“Skyler,” I said in surprise as I stepped into my office. “What can I do for you?” The vampire was sitting on the edge of my desk, staring out the window. She stood up, frowning as she turned to face me.
“Can you teach me magic?” she blurted out.
I smirked. “I was wondering when you were going to come to me,” I said. “What does your sire have to say about this?”
She scowled. “Does she have to know everything that I do?” she asked grumpily.
“No, but sires tend to be very protective of their children.”
“Not all,” she muttered.
“Most,” I said. “And Ari is one of the protective ones. If so much as a scratch appears anywhere on your body, she’ll kill me. And if I remember right, she likes to torture her victims before killing them.”
Skyler yelped. “She does?”
“She might have backed off on the torturing part, but trust me, she can get back into it as easy as ripping out a rogue’s heart.”
“Okay,” she squeaked. “Remind me not to piss her off.” I laughed softly and closed the door behind me with a snap. “But I don’t think she will mind if I learn magic.”
I nodded as I sat down in my chair. “Nice eyes by the way.”
She Blinked. “Huh?”
“It's bright red. It’s very rare that I see a vampire well fed.”
“Oh,” she said and blushed. “I figure you didn’t want me attacking you the moment you stepped through the door.”
“You figured right,” I said and studied her intently. “Just you?”
She shifted nervously. “Well, I was thinking of rounding up the others.”
I nodded. “You do that, and the next time you come to see me, bring them along.” She nodded. “Right now though, I have a fun Council meeting to attend to.”
“A Council meeting?”
“Tristan has called for a Council meeting of all races.”
“Uh… is that such a good idea?”
“No,” I said with a sigh. “But it must be done every now and then.”
She nodded. “Do me a huge favor and don’t die.” I laughed as she headed for my window. It silently opened on its own, and she flew through it. Hovering in midair, she turned to look back at me. “Amaris is out here,” she said and flew backward. A second later, a small, black-furred wet wolf jumped through the window, landing with a thump on the carpeted floor. Shaking droplets of water from her fur, she stalked over to me and jumped onto the desk.
“Where did you come from?” I asked, scowling at her.
“She says she went for a swim.” I snorted. Skyler waved before launching herself into the night sky. Amaris let out a woof and jumped back onto the floor. She shifted to human and scowling, she looked up at me.
“What?” I asked. “What did I do now?”
“Can I go to the meeting with you?”
“Sorry, but you can’t.” She pouted. “No one but the Council members and their guards are allowed.”
She frowned. “Who’s going with you?”
“I’ll have Rokell with me.” I pointed to the bag around her left wrist. “Now get dress. Carolyn will be here in just a minute.” She nodded and went into the small bathroom that was attached to the office. There was a knock at the door before it opened to reveal a blond witch with green eyes. In her hand was a silver ring with a bloodstone embedded in the center. She came in, and I held out my hand.
“You good to go?” she asked as she dropped the ring onto my palm.
I nodded, slipping the ring onto my left pinky. “I will be just as soon as my daughter gets here,” I said and looked at the ring on my right pinky. This one was also silver, but instead of a bloodstone embedded in it, it was a black opalescent stone. I glanced at Amaris as she came out. “Amaris,” I said. “Come here for a moment.” The little shifter came over, and I pulled her onto my lap. “Can you smell my blood?” I asked. Without any warning, she pressed her nose against my neck. I squirmed, resisting the urge to push her away from me. She sniffed me, and then pause, only to sniff me again. She did this for several more seconds before pulling back, frowning. “I’m going to take that as a good sign,” I said and ruffled her hair.
“I don’t smell anything,” she said.
I nodded. “You’re not supposed to.” I pointed to Rokell. “How about her?”
“Why are you covering your scent?”
“Because we witches smell like an all-you-can-eat buffet to the vampires.”
She nodded and slipped off my lap and walked over to Rokell, her nose twitching as she sniffed the air. “Nothing from you too.” Rokell nodded as I got up and put on my heavy ass black winter coat.
“Carolyn is here,” Amaris said and bounded out the door. Shaking my head, I followed her out, Rokell a step behind me.
“Your car or mine?” Rokell asked.
I shrugged as we stepped into the garage. “Let’s take mine.”
“Caro!” the shifter exclaimed and launched herself at my daughter.
“Whoa there,” Carolyn said, laughing as she caught the little girl. “Hi, mom, Rokell.”
“Hi yourself,” I said and hugged her as Rokell nodded a greeting and got into the passenger side of my black Porsh. I patted Amaris on the head. “And you, you be a good girl.” She nodded. “I made you steaks. They’re in the fridge. You can just warm them up.” She again nodded. I stepped back and headed for the car. “If anything happens, you call me,” I said to Carolyn as she followed me.
“Will do,” she said as I got in, Closing the door and buckling myself in. Carolyn tapped on the window, and I started up the car to roll it down. “Be careful,” she said firmly. “And for god sake, don’t piss Tristan off. You know how many times you came close to almost dying?”
“I can’t promise you anything. I just hate that guy.”
“Yes, and he hates you too. He won’t hesitate in killing you.”
Rokell laughed. “Don’t worry, Carolyn, I’ll make sure that she behaves herself.” Grumbling, she nodded and stepped back.
“I’ll see you soon,” I said and rolled up the window. As Amaris waved good-bye, I backed up out of the garage and onto the street.
The new headquarter was located in Redding, California, and it took a little while to drive out there. The car ride was silent, and I dreaded the upcoming meeting. I really did hope that no blood would be spilled this night. “Are you ready?” I muttered.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Rokell said and shrugged. “But if I get bitten again, I’m never guarding your back.”
I sighed. “Fine, fine, fine, I’ll be on my best behavior.”
“You better be, because those vampire bites aren’t love bites.”
“How do you know what a love bite feels like? Is there something you’re not telling me?”
She snorted. “If I ever date a vampire, you’ll be the first to know.” I smirked as I turned onto a narrow dirt road. “Where the hell do we park?” In answer to her question, a female vampire appeared from the shadows. She gestured us forward onto another turn-off. I followed her lead and came to a hidden road. At her nod, I put the car into park before shutting it off and getting out.
“You must be Davina,” she said, pushing her blond hair from her face. I nodded. “I’m Elena.” She nodded to the thick forest up ahead. “If you please, follow me.” Rokell and I exchanged a nervous look before following her into the darkness.
“Are you a hunter?” Rokell asked.
“No, but there are many of them out here. So do not try anything stupid,” she warned. She didn’t need to give the warning; the moment I stepped from the car, the back of my neck began to tingle.
“Wasn’t planning on it,” I muttered. She led us through a freaking maze. I had no idea where we were going, and that was very unnerving within itself. We finally broke into a clearing, and I could barely make out the huge ass building up ahead. The building itself was white, and there were no windows. It looked harmless to any others, but the closer we got, my skin began to crawl with awareness—the awareness of danger within those walls. Elena stopped at the closed door, where two hunters stood guard.
“Davina and her companion,” she said to one of them. One of them nodded, and they stepped aside, the heavy steel door opening on its own. We stepped into a wide opened space, and I blinked, looking around. It was dimly lit, and no vampires but Elena seem to be around. The window leading to another room on the far right corner had no one behind it. “The door is to the left of the window,” Elena said and led us to it. Like everything else here, the door was white. She opened it and led us through. In here, the floor was covered with a dark blue carpet and branching off from the room was a huge kitchen and what looked like a communal bathroom. There were also several comfortable-looking chairs and tables here. Elena stopped before an elevator and hit the down button, and I realized that there was no up button. We stepped inside, and she hit L for lounge.
“How long ago was this built?” I asked just to break the silence. I heard a click and what sounded like a speaker coming online.
“Centuries ago,” a low voice growled, and it wasn’t a voice I recognized. “Elena, no problems?” She shook her head, and I looked up to find cameras. “Very well,” he said, and my stomach dropped as the elevator suddenly jolted into action and shot downward.
“Shit,” I gasped, steadying myself with a hand on the wall. “Have you guys heard of a fucking warning?” I asked as my heart hammered against my chest.
“Seriously,” Rokell muttered. Elena shrugged as the doors opened with two loud dings. We stepped out, and we stopped at the sight of Jordana on the floor with six bunny rabbits, and these weren’t stuffed toys. She didn’t look up as we stood there, watching her. Not even when the elevator closed behind us with a single loud ding.
“This little bunny went to the bushes,” Jordana said to herself and poked one of them. “This little bunny went to the river,” she continued, poking a second one. “This little bunny got lost. This little bunny went for a hop. This Little bunny went to heaven, and this little bunny went to hell.” Giggling, she picked up the sixth bunny, and I let out a yelp as she bit off its head.
“She did not,” Rokell gasped in shock and horror. “She did not just bite that poor little bunny’s head off.”
“Crunchy,” Jordana said with a sigh, and then spat the entire thing out.
“Jordana,” Liana called from across the room. She stepped through a door and flashed to Jordana’s side. “That is enough.”
The not-so-there vampire held up the bloody, headless rabbit. “Bunny?”
Liana sighed. “No, put down the bunny.” When Jordana didn’t put it down, Liana cursed. “Now!” she said sharply. Jordana blinked and stared blankly up at her. “Now,” Liana repeated. Slowly, Jordana released the bunny, letting it fall onto the floor in front of her. Jordana frowned, her gaze slightly focused.
“Poor animal,” she said and stroked the one on the far left. “I ate your friend.”
“Jesric,” Liana called. “Please? I have to go.” She turned to us and nodded to Elena. “I’ll take it from here.” She gestured us forward, Rokell still grumbling about the bunny. “This way,” Liana said and led us through the door she came in from. “I’m sorry about that. She is not in her right frame of mind tonight.” I shuddered, nodding as she led us down a flight of stairs. We stopped at a landing as several hooded figures appeared out of thin air. One of the figures nodded to Liana, who pulled on her own hood.
“Oh, come on,” I said. “Now I don’t know who is who. There are ten of you, and I know that five of you are hunters because of the red skull on your cape thing.” I sighed. “Are we going to be outside at all?” One of them shook their heads. “Can we leave our coats here then?” One of them grunted and held out a pale hand. I shrugged out of my coat and handed it over. Rokell did the same, and a second later, our stuff disappeared. The same hand reached out and lightly touched my shoulder. I put my own hand on Rokell, and everything went dark.
Under the Night Life Bar was nothing special. All that was down here were storage rooms and an empty large room with nothing but a large round table with several chairs. We headed for the large one, and my stomach did summersaults as we entered. There was nothing but silence as we made our way to the table. Six people were already there, and I inwardly shivered as I pulled a chair and sat. Rokell stood behind me, alert and ready for anything. I looked to Dezmordai, who was crouched at one end of the table, his glowing red eyes missing nothing. The demon was huge, about twenty feet tall with pitched black scales, lightening to a purplish color at his stomach. His curved horns were a glistening yellow color, his ears folded back like a dog. The tail, spiked and oozing something white, was wrapped around him, the end tapering off into a sharp tip. He also had twelve arms, his hands ending with three long barb-like fingers. His legs were as thick as tree trunks, and his feet were cloven with three spike-like things protruding from them and dripping something green. I did not want him kicking me any time soon, even accidentally. Behind him was an Ahzeeki demon, and he was in human form with spiked black hair and wearing sunglasses that hid his red eyes. All around me, the five Vampiric Council members took their seats—a hunter standing behind each one of them. The silence stretched on. So long that I wondered if we were just going to just sit here and look ominous. When it was clear that no one was going to get the ball rolling, I loudly cleared my throat. “So,” I said conversationally. “How is everyone tonight?” They all turned to me and glared. While I couldn’t see the vampires, I could feel their glares. “What?” I said defensively. “If no one starts the meeting, we’re never getting out of here.”
“She has a point,” Dezmordai hissed. “So Tristan,” he lisped. “Why have you called for this meeting?”
“Can you guess?” Tristan asked dryly.
“I can, but tell us anyways.”
He sighed. “What do your demons want with my vampires?”
“No idea. No one is talking.”
“What about the gates?”
“I know that one of them is partially opened, allowing my demons through, and before you ask, I’m not doing anything about it, because I can’t close it, and I have no idea where the gate is located.”
“I know some of my witches are involved,” I said with a sigh.
Dezmordai tilted his head in acknowledgement. “And I know that the necromancers are involved as well, because the gates cannot be opened without them.”
“One of your demons made a deal with a necromancer,” Jailyn stated.
“An arc demon perhaps, since I doubt a single necromancer can summon one unless he or she is powerful enough to do so.”
“They are just not picking off the vampires,” Tavia spoke up from across from me.
“Oh?” Evelyn asked.
“My sister saw an imp shooting Arius last night. He died instantly.”
“Silver bullet?” Taylor asked.
She nodded. “And it wasn’t infused with demon blood.”
A cold chill came over me, and I leaned forward. “You’re saying the demons might come after the witches next?” I asked. They all shrugged, and I scowled, leaning back with a curse.
“How many of your vampires have my kin killed?” Dezmordai asked.
“Two,” Tristan growled. “And severely wounded one.”
“I would say I’m sorry on behalf of my demons, but we all here know that I am not.” Suddenly the room was filled with low growls, and Rokell put a hand on my shoulder, preparing to shove me out of my chair. The temperature dropped several degrees, and I shivered. Shit, I thought, I should’ve kept my coat with me. Dezmordai raised a hand, and I let out a squeak as I saw what looked like a sucker in the middle of his palm. “Hey, if I said I was sorry, I’d be lying. Now calm your asses for a moment.” He slapped the table, and when he lifted his hand, I almost let out a scream as what looked like a long white worm squirmed toward me. I shoved my chair back, forcing Rokell to step back.
“If that worm touches me, I am going to scream,” I warned.
“It's not a worm,” the demon hissed, laughing and picking the thing up. “She’s a friendly one. Her name is Snowball,” he finished and held the thing out to me. “She wants you to pet her.” Stifling a scream, I jerked back, knocking my chair over and hitting the floor hard. Dezmordai cackled, and I glared at the vampires and the shifters, none of them coming to my help. Scrambling to my feet, I glared at the demon. “You don’t like my new friend I brought, just for this meeting?”
“Whenever you are done with your little entertainment,” Tristan drawled. “Please, do let us know.”
“Indeed, I will,” he said and threw the thing at me. I screamed and ducked, shoving Rokell into a hunter. Rokell let out a gasp, and I spun around, stifling another scream as I watched the thing grew in size and mass.
“Oh my god,” I said, on the verge of hyperventilating. It was white, slimy, and it had no eyes. “Why is it always me?”
“Because you’re easy to read,” Dezmordai said conversationally. “I know your worse fears, and it's not the worm.” Whether it was the sound of my heart slamming against my chest, or the smell of my fear, the vampires shifted, even the hunters. I picked up my chair and threw it at the thing. It made a squishing sound on impact. It went halfway in before popping back out and crashing to the floor. I willed a fireball into my hand, silently chanting as I threw it. It didn’t even hurt the thing. It looked like the thing absorbed the fire into itself.
“That’s enough!” I yelled and tossed a fireball at Dezmordai, who opened his mouth and swallowed it whole. Then he let out a sigh.
“You are no fun, witch,” he said as the thing reverted back to earthworm size. It flew through the air and to his hand before squirming back into the sucker-like thing.
“Can we wrap up the meeting now?” Jailyn asked dryly. Dezmordai shrugged. She sighed. “So, if any of you guys hear anything. We would appreciate if you send word of it, we’ll do likewise. Are we in agreement?” There were nods all around, although, mine was more of a jerky headshake than a nod. One of the hooded figures turned to look at me.
“That was supposed to be a nod,” I mumbled, still panting. The hooded figure, Jailyn, nodded. Dezmordai rose slightly, grunting as his head hit the ceiling. The Ahzeeki demon put a hand on one of Dezmordai’s arms as a huge spinning vortex appeared behind them. Before the vortex sucked them in, Dezmordai bowed to me, cackling.
“It was nice to see you again, witch. Perhaps next time, you’ll like my new friend.” With that, the two demons were gone, the vortex closing with a soft pop.
“Breathe,” Rokell whispered in my ear. “Just breathe.”
“Easier for you to say,” I muttered and took in a deep breath. The two shifters stood up and headed for the door, their two guards behind them. With a nod to the vampires, they exited the room. “I don’t want to fucking know what that worm was,” I said.
“Good,” said Jailyn. “Because you don’t want to know.”
“Now I need to check on my witches,” I said. One of the hooded figures nodded before everything went dark.