Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Three
The 'vette's headlights revealed to Linda what my vampire eyesight had seen before we even pulled into the apartment parking lot. Lingza and Taryn were walking the three D's, Linda's fancy poodles, back a ways from the edge of the lot, past the manicured grassy area near the wild scrub and trees.
The poodles were from show dog stock. One was peach, one was black and one was white. They were all freshly groomed in their poofy cuts and had three different colored ribbons on their topknots. Their nylon harnesses matched their ribbons. Adele would never have allowed a dog in our family to wear a collar except to hold their tags.
When the three D's saw their mommy get out of the car they wagged like crazy and pulled hard on their leashes, like a dog sled team. Lingza pretended, in a stumbling exaggerated way, to be towed over to her by the dogs, making Taryn laugh.
Lingza continued to make progress in all areas of his recovery from being sealed in an underground cave for a very long time. His sense of humor had developed and he could speak much more clearly now.
He even understood why the sight of three prancing poodles being walked by a bad-looking gang banger, the disguise Taryn had perfected for him to conceal his otherness, would provoke amusement. He scowled at anyone that looked at him, a glare scary enough to discourage scrutiny.
In the beginning I hadn't known how much of his stunted development had been due to his skeletal dehydration and how much was due to the fact that he was a Neanderthal. Time had revealed that a Neanderthal was very much like a modern human.
Lingza had the added bonus of being able to walk in the daytime and eat fruit and sweets in addition to blood. He had been studied extensively by the research center without the learned scientists discovering the secret of his enviable ability to be out in daylight without bursting into flame.
"Wow, that's some rock!" Taryn exclaimed, instantly at Linda's side, reaching for the hand sporting the engagement ring. Faster than even my super sight could see, she disappeared into the night.
"Where'd she go?" Linda asked, looking around with a startled expression.
Lingza immediately took off into the night, dropping the leashes. Linda quickly picked them up, though the dogs weren't planning on leaving Linda's side.
"I have no idea," I said, looking as far into the night as I could.
While the dogs sniffed around Linda's feet we waited. In a few minutes I saw Taryn and Lingza coming back together at vampire warp speed.
"Here they come," I told Linda, knowing she wouldn't be able to see them yet.
When they got back I saw that Taryn was wet around the edges and had several kinds of aquatic plants trailing from her overalls.
"What happened, where did you go?" Linda asked as the poodles smelled Taryn's damp pant legs with great interest, their tails wagging like crazy.
"I was in Bossier City," Taryn said, brushing some of the plant material out of her hair.
"Across the river? Why did you suddenly go there?" I asked. I realized she must have traveled through the river water to pick up the plants.
"I have no idea! I was whisked away and found myself standing in downtown Bossier City, dripping wet."
Linda plucked a leafy frond from Taryn's shoulder strap. "What is this stuff?"
Taryn looked at it more closely. "Grass carp. I also have some of that damn parrot feather. That's an invasive plant imported from the Amazon," she explained to Linda.
"She has a protective spell," Lingza said to his girlfriend. "You must not startle her."
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"I can see the golden flecks in her aura. If they are disturbed the spell is activated," he said.
His diction, vocabulary and comprehension were now par with anyone's. His features were still obviously Neanderthal and were not not completely disguised by the purple bandanna tied low on his jutting brow.
"You can see auras?" Linda asked, impressed. "Far out!"
I wondered what my aura looked like. Did it have gold sparkles too?
"Let's go inside so I can change," Taryn suggested. "I smell like a swamp."
She was right, she did smell pretty bad. The muck in the river was loaded with icky deposits. I was glad she was good-natured about being flung off into the night like that. Now I would know to warn everyone against sudden moves.
When we got inside the apartment building Taryn and Lingza went to their apartment so Taryn could shower, shampoo, change and launder her clothes. Linda, the poodles, and I went to Linda's place.
"Would you like some True Blood?" she asked me after hanging up her coat.
"No, I'm good," I answered, still thinking about our protective spell.
I had been able to hold Linda's hand and hug her. Eric had kissed her cheek. The spell must only react to certain movements, not any attempt to touch Linda. That was good, otherwise it would put quite a damper on Linda's love life.
Linda made the dogs their dinner and herself a cup of tea. She turned on the lamp behind the couch and turned her hand this way and that, admiring the light reflected from her ring.
"I can see you like the ring," I said to her, "Do you like the man that proposed to you as much?" I said it in a fun way so she wouldn't feel like I was interrogating her.
Her eyes opened wide. "Oh yeah. Jure's all that and a bag of chips! When I'm with him the whole world seems to melt away and it's just us two. He pays attention to me, you know what I mean? Like, he seems interested in everything I say, everything I do. Anything that concerns me concerns him, no matter how trivial. It's like we're one person when we're together."
I did know exactly what she meant. Eric was the same way. He had immersed himself in my human life and had wanted every drop of my human experience. I enjoyed the close scrutiny, his interest in a new shade of nail polish, if my polish matched my coat, or even if I nicked myself shaving my legs. It was the kind of intimacy you couldn't get with a human man.
Like every human, many self concerns crowded into their minds so only a portion could be devoted to the relationship. Sometimes that portion was almost non-existent. With Eric it was different. He thought only of me when we were together.
With a very old vampire it was the human experience that interested them. They sopped up every drop of it like gravy on a plate. It was delicious to them. I had been afraid my Turning would make me less interesting to Eric but that had not been the case. Our closeness was based on a bond of shared abilities, interests and staying and playing in love. I hoped the same thing for Linda.
"I know what you mean," I told her. "He has definitely chosen you as his significant other. Have you chosen him too or have you just been swept away by his extravagant courtship?"
Linda gave her answer a little thought. "I chose him years ago but didn't think I ever stood a chance. I love everything about him. If he didn't have a dime I would still love him. He's everything to me. I just need to figure out how I want to proceed. He'll do whatever I want, mostly."
Ah, spoken like a woman in love. I wanted to explore the word "mostly" a bit more but I stopped.
Calmly, in a low voice, I said to her, "Linda, get the poodles right now. Your apartment building is on fire."
I pointed to the smoke coming in under the door.
more to come ..... (Happy year's end everyone! This has been a great year with you and I look forward to 2013. Please stop by when you can, the party can't begin until you're back in the nest. Love and hugs!)