After a long flight, and trying to get Georgie to spill her guts about the dragon, we finally landed in London. It was an easy twenty-minute drive from Heathrow to St. Ermines Hotel, where the vampires put all seven of the mixer Council members.
A chauffeur was waiting for us in the airport lobby, holding a sign that simply had “4 & 7” on it. We walked over to him and he escorted us to our waiting limousine. He informed us that his name was Hugh, and if we needed anything just to let him know, as he opened the door for us.
We sat back, relaxing. This meeting was going to be chaotic, not to mention very difficult. It’s always best to take a moment before the world wants to crumble under your feet. But after just a couple of minutes in the car I became very…thirsty. It was a strong thirst, like one I hadn’t experienced in a long time. On the edge of my scattered mind I remembered this scent and the hunger for it. So, how could I stop the craving for blood? Help myself to the complimentary bar, of course.
We pulled in to the hotel as I finished the last of my drink from the bar. “Damn, all they had was scotch. I hate scotch,” I grumbled to Georgie as I took my last swig.
She eyed me suspiciously when the car came to a halt. She was so lost in her own thoughts she didn’t even notice me drinking. Her eyes were wide with shock as I threw back the last bit in the glass. “Why the hell are you drinking? You need to be fully functioning for this meeting tonight. Not slurring your words!” she hissed at me so the driver couldn’t hear.
I poured a bit more in the glass and swallowed it in one big gulp. “Relax, all they have is scotch. Besides, it’s better for me to be slurring my words than ripping out their throats,” I assured her.
Her eyes got wide after I told her that. “What! You’re that thirsty? Good Lord, I knew we shouldn’t come here!” She looked out the window in a panic, looking for something. For what, I couldn’t say.
The driver was walking over to open the door as I rolled my eyes at her. “Crap, George, the way you’re acting you’d think this is the first time I’ve had strong cravings.”
The door opened; she started to get out but stopped. “No. I know this isn’t the first time. But here, we’re playing a whole new game with all new players.” She took the chauffeur’s hand. “So you need to watch yourself.”
I got myself ready for the first meeting of the Vampire Committee. I wore a silk lilac dress that hugged my curves nicely. My long multicolored hair was piled high on top of my head, with curls held in place with rhinestone pins. Sultry makeup, soft pink lipstick with gloss, diamond studs, and of course showing my Council tattoo.
Everyone’s tattoo represented who they were. Georgie’s was a black and silver dragon with a red ribbon of scales that ran across its back, representing the vampire blood in her and the dragon she becomes. It twists like a snake on her right shoulder and in its scales is the number 4. Mine was much more complicated than that.
The first part was a weathered tree at the lower left side of my back, with windswept limbs twisting and curling to my right shoulder. The roots of the tree spiraled down my left thigh, wrapping around my scars it till it reached my foot. Autumn-colored leaves blew around my thigh and calf; the last one reached the side of my foot in a bright gold color outlined in red. A moon inside the sun took up my whole left shoulder blade, right above the tree.
With the sun a golden yellow and the moon in icy blues, flames shot from the sun, twisting and rolling in the same autumn tones of the leaves. Some of the flames twisted up, covering a mating mark on the side of my neck. Flames wrapped around my arm and formed the number that represented who I am in the Council: number 7.
Slipping on my stilettos and tucking my room key into the side of my top, I went to go meet George.She was just down the hall from me, so when I shut the door and saw her standing by her door tapping her foot, I groaned inwardly. It was going to be one of those nights, was it? Lately she had become so damn moody, like she had PMS all the damn time. Her emotions were like a rollercoaster, and Calista and I were continually ducking her blows.
“Man, you’re bitchy lately. I’m right on time.”
She let out an exasperated sigh. “I know, I know. I’m sorry. I just don’t want to be here,” she told me as we started walking down the hall. She reached out and pushed the button for the elevator.
When the elevator doors opened, a six-foot tall leggy blonde stood in front of us. Nixx, a fellow Council member from Spain, smiled at me and Georgie. Nixx liked to push the envelope. Instead of coming to the vampires’ “get together” in an evening gown, she wore a man’s tuxedo. A red rose in the lapel finished her ensemble, with a little pin on the pocket with a gold number 2.
“Te ves hermosa!” she said in her rusty voice.
We stepped in the elevator and pushed the button for the lobby. “Gracias, Nixx. You look lovely as well,” Georgie said, her hands held tightly in front of her. I could tell something had her on edge, and it wasn’t the meeting we were about to enter.
“Thanks, Nixx. Just so you know, I’m diggin’ the tux. But I’ve got to ask, are you going outside the box for fashion or just making a statement? I mean, don’t get me wrong, you look amazing! But enquiring minds want to know,” I winked.
She shook her head, laughing at me. Her short blonde hair was styled with finger curls and didn’t move as she laughed. “Eres un gran en el culo! And if you’re not sure what I just said, I just called you a pain in the ass.” We all started laughing as the doors opened to the lobby.
“What about you, Molly? I would have thought you’d be in black leather pants, a wife-beater tank top and biker boots…What happened, señorita?” she snickered.
“Nah, that was last year’s look…this year I’m going for virginal.” I swiped my hands across my dress, donning an innocent look on my face. Nixx stopped, looked over at George, and started laughing so hard she was crying. Georgie was trying to keep herself in check but was smiling too. I shrugged. “What? It could happen.”
When Nixx was done she wiped tears from under her eyes, trying not to smudge her makeup. “Me matas!” she said, collecting herself.
When we got out of the limousine at our destination, we were greeted by the hosts and shown where to go. As we walked closer to the banquet hall, the thirst that I’d had in the afternoon started a twinge in my gut again, causing me to walk a little slower. My senses were overwhelmed from all the vampires mingling just beyond the doors to the hall. I knew I better hit the bar before I walked into that room.
When I first started learning about my abilities, Chan wanted to see if I could drink any kind of blood or just certain kinds. They brought me droppers with just a tiny bit of blood in them from every known creature, including human.
Human and mixer’s blood I had no desire. It smelled foul, looked foul, and when I tasted it, it made me sick. Dragon blood on the other hand, I was severely allergic to, and I spent a couple of days in the infirmary just from the one drop. But in the end, I could drink from the rest of the creatures without any problems.
Just like food, every creature had a certain smell and a different taste. There are foods that you don’t like, you can eat them, but you just don’t like them; blood works the same way. Let’s say you might love zombie, but fay’s a little sweet for you. That’s how it works.
Well, for me it was vampire blood…one of my favorites. I worked very hard getting this side of myself under control. But the beast in me had a mind of its own, always fighting me, and from just that little drop of blood that I tasted sixty years ago, I still to this day dreamed of the taste.
I looked over to my right and saw the large bar. I stopped in my tracks, making Georgie turn to look at me. I looked at the bar, then back at her. “I think I need to get a drink before I go in there,” I told her quietly. Georgie frowned at me but nodded her head in understanding.
It’s no secret in the Council of Seven that I crave the blood of the monsters. And that I choose not to drink it, but there were a lot of vampires in that room. Nixx turned to me with concern. “Mi amiga, are you going to have a problem in there?” she asked.
“No, we’re not going to have any problems. But let me ask you a question. If you were on a diet and someone was taking you to an all-you-can-eat buffet, wouldn’t you want to make sure you had your hard candy in your pocket to suck on? You know, just in case you were tempted to eat that delicious chocolate cake in front of you?”
Nixx shook her head, clearly worried. “Go get your drink, hermana. If you feel that you should, I think you’re right. Take your time; we will explain your absence.” She gave me a knowing smile and walked towards the doors to the hall.
Georgie on the other hand gave me a little giggle, but I could tell she was nervous. “You know, I get what you mean. But you realize you just called a room full of terrifying monsters your buffet…right? I’m just sayin’.”
I watched and waited as they entered the banquet hall and closed the doors behind them, before making my way to the bar. I had to get hold of myself, or going into that banquet hall would be disastrous for every vampire in that room.
There was only one man sitting at the glamorous bar. His head was slightly lowered, looking at the big glass of dark ale before him. He ran his hand back and forth through his shaggy strawberry-blond hair, muttering to himself.
I walked in back of him, scanning his body, getting his height, weight, and body type, but most importantly getting a sniff of him. I knew right away what he was, a werewolf…and a very drunken one at that.
Still needing that drink (especially with my second favorite dish in front of me!), I walked around the bar to sit where I had the best line of sight. I pulled out a bar seat and placed my back against the wall, watching the man warily and my area carefully.
“What can I get for you tonight, miss?” The bartender asked. Taking a look at all the liqueurs on the wall, and thinking of the most powerful to quench the thirst, I thought of Everclear.
“Well, first, do you carry Everclear?” I asked. He nodded his head yes. “Great! I’ll take three Bank Robbers, please,” I told him happily.
He just stood there for a moment. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that one, miss.” I slumped back in the seat. Ahh! Why is it so difficult to get a drink?
Looking up at the cute little bartender, I put on my sweet smile, trying to keep the acidity out of my voice. “Okay, do you have blackberry brandy?” He nodded. “Great, do you have a really dry gin?” Again he said yes. “Okay, now you already told me you have Everclear, right?” Another yes. “And we both know you have rum and vodka on hand.” A nod.
“Okay, this is what you do. You take equal parts blackberry brandy, dry gin, Everclear, rum and vodka, pour them into a shot glass, and there you go. That is a Bank Robber. Now, I’m going to need you to get me three of them on the double,” I said, dismissing him. “And don’t be tight with the Everclear,” I yelled to his back.
The wolf chuckled. “A like a woman who knows how to order her drink,” he said, lifting his face from his glass. His glassy eyes roamed over me. “But isn’t it just a wee bit strong for ye, lass?” he asked me in a Scottish brogue.
Most creatures work on a sense of smell more than they do sight. They smell what you are, smell your fear, your hunger, your lust; they can even smell a predator from a mile away. The thing about mixers is that we smell completely human to them, making us the better predators against them.
The bartender brought two shots for me. I reached for the glass and slammed it back, letting the burn I’d been waiting for slide down the back of my throat. It wasn’t blood, but it was good. He dropped off the last shot as I took the second, slamming it just like the first. Then quickly grabbing the third, I poured it down my throat.
The poor stunned bartender, eyes wide, stuttered, “Is--is there anything else I can get for you?” Probably afraid of me getting alcohol poisoning on his shift. Little did he know he had nothing to worry about. Oh yes, I can get drunk…unfortunately, but it takes quite a bit before that happens.
Sitting there savoring the burn that would hopefully take away the pain of thirst, my eyes still closed, I answered him. “Nope, I’m good. Just bill my room, please.” I pulled out my key card from my dress, showing it to him. He gulped as he took down the number, causing me to smile when his eyes watched me slide it back in.
The wolf gave a soft growl. “Damn, lassie, do ye even know how sexy that was? What d’ye say about you and me finding our happy place together?” he slurred, leaning on the bar towards me.
My drinks were gone, and my thirst slightly quenched. I was ready to go meet all the tasty vampires now. “Sorry, not interested. But thanks,” I said, going around him.
He snatched my arm with lightning speed. Shit, I’d forgotten how fast they can be, even when they’re drunk. “Wait! Don’t I know ye?” he asked as he searched my face.
Really? That was his pick-up line? That’s the oldest line in the book. Putting my hand over his to remove his grip on my arm, and trying for patience that I normally don’t have with men, I spoke slowly. “Look, you’ve obviously had way too much to drink. I think you need to let go of me and go sleep it off,” I growled, prying his fingers off.
He kept looking at me. As drunk as he was, the look of recognition was written on his face. When he glanced at my neck, his grip tightened again. “No, I know I know ye. I know I’ve seen ye before. I’ve even had ye before.” His words came out slurred but sure of himself. But I had no clue what he was talking about. Son of a bitch!
A light went off in my mind as to how this wolf might have known me and rage ran through me. I leaned into him, grabbing hold of his fingers now, pulling them back from my arm without mercy. He winced as he fought me, his fingers now at their breaking point. The bones starting to crack under the pressure, but to anyone in the bar it looked like we were having a quiet conversation.
I leaned down to his whisper in his ear. “Look, wolf, I’ve got some ideas on how you might know me, and you should be thankful that I don’t have time to deal with you like I’d like to. Now you are going to let go of my arm, or I’m going to turn your hand into ash, and you and I both know that regenerating a hand might take a little while and hurt like hell, won’t it? Am I making myself crystal clear?” I hissed.
I could smell his anger. But there was something more there. I could smell his fear. He gave a small. “Very good. Now just stay your ass in in the seat. And I swear, if I even smell you anywhere near I will unleash something so terrifying on you, that you’ll be begging for me to just kill you. You should really watch how you treat women, asshole. Because you never know when you might fuck with the wrong bitch!” I seethed.
He shivered as I released his hand. Walking out of the bar toward the banquet hall, I could smell him head towards the lobby to leave. Smart wolf; all I could think about was the punishment he had coming. Damn it, I really didn’t need this on my mind right then. The thirst I had hoped to quench wasn’t quite gone, but the agitation I felt before coming into the bar was kicked up a notch. Great, what a way to walk into a room full of vampires.
The banquet room was stunning as I walked through the entrance. With cathedral ceilings, beautiful arches and a chandelier that was awe inspiring, it was a place you only see in the movies. It was very dimly lit for the nocturnal vampires whose skin didn’t do well even in bright false lighting, especially halogen. Nifty little tip to know when dealing with nocturnals.
The place was full of vampires. There were at least a hundred and fifty of them, and somewhere among them were six of my friends. I walked over to the open bar and ordered red wine sangria. Taking my drink I slowly took a sip, letting my eyes wander around the room. Everything looked relatively calm. The vampires seemed respectful and genuinely pleased that we were here.
Jamie, the head of the Council of Seven, was talking to a large group of men. From the tone of the conversation and the exasperation on her face, I would say she was trying to reassure some and calm the others down.
Her head turned in my direction and her amber eyes caught sight of me. She gave me a polite smile, nodding her head. A couple of men in the group looked over at me. She looked back at them and gave them a big smile as she spoke. After a moment her hand came up, indicating for me to join them. I could see I really was going to have to work tonight.
I downed my drink in two gulps, preparing myself for the onslaught of niceties I was about to perform. When I placed the glass on the bar, Nixx was watching me. A frown was plainly written on her face because I was drinking…again. Giving her a smile, I made my way towards Jamie.
Jamie’s black skin was inked in white swirling tribal tattoos, starting from one arm and traveling to the other. On her left forearm, wrapped in the swirls, was the number 1. Her black hair was cut so short she was almost bald, and the tattoo traveled up her neck and the back of her skull.
She was tall, very tall, I’d say six foot at least, with a very athletic frame. Her gold evening gown was tied around her neck, exposing both of her marked arms, then it floated down around her to the ground. She smiled as I came closer.
All of us mixers are very different from one another, from our gifts to our mannerisms, like any other human. But we also share one common bond with each other, which is that we were made for these men. From the blood that runs in our veins to our reproductive system, this is why these men made us. In their minds, our main reason for existing is to serve them.
The group parted so I could stand next to our leader. Five pairs of vampire eyes looked at me when I reached her side. Putting on my good-girl smile for everyone around me, I waited for the introductions to be made.
“Molly, so nice of you to come over, these gentlemen were telling me some of their concerns. Maybe you could help put some things in perspective for them.” Was she really talking to me? Really…me?
One of the older men of the group, who must have been changed in his fifties, was the first to state his concerns. “Are they coming after girls with masters? Or just the strays?” he asked. I looked over at Jamie with a “you’ve got to be kidding me” look. She gave me a “what am I supposed to do” shrug.
“Well, truthfully I’m not really sure of what is going on, Mr...”
“Hamby, Robert Hamby.”
I smiled at the man, doing my best to put on a good front. “Okay, Mr. Hamby, here’s the thing. I was just shown some photos not twenty-four hours ago, and now here I am. I assure you, you can ask any one of us the same thing and we’re all going to give you the same answer. That’s because at this moment we have the same information as you. I know you want more of your questions answered, but we can’t give you what we don’t have,” I said, forcing a grin.
One angry young vampire was clearly irritated at that. “You say you don’t have any idea who’s doing this, but how do we know if you’re telling us all the facts? You women think you have the right to tell us only what you deem fit to tell us. But we are the ones who have invested our time and money in these young women, and we have the right to know what is happening to our girls!”
I’m not sure if my jaw dropped at his statement, but I think it did. I wish they’d just put a “doesn’t play well with vampires” sign on me. That would save so much time and trouble.
The irritation must have been written on my face, and I was about to rip into the guy when a stunningly handsome vampire cut into the conversation. “Mademoiselle, I’m sure he meant no harm. We are just concerned with what is happening. When emotions are high people say things they shouldn’t,” Said a gorgeous French vampire. Then he glanced over at the man, giving him an evil glare. The young vampire’s eyes went to the ground almost in submission. Apparently this vampire had some clout in the community.
My fist unclenched a bit as I addressed him. “Yes, I do understand that. I really do wish I had the answers that we all want, we all do. But believe me when I tell you that we will get the answer you’re looking for.”
Another vampire joined our little group, standing next to the gorgeous Frenchman. He was just as gorgeous but more…mysterious. I looked at the two of them as they whispered to one another, then looked back at me. Hmmm?
“What can a group of women do to stop this, if we, the vampires can’t?” a man growled at me. That broke through my pondering of the two men who were still looking at me, and I turned to stare at him silently.
I knew my eyes shone brighter when I felt a strong emotion. Being pissed was definitely one of them. These men were used to the normal mixers, not the women like us. He stepped back in surprise while Jamie placed her hand on my arm, warning me to get myself under control. “You would be amazed what women like us can do,” I informed him coldly.
“Molly, thank you for all your insight. I think that helped tremendously,” Jamie smiled.
My eyes left the foul vampire in front of me, sliding over to her. “Glad to be of assistance, One,” I growled, and turned away from them.
"Damn it, I needed another drink." I hissed heading back to the bar. But my mind kept wandering back to the French vampire and his friend who joined us.
Thinking back, I don’t think I’d ever felt such a magnetic pull before. And truth be told, I hadn't taken a deep breath since I’d walked into the room of people who I wanted to drink from had left me feeling a little blind sighted.
A great night…no, not so much. As much as I wanted another drink, keeping my senses clear was more important. Now I just needed to find Georgie, to see when we could get to work on finding the innocent mixers.
As I looked through the crowd for her long blonde hair, a man stepped in front of me, well, a vampire. He wasn’t very tall, maybe five eleven, but he was very nice looking, with brown eyes and well-maintained honey-wheat hair. When he smiled I noticed a little cleft in his chin…so adorable.
“Hello,” he said with a charming smile. “I saw you standing there all alone, and thought you might like some company?” His smile was sweet you couldn’t help smiling back at him. Hmmm, he looks yummy. Like a sexy teddy bear.I could pass some time with him tonight working off some of this anger.
About to start up a conversation with Mr. Adorable that would lead him back to my room, I caught a glimpse of George. She was in a darkened corner of the banquet hall, talking with a man. The way they were standing made it difficult to fully see her.
She looked up and saw me watching her. Her normally warm brown eyes glowed golden serpentine from the dark corner. This was not good. The man turned slightly to look where Georgie was looking, then back to her.
I started to walk off to see why she was so upset, but realized my nighttime enjoyment was blocking my way. I smiled up at him. “Can you give me a minute? I have to go check on a friend,” I smiled.
“That’s fine. I’ll be here waiting for you,” he grinned. I moved closer to him, giving him a light kiss on the mouth.
“Thanks, you’re a sweetie.”