CW: Strong language, adult situations, depictions of grief, trauma, and severe depression.
Vlad’s House, Henford-on-Bagley
After hours of reading, pacing, pretending to sleep, and driving Latimer insane with the number of times he texted, “is it alright to wake her?” Vlad noticed Alice finally stirring. He clasped his hands behind his back, trying to give the appearance of patience. “So Salim attended a lover in the restroom of a nightclub while you were taking a pregnancy test?”
She rubbed her eyes and blinked. “Uh…good morning.”
“I don’t think Salim knew I was taking a pregnancy test,” she rubbed her eyes again, “Where’s Gwendolyn? She needs breakfast.”
“Downstairs with Latimer. She had breakfast; I made her a frittata.”
“You what?” Alice’s mouth fell open. “And she ate it?”
“Of course, she ate it; it had spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Also, a little quinoa on the side. I don’t understand the problem.”
“Well, normally she eats like crackers, dry cereal, applesauce…”
Vlad frowned. “All of that sounds awful. Regardless, we should return to my earlier question.”
“I told you a ton of stuff about my life, but you’re only worried about Salim?”
Vlad wasn’t only worried about Salim. He’d been up all night searching his old books for references to death wands and ghosts. Most of it was incomprehensible, so now he was focused on the problem he could solve.
“When did you meet? Where does he live? Does he live there now? What are the access points of his building?”
“Nevermind. If you give me the address, I won’t have a problem getting in.”
“Are you losing your shit?” she asked.
He opened his mouth to deny it, but then Alice narrowed her eyes. “Radical honesty,” she emphasized.
He shut it.
“Vlad, I appreciate that you’re trying not to—”
“I’m not trying,” he corrected. The thought hadn’t even occurred to him. Why would he try not to lose it on her sorry excuse for an ex? Not when Salim humiliated her, broke her heart, and ignored his daughter. Not when Vlad could flay open his chest, take each of his bones, and snap them, one by—
He looked up. Alice stood and covered her face, groaning.
“I’m sorry,” he replied automatically.
“No, don’t be sorry. I’m annoyed at myself. Well, actually, I’m annoyed at Penny.”
“My best friend and the originator of this stupid idea. I thought radical honesty would be like ripping the bandaid off, but it’s more like opening the floodgates. We both have a lot of baggage.”
His skin tingled. Vlad liked the “we” part. Previously, being “a lot” was a solo adventure.
“We need some ground rules,” she added.
“I don’t like rules,” Vlad told her.
Alice stared for a long time and then wrapped her arms around him. “Me either.”
Maybe she thought she was soothing him, rubbing small circles into the small of his back and murmuring, “it’s gonna be okay,” but Vlad was not soothed. In fact, he was alarmed. He could barely manage the rules Latimer set out for him, and now there would be more? What terror did she intend? What absolute horror?
“This is going to help us.” She hugged him tighter while Vlad let his arms hang limply on the side.
“Is this part of a plan to kill me?” he whispered.
Alice’s response was a laugh.
Ana’s Penthouse, San Myshuno
“You’re joking, right?” Caleb growled. “Tell me you didn’t stroll into the middle of a spellcaster’s place of business and slaughter a patron!”
“I didn’t stroll through—“
Anastasia rolled her shoulders and adjusted her hat. “Caleb, I don’t know why you’re bothering me with this. I’ve just woken up, and this argument is making my breakfast cold.”
She was insane. Caleb clenched his teeth. “You’re wearing a couture gown.”
“It’s a suit,” she slid her hand to her hip, “And it is not uncommon to dress for breakfast.”
He would not get caught up in her bullshit–HE WOULD NOT. He jerked a hand towards her, “Do they also dress to murder witnesses? I’ve got nine slaughtered werewolves, the remains of a ritual at a crime scene that no one can parse, an unknown vampire creeping around, two dead mortals, and apparently, a mother who cannot stop herself from ripping out someone’s heart!”
Anastasia was unfazed by his shouting. “Are you angry because I killed some wolf or angry because it complicated your case?”
If he were being honest, mostly the latter. Not that he could be honest. Someone in this family had to have a conscience. “The murder, mother, the murder is the thing I’m upset about.”
She fidgeted with her gloves. “Good, because if you were upset about the case, I’d tell you to stop being an idiot and focus on the fact that your real suspect is not very old, not working alone, and unfamiliar with the supernatural sideshow the Sages call the Magic Realm.”
Caleb ground his teeth. He would not, repeat, not ask her how she knew this.
“I know you won’t give me the satisfaction of asking how I know, so I’ll just tell you,” she continued. “Only someone young and unfamiliar with the Sages’ campaign promises in 1882 would be stupid enough to worry about killing mortals to cover their tracks. That means they are far too young to slaughter a pack of werewolves alone, so they’d need help. Probably from another werewolf. They do love to betray each other.”
“I’m not finished. Only one of your crimes matters; the other two are incidental; stop giving them equal attention.”
Caleb laughed, pouring as much malice into it as possible. “And I suppose you know which crime scene to focus on based on your extensive experience.”
Anastasia cocked a brow, “Sloppiness, Caleb. If I’ve taught you anything, it’s to clean up after yourself when it matters. You seem convinced there’s a vampire at the center of this, so use your brain, my son. An older vampire, with more patience, wouldn’t dare leave so much evidence behind. My advice? Worry about the case you can’t solve.”
Caleb clenched his jaw so hard he feared it would break. Wasn’t she listening to him? He couldn’t solve any of these cases! “Oh, do you mean an older vampire like you, who left a witness behind to see her commit a crime in broad daylight while wearing a distinctive dress?”
“It was a suit. And do I look concerned about being caught?” She held out her hands in mock anticipation of being arrested. “Have you come to take me away?”
Caleb could only glare.
“I didn’t think so.” She turned and dropped gracefully onto her couch, shoving the food around on her plate.
Caleb searched himself for patience. His mother could push his buttons like nobody else, but he did love her. He’d protected her, even when the the threat was gray-white with sharp teeth and wild temper. “Mother, are you going to tell me why you’re wearing couture at six in the morning?”
She didn’t so much as glance in his direction. “No, Caleb, I’m not.”
Salty Paws Saloon, Brindleton Bay
Caleb dispelled his bat form, landing at the mortal bar in Brindleton Bay, where he agreed to meet Akira.
“According to my mother, our culprit is a young supernatural outside of Glimmerbrook. Also, we’re wasting our time on two of these crime scenes because the only one that matters is the one we can’t solve. How? Fucked if I know how. But at least I can rest easy knowing that a baby vampire must’ve done it because an elder vampire would never leave such a mess.” He snatched a menu from off the table. “Why did you choose this place? I hate this town.”
“One, you made me miss the deli, so I never got my cheesesteak. Fried fish and grits is the least you can do, and Brindleton Bay is known for it. And two, you need to get laid because you are coming in extremely hot.”
“I did get laid,” Caleb grumbled.
Akira shook his head. “Not good enough.”
Spinach? Sun-dried tomatoes? Quinoa? SHE’S A TODDLER GIVE HER CRACKERS AND CEREAL! VLAD YOU ARE A VAMPIRE, NOT A MIDDLE CLASS MUM WHO IS TWICE DIVORCED!
Vlad fantasising about dicing Salim is a mood. Okay I laughed way too many times during this chapter, first time definitely was Anastasia like ‘son stop hassling me about a murder I’m trying to eat my breakfast’ XD Poor Caleb. Imagine trying to be a change-maker and a sort of ‘cycle breaker’ when your parents are this lot XD
I really love the complexity of the relationships in this story and I love the idea of a platonic life partner as well < 333 I mean it's nice that Bella gave Cass the money but really? Doing it just to get her out of the house so she can fuck Caleb? Really Bella? : : P Forget Interview with the Vampire, Bella's more interested in Intercourse with the Vampire XD
I love that pic of Alice and Vlad lying together on the blanket. AND THE HEAD RUB CUDDLE HHH ;-; I love all the references to our stories in the books! Not gonna pretend the Divided one isn't my favourite because it is because validation because selfishness because we all love Kat, but I did laugh at 'Daddy Don' and also 'Lance-hot' XD
That line about outliving the consequences makes me realise something actually, there really aren't any consequences for vampires are there and that probably is a part of it. 1, anyone who tries to fuck with you could never best you in a fight, and 2 time becomes meaningless. Jail sentences are probably nothing to an immortal (especially if you just drain the cops dry LMAO). Like prison for Vlad would just be a buffet. XD
AAAH THE VIDEO I AM SO EXCITED FOR SHIT TO ABSOLUTELY HIT THE FAN YEEEEES
Vlad is absolutely a middle aged mom who is twice divorced (okay more than twice but who is counting)
I sort of love that you empathize with Caleb. I mean, Ana is a lot. But weirdly they all just love each other so she can’t resist doling out advice on his case and he can’t resist asking her if everything is ok.
Latimer = Vlad’s most stable relationship (that is saying a lot)
Bella is…uh…it’s gonna be fine.
INTERCOURSE WITH A VAMPIRE lololololololol I’ll just pack it in.
Vlad loves head scratches because he is a cat <3 I took a million additional unnecessary screenshots of this moment.
I’m glad you liked the books. You’re all canon now. I feel really lucky to have this community of creative geniuses all making dope shit and it fuels me!
OBVIOUSLY KAT IS THE BEST, ALICE KNOWS WHATS UP
I mean… *do* vampires outlive consequences? We shall see…
(Lololol daddy Don is the greatest and the Duchelli Legacy author is just a boss and it’s a SimLit worth reading bc it is bonkers and emotional and involves a sex positive Don Lothario and I can’t rave about it enough)
Lance-hot (I will be forever proud of this pun)
LOL, Vlad is going on about outliving consequences, and then the chapter ends with that guy he bit and possible consequences. I’m not sure if he’ll actually experience anything, since “The Brindleton Bay Men’s Club of Knowing and Knowledge” don’t seem like they can stand up to a vampire. But things can change… Hm.
Also, the contrast with Bella and Caleb kissing in front of the photographs of her family, one of which with her kissing Mortimer. And that divorce lie is going to bite Bella in the ass. I just know it.
I’m happy that Vlad and Alice are being honest with one another at least.
HAHAH yeah, you caught that huh? Oh Vlad, just keep chilling, I’m sure its al gonna be *fine*! I mean listen, maybe the club has a secret weapon! Who knows?
(I mean I know but…shhhh)
Whew. How could lying to your vampire boyfriend about your divorce come back to bite you (HA)?
So far, only one couple is acting even remotely sane and somehow it’s Vlad and Alice lol! Thanks for reading!
Wow, Vlad, way to greet someone in the morning 😂 What are the access points to his building omg 🤣 though Salim does seem crooked in absolutely every way. And also Bella is questioning him and he’s probably involved in a ton of other things. “Savagely mauled to death by a vampire” probably is not the twist she’s expecting her case to take.
Caleb is entirely too set on “not getting dragged into his mother’s bull” there. So much so that he reminds me of a teenager that ignores valuable advice just because muuuuuuuum said it. But that very much seems to be their dynamic, doesn’t it?
Hehee. Yes Latimer, you are quite irresistible 🤭 I love that Alice is basically getting “kind old grandpa” for free there. Who knew that dating a murder-centric, extremely mentally disturbed vampire came with extra babysitting perks?
[Mortimer had given Bella the greatest gift of their entire marriage: he was heading out of town.] So many red flags in this sentence alone oh my dear gods. I get that Bella isn’t happy. I do. But I have so incredibly little respect for her right now. Lying to her husband, trying to manipulate her teen daughter (some great projection there too, with the little “not everything is about you” bit), ditching her during an important moment yet AGAIN, bringing over her side piece while her son is home?!?!?!!? BELLA?!?! Lying to Caleb now oh my gods. That’s it. Bella is a potato 🥔 She’s not a mouldy potato, yet, but the woman is making so many bad choices and actively hurting her own children.
There’s such a stark contrast this chapter between Bella/Caleb, and Alice/Vlad. I’m so glad that she realised her constant flood of questions was giving her anxiety; I don’t even have thousands of years of baggage, and I’d get upset over having to anticipate constant questions too.
And now Caleb is going over in broad daylight. Dear lord. How long is it going to be before Alexander or Cassandra opens the door? Or even Mortimer himself? This is bound to explode so bad at some point.
King Daddy 😂🤣 bwahaha, it sounds so wrong when you say it like that. Awww thank you for the shout-out! I loved all the little references in there. Lance-hot. I will never forget that nickname. 🤣 Not a witch, Alice. Just a potential goddess trapped in human form again, maybe. Possibly. I have absolutely no clue this time around, am just along for the ride. 🤭
Ooooh. Oh bollocks. Well. What did you just say about not worrying about consequences, Vladdy?
Oh dear, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks so I really thought I replied to this! LOL, You are right: Vlad has absolutely no chill, Caleb is still like an errant teenager, and Latimer is Ultimate Kind Old Grandpa!
Bella is going through some things. Sigh. I mean, I want to defend her against that potato comment but I really can’t. Homegirl is a hot mess right now. As is Caleb, who is CASUALLY jogging over in the middle of the day. What is wrong with these two? Neither of them can control their impulses no matter how much they insist that they are “responsible” ones.
<3 awww thank you for noticing the contrast. It is hilarious to me that Vlad, who is arguably the most unhinged, is somehow killing it in his relationship LOL
Also, I adore your story and now it's canon that Tales of Camelot is in the library of the Strauds Universe <3
Consequences? What consequences?