Boston in Repair Chapter 1

The sky over Boston was foggy, making it hard to see the house from the air. Normally, she would’ve never risked exposure, but she didn’t have time to waste. She levitated just under a particularly dense cloud until she spotted the property. Gently, she descended through the salty air and landed on the moist grass. Using just her mind, she looked in and saw several people in the living room taking aperitifs. She deeply inhaled; there was a familiar scent in the air. Michael was there, too! That was all she needed to know. If worse came to be, she knew he’d always take her side.

She breathed hard and readied herself to fight them all, if necessary. But, then, the door opened, and Mick appeared. “Starr, we’ll have none of that! You’re welcome, but don’t think you’ll be able to flex your powers, here.” When she said nothing, he beckoned her in.

Inside was the same as usual: cool, dark and crammed with many paintings, sculptures, photographs and other priceless antiques. She walked past the threshold and stopped dead in her tracks, at the sight of the people in the living room. “Starr,” said an old familiar, not to mention annoying, voice.

But before she could confirm what she was hearing, a pair of alabaster textured hands grabbed her, roughly, and drew her into a blinding embrace. Just the strength of his kisses would have broken a normal person’s jaw. When he released her, she resisted the urge to wipe the slime from her face. Fernand, who was Lucenzo’s brother – and a Primordial, was a kind person, even if he was exuberant to the point of irritating. His long hair was as red as Lucenzo’s, but, unlike his brother, he had a softer angel-like face. “Come,” he said as he grabbed her hand and led her into the living room. “Let me guess: a wine spritzer, again?”

But Starr was still too stunned to answer. From outside, she saw that there were people in the house, but she didn’t pay attention to who they were, exactly. If she had, she would have never come. “Now, Starr, you remember Madam Balaji, head of the Order of Black,” she inclined her head. “Bulgari,” he lifted his chin in acknowledgement as he took a long drag from his cigarette. “Nico and Kris,” they both rose their glasses to her. “And this is Keagan Scamall.” Starr remained silent as Fernand went to fix her drink. Last time they were all together, they didn’t part on great terms. While Starr stayed in Madam Balaji’s and Bulgari’s Castel de

Negru, in Romania, she discovered they liked to practice barbaric rituals and games. When Starr walked in on a human labyrinthine chase, she left her kindly hosts without a word. And Nico and Kris: The last time Starr saw them was when Credenza killed their long-time friend, Levi, after she, herself, tried to kill him. Everyone was much the same as Starr remembered them, though. Madam Balaji with her waist-length blonde ringlets, and in a white dress as usual; Kris was still chain smoking; Nico with his latte complexion, and Kris the albino, glowing ghostly white under the firelight, with his eyes a vibrant shade of purple. The only person Starr didn’t recognize was Keagan. He was a pale, stocky, dark haired man with a

touch of crow’s feet, and patches of long grey hair. He died much older than most vampires. “Actually,” he said. “We met many months ago. You were with the Council Fleet. You crashed my St. Patrick’s Day Feast.” Starr hated mind readers, very much. Keagan must have noticed her discomfort, for he stood up and insisted that she come sit next to him. Starr was hesitant, given what she’d learned about the Scamall clan. “Just because we are at odds with the Council, doesn’t mean we are bad people.”

Lucenzo pushed a wine glass into her hand and said, “Please, sit down.”

After a moment of silence, Madam Balaji said, “Starr, I’m glad to see that you’ve survived those nasty vampires that that maniac, Lucenzo, created. No offense, Fernand.” “None taken, Madam. Though nobody believes me, I had nothing to do with my brother’s crazy worldapocalypse scheme.” “We believe you,” said Nico. “I’m sure if you were involved, your father, Vidar, would have apprehended you, too.” “My father doesn’t mess a-rround,” he said, rolling his R’s, lightly.

Lucenzo and Fernand had spent many centuries under the guise of Northern Italians until WWII, when the Italians tried to force them into the army. That was when they immigrated to the United States: to Boston. “So, Starr, you will stay for dinner?” asked Kris. “Actually, no, I’d like to talk to you, privately, and then I have to go.” “No business before dinner,” said Fernand in his usual loud and bossy voice. “And you will stay for dinner. Mick and Nina are about to butcher a kid. Michael is here, too.” When he smiled widely at her, Starr couldn’t help but smile back; though not sincerely. “Ugh, alright,” she agreed, hitching the corners of her mouth

back. “I’m gonna go say hello to Michael.” “He’s in the back.” She took a sip of her drink and stood. Taking in a long whiff, she picked out Michael’s scent and followed it to the kitchen. Immediately, she recognized the head of housekeeping, from Madam Balaji’s Castel de Negru, Nina. Over the high wooden console, she was cutting up vegetables. Behind her, the doors to the patio were open. On which, Michael and his father, Mick, stood in front of several strung up kids. Beneath them, two buckets caught the blood that slowly spouted forth, from their necks. Through ties around their mouths, they bleated, but that was

the way it was done for the freshest blood. They both wore long plastic aprons. One of the kids, long since bled out and skinned, Michael took a hand sized rotator saw to its skull, split it open and pulled out the brain. When he realized Starr was there, he said, “Hey, Starr.” He placed the brain in a large white plastic bowl, took off his apron, walked over and gave her a hug. “I sensed you when you landed in the yard.” “I don’t understand. You guys are fairly strong vampires. Why do you agree to be their servants? Doesn’t it bother you that they hang

about like royalty, and you’re always here, in the kitchen?” “No, it doesn’t bother me at all,” said Michael, sounding a little offended. “Michael, she doesn’t understand that it’s part of our 100 years of service contract,” Mick said as he flung the newly departed fur from his animal into a plastic laundry basket. He took off his apron, grabbed the two buckets of blood, and came inside. “How do you like the new kitchen?” She turned red, but when he smirked, she felt relieved. Starr had almost forgotten that the last time she was there, she’d destroyed it. He went to the cupboards and pulled out a couple juice glasses,

into which he poured some of the fresh blood. “You have to understand, those vampires are old world, and they never do anything for themselves. Back then, having a servant was a sign of status,” Nina added as she sipped from her glass. “But they can hardly hide their condition, so they turn people in exchange for 100 years of service.” “Considering that Nina and I were both dying of cancer when they turned us, it seemed like a pretty good deal,” said Mick with a smile. “So, what are you doing here?” asked Michael. “I’m just here to visit,” she said, not wanting to give too much away. But Mick looked at her with his deep, penetrating brown eyes.

“How’s everyone back at Lake George?” asked Michael. “Good but cramped in the house. I was hoping we could all return to the clinic, but the city is dead. Everyone’s living like roaches underground.” “Yeah, I heard. The city’s gonna be dead for a while. If you want to get away from the Lake, though, I recommend coming here,” said Mick. “Yes, have you had a chance to check out the city? It’s nearly fully functional now, except for damage here and there. Most schools are back in, and a couple grocery stores have reopened,” said Nina, as she grabbed the bowl of hearts and started slicing. “Well, that might be an option, then,” said Starr thoughtfully. “The

kids really need to get back into school.” “Starr, can you come out here for a second?” called Fernand. “Sure.” Back in the living room, everyone looked riled, yet merry. “Did you, or did you not, beat Parker, B., at fencing?” he asked heatedly. Parker was an English fencer who lived in Romania. “Uh, no. Not really. I got a few lucky shots, but that was all.” “Yes, but it’s not every day that a new fledgling gives a crone, like Parker, such a run for his money.” Starr laughed politely. “But if you could have seen me the next

day, when we fought, you would pity me.” For the next thirty minutes, Fernand dominated most of the conversation with grand hand gestures, jumping about the room like an acrobat. Starr wanted, more than anything, to drag him and Kris to a corner of the room and talk to them about finding Lucenzo, but she knew it would be impossible to get Fernand’s attention when he was receiving so much of his own. Finally, Nina came in and told them that dinner was ready. “Starr, you are my guest of honor. You will sit next to me!” “Isn’t this their house?” she asked, meaning Nico and Kris.

“No, it’s mine and Lucenzo’s. We bought it together after the war.” Fernand grabbed her hand and led her to her place at a welldressed table that could have seated twenty. Starr never felt odder than she did when Michael waited on her. He scooped a heap of raw brains onto her arugula salad, and then Nina flanked bits of meat onto her dinner plate. They went around the table, serving the others. After, Mick refreshed their glasses with wine. She felt much better when they took places beside them at the table, rather than in the kitchen – like back at the Castel de Negru. Mick and Nina took seats at the

opposite end, and Michael took the vacant seat next to her. Dinner was a long and sleepy affair. The food was good, but the conversation was old world. Fernand, Balaji, Nico, and Kris bantered back and forth while Bulgari said nothing, but continued to smoke in between bites. Keagan continually watched Starr out of the corner of his eye. Down at the other end of the table, Mick and Nina were deep in conversation, and Michael continued to talk about inane things to Starr. She couldn’t wait for dinner to be over. After, Starr tried to escape them by helping Michael in the kitchen with dessert, but Fernand insisted she join them in the parlor.

“Oh, Starr, you look so beautiful, but plain. Why do you dress like this?” he asked, eyeing her blue jeans, black lace up boots and leather jacket. “In my day, women wore dresses.” “Because I’m here on business, Fernand, and I need to talk to you, privately.” “Not now, Darling,” he kissed her hand. “Later.” He went off to talk to Nina about the dessert cart. “I see you haven’t been practicing closing your mind,” said Bulagari, as he swished a brandy. “He knows what you want.” “I’m just not good at the mind stuff. Besides, I’ve nothing to hide.” Keagan sidled over to them and said, “I heard about you, and

how you handled the vampires in D.C. and New York. I must say that I was impressed. It must’ve been humiliating for them to be rescued by a woman.” “The Council has had women fight for them before; in fact, they have a woman on their team, now,” said Nico. “I swear,” said Kris. “Some demons can never let go of old ways and old ideologies.” “Starr is not your average teenage girl,” Bulgari said around a lungful of smoke. “Of that, I’m sure,” Keagan smiled and bowed to her. A sweet scented pheromone, kind of like honey suckle filled her nose. Starr knew, immediately, that Keagan was somewhat attracted to her.

“Starr,” Nina interrupted. “Fernand instructed me to set up the den for you, as all the other rooms are occupied. Will you be taking coffee or brandy with dessert?” Starr sighed long and loud. Last thing she wanted was to spend the night.

War Alone Chapter 2 Next morning she woke to the sounds of birds chirping in the trees outside. Thinking about blood, she got up and looked out of the window. In the garden, Kris was sucking out a pigeon: alone. She hurried to get dressed. By the time she’d made it to the kitchen, Kris was sitting at the table, reading a paper and drinking coffee. “Morning, Starr. Coffee, here; Cups up there,” he said, pointing to the cupboard next to her head. As she sat down and poured a cup, she asked, “Where’s Lucenzo?”

He folded up his paper, picked up his cup and nodded toward the patio doors. She followed him out. “I know what you want, and you’re wasting your time.” “Why do you say that?” she said a little louder than she meant to. “You just scared off the birds.” He looked hard. “They’re our breakfast, here.” “Sorry.” “Fernand’s not gonna give up his brother.” “You make it sound like I’m after him.” When he didn’t respond, she added, “Lucenzo’s been sending me messages all summer. He’s

trying to tell me something important.” “Well, I wouldn’t know how to get to him, anyway.” “But you do know where he is?” “He’s imprisoned; serving a thirty year punishment, I believe.” “Are you gonna tell me where? Or am I gonna have to ask you twenty more times, only to get these evasive answers?” “I told you; I don’t know.” “Okay, then, you can start by telling me what you do know,” she said, taking a step closer to him. “Credenza is up to something, and she wants to use Lucenzo. He doesn’t want to work with her, but he fears he has no choice. Based on the visions he’s sending me, it’s bad,

and I don’t think he’s in a position to resist her. Since I’m a terrible telepath, I need to speak to him in person.” “The only thing I know is what I’ve heard.” “Which is?” “The Primordials rest in a place that no human could possibly live. Somewhere way up in Northern Europe: A Place called Valhol.” Just then, Nico walked onto the patio. “Kris, can you come here for a second?” Starr stared at the sky a few more moments as she sipped her coffee, before going back in.

Inside, Michael set out a tray of bagels and a bowl of blended blood-butter.

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