Chapter 19-Campaign Dinner
Will and I walk up the sloped sidewalk into the old brick town hall building. Will requested I wear all black to match him, but I think he just wants me to blend in more with the coven. Instead of wearing the same dress I wore to the ball, I picked out a black pantsuit to wear to the dinner tonight.
I didn’t really feel that comfortable getting out of the car with him and being surrounded by so many pesky reporters and coven members waiting for his arrival. I was not expecting his personal assistant to join us on the car ride here either.
“Beth, can you make sure they have proper seating arrangements for us? I’m going to take Valerie to get signed in.” Will tells his personal assistant.
“Yes, I’ll get right on that.” She says with excitement while striding ahead of us. Tomorrow is election day and Will is wrapping up his campaign trail tonight by making a big speech.
After Will and I finish signing in, he talks to some people that are part of his campaign team. The governor and retired mayor are attending too, but we haven’t spotted them yet.
Eventually, Will and I make it to the banquet room where we find Beth waiting at a rectangular table with a white tablecloth covering it and fancy plates. It’s in the center of the room surrounded by other tables similar in set up.
“Thank you.” I smile after Beth passes me a glass of champagne. I wasn’t really planning on drinking tonight, but why not? Might help settle the nerves. Will takes the other glass from Beth and the three of us sit down together. Soon after, all the other guests of the dinner tonight start trickling into the room. There are ten more tables besides ours and there’s just a couple now that are still empty closest to the doors of the banquet.
There are much fewer people here than there were at the ball. Most of the humans stay seated together, but a few tables have a mix of witches, warlocks and werewolves seated together. Our table is all coven members since most of them sitting with us helped directly with William’s campaign trail.
Loud chatter fills the room around us, mostly circling around the food for tonight and why they haven’t brought it out yet. There are still two long tables in the back that are empty. The mayor and governor are supposed to sit at the table behind ours, but their seats are still empty too. To the right and left of their table are the two empty skinnier and longer tables near the wall.
I kind of was expecting there to be a lot of police here tonight and unsurprisingly, there are. A large group of them files into the room and the room gets a little quieter seeing the number of officers keep piling in here. I’m sure many of the coven members are wondering why so many of them are here. They are preparing for the worst. Just like they trained Yansmen and I for, for election day.
I didn’t think they would be in here though eating with us. It’s good that they are, helps show they aren’t a threat like the coven thinks they are.
The police find their seats at the long tables. Somewhere in the wave of officers the mayor and governor must have come in with them because they both are sitting down now.
“Feel safe yet?” Will asks me jokingly while cutting his steak. I look down at my plate and poke my mashed potatoes with my fork.
“Of course.” I smile forcefully.
Truthfully though, ever since I crawled out of my grave I haven’t felt safe. I certainly don’t feel any safer here than I do walking down the streets home from work. There are too many coven members in here watching me. I can feel their stares on my back and all it takes is a quick glance around to catch a couple openly glaring at me.
An older warlock even coughed on me while we were signing in. I looked at him and he laughed right in my face! Will was talking to the front desk though and didn’t see it happen. I didn’t bring it up because I don’t want this night to be about me. This night is so important to him, he’s done a lot to advocate himself and we are all hoping it pays off tomorrow.
Plus, I know beneath his calm exterior he is drowning in stress. He had rehearsed his speech to me over ten times this week. It’s not a long one, but he wanted to make sure to have it memorized.
“Their new uniforms finally arrived.” Will mumbles with a curious look at the vampire police officers seated in the back. After the trial, the governor mandated the police identify those of them who are vampire and vampire hybrid. So the public, or humans, are aware of who they are confronting.
It was a compromise the governor insisted on for the sake of the humans. They like knowing who they are dealing with and the coven liked it even more I bet. I feel like they are kind of discriminating the vampires by forcing them into this. It’s like they are being ranked as a threat.
It makes me feel like we are stepping back in time. Their jackets are still black, but now have a thin red stripe going down the sleeves. No longer are their police hats just a plain black color, now they have a red band around the rim. The more I think about it, the more stupid I think it is they have to do this just so the humans know to be afraid of them now.
That’s what the coven wants and no matter how many times Will tells me otherwise I won’t change my mind about it. He promised to treat all of us supernaturals as equal to the humans. They can’t be afraid of the vampires because of the coven’s paranoia.
Maybe I’m thinking too much about it, the governor said it was temporary. So it’s not like they will have the new uniforms forever.
Oddly enough, the vamps don’t seem to mind. I was in the workroom yesterday when the mailman came in and dropped off all the boxes of their newly ordered uniforms. They just started opening up the boxes when my shift for the day was over so I didn’t get a good look at any of the new outfits. They seemed excited about them though.
Will passes me a plate of butter and I butter by roll listening to their plans for tomorrow. They are trying to pick out a place to eat to go to after the election is over. He already has the governor’s approval and the old mayor’s favor too. I’m sure the people of the town will vote for him.
Their conversation changes over to Will’s choice to remain in charge of coven affairs. I don’t know how he is going to juggle both jobs at once, but I agree with him. We don’t want the next person to be a radicalized witch like Patty. So we agreed to wait a little bit until he finds the right person.
I take another bite of mashed potatoes and my stomach grumbles.
“Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” I tell everyone at our table quickly.
“Will.” I say a little louder, but he still doesn’t hear me. Feeling like I may not make it to the bathroom, I scoot out of my seat and finally get his attention.
“Bathroom.” I breathe out rapidly as he nods his head acknowledging me leaving.
I dash off to use the restroom. The mashed potatoes were the only thing I ate so far, but they were super creamy and aren’t sitting well in my stomach.
Once I make it to the banquet doors, I speedwalk down the hall following the women’s restroom sign. When I go into the bathroom, I find a coven member doing her hair and head into the only empty stall.
After I finish doing my business, I exit my stall and start washing my hands feeling much better. Another witch enters the bathroom and eyes me and the other witch next to me doing her hair.
“Why are you trying to destroy our coven? We all know what you’re after now-the headmistress position so no one will bat an eye after you kill us all!” The old witch screeches at me crazily and some of her magic wavers against my own. Unintentionally or not, she just attacked me. Same as assault in human terms.
Abruptly, my body gets thrown back against the metal hand dryer on the wall as her magic sails against mine much more forcefully. With a wince, I step forward and raise my hands in my own defense. The witch doing her hair already ran out of the bathroom, leaving me alone with the crazy coven member.
“I do not want anything to do with you or the coven. I’m my own person and you cannot jump to conclusions based on rumors alone. Please, excuse me.” I tell the woman hoping she backs off.
My magic itches to lash back at her, but I force myself to calmly walk by her and out the door.
“Demon witch...” The woman coos eerily behind me just as something cold and wet gets dumped over my head, water.
She cackles walking past me out of the bathroom and back towards the banquet. Then she slips into the crowd of people at the end of the hallway and out of my sight. Someone in the dining room starts talking on a microphone, but I turn back into the bathroom.
“Perfect...” I grit seeing my black mascara smudged down my face in long lines. My eyeshadow is mostly gone too and the blush on my face is smeared downward. Stella spent a long time helping me do my makeup for tonight and now it’s all ruined.
I comb through a clump of my soaking wet hair. It slides through my fingertips and lands on my shoulders. I can feel a bruise forming on my back where I collided against the hand dryer. Bending down angrily, I try to dry my hair off somewhat with the hand dryer, but it doesn’t help.
"Calidum.” I whisper, a spell Stella taught me a few days ago. It will be the fastest way to dry my hair.
I watch in satisfaction as my hair twirls around in slow twists wringing itself out. The strands then separate and a static feeling tingles across my scalp as it dries in mid-air. When it finishes drying, my hair floats down to my shoulders. It isn’t perfectly dried or combed. It looks like I just rolled out of bed.
I reach into my pocket and grab my spare hair tie. It won’t help much, but if I tie my hair up it won’t look too noticeably messy. After I finish doing my best to put my hair in a tidy bun, I dab at the smeared makeup staining my face, but I can’t really fix it or get any of it off. Giving up, I hurry back to the room not caring about my smudged makeup as much. I’m not missing Will’s speech over this.
“You think I’m going to let you go back in there? I’ll be damned by you if I do!” The same witch tells me. She came back just to make me suffer more?
“Leave me alone.” I say steadily, not backing down. I walk past her and luckily, she doesn’t try anything.
When I make it into the banquet room though I find my seat is occupied by a coven member and Will’s seat is taken by another witch too.
I watch as Will makes his way over to the center of the room to make his speech. The same witch who attacked and harassed me shoves by me. I scoff watching her approach my table as if nothing happened.
“Come sit.” I hear a familiar voice say suddenly and I turn to find Heinrich watching me. He gestures towards the empty chair across from him. Nick sits right next to him, but at the head of the table. He hasn’t looked up from eating, too carried away eating the giant slab of steak nearly the size of his plate.
Now that I can see their uniforms better, I find most of them have a small red colored “V”, probably for vampire, on the front right side of their police uniform vests. Only Nick has the “VH” on his vest, must mean vampire hybrid. Some of the officers who sit at the table are human and don’t have to wear any letters of identification at all, but they are a minority.
Maybe it’s the lighting in here that makes them all seem kind of more intimidating when they all are sitting together like this. They all look a little tense, no one really eating except my boss.
“Oh...” I clutch my wrist, feeling shy all of the sudden as Nick’s stare leaves his food. He looks up at me over his shoulder and nods his head in the direction of the empty seat. Then he resumes eating and the others at the table start eating too. Heinrich watches me and I stiffen under his stare until he scoots his chair around to watch Will.
“Don’t mind him. He’s much like a little child.” Nick says in his slow drawl, focusing on his food.
It’s not Heinrich that’s bothering me though. I’m trying not to think about the dream I had a week ago with Nick in it. I’ve been trying to avoid him like the plague ever since. I know it was just a dream, but it makes me feel wrong inside for still being reminded of it whenever I look at him. I don’t feel comfortable remembering how he kissed me in the dream. It kind of scares me because it makes me even more confused about him and myself.
There is something about him that draws me to him, but I think my mind went overboard in the dream. He’s more like a parental figure to me. Older and more stable. Like his beliefs are firm or maybe it’s his confidence. Could be just as simple as his position being the commissioner police chief.
I know they can all probably see how ruined my makeup up is, but I’m just glad none of them have brought it up. I really should be sitting back at my table, but Will speaks up and it’s too late for me to get up and move somewhere else so I sit down.
“Good evening, everyone. Thank you for coming out tonight.” Will begins to say and the room gets quiet.
“I want to start off by thanking my endorsers. I’d be here all night if I went through each and every person. I’ll save you the boredom. Thank you all for your support. Tomorrow, I trust our community will make the right choice and elect me. I promise to work hand in hand with all members of our community. No human or supernatural will be treated any different from their neighbor. I have high hopes the white witch scare will die out. Such acts of violent behavior will not be tolerated when I am in office. Any witch, vampire or werewolf conspiring otherwise will be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We are all equal!” Will announces and the room breaks into applause.
After we finish clapping, Will continues.
“Tomorrow starts a new day. One with peace and respect. Let us break free from small thinking and move forward to work together for the better of our town. Once again, thank you all for counting on me. I promise to uphold your needs as my number one priority! Thank you and enjoy the rest of your evening.” He finishes and we all clap. The coven stands up clapping and in a wave, everyone else starts standing up too.
I watch Will as a crowd of people surround him, congratulating him as if he already won the election. Soon after, everyone resumes eating and talking again.
“You want to tell me what happened out there?” Nick asks me suddenly while neatly cutting his cooked carrots.
“Nothing.” I squeak, seeing his domineering gaze glance up from his plate to me.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t go back to eating his food. Instead, he leans in closer to me as if waiting for me to confide in him. I swallow hard looking up at him and fold my hands on my lap with a shaky breath.
There’s no use in me pretending I’m okay. I don’t care anymore if he sees me get upset I just want someone to talk to and not have to be afraid anymore. Besides, my makeup is already ruined so if I end up crying again there’s really no harm in it. So I start to tell him about what happened, beginning with the warlock who coughed on me.
Valerie is sitting at her boss’s table and I’m not sure why, but when I look over at our table I see someone took her seat. How rude of them! Grimacing, I approach her knowing I can get them to move so she can have her seat back.
She sits right across the table from the brute vampire officer. The hybrid himself sits near her and at the end of the table like the king he pretends to be.
When I get closer to the table, I see his arm resting on the back of her chair. I don’t think she notices though because she is too busy talking to him. She looks nervous and her voice is so hushed, no wonder he’s leaning in so close to her. I don’t care if he’s her boss, he’s invading her personal space. His other hand rests on the table stroking a knife slowly with his thumb.
The brute makes a coughing noise alerting the hybrid of my presence.
“Ah, Mr. McCaster.” The vampire officer greets me while lazily turning towards me and taking his time to move his arm from the back of her chair. He sits back and Val’s gaze darts up at me. Her face is beat red and my jaw clenches.
What were they talking about and why does it look like she’s been crying? She looks terrified!
“Mr. Silvet.” I respond shortly. Valerie scoots out of her seat in a hurry avoiding my gaze.
When Nick stands up with her I clench my fists.
“Where are you going?” I ask Val with concern seeing her pick up her tote from the ground. The vampire chief puts on his police jacket and Val hasn’t moved over to me. Instead, she stands behind her chair looking up at Nicholas as if waiting for him and not me.
“Home.” Valerie says quietly while fumbling to get her coat on.
“What did you do to her?” I retort to the vampire cop and his hard gaze lands on me. He doesn’t speak though, Val does.
“He didn’t do anything, Will. I’m scared. I was attacked by a witch again. Nick offered to drive me back. I’m going home.” Valerie tells me. She finally looks at me and my heart deflates seeing how disappointed she is in me.
“What? Why didn’t you come to me? Why did you go to them?” I ask feeling sick she decided to seek out the vamp instead of me.
She looks downward in shame and the police officer steps toward me looking pissed off. He doesn’t have a right to be angry right now!
“I sincerely hope your people get under control soon.” The vampire has the nerve to tell me.
Valerie looks devastated and it makes me feel awful. I want to be the one she tells her concerns to and I want to take her home myself. If I argue against him taking her home though I will cause a scene.
“I’m sorry.” I apologize to Val while side-stepping the vampire and embracing her.
She winces and a second later, I’m pulled violently away from her and almost fall down.
“Hey!” I retort gruffly.
Luckily, the edge of the table keeps me from being thrown to the ground. Several people at the police table look up at me, but no one at the other tables has seemed to notice. The glasses on the table jingle from the impact and the brute vampire holds onto his glass to keep it from falling over.
“They hurt her.” The police chief states sounding eerily calm, but his body trembles with restrained malice. His bruising hold on my arm tightens.
“Stop. It’s not his fault. I’ll c-call you when I get home Will.” Val tells me with a hiccup looking lost.
Roughly, the hybrid releases my arm.
He adjusts his police vest with a violent tug and zips up his black police jacket still glaring down his nose at me.
Then he turns on his heels and strides after Valerie.
“So sorry.” The brute vampire says loudly in his thick accent while watching me with amusement from his seat.
“Go to hell.” I spit back while marching back to my table not wanting to be here anymore without Valerie by my side.
My speech is over and I already made my way around to all the tables to speak with my endorsers. I can leave now too. I just have to find Beth to let her know I’m ready to go.