Justine Ch. 06bykalamazoo707©
As soon as Buddy growled, Justine went to full alert, looked over at Quinn and cursed. "What's happening" Quinn asked hating being left out in the cold.
"We have to get out of here now!" she said as she quickly packed up her laptop and gathered her clothes. She didn't bother with the food; she would get more later after she found another place for them to stay. She opened the door, peeked out and grabbed Quinn's hand frowning when she met resistance.
"We're not leaving until you tell me exactly what's going on." Quinn said.
"We don't have time for this!" Justine said angrily.
"We're taking the time." Quinn said, "Who are these people and what do they want?"
Justine peeked down the stairs, got a tighter hold on Quinn's hand and took off running not giving him time to object. She didn't look behind her as she ran nor did she worry that Buddy wouldn't be able to find her, somehow he always did.
They didn't stop running until they were several blocks away from the hotel. Justine looked around and almost vanished until she remembered Quinn.
"Where do you live?" she asked.
"About ten blocks from here, why?"
"We need to get off of the streets and hotels are no longer an option." Justine replied.
As far as she could tell, no one knew where Quinn lived and there really was no other choice. He was now safer with her than without her. The problem was getting there, ten blocks was a long way to go when people and things were searching for them.
"Alright, I want you to listen to me." Justine said her tone firm, "I'm going to have to do something that I've never done before and you just have to trust me."
Without waiting for an answer, Justine embraced Quinn and vanished hoping that she didn't kill him in the process. They reappeared about a block from where Quinn's apartment was but Quinn was in no shape to walk. He bent over gasping for air and dry heaving while Justine kept look out. She remembered the first time she teleported and how ill she felt afterwards and felt sorry for him but they had to get moving.
"What the fuck just happened?" Quinn asked shakily.
"I'll explain later." Justine replied, "Where's your apartment?"
Quinn pointed in the direction that they needed to go and headed that way on shaky legs followed by Justine. A few minutes later, they were safely inside with all of the curtains closed. Quinn plopped down on the couch feeling only slightly better but not good enough to ask questions.
Justine found the bathroom, rummaged around for a washcloth to moisten with cold water to place on Quinn's forehead. By the time, she returned Quinn had kicked off his boots and was fast asleep.
Mikhail forgot the woman behind the counter and focused on the dog sitting in front of the door recognizing him for what he was.
"Where is your mistress?" he asked as he approached Buddy. "I mean her no harm and would like to help her."
Buddy sat watching Mikhail backing up when he got close.
"There are those who wish to capture her for their own purposes but I am not one of them and I believe you know that."
Buddy gave a low growl in his throat and took off, as soon as he was out of sight; he vanished ending up at Quinn's door.
Justine heard him at the door and let him in after looking around to be sure that the apartment wasn't being watched. Her stomach rumbled with hunger and she wished that she had taken the time to pack the food from the fridge at the hotel. She had to feed soon before the hunger pains set in and before Quinn became her only source of food. She glanced over at Quinn who was still asleep but not looking so green and weighed her options of which there were few. Her best bet she decided was to go to a store far from where they were, it would accomplish one thing in particular, it could draw anyone looking for them away and buy her some time to come up with another plan. The good thing was that she now knew that she could vanish with Quinn if necessary.
"Buddy, stay here with him and don't let him leave." Justine said, "I'll be back with food for us." she rubbed Buddy's head and was gone reappearing in North East Philadelphia near the 'Pathmark' grocery store. She looked around and scanned the people in the parking lot and coming out of the store, "all human" she murmured but reminded herself that it was a human that reported their location to Jeremiah.
In hindsight she wished that she had captured the woman to find out what she knew, the next time they would do just that. It was time to find out who they were dealing with and to find out just what in the hell they wanted from her and then there was Pam. Her sense was that she was alright and as long as she laid low and did nothing stupid....
Justine laughed, Pam was the queen of doing stupid things most of them harmless, a few of them not so much. "Keep your head down." Justine murmured as she went into the grocery store. She spoke to no one as she went directly to the meat counter and loaded her basket with steak, beef and chicken livers and beef roast enough to last for several days.
Looking at the meat reminded her of another issue; she had to tell Quinn what she was. She laughed for the second time that day when she realized that she had never told him her name. Justine went to the frozen food aisle and bough several frozen dinners for Quinn that included breakfast entrees and frozen orange juice. He wasn't going anywhere either.
She paid for her purchases, stopped at the atm machine, and withdrew another 500.00 dollars. Doing so gave her an idea; she would go to different parts of the city every couple of days and take money out of the machines in effect sending everyone on a wild goose chase. She hoped that Quinn had internet as she could no longer use her laptop without it being traced. The problem was that even on Quinn's internet, she could be tracked which meant that she couldn't do any research on vampires. She pushed the problem aside, the immediate issue was telling Quinn what she was without sounding like a compete nutcase.
She carried her sacks of groceries to a secluded spot behind the store and vanished to behind Quinn's apartment building. She was pleased that it was becoming easier to do each time and that the nausea was no longer a problem. She touched the knob on the door willing it to unlock and open hoping to find Quinn still asleep. She slipped into the apartment, past Quinn who thankfully was still asleep and into the kitchen. She looked over her shoulder and pulled out a container of chicken livers, opened it and greedily drank the blood from it and then set the container on the floor for Buddy so that he could eat the raw meat.
She was on the third container when she heard a voice behind her.
"What in the hell are you doing?"
Pam froze on the stairway, she smelled what she knew was raw fear coming from the basement.
"Please." the voice said again, "help us."
Pam counted the cots that lined the wall, ten but only four of them were occupied. These women were newly made vampires she realized, they were meant to be sold as she was supposed to have been.
"Shhh!!!" she hissed as she looked behind her.
"Shut up already!" Pam hissed as she made her way down the rest of the stairs. She stopped and looked at the cots that contained the women. "How long have you been here?" she asked.
"I'm not sure." a voice said, "I woke up here."
It was the same for all four women and there was another common denominator... Malcolm.
For the first time in her life, Pam found herself in a position of leadership. The idea both frightened and excited her as she realized that she had no option but to step up. The thought that Justine would be proud of her gave her courage. The first thing she did was to release the women from the chains that held them to the bed asking them their names as she went.
"Is there any blood down here?" she asked as she released the last woman.
"There's a refrigerator in the back." The one named Janine replied as she stood up and stretched.
"Alright, Janine and Kendra, you go check for blood, the rest of you look around to see if there's another way out of here besides the stairs even if it's a window." Pam said as she looked around the basement for something to carry the bags of blood in.
A few minutes later, Janine and Kendra came back with their arms filled with bags of blood. Pam salivated at the sight of it. She grabbed a bag, pierced it with her teeth and drank it down in one long gulp moaning with pleasure as the thick liquid coated her throat on the way down to her empty stomach.
"Pass a bag to everyone and let's get out of here." She said as she took another bag.
"Where are we going?" A woman who said that her name was Miriam asked.
"I don't know yet but drink up, Allison found a way out."
Pam divided the blood up into five sacks and gave one to each woman, "That's your supply so don't lose it and don't drink it all at once because I don't know when or how we'll get more. Stay close together and if I say run, then you run like hell and don't look back. If we get separated, find a place to hide where the sunlight can't get to you and stay there as long as you can."
"What are we?" a shy diminutive woman asked.
It hadn't occurred to Pam that the women didn't know what they were. She searched for a quick explanation and came up with none.
"I don't know how to tell you this," she said softly, "but none of us is human anymore, we've been turned into vampires. When we get to someplace safe, I'll explain more but we've got to leave before someone comes."
They followed Allison to what appeared to be a wall. She pushed on the wall and was rewarded with a quiet squeak, after they were all through the door; she found the lever and closed the door.
"How did you know about that?" Pam asked.
"I'm an architect and I actually helped design this building several years ago when I was still a student." Allison replied, "And if memory serves me there's a doorway that leads to the alley at the back of the building."
Pam counted her blessings that none of the women had freaked when she told them what they were but as they walked, they talked and it became somewhat clear why. Each of the women were in high stress occupations that required cool heads, Allison was an architect that ran her own business, Janine ran her own accounting firm, Kendra was friends with Janine and also a business partner and last but not least was Corinne who ran her own fashion design company.
None of the women were married or in any type of relationship and their families were either on the other side of the country or overseas. It wasn't uncommon for any of them no to speak to anyone from their families for weeks making them good targets.
Pam understood something else. Malcolm wasn't working alone. He might have been a good attorney but he wouldn't have the guts or the brains to do something like this without help. Jeremiah had to be involved and more than likely the brains of the operation. He needed to be stopped but that wasn't the priority at the moment, finding a safe place was.
"Start looking for anyplace that will protect us from the sun and where we can stay for a couple of days if we had to." Pam instructed. "And the further away from the office the better." she added.
It took them almost an hour and a half before they located what was at one time a mom and pop grocery store. It took no time to make sure that the place was secure with so many of them to scout the place out. Within minutes, they had a section in the back of the store cleared out and the windows sealed tight against the sun.
Jeremiah sat in his chair with his long fingers pressed against his lips. He had just gotten off the phone with his mother. He made her tell him the complete story about the woman who was to replace the queen from beginning to end twice. He now knew who Justine Graves was and it became even more important that he find her before the forty-eight hours were up. If he could find her.....
"What?" Jeremiah snapped when the phone rang before he could complete his thought, "When? How?" he screamed into the phone, "I want them found now!" he added and slammed the phone down in its cradle.
The hunt for Justine was beginning to cost him more money than he liked. If the four women that were already paid for weren't found he would have to pay back all of the money and make a peace offering of some kind. He mentally calculated his losses, at least ten million not counting whatever he offered on top of it. It occurred to him that while a pussy, Malcolm had been right, they should have closed up shop long ago and concentrated on their law practice.
However, had they done that, he wouldn't have the opportunity that had presented itself. A seed of doubt rose in his mind, what if she wasn't the queen? "She has to be." he thought to himself. It explained the ease in which she adapted to not only vampirism but also the way in which she knew how to use her inherent gifts. If he could find her and mate with her, everything that she owned and that meant everything would be his as well. Ten million dollars would be nothing compared to what Justine would have as queen.
The thought begged another question, where was the queen? She had to be somewhere close by looking for Justine as he and those he employed were and if she found Justine before he did, it was over. Justine would come for him looking for her friend if she figured out what he and Malcolm had been doing. Suddenly, he didn't want those women found. It was a matter of time before Mikhail put it all together and if he did..... This way there was no evidence, he could deny all of it.
"Fuck!" Jeremiah swore. Mikhail was looking for Justine too and once he figured out who she was he would do one of three things, take her for himself, take her to the queen if he knew where she was or leave her be. He wondered which option Mikhail would choose and then he knew... he would take her to the queen. He knew it as surely as he knew that his nephew was dead.
Just then the phone began ringing off the hook, Justine had been spotted in North Philadelphia, and then she had been spotted in the western part of the city, seconds later someone would say that she had been spotted in the south part of the city.
It didn't take long to understand what was happening; by offering a reward for her, he had inadvertently helped her. He swore under his breath, thought for a few brief seconds to say, "Fuck it", and move on but the dollar signs and the thought of the power that he would have won out. He was going to find her and mate with her even if it was by force, even if he had to have vampires hold her down while he did it, it was going to happen.
He pulled out a map of the city and began to place stickpins at every spot where Justine was reported to have been seen. It was impossible for her to have been seen in all of those places but maybe not. According to his mother, every new queen had a talent that the last one didn't have; it was definitely food for thought.
He called his mother back and asked her about the latest queen.
"Why are you so interested in this?" she asked.
"Just curious." he replied and asked another question, "How often is there a new queen?"
"Not often, the current queen stays in place until the new queen is born and somehow brought into her power. It is the dream of every female child to be that lucky one." she replied.
"So the queen is born vampire?" he asked.
"Not necessarily although it could happen. There is one instance where the queen was born human but had a vampiric background but that was a very long time ago."
Jeremiah's mind raced.
"Did she have a child?"
"Yes and that child had children as did they..."
"So another of this queen's female descendants could become queen."
"Yes but only if she is female and the one destined for the role... Jeremiah, what are you into?"
Jeremiah ignored the question and continued asking his own.
"What about the mate of the queen? What happens if he dies before they find each other or he dies before they mate?"
"As far as I know it's never happened but the story says that if it does, whoever mates with her first will become her king but....."
"Thank you mother." Jeremiah said and hung up not giving her the chance to complete her sentence. He heard what he needed to hear. The question was did Justine know that the male with her was her mate and king? He hoped not, he hoped that she was so busy trying to figure out she was and trying to survive that she hadn't thought about it.
"How are things?" a creaky old voice asked Zoë.
"As well as can be expected." she replied, "Justine is quite resourceful but soon she will have no choice but to talk to me."
"Do you know her whereabouts?"
"Yes, my queen." Zoë replied, "She is at the home of her mate Quinn. They are both safe for the moment."
"How are you planning to bring her home?"
"As you know, I used to work with Justine." Zoë said. "And one of the things I admired about her then and now is her resiliency, how she always found a way to get out of a tight spot. She never asked for help until her back was up against the wall and that is what I'm waiting for, she has to have no other options available to her before she will talk to me."
The old queen was thoughtful for a moment, "it is a reasonable plan but what of the others that are looking for her as well? Will she not see them as possible allies?"
"Possible but Justine is distrustful by nature, she's not going to trust them anymore than she trust us."
"Then why do you think that she will choose us over them?"
"I think that once she sees us or talks to us she'll recognize the truth when she hears it but I have another concern."
"I am listening." the queen replied.
"As you know, her friend Pam was also turned to be sold. She escaped and is in hiding with four other women, and if she is captured, she could be used as bait for Justine. I would like your permission to bring them here...."
"You want to use this friend the same way that Jeremiah Mathers would use her." the queen said dryly.
"Only if there is no other option and I am concerned about how long the women with her can survive without proper teaching. I can only imagine what would have happened to me if one of your servants hadn't found me."
"Bring them here but I do not want the friend used as a pawn unless all else has failed."
"Yes my queen." Zoë replied with a bow.
Mrs. Rhodes looked at Zoë with affection; she had come to love the young woman as a daughter and trusted her explicitly. She had groomed her to become Justine's right hand and confidant, as she would need someone to confide in other than her king. After all, she was still female and females liked to have someone to talk and giggle with about the silly things in life. She had initiated this change when she had become queen although she didn't reap the benefit of that change for herself.
Her king, Edward, lay in state waiting for her to rejoin him so that they could return to their former youth and dwell in the realm of the queens before her. There they could watch the happenings of the world much as the gods of Greek and Roman mythology watched over their human subjects except that there would be no interference from the former queens. Now that the time of giving up her reign was near, she found herself becoming impatient for it to be over, she was more than ready to hand over the reins.
The temptation to grab Justine herself was at times overwhelming but she had to wait, it was important that Justine came to them even if it was coerced after a fashion. The queen listened as Zoë confidently gave instructions for Justine's friend and the women to be rescued and brought to the house.