Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Okay, that's it." The rage, so long suppressed, rips free. I vamp out completely and then I’m flying across the room. I hammer into Rath and continue on until he slams hard against the wall; I can feel boards cracking beneath the onslaught, but I keep the pressure on, one hand pinning his throat as I go back to my feet. "That is it!," I roar, flecks of spittle spraying from my fangs. Johnny Corkscrew makes a ringing sound as it appears in my other hand.

"You listen to me, you bloody fucking leech, and you damn well better listen good, 'cause I'm only going to say this once. You lay a hand on that girl just one more time and I'll kill you. No, wait, let me make it so clear even you can't possibly misunderstand it. If you hurt her - if I even think you've hurt her - I'll kill you. If I ever see her with cuts or bruises - if she fails to show up here regularly - if she acts nervous or scared - if I think you're threatening her or her family - I'll track you down and I'll cut out your fucking heart. I'll take your head off and I'll burn everything separately and throw your useless fucking ashes into running water. Believe it, leech, because I'm not making this speech again."

I risk a quick look around and my unbeating heart swells - metaphorically. Raina, Gareth and Ky have fanned out in a loose semicircle, watching my back. Raina has her tanto and the elves have called their own blades. Their expressions are identical - cold, watchful, grim as hell.

I turn my attention back to Rath. Give the devil his due, his nerve hasn't cracked. Maybe his thin lips are a little thinner, maybe he's a little paler than usual, but that's it. My voice is low and quiet and very, very sincere.

"Once more, just for clarity. From this day forward, that girl is under my protection. You take real good care of her, leech, because if the littlest thing happens to her - if she gets struck by fucking lightning - I'm going to kill you. I don't care if you have an alibi; I don't care if the whole fucking Astrodome can testify that you were somewhere else; if anything, anything at all, happens to her, I'm going to blame you, and I'm going to come for you.

Tell me you believe me."

"I believe you." He forces it out through lips parted a sixty-fourth of an inch.

"Make me believe it."

"I believe you." Louder this time.

"Good." I let him go. "Remember this conversation, Rath, because the day you forget it is the day you die."

A huge paw takes hold of my shoulder. "Back off, Nick. Can't have you threatening the customers."

"It's okay, Jeb. I've said everything I needed to say."

The big werewolf focuses on Rath now. "Learn some manners, mister. She may be your servant out there; in here she's a customer, just like you, and you're no better than she is."

He turns back to the crowd. "Okay folks, show's over, nothing to see." He flicks a look at Monty. "Your next drinks are free, so let's party!"

I smile thinly as Johnny goes back to wherever it goes. "That wasn't a threat, Rath." My voice is silky with menace. "It was a promise."

I walk back to the bar. What the hell, free blood is free blood. One of Rath's groupies, dressed in an Elvira-style gown, comes up and presses tight against me. "That was hot," she purrs.

"Fuck off, slut." My voice is flat, uninflected. "I have lovers; I don't need whores. Go back to Mr. Wonderful." I catch Pandora's eye and she and Ob come to stand by me. "Bill me for any damage I did; I'll make it good."

"Pfffft. He's needed a lesson for a long time. It was worth it to watch him get what he deserved."

"If he got what he deserved," I say darkly, "you'd be picking his sorry ass up with a Dustbuster."

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