Looking at all the sights, I realized we were in the heart of Paris. “Where are we going? I thought you said she was seen coming in and out of a bar?”
He nodded his head as we made our way over the Seine River. “Oui, a very nice area off the Rue du Maréchal Harispe. Or at least that’s what we’ve been told. I’ve walked around the area, but have seen no one enter the place.” He turned down a road filled with little souvenir shops and cafés. “Here we are. We need to find a place where we can watch that door,” he told me, pointing to some ordinary brown doors.
I looked around at the other storefronts, then back to the brown doors. There was no sign, no number, basically it was a pair of old broken-down doors. Really it looked like nobody had been living there for years. “Are you telling me there’s a bar next to the American library?” I asked incredulously.
“This, ma belle, is a different kind of bar, is it not. I’m sure they don’t want some human to just come waltzing in. Creatures love their alcohol, and most go in to sit and relax. What’s that look for? We relax also.”
He was parking the car when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar creature. My hand flew up, slapping Philip on the arm. “Philip, Philip, I know that demon. I saw him that night at the wife-swapping place,” I told him. There was someone walking in front of him, blocked by the big demon, but from a quick look it was a woman.
He turned his head in the direction I was pointing. “Qu’est-ce qu’elle fait ici?” he said angrily. I looked over at him and back at the woman, who was now going into Par 24.
“Do you know her? Is it Eloise?” I asked.
He sat back in the seat. “Oui, it’s Eloise.” He pulled out his phone and texted someone. “I think it’s best to wait them out,” he said.
We sat in the car for over an hour but nobody else came in or out of the “bar.” Two guards came out after Eloise and the demon had gone in, but nobody even noticed them at the door. They looked like two normal men, just outside having a smoke.
“So what do you think she wants in there? I mean, you know her, we might get an idea of what’s she’s thinking?” I asked.
Philip sighed a deep breath, almost like he was sorry for this woman. “Eloise is a very complicated woman. But I think I have an idea of what she wants.”
“Are you going to share that information, or am I going to have to guess?” I said.
He sat back, watching the door, and ran his hand through his hair making it adorably messy. “Well, there’s much more than that. Marcus had told me of this idea he had about making females that could bring us clean blood, and possibly children. Marcus had always wanted children. I personally thought it was ridiculous. Why did we need ‘clean’ blood? Why would any vampire want a child? But like most times I missed what Marcus, how do you say…his master plan.
“A decade later I checked in, just to see how everyone was faring. That’s when I first really saw the effect the blood was having on Nicolas, and it wasn’t…pretty.”
“You see, I was repulsed by the idea of making this race of creatures for our consumption. Marcus told me of all the benefits it could have, but more importantly how it would help Nicolas.
“After many, many years, he told us that he had found a perfect specimen for the five of us to have, and I told him that I would only do this once, for Nicolas’s sake. For me the tainted blood of the humans has not been a problem like it has become for Nicolas. But I would not abandon my brothers if they needed me.” He stopped. I really didn’t think he wanted to tell me the rest, but he continued as he watched people walk by the brown doors.
“Eloise and I had been lovers for a long time. When I told her what I was going to be a part of, she was angry with me. She thought of this as a betrayal to her instead of the assistance of a friend, and of course in some ways she was correct.
“Eloise was afraid I would want this woman that was to become mine. But I told her that for me this was not the case. I wanted no children, or woman of my own, I was completely happy with my bachelor life. But Eloise longed for children, and that was never possible for vampires, that is until Marcus came up with a way to make it possible.”
“I’m sorry to say that I did not treat her well. She wanted us to be exclusive. She pleaded with me not to do this to her, that maybe Marcus could help us have a child together. That she would be everything I needed. But I was happy with the…arrangement we had. And had no plans to make her mine. Which hurt her deeply.
“When Marcus told me whose line you came from, there was no question that I would be a part of what he asked. Quand je t’ai vu j’ai ete completement captive par vous.” He shook his head. “What I mean to say is, I was captivated by you when I first laid eyes upon you.”
“After you were changed, that first evening I saw you it was like God had made me my own angel. When I held you in my arms the first time, I felt the connection that I didn’t think could exist in me anymore. And when I tasted your blood, oh ma belle, it was like I have been drinking foul water my whole unnatural life, and you were pure, clean, refreshing.”
“After that night you survived the change, the four of us talked about the strong pull you had on us, the pull you had on Alexander that made him lose control, and what we should do about it. But that has not gone to plan.”
He leaned in and kissed me tenderly on the lips. “I have been waiting to see you again. We will deal with Eloise and see what she is up to. Then we shall work on getting you to understand the need we have for you.”
Looking into his eyes, I realized they had never really told me why they thought this Eloise was the culprit. “Why do you think she has anything to with the innocent mixer girls? Are you thinking she might want revenge on our whole race or something?”
“After I denied her, and went forth with Marcus’s plans with you, she wanted to have her own male, one she would hope to give her a child. The men they tried to make for woman clients never survived the change. So Marcus informed them that he would no longer be providing them that service.
“I heard sometime later she had founded a group who were looking for a way to create male mixers; she became one of their leaders. But they still did not have the success we did, and I’m afraid that she might be trying to find a new way of making mixers for her group,” he explained.
It’s funny how people could be walking and laughing all around you as your world gets pulled out from beneath your feet. All the pieces were there; now we just needed to put them together.
“Holy shit! You think she works for this Mr. West, making mixers? Philip, we need to get in there and check it out.” We looked at the other side of the building for a different road, where we could reach the back easily. Philip started the car and drove to the back alley of the buildings. We parked at the back entrance among the dumpsters and got out of the car.
Philip searched all around for someone guarding the back door. But I put my arm out, holding him back, even though he didn’t see anything. “Wait. There’s something different here,” I said.
Closing my eyes, I took a deep searching breath of the area. Different creatures ran through my mind, but none of them hit the scent I smelled now. Taking a couple of steps closer, I sniffed again. And there it was: a scent of a man, but it wasn’t clear. Was he here or had he left? Or was I just smelling the remnants of him? I couldn’t tell.
Phillip was scanning but looked at me as I was still trying to figure out the scent. “I don’t see anyone, and I don’t smell anything at the back.”
“I know; I don’t see anyone either, but I do smell someone. I just can’t place him.” At the dumpster by the back door, Philip stopped to listen. He gave me the look to go with him and we crept to the door. I grabbed the handle but it was locked. Philip came over, placed his hand on the doorknob, and in a couple of seconds I heard the mechanisms unlock. I smiled up at him. “That was really impressive.”
As we made our way in through the door, I noticed that there were no sounds coming from the kitchen area that we were walking through. I looked around the clean space, trying to get a scent of anybody in front of us. But any smells seemed too wiped clean. How was that even possible?
Philip grabbed me by my waist, pulling me close to his body. “Stay close, something seems out of place,” he whispered into my ear. Inconveniently, his presence this close to me made me think of things I shouldn’t be thinking of at a time like that.
Pushing away from him I got myself loose. “Look, I can take care of myself, okay? Just pay attention to what’s going on,” I whispered. He gave me one of his dimpled smiles that I’m sure made Eloise drop her panties more than once for him. Shaking my head at him, I turned around and went through the kitchen to a swing door leading to another room.
Philip quickly peeked through the little window on the door, and then ducked back down. “I don’t see anyone, and I don’t get the presence of anyone in the other room either,” he said. He slowly opened the door, looking to the right and then to the left. As he moved he waved his hand behind him for me to follow. The room was completely black, and even though I could see, it still had an eerie feeling to it.
He was muttering something very softly in French as we walked through the room to a hallway. He took hold of my hand, pulling me close again as he continued to talk quietly to himself.
When we walked to the first door on the right of us I listened carefully for any noises coming through, but there was nothing. I looked over at Philip. “It’s empty,” I whispered.
He nodded, and then looked down the hall. “You stay here for a moment.” He zipped quietly down the hall, stopping quickly at each door before moving on to the next. Before I knew it he was back in front of me.
“You said something was different about the area when we came in; what was different about it?” he quietly questioned me.
. “Well, everywhere I go I can smell everything. From the humans to the creatures, or what they were doing, eating, smoking; I smell everything and it paints a picture in my mind. But here there’s nothing, no smells, no scent of anything, it’s like someone wiped it clean of everything. But that should be impossible, because on the other side of that wall is a bar, but I can’t even smell anything coming from there,” I told him, completely perplexed.
He got close to the door I was standing near and listened himself. “I think we should check out at least one room to see if they did the same thing in here,” he told me. I nodded as he tested the doorknob to see if it was open.
As we walked in I took notice of my surroundings. It looked like a birthing room. How could anyone keep any smells from coming from this room? Even if it was just cleaning solutions, you should be able to smell something. I looked over at Philip, who seemed just as confused as I was. Were they using this place as some sort of hospital? And if they were, why?
I walked quickly to the door and looked down the hall to make sure it was clear before going out and on to the next door. As I opened it I quickly realized that it was another birthing room, just like the first one we walked into. When I stepped out Philip was in front of me. “It’s another birthing room,” I said, bewildered.
He looked up and down the hall. “Do you smell anyone, anywhere?” he questioned.
“I don’t smell anything at all. Like all of the air around me was bleached clean, but that doesn’t even explain it because bleach would leave a smell. It’s like the absence of smell,” I said, frustrated.
He took my hand and started pulling me back down the hall. “We need to leave right now.”
“No, we’re already here. Let’s see what’s going on. We just got in here, why leave now?” I asked, trying to pull his fingers free of my wrist.
The next thing I knew Philip threw me over his shoulder, leaving me breathless as he ran down the hall, passing every room we had just gone through with a speed that made me dizzy. In the blink of an eye we were in front of the Hummer, where he dumped me in the front seat, then proceeded to the driver’s side, turned on the engine and pulled out of there.
After finally getting my breath back I looked out the back window. “What the hell are you doing?” I hissed. I looked over at him, then back out the window. “Philip! Answer me, why did we leave? What if there was someone who needed help? We should have checked all the rooms, and then moved on.”
He still ignored me as we drove down the road a bit more. When he reached a parking lot he pulled in to lose the Hummer in a sea of other vehicles. He was completely frustrated as he threw it into park. “Look, don’t you understand? That was not normal, chérie, something was seriously wrong there. I’m not going to wander the halls looking for anybody when we have no clue what’s going on,” he growled, his accent broadening in irritation.
“So now what?” I asked, scrubbing my fingers on my scalp.
“Did you see any cameras in any of the rooms?” he asked thoughtfully.
I thought back remembering every room and hall we were in, that was the one thing that was not there. I always look for that stuff. “No, I didn’t see any surveillance. Isn’t that kinda weird? I mean if they have that shit going on in there, wouldn’t they need something like that?” I asked.
“Yes, they wouldn’t leave it unsecured. So what did we miss? That’s the real question. I have an idea, ma belle. I need you to act complacent avec moi. Do you think you can do that without plunging your hand through my chest?”
“I’ll see if I can manage it.” I snapped.
His phone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled it out, looked at the text that had come through, and then placed it back in his pocket. “Well, what did he say?” I pushed.
Philip turned the ignition and pulled out of the parking spot. “Nothing that has to do with this.”
We were back in front of the bar, looking at the front doors. “So what are we doing?”
“We’re going inside, so please take my lead. And wait in there, I’ll open the door for you.” He said opening the door.
The first thing that hit me as we walked in was that I could smell everything in here. All the creatures that were sitting around the booths, I could smell them right away. They were serving alcohol to the monsters at the bar, who seemed not to like a new vampire in their presence. But Philip walked confidently to a booth, sitting me down and settling next to me.
We sat facing the bar so we could see anyone approaching us. He draped his arm around my shoulders now, holding me very close. Burying his head into my hair and making us look very intimate, he whispered to me, “Just keep a look out for anything unusual. I’ll keep my eye on the others.”
The big ghoulish bartender nodded to one of his waitresses to come over to us. As she approached, anyone could see she was not happy to be serving us.
“What will it be, knight?” she said in in a low airy hiss. W
hen I took a good look at her I could see the black feathers down the side of her neck, and realized with a shock that she was a banshee. She glared at me when she caught me staring at her.
“I’ll take a Guinness, and the lady will have a merlot,” he smiled. She walked away from him, cursing under her breath. I leaned into him.
“What was her problem?” I murmured.
He chuckled, tilting my face up with his hand. “Banshees hate knights, the reason being we would hunt them down and destroy them. They can be very fearsome creatures, and when their tempers fly or they’re hungry, they can be outright terrifying, especially for humans,” he grinned as his lips grazed over mine.
“And are you a knight?” I asked.
He continued to lightly kiss my lips. “Hmmm.” He pulled back a little. “Yes, at one time I was. Why are you smiling?” he mused. I heard light footsteps coming closer to our table. It was time to play my part.
I placed my hand on Philip’s thigh, giving him little laugh. “Well, if I didn’t think your dimples would make me lose my mind, now I find out you were once a knight. I find that extremely sexy,” I giggled letting him kiss me again.
I heard a woman clearing her throat imposingly. When I looked up I didn’t see Eloise as I expected; I saw Eva. Our Eva, from the New York cluster. I saw her surprise the moment she realized who I was, but she quickly covered it.
Our eyes met as she stood glaring down at us with her arms crossed over her chest. “Philip, this is a surprise. What brings you to this neck of the woods?” she asked him, her eyes never leaving mine. “And Molly, I wasn’t aware you knew Philip,” she asked with an bit of and edge to it.
This is the game she wants to play, is it? Time to make my little worm squirm. “Oh Eva, Philip and I very good friends,” I told her with a wink, rubbing my hand on his thigh. “You know my sexual escapades have no bounds when I’m…thirsty,” I smirked.
“Molly, this is Eloise. Who is this Eva you’re talking about?” he asked, looking between the two of us. My smile grew as Philip frowned.
“So it’s Eloise, is it? Tell me, Eva, how long have you been betraying your sisters? Because I remember seeing you the very first day I woke up,” I asked.
Her bitchy little smile spread across her face. She had told us she was Russian, but the words that came from her mouth were definitely American. “It was easy for me to slip into your little “cluster”--all I had to do was make sure I treated Lennox just right,” she said, trying to get under my skin.
She sat down in the booth in front of me. “I’m happy to tell you that none of you filthy whores are my kin. And I’m going to make sure I take everything from y’all that you ever cared about, just like I’m going to take that man sitting next to you.”
I sat back, and she was leaning forward smiling from ear to ear, which was really pissing me off. I couldn’t maim another mixer, could I? That’s when Philip cut into my thoughts. “Molly, Eloise is not a mixer, ma chérie, she’s a vampire,” he said, putting the puzzle together.
My sense of smell was already on high alert from before we came to the bar, and I didn’t detect another vampire in front of me, I smelled another mixer. Sitting back smugly, she crossed her arms over her chest.
“Philip, this is Eva, not Eloise. This woman lives in my cluster back home in New York.” I glanced over to him and the confused look disappeared. Eva sat there with a look of triumph.
“Molly, this is Eloise. I’ve known Eloise before there was even the thought of mixers.” His fangs shot down as he told me this. Hers came down in unison.
“One of her specialties is the ability to blend in. So if she was around mixers, you would never know she wasn’t one,” he explained in a hard cold voice.
The monsters around the room were looking at us now. And the bartender had noticed Eloise sitting down with us. That meant it wouldn’t be much longer until her backup arrived. This might not be the person I thought she was, but I was sure her devious little mind still worked the same.
When a man came in from the back room, any stress I saw in Eloise’s body dissipated. She was always like this. A big mouth, but always a pussy until backup came, then she would get bold.
The beast in me wanted to taste blood again, to cause pain. But I needed to be in control, and I wasn’t sure I could. My body was humming with excitement.
A hand gripped my thigh, causing me to wince. Philip glanced at me, then looked back at Eloise. “Qu’est-ce que vous faites, Eloise?! What have you done? I have let you live because of the pain I’ve brought to you, but no more!” he growled.
The look in her eyes was pure hatred. “You might think y’all can kill me, Phil, but you haven’t yet. I’m not going anywhere until I get the little bitch you made!” she hissed.
I tried to get up, but the hand on my thigh tightened its grip to keep me in place. “Why do you want to destroy her so badly? What will that gain you, Eloise?” he questioned.
“It means your friends will suffer, and if they suffer then you suffer! And the woman you love will be dead, and then I’ll have what I’ve always wanted and relish in the thought that you don’t! And you couldn’t do shit to stop me!” she seethed. At that moment one thing became clear: She didn’t know who I was.
She and Philip looked ready to tear each other apart, when the back-up man came to the table smiling, playing with a toothpick in his mouth.
“’Ello everyone. Looks to be getting a bit testy over here,” he said in an Irish accent, smiling down at us. Then the ass winked at me…he winked at me! Smug son of a bitch! And as he stood there, I knew he was void of scent.
I let out a low growl. This man was very different, and I could see the foulness pouring off him. Philip’s hand went to my arm to keep me still. But the man kept goading. “Ah, boyo, need to keep your bird on a tighter leash.” I was ready to pounce this stupid ass. “Easy there, pet. Wouldn’t want ye to get hurt now, would we?” he said with a condescending little chuckle.
My stomach was churning again, and the burn in my throat was fierce. “Oh, baby. I’m not the one you need to worry about getting hurt right now,” I purred, shaking off Philip’s grasp. I got up, pushing the guy back out of my way. “Because when I’m done with you you’re going to be my bitch,” I sneered.
The condescending look went to shocked, then angry, and then he lunged for me. Before I could even defend myself, a tabletop crashed into him, knocking him through the wall of the building like a bat hitting a ball. Glancing over at Philip, he had released the tabletop and had his hand out, already striking Eloise in the chest. The impact was so fierce she went flying towards the bar. The mirror over it shattered, along with the bottles when her body made impact.
The ghoul bartender pulled some kind of gun-looking weapon from underneath the counter. I turned to run at him, when an arm grabbed me by my waist, flinging me over a shoulder. Before I could even struggle, Philip’s voice traveled through my mind.
He penetrated my thoughts with a fierceness that I had never experienced before. “Dormez maintenant!” he whispered forcefully. He kept saying it over and over again. Each time he said it, it rang through my mind like a hammer hitting my head, commanding me: “Go to sleep now! Go to sleep now!”
He jumped through the hole in the wall he had just made with my would-be attacker’s impact. He hit the ground when a man started to grab him, but Philip turned on him and placed his finger to his forehead, and he collapsed to the ground. While repeating the same sentence. “Dormez maintenant!”
When I saw the man drop, another was stumbling on his legs like he was drunk and when he collapsed to the sidewalk, I couldn't fight the sleep any longer and blacked out.