Chapter 25: Unsolicited Feedback




It turned out Alice was flushed—with fever, and the house was thrown into chaos for a week. 

Latimer wouldn’t leave until Vlad called Princeton, and the sim showed up at the door and packed the old man’s bags himself. “We are senior citizens,” his friend snapped, “We don’t got no business around no fevers.”

Vlad and Lilith didn’t either, but in their case, it was because they were ill-equipped. Alice begged for ice baths, but neither vampire trusted themselves to safely monitor her temperature. Instead, Vlad regularly peeled off her damp clothing and held her in front of the fireplace, and Lilith supervised her water intake with a terrifying dedication. 

Gwendolyn was inconsolable. One minute, she was biting and kicking; the next—clinging onto him for dear life. He ended up holding her while he washed the sheets, did the dishes, and tried to get Alice to keep something down. 

He told Alice he was a thing of nightmares, but even nightmares could be laid low.

“Salim and Alice are the only two alive,” Vlad explained as he shifted Gwendolyn to his other hip. “It’s obvious that he’s the one trying to kill her.”

Lilith surveyed them both with disapproval. “You paired rainboots with that outfit?”

Actually, Gwendolyn paired rainboots with her outfit. She insisted on dressing herself, and Vlad, who was trying to reduce the total number of meltdowns he had to suffer through, decided not to fight her on it. “Can we focus?”

“Fine. Who cares about Salim? He’s still not your biggest problem. It’s only a matter of time before the police figure out you’re not a real lawyer and show up demanding to talk to Alice.”

Vlad frowned. She was right.

“Snack!” Gwendolyn demanded.

“You just ate,” Vlad admonished, but still, he rustled up a bowl of animal crackers.

“You spoil her,” Lilith sniffed. “And what are those? Store-bought cookies? Are you trying to kill her?”

“Yes.” The bowl clattered as Vlad set it down. “That is exactly my plan. Death by cheaply manufactured cookies. I’ve decided that I no longer prefer to make her a decent meal, not because I’ve been busy, but as part of my elaborate plan to eliminate her.”

“And yet you think you’ll abscond to Brindleton Bay every weekend and make me dinner.”

“I said I would, but unless you’re leaving right this instant, I have other things to attend to.” His phone buzzed with a reminder to pick up Alice’s prescription from the pharmacy—something for her stomach and her birth control. “Can you stay with her?” he gestured at Gwendolyn, “Just give her whatever she wants. I need to run an errand.”

“Of course you do. Another item on the list for this mortal you’re enamored with.”

Vlad felt a vein in his forehead pulse. “Is that a yes or a no?”

“That’s not a way to talk to me when you’re so in need of my help.”

“Help?” he scoffed, “Is that what we’re calling it? I received less feedback from you when I took one of your classes!”

“You need my feedback! It’s obvious you should have called Caleb the second you realized Alice was magical and involved in a crime. And you’ve been dilly-dallying instead of doing the smart thing and asking Mother for a lawyer.”

“And what the fuck have you been doing?” Vlad exploded. “Because I’ve been holding Alice’s hair back as she pukes and trying to read up on a wand that doesn’t exist while holding a toddler screaming bloody murder constantly. And at any point, you, in all your graciousness, all your great magnanimity, could have made these suggestions or, here’s a thought, just fucking did it yourself!” 

“Oh, now I’m responsible for your new girlfriend?” Lilith shouted before baring her teeth. “Ethren would never—”

“Get out.”


Vlad lifted Gwendolyn out of the high chair and then turned back to face his daughter. “Get. Out.”

“I’ll stop.”

“Will you?”

Whatever Lilith thought about Ethren or her birth parents, Vlad had been watching his daughter for three hundred years. He knew her, and so he wasn’t surprised when she struggled to answer his challenge.

“I hate you,” she hissed.

He grabbed his keys and Gwendolyn’s diaper bag. “Join the club.”




The proper way to respond to your ex-husband when he showed up after 180 years demanding a favor was to run him through with a sword. Unfortunately, it was hard to do that when he was pushing a stroller. “Whatever it is, the answer is no.”

“I don’t have time for ‘no,’” Vlad replied as he barged into her house. 

“Did you not hear me?” Anastasia demanded, hot on his heels. “I said get out!”

His forehead creased as he took in the broken glass and overturned furniture. “Is someone trying to kill you?” He traced a gauge mark with his foot, muttering, “And do they need help?”

Fuck that toddler, Ana decided immediately. With a roar, she snatched up her sword and launched herself at Vlad, the blade slicing his arm as he made to block.

“Damn it!” he pulled a sweeping kick, “At least give me a fucking weapon!” 

Ana did not. But bastard that he was, he still managed to get his hands on her other sword.

By the time they finished, they were both seething and bleeding. 

“I can’t believe we used to do this for fun,” he grumbled as he sat down hard. “This is not fun, and I hate you.”

“Yes, well,” Ana jabbed her sword into the floor and rested her hand on the pommel, “The feeling is mutual. Do you know how much this suit cost?”

“Do you know what a headache it will be to deal with a scared and crying two-year-old?”

They both glanced at the toddler, who was actually just giggling and clapping her hands. “My monsters! More play! Again! Again!”

Ana gave him a wry look. “Any other false accusations you want to lay at my feet today?”

He stood, smirking, “This is the happiest she’s been all week. Maybe I should let you cut me again.”

‘Let’ is a fancy way of describing how I nearly beheaded you. Drink?”

They walked out onto her deck, where Vlad immediately tried to keep the child from getting her tiny hands into everything.

“I’ll replace them,” he sighed, gesturing to the cookware the little demon was currently banging on. “Don’t judge me. It’s been a long week, and that child could bring even the holy mother of the occult to her knees.”

Anastasia did judge him, but not for carting around some unruly baby. “Whose child is that?”

“Whose trying to kill you, besides me?”

Her mind flashed back to Matilda’s text: Penny is off to find her fated mate. You can keep many things, Miss Hell, but never a wolf. We belong to the pack. “Did you find Lilith? Is she alright?”

Vlad winced. “She was so overcharged with magic she could have burnt Britechester to the ground. I took care of it, but she and I are at odds.”

She begrudged her ex-husband a lot of things: true happiness, a corporeal existence, but not communicating with their children. It was the one thing between them that they hadn’t burned to the ground. “Lilith hasn’t been sleeping. She just needs to get some rest, and then she’ll come around.”

“Yes,” Vlad’s expression was flat, “To her step-father, Ethren, who loved and raised her.”

“What am I? Chopped liver?”

“When it comes to Ethren? Yes. Your name didn’t even come up. And mine was only mentioned when she was chastising me for leaving him.”

Anastasia rolled her eyes. “You shouldn’t have married him. And you should definitely stop fucking him.”

“I was young and foolish when I married him, and for the record, I haven’t touched Ethren in years. I’m in a relationship. And while we’re on the topic, which one of your girlfriends destroyed your apartment?”

That was the thing about Vladislaus; he was her oldest friend. No one knew more about her or understood her better. They’d married for loyalty, not love. And they’d divorced for the same reason.

“I don’t know what you mean,” she said, pretending to busy herself with mixing another drink. “My relationship is fine. What’s this stupid favor?” 

  • Snow ~
    Jun 28, 2023

    Loved Vlad at the interrogation XD Alice VLAD IS THE LAST PERSON WHO WOULD CARE IF YOU WERE GUILTY OR NOT. Better not have a rice bath Alice, Vlad might try to count all of the grains. XD IDK if Lilith or Caleb will ever truly come to get along with Vlad again.

    And once again I love Anastasia. Next time my dad asks me for constant favours I know what I’m gonna do. XD Ooooohohoh YOU KNOW why I’m excited about Alice’s magic being brought up again. Also IDK why but I love these ‘there’s so much you don’t know about what you’re getting into’ scenes.

    NO Vlad, that’s YOUR idea of a date, not quite Caleb’s XD Awww Gwen has a toy bnuuy! I shouldn’t be laughing at this mess of Vlad / Caleb / Lilith family, lmao, but sometimes it’s funny. OOF at Caleb knowing Alice’s surname despite Vlad not mentioning it, this should get interesting…

    • feroshgirl
      Jun 30, 2023

      Lololol 200000/10 to this comment for the Eleanor Rigsby reference.

      You know, I think we’ll just have to wait and see how things shake out with Lilith and/or Caleb. They’ve definitely got a complicated relationship, but they’ve been through cycles of this before so we shall see. I would never create a situation that would force them to confront all of their family trauma together in one place ::cue evil laughter::

      FINALLY, SOMEONE ELSE WHO LOVES ANASTASIA! Truly though, she is one of my fave characters and I love her too.

      Oh, Alice’s magic? Hmmm…I’m sure there is nothing to see there. No big deal hehe.

      gwendolyn loves bunnies (sob).

  • Yimiki
    Jul 2, 2023

    Whoa, is that Ana crying? I don’t think we’ve ever seen her cry. Gods I hope Penny comes back after her rampage fizzles out, and they have an open and honest conversation… seeing Ana of all people break hurts way more than I thought it would 😣

    Oh no, miss, Vlad did not mean a lawsuit. He meant he’d raze the place to the ground. 🤣 I love how caring and considerate he is – Alice absolutely needs it right now. Oh geez, that’s right, it was Miko that kept him prisoner in that dungeon for so long wasn’t it? So maybe she did do the same thing to Akira and Vlad. For what purpose, I wonder? Vlad’s description of Miko torturing is horrific and yet it put Alice right to sleep omg 😆

    Of course Lilith casually killed the babysitters 😆 Ben and Grim won’t be gone for long.

    Ouch. Lilith is hitting Vlad right where it hurts, there. I understand why he’s so angry over Lilith remembering Ethren as her dad that cares for her. She’s also right, though. The vampire in her, she can only get a handle on with Vlad and Ana’s help. But her witch side is something that Vlad simply cannot do anything with. Having Ethren there to teach her, yeah, of course that would create a bond. And if Vlad denies that, it’s the same as denying half of his own daughter.

    Oooh, Lilith has a point there. Caleb can help free Alice from suspicion and Ana can absolutely get them a lawyer to defend her until then. Come on, Vlad. Swallow your pride and suspicion and do it.

    [The proper way to respond to your ex-husband when he showed up after 180 years demanding a favor was to run him through with a sword. Unfortunately, it was hard to do that when he was pushing a stroller.] 😆😂🤣
    WTH Matilda, how dare you! Penny is rampaging and you know it! That’s it, one exploding potato for you 🤬🥔

    YES THANK YOU VLAD for pointing out the obvious and making Caleb realise what an idiot he was with Titania 🤣 Oh, Caleb. I know that feeling. Trying not to begrudge the kid for your father suddenly deciding to be a better parent, while knowing they did not do that for you.

    Oh my gods, Bella. You ended things with him. You guys decided to stop messing around, remember? She’s so quick to jump to conclusions in the worst way. This is exactly what led to her accusing Alice. And it’s her that’s using Caleb as a distraction from her life, not the other way around. 😠

    Man, look at this comment waterfall. I’m completely invested LOL

    • feroshgirl
      Jul 9, 2023

      YASSSS SOMEONE TO JOIN ME ON THE “JUSTICE FOR ANA TRAIN!” lololol yeah, it’s sort of jarring to see Miss Hell herself hurt and falling apart, right?

      Ha! Yeah, um, anyone who knows Vlad knows he makes very literal threats.

      Oh man, I want to tell you all my Miko plans so badly but I will resist! You are on the right track though, I swear there will be answers this time 😈

      I’m glad you have some empathy for Lilith. I was hoping this scene wouldn’t read just as her being a monster (though to be clear, she is being pretty damn terrible).

      MATILDA GETS AN EXPLODING POTATO OMFG YESSSSSS. Like, homegirl has made this situation so much worse (though to be fair Anastasia did murder a member of her pack and force her into training Penny so I guess you get what you pay for?)


      But also, so is Caleb. Vlad might be out of his mind, but even he understands why Titania was upset lololol that scene between them was so much fun to write <3

      Haha buckle up, the first part of the ride is careening towards the finish line (I clearly do not know how to avoid mixing metaphors jfc)

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