After a few moments, Contessa began to relax. She sipped daintily from her tea cup.
“You know, I used to torture and maim for fun. I mean, it was the days of the Magnolia Promenade Wars. What else was there to do? Feasts, sure, but those were some kind of boring once you gave up food.”
Alice gave her a quizzical look. What did she mean “gave up food?” Vampires preferred plasma, needed it for sustenance (she understood Vlad’s joke). But clearly they could eat. Right?
“Oh honey, most vampires, once they get a few centuries in, let their stomachs wither. Why hold on to the ability to eat food when you can gain something far more useful, like mind control?”
Alice turned away so Contessa couldn’t see her face. That jackass declared Jimena the contest winner and he couldn’t even taste her food?
She knew he wasn’t following her, but she kind of wished he was, just so she could tell him to go fuck himself.
“About that, you see, we and by ‘we’, I mean you, summoned…” Ben began.
Alice folded her arms and didn’t answer. Instead, she thought deliberately about how fitting it was for Ben to be unable to keep his mouth shut even when they were in a precarious situation and Alice needed her wits about her. So much for his weak ass promise of “I’ll be helpful.”
“Nevermind.” Ben sighed.
“Anyways,” Contessa continued with her own dramatic sigh, “I grew weary of it over the years. I mean, how many times can you hang someone by their legs and drip plasma into a bowl? I slept for a few decades, tried different things—building a grand mansion to throw great parties.”
Her voice took on a wistful tone. “I was an actress for a short while in the 50s, that was alright. Last year, I even renovated my penthouse and became a style influencer. Still, nothing quite fit…”
Alice nodded sympathetically as she studied a set of knobs and dials on the machine. What sort of monster would make two different handles with no labels?
“I mean, I guess being a style influencer was fine. I had a shopping day with Judith Ward. Didn’t take a lick of my advice though. Still wearing that sage forsaken red dress…”
Contessa sighed again, this one somehow even deeper than the last one.
Alice paused. Was Contessa bored? She sounded bored. Immortality seemed great and all in theory, but being around for centuries was probably boring as shit. Ben snorted in her head and Alice bit her lip to keep from laughing.
Was this Vlad’s problem? Was he bored?
Damn it. She needed to get him out of her system. Alice bent over and pulled a lever that she hoped started the machine’s mixer.
Contessa was still chatting. “Oh, but I have to tell you! A few months ago, I again found my way back to my first love. Only this time, it was some minor crimelord threatening the flower shop owner down the street—Zepar, a djinn. Very handsome. Great in bed,” she paused for emphasis.
“Anyways, I hung that fellow from his feet until he cried!” she exclaimed, her tone gleeful. “And then he returned all the money he stole and Zepar and I used it to throw the best block party the city had ever seen!”
Alice stopped fiddling with the mixer speed. Wait, Contessa wanted to catch criminals, not help them? Her methods were a bit…illegal, but couldn’t that energy be turned in the right direction?
Alice cracked her knuckles and smiled. Now that she understood Contessa’s desire, she had reached the most important moment of the entire negotiation. But she still needed to proceed carefully. Customers had to think that giving up the coupon was their idea, not hers.
And Contessa was definitely going to give up her coupon if Alice Martin had anything to say about it.
The Spice District
Vlad crouched, panting, his wings twitching with exhaustion. He had never met a creature he could not subdue. He had never been bested. Not when he was like this, the thing inside him awake and singing.
His thoughts were beginning to slow and he could feel a driving need to attack even as the part of him that was still Vladislaus Straud recognized the futility of the situation. Bones reset, tendons healed, and his power recharged.
How much longer could he go before he was unable to pull back?
Vlad shook his head to clear it, to try and form some semblance of a plan but the need to charge the creature in front of him was too great.
They tumbled mid-air, the creature knocking him to the ground.
Enraged, Vlad flew at him again, landing blow after blow and striking with his claws.
But like him, the creature seemed to reset and recharge. This time when he struck out, a flash of blue light cut through the air bringing Vlad to his knees.
Had they fought for hours or days? There was no way to tell.
Dimly, Vlad realized that he was out of options.
He was going to have to leash this darkness inside him. And then, this creature was probably going to kill him.
See, this is what happens when you mess with the God of Death’s Level-1 brownies—you get an ironic role reversal and the antagonist from The Princess and the Frog on your ass. All while she shows why a convenience store cashier would be selected as the keeper of hell on earth.
Haha I cackled as I read this. Highest praise hahaha!! I was only sad that I couldn’t find a bone vest for the shadow man. My poor computer was like: NO MORE CC GIRL.
I am liking the contessa. She’s a lot of fun already.
What in the world was that thing Vlad fought? Yikes! Did Alice subconsciously conjure that thing up when she told Ben they needed to make sure Vlad couldn’t find her? He did deserve to get his butt kicked for not picking her, tsk tsk!
Yeah, you’ll find out in later chapters but suffice it to say, Alice is crazy powerful. More powerful than anyone even knows. So powerful she can summon something dark and ancient and very strong…
But 100% Vlad deserved it. I LOVED writing him getting his butt kicked.
Ha! Alice has a good head on her shoulders. No getting word-tricked into having to do questionable things for her! My inner fey is both amused and highly annoyed by her not falling for it.
“That jackass declared Jimena the contest winner and he couldn’t even taste her food?”
😂😂😂 Glad to see you have your priorities all straightened out, Alice.
Yikes! What on earth is that thing that went up against Vlad – and won?! Also, that monster inside Vlad is scarily powerful. It doesn’t seem bothered by Vlad’s curse at all, either. I wonder what would happen if it got out, or completely took over Vlad. Nothing good, I’m sure.
Whoa! Well played, Alice. Well played indeed. This is what she should be doing instead of hiding away in the middle of nowhere because of Ben. That was a masterful manipulation if I ever saw one! 😁
HAHAHAHAHA yes! Now, if she had to go up against your inner fey, I don’t know if she’d be that successful.
A theme in this story is characters “having their priorities straight” ::wink wink::
Whew boy, I can’t wait for you to get answers to all of these questions!
love the cat-and-mouse-ness of all your character interactions! Contessa vs. Alice, Vlad vs. Alice, Vlad vs. William, well all of them, really. makes it so fun to read and hard to stop! Although when it comes to Vlad and Alice, it feels like it’s going to turn into cat-and-cat 😛
Okay thinking of all my characters like cats actually makes a lot more sense. I’m so glad this is coming through! I wanted the story to feel like it had tension—all these people wandering around with secrets, what will happen when they collide?
What the fuck is that creature in the skeleton mask? We see his face at the end, but god help me, how the fuck is there anything stronger than god-rage Vlad? 0.o
The Contessa as a King of Police … You know what, I’m on Team Contessa. That chick should be the King/Queen of Police. Why the eff not? Let’s give her a 5-year plan and see what changes she brings. Can it be any worse than the current system? Yes, yes it could. But it could also be worlds better, and I’m banking that if a strong woman were seated in that position it would be better than worse. I know that’s not their agreed plan, but I’m not against the idea of Contessa’s original idea.
Right?!?!!?! Hahahaha oh god, so many good things about Contessa Queen of police that I can’t say because spoilers, but let’s just say she runs a tight ship 😂
Uh, yeah, so uh, that’s a monster Alice casually summoned from the Underworld in the previous chapter to ensure she wasn’t followed.
So what’s stronger than Vlad?
So she runs a tight ship eh? Does she BURN SHIPS DOWN too? You know… a la The Strauds opening 😉
OH! HOLY SHIT.
I mean it should make sense that a God of Death > vampires, but FUUUUCK. Also, it’s obvious that Vlad is not an *ordinary* vampire. I mean if he were, William wouldn’t be practicing his hide and see skills.
Can I just stan a black woman as a mightier opponent to a white toxic man (or you know let’s just call it what it is, the embodiment of white, toxic masculinity). Like GOOSEBUMPS.
The rage of women who are poc and have suffered the most from white men, being THE revenge, but also issuing next lvl forgiveness to the atrocities committed against them. Goodness, this is too much for my Sunday-brain to handle, but STAAAAAAAAAAAAN so much.
All I can do is blush and flutter my eyelashes and say THANK YOU 😊 🥰
I am loving the customer service skills as a defense 😂
I have no words about Vlad. ONLY ANXIETY