Tracking the Signal – Coffee Run

Ant grabbed my elbow, and we stepped into the shadows. There was a wrenching sensation, and we were sitting in another set of shadows. I crouched down near the floor and held my stomach and fought back the nausea. Ant chuckled above me. “You always take it so poorly. Even Allison who is weak in the stomach around everything else can travel this way without so much as a burp now.”

I chocked out a laugh. “She’s been doing it for like 80 years, Ant. I’ve only known you four.”

Ant laughed. “Wuss.” He grabbed my elbow and walked through the sunlit path with a grin. He danced through the sunlight. “It’s amazing to watch a fledgling vampire stand here in the sunlight and not burn. The investment in the technology my mother spent on the windows here always seemed like overkill to the investors until Bernstein walked in the sunlight for the first time in over 1000 years. You should have seen the look on the old man’s face.”

I stood up and smiled. “I can imagine. Cari never invests poorly. She’s done well.” I looked up at the windows that spanned the highest heights of the Night Life building. I had to look down quickly and Ant laughed. “Let’s get that coffee.”

“Let’s. Though I have a question. Sage? You serious?” Ant asked.

“It’s beyond serious, Ant. I can’t see life without him. It’s fucking scary.” I confessed.

“It’s not been a long time has it?” I shook my head and Ant continued. “Be careful you don’t scare him away.”

“That’s my biggest fear. My nightmares have encompassed that inevitable rejection.”

“You keep thinking like that and you will. He likes you. The desire in the room… I’m not an incubus but I could feed off of the desire between the two of you. That kiss woke me up from the sleep only the dead feel.”

“Yeah, sex is one thing but I’m a mess, Ant.”

Ant clapped me on the back. “It wasn’t sex I was referring to. I’ve been around my mother long enough to know when it’s about sex and when it’s more. She may not see my father often, but the entire world changes when he’s around.” Ant smiled. I wondered if he wished he’d known his father more growing up.

“You sound like you’d like the whole happy family thing?” I asked.

“It might have been nice to grow up like China and Henry, with our father always there being a good father – a good example. But then I wouldn’t be an Enforcer, nor would I be the second most feared vampire in the world. Ryan was a good father figure, but he’s a better friend.”

I grinned at my friend. “It sounds strange to hear, but I get it. Dorian was much the same.”

Ant nodded. “My life and my circle are still very much the same as when I grew up. As is yours? Mine only changes as Cari’s herd does.”

“Everyone except Ryan and Mia.” I nodded with understanding. 800 years of life and his circle of friends had never changed over the centuries. “Then I’m glad you met me. I get to broaden your horizons.”

Ant laughed. “In so many ways, Nox. So many ways. Let’s get your boy his coffee.”

The Night Life building was vampire friendly and was anything in the building had to be open 24/7 every day. The only time I’d ever heard of the Night Life being closed was during a blizzard and everything in New York City closed down.

It was a high rise skyscraper with doctor’s offices, lawyer offices, shops and as many other businesses you could think of. But mostly it was services. There was even a school that had classes at midnight and beyond, it was accredited and the classes you took there could be used towards a degree at Columbia University or NYU. Some Venatori taught classes there. I had never taken a course there myself, but Dorian had. He’d even given a few lectures there when I was younger.

The coffee shop catered to vampires if you knew how to ask for blood in your coffee. I knew Ant drank regular coffee though. Starbucks was a national franchise that catered to vampires around the world. It was one of those places that had hidden menus and sometimes you could even order a specific blood type in your coffee. It was an ingenious ploy, but I knew the parent company was run by vampires. Vampires, Venatori and many other old supernatural races ran the biggest companies in the world. Apex Unlimited was one of the big conglomerates, they had their finger in everything. Asher Eriksen was huge into science though, like most of the Eriksen family.

We got Sage and Walker what they wanted and two black coffees for ourselves. With hot coffee in hand Ant took them the coffee cup tray in one hand and grabbed my elbow again and stepped into the shadows. I nearly lost my breakfast on Sage’s couch. I hated shadow traveling and was grateful that was the last time.

Sage and Walker had both jumped at our sudden appearance. Walker laughed through the heightened awareness of fright. “I’ll never get used to that,” he said.

I took my coffee and Sage’s from the cup holder and set down his in front of his mouse that was not being used as he tapped away at the keyboard. He looked up with a grin and said, “Thanks.”

“Anytime.” I replied as I sat down.

Sage chuckled. “You guys don’t have to stand around waiting for me. Go do whatever it is you do.”

Walker laughed. “I could go beat up your boyfriend again.” He grinned. “You up for it, Nox?”

I shook my head. “I’m quite happy where I am. Why don’t you go tell Dae’lin that the human agencies are looking into our dragon issue? We might need a bigger cover story than our lone bank robber. Emerson’s death will be noticed as well.”

Walker frowned. “Fine. I’ll go do that. I’ll be back in an hour. I’ll leave you and your boy toys to play while I’m away.”

I rolled my eyes. “Neither of these two are my boy toys. And I’m sure Ant will go to find something else to do to keep himself occupied.”

Ant nodded. “Yes. Mother is calling. Naggingly so. Watching you doesn’t take priority over whatever it is she needs me for.” Ant smiled. “I’ll be back at dusk. I’ll use the door and call first.” And with that Ant was gone as he stepped into the shadows and went to wherever his mother had said to go.

“His phone never made a sound.” Walker said.

“He’s a vampire, he can be called by his sire. Cari is a technophobe, she wouldn’t use her phone unless necessary.” I stated simply.

Walker shook his head. “I don’t think I’ll ever know as much about this side of our world as you do.”

I shrugged. “Just don’t shoot first and never ask question.” I smiled.

Walker waved. “Sage, don’t let your lover boy over there run the show. He seems to be a know it all.”

Sage laughed. “Only to you. And only about the world he lives in. He’s pretty duh when it comes to mine. Trust me.”

Walker laughed as he left the basement apartment that was Sage’s office. Sage sank into the chair and relaxed visibly. “You okay?” I asked.

Sage nodded. “Just too crowded in here. Thanks for that.”

I smiled. “No problem. I’m gonna go for a walk around Hell’s Kitchen.”

Sage frowned. “You don’t have to go.”

“I know, love.” I got up and walked over to my blue eyed boy. I kissed his cheek and smiled. “I need to let you work and if I stay I’ll be distracted by you or worse yet, distract you from the job at hand. Besides, I can learn a lot out on the street by myself.”

Sage nodded. “All right. I’m gonna call for reinforcements if you aren’t back in an hour.”

“Gotcha.” I smiled and kissed Sage’s other cheek. “I’ll be back in an hour.”

The Last Phoenix (in order)

Comfortably Numb (5/12/2018)