April 2, 2013 (Tuesday, 12:30 pm)
The two then go and get the car and drive around to the building’s parking garage. Does it have entrances to the interior? Yes. Is there only one way out and in to the garage? Yes. Joey finds a good surveillance point near the exit of the garage. They park wait to see if Fleming comes out.
At about 5:00 pm, cars start to leave. People with chipped badges run them across a sensor at the gate of the garage to be let out. There’s a bit of a jam. As Brianna and Joey watch, they see Charlotte Fleming behind the wheel of one of the cars. Brianna notes the make and model of the car. The woman seems nervous and is constantly looking around and behind her, but never in Brianna and Joey’s direction.
Brianna and Joey let the jam go by and pull out and pay for parking . By this time is close to five-thirty. They head out and grab a bite for Joey and then go back to the rattrap motel to compile information.
Breaking into the apartment will be difficulty—there’s security and cameras on the premises. The two of them can’t really go and rent and apartment. Can they use the veil potion and get the keys? Maybe. It’s still very risky. Nab her purse? If they fail, it puts her on alert.
Brianna checks the Derek Jacobs website. It’s mostly corporate-speak about mergers and acquisitions. They occupy ten floors of the building downtown. She then calls Fleming/Spivey’s work extension—getting Deborah Spivey’s voicemail saying that she is either away from her desk or on the other line and to please leave a message and she will get back to you soon as she can.
Another plan that comes up is using veil potion to enter the apartment as she leaves. Perhaps with Brianna’s preternatural speed, she could pull it off. Once again, extremely risky and there’s the security system to contend with.
Based on the security on their own apartment, police and residents are notified simultaneously in the event of a break-in. There is a two-minute delay between the time the alarm is broken and a code is called for.
Joey likes the idea of using the veil potion to the key within the office the best.
April 2, 2013 (San Marquis Apartments, 8:00 pm)
Brianna and Joey pull into the parking lot at the apartment building. They both note that the building is well-lit, but the stoops are kind of shady. They also note and recognize Charlotte Fleming’s car in the parking lot.
They wait and watch for a couple of hours. Finally, around ten, a Cadillac convertible pulls into the parking lot. It’s got longhorns on the front of its hood and sports Mexican license plates. A Hispanic male gets out of the car, kind of handsome, with a cowboy hat and boots with upturned toes. He goes upstairs and knocks on Charlotte’s door. He doesn’t go in. After a few moments, the two of them come downstairs.
Brianna doesn’t get the vibe that they are on a date. They are not holding hands or staying close to each other. She is not dressed up—she’s dressed in jeans and a men’s long-sleeved shirt. She’s carrying a handbag. She also notes a bulge at her ankle that indicates she is probably armed. The two get in his car and pull out of the parking lot.
Joey follows. Eventually, the car leaves Tempe and travels a couple of hours to the border town of Nogales. As the Cadillac gets in the line to cross the border over into Mexico, Joey pulls over into a truck stop on the US side to wait them out.
A little more than an hour later, Joey spots the Cadillac pulling back into the US. He follows, but obviously the driver has spotted him as he tries to evade Joey. Joey sticks to him like glue. Finally, Brianna tells Joey to back off, but the Cadillac spins around on the highway starts coming back toward them. Brianna tells Joey to pull over.
The Caddy pulls up and the driver gets out. Brianna and Joey get out of their car.
“You picked the wrong man to follow tonight, cabrón,” the man from the Cadillac says.
“I’m not impressed,” Brianna says.
“You always let your bitches talk for you?” he asks Joey.
Brianna gets in the Caddy driver’s face. “You have something to tell this bitch, tell it to me. Do not talk to him.”
“Were you the one doing the driving, bitch?”
“I’m the one in charge of this show,” Brianna says, intimidating, and the man visibly gulps.
The man takes a punch at Brianna, preternaturally fast, but misses her. She laughs at him. She takes a punch at him and misses as well.
“What the hell are you, punta?” His eyes are dark black pools. Brianna punches him in the stomach. The man hisses and reveals long fangs and claws tear away from the flesh on his hands. He claws at Brianna and misses. Brianna laughs, punching at him again, but missing. He claws again, and scores on Brianna, grinning. Brianna says, “Your meat-suit is slipping,” and punches him again. The vampire slashes at Brianna but misses. Brianna hits him again and the vampire slashes Brianna, scoring another wound on her.
Away from their fight, Brianna can hear a female voice say “Hold it right there, buster.” Concentrating on the matter at hand, she sweeps the vampire’s leg out from under him, knocking him off-balance. The vampire, for his part, takes advantage of Brianna’s slash to score another gash across her cheek, but she manages to shake it off. Brianna then grapples the Red Court vamp to the ground, incites him to rage, and feeds off of him, inducing a crazed fury in him. He curses her in Spanish as he thrashes beneath her, but he can’t seem to break her hold. She feeds some more, drawing in more of his life force, driving him to distraction. He still can’t seem to break her hold on him. She continues to suck at his life until he lies unconscious beneath her.
Brianna looks up, exhilarated, to see the woman with a gun trained on Joey with his hands up. She tells the woman “Interesting taste in friends.”
Charlotte glances at Brianna. “Based on his reaction, I’d say Karkana, right?”
“In the flesh. I’m not interested in him at all. He was just tasty.”
“I suspect not. Who sent you?”
“Someone who’s distressed at the theft of an object that belongs to them.”
“The VU has some interesting hiring practices these days.”
Brianna shrugs. “I guess they thought I could get your attention. Where’s the mirror?”
“Then you’re not.”
Charlotte cocks the gun. “You’re fast, but not that fast.”
“You’ll get one shot and one shot only before I get to you.”
“I’d be thinking of your friend if I were you.”
“Interesting you’re working with the Red Court. Haven’t you heard they’re at war with the White Council?” Brianna asks.
“Thus the market for a counterspell.”
“You gave the Red Court vampires the mirror?” Brianna asks, incredulous.
“No. I’m selling it.”
“Got that far away from your roots, have you?”
“Don’t lecture me.”
“You’re the one that has to live with it. Right now, all I’ve been tasked with is returning with that mirror. It appears that they are willing to forget that you stole from them on the way out. However, news that you’re actively supporting the Red Court during these trying times might get a slightly different response. I’m confident I can persuade you to tell me where it is. I’m good at that. However, there’s a chance we may not have a good conversation and I don’t get what I want. But I will not be going back empty-handed. I’m going back with the mirror or I’m going back with you.”
Charlotte’s hands are shaking. “You make a move toward me, you may not go empty-handed, but you’ll be going alone!”
“Oh honey,” Brianna purrs, “Look at your hands. Do you think you can hit anything?” Then she yells “Put the gun down!”
“Don’t test me, vampire!”
“We can keep this up all night. At some point your friend here will turn into a pile of ashes. That won’t be good for your negotiations. Ah! You never introduced your friend!”
Brianna goes over to the unconscious vampire and starts going through his pockets. She finds a Mexican passport made out to a Freddie Fernandez, $200 in American bills, a switchblade, car keys to the Cadillac, and an older model cell phone.
“I don’t think Mr. Fernandez here is going to be having quite the evening he expected. Look, Ms. Fleming, I’m getting tired of this. I need you to put that gun down or I’m going to come get it away from you. If that happens, it won’t go well for you.”
Charlotte looks to Brianna and to Joey and finally puts the hammer down on the pistol and slowly lowers the weapon, and then sets it on the pavement. Joey steps forward and collects the gun.
“Why don’t you step away from the car,” Brianna suggests.
Charlotte does as is suggested. Brianna puts Freddie in the trunk of the Cadillac, but keeps his switchblade and cell phone. She throws his keys into the desert surrounding the highway. She then turns to Charlotte. “Where’s the mirror?”
“Let’s go get it.”
Brianna and Charlotte ride in the backseat of the car while Joey drives them back to Tempe. About halfway back, Brianna throws Freddie’s cell phone out of the car.
April 3, 2013 (San Marquis Apartments, 4:00 am)
Brianna leans over and places her hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. “We’re going to get out of this car. We’re going to get this mirror, and then we’re going to go away. Easy, peasy. I advise you don’t make this difficult.” To Joey she says, “Why don’t you wait in the car? Keep it running.”
The two women get out of the car. Brianna keeps contact with Charlotte at all times. They head upstairs and go inside. Charlotte hits the keypad and turns on the lights. She leads Brianna to the bedroom and to a cabinet. Inside the cabinet is a safe. From inside the safe, she pulls out a black velvet bag.
“Take whatever’s in there out,” Brianna says.
Charlotte does and it is a wooden hand mirror with runic symbols carved around the outside, just as the dossier described.
“Put it back in the bag,” Brianna says. Charlotte does.
The two women walk back to the living room. “I’m glad you saw reason. You won’t see me again,” Brianna says.
“Reason? I’ve signed my death sentence,” Charlotte shakes her head.
“Now I’ve crossed Vincenzo Silvestri. He won’t stand for that.”
“I guess you can honestly tell him that there were circumstances out of your control,” Brianna offers. Her offer is met with a dead-eyed stare. “I can take you back with me,” she says.
“I’ve burned that bridge,” Charlotte says, firmly.
“Then my advice to you is find the local Warden. I hope you have enough information about the Red Court that they might try and protect you.”
Brianna leaves the apartment with the mirror and gets in the car with Joey. The two drive away, swinging by the rattrap motel to get their things and check out and begin their long drive back to Portland.
April 4, 2013 (3:00 am)
Brianna and Joey arrive back in Portland, coming home and locking up after placing the mirror in the ventilation shaft of their apartment. Brianna then takes a shower and goes to bed.
At 8:00 am the next morning, Brianna and Joey take the mirror and drive to Mr. Rupert’s house. Brianna rings the doorbell and Rupert and answers the door.
“I have Smith’s object. Will you please set up a meeting?” Brianna says, impatient.
“Care to wait inside?” Rupert offers.
Joey and Brianna wait in the very ordinary-looking living room while Rupert goes to the phone and dials. “Rupert here. Yes. Yes. She’s arrived. Says she has the object. Yes. Very well. Yes sir.”
He hangs up and turns to Joey and Brianna. “He can meet in two hours.”
“Same place as last time.”
“We’ll be there.”
Rupert then politely shows them out.
April 4, 2013 (12:00 noon)
The two drive around for awhile, grab some breakfast, before heading for the rendezvous spot at the abandoned storefront. When they arrive, the set up is much like before, with a stool set up before the silhouetted figure of Mr. Smith in the unlocked store.
“Mr. Smith,” Brianna says.
“Ms. Karkana. I understand you have our object. May I see it?”
“May I approach?”
“That won’t be necessary.” A guard emerges from the darkness surrounding the two of them and takes the mirror from Brianna and hands it to Mr. Smith.
“Very good,” Mr. Smith purrs, “And in record time.”
“Things went smoothly. Plus I have some talents at persuading people to see things my way.”
“Of that I have no doubt. But we had a bargain. I will be placing some calls to the Treasury Department. You should see some progress on your case.”
“That delights me to no end.”
“Well, if that is all then?”
“Just a few more things to relate about Ms. Fleming’s situation. If you have a moment.”
“Very well,” Smith says, warily.
“It was fortunate that you contracted me when you did. Ms. Fleming was in negotiations to sell this mirror to the Red Court. I was able to persuade her to give the mirror, obviously, but as I left Ms. Fleming, she mentioned that she signed her death sentence because she’s crossed Vincenzo Silvestri. I offered to bring her back, she said she’d burned her bridges. I suggested she call her local Warden with information on the Red Court. I don’t know if she followed up with my advice or not. I suppose that’s her business.”
“Silvestri is a powerful Margrave of the Red Court. If she has made an enemy of him, then she is in real danger,” Smith carefully observes.
“I could have been more persuasive to bring her back to Portland, but I wasn’t sure how much she had burned her bridges. I don’t know the circumstances of her leaving, but if Silvestri is a powerful Margrave of the Red Court, then perhaps there are some things they can do to protect her.”
“I will make some calls. We have operatives in the area,” Smith says.
“Good. You may already be aware of this info, but…” and Brianna hands over the information she and Joey gathered in a portfolio.
“Thank you,” Smith says.
“I have no love for the Red Court. I don’t want anyone to fall into their clutches. May I also trust that it will get back to the White Council that Silvestri is looking for such artifacts?”
“We provide the White Council with any information we deem important,” Smith says.
“Alright then,” Brianna stands. Thank you Mr. Smith. I’m glad the scales are balanced between us.
“As am I.”
Brianna turns and leaves. She gets in the car with Joey and as they drive away she relates to him what happened.
Later that afternoon, Brianna receives a call from an irritated Agent Roccelli. Apparently the information that they had been given is being retracted. They have no choice but to end the investigation and unlock her accounts. The US Treasury Department apologizes for any inconvenience.
Brianna hangs up with Roccelli and calls her bank. Good news—her accounts have been reinstated. She takes Joey out for drinks to celebrate.