The ancient teenager smirked at the Viking. Alexander Helios Ptolemy Antony had been a prince of Egypt before his mother’s suicide. His childhood was spent in Rome with his twin sister and younger brother under the care of his father’s widow. He followed his sister to Africa after she married at fifteen; his maker had found him drunkenly celebrating the birth of his nephew a few years later.
His first centuries were spent in Asia, India, and the South Pacific before his maker released him. Confident that his family was in the realm of legend rather than recent history, the former prince returned to Europe. He spent time in England, Germany, and the Balkans, but the temperance of the Mediterranean called in his blood. He returned to Italy in time to see the Renaissance explode.
While in Monte Carlo, only a decade before the Great Reveal, he collapsed with the pain of his maker’s death. Soon after, he was called by the King of the Riviera and received his inheritances. After vampires came out, he renamed himself Lex Anthony. He openly owned vineyards, orchards, property, and his pride – a cruise line especially for vampires and their pets. The ships were of light–tight with the full donor service on board and daylight amusements for any human companions. His time on the coast had led to many contacts that gave him permission to come to port at dusk so his customers could enjoy the nighttime attractions.
Lex’s businesses were successful and he was content, yet after being in the open for almost a quarter century, he yearned for a new challenge. His sibling, who had despised their maker and begged for release after a mere decade, had found both comfort and power in the American vampire Authority. A few calls told him that his brother had met the true death, but he had many conversations with Stanislaus’ comrade, Isobel. From her descriptions, Sheriff sounded like an appealing position except for having to answer to a monarch. He’d done that enough in his life and had no desire to repeat the experience.
A few nights of research gave him the answer. The country’s capital belonged to no state therefore had no royalty. The vampires of the area reported to sheriffs in Maryland or Virginia but not with consistency. They were lucky the area wasn’t in a permanent state of chaos.
Thus began his negotiations with the self-important, power-hungry bastards of the so-called Authority. After a year of arguments, interviews, and revised contracts, Lex chartered an Anubis flight (chuckling at the irony) to see his new area. He was pleased.
The prince immediately went about purchasing Sofitel Lafayette Square, making select suites and his personal penthouse discreetly vampire–friendly. He contacted the sheriffs of Northern Virginia and western Maryland for a count of his area’s vampires. A mass message went out to announce a meeting. When the ballroom to his hotel was filled, he introduced himself, listed the rules for his new area, and the punishments for breaking said rules. Although it took some time for the nocturnal residents to become accustomed to a new leader, he was mostly liked and unanimously respected due to his fairness, generosity, heritage, and age.
Two years after taking power, his front-desk security paged. A college student was in the lobby asking for the sheriff. She was neither a fangbanger nor religious zealot and had already been searched for weapons, of which there were none. The girl stated she merely had questions for her senior thesis and had been advised to start her interviews with the area sheriff before going off and interrogating vampires willy-nilly.
Lex’s curiosity was piqued and gave his guard clearance to send the girl up. Tan, blonde, and wholesome was not what he was expecting from a pre-law student specializing in vampire rights. Only more than two thousand years of experience and willpower kept his fangs back when her scent reached him. Memories of his long-ago youth came flooding back – honey and wheat, berries and fresh linen… the warmth and sweetness of sunshine. If he thought he’d be able to refrain from draining her, he’d glamour her for a taste. Green eyes met his confidently and she smiled. “Thank you for meeting with me, Sheriff. I’m Addie Michelle Brennan.”
Stealthily, the ancient vampire inhaled again, wanting to savor the intoxicating aroma wafting from her. “Aren’t you sweet?” he nearly growled.
“Not especially, but I can fake it if it helps get my thesis done,” the blonde quipped back with a smirk.
The cheeky reply charmed the man, not used to being needed, but not desired or feared. He nodded in acknowledgement and offered her refreshment as he settled into his seat with an imported bottle of mostly-synthetic blood. Sipping a glass of Chablis, Addie explained to Lex her premise. She planned to pursue law to advocate Vampire Rights; her mother suggested more research before making her decision on a specialty, hence her thesis topic. Her like-minded classmates had also suggested taking a job as a day-person, running errands while the sun was out. She would earn good money towards law school tuition as well as receive and insider’s view to vampires that not many were privy to.
As long as he didn’t breathe in her scent, Lex could enjoy the congenial company of the eager student. He didn’t often encounter one with a thirst for knowledge like this girl. He suggested some donor lounges she could visit and personally vetted some vampires in his bailiwick for her to interview. However, in return he requested she make a standing appointment each week at the penthouse. Despite having hundreds of vampires under his rule, numerous donors on call willing to open a vein or drop to their knees at the slightest gesture, and a large staff ready to fulfil his every whim, the prince was actually quite lonely and bored.
Addie agreed to the deal and came to enjoy her meetings with Lex. She’d be lying if she said his black curls, blue eyes, firm physique, and Greek-flavored Italian accent did nothing for her. Yet, from the number of willowy, hazy-eyed women that exited the penthouse as she arrived, she knew the vampire didn’t know the meaning of monogamy and her mother warned her about falling for one of the “solarly-life-challenged”. Even without her mother’s gift, Addie had always been able to read others. As much as she enjoyed the vampire’s company and listening to his stories, she refused to give him much of her trust beyond that of protection he provided.
Regardless, she kept her weekly appointments. Her classmates were jealous of her “relationship” with one of the oldest vampires in the country and certainly one of the most powerful. She accepted the envy with grace while silently wondering what was so special about herself that made Cleopatra’s son want her company.
As the deadline for her thesis drew closer, Addie’s stress began to grow. Lex detested the stale notes that tension added to her scent. As a gift, he presented her with a ticket to a Beethoven recital and a dress appropriate for the event. Relaxed and inspired, she spent the next nights in a fury of writing and editing. Once printed, she appeared at the penthouse to give her thanks and request an opinion of her paper.
He was still reading when she heard the faint tone of his security team calling his Bluetooth earpiece. He gave the student and apologetic smile moments later. “I’ll have to finish this later, love. I’ve had this meeting scheduled for months. Hmm…” Addie sat anxiously as Lex thought over something. “One of the vampires I’m meeting is half my age, which is still rather old. His travels seem to have run parallel to mine – going in the same direction, never to cross, until now. If he is willing, he and his progeny may be able to provide you with additional information with which you can refine a so-far exceptional thesis.
The co-ed nodded excitedly and adjusted herself to sit comfortably by his feet. In the role of pet she became invisible and ignored… and she learned the most delightful, dark secrets about this hidden world and its violent, sexual, fascinating citizens. She hadn’t seen the need to let Lex know his glamouring had no effect on her when it seemed her survival depended on its success.