Thorne Ch. 04

bykalamazoo707©

Olivia shook her head. She didn't want to think about her father or his insanity. She just wanted to enjoy her fantasy life. She left the beach after an hour and headed downtown to get her hair, manicure and pedicure done. By the time she arrived at the salon, she was back into her fantasy.

******

Barb looked at Grant when she though he wasn't watching. She wondered how easy he would be to sway. He didn't know her or anything about her-did he? She glanced over at Adrianna who was looking at her with an unreadable expression on her face.

"What are you staring at?" Barb snapped.

"Obviously you." Adrianna replied. "I know what you're thinking so let me save you some time and effort. Grant is mated and loves his mate very much. He appears to be an easy mark just as I did, but he's far from it. He will follow Mr. Blackwell's instructions to the letter."

When Barb didn't say anything, Adrianna continued.

"Look Ms. Simpson-"

"It's Mrs. Blackwell!" Barb interrupted.

"As I was saying... Ms. Simpson, we don't like each other and that's fine. I don't have to like you in order to do my job. But we need to come to an understanding if we're going to be spending time together. I'll follow you wherever you want to go as long as it's safe. If Grant or I say no, then the answer is no and if you'll give us a chance we'll explain why. If we are in a public place and trouble rises, you will do as you're told and when you're told. It won't be the time for you to start blabbing about who you are or to start arguing with me because I will pick your ass up and carry you out. If I hear you bragging about who you live with, I will compel you not to speak. If you follow those few guidelines, we'll be fine and I won't say a word to you unless I have to."

Adrianna looked at Grant.

"Do you have anything to add?" she asked.

"Nope, I think that you covered all the bases." Grant replied. "I would like to reiterate something though. Ms. Simpson, this is as difficult as you make it. The guidelines aren't hard, but your propensity for wanting to be seen can be problematic-"

"What do you know about me?" Barb snapped. "You're nothing but a driver!"

"I know what I see and hear." Grant replied as he looked back at her through the rear view mirror. "You got into this car thinking that you could play me. Now that you know that you can't I'm back to being the help. Not once did you ask any questions about you could help us keep you safe. Instead you're more concerned about what we call you which tells me something. Appearances are everything to you. You want people to know who you are. I'm not saying that it's necessarily a bad thing, but it could be. We don't know who's listening when we talk. That man or woman standing next to you in line could be an innocent shopper, but maybe not. I know that this sounds excessive, but ours is a dangerous world as I'm sure Mr. Blackwell has told you. We need to be cautious especially since we don't know what this latest threat is."

Barb didn't say anything, but looked out the window watching the palm trees as they sped by. She missed the look that passed between Adrianna and Grant. It was a look that said that they knew that they hadn't been taken seriously.

A number of thoughts ran through Barb's mind as she gazed out of the window. The predominant one was why anyone refused to acknowledge her as Mrs. Blackwell.

"Where to first?" Grant asked interrupting her thoughts.

Barb went over the list of shops that Thorne had given her credit at and remembered one of them was a beauty salon. She would start off her day with a facial, manicure and pedicure and go from there. Her questions about why no one was accepting her as Thorne's mate were temporarily forgotten as she gave Grant the name of the salon.

"I assume that you know where it is?" She asked snidely.

"Yes I do." Grant replied. "My mate comes here every so often."

"Isn't this a high end place?" Barb asked. To her way of thinking, if a lowly driver could afford to let his wife have the royal treatment, then it must be a cheap place.

"It is expensive." Grant replied. "But my mate is a good mother to our children and she is a good wife to me. The cost is irrelevant because I love her and giving her a day here and there to herself is my way of showing it."

Barb looked at Grant to see if he was just spouting nice words. When his eyes met hers in the rearview mirror, she saw that he meant it. She looked over at Adrianna and wondered if she had a mate. She couldn't imagine anyone wanting to be with her, but then; stranger things had happened namely Louise and Nathan.

"What about you?" Barb asked Adrianna. "Do you have a mate?"

Adrianna didn't answer right away. She looked at Barb for several seconds before she replied.

"Yes I have a mate." She replied. "Does that surprise you?"

"To be honest with you, it does." Barb replied.

"It surprises many people." Adrianna replied with a small smile and said no more.

"Why won't you call me Mrs. Blackwell?" Barb asked.

Adrianna didn't want to get into that particular discussion with Barb, but Thorne told her to answer all of Barb's questions honestly.

"You weren't introduced to me as Mrs. Blackwell." She replied.

"But that's who I am!" Barb exclaimed.

"Be that as it may, I was told to call you Ms. Simpson." Adrianna replied. "Why? I don't know nor do I care. That's something that you need to discuss with Mr. Blackwell."

Barb looked at Grant and asked him the same question.

"It's as Adrianna says." Grant replied. "Like her, I don't know the reason; nor did I ask." He added.

Barb took out her wallet and looked at the credit card. She hadn't really looked at it closely to see what the name on the front of it said. She had signed the back of it using the name of Simpson out of habit. Her name --Barbara Yancy-Simpson was stamped on the front. Given what she already knew about Thorne, she was still surprised. Adrianna was right; it was something that she definitely planned to address with Thorne when she saw him that evening.

Grant pulled into the valet parking space at the salon.

"Wait here." He said his tone firm.

Barb watched Grant as he walked around the car looking around as he did so. Finally, he went inside of the salon and came out a few minutes later.

"They're ready for you." He said when he opened the car door.

He offered Barb his hand which she looked at with disdain and declined. She didn't miss the low, rumbling growl that came in response to her slight. Adrianna came to her side, looked at Grant and led Barb away. Apparently she needed to be reminded that she wasn't dealing with humans.

"Welcome Ms. Simpson." The owner of the salon greeted. "My name is Marla and it will be my pleasure to serve you today. If you will follow me, we'll get started."

Barb's mood improved. This is was more like it. She followed Marla to a private booth and sat her purse down.

"What services would you like today?" Marla asked as she helped Barb settle into the chair.

"I want a facial, manicure and pedicure." Barb said relishing the attention that she was receiving.

"Of course." Marla said. "We use the 'Amarys' line for our products, is that acceptable?"

"I've never used that product, but I'll try it." Barb replied.

"Very good." Marla said. "May I offer you and your companion refreshments while I gather my supplies?"

"I'll take a glass of ice water with lemon if you have it." Barb replied her tone actually half civil.

"Of course and your companion?" Marla asked.

"No thank you." Adrianna replied.

As soon as Marla was gone, Adrianna moved closer to Barb.

"Just a warning." She whispered. "Marla never waits on customers unless she's fishing for information. Have a care in what you tell her."

A girl carrying a tray with a tall glass and a pitcher filled with ice water and fresh lemons walked in before Barb could reply. Without asking, she sat the tray down and poured Barb a glass of water wrapping the glass with a linen napkin before handing it to her.

"Will there be anything else ma'am?" The girl asked looking down.

"That will be all." Barb replied feeling very much like a princess.

Marla returned a few minutes later with her supplies. She sat the supplies out with great aplomb feeding into Barb's illusion that she was an honored guest. Moments later, she was relaxing under the talented fingers of Marla.

"Are you comfortable?" Marla asked in a soothing almost hypnotic voice.

"Yes... that feels good." Barb replied.

"Good... so are you new to California?" Marla asked.

Adrianna listened to the questions and decided not to interfere unless Barb started name dropping.

"I've been here a few months." Barb replied. "My sisters and one of my brothers live here."

"I see... well, you must have made an impression on someone for them to give you a monthly allowance to come here. What is it that you do for a living?"

Adrianna went on the alert. She now knew why Marla was waiting on Barb. She had seen the monthly allowance. It didn't surprise her that Thorne had done it anonymously; it was a part of his security. The question was what Barb was going to say.

"I work from home." Barb said evasively.

"I see, well as I said; someone is rather impressed with your services."

What the woman was implying finally dawned on Barb and she reacted without thinking.

"I am not a whore!" she exclaimed. "I happen to be married to..."

And then her voice caught. She coughed, sputtered and reached for the glass of water in an attempt to clear her throat. A few seconds later, she was able to talk. She looked at Adrianna who was staring at Marla with blackened eyes. She blinked and her eyes went back to their normal color.

"You may continue." She said to Marla.

Adrianna turned her attention to Barb.

"You were about to tell her things that are none of her business."

"Did you hear what she was implying?" Barb asked.

"I heard and it doesn't matter." Adrianna replied. "What does matter is that you were about to announce to the world who your mate is."

"She's only one person!" Barb replied.

"She's one person who has great outreach." Adrianna replied. "If you had told her what she wanted to know, it would have been over our airwaves in less than an hour. You need to start remembering something. Each of us is responsible for the safety of the other. One word to the wrong being or human could get one or more of us killed. This isn't like the human world where people want to be in the limelight and wants everyone to know what they are doing. I repeat, ours is a dangerous world and secrecy is everything. The sooner you understand and accept that, the better off you'll be."

"What about now?" Barb asked. "We're talking in front of her."

"Yes, but she can't hear us." Adrianna replied. "I've temporarily rendered her deaf just as I rendered you speechless."

The rest of the appointment passed in silence unless Marla asked a question regarding the services. Barb waited as Marla subtracted the cost of the session from her available balance.

"You have eight-thousand left on your account. Would you like to schedule another appointment?"

Barb looked at the list of services on the wall.

"Yes, I think that I would like a full body massage and all that goes with it. Let's make it for two weeks from now."

Marla entered the appointment into the computer and made a card out for Barb.

"Thank you for coming, and we look forward to seeing you again."

The next stop was Bloomingdales. Barb had decided to use all of the lines of credit before she touched the money on her credit card. Like at the salon, Grant got out first and looked around. This time when he offered his hand, Barb accepted it; but let it go as soon as she was out of the car.

Of everything that Adrianna told her, one thing stuck. She wasn't dealing with humans and if she was going to survive, she had to learn about the world that she was now a part of.

As she and Adrianna walked through the store, she saw a baby store. It was only then that she remembered that she was pregnant. She still wasn't showing and the morning sickness had passed so it was easy for her to push the pregnancy to the back of her mind. She remembered that a baby store was one of the stores listed and that it was the only store whose line of credit was more than ten-thousand dollars. However, this wasn't the store. In the back of her mind, she planned a tentative date to shop for baby things.

She thought about Louise with a mixture of jealousy and longing. It had been nice to talk to someone who was going through a pregnancy. It was even better that it was a sister, but... Barb imagined that Nathan was a very active participant in the pregnancy and that he wasn't looking at Louise as an incubator. It was obvious that he loved her no matter what she had done to win him over. She felt a pang in her chest when she remembered all of the shows of affection that she saw at the meeting. As much as she wanted to believe that it was fake, she knew that it wasn't. She pushed the thoughts away and headed for the bath and body section of the store where she would find her favorite bath and body oil.

"Make yourself useful and get me a basket." Barb said to Adrianna.

"The baskets are to your left." Adrianna replied as she looked around.

She sensed other beings, but none of them were paying them any mind. She checked out the humans' next and stepped closer to Barb. She didn't sense any impending threat, but humans were unpredictable in the best of times.

"You aren't going to get a basket for me?" Barb asked.

"No, my hands need to be free." Adrianna replied.

Barb scowled and walked over to where the baskets and shopping carts were. She picked up a basket and then changed her mind. A shopping cart would be better since several bottle of the oil would get heavy. Without saying anything, Barb chose a cart and walked away.

**

Olivia felt like a million dollars. The haircut and color and he facial, manicure and pedicure had done wonders in lifting her spirits. She was still Megan, mother of two and wife of Raphael and would be for another eight hours.

She pulled the convertible into the valet parking spot at Bloomingdales and got out. She had no idea of what she was going to buy. It was just the idea of walking through a store and not worrying about a potential problem.

She passed the same baby store that Barb had, but only she went in. She touched the soft blankets and sleepers as she walked by them. On a whim, she walked back to the sleeper section and bought two sleepers, one pink and one blue and left the store.

Her next stop was the lingerie section where she purchased several pair of panty and bra sets although no one other than her would see them. One of the males in the terrible fives wanted her, but she wasn't that desperate. She knew of other hunters who had taken advantage of the sexual talents of vampires, but she wasn't one of them. Her hands and toys would have to suffice until she found someone worth lying with. But it had been so long since the last time she had made love. She pushed the thought away, all would do is make her want what she couldn't have.

She took her time picking out the bra and panty sets and then looked at the nighties. She let out a long sigh and walked away. She wandered over to the cookware and looked at it longingly. She missed her little house with its tiny kitchen and was saddened by the fact that she couldn't remember the last time she had cooked in it or even done something as simple as making a cup of tea. Tears burned her eyes. She wanted to go home. She hated vampires as much as others of her kind, but not enough to actively hunt them. If it came down to protecting herself she would kill, but to murder was another thing altogether.

That was another topic that her father would consider treasonous. In fact, there weren't many things that he didn't consider treason. Aware that she was letting reality intrude on her day, Olivia thought about something else. She made her way through the house ware section and finally picked up a tea kettle that she had promised to buy for herself. She hated microwaved water and loved the whistling sound of a tea kettle when the water was boiling.

Gradually she made her way to the body and bath products. She had a certain product that she used and Bloomingdales was the only place that carried it. She did a mental calculation of how much of the product that she had left and decided to buy more even though she had plenty.

Just as she reached the aisle where the product could be found, Olivia froze. She felt eyes on her. She forced herself to go through the motions of picking up several bottles of the lotion. It wouldn't do to cause a disturbance. The hunters needed secrecy as much as the vampires did. If the vampires knew that there were hunters in the area, the danger factor would rise exponentially. They would become the hunted as they were hunting.

As far as she knew, there were no other hunters in the area. It was one of the things that she had checked on before she decided to come to the Los Angeles area. She had made periodic phone calls just to make sure that no other groups were coming. The last time she checked, she was told that they were the only group in the area and they weren't even actively hunting. They were on vacation.

A moment later, the feeling of being watched was gone. Olivia slowly looked around and saw no one. She was tempted to disregard the feeling, but her gut was telling her something else. Instead of leaving, she decided to finish her day. It would be a long time before she could slip away again.

***

Adrianna followed Barb around the store not making any comments. She wasn't sure of what caught her attention, but she didn't ignore it. With one eye on Barb, she slipped back and looked around the corner and down the next aisle.

"Shit." She murmured when she saw Olivia.

She hurried back to Barb and tapped her shoulder to get her attention.

"We're leaving now." She said looking behind her.

"What? I just got here!" Barb replied.

"We need to leave now, don't make me repeat myself." Adrianna said firmly as she took the bottles of oil from Barb's hands.

When Barb didn't move, Adrianna looked at her, rendered her mute and began to pull her down the aisle toward the exit. Barb tried to resist but soon found out that she was no match for Adrianna. As they rushed out of the store, Adrianna took out her cell phone and called Grant.

"Meet us by the exit, have the car door open."

A few minutes later, Barb was in the car and furious beyond words.

"I told you that when you are told to move, you move." Adrianna said. "I saw someone that I recognized and she isn't a friend. You wasted precious time by arguing with me. The next time, I won't be as pleasant."

"Who did you see?" Grant asked.

"Olivia Saunders." Adrianna replied. "And if she's here, then other hunters are here too. We need to tell Mr. Blackwell."

"Wait! Why can't you just call him?" Barb asked. "And besides it was only one person."

Grant ignored Barb as he turned around and headed back to the beach house.

****

Thorne was in his office when Barb arrived followed by Grant and Adrianna. He looked at the clock and realized that for them to be back so soon, something must have happened. He kissed his afternoon of peace goodbye and went to the living room.

"Why are you back so soon?" He asked.

"Olivia thought she saw someone and dragged me out of the store." Barb said angrily. "I told them that they could call you, but noooo..."

"Shut up." Thorne said already tired of Barb's whining. "Olivia," Thorne said, "A full report please."

"I told you what happened!" Barb exclaimed angrily.

"Did you see the person? " Thorne asked sharply.

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