Chapter 9: Motier Foux
I didn’t know that “fat vampires” were such a thing.
That’s what Mr. Boone was—a big fat man that could barely keep the buttons of his suit together. His office was downstairs in the basement of the Jubilee, but you know what else was also downstairs? Mr. Boone’s training grounds for the Rejects. Some of them controlled themselves around me (most likely due to Hezekiah’s presence), while others became rabid at my scent. Those rabid ones were behind cold steel bars, fortunately. It’s clear which newbies needed a little more training in the art of self-control.
Mr. Boone’s office was hot enough to the point where I felt like I was suffocating. There were no fans (like he’d need one) and no windows; I was sweating like a slave. It was dark, too. Like the rooms in Abraham’s house, Mr. Boone’s office was lit by weak lanterns.
Hezekiah pulled me close to him when we walked inside. “Don’t you say nothing to Mr. Boone,” he whispered to me.
“I know,” I replied.
“I mean it.”
He did mean it intently, because upon first glance, Mr. Boone did not look friendly at all. In fact, he looked meaner than Hezekiah. His eyebrows were drawn permanently into a scowl, curved like his mustache. And when he stood, I thought his mass was going to overtake me, how big he was. His eyes were gray like Beau’s; I was trying to map out what each eye color meant, because so far, not every bloodsucker had the same yellow eyes as Hezekiah, Abraham, or even Jeanie.
Mr. Boone smiled a bit when he saw Hezekiah, but when he saw me, that same smile waned.
Mr. Boone acted civil by shaking Hezekiah’s hand. “Predawn, Hezekiah. How you been?”
They engaged in small talk. Agonizing small talk. Their animated conversation about pussy and feeding and Mr. Boone’s business as a vampire sire made me want to pull my hair out. But eventually, Mr. Boone addressed the elephant in the room: me.
“Now, you must be out your goddamn mind bringing a freshie up in here,” he told Hezekiah once he sat back down at his desk. “How’d you get her through the joint in one piece?”
“I have my ways,” Hezekiah said. Mr. Boone offered us seats that Hezekiah declined. And when Hezekiah opened his mouth to speak again, a thrall suddenly decided to waltz through a door behind Mr. Boone’s desk. Mr. Boone grabbed her with alarming quickness and got his early breakfast from her neck. Per usual, she didn’t budge. She just laid there across his lap; the cracking and sucking sounds were chilling. I turned my head as he finished.
“Rashida!” he yelled when he was done, blood dripping down his chin. Within seconds, a thin, tanned woman with a long black braid down her back entered from the same back door the thrall came through. She wasn’t like Mr. Boone; she was normal. Human. Her features were strong and prominent, but they didn’t match her posture—calm and elegant.
“Yes, Boone?” she answered him, standing before the thrall with an unfazed expression.
“What I tell you about their diets?” he said. “Chicken, pork, beef. Chicken, pork, beef! She taste like she been gnawing on celery for four weeks! And what’s up with these thighs?” his hands lightly slap whatever fat is left on the thrall’s legs. “We can’t be having no skinny mullets around here, and you know that!”
“Do you ever stop complaining?” Was Rashida’s only response. In my mind, I imagined Mr. Boone shredding Rashida into little pieces for her attitude. But, he didn’t. Instead, he rolled his eyes and threw the thrall off of his lap. She howled in laughter on the ground until Rashida picked her up and carried her off.
“I mean it, Rashida!” he shouted after her. The back-door shutting was her reply. And for a long period of time, the only noise came from the bass and drums pounding upstairs.
Mr. Boone opened a drawer and pulled out a rag to wipe his mouth with. His eyes, once as gray as a clouded sky, were now the honeyed color I saw often with his kind.
“Rashida’s attitude is getting on my last nerve,” he said to us. “She lucky I don’t play around with that black-magic-witchcraft shit she be doing, or else she’d have it from me. Anyway, what can I do for you, Hezekiah?”
“I need you to keep her here for a while,” Hezekiah told him. He pushed me forward like I was an offering, but I stepped back away from Mr. Boone’s presence.
“Wait, what?” Mr. Boone pursed his lips. “You want to keep a freshie here at the Jubilee? With me? Why?”
“Our clan ran into some heat with the Coterie. We need to keep her here for a while until shit dies down.”
“What’s your name, girl?” he asked me while he scrubbed dried blood off of his fangs.
“I’m not allowed to talk to you; Hezekiah said not to speak to you.”
Mr. Boone laughed. And it wasn’t just instinctive laughter, but the gut-tightening, throat-rasping laughter that lasted for longer than it needed to.
“Well, I’m giving you permission to speak to me. So, tell me your name.”
“Lisa,” I told him quietly. I almost told him my last name, but a growl radiating deep from Hezekiah’s chest stopped me.
“Bonjour, mon cher Lisa,” he replied effortlessly in French. “You lucky to still be breathing, you know that, right?”
I didn’t know how to react or respond to that statement, so I did nothing at all.
“Now,” he said to Hezekiah. “Let’s say I did keep her here because you’re my podna and I owe it to you. You think she just gonna play Madame all night until y’all come back to fetch her? It don’t work that way around here.”
“Who is she, anyway?” he asked. That was the golden question Hezekiah refused to answer. But Mr. Boone, as smart and “cautious” as he was, put the pieces together when he looked at me. And I mean really looked at me; he stared into my eyes and studied my face until it clicked in his head.
“Hold on just a goddamn minute,” he drawled out, mouth agape with his long index finger pointed at me. “This Madam Dumont’s girl?”
I peered up at Hezekiah, waiting for him to say “yes” and preparing myself for death from being so closely related to a voodoo priestess. But Hezekiah, once again, didn’t answer. He just licked his lips and stared up at the ceiling before down at his shoes, then back at Mr. Boone again.
So frankly, that was a “yes,” indeed.
Mr. Boone stood up from his chair, leaning his weight against the desk as if he was going to pounce on us.
“Neg, are you on crack?” he questioned.
“I ain’t had a choice, Boone. So, don’t you dare come yapping at me like I ain’t got no sense!”
Mr. Boone stood tall, mouth still wide open at Hezekiah’s boldness. I thought he was going to devour me; it was astounding how huge that man was.
“You mean to tell me that you want me to house the daughter of the strongest voodoo witch in the whole goddamn parish?!”
Priestess, not witch, I said in my head. I was more like my mama than I thought, getting offended by the synonymousness of the two words.
Hezekiah nodded. “Yes, Boone. That’s exactly what I’m telling you.”
“Hell no!” Mr. Boone hollered. “You think I’m too motier foux to at least know how stupid of an idea that is? First off, she a fresh blood. Meaning, there ain’t no rules that can protect her here. The wrong type of Reject come waltzing up in here or anywhere she be, she’s done for. Second, if anybody so happen to find out who her Mama is, she ain’t Lisa no more, but instead she’d be ole sainted Lisa. And third, if the Coterie find out she’s up in here, I swear to you they’d tear this place up. You know how Alize is; the last thing I need is some voodoo witches coming up to make the misere in here. Nuh-uh, no monsieur! I’m surprised Terah would be dumb enough to let this through.”
Mr. Boone made some valid points, which gave even more reason for Hezekiah to just take me home and lie to Abraham about what happened to me. Knowing Mama, she was most likely already hot on our trail. And I wanted to tell them that; I had no idea of the extent of Mama’s power back then, but one thing I did know was that she was my mother, and a mother losing her child made a mother fucking crazy.
But Hezekiah wasn’t giving up, getting rid of me.
“It’s Abraham’s orders,” he told Mr. Boone.
“Abraham? How could it—”
Mr. Boone’s demeanor completely changed. He stood, wearing an empty look at those words. Once unable to shut, his mouth was pressed closed like an iron had made a pass over his lips.
“Boone, we’re short on spirits.”
Rashida glided into the room, her black dress flowing behind her like it was sentiently dancing to the music above. She caught wind of the tension between Mr. Boone and Hezekiah immediately.
“What happened?” she asked them.
“Abraham,” Mr. Boone turned to face her; she saw the graveness on his face. “He’s—”
“Arisen,” she said. Standing next to Mr. Boone, she looked miniscule in comparison. “So, the rumors are true. How did this happen?”
“No time for details,” Hezekiah interjected (as if he wasn’t there when it happened). “I just need you to keep her here. Can y’all do that?”
Mr. Boone and Rashida shared a glance that said a thousand words I didn’t know. Rashida, for the first time, looked at me—her eyes weren’t harsh or mean. They were actually very gentle in an apathetic way.
“I guess we don’t got a choice,” Mr. Boone sighed. “Rashida, what you think?”
Rashida stalked towards me with a stern look.
“Hold your arms up,” she ordered, but when I refused, she had Hezekiah hold them up for her anyway. My struggle, as always, was a tired attempt as she pulled my dress against my body and examined me.
“She’s got meat on her bones,” she said. “Wide hips, curvy figure but not too fat. She’s a little short, but I doubt that will be a problem. What’s your diet?” she asked me. “Are you vegan? Vegetarian? Do you eat red meat?”
“What’s this for?” Hezekiah questioned Rashida. At that point, my hands were at my sides again.
“What do you think? The more meat she eats, the more ‘satisfactory’ her blood will taste. I can’t take her in if she won’t be convincing,” Rashida’s eyes became fixated on my neck. “And by the looks of it, someone already got a taste. How long have you had that? Is that your first bite?”
I’m surprised I didn’t catch on sooner—Rashida wanted to make me a thrall. That’s what all the questions were for; Rashida was going to make me some vampire’s sex-toy-blood-feast in a thong and fishnets.
“Wait, we didn’t say nothing about turning her into a thrall,” Hezekiah said to Mr. Boone. It took me a while to come to terms with what Hezekiah was saying; it sounded like Hezekiah was defending me. As far as I was concerned, I half expected him to be out of the door once Rashida agreed to taking me under her supervision.
“Hezekiah, Boone and I can’t keep her here unless she fits the criteria. So far, she’s looking at certain death; I’ve heard a few clans talking about her outside. It wasn’t pretty.”
“So, you’re saying this is the only way?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Rashida said defensively. “If she’s a thrall, she’s protected.”
“No.” I pulled away from her. “Absolutely not. I’m not going to be some vampire’s slut!”
Mr. Boone gave Hezekiah a warning look—a look that said “control this bitch. She’s out of line.” But Hezekiah didn’t say anything. He actually looked conflicted and annoyed with what was happening.
“All I know is, if Abraham comes in here acting a fool, he can’t get mad at me,” Mr. Boone announced. “I’m the one who agreed to this shit.”
“Fine. Take her.”
I don’t know why I was shocked and hurt, but I was. It was a mistake to feel these feelings; did I really believe that Hezekiah Mercier would be merciful enough to see how inhumane the idea was? After all, his heart stopped working a very long time ago. Literally.
I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. Rashida waited for me to stand by her, but I didn’t move a muscle. Hezekiah hadn’t left, and I had hoped he would change his mind. But as the silence on his end grew, the hope in me shrunk. Mr. Boone, with an exasperated sigh, came over and forcefully pushed me towards the back door. I turned around once, only to see Hezekiah exchanging a few words with Mr. Boone before he left. And that was it—he was gone. Naïve and dumb I was, waiting for that door to open with him coming through it. But he wasn’t coming back.
That dead, handsome bastard actually left me there.