The Making of Moly Barons ~Darkness Becomes Her

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Chapter 12

Zipping in and out of traffic, I never let the car slow down once. I love driving cars with a stick shift; you’re in complete control. If I were psychoanalyzing myself, I might say I had control issues.

When we pulled up to the morgue I opened my door, and Philip couldn’t seem to get out fast enough. He dropped the bag on the seat and ran his long thin fingers through his blond hair. “Femmes de Holy shit. Remind me never to let her drive again.” Philip breathed, but Marcus just chuckled, not seeming to mind the ride.

Downtown East Ham Mortuary was closed to the public, especially at 3:15 in the morning. But I still needed to get in. “I was hoping you guys might know someone who works here,” I hinted over at the building.

“Why would you assume we would?” Marcus asked with a lifted brow.

“I don’t know, maybe because you’re bloodsucking vampires, I guess,” I shrugged.

“If we were not out in the middle of the night, I’d put you over my knee bird.” Marcus warned.

“I’d like to see you try.” I chuckled, then started looking around to see if there was another way to get in. “I need to check out that body before we plan our next move. But I don’t want to just kick in the door and have the alarms go off.”

Philip shrugged and walked over to the door. As he placed his hand on the handle I heard the door unlock, and he pushed the door open for me. “There you go, mademoiselle.”

Walking past him, I glanced over my shoulder. “That was very handy. I definitely need to keep you around.”

Marcus mumbled curses under his breath as we walked through the morgue. We walked to where they kept the bodies were kept. But it was Philip who finally found her, in the refrigeration unit.

Taking out my flashlight, I let the light roam over the body. On the side of her neck there was bite marks, but more than one pair. Then I got a wiff of what she really was. “Holy shit, she a 2% mixer.” I mumbled.

“And what does that mean?” Marcus asked.

I put my nose close to her wounds to see if I could get a scent from her attacker, or anyone, for that matter, she’d been in contact with. Nothing… I got nothing? How could the murderer have no scent? I looked over at the men, frustrated. “I cant smell anything.”

“Okay, then what do you think?” Philip asked.

“I don’t’ know. I’ve never not been able to not pick up a scent. Even if there was only a light trace. This is weird...” I pondered biting my thumbnail.

Marcus took the light out of my hand and looked over the body. “The neck marks are deep, I would say that this bite was a form of punishment.” He stated while he looked at her hand.

There was a deep gash that ran from her wrist to her elbow. “I think we know now where some of the blood came from,” then walked down to her legs, checking her inner thighs, he saw they were covered with bite marks. “Whatever she was a part of, she had more than one lover.”

“Of course she did, she’s a mixer. Having more than one lover is nothing new. Now tell me something I don’t know.” I laughed.

He turned and glared at me. “The form of bite this mixer has obtained is one that the werewolves gives to traitors. Are you now usefully informed?” He asked.

“George said she was heading to Wales. She heard some creatures were selling more than just blood out of some bar. I think she’s thinking innocents who’ve been deserted for whatever reason are being snatched up. Maybe this one was caught trying to help the innocents and was dealt with,” I mused.

“But draining blood can happen when a vampire no longer has use for anyone they see as property.” I mumbled, while Philip pulled the sheet back over the body.

“That sounds like a good possibility.” he agreed right next to me.

Marcus said that the bite looked like one for a punishment. What a horrible way to go. My hand lingered on the cold metal door that the poor girl laid. “This needs to be over sooner rather then later.” I sighed.

“Okay, gentlemen, it’s time you prove yourselves useful,” I told them as we left the building.

Marcus looked at me more then a little pissed “And what do you bloody mean by that bird?” he asked.

Lighting another cigarette, I went to go stand in front of them. “Well, you’re vampires, right?”

“And your point being?” Marcus’s eyes narrowed.

Really? I thought it was obvious. “Well, you guys know vampires. I’m sure you know lots of them with, massive power. So getting me into one of those exclusive clubs that you guys have should be no problem. Once I’m in, I can check if they have any innocents on the property.” I shrugged.

“And what happens if we do possibly find girls there?” he asked easily.

I thought he was joking with me, then it hit me. “You mean to tell me that you know there are innocents at these places?” I asked him incredulously.

“Of course, that’s the reason why you were made. How do you think we survive, if not for your blood?” he said nonchalantly.

“So you’re telling me that you took women, girls, away from their homes, their families so you could turn them into prostitutes?” I growled through clenched teeth.

“We needed a food source. And I see no reason to justify my reasoning to you,” he growled.

The arrogance and the flippancy in his voice, he believed they had the right to do what they wanted to us! The next thing I knew I hauled off, punching him dead in the face sending him over the car.

The asphalt cracked and buckled from the impact of his. He stood up, swiping the dirt off his clothes. Other than that he looked fine, and that didn’t sit well with me.

I went tromping over to cause maximum damage to him, but Philip grabbed me from behind. He was stronger than I would’ve thought, even then me, and kept me from advancing on Marcus.

“Food? That’s all we are to you?! You son of a bitch! I should teach you a lesson right now, and then we’ll see how you like being someone’s food source!” I screamed.

Philip started to whisper in my ear in a soft lulling voice. “Chérie, please, Marcus meant no disrespect. He’s just talking out of turn. You, ma belle, are so much more than food. Never think that, never. Just calm down, and relax, relax,” he whispered in my ear. Instantly my body loosened, the anger starting to melt away.

I pulled myself free from Philip, still glaring at Marcus. “So help me, if you talk like that anymore you and I will come to blows. You might be my maker, but don’t assume I won’t kick your ass,” I hissed tromping back to the car.

Philip let his hand rest on my shoulder, as I turned on his car, and his touch kept me calm. I found Philip very comforting and was really enjoying his company. Marcus on the other hand, him I could easily punch in the face, again.

“Now I want you to tell me where I can find one of these bars.” I growled rummaged around for my smokes.

“I will tell you, after you give me your word that you will leave the girls that work there alone,” he offered.

“Fine, I agree to your terms,” I murmured, then thought of something... “But I have one condition.”

“And that is?” He inquired.

Lighting my cigarette, I glanced over at him. “If I find any girls that were forcibly brought there, I get to pull them out. Do we have a deal?”

“I will accept that. Now take the next right. We’re heading out of London, about 200 kilometers from here.” He answered sitting back.

“Why are you taking her there? Sacré bleu! You are just asking for trouble tonight.” Philip hissed from the back seat. But Marcus didn’t answer.

I was getting really tired. Thinking back, it had been over twenty-four hours since I’d slept. And who knows how many drinks I’d had. I took off my Ray-Bans and threw them on the dashboard, rubbing my very tired eyes seeing Marcus staring at me again.

“What?” I sighed.

“You know, you have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re like…” He stared with a sexy smile.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, like the Caribbean Sea on fire. I’ve heard that before.” I interrupted.

He sat up quickly, making me jump. “What did you just say?”

“I knew you were going to say something about my eyes, but I’ve heard it all before,” I shrugged.

He shook his head. “No, you said your eyes were like the Caribbean Sea. Tell me what you said,” louder now.

“Relax, I don’t remember what I said. I just said what came to my mind.” I sighed. He was about to speak again, but I saw Philip shake his head to discourage him.

We pulled up to a huge old house in the middle of nowhere in the English countryside. The light came dimly through the stained glass windows.

Marcus barked at me to take off all my weapons, the women here were not trying to kill the vampires that wanted a taste of them. I grudgingly took off my gun and wristbands and handed them to him.

Philip came up next to me. “Are you feeling well?” He asked, caressing my back.

“I’m fine. I think I’m just getting really tired,” I told him with a yawn.

He found that fascinating. Mixers needed more sleep than vampires, and asked me all kinds of questions about the differences between the two of us. As we approached the house, Marcus hushed us. “Quiet yourselves, or it will look suspicious,” he growled, then knocked on the door.

A big dark-skinned man answered the large oak door. “Password?” he said in a voice so deep you almost couldn’t hear it.

Marcus put his arm around my waist possessively, clearly showing his dominance before saying the password, “Turpentine.”

The big man eyed the three of us before he moved aside to let us in. As the door shut behind us, he seemed to be questioning his own judgment. “You bring your own tonight?” he asked. But Marcus completely ignored the question as we walked past.

“I take it you two come here a lot,” I asked under my breath. But neither decided to give me the answer to the question.

We went down a long hall; to the left and right were a couple of open doors. There were creatures gathering around, not just vampires. What really shocked me was there were women vampires here. “Why are there women here?” I whispered to them.

Philip, who was on my left, whispered into my ear, “Ma petite, women need to drink too.”

A vampire with white-blond hair and soft blue eyes came towards us. “Ah Marcus, Philip. It’s been a while, mates.” He stopped looking me over. “I see you brought something delectable tonight; are you two in a sharing mood or is she yours alone? Mmm, but I have to say this one really smells enticing. You might have a hard time keeping the others away,” he chuckled licking his lips.

I tried to break free from Marcus, but he dug his hand in just the right spot to keep me from moving. “Now Damien, I know I’ve been very generous in the past, but piss off,”

Philip edged closer to my other side and we headed to a pair of double doors that led into an enormous dimly lit room. “You know, gentlemen, I do know how to handle myself. There’s no need for crowding me,” I sighed.

Once we were inside I saw all the girls dancing, laughing and talking to people. I looked over at Marcus. “Is this a brothel? Please tell me you did not bring me to a brothel. This isn’t the gentlemen’s club I was talking about, and you know it!” I seethed under my breath.

Marcus pulled me closer to his side, putting his mouth to my ear. “I have to meet with someone, and this is not a bloody brothel! Lord, your mind, these women work here; it’s like ordering beer from the tap,” he whispered. I bit my lip so as not to say something condescending to him. But really, I think another punch might do him some good.

I looked over and saw a pretty vampire talking to a young innocent mixer, when she leaned over, kissed the woman’s cheek and then bit into her neck. The young woman didn’t seem to mind, she just sat there until the vampire was finished. Then once set free she said good night, leaving the woman at the booth, sipping her drink.

“How have you kept this a secret from the Council all this time?” I asked bewildered.

“You know, it really wasn’t that hard, to be honest,” he chuckled silkily.

“And you come here all the time?” I asked, looking around.

“Well, my pet, you haven’t been around for sixty five years. Philip and I do have to eat, you know.”

I stopped in my tracks, but Philip’s arm came around my shoulders, moving me forwards. “It’s not what you think, chérie,” he soothed me.

“Why would Philip be hungry for my blood, Marcus?” I questioned.

He sat me in the booth and waved over a curvy waitress. “Here you are, bird. Why don’t you order something to drink? Philip and I will be right back.” Marcus forced a smile.

As they walked away, the waitress came over. She didn’t seem too happy to see me, that’s for sure. “What can I get you?” she asked rudely. The smell coming off her was immediate; she was a two percent. I wanted to grab her, take her out of there and question her, but I couldn’t. Damn it!

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“I work here. Look, Marcus waved me over and here I am. So, What can I get you?” She snapped.

“Get me a bottle of Jack, three shot glasses, and of bottle of Bud,”

She wrote down my order, then looked back up at me, smirking. “I’ll be right back with your drinks, then,”

She obviously wasn’t one to be held against her will, but man, she sure was a bitch. I pulled out another cigarette and lit it. I hadn’t smoked this much in a very long time. Halfway through my smoke she brought my drinks. Thank goodness.

I lined up the glasses on the table, pouring all three shot glasses full, then slammed them back in rapid succession. Jack didn’t have the burn Everclear did, but it would help me stay up without the messy after-effects. I picked up my Bud after the burn of the whiskey was gone, sipping on it and looking around the area.

Across the room a man was staring at me. He was a big man. He must have been close to seven foot, full of muscle and roughly attractive. He moved away from the group he was talking with and started heading my way.

He stopped in front of my table, looking at me in shock. “Did ye come here for me?” he questioned.

I looked to the right of me and then to the left. There was nobody but me there to talk to. “I’m sorry, are you talking to me?”

“Now who the hell do you think A’m talkin’ to? Don’t play daft with me, lass. If you want a fight A’ll give ye a fight,” he growled, and not too quietly.

“I got the call this eve that you were back around so let’s deal with this.” The big burly man grabbed me by the arm and lifted me out of my seat. Some vampires saw what was happening, but looked mildly amused instead of outraged. Most likely they thought was just another innocent mixer who was being scolded by her master.

He dragged me upstairs, pushing through some people on the staircase. Then started opening up doors in the hall until he came to an empty room. He dragged me in and then threw me to the floor.

The door shut behind him , then he stalked over to me. “Tell me what the hell ye’re doing here? And A won’t ask ye nicely again.” He snarled over me. I took his man in and what he was accusing me of, but there was something more to it. He was worried--but about what? Now, that was the question.

That sent of his, I just recently smelled someone close to him... last night, the wolf who was sitting at the bar. I took a good look at this man’s face. Yes, he did have some resemblance to that wolf. I casually sniffed the air around him. Not only were they wolves, they were brothers as well. That was a rarity among the creatures. But unfortunately for me this one wasn’t drunk off his ass.

“You know who I am?” I quivered stay on the floor.

He growled at me again, hunching down to face me. He was so close I could smell the bourbon on his breath. “Ye know A do! Why are you here? Are you here for revenge? Because that’s never going to happen!” he barked.

He was still in my face, looking at me with big brown hateful eyes. What had I done to this man? There was something nagging me at the back of my mind about him. That wolf from the other night; he claimed to have had me so… These men are Scottish, just like the wolf who marked me. This is another one of the men who raped me.

Lost in thought, even though I was looking at him I wasn’t really seeing him. Only when he snarled at me did it pull me back. Okay, I’m not playing this game with him anymore.

Getting my leg out from underneath me, I kicked him in the knee with such force I heard it crack as his bone went to the side and out his skin. He hollered out in pain as he fell forward, placing his arm to the floor to hold himself up.

He was trying to get up and that just wasn’t going to work for me. He was too damn big; I needed him on the floor and incapacitated. So as he was trying to push himself up, I got to his side and with the palm of my hand I knocked his elbow in the opposite direction, leaving his bone protruding out the front of his arm.

He fell on his ass after that. With his arms out to the floor in front of him he was at a vulnerable point, so it was time to finish him off.

I got up from the floor to stand over him, smiling wickedly. I punched him square in the face, sending him backwards, sliding across the floor and hitting the wall across the room.

Blood gushed from his nose, spraying both me and the floor. He didn’t move as I walked over to him. Truthfully I think he was in shock, but damn it, his blood smelled so good!

I straddled his chest, putting my knees on his arms, giving the broken one an extra dig to keep him in place. His eyes scrunched together, and sweat started to bead on his face from the pain. I knew I had him right where I wanted him. But he wasn’t going to give me the pleasure of seeing his pain, the selfish bastard.

He didn’t move, even when his eyes opened to stare hatefully at me. It made no difference to me if he didn’t want to be friends. I wasn’t in the friend-making business. In fact all the men I’ve interrogated wished that they’d never seen my face before. Especially when I’m through with them.

My hand came up in front of him. The blackness pooled under my fingertips, and he watched the inky death travel up the veins in my arm.

His eyes widened, meeting mine, and I knew my own glowed electric blue with power. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I’ve properly introduced myself. You might remember me as Molly, you raping son of a bitch. But that’s not who you’re going to be dealing with right now. Nowadays I’m known as Number 7. Who, you might as well know, sits on the Mixer Council. Now, I’m supposed to be calm and collected about situations like this…or so you would think.”

I leaned forward, lightly touching his face with my other hand. “But that’s not my most important role in the Council. You see, they call me the Interrogator, and that is who you have the pleasure of dealing with this evening. It’s very nice to meet you.”

One finger came down, touching the fabric of his shirt; the material turned brittle under my touch, then to powder like ash. I blew it away and gave him a wide grin. “I’m not sure if you were aware of this, but it seems one of my makers was elven. One of the gifts he gave me was this.” I held my black-fingered hand in front of him. “With one little touch, I drain life.” I turned my hand around, making the ink spread throughout my hand, showing him I could add as much or as little death to it as I liked.

“Now we’re going to play a game. It’s called the ‘You tell me everything I want to know’ game. There’s just one rule to it, and I think even you can follow. If you don’t give me what I want, then I hurt you. I know what you’re thinking. How can this little woman hurt a big man like you... well, let me show you” I reached down where his shirt had been touching his exposed flesh.

One fingertip lightly touched his bare skin, and the sounds of crackling, like a dried leaf getting stepped on, filled our ears. The skin turned gray and ashy as my finger drew the life out of it. He bit his lip not to scream out. “I think you understand now. So, shall we begin?”

“Why was your brother at the hotel in London?” I asked lifting my finger, but he said nothing. “Did you know I was there? Was that the reason?” I pushed, but again he was silent. “Okay, time for you to learn your first lesson.”

I touched his skin again, but this time didn’t remove it as quickly. His skin was going from flesh tone to gray and it spread through his veins like cracks in the ice. When I removed it, he was biting his lip so hard that he had bitten through it. And when I stopped, he was breathing roughly.

He looked determined not to work with me. And I was sure two men would be searching for me in about ten minutes. So playtime was over. I placed all five fingers on his chest, waiting to cause him pain.

“Now let’s start again.” I dug my fingertips into his flesh, making his skin instantly start to deteriorate. Grunts came from him as his lip was just about bitten through. “Answer all my questions, because I’m not willing to play anymore. And if you don’t give me what I want, well… I’ll just kill you and go after your fucking brother! Now answer me!”

“Eloise! We work for Eloise. A had no idea that ye were there. Bran was told to go watch the vampires and report back what he found out,” he huffing from the pain.

“Is she the one behind the murders of the innocents?” I hissed. He looked dazed; I had gone through a couple of layers of skin by now. So I smacked his face to wake him up. “Finish what you were saying.”

“A don’t know if she’s behind anything! She just tells us what to do. But even she has a master, and we don’t want to mess with him!” He ranted as sweat poured from him as his wounds started to regenerate.

“I know there’s more. So spill it wolf!” I hissed.

“Ye don’t understand; she has people everywhere. They’re even in your precious Council!” he roared.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. In the Council? My hand left his chest for a moment, but that was all he needed to throw me off balance. With his good arm he pushed me off him, sending me across the room. When I hit the floor he was on top of me, his striking fist making direct contact with my eye.

We grappled on the floor until he had me pinned under him. “Ye--no lass, we never even thought about ye after we took ye. Your kin is the abomination in this world. And if ye want to know the truth, I’d rape ye again for takin’ my wee sister’s husband from her,” he snickered.

He had Both my wrists were pinned by his hands so I gathered my ink, I pushed it out and under his palms. He didn’t notice it at first, but then the crackling sound came, followed by his scream. When he threw his hands up to his face, you could see the exposed bone.

I punched him in the gut, then flipped him to his back. “You violated me, I think it’s time someone violated you,” I seethed. And with my hand as black as death, I grabbed hold of his balls. He screamed out in pain. To deaden the sound I tore my shirt and shoved it into his mouth to shut him up until the jib was done. After a minute the wolf had passed out from shock. But he would never violate a woman again.

Marcus and Philip burst into the room along with a third man right behind them. I looked up at them; their eyes were huge. I could feel my eye was swelling and blood running down from my nose.

Marcus looked at me and then the big man lying by me, his groin exposed, burned skin at his chest, bones protruding from his leg and arm, not to mention the blood running down his face. “Bloody hell, woman! What the hell do you think you’re doing? He could have killed you!” he fumed.

I sat quietly for a minute, first startled, then irritated. “You’re a complete ass! You left me alone down there when this idiot came after me. You and Philip might be two of my makers, but you don’t know shit about me.” I seethed.

“This man and I had business together. I couldn’t place it at first, but I knew that I had smelled a scent like his before.” I explained getting up from the floor.

“His brother was at the hotel bar last night. Doesn’t that strike you strange, that a wolf would be at a secretive meeting full of vampires? Well, it did me, I wanted to know why his ass was there. He said that he works for someone named Eloise, but that she isn’t in control. He also told me she has people everywhere. That’s all I got till he got the upper hand on me for a moment.” I told Marcus.

“He said I was nothing but an abomination and how I deserved being raped by him, and he would do it again for the sake of his sister. I don’t even know who his sister is!” I screamed. But then the tears that I kept in place escaped me.

The other man pushed through Marcus and Philip. His hand gently wiped away my stray tears. But I couldn’t look at him, I was to embarrassment to have anyone see what I held deep inside me; I didn’t want to acknowledge the pain, or let anyone see my weakness.

“Nicolas... ” Philip questioned.

“He thought he could easily forget what he’d done to me. Now he’ll always be reminded of that day.” I whispered.

“Luv, what did you do to him?” An deep gravelly English-accented voice asked. My eyes blinked a couple of times, causing the tears to fall free so I could see who was speaking to me.

Penetrating blue eyes looked down at me. I tilted my head up to see his beautiful face. “I know you, don’t I?” I said, dazed.

He gave me a small smile, taking my face in both of his hands. “Yes luv, you do. Now what did you do to him?” he asked again.

“I castrated him.” I answered, glancing at the man still lying on the floor.

“Why in the bloody hell would you let him take you anywhere to begin with?” Marcus bristled. I heard Philip say something low in French, but Marcus didn’t seem to care.

Tearing my gaze away from the man in front of me, I stood there glaring at Marcus. It took me a couple of seconds to calm down before I could talk rationally with him.

“You can’t be serious? Look, I’m not the one guilty here. What would you have liked me to do? Do you think it would have been better to castrate the ass in front of all the creatures down stairs? believe if you wanted to me to make a scene, when I tell you what, I could’ve done that, and so much more!” I snarled.

Marcus looked like he was going to say something, but stopped, and walked calmly over to me. “We need to clean you up. There’s no way we can get you out of here like that without causing a scene,” Then glanced over at Philip.

“I think our suspicions were correct about Eloise being involved. That blasted woman always seems to make it a point to somehow be involved in our business!” Marcus shook his head in disgust. “But she’s gone too bloody far this time. Philip, you know what must be done.”

“Oui, I know what comes next. She lives to destroy me. Let me say I’m sorry that I let her live after all this time, and for what she has done.” Philip growled then turned for the door. “When I find out more I’ll text you.”

The adrenaline was dissipating, causing me to start feeling the pain from my wounds. When I’m injured the craving for blood is intense; I heal like a human, but I heal better with blood. And my body wanted to heal.

The room was closing in on me. Blood covered my hands, and I could smell it on my face. I took a deeper breath than I should have, causing the scent of the men in front of me to hit me hard. My mouth went dry from the thirst I’d been struggling with all day, hell, for two days now, and I took a step back. “I really need you to do me a favor right now,” I said through clenched teeth.

“Anything you need, luv,” Nicolas grinned.

I couldn’t breathe, but I had to breathe. “I need to get out of this room right now!” I whispered.

I pushed Nicolas away from me, making him stumble. Marcus stepped closer to me, looking over my body. “Why do you need to leave? We need to get you changed. You can’t go out there covered in all this blood,” Marcus explained.

I kept my head down, my eyes glued to the floor as the thirst had gone to…painful hunger. How could I explain the situation they now found themselves in? The beast was hungry, and she was coming.

“Look, I don’t know how to tell you this, but if you don’t get me out of here you’ll have more to worry about than my bloody clothes.” I warned.

“What do you mean by that?” Nicolas asked, but took a step in my direction.

I wanted to like the blood off my hands, then sink my fangs into sweet tasting flesh. But I fought it, and even taking a small shallow breath was too much; I could smell their blood. It enticed me, calling me to drink like no other blood had before. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep my bloodlust at bay,” I grunted.

Fangs slowly came down from my mouth, peeking through my lips even though I was trying to stop them. My eyes were now no longer blue, but a deep crimson red, casting an eerily red glow on the world around me.

“Do you need a human to drink from? Will that help?” Marcus questioned, turning slightly for the door if I said yes.

“Humans, no that won’t help me. You know I’ve made it my life not to drink blood. But you could say that if I did drink blood, I would thirst for yours.” I chuckled

I looked up at the two of them, reveling in their smell. I tried so hard to keep this part of myself in check, but smelling the air around me, I couldn’t think straight. The pull was so strong that I didn’t even realize that I had started walking towards them.

The beast started coaxing me on. Why not drink their blood? Isn’t this what you are? And these men are just what you need. I look a deep breath, gathering their scent into me. You could take a small bite. They smell so divine, don’t they? They’re immortal, aren’t they? So even if you drained them dry they would still live…right?

“Yes, yes they would.” I answered back. The beast was starting to make sense, so much sense.

Playtime was over, and the beast had won. I wasn’t going to deny myself any longer. I smiled, letting my pheromones release themselves into the room. I’m a mixer; my body was made to entice these men, why not use it?

“You see, I haven’t had blood in sixty five years, gentlemen, and let me tell you it’s been very difficult. But tonight, ah tonight, I’m going to break that little rule of mine. You smell so delicious, and I’m so very…hungry.” I whispered.

Marcus just stood there watching me as I move towards him. “You are a magnificent specimen,” I murmured. Smiling at him, I could feel the fangs against my lips, so ready for a taste of that sweet blood. When I stood in front of him he seemed at ease.

Vampires have no pulse, no thrusting heartbeat making it easy to find a vein. But with my world a soft haze of red, his veins glowed bright in his body, leading me where to bite him. My hand slid behind his neck, and Marcus gave me a small smile. “Now, Nicolas.”

I was so lost in my lust I didn’t even realize, until it was too late, that Marcus had distracted me. Nicolas wrapped one arm around my waist, his other hand around my head, tilting it back and exposing the soft skin of my throat. He bit deeply, taking fast deep gulps of my blood before I even realized what was happening.

Blood trickled down to my collarbone as I struggled to get free from his strong hold. My legs were becoming weak with every gulp he took. My mind felt muddled, and the feeling of thirst diminished under the instinct of survival. Only when I quit struggling against him did he release me.

As I tried to push him away, he slowly untangled me from his grip. I turned around and backed away, stumbling over my own feet. His arms stretched out to catch me before I fell. “Please luv, just relax. I won’t take any more from you.” he promised.

“You bit me, son of a bitch.” I stammered, but that was all my foggy brain would allow. I pulled from his grasp, but was to weak. He sighed, scooping me up into his arms, holding me protectively against his chest.

Marcus frowned as his deep brown eyes roamed over me. His fingers lightly touched where the wolf had hit me. “Don’t worry, Nicolas, she’s going to be fine. This was a necessity. You needed blood, and she needed to be stopped. But we’ll have to watch out for her, my friend. I think she could seduce us into giving her anything,” he said with a chuckle.

“As for the werewolf, I don’t think the blagguard is needed anymore. She did a hell of a job getting the information from him. I hate to say it, but if she wasn’t here we would have missed this opportunity.”

Nicolas kissed my forehead. “First we get her out of here, then we can deal with that sod.”

I was too tired to fight anymore. I looked up once more into bright blue eyes before my exhaustion won out, letting my world go dark.

***

Nicolas was holding the woman who hadn’t left his thoughts since the first time he saw her, so many years ago. Remembering the small fragile human who was so beautiful and brave, it broke his heart for what he’d seen tonight.

But something about her drew him to her, it was unexplainable. Like a moth to a flame, or an addict to his drugs, he wanted this woman with a longing so fierce that he nearly buckled over at the very first sight of her. The rest of his friends fought the same feelings when they had first seen her. Alexander had lost his mind when he was next to her, causing the situation that still left them haunted.

He was amazed that Marcus had even found her. She had evaded them for sixty five long years. They all wondered how the bloody hell she could hide from them without detection, but somehow she had managed. They traveled all over the word to find her. But every time, they came back empty handed.

Marcus looked over at the big werewolf knocked out on the floor. “I cannot believe that this little woman did that much bloody damage to that mountain over there!”

“You know, I think we’ve met him before.” He brought his hand under his chin, thinking. “Bloody hell, Nick, this is Alexander’s brother-in-law.”

“I think that Alexander didn’t tell us any bloody thing at all!” Marcus seethed. “We should take care of Molly first, then you can jump the wolf out the back.” He looked over at his friend. “That is, if you’re ready for that, mate?”

Nicolas smiled down at Molly. “I am better, but not whole. I don’t think I’ll have any problems with one small jump though. But I do think we should follow Philip to Paris. Speaking of which, are we going to tell Alex what we’re about to do to his beastly brother-in-law?”

“Yes, I’ll most definitely tell him about his brother-in-law. Then we’ll see what he has to say about all the sixes and sevens. But he’ll still need to show himself in Paris.” Marcus warned.

“Do you think that’s such grand idea? I don’t want to push her Marcus, she’s just had a shock with this sod, and she bleeding castrated him! To have her meet Alexander just seems…wrong. Whatever happened to her that night, he was a part of it. We do not know how much a part of it he was…but he was a part of it, all the same.” Nicolas advised.

“Bloody hell, she is his, also. He’s given up everything just for the possibility that we’d happen to stumble across her. I won’t bleeding work that way. No, we’ll meet up with them; his help will be monumental in finding Eloise and whoever she’s working with now.” Marcus snapped.

Nicolas sighed, giving Molly a little squeeze in his arms. “I just want it on the record that I think it’s extremely too soon for this.”

“Look, I’m going to try to pinch some clothes for her. So just get her ready to leave. If she stirs, just take more blood.” Marcus sighed.

“Brilliant,” Nicolas laughed sarcastically.

***

My eyes felt so heavy, and my head was killing me. Sitting up took me a moment; my face was plastered to a leather seat and now I could really feel the black eye. Wiping my hands over my face, and wincing when I swiped too roughly over my bruise, I lifted my head.

The sun was out, but starting its descent. The world around me was moving. I saw the road in front of me, and then I knew I was in the back seat of a car. “Where am I?” I asked groggily.

Nicolas turned around in his seat to look at me. “I see you finally woke up. You had me worried.”

I never could see how women thought of men as beautiful. Handsome yes, hot most definitely, but beautiful, nope…couldn’t see it. But this man made me rethink that whole idea. He was beautiful, but in a sexy, manly kind of way that made you rub your eyes because he couldn’t possibly be real. I could remember him, slightly. I remembered his mouth on mine, but the rest was like shattered images.

I pushed some hair out of my face, still trying to focus. “You bit me? I’ve never let anyone take blood from me. There could be very bad consequences to that. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.” I snapped.

The smile left his beautiful face. “I am sorry about that. I didn’t want to hurt you, and I certainly didn’t want you hurting us. It really was the best thing under the circumstances.”

Slouching back in the seat, I could tell my body was aching all over. I must have smacked into the floor harder than I thought. Closing my eyes, I shivered, feeling a draft on my legs. My hands drifted down to feel soft silky fabric, then bare skin. Mentally I cringed. I knew I had to open my eyes, but really, did I want to? Sighing, already knowing the answer, I looked down to see a pink nightgown…a revealing pink nightgown. My head fell back against the seat and I groaned.

“What the hell happened to my clothes?” I asked both of them. Neither of them answered me. “I said, what happened to my clothes?”

“Nicolas took them off you.” Marcus sighed.

My eyes widened as I looked back to Nicolas, who cleared his throat. “Well, in light of what happened we needed to clean you up, so I managed to clean the blood off your body. We found what we could to put you in and that’s it. It’s really that simple,” he said.

He glanced back at me, and saw that I was not happy. He ran his hand through his wavy black hair. “We had to take the werewolf blood off you; the others would be able to sense something amiss if we left you the way you were.”

“The wolf has been dealt with, now we’re on our way to France to meet up with some…friends. We have to deal with Eloise, and that could get rather messy.” Marcus informed me.

I let everything he said process in my mind. Get the wolf’s bloody smell off me? I looked down at my hands, which I remembered had been covered in blood, but now were clean. But I would still smell of his blood, even after they cleaned me off, unless… Oh, no way! “You drank from me, too?” I yelled at him.

Marcus gave me an exasperated sigh. “Good Lord, woman, all I did was take a little blood, really it’s no big deal. Nicolas took his fill, so I couldn’t take any more than a mouthful,” he told me. “And it wouldn’t have been the first time.”

“For your information, I don’t ever let vampires drink from me! I don’t care how thirsty they get or how turned on they are. Drinking from me can have a really bad outcome for you,” I growled.

Marcus squinted back at me. “What the bloody hell do you mean, ‘even if they get turned on’?” he asked . He sounded like he was going to lose his cool again. Shit, I almost forgot he was one of my makers, and thought of me as property.

Marcus gave me an unpleasant smile, I’m sure to keep the appearance of keeping his cool. “Just answer the bleeding question, Molly,” he said coldly. But I just sat back, crossing my arms over my chest. “Molly…” he said through gritted teeth.

Our eyes met in the rearview mirror, and Nicolas sat very still. (It’s really creepy how still a vampire can be.) “Whatever I do and whomever I take to my bed, is none of your business, gentlemen,” I informed them.

“You don’t understand, do you? No one should be able to touch you but us,” he answered in a demanding way. My jaw dropped at his audacity, and Nicolas gave him a stern look.

“Are you kidding me? I’m not your property! I will not be used as some fast food cart for vampires! Men have never done anything for me. I’ve worked hard for everything I have!“Even though you made me--and I know Nicolas is one of my makers too--don’t act like you know me. But if you want my opinion on the opposite sex, then I can give you a rundown on that,” I shrugged.

Marcus’s eyes narrowed at me as he thought about my comment. Nicolas acted like it wasn’t in the top ten things he wanted to know about me, but said nothing. “All right, Molly, why don’t you tell us how you feel about the opposite sex,” said Marcus.

“You want the real truth, or the watered-down version?” I asked.

“I want what you’re willing to tell us,” Marcus said through his clenched jaw.

“What I’m willing to tell you…” I trailed off, leaning forward near them. “Well, in my book, men are good for one thing; your only use is the appendage you have between your legs. Men are toys to be manipulated and discarded when I’m done with them.” I smiled wickedly at the two of them. “It’s like you said, Marcus, we were made for you. It’s so easy to get what I want from your kind. I’ve had sixty years to perfect my art of seduction, and truthfully it comes in quite handy. Most of the time I don’t even have to use force to get information I need out of you. Just let you think you’re going to get between my legs, and I can’t get you to shut up.”

Both men were red in the face. Nicolas looked over at Marcus, having a “Silent Guy” conversation. “How many men?” Marcus asked in a voice as cold as ice. I shrugged, sitting back in my seat. “You bloody well will tell me, how men have had you!” he seethed.

But I sat in silence, looking out the window. It was none of his business how many lovers I’d had. Georgie, Calista and I have one rule: never get too close to men. Which isn’t too hard for Cal since she really prefers women, so it’s just George and I going through the men.

I knew Georgie was fooling around with Ryuuji, but she had at least five more guys she kept on the side. When I thought about it, after her sickness she was really devoted to Ryuuji, but I knew she had mentioned one other name, too.

I always had one steady man to go to, one man who knew the rules of the mixer. At first that was Justice, but it was hard for him. Especially when he knew I’d been with another man. He’d even sleep with other women hoping to make me jealous. But that just wasn’t going to work. He realized I was never going to settle down with him, and he decided to leave for England.

Lennox took his place after that, and things seemed to be working out fine. Tipton was my backup if things were really off with me, and when the bloodlust was out of control, I would have them both.

But the rest were just nameless, meaningless men. I didn’t care to have their name, and I certainly didn’t want their number. And so far it had worked for me.

“Look, I don’t want to fight with you guys, okay? I really don’t see the problem here. How many women have you two slept with since I’ve been gone?” I questioned.

Marcus shook his head, acting like I was crazy. “That is entirely beside the point!” he growled.

“It figures a you’d say that. Have you ever heard the saying ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’? Well, there you go. I just wrapped it up for you in a nutshell. Just think of me like a guy,” I told him simply.

Marcus actually chuckled darkly. “Good Lord, woman, have you seen yourself in the mirror? There’s no possible way any bloke could think of you as a man.”

Sitting back in the seat, I threw up my arms in the air. “It was a metaphor. I treat men like men treat women. You know, tit for tat and all that?” I said. Neither one said anything or acknowledged me for quite some time. So I decided to just let this headache pass.

After about forty-five minutes, Marcus was done being patient with me. “Molly, I want you to tell me how many men you’ve been with,” he said, acting nonchalant, but not quite hitting the mark.

“If I tell you, will you leave me alone on the subject?” I asked rubbing my hands over my face carefully.

“We will try to accept what you tell us,” Nicolas answered for him.

“Well, that’s really not fair, is it?” I sighed.

“It’s the best you’re going to get from either of us,” he offered.

“Damn it, Molly! Just tell me how many bloody men have touched you! Bloody bugger to hell, woman, you could make a saint lose patience,” Marcus growled.

“Fine, I have three lovers that are mine, and four that crave my attention and will drop whatever they’re doing if I call. But the rest, I couldn’t really tell you about. When I’m losing control and I’m not around my ‘friends,’ I take what I can get,” I told them honestly.

“The need to mate is so strong sometimes. It’s a driving force that most of us fight. Most of the higher mixers are abandoned when they’re not the innocent mindless girls that their makers were hoping to create. So the bond that is formed between maker and creation is severed, causing us to find replacements. We usually have as many lovers as we do makers. So if you want the truth, I’ve had just about every creature out there, trying to find the right match for me.” I confessed.

Nicolas sat back, looking at the darkening road ahead of him. I heard a loud crack and looked over at Marcus, whose hands were whiter than normal on the steering wheel. “I’m so bloody sorry, bird. I’m sorrier than you can ever imagine, but I swear I’ll make it up to you,”

But I didn’t care for an apology, I just wanted to go back to New York and continue living my life. The sun was setting, and the sky was colored in pinks and peaches as I turned to the window, looking at the world going by. “I have just one more question, then I’ll leave it be,” Marcus asked.

“What?“ I asked with a raised brow.

“Any of these men that you were with…could we run into them?” he asked.

I blew out a breath; man I needed a cigarette. “I really don’t now. I never really leave the States. I mean, do you hang out in New York, then you might. Well, you guys do seam pretty high up in the committee. Do you know any elves?”

“We might know a couple.” Nicolas nodded.

“Okay, well I’ll tell you one. But only because he can always find me and I don’t want a confrontation if he shows up.” I added.

“So how is this elf?” Nicolas pushed.

“His name is Tipton.” My stomach was hurting again, and I was feeling a little nauseated. “Do you think we could pull over somewhere so I could get something to eat? And I really need to use the restroom,”

Marcus looked back at me, but I just turned my head. “I think we’ll be in Kent in about five minutes.”

Nicolas cleared his throat, trying to get my attention, which he did. “So, I know we said we wouldn’t ask any more questions, but when did you meet this Tipton?” he questioned.

“Tipton, found me right after I woke up in New York. Now he can always seem to find me my need is at its strongest, like he knows or something. Which at first freaked me out. But now, he’s very necessary for me on those nights. Why do you ask?”

“It’s nothing. But I do think I might know him, that’s all, luv.” Nicolas stated, but pulled out his phone.

We pulled off the M20, finding a Shell station off Junction 111. Marcus pulled up to the pumps and got out to start pumping the gas. Nicolas climbed out too, with cell back in hand, and started texting. I, on the other hand, was dressed in a pink teddy, and really had to pee. “Um, hello, can one of you give me something to wear?” I asked through the cracked car door.

It was almost comical how their heads popped up, Marcus pumping gas and Nicolas starting to make a call; just stopped and looked at each other.

Nicolas put the phone back to his ear, telling someone he’d call him back, and ran inside the station. A couple of minutes later he came running to the SUV. “Here, put this on for now,” he told me, handing me a 4X large shirt and a pair of bootie socks. At this point I really had to pee; I just threw on the shirt and socks and ran for the restroom, thankfully making it in time.

I came out of the stall to wash my hands, and looked into the mirror. My eye was black and blue, along with that whole side of my cheek. The wolf definitely didn’t hold back.

I pulled the sleeve of the shirt up, seeing all the bruising there, then lifted the shirt enough to check out the tops of my thighs. I was a battered mess. I put more soap in my hands, washing off all the rest of the makeup on my face, and the fresh cover up on my bruise.

I pulled out my ponytail and flipped my head over, trying to brush through my thick mane with my fingers. When I flipped it back up a little old woman was looking at me. “You know, ducky, you shouldn’t let a man treat you so terribly,” she told me sadly.

“I know, and thank you.” I just smiled at her, happy to know that there were people out there who still cared.

She pulled a little comb out of her handbag, handing it over to me. “You fix your hair up. It will make you feel better, love,” she said, patting my shoulder before walking off. I grinned, thinking If life could just be that easy!

Doing as I was told, I combed through my hair, then braided it. When I walked out to the SUV Marcus was leaning on the side door, and Nicolas was pacing alongside the vehicle, arguing with someone on his phone.

Marcus stood straight when he saw me and started heading for me. “I was wondering if I could have a little money to get something to eat,” I asked. As he came closer his face looked unhappy. He took my face in his hands and tilted it up so he could see it better.

“Please tell me this is the lighting making your face look so battered.” I didn’t say anything, and his frown deepened but his eyes were soft. “Come, bird, I already visited the eatery. It’s waiting for you in the Mercedes,” he answered, opening the car door for me.

The food was simple, a yogurt, an apple and banana, with a bottle of water. I was thankful, and my stomach calmed down a bit after I had a couple of bites in me, but it was going to be one of “those” nights. Shit, where’s Tipton when I need him!

Marcus was texting and making sure to keep it out of my line of sight. He and Nicolas traded places in the driver’s seat. “Hey, what did you guys do with my phone? Georgie will lose her mind if I don’t check in, and it’s already been a day and a half,” I explained.

He typed something quickly into the phone, then shut it. “Your phone was destroyed when we took you from the dry hole,” he informed me.

“What’s a dry hole?” I asked.

“It’s the men’s club we brought you to.” His informed me as his hands went to his temples, rubbing them.

“Well, can I use yours, then?” But he just ignored me. “Look, I need to call her or she’s going to get worried.” I reached through the seats, going for his phone.

As soon as I had it in my hand, he grabbed my wrist. He pulled me close enough to feel his breath on my mouth. His eyes went to my lips, then back to my eyes. He groaned when I licked my lips, anticipating his decision. Nicolas opened the door, and Marcus let go.

“Don’t even go there, mate. We have enough going on.” Nicolas warned.

Dialing her number, I didn’t have to wait long before she picked up. “Who the hell is this?” she yelled into the phone.

I held the phone away for a moment. “Holy shit, George! You trying to burst my eardrum?” There was silence for a minute, but in the background I heard lots of people talking.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Of course I’m okay. But you know me, I always seem to manage to get myself into some kind of trouble,” I chuckled. She gasped, put her hand over the phone, said something to someone and got back on.

“Did that bastard hurt you? Because if he did I will find you and burn his eyes out of his head!” she hissed. I looked over at Marcus, knowing he heard her.

“No, he’s not the one who hurt me,” I assured her.

“Look, I ran into one of the wolves who raped me,” I whispered. “In fact, I ran into his brother the night before, at the bar before the meeting. I just didn’t have time to tell you. Georgie, he knew who I was.” I heard her choke on a sob. Time to change the subject. “So what did you find in Wales?”

“Well, not as much as I’d hoped. I found that there are bars out there, but just not what I was thinking they were,” she hissed.

“Yeah, I found out about that too.” I sighed.

The two men were listening, so I whispered, “I have to get going, but I found out something. I’m just giving you the skinny of it, okay? Look for the name Eloise and who she might be affiliated with. And watch your back with the Council, we might have a traitor among us,” I warned.

“What?!” she sputtered, outraged.

“Just listen to me. Call Calista, give her the rundown of what I told you. Tell her to trust no one, and I mean no one! Have her pick through the Council of Seven…discreetly. I want to see who might have their fingers in more than one pie.

“I even want her to dig through all the clusters, especially ours. No one but our cluster has two two percent's in it. We might have a mole in our group, and we’re going to have to weed them out. But more importantly, see what comes up with the name,”

“You’re serious, this is what you’ve found out? But why the murders, then? Why hurt the babies? And what…”

“Georgie! I don’t have all the answers right now, but when I do you’ll be the first to know! Now when I hang up, call Cal, tell her what I told you. Have her call me, or you, the minute she finds something out of place. Or information on Eloise. Got it?”

“Yes, I’m on it. Call to check in,” she urged.

“I will. Keep this number. You can get me on it,” I said, hanging up.

***

Nicolas looked in the rearview mirror when he heard a soft snore. “She’s asleep again. Do you know why hasn’t she healed yet? And she looks a bit off color, if you ask me.”

Marcus turned in his seat to look Molly over. “That sod did do a number on her face. He sure in hell didn’t suffer enough in my book.” He ran his hands through his hair, then linked them at the neck. “So what did Ryklin have to say about Tipton?”

Nicolas shook his head, remembering everything Ryklin had said about the situation. “Well, if you found out that your brother was shagging your queen, how would you take it?” He shook his head again in disgust. “Just think, for almost sixty years Tipton knew where she was. He just wanted to keep her away from his brother. And at that, he kept her away from us, as well.”

“We’ll just have to work through this. If he was trying to get her with child it obviously didn’t work. But our cup is already full. So we’ll let Ryklin deal with the treacherous tosser, and be about our business,” Marcus said.

The soft breathing in the back seat was as soothing as music to the both of them. They’d made good time on the road from Calais, and should be in Paris by 1:00 a.m. But it was Nicolas who broke the silence with a question that had bothered him for a while now.

“You heard everything she said on the phone today, right? This could be much worse than we even imagined. If someone can make that crazy woman follow their orders, what does that indicate about them?”

“I’m not worried about Eloise; that’s Philip’s problem to take care of. What I’m wondering is, how the hell are they all related to the murders.” He pulled out his phone, sending out a text. “But I wouldn’t put anything past that crazy bitch, not even harming children.”

***

I was running down a long hallway. Something was following me, and it was fast, so fast it was catching up to me. I tried to run faster but I just couldn’t; my feet were heavy and my pace was so much slower than normal.

I tried to get any of my powers to come to me, but they wouldn’t. I heard a loud ear-piercing scream that made me drop to the floor, covering my ears. I felt the floor crack as the creature stepped forward from the darkened hallway. With every step it made I heard the floor creak and buckle under its feet.

Its eyes glowed an unholy red as it made its way to me. A laugh that was almost a growl came from the darkness as it spoke. “What are you afraid of, little girl?” its voice menacing, coming out between snarl and a hiss.

I scurried backwards on the ground trying to get farther away from it, but backed into the wall. I gather myself into a ball, waiting for the creature to come. “Don’t you know who I am, little girl?” it growled, teasing me.

Breaking through the darkness, it showed itself. When I looked at it I wanted to scream at the horror of what was before me, but no sound would came.

It was a woman, blackness wrapped around her arms and legs like a mist. She had no eyes, just flaming red orbs that looked to take your soul away. Her face was almost snout like, with long fangs that protruded from her upper lip.

She wore no clothes; just a mixture of earth, frost, and fur made up her body. And when her hand shot out from the black mist as she crawled towards me, all I could see were the sharp claws.

“I asked you a question, little girl, don’t you know who I am?” she seethed at me now.

“No! No, I don’t know who you are! Just leave me alone! Please!” I yelled at her, closing my eyes.

She started to laugh again, this time longer, rougher, deeper. I opened my eyes and she was right in front of my face. “Silly, I’m you.” She laughed at me, blood dripping from the long fangs.

What?” But she didn’t answer, she just kept laughing. “I’m not you. Did you hear me? I’m not you!” I screamed out, but she had vanished.

I looked around, making sure the nightmare had disappeared. Relief washed over me as I slowly got up from the floor, and I started to laugh. “It wasn’t real. It was just my imagination,” I laughed.

Something black caught my eye as I began walking again. I looked down, and realized my hand had become black mist. I tried to shake it off, but it wouldn’t come off. I reached for something in my pocket to wipe it off, but my clothes were gone. Instead I touched fur, earth and frost. “Am I the creature? Wait, I’m the creature? No, I am the creature... No!”

I must have been screaming in my sleep, because when I woke I was still screaming. I could feel the sweat on my face. “Molly, it was just a dream, sweetheart. Nothing more than a dream.” Strong arms held me tightly, and Nicolas’s blue eyes watched me. Even after I was awake I let him hold me. I wrapped my arms around his waist and placed my head on his chest, holding on for dear life.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened,” I whispered.

His hand caressed the side of my face. “It’s fine, luv. We only have about forty-five minutes until we reach the meeting place. Are you okay now?” he asked.

"Fine."

"Good." He answered and kissed my forehead.

I shivered in the back seat, pulling my feet up under myself to keep them warm. I was still shaken from the dream. Nicolas started the Mercedes back up and we were on our way.

“Are you cold?” Marcus questioned.

“Yes, and a little anxious,” I confessed.

He worked himself out of his jacket and handed it over to me. “Put this on, it will help a little. We’ll get you something more appropriate to wear when we’re at the inn.”

Nicolas took my hand and helped me out of the car when we arrived at the meeting place, which was a beautiful old brick house nestled on a lovely piece of property on the outskirts of Paris. I looked around, then down at my clothes, and back up to him. “Do you think it’s okay for me to walk into this meeting like this?” I asked.

“Everything will be fine, Molly,” Nicolas smiled. His arm went around my waist, guiding me to the front door. There was something strangely familiar about this. Like déjà vu. I’ve done this before; I know I have.

Marcus rang the bell and we waited. Soon a well-dressed maid in black and white answered the door, inviting us in, as we were expected. We walked into a foyer that reminded me of a room from a Jane Austen novel.

Something smelled familiar, but not a good familiar. I looked at the maid; she was human, I could pick up on that scent. But something was not right, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of Nicolas and Marcus that I felt that way. But I’d known this smell before.

The maid brought the three of us to a large study on the first floor, and then she turned, curtsied, and left the room.Pulling away from Nicolas, I looked over at Marcus.

“Are we waiting on Philip?” I asked glancing at Nicolas, who looked very solemn at the moment, then back at Marcus. “What’s going on, you two?”

Marcus came over, leading me further into the room. Nothing’s going on, bird. I just need you to remain calm,” he said smoothly. But before I could ask him what the hell he was talking about, he and Nicolas turned toward the open doorway of the study and I gasped at what I saw.

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