The Secret History of Vampires – Part 2

“I’m very disappointed here Boris.”

Ivan said, conversationally as he wiped the straight razor blade clean. The dark blood and gore ruined his white handkerchief and he tossed it aside with a scowl of displeasure. The white cloth fluttered to the ground, landing in a pool of dark liquid that it immediately started to soak up, turning red.

Boris didn’t answer, simply stood impassively at the door, as he had throughout the questioning.

“I so hate it when people disappear on me. Especially my dear little sister.”

They weren’t related by blood of course, but Boris wasn’t going to say that.

Ivan stepped over the lifeless corpse that had once been the boarding house owner, her body covered in cuts that he’d taken considerable pleasure in making.

“Not like Katiya at all to run off without leaving a message for me. Makes me worried. I think we should find out where she went, for her sake of course.”

Boris grunted.

“I knew you would see things my way.” Ivan cast a look around the blood soaked room. How fortunate for him that all of the boarders were away at their day jobs, leaving just the old lady behind. It had been simplicity itself to get in through the front door, being remembered as Katiya’s brother after all.

Then she’d informed him that Katiya had left, without a word, and wasn’t coming back. That had infuriated him, he’d intended to have Boris break her, as he should have done in the alley, and then use her services for as long as she’d be useful. A safe cracker of her quality was hard to find.

“Make sure you clean this mess up Boris.” He wrinkled his nose faintly at the smell and left.

The large man waited until his boss had left, then started to rip the gas lamps off the wall. The hiss of escaping gas followed him as did the smell and he smiled in cold appreciation of the work he was about to do.


It was pleasantly warm when Katiya started to work her way towards wakefulness under the blankets. Passing out next to a vampire probably hadn't been that smart an idea the night before, but then again, if Alexei had wanted her dead she would have been long before now.

"Oh." She blinked, sitting up quickly when she realized she wasn't alone in the bed. Then immediately felt foolish when she realized it was Alexei. Of course the blond would be here, this was her room. Cautiously, Katiya shifted towards the edge of the bed, not sure if it was even possible for the vampire to wake up.

Alexei was awake, sluggish like a bear during hibernation. It was a little past noon the winter sun cutting through the smog and pollution, but since she had designed this place the sun wouldn't hit this room, never directly. She was one of the few vampires she knew that awoke this early.

She could only guess it was due to her age.

"Sneaking off like the sneaky mouse you are?" She joked quietly.

The redhead froze, curly hair in a riotous mass around her face and smiled at what she really hoped was a joke. "I didn't want to wake... er… disturb you." Curiosity was gnawing at her also; she wanted to see more of this huge mansion.

"Its okay. You're human and naturally are awake now, while my kind prefers to hide our faces from the Christian God's eyes. I'm not much company for a couple more hours, and since you are such a curious sneaky mouse, go explore. Find a room you like, there are plenty that go unused." She paused trying to gather her thoughts. "But don't go into any rooms if the doors are locked. That is for your protection. Even a sleeping vampire will protect itself."

"No lock picking, right." That sounded smart enough and since Katiya wasn't suicidal she wasn't going to tempt things any further than they already were. Slipping out from under the covers she made sure to pull them back into place, not sure if Alexei could feel cold. "Any place I should go peek in?"

"The kitchen." Was the mumbled reply. "Warren will be up, he can feed you."

"I need to thank him for last nights meal." Katiya picked up a bundle of clothes that someone had left folded up on a nearby chair. They looked roughly her size so she figured she'd use them unless someone said otherwise. "Good night, day, I mean."

Alexei mumbled something but her mind was slipping back into blackness.

The light out in the corridor wasn't direct sunlight, but it was enough to illuminate the halls more than the gaslights that had been lit the night before. Everything was beautiful, from the polished marble floor, the Persian rugs that artfully covered the floor, to the tastefully placed antique vases, statues, and occasional weaponry that filled it. Katiya was terrified to touch anything and break something that was probably older than her grandparents.

Keeping her hands to herself by force of will she explored her way down towards the kitchen, helped by her nose when she got close enough to pick up the scent of cooking.

The wonderfully mouthwatering smells got stronger as she negotiated her way through the hallways. Her stomach rumbled in anticipation of another good meal. "I'm going to have to be careful I don't become like those fat old rich ladies who can barely waddle." If all of the meals around here were as good as last evenings.

A man's voice was singing something in a language that Katiya recognized from the back alleys of the city, but didn't know herself. The voice was pleasant though, deep, rich, and fitting the tune he was carrying. Quietly she slipped through the doorway, inhaling deeply as she looked around the room. The kitchen was impressive, warm shinning copper pans hung from hooks over large black iron stoves.

Here there was light, streaming in through the large windows that lined one wall letting out onto... Katiya stopped and stared wide eyed. Past those windows was a lush green garden. Only when she looked closer did she understand how such a thing was possible. Glass panes keeping out the bitter cold and letting in the light walled the entire garden in. The cost was beyond anything she could imagine for that much glass alone.

"That's amazing." Katiya moved closer to the glassed in garden, smiling in understanding as she saw the pipes carrying steam to warm the room.

A furry head poked out of the greenery, slightly smaller than Kirill it was still big. Kira's ears were pointing straight up and then her gaze zeroed in on Katiya. In curiosity the great cat tilted its head trying to see better through the glass.

"Two tigers." Katiya shook her head in amusement. Of course there were two. She looked towards the chef, realizing he'd stopped his singing. "Good morning. I'm sorry if I interrupted."

The sturdy looking man stared at her a moment his bushy eyebrows appearing to wiggle and dance on his forehead and he pulled on his closely trimmed beard. "You must be the wee one the Mistress brought home." His dark hair was touched with red and hints of gray. His voice burred slipping uncomfortably around the common tongue of the house.

Katiya blinked, not sure what language that was he had just spoken. It sounded like Russian, probably, but the accent was thickened with a rough edge that it took her a long moment to process his words. "My name is Katiya. Thank you for dinner last night, it was delicious."

She moved closer to the stove, peeking to see what he was doing.

"Good, good, I'm glad you liked it. You'll need lots of protein to keep your strength up. If she's happy, we're happy. Don't forget that." He shook a beefy finger at her to make sure he got his point across.

That sounded like good advice and Katiya wasn't one to ignore good advice. "Who’s we?" Last night was still a bit of a blur in her mind, she wasn't sure who was in the manor besides the few she'd met.

"Okay now, come have a seat, you're too skinny. Not healthy, why my Fiona would be mother henning you if she were here. Guess I should do it for her." He turned back to huge cast iron stoves and fire pits that were blasting away. "I have some ham steaks grilling and some bread that's almost done."

Almost immediately Katiya's mouth watered. "That sounds delicious." She eagerly took the offered seat, enjoying the heavenly scents.

"I'm Warren, by the by. The head and only cook." He muttered and cursed at the food for a bit. "By we, do you mean the humans or the other lot?" He asked sliding a couple of crisp steaks on to wooden plate, and then he opened another oven and quickly grabbed a hot bread loaf out tossing it from hand to hand.

"Humans I guess." She remembered Alexei telling her about the other vampires that were in the manor, but other than the two women who had greeted them as they came into the manor, she wasn't too clear on anyone else.

"Well there's me." He started as he slathered freshly churned butter on the bread and then grabbed a hunk of cheese. He set the plate down in front of Katiya and then sat down next to her.

"The mistress has a few personal aids, which you are now one of, I'm assuming." He stuttered out the last part, his cheeks reddening slightly.

She couldn't help but grin at his discomfort; it was nice to not be the one blushing for once. "I guess so. She hasn't really told me what she wants me to do." Other than provide blood she supposed.

"There's Molly, she's a real English tart all full of piss and vinegar. Shiro, now she's real quite just works on these beautiful violin pieces. My Fiona use to be a... uh... but now she's going to just be head of the household, once she gets better."

"Better?" Katiya gladly took the plate of food that was being offered to her. "Is she sick?" She didn't miss his use of terms for Fiona.

"Kind of." He tugged on his beard and fidgeted. "I shouldn't have said anything. If you're really curious ask the Mistress about it. But my Fiona she'll be fine though." He got up hurrying over to his stoves.

Another mystery Katiya could puzzle over. The first bite of steak was as good as it looked and she moaned in appreciation. "This is delicious!" She took another bite. "Anyone else I should know?"

"Lyov you've met, but I'm not certain he's human. There's Lidiya she takes care of the horses in the stables and then poor Gregori handles all the grounds. He had a couple of lads helping him but the four of 'em decided to band together and rob the Mistress. Now poor Gregori wanders around trying to keep the place tame. Not too bad now that we’re in winter."

Katiya's fork paused on its way to her mouth. "They tried to steal from Alexei?" She didn't see how that would have worked very well. Then she frowned as another thought occurred to her. "The four lads, were they brothers?"

"I believe so. They worked mainly during the day time hours and I don't think they really knew what... well... we know about certain truths."

"Hmmmm." She chewed the next piece slowly, considering. "Did they steal a lot?" That was something she could help with. Maybe Gregori would need some help with the outside. That would keep her in shape.

"Yes, we didn't notice for a couple of days. The house is huge. But they stole some old weapons from the Mistress's game room." Warren shivered remembering the last time he'd been in there. "She was furious. Tracked them down and got most of it back."

Most, but not all, Katiya noted. She'd have to find out what wasn't returned and what she could do about getting back the rest. "Do you think that Gregori would like help with his work?" She speared another bite and closed her eyes, enjoying the flavor.

"Probably, but you know wee one, as a favored of the Mistress you really don't have to do anything?"

She shrugged; holding up the last bite on the plate that she had cleared in what she was sure was a record time. "If I keep eating your delicious food I'll need to do something or I won't be useful for anything." Blue eyes twinkled as she grinned mischievously. "Besides, I'd get bored doing nothing. And I usually get into trouble if I get bored."

He shrugged. "Well there's something about you she likes so just do what's in your nature."

"Thank you again for the food. It was delicious." She picked up the empty plate, looking around to see where she should deposit it and grinning as she spotted the tiger stretched out in the garden. "Does she get food too?"

Warren snorted. "A 300 pound tiger gets whatever she wants. But, aye, she and her brother get food. She's stalking a wild tomato plant in my winter garden."

Leaving the plate in a sink where she figured it belonged; Katiya went to the glass wall, staring into the garden. "It's amazing. I've never seen anything like it." Just the glass alone must have been a fortune.

"Aye, the Mistress she takes good care of us. The pollution is bad for us, good for the vampires. She makes sure we drink pure water, and that we have fresh vegetables year round."

She touched the door handle, looking back over her shoulder at the chef. "Can I?"

“Of course you are favored of the mistress you can do almost no wrong.”

The redhead frowned for a second, not sure that she liked the way that he'd phrased that. She blinked in astonishment as she stepped into the greenhouse, instantly wrapped with fragrant, hot and steamy air. It felt like summer and quickly closed the door behind her before too much hot air could escape.

She spent more than an hour wandering through the glassed in area, touching and sniffing at every exotic flower and herb that grew in it. The smells were amazing and she knew she'd found one of her favorite spots in the house by the time she stepped over a napping tiger back into the kitchen.

Kira's ears perked up and she made a playful swat at Katiya, but made no move to get out of her sunny spot in the garden.

With a yelp, the woman did a hop-jump over the swat, eyeing the tiger as she closed the door behind her. She'd have to remember that they could be playful, like a big alley cat, even more dangerous though she figured.

With a wave to Warren, she continued on her way, determined to explore more of the house while she had a chance. The sun was still high above the horizon so she figured she wouldn't be seeing any of the vampire occupants in the near future. It was a perfect time to see if she could find out more about the human guests.

She'd started to look for a library to see if she could find any interesting books, but instead she'd found a couple of locked doors. It was, as always, a matter of will power for her to resist trying to open those. A lock seemed like a challenge to try to open.

Thankfully the sound of a violin being expertly played drew her away before she did something that she'd regret later.

It took a little navigating to find, but she managed to come to find the room that the music was coming from. It was something straight out of the silent movies she'd sneaked in to see. A large dance ballroom, the wood floors polished and shinning, a full bar set up across one wall and a stage. It was on that raised stage that the slim Asian woman she'd seen greet Alexei stood, violin in hand, eyes closed and playing.

Quietly, Katiya crept closer, not wanting to interrupt the wonderful music.

Shiro frowned as she played a refrain and then she paused and replayed it again and again. Unhappy she stopped and picked up a quill and dipped it in a well of ink and started to scratch out her notes and make new ones.

"That was beautiful." The redhead said from the base of the stage, quietly, trying not to startle the woman who was intent on her musical score.

Shiro gave a small eep, in surprise and turned towards the voice.

"Hi." Katiya gave her best friendly smile.

Her cheeks flushed and she curtsied at Katiya.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you." Katiya said, a little awkwardly when she remembered that Alexei had said Shiro couldn't speak after having her tongue cut out.

Shiro set the quill down and then her violin on its stand. She made a quick series of gestures with her hands and then frowned at Katiya's blank look. Looking around she grabbed a blank piece of parchment and the quill. "We have not been introduced I am Shiro." She wrote in a quick series of fluid strokes.

The almost stylized cursive was beautiful. "I'm Katiya. You play beautifully. I am sorry if I interrupted, I was just curious to see who was playing."

Shiro bowed at Katiya and wrote, "Thank you. The music isn't finished yet, the ending isn't right, but I'm glad you like it." She paused, and seemed to war with herself before writing. "Are you all right? The first time with Alexei can be kind of overwhelming."

Automatically Katiya's hand touched the side of her throat and the small scar there. "Yes, thank you. I was really tired after the first time. Last night was..." She frowned, trying to figure out the words to describe it. Instead she gave a shrug seeing understanding in the other woman's face. "I was going to explore the manor some more. I can leave you to your music if you'd like?"

Shiro nodded and picked up her violin, teasingly she played a few notes that matched Katiya's footsteps out of the room.

The redhead spun in place at the door, bowed and then slipped out, laughing.


Gregori had turned out to be a gruff old man with a bit of a limp in one leg and a gruff demeanor that explained why he was more comfortable with trees and flowers outside then people. He'd ignored her offer of help and she was pretty sure he'd growled at her a few times when she'd tried to lend a hand.

"Does he hate everyone or just me in particular?" She asked a lounging cat on the floor in the entryway of the manor.

When the cat didn't deign to answer, other than a flip of a tail, she stepped around it, carefully.

It wasn't too long until sunset so she decided to find out if Alexei was awake yet. Would the vampire have to stay sleep until the sun fully set? She'd woken up before, so probably not.

Uneasy at the idea of just stepping inside the Mistress's bedroom without announcing herself, she knocked first.

Alexei's eyes opened at the knock, drowsily she croaked out. "Enter."

"Good evening, almost." Katiya stepped inside, closing the door behind her.

Alexei was more alert this time and she smiled at Katiya. "So my sneaky mouse, did you have fun exploring?"

"You have a beautiful place. Warren's an excellent cook and that glassed in garden is amazing." Moving the chair closer to the bed the redhead took a seat. "I don't know why you would ever leave here."

"Mmmm, thank you." Sluggishly she sat up leaning against the headboard. "Are you being a shy mouse now?" She said a long look between the chair and the bed.

"Wasn't sure..." Katiya gave up and bounded onto the bed, glad to be in the covers after her walk outside. "I met Shiro; she plays better than anyone I've ever heard before. Warren's nice, strange accent though. I think Gregori hates me, I'm not really sure what I did to annoy him though."

Alexei thought her head might explode she wasn't certain she was awake enough to keep up. "Take a breath Katiya." She chuckled and sank back down back under the covers wrapping her now cooler body around the human's warmer one.

"Shiro does have an incredible talent, and Warren is Scottish so don't worry nobody can understand him."

As asked, Katiya took a deep breath before asking a question. "What about Gregori?"

"Ah Gregori. He had his trust horribly abused. It’s nothing personal against you. But you'll win him over I have no doubt."

She paused, considering her next question carefully. "What little I understood of Warren, he said Fiona was sick and that I'd have to ask you about it?"

Alexei went still even for a vampire.

Which was a great imitation of a statue. Katiya raised both eyebrows and watched the sculpted face next to her, waiting to hear what was coming.

Alexei let out a sigh finally deciding what she was going to say. "Fiona has been a favored pet for centuries."

"But she's still human right?" Katiya frowned a little, not sure how this was connected to why she was sick.

"More or less." Alexei rolled them over until she was on her hands and knees over Katiya, staring into her face. "In a week or so she'll be completely human again. As a pet I take your blood and on occasion give you some of mine. Yours gives me life, when you take mine it cements our bond to each other but my blood effects you."

The move brought back enough memories of the bathroom the night before that Katiya's mind got sidetracked for a moment. She blinked, swallowing as she tried to figure out what they had just been talking about. Her cheeks reddening, Katiya nodded. "So she's sick because she's not taking your blood anymore?"

"Yes. She's like one of those opium addicts going through withdrawals. If she survives she will be utterly human again." Alexei's nostril's flared as she picked up the rush of blood under the skin as Katiya's heart rate picked up a bit in desire.

Licking her lips, the redhead focused on the hint of cleavage that was visible from this angle. "Like the people in opium dens?" There were a fair number of them spread throughout the city, pits of despair as far as Katiya was concerned.

"Yes, worse though. Those junkies don't have the slightly added strength of my blood." Alexei watched a tongue come out and lick red lips.

"Strength?" Katiya hadn't felt anything different today. Her fingers twitched as she struggled not to move them up to touch skin. This was an important discussion she reminded herself, which didn't stop her hips from moving.

Alexei grinned. "You probably won't notice anything for a while, and every human pet has different changes." She let her legs slid out, lowering her hips down between the V of Katiya's legs.

"Really." Katiya's voice hitched at the move. She really should be asking more questions; she'd come up with so many of them while she walked outside. Now she couldn't remember any of them except for how quickly she could try to get naked again.

"Yes. Most vampires don't share blood with their pets, most just bleed them dry." The blonde whispered into Katiya's ear and then nipped at the lobe. "So you are a very lucky mouse."

"I have no doubt." Katiya arched up into the nip, pressing her body up into the body above hers.

Three heavy knocks on the door stopped her from doing what she was about to do though. Groaning, Katiya collapsed down on the bed. "But I'm not that lucky right now." She grumbled.

Her attention shifted to the door. "What?" Alexei growled. "You're plenty lucky." Alexei said turning her attention back to Katiya for a moment, she lowered her head kissing the woman tasting the warmth in her lips. Then she got up storming out of the bedroom. "This better be important, I haven't had breakfast yet!"

Lyov was waiting in the sitting room for her. "Sorry Mistress. Mr. Morozov is here. He said it was urgent. He is already waiting in the drawing room." Lyov nodded in confirmation and withdrew, closing the door behind him.

“Of course he is." Alexei muttered at the door the little gnome had just closed. Turning she went back to the bedroom hungrily she eyed the rumpled looking young woman in the bed. It was tempting to make Mr. Morozov wait. Almost surprising since she hadn't really felt this reckless sort of physical desire in decades.

The redhead sat up a bit in the bed she'd been unconsciously lounging in, an eyebrow arched in question. "Do you have to go?"

"I should." Alexei admitted. "My lawyer is a man who hates to be left waiting." She however didn't move from where she was standing, curious because she really didn't need blood.

Katiya smiled when Alexei didn't move from where she was standing. "Did you want something else before going?" The look in the blonde woman's eyes hinted at what that might be.

"I'm not sure." Alexei admitted. This was an odd feeling maybe she wasn't awake yet?

Both eyebrows rose and Katiya studied the other woman speculatively. Sliding up off the bed she stood close to the taller blonde, enjoying this more than she thought possible. Rising up on her toes she just lightly kissed Alexei's cheek.

"Maybe I could help?" She whispered, fingers trailing up the Russian’s arm.

Alexei’s eyebrows rose in surprise. "Maybe you could? How do you think you can help?"

Katiya flushed and shrugged. "I don't know. I thought you looked like you needed something." Suddenly feeling a little foolish to think she could help a vampire with anything.

Alexei shook her head. "No, no, no, my mouse. Be brave, always be brave; especially when you’re dealing with vampires."

That sounded like good advice. Katiya nodded, taking that advice to heart. "Then let me come with you." She decided, going for the brazen approach.

"Not what I was expecting." Pondering the request she turned to her closet and picked out a shirt. "Okay."

"What were you expecting?" Katiya enjoyed the opportunity to watch the naked woman's back.

"Something else." Alexei hedged as she slipped into a black silk shirt and gray trousers.

That was the first time that she'd heard the blonde hedge about anything. Katiya was still trying to think over what had just happened when Alexei had finished dressing, missing part of the show because of it.

Dressed she decided to forgo shoes, running a hand through her curls she looked over at the redhead. Sighing she walked over and reached out smoothing out the shirt and collar. "Someone has chosen tomboy clothes for you I see. I hope that is all right. Mr. Morozov will think I've been doing immoral things with you, and he can be an annoyingly moral man on occasion."

"I like the pants. They're much easier to sneak around in." Not to mention run, hide and ride, all the things that she'd always loved to do. "I like the shirt too. I guess we shouldn't keep your Mr. Morozov waiting then. I can scandalize him, distract him, while you learn what you need to."

That trailing touch made Katiya shiver and her eyes dilated with a sudden surge of desire. Considering her experiences in such thing were limited, she was surprised by the strength of the emotion. Desire, that had to be desire that she'd been feeling. "I just thought up another way I could help." She nearly purred, wanting those fingers back on her again.

"Okay, my mouse, what did you think of to help?"

Nimble fingers started slid up the silk of Alexei's shirt, stopping at the top button, which she started to undo slowly. "I was thinking I could return the favor from last night?" She licked her lips as that one button came undone.

"Ah that." She reached up stilling Katiya's fingers. "You don't have to, we didn't talk about such things. But I don't expect it. It makes the bond nicer, deeper; and the sharing of blood easier.”

Her gray eyes stared into Katiya's blues. "I never want anyone with me to feel obligated or forced."

Katiya let her hands drop, frowning. That wasn't at all what she'd been thinking when she'd started to undo the button. "I guess we shouldn't keep your visitor waiting." Was all she said in reply, trying to figure out what she was feeling and thinking.

Alexei sighed feeling frustrated. She grabbed Katiya and kissed her hard on the mouth. "I like your attentions Katiya, I really do. Just make sure its what you want."

"I will." The redhead agreed faintly, swaying as she recovered from that swift kiss. It was really quite frustrating trying to keep track of herself around Alexei she was discovering.

"Vampires are powerful, dangerous; some people are attracted to that power and danger." Alexei whispered.

"Is that what you think I'm attracted to? The power and danger?" There was no doubt that Alexei exuded both, but then again Katiya had known plenty of outlaws who did also.

Alexei almost didn't let her step away; she was feeling hungry but she wasn't. "I think you're confusing me."

"That makes two of us." Katiya whispered, a shake of her head sending red curly hair bouncing.

Alexei chuckled, some master vampire she was, and a human was turning her around ass over teakettle. "Alright let us go meet with my lawyer. Behave."

Katiya smiled, fluttering her eyelashes as the tavern dancers did. "Whatever makes you think I wouldn't?"

Alexei snorted. "Because I'm getting a feel for what I have gotten myself into with you." She redid the top button of her shirt and led the way out of her rooms.

The man waiting for Alexei in one of the downstairs rooms was tall, rather darkly skinned, and had a moustache that must have taken years to groom to the exquisite perfection that it was in now. He rose smoothly from the seat he'd been perched in and bowed right at the waist in a way that Katiya had never seen before.

"Ms. Petrov, you look as beautiful as always." As he stood upright again his eyes flicked to Katiya and then back to Alexei. She recognized that look, a powerful man dismissing her as nothing more than a female in the background, there to serve.

"Mr. Morozov, I wish I could say the same, but you only come see me when my bank account is in trouble of being audited by foreign nationals."

She sat down gesturing for Morozov to do the same at the chair across from her.

Katiya wandered around behind Alexei's chair leaning against the back of it. She had to bite her lip to avoid smiling when Morozov frowned as he saw the pants she was wearing.

Running a hand over his lustrous black beard and making sure the mustache ends were still twirled up he took the indicated seat. "I would not have disturbed your fun…" he glanced at Katiya "if it was not important."

"Of course not." She smirked. "So if we can focus less on my fun and more for your reason for being here." She broke in when it appeared he was having a hard time tearing his attention away. It had to be the red hair; it was unusual for this region.

A touch uncomfortably he shifted in his seat. "I received word this evening from friends I maintain in the local constabulary." Reaching into the breast pocket of his hand tailored suite jacket he pulled out a set of papers, which he unfolded. "Apparently a complaint has been lodged against one of your factories." He looked distinctly uncomfortable now. "Stating that it is, in fact, not yours."

"Really." She reached over grabbing the papers and started flipping over the papers. Her face went blank hiding the surprise she was feeling. "Apparently my father had a bastard and left the property deed with this bastard’s mother." She said neutrally. Fun, since she'd been pretending to be the ruling Petrov for centuries, and she'd never had any children.

"They purport to have the deed in hand and will prove it in front of a magistrate." He finished for her, having memorized the contents of those papers on the quick trip to the mansion.

Katiya went still on the back of Alexei's chair, eyes widening as she considered the likeliness of her having stolen a deed from a factory a few days earlier having nothing to do with this.

"Well then, my dear Morozov you need to go look at this deed and verify if it’s authentic." She handed the papers back. "Anything would have had my father's seal on it to be original."

Katiya watched in fascination as a drop of sweat beaded up on the man's forehead and slowly started down his face. "My source said that he had seen the document, it is said to have your seal on it. I will of course check myself."

"I'm disappointed, you haven't checked it already. I pay you an outrageous fee, not a source. So get on it. I've left those factories empty for a reason." She wasn't pleased she had left them empty for a reason, once she had realized the damage the pollution was doing to the people and plants.

He bowed his head at the rebuke, wincing. "I am on my way there directly after I leave here, Ms. Petrov. Did you have anything else you wished me to look into while I do that?" He kept reminding himself how very much money she did pay him to take care of these things for her.

"No, not at this time. But I would like a full report of whom you deal with. I'd like to know who exactly I’m dealing with."

"Of course." He rose, smoothing his tailored jacket and offering her a little bow. "You will have my report by dawn." She always disturbed him, just a little bit, no matter how well he tried to hide it.

"You know the way out. I expect your report in the morning." She said not getting up.

He bowed once more and then took his leave, not surprised to find Lyov waiting to escort him to the door, as he always was when Morozov came to visit.

Katiya waited until the door had closed before making a sound in her throat. "I think I know how your deed may have gotten into the hands of who ever it is."

“Do you?”

Moving around from behind the chair to take the seat that Morozov had just vacated she nodded, grimacing. "I was supposed to steal a velvet pouch about this big." She held up her hands. "Then give it to Ivan. I looked inside after I took care of..." She hesitated "The body. It was a deed."

"Oh mouse we barely know each other and already you are stealing from me."

"I didn't know you at all then!" Katiya stiffened, hurt. "I wouldn't steal from you now."

"I'm sorry that was uncalled for. You are right we didn't know each other."

Katiya relaxed, a little. "I can find out what Ivan did with it, who he sold it to." There was no way she would talk with Ivan directly but there were other ways to find such things out.

"I appreciate that." Alexei smiled and rubbed her head. First the blood bar with some unknown vampires, now this, was there a connection? She didn't know.

"I might need some money to help people remember with." The redhead had a few ideas of whom she could talk to, but they wouldn't give her information from the goodness of their heart.

"Of course." She got up and walked to the door. "Follow me, please."

Katiya was quick to follow. "Alexei? I am sorry I stole the deed from you. I didn't have much choice at the time. I was trying to stop doing that sort of work." She'd promised her father she'd try after all.

Alexei opened the door and started down the hallway to the main stairs. "Katiya, don't apologize. It doesn't matter, it was before... before everything." She started up the stairs going to the third floor.

Katiya obediently trailed along, curious to see where they were going. "The man who I stole it for works for the highest bidder. He has no honor, he wouldn't care who he stole it for."

"Katiya, most people who steal, kill, and other such things have no honor." She winced. "Notice I said most not all." She clarified.

The other woman grinned. "Really? You sure I'm not honorless?" Her eyes kept drifting down to the vampire's backside, she could really get used to following alone behind her.

"It won't have been the first time I've shown poor judgment of character." Once they reached the third floor she moved down the hallway to her game room.

Katiya raised an eyebrow. "You were supposed to say something along the lines of: Why no Katiya, of course I think you have honor."

Exasperated, Alexei stopped and turned around. "Katiya, I let you sleep with me. Vampires are extremely vulnerable during the daylight hours, how much more trust do you want from me. Considering how well we don't know each other."

Katiya smiled. "I know." She was discovering a new game that she really enjoyed; it was called tweaking the vampire.

Alexei growled and her gray eyes narrowed before she turned around and continued down the hallway.

The human followed her smile widening. She was getting the impression that not many people dared poke fun at the Vampire, which was, she supposed, a normal reaction of mere mortals in the presence of someone so imposing.

The blonde opened a door and entered. Lighting the lamps she highlighted the various objects in the room. She had been alive longer than most people could even guess; she had hunted and killed various monsters and demons that had threatened her and her territory.

The younger woman stopped at the door, mouth opening but no sound coming out as she stared at the trophies mounted on all the walls. Tigers, bears, huge reptiles were mounted among animals she couldn't even begin to try to name and things she was pretty certain weren't supposed to exist.

There were shelves filled with things that Alexei didn't even remember anymore. She walked around a large red velvet pool table, she detested the sport it was boring. There were paintings on the walls some were even of her wearing clothes that hadn't been in style in centuries.

Just past the liquor cabinet and some lush, padded leather chairs, was a large steel safe.

The safe drew Katiya away from studying the pictures of Alexei in different period dress and a few of her as a man, which was an interesting image. "Wow. A Wilson Company type E. That's a lot of safe." That was a hard safe to crack, not impossible, no safe was completely break in proof, but this was pretty close without resorting to TNT.

"Really, is that what it’s called? I told Stepan to get me a really good one." She crouched down and started spinning the dials, her fingers blurring with speed. At the very end the lock clicked but before the door would open she drew a key out of her pocket and inserted it. The door sprung open.

"How much do you need?"

She really should get used to having her mouth hang open in surprise around this woman, Katiya thought dimly. She had a suspicion that Alexei took some enjoyment out of having her speechless for a moment or two. "Umm." She tried not to drool at the sight of gold bars inside. "A hundred should be more than enough to loosen tongues."

"Easy enough." She pulled out 150 rubles. "The extra is... extra... for what you need."

That was more than a years worth of wages. Katiya took the money blinking and taking the smooth crisp bills automatically as they were offered to her. "I can go find them during the day tomorrow."

"Sounds good." She shut the safe, locking it, and spinning the dial. She stood and gestured to one of the over stuffed chairs. "Would you like to sit and have a drink?"

"That would be nice." The redhead tucked the bills into her waistband. She'd have to find a better way to carry them during her little trip tomorrow. "I heard Shiro playing earlier, she's very good. She could play in one of those music halls if she wanted to."

"She has on occasion. Not here. We've gone to Britain, Austria, and Italy for her to play." It was hard sometimes people seeing Shiro only as some savage, or a trained monkey doing a trick.

Alexei poured one glass of brandy, and set it down before Katiya, before sitting herself. She stared across the room her eyes lighting briefly on an old tapestry of a knight fighting a horned demon and a pack of flaming hounds. On a shelf underneath of it was a broken fragment of a hunting horn and a pair of what looked like massive stag horns.

Katiya had tried to imagine what the world was like outside of the city; she'd only been out into the countryside once, when her father had needed to meet a fence. The redhead took the offered seat, turning to see what it was that had the blonde woman’s attention. “Is that you?”

Alexei frowned in thought shifting through a ton of memories. "Yes. Wearing armor in winter is an awful experience. I can't remember why I was there. It was in Britain when they still had forests, a favor I think. Winter was horrible and Herne the Huntsman had called a debt of blood."

"Herne?" Katiya didn't recognize the reference. Was that one of the gods that people prayed to? Maybe that was one of the things that regular people learned in schools as they grew up.

"Herne the God of the Wild Hunt, he stole the horn of the Hunt from the Goddess Hel as well as her hounds. It was said by peasants if you were out at night in the winter and he came across you he'd call a hunt. Turn his hounds loose on you, tearing the fabric of reality with the dangerous chaos of nature." She shrugged.

"The next day if they found your body stolen of life frozen on the road. Sometimes he let the women go - for a price. This fellow I don't know if he was the original Herne or merely some petty demon who had wrestled the horn of the hunt from the first Herne or if he'd just gotten lazy and sloppy as the decades had rolled by."

Katiya shifted around in her chair so she could get a better look at the tapestry. It could be Alexei in it, the blonde hair was the same, but it was hard to tell. "You stopped him."

"Yes, I owed someone a favor and he called it in. I spent all winter hunting the prick. Stole the horn and smashed it freeing his hounds from its control, they all turned on him. I guess, honestly his own hounds killed him."

That was so far out of Katiya's normal every day world that she turned around to stare at Alexei, just to make sure she wasn't joking. When she didn't smile Katiya assumed she was telling the truth. "Let me make sure I understand this. You killed a demon or maybe a god of the hunt, because you owed someone a favor? Thereby probably saving unknown numbers of villagers?"

"Yes. Saving human lives didn't matter to me really; it took me centuries to stop being a blood-sucking fiend from hell, to simply be the bastard you see today. Actually it was a book I read a couple of decades ago by a man named Darwin that really started effecting how I viewed what we are, our and our responsibilities to the humans."

"That's the man who got the church all upset isn't it?" She vaguely remembered the preachers screaming about him on the street corners.

"Which one? There are so many who spout ideas that make the church squirm and shout heresy, but no I don't think they were happy with his ideas on evolution, and humans relation to monkeys. He's partially wrong on that part, but he didn't have knowledge of the supernatural world."

“Wrong how?” Katiya asked.

"Some humans are related to wolves, tigers, foxes, and etc, or there would be no shape shifters. So if the monkey isn't your thing don't worry, you may not be one at all." Alexei said with a smirk, "but considering how nimble your fingers are it may be true."

Without her permission, Katiya's cheeks flushed as a completely different mental image inserted itself in her mind. "So shapeshifters exist too?" She struggled to get the topic to something else, tasting the brandy and enjoying the warmth that spread through her.

"Of course, as a general rule we don't get along. They’re kind of ticked about the de-forestation and pollution that my kind are big on."

"I can see why they would be upset about that." She frowned as a thought occurred to her. "You're two tigers are just tigers aren't they?"

Alexei chuckled. "Yes, they're just tigers to the best of my knowledge. Their mother died and I found their den, they were the only two left alive, so I kept them with me, raising them. They've decided to stay."

"You don't have to tell me this but I've been wondering, why does a vampire own factories?" Katiya frowned, not quite sure she understood it.

The vampire went still as she thought about her answer. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. Industry and change came and with it stacks of smoke billowing into the skies, blocking the sun." She shrugged, "It gave me something to focus on, and then I lost focus and let Sergei take over."

There was something in that answer that Katiya was missing, she'd have to think about it later. A knock at the door stopped her from her follow up question, and a scowling Lyov opened the door. "Mistress. A messenger arrived for you." He looked more disgruntled than usual.

Alexei frowned, "A messenger from whom?"

"He would not give me his name." Lyov's face twisted into a deeper scowl. Considering he had an unpleasant look most of the time, Katiya was surprised he could look even more unpleasant.

“But he demanded to see you, alone.” He looked towards Katiya and she realized what he meant.

“Bring him here.” Alexei growled.

Lyov grunted and closed the door behind him, going to fetch the messenger.

The vampire looked at Katiya, warring a moment about sending her away. "On my lap or at my feet, either way its time to play your part."

Katiya blinked in surprise. "Lap?" Of the two options that one at least sounded comfortable.

Alexei grinned. "You’re a pet; I have another vampire's pet coming with a message. I would hate him to report how soft I am on my human's, you don't even have a collar."

The redhead moved closer then gingerly sat on Alexei's lap, her fingers going to her neck. "You weren't kidding about the collar in the warehouse were you?"

"No. I wasn't." She wrapped her arms around Katiya and then stretched out her legs. "I really don't like it, but in vampire society it can be necessary, if not expected." She lowered her face into the redhead's neck and nibbled gently, exposing fangs she made a few shallow cuts to get the scent of blood in the air and then licked the cuts.

Lyov opened the door, turning to the handsome young looking man who followed behind him. "My mistress awaits you in the study." Nodding through the doors to where she sat. The man swept past Lyov without a second look, dressed in red and black suit that matched the ornate collar around his neck.

He smiled as he spotted Katiya stretched out on Alexei's lap, shivering from the nibble she'd just given. "Lady Petrov, I bear you greetings from my Master."

Alexei looked up an eyebrow arched in question. "Did I tell you to speak?" She whispered out her voice dark, unhappy.

The man winced, and went to his knee in front of her chair, head bowed. "No, my apology Mistress."

Alexei kissed Katiya's neck in apology.

Katiya shivered, twisting a bit so that she could look up at the blonde with a raised eyebrow. This was going to take a lot of getting used to.

"So pet, when my servant asked for the name of the messenger and who had sent you. Did you think your bloated life span made you above common curtsey? Above giving my house the respect it is due?" She kept her voice low and menacing while she raised an eyebrow back at the redhead. "He is a pet of the Vampire lord of Russia, play along, he'll report back everything." She whispered softly in Katiya's ear giving the curved pink shell of cartilage a lick as she finished.

Since playing along seemed to involve curling up on the lap of an admittedly gorgeous woman who was doing wonderful things to her ear right now, Katiya figured she could do her best.

"My apology Mistress, but my lord said that my message was to be delivered to you only." He stayed bent over, kneeling.

"Hmmm. Is your Master aware of how arrogant you are?" She was tempted to get up and stomp on him a bit, but that would mean moving Katiya, and she was rather enjoying her warmth and scent.

"Look around you. You aren't even worth my anger, compared to some of the things I've faced you're nothing but an annoying fly. Don't forget that."

Since she'd invited him to, he did raise his head enough to look around at the trophies that were mounted on the walls. They were impressive and he shivered a little at the thought of what this woman would do to him if he displeased her. His master had warned him not to push her. "I won't, Mistress."

Katiya decided this was a rather nice place to be, she could watch the other human without worry from the rather secure spot she was in. It was odd, feeling safe in the arms of a vampire, not something she'd ever counted on happening.

"Good. Now boy, relay your message so I can get back to more important things." She let her hands drift up under Katiya's shirt giving no illusions to what he had interrupted.

The redhead gasped, her hands gripping the fabric of Alexei's pant leg.

"Yes Mistress." He had to really work at not licking his lips and focus on the message. "My Master sends his regards to you, his loyal vassal. He wishes the pleasure of your company in Saint Petersburg in two days time."

Alexei paused, "Did he tell you why? Or is that it?" The fingers on her right hand flexed unconsciously remembering the damage Karl had done to them not to long ago.

"He wishes to discuss matters of importance with you. He has called a meeting of all his vassals." That last part wasn't really part of the message, but he felt like sharing.

Feeling the body beneath hers suddenly tense, Katiya twisted a bit so she could see Alexei’s face, not very surprised to find it cold and set. She ran a hand down the arm that was keeping her on the lap.

"Very well. Tell your master I will be there." At least it wasn't more punishment over the blood house. "Lyov!" She shouted.

The door opened instantly. "Mistress?"

"Show this boy out. We are finished."

"With pleasure, Mistress." He let the man get to his feet, barely, before hurrying him out the door and shutting it behind them. They heard the startled yell of the younger man followed by somebody being tossed out the front door.

"Remind me not to bring messages to you." Katiya said and then reached up to touch her neck. "Was that really necessary for the messengers benefit?" She had her doubts about that.

"Yes. Some can smell blood in the air. The primary use of a pet is food. Don't be such a baby I barely bit you."

"True." Katiya tested to see if she could get off Alexei's lap. "Maybe you can do better next time." She did her best to get free, intent on at least making it to the door.

"Are you challenging me, Mouse?" Alexei said trying to be stern but the curl of her lips gave her away.

She'd managed to almost free herself, which she was taking as a victory. "I would never challenge the great all mighty Alexei Petrova." Katiya was already laughing, tugging on her arm that Alexei was still holding onto easily.

"Do you want to leave? Where are you going to go Mouse?" She chuckled and easily pulled the young woman back into her body. "You didn't finish your drink." She whispered into an ear.

Her smile wide, Katiya put both hands on Alexei's chest, shivering as she felt lips against her ear again. "How foolish of me."

"Yes, very foolish." She laughed and then slowly let go. "Sit, finish your drink."

"Why Ms. Petrova, are you trying to get me drunk?" Katiya fluttered her eyelids, not managing to keep a straight face as she went to retake her seat across from Alexei.

"No, maybe I just want to keep your company for a little longer." Alexei said with a charming smile. So far she had done most of the talking telling Katiya about her and the world she had just entered.

"I feel flattered then." Katiya raised her cup to salute and took a drink, thinking she could grow to enjoy brandy quite easily.

"So mouse, how did you feel about what just happened?" The vampire was curious about how the reality of being a pet had set with the young woman.

"About you intimidating him? Or you claiming me as your possession?" To be honest, she wasn't too sure how she felt about both of them.

Her intimidation of the other pet hadn't even occurred to her. "Both, then."

"I felt kind of sorry for him. He tried to be your equal and..." She made a vague gesture. "Couldn't." The brandy was loosening her lips, usually she didn't talk this much about things she saw, but she felt at ease around the vampire. "I don't mind being yours. Better yours than one of the owners of whore houses or gang leaders." As far as she could see so far, Alexei was never mean or vicious simply for the sake of being mean and vicious.

Her mouse was a realist, the world wasn't fair, and despite the gospel the meek didn't inherit anything. "He is an arrogant prick, a pet of the Vampire Lord of eastern Europe, Karl." She watched the woman enjoy her brandy and slowly picked up the cut glass bottle and add a little bit more to the glass. "So mouse, tell me, who do you get your lovely red hair from?"

"My mother. That's what my father used to tell me. He had black hair, and was Russian. She came from somewhere else, he used to tell me tales of how she fled Ireland, but I'm not sure if he was just telling tall tales." She stretched out a bit in the seat, enjoying the moment. How odd, she thought, that some of the more pleasant times of her life were in the company of someone the world considered a blood-sucking monster.

"You didn't know her then?"

Katiya cupped her glass, staring down into the dark red brandy. "She died giving birth to me."

"Sad then not to have known her. Your father and you were close?" She reached out covering one of Katiya's hands with her own cooler one.

The human woman studied those hands, marveling at how long and elegant they looked. "Very. He taught me everything he knew. I tagged along with him everywhere he went."

"He taught you to be a sneaky mouse."

She smiled. "He taught me to open locks, pick pockets, sneak in shadows and anything else he thought would help me survive." The redhead lifted her head proudly. "He couldn't send me to school, but he wanted me to have an education anyway."

Alexei stroked Katiya's hand studying her fingers. "I have no need for a simpering proper lady, I'm afraid she would break too easily in my world."

The combination of the brandy and stroking fingers had her nearly purring as she relaxed. "I'll try not to break too easily." She thought she'd done well so far.

"I doubt you'll break at all." Alexei went silent for a moment although she didn't stop touching Katiya's hand. "Last night in the tub...” She paused uncertain how to phrase what she wanted to say. "Have you been with anyone before?"

The redhead ducked her head, feeling her cheeks already starting to turn red with an impending blush. "Not... fully." She winced, wondering how completely ridiculous that must sound.

"Not fully? A few dates’ then, some heavy petting and kissing?" Alexei guessed.

The damn blush just wouldn't go away. "A couple of dates." She agreed, slowly. "And some kissing."

Alexei was amused but did her best to hide it. "Young boys struggling with their spotty facial hair and biological urges? Or perhaps a secret meeting with a pretty girl who in the end chose the proper boy?"

"Both." Katiya admitted, giving up on her attempt at keeping the blush in check. "The boy thing didn't work out too well, but then again, neither did the girl. She was a maid and ended up becoming the mistress of the old man who owned the manor."

"Ah, love and lust a horribly confusing thing; heart rending, feelings torn, the curse of this modern age. Things were simpler before. People just learned to love each other after their arranged marriage."

"Is that what you did?" Katiya let her own fingers do a little tracing on the cool hand covering hers. "An arranged marriage?"

Alexei chuckled. "No I was never married. I'm probably physically around your age maybe a tad younger. We aged quicker back then, little time for childhood, our life spans weren't very long either. My people were nomadic warriors traveling with the herds. My father had two women, who had consented to share a tent with him, which one was my mother I couldn't tell you, and it didn't matter. I grew up a warrior only a few could best me with the bow and spear." She grinned, "and I had little interest in men."

"What kind of herds?" Katiya leaned forwards, interested in this glimpse into Alexei's former life. "Did you travel far?"

"We traveled all of Russia, hunting the deer and caribou herds. We fought sometimes, with others like us. Some were pale skinned like us others darker of skin." Her eyes instinctively turned to the wall where her bow used to be and found the spot on the wall bare. Sadness and anger warred for a minute remembering it was gone, one of the items not recovered from those boys, probably sold to a museum or private collection. She had made it with her own hands her father proudly watching her.

"I can't even imagine what a life like that would have been like." Katiya tried to picture running under a sky not filled with the smoke of factories or filled with thousands of other humans living together. It was too foreign a concept.

"The world has changed a great deal since my birth." She drew her eyes away from the empty spot on the wall and back to her mouse. She smiled ruefully again they had started speaking about her the conversation having been twisted away from Katiya.

"Well I may be a great many horrible things Katiya, but I won't force you and I won't take your virginity. Some things should be best given to someone you love or care about not a monster who's heart rarely beats." She let her hand slide away missing the heat from Katiya's.

Katiya smiled. "I'm not so sure you're the monster you make yourself out to be." She set aside the empty glass of brandy and stood up, reaching out to take that hand again. "Before Mr. Morozov showed up you said you hadn't even had breakfast yet, you must still be hungry?"

Alexei watched Katiya take her hand. "Katiya, I've already taken blood from you." Truthfully she'd been joking when she had shouted it at Lyov, she really didn't need that much blood anymore.

"Then come bathe with me." The redhead wasn't going to let go of her hand.

For a moment Alexei was stunned at Katiya's sudden bravery. "A bath?"

"A bath." She shifted a touch nervously. "Just to bathe." She clarified.

"Of course, a bath." She answered back as if it were an everyday occurrence that her pets wanted to bathe with her. She stood up never letting go of Katiya's hand.

Katiya flushed a little, but didn't let go either as she moved alongside Alexei towards the vampire's rooms and her bath. "I just thought it would be enjoyable..." She trailed off, not sure how to explain the idea in a way that wouldn't sound insane.

"Don't be timid now. You've invited the vampire to play and doing that is like playing with a predator the moment you hesitate or show weakness triggers the memory of prey, and the predator forgets it was ever playing in the first place." Not that Alexei was concerned she would, she was too old to forget herself, but Katiya needed to understand.

"Right." Katiya took a deep breath. "No being timid." She just had to try to remember that. "I wanted an excuse to get you naked again." There that was easy enough, as long as she ignored the blush that came almost automatically.

Opening the doors to the bathroom she paused in surprise, seeing the bath full of hot water. She looked over at Alexei, puzzled. "How?"

"Lyov." Alexei said simply as she shut the doors to her rooms. She was a little stunned that Katiya wanted her naked, most humans were put off with her otherness, her unnatural stillness, their subconscious sensing of the hungry monster that lurked inside her. It took many of her servants and pets years to be truly comfortable with her.

"Oh." That almost made sense, as long as Katiya didn't think too much about how he could have known they'd be taking a bath. Keeping in mind to avoid being timid, she raised an eyebrow at the beautiful woman and started to undo the buttons on her shirt.

"Do you want privacy? I can turn my back until you're in the tub?" The vampire offered.

"I know my body isn't as perfect as yours, but I don't mind if you look." Katiya whispered, shivering a little at just the thought of being watched.

"Don't compare us, my sneaky mouse. We're two completely different creatures. You're body is very lovely." With an unconscious grace she slipped her shirt over her head not bothering with the buttons and then undid her trousers. She draped them both over the chair in her study.

Since she didn't have to, Katiya didn't pretend to be doing anything other than watching appreciatively as she slipped out of her own clothes and then slipped into the steaming hot water. "Oh God." She groaned, sinking into the hot water with a look of bliss. Now that she knew what she'd been missing she wasn't sure she could ever go back to cold sponge baths.

Alexei shuddered slightly at the moan of pleasure as the younger woman sunk into the hot water, but other than that held herself in check. She slowly walked to the edge of the warm marble and then stepped down into the bathing pool. She liked baths because it was the only time she was warm, other than when she gorged on a lot of blood. The blood was the only thing that made her pass for truly human, and that required a lot of it.

To make her heart beat and her skin flush; well her heart did beat she wasn't a re-animated corpse, but it had a rhythm near death one nearly inaudible unless you had fancy doctor equipment or supernatural hearing.

"Does this mean you'll be leaving soon on a trip?" Katiya's eyes were half lidded as she enjoyed the pleasant feeling of the hot water.

"Yes, tomorrow, once dusk falls." She wasn't certain yet who she would be taking with her. "I'm not certain how long I'll be gone. Karl is hard to judge."

"You'll be safe though?" Katiya's eyes opened as that occurred to her. Traveling was something that had always seemed dangerous to her.

"As safe as I can be with a castle full of vampires." Her hand twinged with the phantom pain with the memory of her last meeting with Karl. She hated Karl, hated how he lorded over her, when she could snap him like a twig, but she didn't. She stayed her arrogance and rage at him, because she already made the council of vampires nervous.

Moving closer to the beautiful woman, Katiya picked up one of the large sponges and raised an eyebrow. When she was presented with a back she started to wash that perfect skin. "Will there be a lot of them there?"

"Probably, I tend to make Karl nervous." She chuckled. "I make all of them nervous." She sighed in pleasure. "Harder." She mumbled.

As directed, Katiya scrubbed harder, then smiled when she realized that the sponge wasn't really needed. Setting that side she started to work her fingers across the strong back in front of her. "Who's Karl?" She probably should have asked earlier.

"Mmm, um...” She tried to gather her words. "He's the Lord of Eastern Europe. The vampire council has split the world into territories with lords and fiefs. My fief is lorded over by Karl." She sneered.

The muscles under her fingertips went taught with anger and Katiya frowned, starting all over again with her ministrations. "I take it you don't get along."

"No, he gets off on being more important than I am." She annoyed Karl because she was older and really didn't do what she was told to.

"I'll see what I can find out while you're gone about the deed." Her fingers reached up to firm shoulders and started to try to get those to relax.

"You don't have to, Katiya."

"But I want to. I'm good at finding things out. My father knew a lot of people."

Alexei leaned back against Katiya, enjoying the press of warm flesh against her. "Be careful, then."

"I'm always careful. Remember, sneaky mouse?" Smiling she rubbed up against the other woman's back, rather enjoying the feel of her breasts pressed up against the blonde's skin.

"How could I forget my sneaky mouse?" She chuckled. Slowly, very slowly she felt herself relax against the human.

"I'm sneaky. I like sneaking so much better than factory work." She rested an arm around the vampire's stomach, in a loose hug.


Alexei felt odd as she patted herself dry, maybe it was the relaxed feeling, although underneath that was the slow burn of desire that her mouse was stirring in her. She hung the towel and grabbed her trousers slipping back into them. "So now mouse what would you like to do?"

Reluctantly, Katiya got out of the bath as well, the water had started to cool a bit and she'd started to prune a little. "Do?" She wasn't sure how to answer that, taking a towel and starting to rub herself down.

"Yes, do. Did you find an empty room to claim as your own? Was there something you were looking for and didn't find? Do you need food?" The vampire slid into her dark shirt making her skin look even paler.

Katiya was oddly not too eager to find a room of her own. "What do you usually do every night?"

Alexei blinked in surprise. She use to go over the books on the factories, she use to ride the country side checking her lands, sometimes she roamed the city streets looking for thugs, but now she did nothing. She sat and stared at nothing in the night sky or the flames of a fire, and until this moment it hadn't struck her how much she was retreating from the world. "Um, various things."

"Are any of those various things something you want to do tonight?" Katiya wrapped herself up in a towel, taking peeks at the body Alexei was toweling.

"Do you know how to ride?" She asked finishing the buttons on her shirt and began to vigorously dry her hair.

"Ride a carriage?"

The vampire chuckled. "I meant a horse, but I'll take that as a no." She re-hung the towel and thought for a moment. "How about I show you the library and introduce you to Matvey?"

"Who's Matvey?" Katiya hurried to dress, smiling, this sounded like fun.

"He's a foundling of mine. I think you two will get along well." She said with a smile.

"Foundling?" Katiya was pretty interested in this. "What's that?"

"Before you were born." Alexei started, as she started to button up Katiya's own shirt. "A powerful vampire tried a power play into my territory, he was brilliant, witty, clever, and fierce. Someone I could have respected and liked. However...” She paused sighing at Katiya's tangled hair, and produced a whalebone comb and started working on the locks.

The redhead closed her eyes in pleasure. Nobody had combed her hair for her in so long she really couldn't remember when it had happened last.

"However," she continued. "This vampire wanted what was mine. A more glorious battle I have not had." She let out a great sigh remembering muscles straining with battle, the smell of blood. "Towns were destroyed, many humans died stuck between our two armies. In the end, I crushed him, tore his throat open and feasted on his blood. I killed all his children and minions, except for one."

Blue eyes opened at that, both eyebrows raised at the look on Alexei's face. Apparently those were the good old days for the vampire. "And this one is Matvey?"

"Yes. A poor peasant boy embraced too young. Greeks and Romans are odd with their boy man dynamic, and the whole tutoring thing."

Katiya decided she didn't want to actually ask any questions about that. "He's young?" She frowned, confused.

"Yes, Embraced, way too young before he could grow hair on his face. The vampire council has rules now about giving our gift to children. Once given the blessing or curse of vampirism the body stops aging, imagine being a child forever while your mind ages." Alexei shuddered remembering some of the young looking vampires she'd met. "Most become unstable and quite mad."

Katiya shivered, even trying to imagine that was enough to give her nightmares. "Is he insane?" She whispered, not sure she wanted to meet an insane young vampire, ever.

"No he's not. He’s quiet, thoughtful, resigned to be cute and attractive to pedophiles everywhere, and he's very intelligent. He's the younger brother you never had." Alexei stopped combing, setting the comb down and stroked the suddenly tense shoulders. "No one will hurt you, I won't allow it."

Katiya studied the perfect face, slowly smiling. "I believe you. Let's go meet your younger brother."

They went up one flight and instead of heading towards the game room, went the other way down the hallway. Matvey, she couldn't feel not like her own blood, but she assumed he was there, he was always there, except when the sun streamed in through the large windows.

Yet, another part of the mansion that Katiya hadn't had a chance to poke around in. She really had to spend a few days looking around and investigating everything that there was to see.

The other side of the hall only had two huge double, oriental carved doors. With ease Alexei pushed the doors open.

Rows and rows of wooden bookcases held scrolls, books, and manuscripts; were revealed.

Soft light came from somewhere but the source was not visible. Alexei led her through the stacks. "Can you read, Katiya?"

"A little." She admitted, slowly. "Depends on the language."

"Well feel free to look through everything here, the only time knowledge is dangerous is when it’s locked away." She guided them through the stacks to an open space in the middle of the room. There was a blazing fire in a fireplace, several chairs and a few desks.

At one desk a slender figure was bent over a large tome.

"Mistress have you come to sit before the fire and stare into the great nothing again?" Came a quietly spoken voice.

Alexei flushed; true she had been doing that for months.

Besides her, Katiya paused, looking from the stranger at the desk back to the beautiful blonde, not sure who this was. "Stare into nothing, again?" She asked quietly.

The hunched figure sat up, and turned blinking in surprise. His face was young, with wispy hairs on his cheeks almost ready to shave. His dark eyes seemed huge as they reflected through the round glasses perched on his nose.

"Katiya, this young man is Matvey, a foundling to my house. Not of my blood but my child none-the-less. Matvey, this is Katiya."

So this was Matvey, not what she'd been expecting. A little uncertain how to react to the young man Katiya gave a little curtsey, as if he was one of the gentleman who came to the factory on occasion. "Nice to meet you Matvey."

"She's a pet?" He questioned, wondering why a pet would be here.

Alexei glowered. "Does it matter?"

The young man gulped. He quickly took the glasses off his nose and slipped them into a pocket and stood up away from his precious books. He had features trapped between a boy and a man, and dark curly hair framed his face and fell into his dark brown eyes. "I'm sorry for my rudeness. Your house your will."

Alexei smiled and reached out to ruffle his hair before catching herself remembering he wasn't as young as he looked.

"Matvey this is Katiya, and as you pointed out my new pet. She wishes to learn, and of all my children you are the most knowledgeable one I have. Will you teach her?"

The redhead held herself still, watching the currents of interaction that seemed to swirl between the two. It was interesting to watch them react to one another.

For a moment he looked uncertain, he studied the redhead. Stepping forward he circled. "What would I teach her?"

Alexei did nothing; the two would have to work out their relationship on their own. She could not always be around.

After one pass around her, Katiya turned to keep him in front of her, not particularly liking having a strange vampire in back of her. "About the world you live in." She said, glancing over at Alexei to make sure she wasn't overstepping herself.

“Whatever she wants." Alexei didn't counter anything Katiya had said. She let go of Katiya's hand and made her way to a chair in front of the fire and sat down.

“Teach a woman; reading, writing, and philosophy?”

That tone made Katiya frown though and her eyes narrowed a little. "I can learn whatever you teach, unless of course you aren't a very good teacher." She hated having anyone talk down to her.

Alexei didn't look up from the fire but she chuckled quietly. "It appears you've forgotten what my gender is? Should I be offended?"

Matvey's face got pale and his mouth opened and closed as he looked for something to say. He rushed to her side kneeling next to her. "I'm sorry Mistress my words... there is no excuse."

In a blur of motion she reached out and grabbed a handful of those dark curls and jerked his head to the side, exposing the long column of his pale neck.

Katiya held herself very still, having that feeling of not wanting to be noticed right at the moment.

"Have I made myself seem so weak, by my endless nights of sharing this space with you? Staring into the fire waiting for something to spark within me so I may love the never-ending life I have been cursed with. If you're over-active mind ever held those thoughts, forget them. I am still Mistress of these lands, and if you wish to no longer belong to me, let me know.

"No Mistress, please don't throw me out. I forgot myself and my place."

Alexei held herself for a moment then let go. "Do as I bid, Katiya is your pupil, teach her or prove her words true, for if you cannot teach I will have to find one that can."

The young man stood relief palpable in his stance. "I will teach her to be your tool, and then I will teach her whatever she wants to learn.”

The young human woman shifted from one foot to another, trying to figure out if it was safe to breathe again. "I'll be a good student." She said finally, deeming it safe enough to remind the two vampires she existed.

He approached Katiya and bowed. "I am sorry about earlier. I forgot my place."

The redhead offered a wry smile. "I don't even know mine yet, so please don't get offended if I spout off." She really should manage to remember that she couldn't get upset at a vampire.

"Good. That's all settled." Alexei said.

"Come, let us see where we need to start." He guided her to his desk and went in search of some books and a chalk and tablet.


Hours later Alexei stirred from where she sat in front of fire. "Time to call it a night."

Katiya blinked, rubbing at bleary eyes as her mind swam with what seemed like a sea of new things that Matvey had been starting to teach her. It wasn't just the information; it was the entirely new way of thinking about things that she was trying to fit into her mind. Her earlier bold assurance seemed like a joke now that she was starting to realize how much there was that she didn't know.

Matvey nodded and collected the books. "I have a good idea where we can start. You actually pick up things very quick."

"That was quick?" Katiya looked up in horror. She felt like she was a stupid apprentice again.

"She is a clever mouse." Alexei said standing behind Katiya.

"The clever mouse feels like her head is going to split open." Katiya pushed back from the table and stood up, rubbing at her temple.

Alexei held out a hand for Katiya.

Taking the offered hand, Katiya smiled at the vampire trapped in the body of a young man. "Thank you. I'll try to keep up."

Alexei nodded. "Let’s see if Warren left you food. Did you pick a room?"

"Not yet." She followed alongside the blonde woman, giving a goodbye wave to the young man as they left.

Alexei was going to say something, but then remembered she was going to be gone, to see Karl. "That's fine. You'll stay in my room while I'm gone."

"Are you sure?" She looked up at her face. "I can go somewhere else if you don't want me in there while you're gone."

"Yes, I'm not taking you with me. My room will be safe place for you."

"Oh. I'm not going?" She'd kind of hoped that she'd be able to see what lay beyond the city.

"Sorry no. I thought about it. But you're too new to this society or vampires. It would be unsafe for you."

She did a good job, she thought, of trying not to look disappointed by that. "I'll learn fast." She promised, to herself and Alexei.

She led them down the stairs to the kitchen. Alexei paused at a hallway holding Katiya back as Kira pounced. The tiger looked annoyed at its game being thwarted. Alexei laughed and stroked Kira's head.

Eyes wide at the three hundred pounds of tiger that had just almost pounced on her, Katiya swallowed nervously. That was another thing she was going to have to keep an eye out for around here. The tigers could rip her apart without much effort. "I was thinking that I’d go tomorrow to see what I can find out about the Brothers."

"Hmmm." Alexei thought about what Katiya had said. "What brothers would that be?"

"The four who stole from you? I can look into them at the same time as I try to find out about Ivan and who wanted the deed to your factory."

She led them into the kitchen and sat Katiya down as she started to boil some water and check the pantry.

Finally as she brought Katiya some tea she agreed. "Okay. You will of course be careful."

She sliced some meat and cheese on to a plate with some bread and set it down in front of the redhead, waiting for a response.

"Of course." Katiya smiled brightly. "I'm always careful." Rolling a slice of meat in cheese she bit into it, enjoying the taste of the high quality food.

"Drink your tea, its good for you." She said smiling slightly. "If the brothers are helpful tell them there’s a chance you might be able to remove the blood price on their head."

"Thank you." She drank the tea, not too sure she was enjoying the tea yet, and it was a different taste than she was used to. "How long will you be gone?"

"I don't know. I hope not long. Depends if Karl is feeling insecure about me or not." If he does she would feel the sting of his mood in a very physical way.

"You'll be careful too right?" Katiya had a vested interest now in making sure Alexei stayed healthy.

"I will do my best." She promised sitting down as Katiya ate.

The food disappeared just as quickly as her lunch had and then Katiya found herself yawning. Happy, full and warm she was suddenly exhausted. "I'm sorry, I wish I could keep you company all night."

Alexei chuckled. "You did, its nearly dawn. Learning can take a lot out of you." She stood and held out an arm.

Taking the arm, Katiya smiled sleepily. "I did?" That would explain why she was exhausted. "I guess I'm sleeping with you again?" She tried not to look too hopeful.

"You must be tired we already discussed that. But yes, you can." Alexei really didn't mind. "I hope you don't mind."

Having trouble keeping her mind working, she shook her head tiredly, leaning on the vampire. "I don't mind sharing a bed with a beautiful woman." She said sleepily, already half asleep on her feet.

Alexei paused for a moment and then easily lifted Katiya up into her arms. "My you are tired. Your body’s not use to these new hours."

"I only just started working the evening shift, I used to work the afternoon shift" She mumbled, tucking her face into the vampire's neck and breathing deeply. "You smell good." The red haired woman smiled lazily, pressing her lips to that tempting skin.

Alexei's nostrils flared. "I should smell good, you bathed me." Very determined she started up the steps, but she could feel the desire it tingled in her fangs.

An appreciative hum was the only answer as the sleepy woman relaxed even further in the embrace of the vampire. It was strange, she thought, this was the safest she'd ever felt; here in the arms of a monster that was carrying her effortlessly towards her bedroom.

"What an odd human you are." Alexei mused as she paused to open the doors to her rooms. She strode through her office to the bedroom. A small slip of a girl was waking her back up from the weight of time, centering her.

Part 3

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