Vampyrs Anonymous Chapter Four
Blood in the Garden
“So, I saw you making friends with the Outsider.”
Felicity laughed. She coiled up the cord for the microphone before stuffing into the case. Eve's Garden closed half an hour ago and Eve, the owner, told them to take their time packing while she had a staff drink with the bouncer and the bartender.
Balki just finished loading his drums into the van and was coming back to help Felicity and Eddie. He jumped up onto the stage, barely making a sound as he grabbed up another wire and began rapping it up.
“Well he did have that mysterious quality to him,” Felicity said, wiggling her fingers as she said mysterious. “I guess I draw the mysterious type.”
“Can you give me the keys to the van?” Eddy asked.
“I left it open.”
“What? Balki, are you mad you can't do that around here.”
“Whose gonna steal our van?” Balki asked, looking at him pointedly. “Everybody knows us here. They know not to mess with me.”
Eddy ran out to the van to be sure no one was boosting their hub caps. Felicity just rolled her eyes. She grew up in this town same as Eddy, but he had more reason to be paranoid ever since he was thirteen and the apartment he lived in with his mother was robbed. Eddy was sleeping and his mother was working the late shift. She found him tied to a chair in the middle of the kitchen with a gag in his mouth at three in the morning. To this day Eddy couldn't sleep in a place that didn't have at least five locks on every door and he didn't walk anywhere after dark alone.
“I wonder if he'll ever feel safe again,” Felicity said with a sigh.
“He's a big boy now, Little Kitty,” Balki said, using his pet name for her. “You can't save everyone. Even the little blood sucker who just walked in has to figure things out for himself.”
Balki mentally kicked himself.
“I mean that boy you were talking to.” He said quickly. “He kind of looked liked somebody out of a bad vampire movie, you know. Didn't drink his soda, nothing.”
Felicity glared at him. She remembered Balki shaking James' hand and thought his smile seemed a little forced.
“You didn't scare him off, did you?” She asked.
Balky didn't look up as he stuffed the cords into the bag. He could feel the burn of Felicity's eyes boring into him and it saddened him that he made her angry.
“I only told him to watch himself,” he said, forcing himself to look at her. “You're a good person. I-”
“Balki,” Felicity closed the distance between them, her hands on her hips. “I love you and Eddy very much. But if I talk to another guy I don't need yours or anyone else's permission.”
Eddy came back in, muttering something about car alarms as he grabbed the cases the cords were in. Felicity fixed Balki with one last warning glare and grabbed the case for her microphone.
“Thanks Eve,” she said on her way out.
Eve got up from the bar stool and handed Felicity an envelope. Felicity looked at it, confused.
“A little something extra,” Eve said. She spoke with an exotic accent and her soft voice revealed a confidence and intelligence that came with years of experience. “You brought in more business than we've had in a long time on a kid's night. I felt like I should share some of that with you.”
“That's awesome!” Eddy took the envelope before Felicity could say another word.
Balki smiled as he watched Eddy count it out.. Felicity, bless her heart, she tried to politely refuse the extra cash but Eve wouldn't have it. Felicity looked from the cash in Eddy's hand to Eve and she threw her arms around Eve.
“Thank you, so much.”
“You're quite welcome, child.”
Balki came to the bar as Felicity flashed her a warm smile.
“This is amazing,” she said, handing him some of the money. “I don't think a gig has ever paid this well.”
“You're welcome back anytime,” Eve promised.
“We'll have to get her in here when she turns twenty-one,” the bartender suggested. “They'd be great with the regular crowd.”
Balki drew Felicity into a hug.
“Congratulations, Little Kitty,” he said. “You're gonna take us to the top.”
“Hey,” she said. “I needed both of you or I wouldn't have gotten this far. I'm sorry for being upset with you.
Balki nodded and smiled to show her he understood.
“Never be sorry for putting me in my place, girl. I'll be there when you need me and when you need your space I'll be just far enough for you to call me.”
Felicity gave him another hug and followed Eddy to the van. Balki had his own car and he decided to leave the drums with them since they had a practice session at Felicity's apartment later that week. She gave Eddy a ride to his place and watched for the light to come on in his third floor apartment. She waited for her cellphone to buzz and answered it to make sure it was him.
“Thanks for the ride,” he said.
“Good night, Eddy,” she replied.
When she knew he was secure and drove to her place on the other side of town. She was still on cloud nine after tonight's performance. And she had Balki to thank for finding the ad that someone posted near his apartment looking for live bands to audition to play at Eve's.
Ever since Balki came into their lives she felt safer. Not that she was the type who needed a man to “protect” her. But it was nice to have someone in your life who really cared about you. Balki was protective of Eddy as well, which made her feel like he wasn't just treating her like a helpless girl.
He shared an apartment with a roommate near the college and the handful of times Felicity had been to his place the only personal belongings he had in his room were his clothes, his books, his drum set and his bed. He worked at the art supply store during the week and according to him the band was his only other source of income. In spite of it Balki was well fed and very ripped. Whenever it got too cold all Felicity had to do was catch a glimpse of his eight pack stomach or his top choice quality behind and she felt like she could do the Ididarod in a pair of sweats and tennis shoes.
Balki didn't show much interest in a relationship, however. Felicity knew had nothing to do with race, though her father might disagree with the idea. He just never saw her as anything more than a little sister. He seemed to respect her goals and her dreams and for Balki, it seemed enough that he could just be her friend.
After a few months she was surprised by how little she knew about him. He came from India but he said his mother was from Africa. He grew up in Sierre Leone and got a scholarship to study drums at the Boston University's School of Music when he turned eighteen. But other than that he didn't talk about his family, or his personal life outside of the band. He wasn't being suspiciously guarded. He just didn't elaborate much when someone asked him what his mother or father did, or about where he grew up. Felicity just couldn't see being intimate with someone who was so secretive. She respected his privacy and was just content to be happy that Balki was in her life, for however long that would be.
The only person who seemed more secretive than Balki was James. He dressed like Balki, in a long sleeved shirt and jeans that couldn't possibly protect him from the cold. Although he didn't seem to exercise nearly as much, James still had that close guarded nature. The way he swept into the bar and hung back apart from the crowd. He seemed so uncomfortable and yet he just sat there quietly watching her sing.
She was nervous at first. James looked nice enough but then so did most serial killers. But she wasn't going anywhere and she knew that Balki would be on him like a gunshot of he tried anything so she took a chance and after fifteen minutes she found herself wanting to know more. His last name would have been great for starters so she could call him and apologize for whatever Balki said that made him bolt.
If he comes back than he's worth getting to know, she thought. He's got your number. The ball's in his court.
Balki was right of course. Felicity couldn't save everyone and she wasn't going to try. She watched after Eddie and humored his little ritual that involved him calling her to let her know he was all right. But it wasn't just a one way relationship with him. Eddie appreciated her friendship and he showed her by showing up for practice and always remaining in sync with her on the stage, even when they didn't always play venues where he felt the safest.
If James wanted to get to know Felicity, then he wouldn't let Balki intimidate him.
* * *
“She doesn't suspect a thing?” Eve asked, teasingly as she poured him a shot of vodka. Her skin was a shade lighter than Balki's and she wore a green earth tone blouse that matched the paint on the walls.
“She's not stupid,” Balki said, throwing back his shot. “She'll figure out eventually. Thanks for the assist, little sister.”
Eve chuckled warmly.
“Perhaps you will repay the favor by introducing her to your family instead of avoiding us.”
“Avoiding you? I ever avoid you, it's the bickering I avoid.” Balki put his glass down and Eve poured him another shot, which he finished. “I can't drink anymore or I'll lose control.”
Balki got up and brought his glass to the kitchen. Eve sent her human staff home long ago so they were safe to talk freely. When he returned she was putting her stool up on the bar.
“It's a shame you never built my immunity to alcohol,” she said.
“Well perhaps you just had the lion's share,” Balki responded, putting emphasis on his pun. “But even you need to be careful, Eve. Not everyone is an animal lover.”
“And Felicity is?”
“Felicity's an angel. She's no werebeast but she has the heart of a tigress.”
“Or a lioness?”
Balki rolled his eyes, but the truth was she was right. He was the only pure weretiger in the pride and Eve, his only sister and the youngest daughter of his werelion stepfather was the only one who would speak to him in a civil tone. When his brothers turned their backs on him and refused to consider him one of the pride he was her big brother. Though her father would wear the skins of anyone who harmed her Eve could handle herself in a fight and she proved it on a number of territorial fights with enemy prides.
When she went to America to study for her business degree Balki was heartbroken. When his mother dropped a litter of ligers she turned her back on him to raise her new husband's children and he was alone. His brothers were just disgusted by the half-breeds though they wouldn't dare to say so to their father. Balki's opinion was the only one that didn't matter one way or the other since he had no lion would ever accept him as a leader of their pride.
Eve shut the lights off. Balki went for the door and was greeted with a flood of red and blue lights. There were two police cars parked outside and an ambulance. The officers covered the area in yellow tape and people were emerging from their apartments to see what the commotion was.
Balki locked eyes with Eve as they both picked up the smell.
“The vampire...” he growled.
“Excuse me,” an Asian policeman approached Balki. “Are you the owner of this bar?”
“My sister is.” Balki gestured to Eve.
The policeman asked Eve several questions. Did anyone in the bar seem suspicious? Did she notice anything unusual the whole night. Eve said everything was fine and the officer wrote down her responses.
An EMT approached them.
“We found the cause of death,” he said, looking from the officer to Balki and Eve. “He cut himself with some glass and bled to death.”
“But there was no blood on the body.” The officer said, puzzled.
The EMT shrugged. Balki thought it was an odd gesture for a city official to make at a time like this. It was too casual.
“We found the glass in his hand,” he said as if they were discussing the scores of the last Red Sox game. “The blood could have been washed up in the rain.”
Balki kept his mouth shut as the officer, still not understanding the EMT's decision, told them to have a nice evening. He walked Eve to the front door of her apartment building just three blocks down.
“That fool.” Eve cursed. “I pull in a lot of money from the kids on weekends. They won't want to come here now that this has happened.”
“I should have killed that vampire.” Balki said, angrily. “That damn technician must be on their payroll. How could you let a vampire into your club?”
“He's a customer!” Eve shouted, as if that explained everything. “He comes in and pays for a drink then who am I to throw him out.”
They stopped outside of Eve's apartment. Eve seethed.
“Do you want to come with me to take him out?” Balki asked. “I'll let you have first crack.”
Eve shook her head.
“No. I have a business to run. Word is going to get out and I need to find a way to spin this before my only customers are raging alcoholics. But you have a good time.”
Balki laughed. He'd killed far stronger beasts than this street punk. He would have a good time with this one.