Myself: I thought we were done with this.
Me: Done with what?
Myself: Smut! Some of this is…::lowers voice:: some of this is downright gratuitous.
Me: ::blinks slowly in confusion:: But they don’t even bone in this chapter.
Myself: ::makes angry gestures::
Me: I really don’t understand what you’re talking about. ::picks up remote::
Windenburg Woods, Dryad Territory
The living room was in such a state that Caleb despaired of ever getting his deposit back. The furniture shoved out of place, the piles of toys and clothing, the plasma dripping from Vlad’s rapidly regenerating fingers—they were all markers of chaos. Expensive chaos. Non-refundable chaos.
“You’ve brought a friend,” Vlad observed.
“And Gwendolyn bit off three of your fingers,” Caleb retorted.
“Four,” Alice corrected. “But we’re working on it.”
Vladislaus did not appear to be working on anything. In fact, the beast had the nerve to look downright delighted. “Her teeth are rather sharp, aren’t they?” he mused, pride coloring his voice.
“Yes,” Caleb drawled, “We all know you believe that few situations could not be improved by someone losing a finger.”
Vlad smirked. “Given your feelings about me, Caleb, I would’ve thought you’d applaud such an act.”
It did endear Gwendolyn to him, but encouraging Vladislaus was never a good idea. “Don’t you think part of raising her is controlling this sort of behavior?” He gestured around the room, “You mean to tell me, this is you working on it?”
“Okay, stow your pearls,” Alice interjected, giving him the finger, “We are like five days into this. Step one: stop her from throwing furniture and get to bed at a decent hour in the morning. Step two through, I don’t know, a million is working on her PTSD. And way, way, way down on the priority list, partially because he brings it on himself,”—she glared at Vlad—“is Phobos keeping his fingers.”
Amisyia failed to stifle a laugh. “What?” she shrugged, “They are funny.”
“They are not,” Caleb ground out, shooting her a look of censure.
“They are,” she insisted, “You said we were meeting the God of Death and Fear Itself, but you made them sound so dreadful.”
“Dreadful?” Vlad repeated, sounding offended but clearly anything but, “Oh, do tell.”
“There is nothing to tell,” Caleb snapped, suddenly feeling hot. He pulled at his collar. “Amisyia misspoke. I merely explained your background.”
Vlad grinned, a mephistophelian sort of energy pouring off of him. “Hmmm. It is wise to make sure your friend knows exactly what she’s dealing with.” He arched an eyebrow at Amisyia, “Do you have any questions about Caleb?”
“Don’t answer that,” Caleb told her, keeping the look of censure on his face. “She’s not a friend; she’s a trusted business associate.”
“I’m paying her!”
“Well, that’s an interesting arrangement.”
Amisyia coughed delicately while Alice bowed her head, presumably to hide her laughter.
Vlad placed his hands casually in his pockets. “I simply wish to understand. We are talking about sexual arrangement, no? Did you want to hide it because you’re running low on funds or because you believe us to be prudes?”
Amisyia’s cough broke off into a strangled laugh, Alice’s shoulders shook and Caleb prayed for a hole to open up and swallow him whole.
“You can’t possibly think your arrangement would shock us. Recently, we’ve begun to—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Alice cut in, “We are not so committed to this joke that we need to give up details about our sex life.”
“Why don’t we talk in the den?” she continued, motioning at the doorway.
Caleb’s brain was still stuck on the fact that Vlad, who had literally sent him to voicemail because he was too busy breaking somebody’s bones, was joking with him.