“At least this dress is better than the sequin nightmare you forced on me in Dallas,” Pam commented while twisting left and right in front of a mirror, admiring her figure in royal purple lace. “I’ve never worn my hair like this before, but I like it.” Her blonde tresses were sleek and straight, sweeping over her left shoulder. Eric grinned at his progeny.
He cut an equally impressive figure. His charcoal gray suit was just a shade too light to be black and his starched, white button-down was appropriately conservative, but he coordinated with his child, donning a deep purple tie and pocket square. Eric knew that, together, they’d be stunning and too intimidating to be approachable.
He looked over the third member of their party. Addie’s golden tan had paled slightly with nerves. Despite the wan tone of her face, she still looked stunning. Iridescent, ice blue chiffon swathed her svelte frame from bust to knee, revealing nothing but enticing the imagination. The color paired nicely with her pale golden waves and made the green of her eyes stand out. “Shall we go over the plan again?” the Viking asked, wanting assurance that the hybrid knew her part.
Addie forced herself into work mode. “The head of R&D is a guy named Richard Shale. Duke University, class of 2010, bizarre double major of chemistry and communications. Hired at Rochol upon graduation in development, working up the ranks until being promoted in 2021. Husband to Merida, father to Kelly and Ricky. No vices that can be exploited have been discovered as of yet. Loves his job, but greatly desires to find that ‘next big thing’ to make Rochol as well-known as Pfizer or AstraZeneca. Sangcorp went bankrupt thanks to TrueBlood and he has to know that. If necessary, I’ll persuade him to take a chance on NuBlood.”
The female vampire begrudgingly nodded. “And why are we doing this little meet-and-greet at a cocktail party/fundraiser and not an office or boardroom?”
The hybrid managed a grin. “Because he’s a family man and rarely works after sunset. Also, Merida Campbell Shale will be in attendance and she’s been a vampire rights supporter since her days at NYU. Her presence can only help.”
Eric slipped a thumb drive with relevant data into his jacket’s inner pocket. “I look forward to seeing you work, Miss Brennan. I’m sure it will be… intriguing, to say the least.” After watching a smaller blonde with chocolate eyes sift through the minds of his employees to find a thief, it would take more than persuasion to awe him.
However, he could see her resistance to glamour as useful for a day-person in some ways. He and Pam had gone through several since starting NuBlood as they tended to have short lifespans. More than one vampire had attempted to end Eric’s or his child’s existence, thwarted only by the Viking’s own superior sense of survival and protectiveness, based on information glamoured out of his day-man. It didn’t hurt that the hybrid was smart, driven, resourceful, and beautiful enough to be dangerous. Her closeness with the area sheriff… well, he’d decide later if that was an advantage or a hindrance.
With Pam on his arm and the part-fairy following, Eric left the vampire-friendly suite he’d leased in Lex’s hotel. Since his stay in the nation’s capital had been extended indefinitely, he wanted to stay in the most luxurious facilities available to his kind. Because the former prince had tripled his fortune by catering to the needs of the undead, Eric felt that the sheriff’s hotel would only provide the best of the best. He’d been satisfied so far. The donor service was prompt, the donors themselves attractive and clean, and the rooms comfortable for both relaxing and entertaining. The view of the moon illuminating the famous, delicate, short-lived cherry blossoms decorating the hundreds of trees gifted from Japan was spectacular.
As content as he was with his lodging, he was not pleased to see the sheriff in the lobby. Dressed in a pewter gray suit, a lighter gray shirt, and a tie the same color of Addie’s dress, he could only assume they were becoming a party of four. From the student’s happy look of surprise, he guessed that she hadn’t been informed.
“Northman, surely you didn’t think you could borrow my fairy and not take me along for the ride. She is Mine, therefore, her protection falls to me. Have your meeting, watch her, verify her skills. I will stay in the background, seeing to her safety.
“How do you intend to get in?” sneered Pam, not liking the amount of attention yet another fairy-hybrid was receiving from vampires who should be old enough to know better.
Lex smirked and drew a red embossed card from his suit pocket. “This? I’ve had this for weeks. I didn’t intend to go until about… ten nights ago.”
The night he met the pair. The night he learned the truth about the girl posing as his pet. The night he gave his blood to a fairy-hybrid. The night he’d placed an emergency call to his hotel’s donor service to help relieve the waves of lust coming from his sleeping… pet? Friend? To himself, he’d simply refer to her as his curiosity. It solved his dilemma of finding an appropriate title.
The Viking rolled his eyes and escorted his progeny to the limousine hired for the night. As was proper, he allowed the fairy and the sheriff to enter before him. Once all were seated, Lex asked the girl next to him. “So how will this work?”
Pamela continued to glare. As the second oldest being in the vehicle, Eric should have been asked as a sign of respect. Never mind that he – Eric – had been wanting clarification on the details himself.
More comfortable with the former prince than with the intimidating Viking and his surly child (how did he put up with someone so thoroughly unpleasant?), she expanded on the plan she thought of a week and a half earlier. “My Vampire Civics professor is in a book club with Mrs. Shale. Without asking for a reason, she feels compelled to introduce me to a fellow rights activist. I’m sure I can persuade the missus that her husband should be included in the conversation. Once I have his interest, you two come over and give your pitch,” she summed up, focusing on Eric and Pam for the last part.
“If this meeting is impromptu, what was the point of all the phone calls that night?” Pamela asked, wanting to find some flaw with the hybrid. She was sick of being reminded of her tawdry human past anytime she inhaled around the girl.
Addie’s grin became a proud smirk. “I recognized the name ‘Shale’ from some of my professor’s conversations. I also knew that she was on the board for ‘Prey and Predator Unite’. They are the benefactors of tonight’s invite only soiree. I contacted my TA, got Professor Rice’s contact information, and found out that Mrs. Shale is also on the board, guaranteeing they would be there tonight. I unashamedly used my gift to get invitations, not just for myself, but for the two of you.” Her fairy pride flared as though a fuse had been lit. “I provide you with a way to get what you came to Washington for, without pain or bloodshed, without you being beholden to the sheriff, and not once have you shown a single sign of appreciation. Not only am I treated by a barely-educated hillbilly, especially by you,” she spat at the other woman in the car before eyeing Eric and continuing, “but your suspicion and general rudeness,“ she said looking at Pam again, “don’t encourage me to help you any more than I already have. I can’t be glamoured to comply and I’m under the sheriff’s protection. And don’t think for a single second that I’ve given you all of the information that I know. That would just be stupid.”
Addie flicked her eyes to Lex, hoping for a sign or some kind of confirmation that she hadn’t overstepped. He just looked back at her with a proud grin and a slightly raised eyebrow. He could feel her confidence grow with these small gestures. “After all,” she summarized with a nod toward the sheriff beside her, “I am His. If he decides assisting you is more of a figurative pain in the ass than he’s willing to deal with, I’m done. His wants take precedence over either of yours any night.”
Pam stared at the pair, both smug with their level of power. Her fangs threatened to drop and her every instinct told her to rip the throat out of the impudent little bitch across from her.
In his gums, Eric’s fangs itched as well. Not from irritation or anger though. Something about her expression took him back more than twenty years. It had been a long time since he had been so disrespected; it actually amused him. At least this one didn’t say that she preferred cancer to him.
While she sheriff and his hybrid chatted quietly and his child seethed silently beside him, he considered what he now had in his life. His perfect child, his Pamela, was the same sentimental yet cold, heartless bitch that he cared for like a sister. His absent child, his Willa, would likely stake him happily if given the opportunity. He cherished the memories of his beloved Godric and Nora… the French girl murdered by the Yakuza. Funny, she had once been so important to him, yet he could no longer remember her name.
Eric had always appreciated the nomadic life. Going where he wanted when he wanted… it was the main reason he had been so disgusted by the sheriff appointment. Being tied indefinitely to one area after having the freedom to come and go as h pleased for more than nine centuries had been hard to swallow. Other than the considerable income generated by Fangtasia that was funding his current endeavor, only one other good thing came from his regrettable free-range prison sentence in the godsforsaken backwoods of fucking Louisiana. And while he would love to see his telepathic fairy spitfire again, he also knew that he was shallow enough to become disenchanted by the aging process taking its toll on her beauty. No, he’d decided years ago, better to remember her at twenty-seven than the see her wrinkled, sagging, and going gray. Even after a quarter-century, he could feel his blood in her. Not enough to track her or feel her emotions, but enough to know that she remained among the living. That was enough for him.
He considered the hybrid across from him, who was looking down and blushing a delicious shade of pink as the sheriff whispered in her ear. That the girl was definitely attractive he could admit easily. However, even if she hadn’t been claimed by a sheriff twice his age, Eric had no desire for anything other than her skill. He didn’t know if something about her fae scent pulled his human memories to the forefront, but it was not a sensation he was comfortable with, despite his happy mortal life (until fucking Edgington slaughtered his family, that is). He knew Pam didn’t like or trust the girl in the least, but that had never changed his mind before. While the girl piqued his interest, he truly didn’t care to know more about her. Quite the opposite from the last fairy hybrid he’d encountered. He couldn’t learn enough about that fragrant little obsession.
Lex watched the blood rush to the cheeks of his… curiosity. When she’d seen him in the lobby, he felt her relief and determination, but also her attraction, arousal, and embarrassment. She knew he could feel her over the past week and a half and he knew that she was mortified. Being the prince he used to be, he attempted to calm her by offering his arm and helping her into the limo. However, his sense of humor also wanted to play. Once seated, with the Viking and his progeny going into downtime after his pet stood up to them, Lex had leaned in and whispered, “Sweet dreams last night, tesoro?”
Addie’s courage and sass rushed to the front, overtaking her obvious discomfort. “Love, if you had seen my dreams for the past ten nights, even you would be blushing. If only five drops of your blood do that to me, can you imagine what five drops of mine would do to you?”
His cool lips brushed the outer shell of her ear. “I’ve been thinking of little else since we met.” He let his fangs drop and felt her shiver at the sound. “I think you could positively enslave me.”
She bit her lip in an attempt to hide a whimper. It mostly worked. Lex’s lips quirked up in a quick smile before pressing a chaste kiss to her cheek. “Alright, love?” Feeling the limo slow down, the younger two vampires snapped to attention and focused on the semi-human. Lex lightly ran his fingertips down the back of her bare arm. “I know you’re going to dazzle us tonight, la mia piccola fata. From here, you go alone.” The limousine stopped and the chauffer opened the door.