I wanted to get home. I wanted to relax. But that was going to be difficult. On top of all the strangeness and potential danger of the weekend, tomorrow I had to be at work. Next to matters of life and death and undeath, family law seemed pretty mundane, and Ms. Devereaux wasn't nearly as threatening.
I walked home quickly, glancing over my shoulder repeatedly, but when I got there, I found I didn't want to be in my apartment alone. I didn't really know many people in the city, and I wasn't going to go out, so it seemed the only thing to do was to call Dani. We could have a drink, which would calm me down, and maybe talk, since I had lots of questions, or if she wasn't in a talking mood, maybe we could watch a movie. After all, there was so much education she was missing.
I picked up the phone and dialed...
“Hey, are you busy?”
“Not really, just cleaning a bit, why?”
“I had a weird day and I want someone to talk to. Can you come over?”
“Yeah, i'll be there in a little while.”
“Um... be careful. I don't want you getting followed...”
I didn't care if I sounded paranoid. I didn't really want to tell her everything on the phone. At least when I tell Maryanne, she won't think i'm paranoid or crazy, I thought.
I popped open a beer. Good thing New Orleans has good local microbrews.
I picked up the phone again to call Maryanne. I hoped she wouldn't worry too much. She's always been protective of the rest of us. This time she picked up:
“Maryanne, it's Naomi! How are you?”
“Busy, like always. I got your message, what's going on?”
“Are you sitting down?”
“Yes”. I couldn't tell if she was anticipating or dreading the news.
“WHOA! Take a breath and start that sentence over.”
“I met... a vampire. And now I'm working for her on the side. And this girl at my office is friends with the vampire and I really like her.”
“Wow... I guess this kind of seals it. We'll be working with or for the undead whether we like it or not. What are you doing?”
“She wants me to track down some people who are selling her art without permission, and find legal means to deal with them. I'm in the process of IRACing the problem. But IP is hard.” Maryanne was used to my whining on the subject.
I continued: “and Dani is amazing. She files stuff at the office and she's a university student and she introduced me to Mara.”
“Mara is the vampire?”
“Ah. Yes. Sorry.”
“You haven't told her, have you?” Maryanne sounded concerned.
“...no. but it's probably pretty obvious.”
“You've been there a week. And workplace romance is always a bad idea. And you're leaving at the end of the summer. Focus on your work.”
“She's coming over tonight.”
Maryanne decided to change the subject: “What about the vampire, Mara? What's going on with the case? Do you know what house she's from?”
“Not a lot on the case. Don't know what house. Today I decided to play tourist and see if I could snag one of the fake paintings, but so far no luck. I might be being followed, though. And a voodoo guy gave me a bag.”
“I'm glad it's YOUR life that's weird right now. I had enough after last winter.”
“You said yourself we're marked. Things will get interesting again. In the Chinese sense.”
“Yeah...” she said vaguely.
“So, any advice on the vampire or IP front?” I asked hopefully.
“unfortunately, no. Just read up on both subjects and know what you're dealing with before you act. And take care. I miss you and I want to see you back in the fall in one live piece.”
“I will. I miss you too. Thanks.”
“Bye” we said together.
And at that moment the doorbell rang. I had all the locks on and I crept to the door and looked out the peephole. It was still daylight, or I would have taken my softball bat along to the door. Never know when you might need it for an intruder or zombie uprising. Fortunately, it was Dani.
“You get here ok?” I asked out of habit, and then remembered that I was actually concerned.
“yeah, just fine.” she either didn't know what kind of weirdness was dancing about in her city or she was used to it.
“you want something to drink?”
“Brought my own” and she pulled a Zima out of her messenger bag. I almost started laughing. I grabbed another beer from the fridge and sat down on the couch.
“So I went looking for the person selling the paintings today, and a whole bunch of weird stuff happened.”
“Well, a lady read my palm, and I think someone was following me around, and the man at the voodoo museum seemed to know me and he called you “my girl”.”
“Oh. Yeah, I was in there looking for spell ingredients, and I mentioned you.”
“You practice, then? What kind of spell?”
“It's a secret. You'll have to wait and see.”
She really frustrates me sometimes.
Then I remembered: “What's this?” and I pulled out the bag the man had given me and handed it to her.
She looked at it, felt the contents thru the bag, and smelled it.
“John the Conqueroo. It's for luck in sex and gambling.”
“ohhhh...kay. What do I do with it?”
“Just keep it. You never know when it might come in handy.”
I was skeptical, but maybe I'd give belief a shot. Enough improbable things had happened that it seemed like a good idea. And suddenly, somehow, I was tired of talking.
“Do you want to watch something?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she agreed.
And so I popped Firefly into the DVD player. I passed out on the couch, and when I woke up the next morning, Dani was still there.