Author’s Note: I’m really excited that this particular story has finally been written because it’s just another link in a long chain of events that has yet to come. This story isn’t particularly vital to Harlow Kaine herself but does introduce a character we’ll see later on. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank those who have been reading along with her adventures. I’ve got something special planned for Harlow Kaine in the future and I hope you’ll stick around for the journey! Due to the excessive length of this story I’m placing it under a “Read More” tag. Enjoy!
“I know what you are.”
The venom-filled words stopped Harlow in her tracks, and she looked around in confusion before seeing the study door cracked at the bottom of the stairs. Very, very quietly in the tense silence that followed the accusation she finished her descent and not so ashamedly parked herself near the door.
“So what?” a familiar but oft absent voice replied from within.
“So WHAT?!” the explosive whispered hissed between the clenched teeth of Harper Vaughn, home a few days to see her father. “This is serious, YOU are serious and a threat.”
“If that was true don’t you think Diana or your father would have disposed of me ages ago?” Remle Boyd countered calmly.
“You have enough power to bend someone to your will.”
“I mean… you say that but here we are, still having this conversation. I could have erased your memory by now and sent you away.”
Harper wouldn’t be stopped. “Well maybe this isn’t the first time we’ve had this conversation? And it won’t be the last.”
“Harper, I’ve known you since you were born. Literally. In all those years before and after explain to me why I’m still a bartender on an island in the middle of nowhere.”
“You’re just waiting for the right moment,” was the immediate and mater-of-fact response. “When the time is right, you’ll depose my father and take your place among the other Sire’s.”
If Harlow’s heart still beat it would have frozen at the proclamation. Remle was a Sire? She was one of the thirteen enchanters & enchantresses responsible for creating vampires in the first place?! And she preferred to work as a bartender and belong to a coven she hadn’t created?! Harper and Remle’s voices became fuzzy and indistinct as Harlow thought through the idea of Remle forgoing fame and influence amongst other vampires to live a life of pure anonymity with them in Washington.
Remle’s voice rose abruptly and grabbed Harlow’s wavering attention.
“I’m not sure what you think I’ve waited almost seven hundred years for and at this point I’m too afraid to ask. Why would I need to depose your father anyway? I asked to be part of his coven a hundred years ago, he doesn’t think he created me.”
Harper was silent for a moment. “Did you really think I had enchanted Olivier to believe he’d created me? Why would I do that?!” Remle sounded genuinely upset at the idea. “If I’m so nasty and powerful I wouldn’t have needed to hide in a coven in the first place, I’d have just created my own, wouldn’t I? You aren’t thinking this through Harper and in your line of work it’s dangerous to be too impulsive.” Harlow felt nothing but second-hand embarrassment for Harper, she’d never been scolded by the other vampiress but she would certainly avoid it in the future.
“You have a demon!” Harper blurted out. “I read that they can take over and-,” Remle’s sharp intake of breath cut her off.
“How do you know that?” Remle’s tone was different now, less calm…very dangerous. The floorboard squeaked as Harper instinctively took a step back. “I need to know who told you about my demon or how you found out, this isn’t a game anymore Harper.”
The damphir stammered but a low voice abruptly chuckling near Harlow’s ears sent straight chills down her spine. She was suddenly terrified but didn’t know why. “You know, I haven’t had this much fun with her in a while, it’s nice to cause some trouble for the Mistress now and then,” purred a husky feminine voice just out of Harlow’s sight. She couldn’t bring herself to look, she shuddered violently in a fright she didn’t know she was still capable of feeling; it was like all her nightmares were coming true at once. “Ah, excuse me, I’m being very rude.” The feeling suddenly vanished and the vampiress would have collapsed had two impressively soft but firm hands not held her up. She found herself able to look to her right to stare dumbly at the most beautiful blonde woman she had ever seen.
The mysterious stranger winked and put a finger to her lips as she gently released her bruising grip on Harlow and descended the rest of the stairs. She was dressed far more conservatively than Harlow would have assumed for a demon, in a tailored black suit with coordinating tie; and demon she must be to just appear out of nowhere with such a frightening affect. Harlow had read about demons of course, how they could be bound by particularly strong magic users, a level that was banned because now there were vampires. The demon turned to her before opening the door. “In for a penny?”
Harlow sighed. “In for a pound,” she finished as she helped the other entity open the study door to see Remle and Harper tensely staring at each other. It was obvious neither of them were expected given the silent and open-mouthed looks being exchanged in the room. Harlow tried to play it off. “Remle,” she announced, before looking at the demon for further information.
“Loki is here to see you. Should I bring refreshments?” she asked as nonchalantly as possible.
“How are you always so opportunistic?” Remle responded instead, looking more amused than upset before scowling. Harlow decided it was best in this situation not to play dumb.
“I have no idea what you mean, I was eavesdropping quietly when…she showed up. Besides it was hard not to what with Harper over there in such a snit.”
“Hey!” protested the damphir as she looked from Remle to Loki. “She introduced herself to me! She told me what you were!”
“Are you serious?” Remle demanded to the blonde demon as Harlow allowed herself to step into the background to finish her quiet observation. She wouldn’t be able to share this with anyone, so she was going to enjoy it while it lasted.
“You hadn’t called me in awhile and I missed you,” the demon shrugged.
“I never know what you’re working on, the last thing I want to do is call you and interrupt something.” Remle countered. “Does Tameryn know you’re here?”
“Of course she does, I tell her everything, not that I have to. Did you know that psychics can imprint on you if you work with them long enough?”
“So you missed me and thought it best to tell our secret to Harper for….what?”
“To cause some trouble, I know it’s been awhile since you’ve had a little excitement,” Loki shrugged. Harlow couldn’t stop watching how effortlessly she moved, also what did she do that required a psychic partner? “Harper is trained after all, I figured if it came to blows, she could give you a run for your money…sorry sweetie,” the demon cooed at the now fuming and red-faced hunter. Remle rolled her eyes.
“I’m not sure what to say,” Harper hissed, obviously embarrassed but determined to see some sort of resolution to this issue.
“Harper, if Remle’s a sire with a bound demon then she’s been that way for almost seven hundred years…” Harlow began before being momentarily distracted when Remle made physical gestures in her direction that indicated she agreed. “A-and anyway if she was going to do something why become part of a coven? She could have stayed alone or created one a long time ago. I’m not sure what one waits seven hundred years to accomplish.”
Harper continued to scowl and then fidgeted. Harlow had been a more prominent presence in Harpers life than Remle and had reasoned that she could try and sway Harper into thinking more rationally. “In all the years I’ve known her, Remle makes a point to stay mostly silent on coven issues unless she’s compelled to speak out either by need or occasionally coercion when Olivier wants EVERYONE’S opinion regardless if they want to give it. I’ve only known her for as long as I’ve been around, but she was here before me as well and there isn’t any evidence that she might have used her considerable influence to change the course of the coven’s history.” Harlow paused, “In fact, all she ever really put her foot down about was staying at that hotel in Cimmerian instead of letting Olivier finding her a ‘better’ job”.
Remle looked thoughtful for a moment, as if she were about to make a big decision. “It seems like the bigger problem here is both a lack of trust and a betrayal of trust. I’d like to remedy both these issues if I may?” she asked Harper who nodded brusquely. “Yes, I am a Sire, Remle is a name I chose to take when I assumed a different physical identity to better conceal myself. In our history I am known as Sigrid. To be honest, after the whole transformation debacle all I wanted to do was return to my family and be comforted. But since we weren’t sure what the dangers were, we had to document our findings first. Over the next several years I became too afraid to go back to my family, coming to the understanding that we were dangerous. It took some years to master our new abilities and what the affect had been on our magic overall as a whole. Once the community at large discovered what we had done they banned the study of higher magic and burned much of the enchanter archives, to be related to a Sire was to have shame put upon you.”
Remle paced back and forth with her hands alternating from her hips, to wrapped around her chest, to sliding her hands into her back and front pockets as if the entire subject agitated her whole being. “I’m sure you’ll appreciate me not dragging out almost seven hundred years of history so long story short: after the transformation and the documentation we went our separate ways. I shadowed some other Sire’s while Loki, who was already bound to me at the time followed the others. Through our observations it became clear that creating Coven’s by transforming others like ourselves was not something I was prepared to do or even wanted to do. I decided I was better off traveling alone and looking over my family. I followed them distantly, always in the same city or town, there to protect or observe as needed. This is also when Loki and I began to spend more and more time apart. We kept in touch telepathically when necessary, but I assumed she was content living her life as she saw fit.” Loki gave a mockingly short bow from the waist as Remle continued to pace.
“Eventually, what was left of the family settled in the San Juan Islands in the mid-to-late 1800’s and I took up various work in the area before they built the hotel I now work at. For some reason being “settled” didn’t settle me and I finally realized what I wanted to be around my “own kind” as it were. So, when I met Olivier and discovered who he was I…well, I cranked my charm up to eleven and convinced him that I had been created by Sire Beorcol and abandoned and had finally found my way back to the Coven. To be honest, your father’s not stupid and I’m still not sure to this day if he REALLY bought that story or not.”
Harlow and Harper both silently digested the large amount of information they had been given and contemplated what had been left unsaid. “Seven hundred years is a long time to live without a family.” Harlow managed gently.
“I had friends and lovers along the way and there was always Loki’s company, we’ve never been great at the whole “Mistress/slave” thing, even before the transformation. If anything, my newfound abilities prolonged her time here,” Remle shrugged in response.
“Which I am eternally grateful for of course,” the demon winked.
“The point is again, I have never, not once thought about deposing your father or making myself known to the other Sire’s because I’m sure it can only lead to trouble at this point. I’m simply enjoying the company of an extended family while my brother’s progeny sort themselves out.”
There was a long, tense silence before Harper expelled a loud and obviously exasperated sigh. “UGH FINE, I accept that your demon only told me this information to cause trouble for you because you can’t pick up your damn head phone long enough to check in with her.” As an added effect she threw her arms up in the air as a sign of defeat. “I suppose I’m bound to secrecy from telling my father, or anyone else?”
“Well, I’d appreciate that of course, thought that was obvious with the ‘sharing of trust’ and all. It’s only been like a hundred years I’m sure I’ll get around to telling him eventually. Besides, Harlow knows now too and she’s on that ladder of “need to know” so you’re not the only one in a potentially sticky situation,” Remle shrugged.
“Thanks,” Harlow piped up from the stairwell. She’d always had a feeling that Remle was a complicated person but now that she had actual proof it was going to take some adjusting, and a little more digging on her part to suss out more of the story. Not that she didn’t believe what Remle had said but you didn’t live to be almost seven hundred years old, hidden from your colleagues without some serious skills, so what else was Remle hiding? She found herself looking at the demon as if Loki would give her answers but almost immediately was caught. “What do you do exactly?” Harlow blurted out before she could stop herself.
“I work for a special branch of the FBI specifically dealing with supernatural and other magical or unexplained occurrences. It’s nice actually, sort of like if the Knighthood and the Brotherhood worked together instead of against each other. We get a lot of stuff done. By the way what do you know about dragons?” the green eyes flashed with a tiny smirk.
“Don’t be silly, there’s no such thing as dragons,” Harlow lied. Loki said nothing but her smirk cracked into a genuine smile that showed the impressive fangs normally kept hidden around the more mundane.
“Indeed. Remle, I’m leaving now, paperwork to finish and all that always good to catch up!” she babbled quickly before vanishing with a lot more flair than she’d arrived with. The smell of sulfur was almost suffocating to Harlow’s sensitive nose.
Harper didn’t waste time saying a long goodbye herself before stalking out of the study to her room. The door slamming echoed through the house for several seconds and left a ringing in both vampire’s ears. Remle and Harlow looked at each other in a different way, both seeing something there that they hadn’t before. Strangely it felt right, as if a large burden had been divided and shared, something that brought them closer. She wanted to say something encouraging but thought better of it. Remle was the kind of person who would speak when she was ready and when she was, Harlow would be there to listen.