CW: Strong language, adult situations, sexual situations, nudity, and if it was not already clear NSFW, y’all.
Ana’s Penthouse, San Myshuno
“She said I had small boobs! My own kid! Right in front of him!” Alice shouted.
Penny held the phone back from her ear. “Okay, but he’s seen your boobs. Obviously, he likes them.”
“Yeah, but he hasn’t seen my kid!” Alice wailed, “I’ve been avoiding him for two weeks, and I don’t know what to do.”
“My suggestion?” Penny caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and adjusted her lipstick. “Radical honesty.”
“Honesty,” Penny continued checking her reflection, testing out a few expressions. She didn’t want to appear too eager. “You’ve both been keeping secrets, and frankly, if you like him, there’s a high chance he’s level ten problematic, so best find out what you’re getting into now.”
“And what if he’s not problematic?” Alice sounded wary.
“He is. And if he isn’t problematic, then he’s a lunatic. I know your vibe. So put on your big girl pants, formally introduce him to the magnificent terror that is Gwendolyn, and tell him you want honesty in your relationship.” Penny nodded at her reflection as she said it. She’d worried about the jumpsuit, but it was actually perfect. It screamed “I’m a badass and not impressed by you.”
Not that Penny was doubting herself—the Pizzazzes didn’t do self-doubt.
“Are you doing radical honesty with this mystery woman you won’t talk about?”
Shit. Sometimes it sucked to have friends who knew you well. Penny made a bunch of fake static sounds. “Uh, you’re breaking up! I’ll call you later!”
She ended the call and knocked on the door. Ana answered in a sheer confection of an outfit that made her mouth go dry.
“Good, you’re early,” she slid a hand to her hip, “We can toast to my excellent guest appearance on Talib Tonight.”
Straud Manor, Forgotten Hollow
Caleb collapsed on the bed in the only room that his father kept clean. It felt like a damn time capsule and smelled like an old man, but at least it had a television.
“Psychopath,” he slurred. Tossing from side to side, he managed to fish his phone out of his pocket. He fumbled with the speakerphone setting. “Matilda is not talking to fucking vampires. Which, of course, she isn’t. Everyone hates me, and Akira is interviewing her with a fucking werewolf on the force because I’m a liability.”
“Caleb?” Bella’s voice sounded far away, “What are you talking about?”
“And another thing,” he declared, after a hiccup. “My father hasn’t talked to me in over a century. We had a big fight in 1882, he was a bloody monster, and he never even tried to fix it. Fucking decades and nothing! He just up and disappeared, but not like the vampire kind, all smoke and whisps,” he made a whooshing sound with his mouth, “More like just ignoring me.”
“What do you mean? You’re not making any sense. You—”
“And the witches!” Caleb couldn’t remember why he wanted to talk about the witches, but he went with it. “Everyone blames me for the witches, but that’s why I went to him. And he didn’t help, because he hates witches and then I was by myself.”
“I thought your sister was part witch. You father hates her?”
“He hates everyone,” Caleb slurred. The room was spinning in a way that felt deeply unpleasant. He didn’t remember if he hung up or she did but when he woke up, Bella was standing over him.
“Are you drunk?”
He sat up. “I was sad,” he rasped. “And also drunk.” He rubbed his temples, trying to clear his head. “Was I talking about my parents?”
“More like ranting,” she gave him a small smile. “You said they were complete and utter psychopaths.”
Caleb hadn’t seen Bella out of uniform before. He forced himself to look up from the bronze expanse of her thighs. “Did you just get out of bed and come here? What time is it?”
“Four in the morning.” She shrugged, “I’ve been called out for worse things than a sad vampire.”
He stood, intending to laugh her comment off and walk her to the door, but his body did not comply. Suddenly, he was standing right in front of her, her sharp intake of breath lulling him. “Why did you come here?” he whispered.
“You seemed upset.”
“And?” Her answer was critical. He held her gaze waiting for her to form the words.
“And I wanted to see you.”
Caleb wasn’t lovesick or prone to romantic delusions like the rest of his family, but when he asked to kiss her, and she agreed, every thought he had about not falling in love flew out of his head. His hand tangled in her hair as he nipped her bottom lip, fangs urging him to latch onto her neck and drink and fuck her all at once.
She pulled back, breathless as the words, “I’m married,” tumbled out.
It should have had more effect, but Caleb wasn’t even phased by them. “I didn’t realize,” he lied.
“I know…I should have told you.” She sounded apologetic, but was gazing at him with naked desire. “If you’re not working with Akira, I could use some help dealing with mortal suspects.”
“Right.” Caleb took his arousal and packed it in a box, tying it down until he was sure it wouldn’t burst out of him. “Of course. Let me take a shower and grab my coat.”