Blood & Curses

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Chapter 19: Revelation

“Yes, thank you,” Logan said as he hung up the phone. Logan and Kate were in her suite in the hotel with Mama Eshe sitting comfortably on the sofa in the living room.

“Who was that?” Kate asked.

“That was an informant. The Elderidge family are at Blush right now, including Victoria. We need to talk to her without raising suspicions,” Logan explained.

“I can do that. I’ve been undercover before and I can shield myself from any vampire influences with my barriers,” Kate remarked.

“Kalfou will do everything in his power to stop you,” Mama Eshe commented.

“Is that supposed to deter us?” Logan hissed.

“No. It’s just a warning. Victoria has already dedicated herself to him. She doesn’t know it yet but it’s true,” Mama Eshe replied.

“What are you talking about?” Kate asked. “What do you mean she doesn’t know? What did you do?”

“When Victoria came by the shop, I also gave her a pouch of herbs and other items. The contents are to be used during the ritual but I placed a strand of her hair within it. This will link her to the ritual and ultimately to Kalfou. Once she uses the bag, her body will belong to him,” she explained.

“The body of a vampire,” Logan whispered. “Kalfou will be unstoppable with his power and nearly impossible to defeat if that happens.”

“I’m on it,” Kate said as she picked up her leather jacket.

“Kate,” Logan said as he grabbed her arm, preventing her from leaving. “This is more dangerous than I thought. We need to have a solid plan here.”

“Tell her you work for me,” Mama Eshe called from the couch.

“What?” Kate questioned as she walked back into the living room. “Why?”

“Victoria will listen to you if you tell her you work for me and know Voodoo. Tell her you’re training to become a mambo and I sent you to warn her about the influence of Kalfou. Tell her it was unsafe to explain when I was with her because I was being controlled. Kalfou can’t escape the other world. I realize that I made a grave mistake. I hope you can fix what I started,” Mama Eshe replied, dropping her gaze to her feet.

Kate leaned forward and knelt before her, grabbing her clasped hands in her lap. “We’ll make this right. Thank you. You’ll be safe here with Logan.”

“You hungry?” he grunted from his position. “I can call us some take out.”

“It’s better than staying with that other man,” Mama Eshe muttered.

“Arlo? Yeah, he doesn’t talk much,” Kate remarked with a smile. She didn’t particularly care for his tactics that were used on her to place her in that hole she spent a week in either.

Mama Eshe smiled at Kate before she stood up and exited the suite, heading for the hotel entrance. Once the valet pulled the car around, she hopped in and headed off towards Blush. An incoming phone call rang throughout the Bluetooth inside the vehicle. Pressing the answer button on the screen inside the dash, she heard static before a voice spoke on the other end.

“Hello Ms. Hayes,” the voice said.

“Who is this?” Kate didn’t recognize the number.

“This is Alastor Boucher, your boss. David told me wonderful things about you before he was called away. I wanted you to hear it from me first before you found out through the grapevine,” he stated.

“Mr. Boucher, it’s an honor to finally be speaking with you. Where was David called to?” she asked.

“I had a more pressing case pop up in Turkey and sent him there on an assignment,” he answered.

“Are you in town now? David mentioned you would be dropping by at the end of the month,” she declared. Something felt a little strange about this whole situation.

Alastor chuckled over the phone. “I was going to drop by but I am detained in New York for the time being. I have a meeting with the Order that can’t be missed so I won’t be back for some time. However, I wanted to touch base with you about the Elderidge Clan.”

“I’m tailing them as we speak,” she replied.

“Good. Just remember. The Elderidge Clan are our true focus and we must stay on task. Do not deviate from the mission,” Alastor cautioned.

“You’re talking about Adrian Clemente, aren’t you?” she inquired.

“David said you were a smart one. Clemente will be managed by myself, personally,” he assured.

“And what of the deals that were happening between David and Clemente under your orders?” Kate asked, squeezing the steering wheel tighter. She hadn’t forgotten about the unusual behavior she had witnessed.

“Those exchanges were made to keep up appearances with an undercover operation. I needed inside information about Adrian and his workings. David was staged as a middle man for one of Adrian’s business deals with an outside partner. We intercepted messages and other communications to see who Adrian was dealing with,” Alastor explained.

Kate sighed with relief.

“I extracted David when his cover was blown. You, however, are still clear to continue your mission without that fear,” he said.

“Thank you, Mr. Boucher. The job will be done soon, however there’s one problem you should be made aware of—”

“Logan has already filled me in on your magical problem. Let Logan handle that if it happens and you get me that Clan. Do you understand?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” Kate mumbled. The phone clicked as Alastor hung up. Kate pulled the car into a parking space off the side of the street and sat in silence for a moment as she turned off the car.

Alastor may have been her boss but that didn’t mean she had to like him. She checked her phone to look at his number only to find that it was a jumble of numbers and letters. It wasn’t a number she could call back at any time to speak to him which made her question his crusade. He was intent on destroying the Elderidge Clan when she had only ever seen them try to establish themselves as a respectable family. Like the Vladimir Clan, they were among the most tamed vampires she had encountered.

Passing by the bouncer and into the club, the music pulsated throughout the open dance floor. Quickly scanning the room, she saw Victoria seated at the bar chatting to a human male. No doubt, this was her prey that she was currently seducing him for the hunt.

Kate strode over to the male and touched his shoulder, a smile splayed across her lips. He blinked and looked at her as Victoria let her act slip momentarily, confused by the sudden intrusion.

“There you are, Vic,” Kate beamed. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you were meeting a friend here,” the man said as he slipped off the bar stool, grabbing his drink.

“Thanks for keeping her company,” Kate said to him as he nodded and walked off. Kate lifted herself onto the stool in front of Victoria who wasn’t pleased with this turn of events.

Sipping her wine, she eyed Kate over the rim of her glass, an eyebrow raised at her boldness. “Who are you and what do you want?”

“Mama Eshe sent me,” Kate replied. “There’s something you should know.”

Setting her glass down on the counter, Victoria flagged down the bartender. “What are you drinking?”

“Vodka, neat,” Kate stated.

“Are you planning on being able to walk out of here?” Victoria asked, a smirk appearing on her face.

The bartender came back with the order and placed it upon a napkin in front of Kate. She picked it up and took a sip, relishing the bitterness of the drink upon her tongue.

“The ritual that was in that book, it’s not going to help you. In fact, it’s meant to unleash a dark power into this world, one that’s waiting for you,” Kate replied.

“I know,” Victoria stated.

Kate was taken aback by the statement. “What do you mean? You were going to go through with it anyway?”

“I may not be privy to much that involves Voodoo but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s history,” Victoria explained. “I study antiques for a living and other books similar to the one Mama Eshe gave me have crossed my desk once or twice. While the ritual may be able to save the Ashford family, one of them will be condemned to house the spirit of Kalfou once the ritual is complete. That’s why I haven’t particularly jumped on conducting the ceremony yet.”

“But you’re still going to,” Kate confirmed.

Victoria took another sip of her drink. “Again I ask, who are you?”

Kate sighed as she took a gulp of her drink trying to calm her nerves. “My name is Kate. I’m an apprentice to Mama Eshe.”

“Wrong,” Victoria simply said. “I can tell by your features and your attitude that you have no interest in studying Voodoo. Are you English? Irish? I doubt you’re even from New Orleans.”

“What makes you say that?” Kate asked.

“Look,” Victoria began, “we can sit here and pretend that you and Mama Eshe are friends, but I met that woman. She works alone. So are you going to tell me who you really are or do I have to force it out of you?”

It appeared that Kate had underestimated Victoria. “My name really is Kate…and I’m a Hunter.”

Victoria stiffened in her seat. “What do you want? To kill me?”

“No, Victoria,” Kate answered. “That would be suicide within a notorious vampire club. I’m here to tell you about the consequences of that ritual Mama Eshe gave you. Would you like for me to explain or should I leave?”

Victoria thought for a moment before finally nodding her head to let Kate explain herself and the situation that had come to light. She listened as Kate told her about Kalfou impersonating Zane, a poor soul that got tricked into housing his spirit on Earth for a short time. She told Victoria about Mama Eshe and the demise of her shop. The most pressing matter was the link that had been placed between Victoria and Kalfou.

Victoria pulled the pouch out of her purse and placed it on the counter. “So she was using me. Why would you tell me this?”

Kate took the pouch from its perch and opened it, pulling the strand of hair from its contents. “She didn’t have a choice. Kalfou has had her under his control for a while. And while I don’t condone the ritual, I do understand what it’s like to want to save someone.”

Kate handed the pouch back to Victoria.

“You trust me? A vampire? The very thing you hunt,” Victoria asked, skeptical.

Kate sighed heavily. “You know that once you conduct that ritual, your protection around the estate will be destroyed. You’re helping me as much as you’re helping them.”

“I see…” Victoria mumbled. “This is about making it easier to kill my family.”

“I’m not sure what Alastor has planned for you—”

“Alastor?” Victoria snapped to attention. “Alastor who?”

Kate gave her a puzzled look. “Alastor Boucher. Why? Do you know him?”

Victoria quickly stood from her seat and gathered her jacket that was underneath her. “I may not be a fan of Hunters but your boss isn’t who he says he is.”

Kate grabbed Victoria’s arm as she tried to turn away. “What do you mean? Tell me what you know.”

Victoria turned back to face her. “Alastor Boucher turned me and my family. If he’s in charge of the Hunters, then he has bigger plans for all of us.”

Kate dropped her hand from Victoria’s arm and watched as her heels clicked violently on the floor as she strode away. Her breath caught in her throat as it tightened at the revelation. She knew that something was wrong with the orders the Hunters had been given recently and it explained his obsession with the Elderidge Clan. They knew him personally and those people had to be silenced for his reign to continue over the Order of Hunters.

Kate took out her cell phone and dialed Logan. “Logan, I need to tell you something.”

“Well, I have some news for you too,” Logan sighed over the phone.

“What’s wrong?” Kate asked, worried.

“It’s Mama Eshe. She escaped.”

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