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Worth Fighting For

Aric and Henry shared in each other's misery for hours trying to figure out how Lord Lothaire had found out about Liberty and Alfie, and why he'd decided to come all the way to Spokane because of it.

He never left his stronghold in Seattle with his sycophantic courtiers, his mistresses and his toys. Never!

"The only thing I can think of is that the privacy spells in the bordello were too weak to keep someone from listening in to our conversation last night," Henry sighed when they had exhausted all of the other possibilities.

"Those spells are supposed to be impenetrable," Aric said, shaking his head.

"You don't think Maddie would have let the spells lapse do you?" Henry asked, looking at his friend.

"She would if she was looking to find a information she could trade that would get her moved to Seattle or Portland," Aric said, his voice hardening at the thought that one of his own people would betray him.

"Do you think she'd do that?" his friend asked, his eyes widening at the implications of how much power that kind of information could buy.

"There's only one way to find out," Aric said, pushing himself to his feet, reaching down to pull up his friend. "Let's go ask."

The drive up the hill to the bordello was a quiet one, each vampire lost in their own thoughts.

"Fuck me," Aric breathed as they pulled into the parking lot.

Sitting in front of the building was a limousine bearing his family's crest.

Not bothering to turn off the engine, he leapt from the car and ran inside determined to kill the matron.

"Maaadddiiieee," he said, stretching out the woman's name as he scented the air, trying to determine where she was hiding. "Maaadddiiiee, come out, come out, wherever you are!"

Tracing her most recent movements using her overly sweet perfume, he found her in her office, hurriedly putting away spell components.

"A...Aric," the witch stammered, her hand wrapped around a ceremonial knife, "I didn't know you were here.

"How can I help you?" she asked, her painted lips spreading into a false smile.

"You can help me," Aric seethed, gliding towards her like a predatory animal, "by telling me what it is exactly that you have been telling my father about my private conversations."

"I would never," she said, the sweat pouring down her face giving proof of her lies.

In one motion, Aric had the witch by the throat and had slammed her onto her back against her own desk, the knife flying from her hand.

"Tell me!" he roared, enjoying the look of absolute terror in the woman's brown eyes as his hand closed tightly around her neck.

"Nothing," she gasped, her painted fingernails digging into his hand for relief, "I swear."

"Oh you do?" Aric asked, reaching down and picking up the knife, holding it so that its razor edge kissed the skin of her cheek.

"No," she shrieked, her hands leaving his to protect her face.

"I want the truth," the vampire roared, increasing the pressure of the knife, enjoying the small rivulet of blood that began to seep from the wound he was making.

"It was just the once," Maddie finally admitted, knowing there was no escape from Aric's rage. "Last night was the first time I listened to what you and Henry were talking about."

"And you told my father?" he demanded, cutting deeper.

"Yes," she screamed, "I told him."

"Why?" Aric asked, suddenly sad. "Why would you do that? I've always taken care of you and yours. The coven has free reign to conduct their business as they like as long as it doesn't interfere with the way I run things."

"I wanted more," the witched admitted, tears rolling down her cheeks, mingling with the blood pooling in her ear. "Your father promised me that he would allow me to take leadership of a larger, more powerful coven in Portland.

"All I had to do was listen to everything you said, and report back to him," she confessed, her eyes begging him for mercy.

"I'm disappointed in you," Aric breathed, releasing her.

Stepping away he looked down at the knife as Maddie pushed herself to a sitting position.

"I'm sorry, Aric," she sniffed, gingerly touching her cheek.

"Not yet, you aren't," he hissed, turning on her, the knife gripped firmly in his hand.

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