Meta:Between the Books: Volume Twentysix

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Volume Twentysix- Shabazz: THE FALL OUT
Character(s) Various
Date October 2006
After Volume Twentyfive
During four days after the wedding
Before That First Kiss
Location Paz, Mexio
Between the Books Navigation
Volume Twentyfive
That First Kiss

Shabazz sat quietly nursing a Dos Equis, allowing the cold, caramel lager to slide down his throat while deep in thought. He could feel Big Mike’s huge energy band part the weaker auras in the bar behind him as his fellow Guardian brother approached. Not needing to turn around to know Mike was there, Shabazz ordered his teammate a Tecate before he reached the bar, then told the bartender to hook his brother up with a shot of Tequila on the side. Mike was so tight it was making static discharge crawl up his neck.

Big Mike sat next to Shabazz with a thud. Shabazz calmly slid the bottle of beer and then the shot of tequila across the gleaming wood surface into Mike’s huge grip. Neither Guardian needed to look at each other; they had done this hundreds of times before when times were tough and one of them needed advice. It was all cellular memory with them.

“Things is heating up,” Mike stated flatly, then downed half his beer in one long guzzle. He knocked back the tequila right after it as Shabazz simply nodded. “So what we gonna do, man?”

For the first time since Mike had sat next to him, Shabazz gave his fellow Guardian a sidelong glance and a half smile. “We?”

“C’mon, man, don’t be like that.”

Shabazz chuckled and calmly sipped his beer, then ordered another with a side shot.

“I said we, man, because it’s gonna effect us all, and you know it,” Mike said, his tone peevish as he ordered another beer. “I’m talking fallout, like nuclear level shit, bro.”

“Yeah. Aw’ight,” Shabazz conceded, and then burst out laughing and shook his head. “The young girls are rough, brother. What can I tell you?”

Mike laughed and wiped a thick palm over his shining scalp. “Maaaan…”

“Hey,” Shabazz clinked his bottle against Mike’s. “It’s all good.”

“It’s not my fault. The universe hooked it up like they did. This May-December scenario… and don’t get me wrong, I love my boo, but she’s on my ass hard.”

Shabazz rubbed his chin. “Well, brother, you gotta figure… her best girl got married, she was holding the flowers, so—”

“Yeah, but man, see, here’s the thing,” Mike said, talking faster than his normal leisurely drawl with a bottle of beer clutched in his fist, “see, I been a free man for a long time, and this is kinda sudden, like—”

“You’re stuttering, man,” Shabazz said with a wide grin. “You don’t have to do nothing. It ain’t like she’s gonna break camp and leave you, right?”

Big Mike hailed the bartender for another beer and leaned in close to speak to Shabazz more confidentially. “I know, I know. Can’t none of them leave, just like none of us can leave. But…” Mike jerked his attention to the bar as the bartender slid him a new bottle and then leaned in closer to speak more quietly to Shabazz. “But, being cut off, man, is no joke. Like, I done got used to certain thangs… and if the girl stops cookin’, too… I can’t have all that.”

“Yeah. I feel you,” Shabazz said and then released a weary sigh.

“Naw, ‘Bazz. You don’t understand. Your situation is real different. Mar is cool. Been your solo for decades. Wasn’t pressing you… understood you needed some man space. ‘Cause she’s older. But, baby girl, she’s… Man, how’d we find ourselves in a situation like this, huh? Them damned Neterus always kicking off a buncha drama up in the house. Now the hacienda is about to blow, and they’re on their honeymoon chillin’. Won’t be no peace up in the joint, mark my words.”

Shabazz called the bartender over. “I want you to set me and my homeboy up with a full bottle of tequila with the worm in the bottom, salt and a stack of limes—and don’t let the beer stop flowing. We cool, hombre?” He slid a C-note across the bar and in return received a smile and a very attentive server. “Cool.” Shabazz looked at Mike. “I’ma break down some deep science to you—then, tomorrow, we gonna go take a walk to the jewelers, because you’re right, won’t be no peace.”

“See, I’m—”

Shabazz held up his hand. “Let the man bring the pain-killer first, bro.”

Mike nodded. “Sho’ you right.”

Shabazz held Mike’s gaze for a moment. “Rider should be here for this.”

“I know. It’s fucked up that he ain’t,” Mike said quietly.

“What’s fucked up is the reason he ain’t—which is part of the science I’m about to drop, so listen close.”

Mike fell silent as Shabazz wet the side of his fist against the condensation from his beer bottle, shook salt onto his damp skin, and then made a fast ritual of tequila, chased by salt, chased by lime and an ugly face.

“Yeah, now, as I was saying,” Shabazz said, slamming his glass down. “We’re the old guard; the last three senior males left standing. One lost his wife to a damned vamp. Me,” he added, beginning the tequila ritual again, “I had to share mine.”

Mike looked away and set up his tequila more slowly than Shabazz.

“That’s right,” Shabazz said, chasing the shot with a swig of Dos Equis. “That’s why Mar didn’t press me all those years, because she wasn’t sure. Had a were-jag breathing down my damned neck for her from the door. Aw’ight. Sheeit, Mike, me and you go too far back to bullshit each other.”

“Okay, man, I hear you, I hear you,” Mike muttered.

“Do you?” Shabazz shook his head. “’Cause you betta stop acting crazy, bro. You wanna be back to sleeping solo? You know the—”

“Don’t go there, man. You ‘bout to give a brother the shakes just remembering.”

“Yeah, well… I’m saying, ya heard?”

“I heard. But I ain’t the only one,” Mike argued, turning up his beer and finishing it.

“Didn’t say you was,” Shabazz said with a half smile, pouring them both another tequila. “Damn, I wish our boy Rider was here.”

Mike nodded and poured his tequila on the floor. “For the brother who ain’t here,” he said, slightly weaving. “Me and him had us some good times in New Orleans, and up and down every coast… now to see him like this—that’s another reason I don’t wanna get caught up.”

“But you is, so too late.” Shabazz followed suit, pouring a long stream of tequila onto the floor. “For da good brother who shoulda been able to have this argument with us, but can’t.”

“I don’t know why I’m stressing, man.” Mike said, leaning on the bar with both elbows and allowing his head to fall into his hands.

“’Cause this shit feels worse than a vamp alley attack,” Shabazz said, chuckling.

“Yeah!” Mike said, pushing off the bar, his voice booming. “That shit I could deal with—would know what to expect—”

“Berkfield freaked you out, didn’t he?”

“Yeah!” Mike nearly shouted again. “Man, I can’t go out like dude.”

Shabazz laughed. “You won’t, and I don’t suspect his situation is as bad as he complains about, or he wouldn’t have still been there. The man lives to complain, but Marjorie is all right.”

“It’s the kids thing,” Mike said, eyes wide and becoming glassy from too much tequila consumed too quickly. “I ain’t talking bad about Marj.”

Shabazz nodded and refilled their shot glasses. “That I didn’t have to worry about, but I did catch the fallout.”

“’Bazz,” Mike said, coming in close, his breath now punctuated by tequila and beer fumes, “what if I can’t keep something from happening to little Ayana, Inez would never forgive me if something happened to her baby daughter… or what if Inez gets pregnant? It’s bad enough worrying every time we go out in a firefight that something might happen to my woman, but damn, ‘Bazz, if Inez was my wife… I’d be no more good. I don’t know how Carlos did that shit, man—even though I do, but I don’t, what I’m saying is, my nerves would be shot. Like, what if Mar was carrying for you?”

Shabazz’s gaze slid away from Mike’s and went toward the large plate glass window. The brilliant late afternoon sun danced across it along with his thoughts. “When I met Mar, she could already hold her own… and after what happened to Christine, she’d never consider it, not that I could blame her. I guess with every blessing there’s the other side of the double-edged sword.” He looked up at Mike. “Me and Rider won’t never get a chance to worry about something like that. Imagine how Berkfield must be dealing… he’s got both a son and a daughter at risk, plus his wife. Ask him. This ain’t hypothetical for him, I’m just being real. So, ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.”

Mike downed another shot and slapped both meaty palms on the bar. “All right. When we gonna do this thing, brother?”

Shabazz started laughing. “You keep saying we, man. Ain’t no we—when are you doing what you gotta do? Don’t put me in it.”

“Uh, uh, ‘Bazz, as far back as we go, you jus’ gonna leave ole Mike hanging?”

“Why I gotta get married because you gotta get married?”

“Because we’re squad—we don’t leave our own!”

“That’s the Marines, man, and ain’t no Guardian code said I have to go down in matrimony with my brother to—”

“It is in the code, man, to hell and back,” Mike said, laughing. “If I go to hell, my brother gotta come wit me, ask the clerics.”

“Now you mixing apples and oranges. Which book you quoting, Mike, the Temt Tchaas, the Good Book, the—”

“I don’t need no books, I’m tellin’ you what’s right and just, ‘Bazz,” Mike said, pointing his finger against Shabazz’s chest. “You must be missing your mind if you think I’m going down alone.”

Shabazz laughed as he refilled their tequila shot glasses, wobbling slightly. “All I know is you’d better not wait for me. I’ve been a hold-out for over twenty years, and you’d best beat one of them young boys or you’ll never hear the end of it.”

Mike’s eyes got wide and he coughed, sputtering tequila, choking as Shabazz’s words caught him off guard.

“That’s right,” Shabazz said, swinging the bottle for emphasis. “Tactical senses says one of the young bloods are gonna break under the feminine pressure soon. You see how Dan is drooling over Heather—homeboy might break down without even tapping it… could just show up at the hacienda with a rock so freakin’ crazy that Inez will whup your ass for not giving her one first. By rights, she’s Damali’s girl and next in line for—”

“That don’t make no sense—whatchu talkin’ about! You make it sound like—”

“Female logic. Inez is the Neteru’s best friend, is her tight, and—”

“Aw, Lawd…”

“I put five dollars on Dan.”

“Ten, I raise you on Jose.”

Shabazz slapped his forehead. “Oh, shit, that’s right—the sleeper cell! Daaaayum! Right. C-los got hitched; I know Juanita is digging in Jose’s ass.”

They both pounded fists, but Mike dropped his so hard against Shabazz’s that Shabazz almost fell.

“Rider needs to be here, man,” Mike said, shaking his head.

“Aw’ight, I’ma put twenty on Bobby the kid.”

Mike looked at Shabazz and opened his mouth and then shut it. “Oh… shit… But, no, ‘Bazz, no fair, you using tactical senses on the thing—I ain’t betting against you. Besides, I heard the women saying—”

“Hol’, hol’, hold up a minute. Now you know we ain’t supposed to be using the gifts for—”

“I wasn’t, man,” Mike said, laughing, lifting his hands up in front of his barrel chest as Shabazz poured the last of the bottle into two shot glasses and hailed the bartender for another. “I was minding my business. They talk loud in high pitched sonar practically when they get going in the kitchen. I went outside on the porch, but you know, the wind carries…”

“Yeah… so… what they say?”

Mike grinned. “I ain’t supposed to tell.”

“Oh, so it’s like that now… and what happened to we, huh?”

“We hell,” Mike said, belly laughing. “But you best get a clue, ‘cause Mar seen angels, so, she been really thinking…”

“Stop messing with me, Mike,” Shabazz said, sliding a beer down the bar for him to catch. “You know she’s just started on this toxin cleanse fast that’s gonna last twenty-one days.”

“Uh, huh,” Mike said and then picked up his beer to guzzle it. “For three glorious days, we all got the afterglow benefits of the wedding.” He knocked his beer bottle against Shabazz’s and then saluted him. “Go Mr. Rivera. Bless you, son.”

“Rumble young man, rumble. Your Kung Fu is tight.” Shabazz chuckled, closed his eyes, and leaned his head back until his locks slid off his shoulders, and then raised his beer. “For da brother who didn’t make it, but most assuredly handled his business. Ashe!”

“Yeah, well,” Mike said with a philosophical sigh. “Krissy started it. Maybe Marjorie did, too—talking about wedding dresses.”

Shabazz cringed and raked his locks. “Oh, no…”

“Then Mar decided to begin a cleansing ritual.”

“Which means a brother is cut off for twenty-one days while she communes with the universe to get a message. Shit…” Shabazz poured a single shot and tossed it back with a wince. “Well, it was good while it lasted.”

“She wants to get married, ‘Bazz.”

“No she don’t—stop lying,” Shabazz said, sloshing tequila into Mike’s shot glass.

Mike downed the shot and took the bottle from Shabazz to pour another. “You know the clerics messed it up for all of us, talking about the sanctity of the union… you think there’s any real difference, ‘Bazz? Like, I don’t know about you, but I already feel like I’m already married to ‘Nez. I ain’t going nowhere.”

Shabazz pounded his fist. “Sho’ you right, my brother.”

“Yeah, but Mar was saying that it did add an extra layer of blessing on it, or something… and how it was critical for our Neterus to be joined in holy matrimony and her Temt Tchaas book was writing new pages in on the subject, and whatnot. And if that’s true, then we gotta do this thing right, man… I’m just not sure why I’m so stressed. But, if Mar put the word on it, then—”

“No, man,” Shabazz said weaving on his stool and now talking with his hands. “You’re missing a fine point here. The clerics said the Neterus needed to be in holy matrimony—they didn’t say jack shit about us Guardians. Plus, with the way them two were knocking boots, a baby is likely, so I guess the old dudes in the robes wanted to be sure the child is protected under all circumstances and—”

“Shabazz,” Mike said with a wide grin. “For the first time since I done knownt ya, you ain’t making sense, my philosophical brother—yo’ ass is babbling ‘cause the heat is on. You gonna have to marry Marlene.” Mike’s smile evolved into a hearty chuckle, and then a knee-slapping belly laugh. “Oh, my God,” he wheezed, “I can’t breathe. “Bazz, you should see the look on your face!”

“I asked her a long time ago and she gave me a wishy-washy answer, so I left it be. Now you need to leave sleepin’ dogs lie, Mike. Jus’ cause you in a jam, don’t mean I gotta go out like that.” Shabazz tossed back his tequila, so testy now that he forgot the ritual of lime and salt that went with it.

Mike grinned, recovering slowly. “She wanna get married, ‘Bazz. You shoulda heard the tone of her voice it was—”

“I’m a tactical, not an audio, and I don’t care what you say, this conversation ain’t about me, and it’s you who needs the ring.”

“You should get her something real pretty, ‘Bazz, for putting up with your shit for over two decades.”

“Mike, you are putting a serious strain on our relationship, man.”

Big Mike laughed and laid a heavy hand on Shabazz’s shoulder. “I know. That’s my job as your brother. We boyz. I’m also your conscience. Do the right thing, brother.”

  • * *

Jose stomped down on the motorcycle peddle—he was out. But J.L. jumped over the deck rail like vamps were chasing him and almost beat the rented, canary yellow crotch-rocket out of the driveway.

“Yo, you gonna make a beer run, dude?” J.L. said out of breath once Jose stopped. “Lemme ride shotgun—or whatever. Just let me ride with you, man.”

Jose moved up and J.L. jumped on the back. A sense of urgency spread over him the moment J.L.’s body touched his. Tactical panic static swept over Jose making him careen away from the property like the two of them had just robbed a bank. He came to a screeching halt at the first bar they saw. J.L. dismounted as though pulled off the bike by Harpies, and for a second, all Jose could do was look at him.

“She brought a Bride’s Magazine,” J.L. said, beginning to hyperventilate as he walked in a circle around the parked bike. “When they went to the store—her and her Mom. She’s folding back pages, man. This is happening real fast.”

Jose kicked down the bike kickstand. “Was ‘Nita in there with ‘em?”

J.L. nodded, wide-eyed.

“This calls for tequila,” Jose announced with a groan.

“But what happened, man?” J.L. dragged his fingers through his hair. “Right after the wedding, whoa—it was off da chain. Ya, mean.”

Jose pounded his fist. “I ain’t get no sleep for three days, holmes, then all of a sudden, wham. She folded her arms and was in tears talking about what was the status of our relationship. I’m like, what the *bleep*? Status? I love you, you love me, we’re soul -mates, destined, gotta be in this crazy life until we die or come up with fangs… and she threw me out of the bedroom.” Jose opened his arms. “I ain’t even do nothing, man!”

“Krissy asked me what she meant to me, dude. I was like… whatduya mean, what do you mean to me—my whole fuckin’ world, okaaay. Then she got all teary-eyed like I’d called her a foul name or something, and said, ‘Oh, is that all. Wow, J.L. I can see where this is going—nowhere!’ And here I thought we’d have ten beautiful days on the sugar sand beaches of Mexico while Damali and Carlos were off in bliss, and not magnetizing demon heat to the compound… making love, sleeping late, chilling out, just—”

“Aw, man, I know, I know,” Jose said, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “What happened, hombre? What went wrong?”

J.L. slung an arm over his shoulder. “To the bar. Her Dad is giving me the marry-my-daughter-or-die look. And with all this wedding stuff, she won’t take a long walk away from the hacienda with me, you hearing me bro? I am cut off. Period. She didn’t say it, but she didn’t have to.”

Jose shook his head as they walked. “I hear you, holmes. Don’t forget, I stood up there as best man, so ‘Nita ain’t feeling me not dropping something on her finger with the quickness at all. I was planning, to, but I don’t like being rushed.”

“I need a drink.”

“Rider got the house on lock with Berkfield?”

“Their watch, man,” J.L. said as they hustled through the door.

But both younger Guardians hesitated for a moment, senses keened, as they saw Shabazz and Mike in deep discussion. J.L.’s tactical charge reached out and touched Shabazz’s, making the senior Guardian look up.

“What’s the deal—new vamp threat or what?” Jose whispered to J.L. He subtly sniffed the air. “Can’t be good, they’re both snot-slinging drunk and been here a while.”

J.L. shrugged. “Whatever’s wrong, beats going back to the hacienda. At least we stand a fighting chance in a vamp ambush. This emotional drama is for the birds.”

  • * *

Bobby jogged down the beach to catch up to where Dan pitched small shells into the ocean. He nervously glanced around to be sure no one was in earshot along the abandoned strip of white sand and then sidled up to Dan.

“Hey, whassup?” Bobby said, trying to edge into a conversation.

Dan stopped pitching shells. “What happened?”

“What do you mean, what happened?” Bobby looked away and found several shells by his boots to pitch.

“I’m a tactical,” Dan said with an exasperated rush of breath. The intrusion was working his nerves. All he wanted to do was find some peace and quiet to figure out how to really break the ice with Heather, and now Bobby was in his face with some nonsense. “So, again, let me restate, what happened?”

“All right, all right,” Bobby said, his eyes searching Dan’s face. “Don’t laugh.”

“Will you just spit it out?” Dan folded his arms, losing patience.

“I wanna buy a ring and don’t know shit about diamonds… and I don’t wanna ask my dad about it, but I haven’t really earned band money yet, because the band hasn’t performed while I was in the mix, and—”

“You need a loan.” Dan gave Bobby a lopsided grin.

“Yeah… kinda.”

“Like what size rock?” Dan’s grin widened as he slung an arm over Bobby’s shoulders.

“Big. I don’t know. I don’t even know how I’d pay you back or anything—it’s not like we have regular jobs, hell, I don’t even—”

“Just throw me a clip when I’m out of ammo, and consider it a debt paid in full.”

Bobby stopped walking and stared at Dan. “No, man. You’re a brother to me, and I’d do that regardless.”

“I was just joking,” Dan said, punching Bobby in the arm and causing them both to start play sparring. “What good is personal money with the way we live? Might as well be one giant family pot anyway, so how big a rock?”

“You’d really do that?” Bobby dropped his guard and Dan tagged him on the jaw.

“Yeah, why not?”

Bobby smiled wider. “Because I wanna put a monster on her finger.”

Dan shook his head and stopped play boxing with Bobby. “Word of caution—tell one of the senior brothers before you do this thing, dude.”

“Why? Like, I’m grown.”

Dan chuckled and began walking. “True, but that’s not why.”

“Well, ya gonna tell me whassup or what?” Bobby jogged to keep stride with Dan’s determined pace. “C’mon, you got some vibes, didn’t you?”

“Whooo weeeee!” Dan said, teasing Bobby. “Vibes. The older guys are wigging, dude.”

“Why? I don’t get it?”

“They’ve been single a looong time. You bust a move like you’re about to as the youngest male Guardian in the house, what do you think the female fallout will be? This ain’t exactly PC, you know.”

Bobby stopped walking. “Whoa…”

“Yeah, whoa,” Dan said, picking up a broken shell to pitch. “More like oh, shit.”

“Then, what should I do?”

Dan shrugged. “Go buy the biggest stone my budget can stand—something nice, go see Shabazz and sit down with him man-to-man, and open the box and show him.”

“He’ll freak,” Bobby said, his jaw going slack.

“And he’ll get over it,” Dan said, pitching another stone.

“You think he’ll kick my ass?”

“Nah,” Dan said, not sounding sure. But then his face lost all mirth. “Just don’t do it in front of Rider.”

  • * *

Berkfield brought two steaming mugs of coffee out to the back deck and listened quietly as Rider absently picked on his new guitar. He looked at the cowboy whose tawny hat was pulled down low over his eyes in the waning sun; his cowboy boots nicked and scarred from rough riding a Harley, jeans worn ragged by time versus fashion, and knew exactly where his fellow Guardian brother was at. A Marlboro Red box was rolled into the sleeve of Rider’s white t-shirt, and a smoldering butt dangled from his lips. The melancholy strands of a half-forgotten song floated on the late afternoon breeze. Berkfield waited until the smell of java made Rider look up. Rider took a slow drag from the cigarette butt and then pitched it, exhaling a small white cloud of smoke.

“Thanks,” Rider said, and then returned his gaze to the guitar.

“When’d ya buy that beaut?” Berkfield asked, straining to make conversation.

“Right after the wedding. Had some time,” Rider said, tightening a string. “She don’t play like my old girl, but I lost her in the fire so, que sera sera.”

At a loss for what to say, Berkfield extended the coffee mug as the only thing he could give his brother at the moment. “How you holding up?”

“Good days and bad days,” Rider admitted, accepting the mug. “After the working girls left my room, the wedding kinda stung—but you get past shit.”

“Yeah… I suppose,” Berkfield said, but owning no frame of reference. “Look, if you wanna leave the hacienda for the night, I can cover your shift.”

Rider looked up from the guitar. “Nice thought, but you don’t have one of the early vamp detection gifts—even though you were a great cop and have crazy healing ability. No offense, but can you say compound full of newbies and full scale wipe out? Nah, not on my watch. But you’re a solid sharpshooter and a damned good medic. However, leave the early warning systems to my snoz.”

“Wow, yeah, I hadn’t thought about it like that. Guess it would be sorta negligent.” Berkfield sat down slowly in a chair next to Rider.

“No, you meant well… but those vampire bastards know we’re down two Neterus, I’m guessing. That’s the only reason me and my good friend Jack Daniels haven’t been partying tonight. Tomorrow is another story all together. I’m just trying to make it through these ten long nights until the team leaders get back, and then I really don’t give a damn what happens.”

“Well, maybe—”

“I’m fine, dude. I’m not an invalid, just solo, and that’s just a temporary condition.” Rider offered Berkfield a half smile. “Shoulda seen that brunette and the redhead was to die for.”

“Okay, okay, I hear ya. This old married man can’t take the fantasy, my ticker might give out it’s been so long since I’ve had free reign.”

Rider took a slow sip from his mug and allowed his gaze to seek the darkening horizon. “Freedom isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be, truthfully. You’re a lucky man.”

  • * *

Marlene calmly stirred her tea as she stood in the kitchen listening to everything that was being said, as well as not said. None of what she was witnessing required her third eye or special second sight. She and Marjorie shared a knowing glance as the conversation hit a crescendo with the book in the middle of the butcher block island. It was time for a proclamation.

“Everything in its own time,” Marlene said quietly, causing the room to go still. Concerned eyes met hers. “I promise,” she said, and then watched relief spread slowly. She lifted her chin. “My situation was my choice at that time. You don’t have to worry that it will happen to you.”

“Aw, Marlene, nobody was saying that,” Inez said quietly.

“Didn’t have to, baby. I’m a seer. It’s in your eyes.”

Everyone looked down except Marjorie.

“But my scenario isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either.” Marjorie waved her hand. “Ladies, there are days.”

Her comment made the younger women in the kitchen smile, and soon, the laughter erupted, the mood shifted, and one by one younger female Guardians abandoned Marjorie and Marlene.

“Thanks,” Marlene said, as the last of the women left the kitchen. “I appreciate your having my back.”

“From one Mom to another, much obliged. But I meant what I said.”

Marlene smiled at Marjorie warmly. “So did I.”

“The wedding did them in,” Marjorie said, chuckling. “They just don’t know.”

“Girl, pullease,” Marlene said, laughing and making another cup of tea for Marjorie.

“I should have done what you did,” Marjorie said.

Marlene shrugged. “Nah—you should have done what you did. You were there, mentally. The grass always looks greener on the other side.”

“On my side there is no grass—it’s bald lawn.”

They both laughed.

“Be nice, my boy Richard is a doll.” Marlene sipped her tea with a smile.

“And Shabazz is no slouch.” Marjorie clinked her mug against Marlene’s.

“We didn’t do half bad for two old dolls, did we?” Marlene chuckled into her mug and peered over the rim.

Marjorie grinned widely. “No, you are the one who didn’t do badly at all.” She leaned in toward Marlene. “Two? Like that?” she whispered, glancing around. “How?” Then she shook her head. “No, I’m married and don’t want to know.”

Marlene let out a soft, wistful sigh. “I might want to try that one day, if it’s not too late. But that commitment thing is really scary, saying in front of clerics—like it’s a direct vow… but, after all the other really scary stuff we’ve done, I can see it, I guess.”

“You would?” Incredulous, Marjorie gaped at her. “Because, hon, let me tell you, it is scary once you cross over the line… but worth it I think… so, would you, if you had to do it all over again?”

“Truthfully, I’d rather face a Master vamp and be low on ammo, than have to go back in time to make a choice between the choices I had,” Marlene said laughing hard.

Marjorie covered her face. “Oh, gracious, I couldn’t have made a decision like that!” She looked up cheeks flushed, laughing. “But now that you know… you do know, don’t you?”

Marlene shrugged. “Maybe?”

They both laughed hard.

“Nah,” Marlene said, bending over as the laughter overtook her. “I’m sure… just playing.”

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • April 07, 2006 is the first archived mention of this volume on the official website.[1]

See Also[edit | edit source]

Novels 1 - 9 Minion • The Awakening • The Hunted • The Bitten • The Forbidden • The Damned • The Forsaken • The Wicked • The Cursed
Armageddon Finale
(10 -12)
The Darkness • The Shadows • The Thirteenth
Anthologies Make it Last Forever in Stroke of Midnight • Ride the Night Wind in Love at First Bite
Dawn and Darkness (Comics) Individual Comics Book One: Ashes to Ashes • Book Two: Dust to Dust  • Book Three: Bygones to Blood • Book Four: Ride or Die
Graphic Novel Graphic Novel (Parts 1 - 4)
Neteru Academy Novels Shadow Walker • Shadow Seekers (Unreleased) • Shadow Slayers (Unreleased)
Between the Books (Official Website Stories) Vol. 1 • Vol. 2 • Vol. 3 • Vol. 4 • Vol. 5 • Vol. 6 • Vol. 7 • Vol. 8 • Vol. 9 • Vol. 10 • Vol. 11 • Vol. 12 • Vol. 13 • Vol. 14 • Vol. 15 - The Ripple Effect • Vol. 16 - Damali's Dilemma • Vol. 17 - Carlos' Dilemma • Vol. 18 - Damali's Dilemma Part II • Vol. 19 - Training Day • Vol. 20 - Training Day Part II • Vol. 21 - A Neteru Apex • Vol. 22 - New Mansion Compound: • Vol. 23 - New Mansion Compound: • Vol. 24 - New Mansion Compound: • Vol. 25 - "Truth Between Brothers" • Vol. 26 - Shabazz: THE FALL OUT • Vol. 27 • Vol. 28 • Vol. 29 • Vol. 30 - "Submerge"
Other Nothing Like the First Time (Prequel) • That First Kiss • Between Man and Wife • Atlantis Rising
Damali's Journal Volume One • Volume Two • Volume Three • Volume Four • Damali's Journal: Special Volume
Carlos' Black Box Volume One • Volume Two
Inside the Mind of a Vampire Volume One • Volume Two • Volume Three • Volume Four • Volume Five • Volume Six
Additional Content & Short Stories Promotional Media Secret Desires • Exotic Contraband: LA Banks' Vampire Huntress Legend Concept Art Book • Vampire Huntress Legend Sampler • Atlantis Rising • VHL Teacher's Curriculum Guide
Vampire Huntress Legend Sampler Nothing Like the First Time • Damali's Journal: Special Volume • The Power Players: A tour by Master Vampire Carlos Rivera • Character Dossiers
Unreleased Vampire Huntress Legend Series Movie (Unreleased) • Vampire Huntress Legend Series Manga (Unreleased)

References[edit | edit source]

  • [1] Earliest archived mention.
  • [2] Volume 26 on the official website.
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