Myself: Is this…is this smut?
Me: [distracted] uh…what?
Myself: This chapter. Is this smut I see in this chapter?
Me: Oh….that. Well, yes. But its like a joke inside of a joke that will make good on another joke.
Me: And plot stuff. Very…umm…plot things.
Myself: [disappointed grumbling]
Windenburg Wash ‘n Fold
A whisper of black hair caught his attention, but Caleb Vatore resisted tracking it down. In the early days, he had followed every black strand, certain Lilith would be at the other end. Eventually, he learned to temper his impulses and think of his sister like a ghost.
You may choose to be angry or you may choose to move on, but I will not be moved. Lilith Vatore is weak. She lacks constitution.
It had been 90 years since Vladislaus uttered those words and while Caleb had moved on, his anger never cooled. It was only the violent, demanding nature of his work that kept him calm.
In that way, the King of the Windenburg Vampires was both the cause of his misery and the cure.
He paused just outside of the laundromat to adjust his cuffs.
Deacon stopped short, “Uh, bro, you’re telling me that we’re really gonna to do laundry?” he pulled at his shirt collar, “And I have to wear all these clothes?”
“Quit your crying. I really do need to pick up some dry cleaning and clothing will not kill you.”
“I know,” Deacon grumbled, “But it makes me feel like my whole body’s in prison.”
Evergreen Harbor, Grimm’s Quarry
Grimm’s Quarry was founded by a prospector who, to this day, William regretted sleeping with. In some ways, it was the inciting incident of his 100 -year dry spell. To anyone who asked, William would say that Arnold Grimm was insufferable. But the truth?
Arnold Grimm was not Tobias.
William had loved hard and he had loved once. In the subsequent centuries, no one had been able to replace Tobias in his heart.
Walking up on the property, he saw a large historical marker in the priory’s front garden.
St. Tellamyr Priory was established in 1399 and was home to an order of scholarly monks dedicated to preserving the history of the Windenburg. Under the guidance of 15th century King, Josef Straud, the priory saw great expansion and was eventually combined with the Good Order Monks. This original building was abandoned when the Order grew too large. It is maintained by the Neighborhood Council and its founders.
William snorted. More like the St. Tellamyr monks were driven out by anyone who didn’t agree with Josef’s hand-selected band of heretics. Still, it was strange to see the Good Order Monks even mentioned by name or be associated with Josef. Aside from them being long dead, quelling any knowledge of their existence had been Vladislaus’s one defining commitment. He attended to it with brutal efficiency and surprising little fanfare, given his love of bloodshed.
I do not intend to make them martyrs, he once said.
Mortals had no memory of the monks. The witches were so ashamed that a group with such weak bloodlines had seized power that they were all too happy to forget. Only a few old creatures could recall the reference and mad or not, they were unlikely to cross Vladislaus. So where had the marker come from?
He crossed to the giant entry doors taking great care not to put his fist through wood as he knocked. Though he’d lived in Windenburg for over five hundred years, the buildings and locations from his mortal life were mostly ruins. The memories that assaulted him were soft, misty things that could disappear on a squint.
But this place…
It had been preserved, cared for beyond even Caleb’s diligence, and the memories that came were bright and crisp.
He watched with more interest than he was willing to admit as Morgyn strolled barefoot along the walkway. They froze when they saw William, the look on their face quickly morphing from shock into smug indifference.
William savored that look, locked it into his mind. Do you see, self? This is who Morgyn really is. You cannot be enamored of so cruel a creature.
“Hello Sage,” William glowered, “Fancy seeing you here. May I come in?”
Windenburg Countryside, Dryad Territory
“Everyone is gone and I have a list of very filthy things I am going to distract you with while you practice,” Vlad explained, his fingers playing across the lace underwear he both wanted feel rough against his skin and take off of her immediately.
“Very. Filthy. Things,” he reminded her, emphasizing his point with a kiss. She moaned, grabbing his shoulder, and he let his fangs sink gently into her bottom lip. Two small beads of plasma formed.
His eyes nearly rolled into the back of his head.
“The car is—”
“A mile down the road,” he promised, his hand moving to her neck—“As we discussed,” he murmured, giving her a moment before applying just the slightest bit of pressure.
She arched into it before tapping his knee. He removed his hand, releasing her immediately. “Too much?”
“No,” she panted. “Are we going to talk about it?”
“What?” he asked, still puzzling over why she had given him the signal.
“The control thing,” she whispered, biting her lip.
Vlad had forgotten that sex could be fun. As he rediscovered the side of himself that enjoyed teasing, he also stumbled upon the side that was playful, filled with humor.
“Of course,” he winked—winked! When had he last done that? “Lie back, and I’ll tell you what I want.”
She started to comply but froze. “No,” she said, shaking her head, “I mean me controlling you.”
Also enjoyable. He licked his lips. “I await your command…”
“What?” her eyes widened, “I don’t want to command you! I’m talking about the thing Grim said when—”
“Must we discuss the Grim Reaper?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“No, not like that. I’m talking about the other day when…when…” she blew a curl out of her face in frustration. “Can you put on a shirt? I can’t think when you’re like…this, and we need to talk.”