Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 21

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

They were rescued from what Em was beginning to feel was a treacly morass of emotion by the insistent burbling of her phone. She dragged it out of her pocket. It was Leodigrace so she answered.
“Em speaking.”
“Your wererabbit is completely insane, Emmeline. He won’t ever be fit to be allowed back into society.”
“Well isn’t that a surprise. And what’s with the my wererabbit crap?”
Leodigrace laughed, a deep sensual sound guaranteed to melt the knickers of any normal female. But Em wasn’t a normal female so she snarled at him.
“Did you have anything useful to say, doggy?”
It was his turn to snarl and Em laughed at his discomfiture. 
“Okay, Emmeline shall we call it an honourable draw? And I do have some information you may find interesting.”
Em put her phone on speaker.
“I’m listening.”
“The batshit crazy bat hater was actually being paid to exterminate the small fliers. He seems to have reported locally to one Sidney Harmsley-Gunn, but the paymaster was an American gentleman called Dominic Schilling.” Leodigrace suddenly sounded serious and profoundly formal. “Be very careful, Emmeline Vanderbilt, your little village has something someone somewhere is prepared to go to almost any lengths to get. And. Queen of Vampires, I am permitted to offer you the aid of weres, should it be that we can help.”
Em felt a prickle over her skin at his formal tone. Leodigrace was someone she respected, which was rare for a were. They were still early on in their own Time of Mitigation, having not read the way things were changing as quickly as the vampire community. So now they had the same kind of problems with rogues that Em had needed to confront a century past. She had some sympathy for that, although tempered by frustration at their folly in failing to see the signs and leaving it so late. 
But Leodigrace had been one of the first to listen and had even swallowed his pride to ask her advice on how it could be done for the were community. If he was now offering his aid then whatever plans Harmsley-Gunn had bought into would be disastrous for the village. So she answered his formality with her own. 
“Thank you, Father of Weres.”
He broke the connection and Em looked at Agnes who was barely keeping her anger in check, but it was Ginny who held her attention. The wispy woman whose surprising bravery had bought her near destruction was gone and in her place sat a proper vampire. She looked as cold as death and as implacable.
“Dominic Schilling,” she hissed, “is a creature without honour or compassion, Demonic Schilling is closer to the mark and he belongs to Ronald Dump.”
Em heard the name, but for a moment she was unable to make any connection to the words. 
Agnes was a different matter. “Ronald Dump? Well we aren’t having that bastard on our patch.” Then she began to swear, comprehensively and with real white-hot anger.
Then Em put the pieces together. “Dump? Fat, bald guy with more money than God? Builds upmarket ‘resorts’, drives out the locals and bankrupts the surrounding economies?”
“Yes,” Ginny snarled. “That awful excuse for a human being. If I am right he will already have bought most of the county council. That’s how he operates – carpeting cash over everything so he can stroll over the crushed bodies to his next photoshoot with the latest bigtime supermodel. And Schilling is his procurer in chief, his right hand flunky.” She almost spat her contempt. “We have to stop him. That werewolf you were talking to is absolutely right. Everything we love about this village would be devoured by his obsessive need to win. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone except himself.”
Ginny broke off and closed her mouth tightly as if afraid what might come out of it if she let it open.
“You have encountered him before?” Em prompted.
 “I lost a battle with him many years ago. He wanted to demolish some listed buildings to expand one of his hotels. We had all the evidence. We had the law on our side. But he corrupted the leadership of the planning department – who I happened to be married to at the time. So he won then. But I’m ready for him now. And this time it’s personal.”
She flexed her fingers and Em almost heard the bugle that was calling her to battle.
Agnes finished swearing under breath and looked at Ginny.
“First stop, Harmsley-Gunn?”
“He invited me onto the parish council, so I really should accept.”
Ginny managed a grin so vicious that it gave Em a good feeling about their new recruit. She had thought her a wet hen, but the youngest vampire in the country seemed to be coming out of her corner, brimming with passion and spoiling for a fight even before her Making was complete.

Part 22 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

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