Friday, March 18, 2011

Flashfiction - The Move

1000 words, featuring the characters from CheckMate

The plan was to move as soon as the sun set. Vincent had talked about hiring movers, but Lilia had scoffed at the idea. They didn’t have that much stuff between the two of them, she had said with a roll of her eyes, and she could carry as much weight as he did.

The last part wasn’t so much a lie as it was an understatement. She was stronger. They both knew it, and there was no reason to remind him of that fact. His masculine pride could sometimes be a little touchy about such things.

Although… he was never as creative in bed as when he thought for whatever reason that he had something to prove… As they finished packing the last couple of boxes with half an hour to spare before sundown, Lilia started thinking of the best way to needle him on. They had a bit of time to kill, after all, and it would be a proper send off to the townhouse. It would also help them let go of some steam. And once they were in their new lair, they would need to celebrate properly, too…

Before she could put this new plan in motion however, the phone rang. At this hour, it was never a good sign, and she scowled at the infernal device as Vincent went to pick up. As soon as he turned toward her, still listening to whoever was on the other end, she knew they wouldn’t be moving that night.

“Trouble?” she asked when he hung up the phone.

He nodded, already sliding on his jacket, his hands checking the inside pockets automatically for the stakes he kept there. “Nothing bad. Robbery at a blood bar. A few containers of blood missing.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “What, you’re going after common robbers, now?” she asked impatiently. “Come on, Jordan. Let the police do their work.”

He eyed her warily, as he always did when she called him by his last name. He knew it meant she was upset. She had tried to break the habit, but whenever her annoyance got the better of her, it came all too easily, pulling her back to the long-gone days when they had been enemies. In the past few days, as the stress of the move settled on them, she had called him ‘Jordan’ a lot.

“The police already knows a pair of vamps did it,” he said mildly. “That’s why they called me. That’s my job, remember?”

Lilia didn’t reply. If she did, she might snap that his job was to kill her kind, and things might get nasty pretty fast.

“Do you want to come with me?” he asked as he approached her, crossbow now in hand.

She shook her head. She was in no mood to hide under a blanket until nightfall – especially not if they were after thieves.

“I’ll be quick,” he all but promised, pressing a quick peck of a kiss to the corner of her mouth. “And then we’ll move. We’ll sleep at home tonight.”

Lilia was still glaring at the door long after he was gone. She could have understood a delay if it had been about a killing. But a robbery? Honestly? It wasn’t like he would stake the idiots for it. Special Enforcers only executed vampires who were known to kill.

Unless they found themselves magically linked to one such vampire, but that didn’t happen all that often.

As always when she thought of their Mating, Lilia’s hand rose to touch the marks Vincent’s teeth had left on her throat. Her annoyance started to fade away, replaced by determination. She looked around her at the stripped down living room. The sofa was a two-person job, but everything else she could carry on her own. The only other piece of furniture she would have trouble with was the bed. If she got to work now, by the time Vincent returned she might be practically done. She picked up the keys of the rental truck on the coffee table in one hand, then the coffee table itself, and strode out into the newly fallen night.

Four hours and three trips later, all that remained in the townhouse were the bed and sofa. It would have gone a lot faster with two people there, but it was done, and that was what mattered.

Lilia only wished Vincent would come back already. Hadn’t he said he’d be quick? Standing in the middle of their new living room, with her annoyance from earlier completely forgotten, she regretted not having asked more details. She could have joined him, even helped him, maybe. If he went and got himself hurt again—

She chased that train of thought away. He would be fine. That one time, a few months earlier, he had only been hurt because she had distracted him. Right on cue, the familiar pang of guilt echoed through her. She sighed. Vincent had never blamed her, but she knew just as well as he did that it had been her fault. And rather than blaming her, he had arranged to buy the house she had fallen in love with at first sight.

Maybe she owed him. Admitting that much to herself was hard enough; admitting it to him would have been impossible, especially after she had been so bitchy earlier. But she could say it all without a word.

When Vincent finally entered their new home, a little after midnight, a fire was roaring in the fireplace in the living room. Blankets were piled up in front of the hearth in a makeshift bed, with two pillows at one end. Lilia lay on top of the blankets without a stitch of clothing on her body.

Vincent approached, leaving the crossbow, his jacket, his shoes and the rest of his clothes behind him like a trail of breadcrumbs. He didn’t say anything, but his smile was brighter, warmer than the flames, and his eyes softer than the blankets.

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