This week has been hell on wheels.
Like…RBG…I just…I don’t even have the words.
I desperately need fluff. Maybe you do too. It might mean tacking on extra chapter or two down the road, but I decided that both parts of Chapter 34 are going to be Grade A, BBD Universe Fluff.
I’m not kidding. There’s like 5% angst that’s immediately resolved and followed by fluffffffffff. The characters might have sad thoughts but then FLUFFFFFFFFFF. There are gonna be fight scenes in part two but they are FLUFFFFFFFFFFFF.
You’ve been warned, but also, I just hope you enjoy it.
Sunset Bistro, Windenburg
“No, Sullivan, I just want you to observe them for now. And if getting iced coffee for Alice’s mother is the worst of things you have to suffer, consider yourself lucky. I’ll call when we’re ready.” Miss Hell hung up the phone before the vampire had a chance to answer and turned her attention back to Jimena, “I’m sorry, you were saying?”
Jimena’s smile was too broad, eyes too bright, “Like I said, I just happened to be in the neighborhood for dinner and thought I’d come by to help improve your plan.”
“Please,” Miss Hell took a sip of her nectar. “I find myself anxious to hear how you think you can help me.”
She nodded as Jimena began to talk, though her mind drifted to Sullivan. Miss Hell started making her secret cache of vampires years ago, knowing that once she betrayed Vladislaus, she’d need lackeys that were loyal to her. A loyalty that only went one way, of course. She wasn’t a fool; she knew she there was an excellent chance those lackeys would have to become cannon fodder.
“Rabbits are very fast, did you know that?” Jimena said, pushing back a lock of hair, “They can outrun predators, slip into small hidden places. They’re skittish, which seems like a weakness but really is a protective instinct. A skill.”
Miss Hell gave her an exasperated look, “There are many ways to skin a rabbit, Jimena. What is the point of this digression?”
“You want to corner the rabbit by fear, trigger its skittish instincts before we’ve had a chance to close it in,” Jimena continued in a conspiratorial whisper.
As if the Goddess Elmyra was the only creature who hunted.
As if Alice Martin was a rabbit.
It struck her then, just how far she had fallen since she made her deal with Somnus. When The Owl first appeared, she thought it would be the culmination of centuries worth of planning. Now she was sitting in some half-rate restaurant with some god’s delusional servant. If that’s what Jimena even was, Miss Hell had her suspicions.
“It’s easy. You will strike and the rabbit will run,” Jimena leaned in again, eyes working overtime to pull Miss Hell into the drama of the moment, “And then you’ll be stuck chasing it.”
Von Haunt Estate, Windenburg
Gwendolyn stood next to Vlad, hands clasped behind her back. She gave Alice an innocent smile that did nothing to prove her trustworthiness. Alice had seen the kid put a sword through Vlad’s heart without hesitation.
Still, there was no one better to act as Vlad’s taste-tester. No one would care about a little kid wandering around, and Gwendolyn had zero qualms about lying to adults. More importantly, she was not intimidated by Vlad in the least, so she’d tell him the truth if something sucked.
Alice folded her arms and gave them both a stern look. “Listen, everything today needs to be normal—no setting appliances on fire, no pie-related schemes of any kind. Just bake and make sure the thing you bake doesn’t suck. Neither one of us can afford to get kicked off this week.”
They both nodded quickly. Almost too quickly.
“Come on,” she sighed. “Let’s go.”
Akira had been furious with his sister many times, but this one was a contender for the top spot.
“Titania, are you fucking kidding me?”
“No,” she said as she pushed past him. “Miko! It’s been centuries. My brother is selfish and sought to keep you to himself, but I would never let something like that happen.”
He could see the emotions flashing across Miko’s face. However skilled she was at manipulating them, she wasn’t adept at hiding them in herself. She settled on a polite smile. “Titania, Oberon, it’s nice to see you too. I didn’t know you were coming, or we would have gotten a place with more room.”
“Nonsense,” Titania scoffed. “There are two rooms and two beds. More than enough. Oberon and I have decided not to kill each other this week, so we can sleep in the same bed.”
Miko’s eyes widened in panic. Akira stepped in. “I’ll take the couch.” If he was going to be in Miko’s bed, he was going to be invited. He looked at the rickety piece of furniture with its patches and peeling varnish. “I’ve slept on worse.”
“Fuck it if that ain’t the truth! Remember the siege against the dragons? You slept in a muddy ditch for a week, son! Didn’t complain once, I might add,” Oberon announced with a wink.
Akira wondered again what the hell his family was doing here.
“So, you’re going to negotiate with the gnomes?” Titania asked as she searched the kitchen for a clean glass. “Any plans for what boon you’re going to give them? You know if you pick the wrong thing, you’ll piss them off.”
Akira ground his teeth together. Titania was a know-it-all. Always had been and probably would be for the rest of their immortal lives. She baited Akira purposely just to see him lose his shit. “I’m not a fuckin’ idiot, Titania. We just got here an hour ago. Why don’t you just save us all the headache and tell us whatever bullshit you have planned?”
“Oh, well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is pie.”