Now that our couple's delightful weekend has passed, Blake continues his search for both Malphas and the vampire who aids him. This snippet contains my favorite pixie minx doing what she does best: push the limits of a very dangerous vampire.
Hold on tight, though, as things are about to start moving and get really bumpy real soon!
There's a Fine Line...
Blake reviewed the file on Xanthe Petrou, the Councilwoman representing Virginia and Washington DC. She’d been the first to be interviewed that week about the vampire working with Malphas. Though none of the women were under suspicion, Petrou had been a staunch advocate of an emergency override for the Council’s drop box system. Since the traitor had managed to accomplish just that, it placed her position on the matter under scrutiny. It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility for the traitor to have had help within the Council. Blake just wasn’t placing bets that the aid came from Petrou.
She was the daughter of a minor Greek prince and a housemaid, raised amongst luxury and riches but forbidden to possess them. The royal blood that ran through her veins meant little when her mother was of the lower classes. As she grew, the serving class envied her royal lineage while the nobles looked down on her common parentage. She was part of both worlds and yet belonged to neither. Her need to rise above her detractors, to make them pay for the pain of her youth, took root at a very young age and only grew with time.
It was easy to believe that Petrou was capable of participating in, or even developing such a plot. Her father had commanded she learn from the premiere tutors of the time and she’d continued her education long after she’d thrown off her mortality and embraced the life of a vampire. She was intelligent and cunning, but her ambition twisted her knowledge towards darker ends. She had a thirst for power that had only grown since her childhood. Xanthe Petrou was more than capable, but she’d never bow to anyone – much less a demon.
Putting the report aside with a few new notes in the margins, he pulled out the next candidate’s file. Karen Walker was a young vampire whose rise to the council had been sponsored by the missing Lucas Davenport. Though the identity of her Sire was listed as unknown/not provided, it was a fair bet that her sire and sponsor were one and the same. The fact that such a young vampire – she was less than a century old – was trying to hide the identity of her Sire sent up the red flags to the Primary Investigator. Unless he (or she) was wanted by the Primus, involved in something the council might consider unacceptable, or unknown, there was little reason not to provide the information. Granted, the council was unaware of August’s heritage but allowances were made for age -- most vampires of his Child’s age had survived their Sires. Regardless of the reasons why the information had been suppressed, it was definitely something to denote and ask the girl when she arrived.
“You’re looking all gloom-and-doomy this morning, Pointy Teeth.” Sapphire fluttered down from one of the air grates to perch upon his desk lamp. “What’s got your tighty-whities in a bunch?”
“Good morning, Sapphire,” Blake murmured without looking up from the file. “How was your weekend?”
“Not as good as yours, I bet.” The tiny pixie wrinkled her nose and drifted from the lamp onto the desk, walking along the edge of the grooves Alicia had cut into the expensive mahogany.
“Perhaps not.” Blake chuckled softly and closed the file. “Was there something you wanted, you little blue demon, or did you simply wish to torment me this morning? I don’t have anyone scheduled until after ten.”
“I know.” Dancing over to the laptop, Sapphire leaped and pirouetted around keys to spell out a taunting message: I know something you don’t know. “When you told me to leave for the weekend, I was going to see Opal. It’s not fair that you get to see your mate but I don’t.”
“And what prevented you from visiting your mate?” Blake smothered a grin while watching the tiny fey creature dance to music only she seemed to hear. He could easily imagine her saying the typed phrase in her sing-song voice. “I was assured that the distance wasn’t too far for either of you to fly.”
“Of course it wasn’t too far, Pointy Teeth, but someone was trying to be sneaky.” She snorted in derision and returned to the eight large gashes in the desk’s varnish. “I expected them to be deeper,” she murmured with a twinkle in her crystalline blue eyes. “I suppose it’s to be expected at your age.”
“At my age--?” The pixie’s melodic laughter forced the vampire’s indignant reply to come to a spluttering halt. Narrowing his eyes, he gave the creature a terrible smile that promised payback. “Never mind that, you mentioned someone being sneaky?”
“No, I said he was trying to be sneaky. Pay attention, vampire. He wasn’t doing a good job of it at all. Pitiful attempt, really, even for an Infernal.”
Blake tensed immediately. “Enough games, Sapphire. Explain yourself.”
“Oh, fine. You never let me have any fun, you know. And I missed being with my mate and everything.”
“Sapphire.” The single word was hissed between elongated fangs as the vampire’s patience was tested to the breaking point. The fey realized she’d pushed him a bit too far and nervously faded out of sight.
“Right. The Infernal. Well, he was just standing outside the building trying not to look like he was watching it, which meant he looked even more like he was watching it because, you know, when someone tries not to look like he’s spying it makes him look even more like a spy.” A low growl cut off the pixie’s nervous babbling and she gulped audibly. “Yes, anyway, he stayed until you returned with your mate and then he left. I followed him into a building with a sign that read Devil’s Playground… Did you know that it was full of males of all races watching as the females removed their clothing to music? The women were dancing very oddly; like a nymph who’d eaten one too many overripe glisterberries.”
“It’s a strip club, Sapphire. The women are paid to remove their clothing for men to watch. That’s irrelevant.” Blake waved his hand as if brushing away a bothersome fly. “Did this Infernal make contact with anyone?”
“Oh, yes! He met with the First Circler, Vergil Merrow.”