William watched as Vlad brought Alice a cup of coffee that he’d made himself. Well, “made” was a strong word. He stood around the kitchen glaring at the coffee-maker until Caleb took pity on him. Still, it was progress. Kind of like the ease with which he adapted to losing all his clothes in a fire and being forced to wear the cast-offs of college students. William had geared up for a real fight but Vlad just gestured at Alice’s skirt and explained that not everything about these wardrobe restrictions was bad.
William knew he should be delighted, this was everything he’d worked for and yet, the feeling in the pit of his stomach was not delight. It felt like—
“They aren’t going to let you on set if you don’t fill out paperwork,” Alice warned.
“They will if they want to keep their hands,” Vlad replied darkly.
William bit back a smile. Alice was a firecracker, but she’d never seen Vlad be truly unreasonable. He had worked for this moment, yes, but William knew it wouldn’t come so easily. Maybe he’d need to stick around a little longer after Alice got The Owl.
“Alright Vladislaus, there’s no need to—”
“You know I could just smite you off the face of this planet, right?” Alice mused, taking another sip of coffee.
Instead of lashing out, Vlad pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. “I know, I like it.”
“I am trying to threaten you,” Alice whispered, but there was a smile in her voice.
“Threats and smiting? Why, Alice Martin, are you trying to seduce me?”
And then, because William needed to feel even more like a third wheel, Vlad proceeded to kiss her.
He could do nothing but watch in awe as Fear itself whispered promises about cooperation and led Alice out the door.
“She’s gotten Vladislaus to agree to paperwork,” William said absently as Caleb and Deacon descended the stairs.
“Quit gloating,” Caleb chastised. “You were right, Vladislaus needed proper motivation. I remain unconvinced it will last but for now I’ll strike it as one less thing for me to worry about.”
William furrowed his brow. He didn’t feel triumphant or satisfied. He felt—
“Dude, those Pleasant sisters are smoking hot,” Deacon whistled. “Do you think they’d be into me? You know, even as a zombie? I plan to maintain my fitness routine,” he explained, flexing his muscles.
“Deacon, we have been over this,” Caleb snapped. “If you’re going to search their house you will need to stay focused. They are basilisks. Our enemy. We’re not going to date them, we’re going to kill them.”
Deacon bowed his head, but William was taken aback. No one had talked to him about this!
“You can’t have him sniffing around all the Pleasant girls’ things! I’m—“
“A vampire,” Caleb cut in, rolling his eyes. “They’ll track your scent in a second and the element of surprise will be lost.” He waved a hand dismissively, “Basilisks keep their prey rotting in storage under the house. Deacon won’t smell any different so he can easily slip in and out.”
William struggled to maintain his mask of calm and good nature. “I see, and what part do you have me playing in this plan?”
“None,” Caleb replied, looking down at his phone. “You’ve got your own information to track down. Or better yet, enjoy not babysitting Vladislaus and go out and get laid.”
Deacon gasped. “You haven’t been—”
”No. What? I’ve been plenty…I’m quite often…” William tried to think of the last time he’d taken a lover. Cars hadn’t been invented, which was a troubling sign.
“I don’t have a problem with any of that, thank you very much,” he finished primly.
Caleb snorted and motioned at Deacon who followed him out the door.
William hesitated. This whole morning had made him feel—
He wasn’t afraid of—
Of course he was ready to get back out there! He had his own life! Didn’t they see him flirting with Dylan the whole ride back to Windenburg?5
William was charming, he could get laid if he wanted! And he didn’t feel…at least he was trying not to feel unmoored. That’s why he was going to go and make his move right now.