Notes: This one was a doozy to write and edit! I’m really trying to barrel through this last insane week at work so Part II will have to come later this week…also I have a CW for the whole blog but heads up, this chapter does get pretty violent.
Oh yeah, and there is a tiny (so small) easter egg if you click the link in Vlad’s part of the story and skip to page 3.
It is not widely known that the requisition forms for the summoning of Bonehilda’s husband are actually non-existent. He just shows up whenever he wants…which is pretty rude if you think about it. – The Book of the Dead, Revised Edition
Alice swallowed. This was fine, right? This wasn’t her first rodeo. She knew at least…er…two other vampires. And besides, Ben just got finished telling her all the multitude of ways she could kill one without even really trying.
Ben cleared his throat. “Yes, well, this feels like a good time to remind you that even though you have the powers of the God of Death, your body is still very much mortal. Best to proceed with a modicum of caution…Alice? Are you listening? This is pertinent information…”
Alice didn’t answer. She was too busy trying to slow the panicked beating of her heart at Ben’s “timely update.”
“Well, I’ll just let you handle things. Good talk!”
At some point, when they made it out of this situation alive…if they made it out of this situation alive, she would have words with Ben about timing and pertinent information.
Alice tried for conversational but her voice came out tense. “So there are a lot of vampires in San Myshuno?”
The woman raised an eyebrow and gave her a cruel smile.
Correction: Scary vampires. There were a lot of scary vampires in San Myshuno.
With a finely manicured hand, the vampire gestured around the room. Her accent was slow and smooth, dripping with honey. “Oh indeed. Vampires are everywhere my dear. We are legion.”
Alice gave her a weak smile but a dark look passed over the vampire’s face as she continued. “And we creatures of the night are quite territorial. A queen does not like interlopers tromping through her lands without an announcement.”
“Queen?” Alice squeaked out.
She didn’t understand vampire politics at all. In fact, before now, she didn’t even know there was such a thing as vampire politics. Her father would be beside himself at her idiotic mistake. She could hear his voice now, chastising her for assuming that every culture was just like hers.
Mouth dry, she dropped into what she hoped was a curtsy. “Oh! Uh sorry your…” she groped around for the right word. “Majesty? We…uh…I wasn’t quite myself the other day when I was making arrangements but I can see now that I…uh…made a mistake and I’ll just be going.”
Alice wrapped up her rambling apology with a desperate, cheerful wave as she stepped back towards the door.
“What are you doing?” Ben cried. “That’s the most expensive stove on the market! And I should know, I used that flat talking screen in your pocket to check!”
Had Ben lost his shit?
“What am I doing?” Alice hissed between gritted teeth, “I’m getting the fuck out of here. Post-haste!”
“Did you forget what you just said to me?”
“No. I said proceed with a modicum of caution. As in, ‘move forward, but with a little caution.’ Not run at the first sign of trouble!”
Now Ben was passive-aggressively defining words at her?
Alice continued backing away as they argued. “Run? Stay? Fight? Make up your mind! You can’t see the vampire lady licking her lips and preparing to eat us? And not in a good way!”
Alice paused, remembering that Contessa was still in the room and that no one could see Ben except for her. Was looking insane a good defense against vampires?
“No offense, umm…”
“Contessa,” Ben supplied
“Contessa,” Alice finished.
The vampire—Contessa fluttered a hand across her chest and looked amused. “Of course, my dear. None taken. In fact, why don’t you stay awhile?”
Alice blinked and then yelped when the vampire dissipated and reappeared behind her.
Contessa’s voice took on a sharp, dangerous tone. “I was just hoping that we might get to know each other a little better.”