath to summon up the will for a spell that would slice the restraints apart with crystalline blades, and a second spell to turn whoever was behind him into so many jerky strips. That plan was cut short when the wood around his wrists sprouted inch-long thorns in the blink of an eye, stabbing into his flesh and sending paralyzing pain shooting up his arm, through his chest, up through his jaw and eyeball, driving the magical construct from his mind. By the time Walter found his breath again, the scream he’d wanted to let out fell from his lips in a pathetic whimper.
“Let’s not try that again, shall we, darling?” came the clipped Harvard accent from behind him, and a featherweight hand caressed his balding pate as the short, trim, and obscenely beautiful woman passed into his field of vision. She wore black slacks with a blood-red blouse that made her pale skin look white as snow, dress heels clacking gently against the floor. Walter recognized her, and dearly wished that he didn’t. “Those bindings,” Kara O’Keeffe went on cheerfully, “are specially made for men of your talents. I’d advise you stay still, and forget about your magic for awhile.”
“They… they were going to betray you!” Walter blurted out, after hastily shuffling through a handful of other excuses in his mind. “Those two, they were making deals behind your back, trying to undercut you with the mob. You ought to be thanking me for taking care of them!” The vampire didn’t seem to react, concentrating on pulling on a pair of black leather gloves from her pocket. Only when she was satisfied with the fit did she seem to notice him again.
“My dear cousins, betray me?” The sound from her full, pursed lips might have been the shadow of a laugh. “Maybe. Probably. Eventually. Oh, but that’s a family matter, darling; you needn’t concern yourself. We have something more important to discuss.” Kara took a seat right on his knee, perching there and smiling sweetly like a child with her favorite uncle. Despite knowing the danger he was in, Walter couldn’t take his eyes away from that smile, even as a bland-faced man in a dark suit entered the room, carrying a small attaché case flat on the palms of his hands. The man popped the lip with his thumbs, and Kara gingerly reached inside, careful to let the treasure inside rest in her gloves and not her skin. She waved the thumb-sized carnation pink pendant that had once belonged to James Finnegan in front of his recently-broken nose hypnotically. “You are going to tell me everything you know about… this.”
Walter licked his lips and summoned up a little courage. He had something she wanted after all. He could bargain. “And… and you’ll let me go if I do?”
The vampire leaned in to peer into his eyes, her perfect little nose and lips hovering less than an inch from his sweaty flushed ones. Walter was convinced at that moment that she was either going to kiss him passionately, or rip his face off with her teeth.
“Darling… there is no ‘if’. You are going to tell me.”
And Kara O’Keeffe was right.