This is the continuing story of the Succubi called Storm Clouds…
If you want to read previous chapters, please click the link in the Tale header at the top of the page marked Storm Clouds or click here...
Chapter Ten edits this week… Some points by the Succubi weren’t clear and so some small changes there… Next week = Chapter Eleven…
Storm Clouds XLII
Tom leaned against a tree watching as Brent played with his children next to a small fountain with a soaring angel in the center. He was puzzled by what the fountain was supposed to mean, and that showed on his face. After all, who would expect an angel motif in a place that didn’t seem to have a lot of angel–looking beings in it?
Camilla came around from behind the fountain, carrying a small box in her hands. When she came close to Tom, she asked if he had eaten anything. When he didn’t answer, she simply put a wrapped sandwich in his hands and, with a nod of her head, directed him to have a seat at a picnic table nearby.
After getting settled, Tom watched as she began to pick at a salad. As he unwrapped the sandwich, he asked, “Something bothering you?”
She paused and then began, “What bothers me, Thomas, is that I have lost a Sister. I suffer for that. But that’s nothing compared to Brent and his children.”
Tom picked out a slice of tomato, “How bad is it for Brent?”
She poked the fork into the salad with some force, “If he didn’t have the children, I am sure that he would … be no more.”
Tom considered that as he took a bite, “He’s still here. So are the kids. And you. He doesn’t strike me as the type to put a bullet to his head and end it all. Sorry, Camilla, I’m not going to dwell on that.”
“Heartless, aren’t you Thomas? Or is that just a means to protect yourself?”
Tom reached into a pocket of his jacket and tossed a small notebook onto the table between them: “Haven’t the time to dwell right now Camilla. Brent gave me a list of people that had something against him. I can look into the ones who are people. You game to grill the ones who aren’t?”
She turned the notebook around and opened the cover. After a moment she whistled: “I would not have guessed at any of these.”
Tom wiped his lips with a napkin, “How bad are the names you recognize? The ones I do are lousy, but I can take most of them from the list. I’m looking for a killer, and most of them are playboys, play–toys and thrill seekers. They don’t qualify.”
Another bite. “Three of them I’ll have to grill.”
She considered him, “At least your list is a short one. From this side I can see ten times that many creatures and things who would have loved to be the one to have done this…”
Tom shook his head, “Not love, Camilla. Need.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Tom explained, “Some people would love to get an advantage over someone else. That’s a wish, a hope and nothing more. Then there are those that need to get that revenge or whatever else they see it as. They have the power to do so, and more so, they wouldn’t be stopped by anything to get it. That’s need.”
She started back at the beginning of the list again, her fingers tracing down the names. Then she said, “Two that we can get to; one that I would not touch with a ten foot pole and an army of hellhounds behind me.”
Arching an eyebrow, he asked, “That bad?”
She shrugged, “Worse. We’ll need help to see that one.”
Tom considered his sandwich, “You know something? I am more inclined to believe that whoever did this is on your turf rather than mine.”
Raising her fork, she explained, “It can be that someone, as you say, on our turf started this, but you don’t understand how things work in your world. You see, Thomas, while some creatures like us can exist there and interact with your people, there are so many more that need an anchor, something or someone to believe in them and give them purchase in your world. Without that they can’t do anything physical.”
Confused, Tom just nodded for her to continue.
“Magic is thin in your world now. Creatures that once thrived in your world now can’t exist there. Oh they can look in, try to whisper thoughts and ideas into people’s minds and see what happens, but, without someone who believes, like a wizard, mage, or witch… they can’t actually do anything there.”
“Then how do you all manage to be there?”
She smiled, “Sex is a powerful thing. Love more so. If you are intimately connected with both of those, then crossing over isn’t a hard thing to do.”
He nodded slowly, “Base desires and overwhelming needs are the gateway to the soul or something?”
They were quiet for a time until Tom said, “I need to get back, get on and see those names. Can you check your list and … ?”
She shook her head, “No. You are stuck with me for the moment, Thomas. You can do your investigating there and then we’ll both see what happens.”
He frowned, “Are you telling me that I am going to have to go with you to see what you are afraid of seeing?”
“Afraid doesn’t mean I will not go there. But here’s the thing: you are a detective. You know how to ask questions and, moreover, you see more than I do. I think that you asking the questions of them will get us further than I can alone. Besides which, you have one power over them that I don’t.”
Tom looked shocked: “Power? I got nothing.”
Camilla gave a small shake of her head, “You have free will. You have the ability to choose. Most of the creatures we will have to see do not have that luxury. They are connected to other beings in ways that make them what they are. You however … you don’t have that flaw.”
He sighed, “No. I have the flaw that makes me always do the right thing.”
She munched on her salad, “That’s not a flaw. It’s a gift.”
A small smile, “Some gift.”
She just prodded her salad, “Better than most. Count your blessings Thomas.”
Tom chewed on that, and on his sandwich before asking, “Tell me something. Why is it that you always speak to me so formally? It’s always Thomas, not Tom. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard any of you use nicknames or shortened names, for that matter.”
“Manners count, Thomas.”
He gave her a look, “Well I can understand that, Mom always said that having a civil tongue was timportant, but…”
She shook her head, “No buts about it. You can get further with a kind word than with a foul one.”
Tom’s smile was just this side of wicked, “You can get further still with a kind word and a two-by-four.”
“Oh so you have met Tera before, then?”
A similar smile appeared, “You sound a lot like her when she’s in a mood, you know.”
Tom stuck the last of the sandwich in his mouth and mumbled, “Probably why she liked me.”
Taking the list back from Camilla, Tom reviewed it again trying to decide who he would try to see first. Running his finger down the list he tapped one name, “Okay. I think I want to start to get on the bad side of the big names in the city.”
Camilla put her fork down and opened her purse. Taking out a small business card, she handed it to him, “Take this. Some places, your badge won’t get you far. This will open those doors for you.”
Tom considered the card. It wasn’t made of paper. It was a solid piece of silver made into a business card. Written on it was a short line of gold text: He’s doing me a favour. And then a single handwritten letter “T”.
“You can’t be serious.”
Camilla finished the last of her salad with the reply, “Try it. But only as a last resort, okay?”
Deciding that this wasn’t a card to be thrust into a pocket to be crushed, he took out the billfold that held his badge and placed the card into the pocket on the other side of it. Snapping it shut, he replied, “Well, it might as well be next to that piece of tin, to keep it company.”
Camilla picked up what was left of the meal they had shared and tossed it into a bin nearby. Motioning to Tom, she led him to Brent and the children where she said her goodbyes to them. She spoke with Brent quietly for a moment before turning to the kids and giving them a long loving hug.
Tom knelt down to look into the kids eyes and said, “Look after your Dad, okay, kids?” The answer was just a shy nod from them both before they ran over to their father and hid behind him. Tom stood up and offered his hand to Brent, “Do her proud right?”
Brent shook the offered hand with a firm grip, “I will. Watch your back out there, Thomas. Not all things are exactly what they seem.”
Releasing his grip, Tom said, “Rarely is. But sometimes you see exactly what is there, Brent.”
He then turned away and walked to Camilla: “Let’s go. Time’s a-wastin.”
It was a short walk until they were out of sight of Brent and the children. Then Camilla’s horns and tail reappeared as she drew a pattern in the air. Moments later and a portal appeared.
“I don’t think I will ever get used to that.”
She laughed, “Be happy you don’t have to deal with a Tail.”
“Seriously: what exactly does that mean?”
Camilla just smiled as they passed through the portal and it closed after them, leaving a small whirlwind of dust in their wake.