The Secret History of Vampires – Part 5

Alexei didn't understand her inner disquiet when sunrise came and she finally had the solitude a master vampire needed, with all her little pets in their proper places.  She didn't understand why the bed that still smelled of her and Katiya in a moment of passion, made her instead go to her desk and sit, even as the rising sun tugged at the edges of her consciousness.

As she sat at her desk she felt the solitude keenly, it felt more like loneliness and isolation.

For a moment the urge to go get Katiya and summon or drag her here by whatever means necessary had her curling her fingers around the armrests to push herself up.  Instead she stilled, a Master did not need her pets like this.  She made herself focus on other things.

Taking out a quill and ink she smoothed out a piece of parchment to start outlining her problem at hand.  Katiya and Karl were nothing but distractions that had pulled her away from the concerns and safety of her city.

She pushed herself past sunrise fighting off its demands for sleep until unconsciousness stole her away from the waking world. And she slumped over as if dead onto her desk.


Sun set was forcing its way onto the skies moving the world into night when the vampire awoke.  Her neck and back hurt from sleeping in such an odd position. Absently she rubbed her neck as she tried to gather her barring.

She stared listlessly around her.  For a moment she warred with the idea of going upstairs to the library to sit in front of the fire to stay warm.  Cold was seeping into her bones and world-weariness, she'd been alive to long seen and done too much.  Civilizations she'd grown up with were dust their people not even remembered.  She couldn't even remember really where her father and mothers were buried.  Fiona had left her, Katiya wanted to leave her; probably for some strapping goodness and light hunter, Shiro probably would never trust her again, and she would never really be what Molly needed.  Sergei was working either with Karl or with these mysterious new vampires in her territory, the twins were more animals than human preferring to hunt in the wilderness to the city, and Matvey wanted his books, and Stepan claimed loyalty but really wanted to go back to Moscow and the theatre. Nobody really wanted her or needed her.

That was a weighty conclusion, and it dragged her mind further into the black bleakness. Perhaps she would join her Sire locked in a coffin chained in the bowels of the house and time and history would pass her by.

With a quiet groan she rubbed her face her eyes catching the parchment in front of her.  Blinking she stared at it.  In her own hand it said "Current Problems". Unknown vampires, missing signet ring, Karl, and Hunters.

She stared at her sprawling script for a moment, and then came to a decision.  She would gut the city. If nobody would respect the vampire she was now, she'd remind him or her of the one she had been centuries ago. She was the Butcher and the Tiger of the Steppes; and if they wanted to invade her city she would show them a fight. Not of politics and words but of gunpowder, steel and blood. She would wash the fucking streets in their blood if need be.

Getting up she grabbed a hat, coat, gloves, and dark protective glasses for her eyes; it was still too light for her.   Exiting her room she went up the stairs to the library she paused briefly on the third floor. Vidar and she made eye contact. They stared at each other impassively and she wondered why Katiya was in Shiro's room, then she continued up the stairs to her library. She chose carefully of the weapons left there not stolen by four boys who were being used by things they didn't understand, she made her decisions and then made her way down the stairs. Lyov was waiting by the front doors.

"Mistress."  He said in greeting.

"When the twins show up, send them into the city to find me." She snapped.

"Of course."

Then she was gone.


It had been nearly a week since they had returned from Karl's, and Stepan did not like how things had changed in the household.  Everyone was miserable and walking on eggshells. Sergei had healed and was gone where he went nobody knew, and since Alexei had never gave a clear directive on what was to be done the rest of them were unsure as to what to do to the vampire.

Stepan did know that he was not working at the factories because a miserable Matvey was doing that. The perpetually young looking vampire was constantly wearing a sorrowful expression. He no longer had time for his books and never ending learning. 

Stepan wasn't really sure what the twins were up to they had always come and gone as they pleased, they were second in age only to Fiona. Shiro looked scared and he didn't blame the woman considering what had been done to her. What irritated him though was how she was constantly at Katiya's side, or maybe it was Katiya who just irritated him. To the young vampire the redheaded woman was the source of all their problems. Life had been good, safe, and consistent before she had come into their world.

When the Mistress was home, she looked haunted and gaunt. Other times she looked wild and feral the smell of battle and blood thick in her wake. He suspected she wasn't feeding, and feared she was pushing herself too far. The other humans in the house gave her nervous looks and a wide berth afraid of getting her temper, which seemed to be short.

He had grown to hate that slip of a girl and the simple way she was wrecking the world around them. She was going to be their downfall; she would ruin the paradise they had built here.  He had taken to following her, his abilities as an actor really coming to the forefront. Currently he was following Katiya, Shiro, and that stupid hound around the city; they never knew he was following them he blended in like any other smelly human lad out in the evening looking for a drink and a good time.

As they crossed an open market still going strong in the late winter night, he followed through the crush of people getting off work from the factories or going to work stopping for food or talk.  As a man walked into him knocking the young vampire slightly off balance, he spun and slipped in the slush and saw her, Alexei. She was hiding in shadows up on the old medieval fortified wall, but he could see her clearly.  Her eyes riveted to the redheads form as if drinking in every detail. Then there was a sudden change to her body it went from hungry to withdrawn, sullen, and hurt possibly.  Turning he looked across the square to see what had changed and saw another woman talking to Katiya.

The woman had an aura around her of danger, she looked Hungarian or some other peasant stock, but she was dressed like a hunter in thick leather pants and a long leather coat, which probably hid some weapons he wouldn't like to meet. So this was the smell that set his Mistress off, and he hated the redheaded whore even more.  He looked back to the wall but Alexei was gone.

He was also jealous he knew she had never looked at any of her children the way she looked at Katiya.


Katiya had been laughing at Shiro's antics as they wandered through the open nighttime market. While she didn't understand a lot of what the slender woman mimed with her hands, she'd quickly realized that Shiro had a wicked ability to mimic people's body language. It was hilarious to see her puff up and pretend to be the last pompous merchant who had tried to force his wares upon them.

She was still giggling over it when a familiar face emerged from the crowds of workers hurrying home or to third shift at the factory. Her sudden tensing made Shiro look at her strangely but she had no time to explain as Tereza walked closer.

"Hi Tereza." She smiled, hopefully normally enough.

"Katiya." Tereza said brightly her face becoming more guarded as she realized Katiya wasn’t alone. She liked Katiya, despite being a pet, and it wasn't the girl's fault, not really she was a pet. It was hard for impressionable young women to truly realize the traps they were getting into with vampires they had that dark sensuality, and it was easy to get overwhelmed and taken. Plus she was fairly certain Katiya was a new pet; it would be easy to save her.

"Um Hi." She finished awkwardly as the Asian woman studied her with dark eyes.

The moment ground out, silent as the three of them watched each other. Finally, because she couldn't be rude to this person who had saved her from Boris, Katiya found herself introducing them. "Shiro, this is Tereza. Tereza, this is Shiro, she doesn't talk." That seemed like a good point to get out of the way early on.

She reached out to take Katiya's arm. "Can I talk to you for a minute... alone." The alone part was stammered out as the hound put his body between her and the redhead's, stopping the move before she could make contact.

The redhead touched Shiro's shoulder in apology then patted Vidar on the head and moved around him. "Sure." It had to be something interesting to cause the hunter to seek her out.

Vidar growled low in warning, now was not the time to start making waves of independence; tension in the house was too great. Alexei had all but disappeared from the house nobody really knew what was going on.

"I've been looking for you for a week, not too long after that night you stayed at my place a couple of no neck muscle came around looking for you. Said they were interested in what you were offering."

She was right this was interesting. "Really?" Katiya frowned, thoughtfully. "Did they say how to get in touch with them?" She ignored Vidar this was important this could help Alexei. Wherever she had gone.

"Yeah they gave me a piece of paper with an address..." She frowned. "But I left it at my place." She shrugged. "You and your servant can follow me back and I'll give it to you."

"Shiro's not my servant, she's my friend." Katiya stepped back, away from the hunter, annoyed. "Not everyone is a slave."

"I'm sorry, she's Asian I just assumed. Sorry. Is she another vampire lover like you?"

Katiya crossed her arms over her chest, glaring. "Maybe you should just send the address to me."

Tereza frowned, "Never mind, I don't know why I'm helping you. Either come get the address or don't." She spun on her heels and started stomping through the marketplace.

"Shit." Katiya grumbled, turning to Shiro. "Shiro, I need to go get something from Tereza's place. Would you be all right going home?" She read the hesitation in the woman's face, the fear again. "If Vidar went with you?"

Shiro looked worried, Alexei wouldn't like this if she found out. It wasn't proper. She opened her mouth and again was frustrated that Katiya didn't know her sign language.

Vidar whined but slunk over to Shiro's side as Katiya had asked.

"Don't worry Vidar, as soon as you get her to the mansion, just come find me." She gave Shiro a hug. "Don't worry. This is to help Alexei."

Shiro nodded but still looked uneasy as she turned to follow Vidar.

"Tereza!" She took off after the retreating woman, wondering how she moved so quickly through a crowd if she was only human. "Wait!"

After a little while of silence she asked. "You don't have to be a pet. I can get you away from it, or if you tell me where it sleeps at night I can kill it. You can be free."

Katiya had to hurry to keep up; annoyed with the dress she'd worn today. She really should have worn pants again, but the idea of wearing pants out in public still seemed odd. Katiya rolled her eyes. "Can't you just accept that I want to be with her? Why would I want to be free? I was free and I was starving working night shifts in a factory. Why would I want to go back to that?"

"Being a slave and a food source isn't happiness. I can understand why that might seem like an easy way to have a good life. But they're evil and very seductive in that evil. You could go to the church, they help those in need."

"The church?" Katiya sounded incredulous. "No, I think I'm better off with the vampires." She'd heard what those priests did. "Besides, Alexei's not evil. She can be mean, but she's not evil."

Tereza snorted she didn't believe that for a minute. "The vampire elders were men that went against God and were punished, they're all evil. But regardless of evil, why would you want to be indebted to someone who was mean or cruel to you?"

"What do you mean?" Katiya knew she sounded defensive as she continued to follow Tereza. "She hasn't been cruel to me."

"Vampires are cruel, their needs come before all others; their children, pets and servants. None of their needs matter just the vampires. Why would anybody want to be treated as an afterthought, never mind the other horrible things vampires do."

The redhead could feel herself getting upset and she didn't know how to convince Tereza that Alexei wasn't like that. She shook her head. "What if we agree to disagree on this? I can help you find the vampires who stole from Alexei, but I'm not helping you hurt her."

Tereza mulled it over. "Well I'm always up for killing vampires, but I'm not going to make any promises on your Keeper, I'm going to kill her just like every other vampire, it makes no difference that she's your master."

This wasn't going to work out well, Katiya could just tell. But she needed that information. "Tereza..." she sighed, what could she say to someone who was obviously not going to change.”What made you hate them so much?"

Tereza actually paused mid-stride she was so surprised by the question. "You have to ask. They pollute our skies, our culture, and our leaders. Nothing we think we have we really do, it’s just a smoke screen created by the vampires to keep us docile and food. Oh, and speaking of food, we're the menu. I've seen villages wiped out by a pack of vampires. Bodies drained, throats torn out and worse."

She shuddered.

"But the worst is how they seduce our fellow humans to do their dirty work all for the false promise of immortality. People you love change as that root of evil takes them over, and they betray family and friends because they love the vampire more than they love you."

The other woman watched her face carefully, taking in the words and what was behind them as best she could. "Who was it that they seduced away from you?" She asked, touching Tereza's arm to offer comfort to her.

The Hunter's jaw clenched, and she started walking again. "My aunt, she later became my step-mother, it was only at the bitter end when everything came unraveled and destroyed that I found out she murdered her own sister, my mother, to gain favor from her vampire lover."

What could she say to that? There wasn't anything, so instead Katiya hurried to keep up. They weren't far now, a few more blocks until they were there. "So you hunt them. Alone? That sounds dangerous."

"Yes and no, there are others we are The Order of Hunters, I guess. Father Robert trains us and then sends us out to where we are needed to fight."

She bound up the stairs to the place she was staying and fished out the iron key unlocking the door.

"Father?" Katiya moved up the stairs after her, really doing her best not to notice how good her ass looked in those pants. "He's a priest?"

"Yes, a Monk. He is alone now too, the vampires took his brothers away. So he took it upon himself to train those who were marked by loss to fight the plague of vampires." She moved the crossbow and began looking for the piece of parchment.

Another rather creepy reason to distrust the church as far as Katiya was concerned. She closed the door behind her and waited, watching as the hunter searched for the message.

With a frown Tereza moved the gun parts stacked on the shelf for cleaning and then smiled when she found the scrap of paper. Turning she handed it to Katiya. "Will you let me know when your meeting is so I can kill at least some vampires you approve of?”

"Maybe." She took the slip of paper. "The evil ones."

Tereza tried to take the paper back "They're all evil." She said with a smile.

The redhead closed her fingers around it, grinning despite herself. "No. They aren't. Just like not all humans are good."

"I guess I can't argue that." She paused realizing how close they were standing and how Katiya's nose crinkled just a little bit when she smiled. She swallowed nervously realizing how much she liked Katiya and wanted to kiss her, how much she didn't want her to leave to go back to that thing.

The smile faded on the paler skinned woman's face as she watched Tereza's eyes change. "I should go." She said quietly.

"Don't... Katiya... I...” She started and stopped brokenly, before she decided just to go with actions, she was normally better with that than words.

They were kissing suddenly. Katiya wasn't sure how that had happened, or when it really had started, but it was very, very nice. Tereza was warm, almost radiating heat, and she certainly knew how to kiss. Katiya was dazed, enjoying the warm body against hers.

"Wait." she pulled back, lips bruised, eyes wide and her body singing with the press of a warm body against hers. "Wait." Her chest heaving as she remembered a tall cool body that had made her cry out in pleasure.

“What? Are you okay? Did I do something wrong?" Tereza asked.

"You were good, very good." Katiya licked her lips. "I can't."

"You can, stay here with me. You don't have to go back to that thing. We'll leave here, Father Robert can send someone else here to deal with the cup and the Elder." Tereza pleaded.

She smiled gently and moved closer to Tereza, stroking her cheek. "You are a good person, Tereza." Then she gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek. "You should go though. Go where you can be happy."

She walked over and opened the door. "I'm a better kisser, right?"

"You're a very good kisser." Katiya agreed, not really answering the question as she stepped outside.

Tereza didn't fail to notice the answer. "Damn, that bloodsucker is even a better kisser." She kept the smile on her face. "I still want to go kill evil vampires, don't forget." She slowly closed the door as Katiya left. As soon as she was alone her face fell into a scowl, she was more determined now to find this ancient vampire who possessed the cup of Christ.

"I know." Was the answer from the other side of the door.

Amused, Katiya took another look at the scrap of paper in her hand. Shaking her head she turned and started the walk back to where she could get a carriage to the Manor.


A woman in a dress torn, from gut to gullet, scrambled backwards, in the black filthy snow of the alley.  Her ample chest that she was trying to cover with her small hands was covered bleeding scratches and bite marks. At the mouth of the alleyway two figures moved with such speed they were nothing but blurs to her eyes.

Alexei was not impressed the first thing this idiot had tried to do was reach for a pistol as he spotted her. If she was this close to you, you were dead. He would have been better off trying to grapple or run away. He yelled at her in a bastardization of the Queen's English. With a quick flick her short sword was out from where it was hidden in her coat and in a quick efficient slice the hand that had finally gotten the pistol free was lying in the snow. 

The vampire howled at her and lunged trying to beat at her with one good hand and a stump. Laughing at the absurdity of the move, she easily dodged the blows.  Distracted by the wounded vampire she was taken quiet by surprise when another launched itself to her back. With a soft growl of annoyance she tried to shake it off but the creature was wiry and clung to her like a spider monkey. Scowling she propelled herself backwards smashing the body between her and the stonewall. 

Still it held on to her claws and fangs cutting through fabric and skin.

Annoyed she flipped the short sword around and carefully judging the angle ran forward slamming the hilt against the opposite stonewall, into her chest out her back and into the vampire on her back.  Feeling it stiffen and the claws retract from her skin she pulled the sword out. The weight fell off her like a tick to fire.  In a quick turn she hefted the sword and brought it down. One swift cut and the head separated from the neck. 

Bringing the sword up again she refocused on her original target. The one handed vampire wanted no part of this and turned to run. Out of the shadows two forms leapt at him, tearing him apart.

Amused Alexei watched the devastation.  "You know, he was my kill."

Twin faces looked back at her from the corpse in the snow.  "Sorry Mistress, we wanted to make up for the fact that one slipped through."

They were both whip thin with large, luminous dark blue eyes, and they were otherworldly even for being vampires.  The twins Nada and Niki were the children of a werewolf mother and a human father, they were never going to shift and take a form on four legs, and their pack was never going to accept them. Their mother had begged Alexei to turn them wanting them to have a place somewhere. At first she resisted, she had a truce of sorts with her shapeshifting neighbors and didn't want to risk it. At that time it had only been her and Fiona and she had brutally won her hunting territory from the other demons of the Steppes, she had not wanted to risk what had been so hard won.

But when the mother chose seduction, Alexei had proven weak, and after a few mouthfuls of werewolf blood had almost agreed to anything, she had been so intoxicated. Thankfully Fiona had stepped in. She would make them her children but not until they were well into adulthood.  They split their time between pack and Alexei, and even though they could not shift they were formidable hunters and as the world changed around them all, they still preferred the wild areas to the cities. So now they roamed the areas outside her town, keeping rogues and bandits away.

"You've hurt yourself." Nada whispered coming close to Alexei sniffing the blood at her chest.

"Don't you think stabbing yourself was a bit much?" Niki asked coming up close as well. 

Alexei smiled but stayed on guard as they came close brushing against her, Nada being bolder and more seductive than her sister.  She had never taken them to bed, it had always felt wrong despite their interest in her. She had watched them grow up and felt more like a parent then lover. But it was a fine line growing up in a pack with the werewolves. They needed the closeness and reassurance of their pack and alpha on occasion and she had not been giving that to them lately. 

"Nada." She warned sharply and the woman went still at her side.  Reaching out she touched Nada's face and then Niki's, gently touching them then stepping forward she kissed each forehead before stepping back.

"What about the girl?" Niki asked looking down the alleyway at the woman who was crying in a ball trying to make herself look small.

"What?  Oh." She frowned not sure what to do. "I’ll take care of it."

"Not like that." Nada pointed at the blood soaked shirt she was wearing.

"It will be fine, I'll just button my coat no one will see it."

"And the hole in the back?"

Alexei just scowled and the twin's grinned and laughed. "We'll get her to her home safe."

"No playing and no biting."

They frowned but Niki, cheekily asked.  "What if she asks us too?"

"Then be gentle and if I find out different I'll punish you."

The twins grinned as if that was a very appealing offer, and then set off down the alley to get the young woman home. 

"Hurry home, I let Fiona out this morning, you know she'd love to see you." That was of course if Warren and Fiona were done missing each other. 

There was a slight pull to her chest as she started walking home. The flesh in her chest almost healed, defiantly not a move for the weak. She wished there were more to fight but every night she never found more than two or three, but every night there were vampires to take the place of those she had dispatched. Who and where they were coming from she did not know, but something she sorely wanted to find out.

Hunger pricked at her gut but she ignored it, nobody was worth her attention right now, she could go to the one blood bar she sanctioned in the city for her and her children to feed at, but even that wasn't appealing. Soon she would need to eat something but she was still fine for now.  Sunrise wasn't far off it would just be easier to go home and get cleaned up, tomorrow there would be more invaders to kill.


The manor was quiet when the carriage deposited Katiya in front of it. The slip of paper was firmly tucked into the band bodice of her dress. There was something to be said for wearing a dress after all apparently. "Good evening Lyov." She greeted the doorman as she entered. "Did Shiro come back?" She hadn't seen Vidar.

"Yes, she came back a while ago, and that damn hound with his muddy footprints went back out to look for you. I'm sure he'll be quite annoyed to find that you're here. There's food in the kitchen if you desire."

Even the mention of Warren's cooking made Katiya's stomach growl and she changed her mind about going to go make sure Shiro was all right. "Thank you." A little food first then she'd go check on Shiro.

Only it wasn't Warren in the kitchen it was short, thin woman with long red hair pulled up into a bun. She was pulling something out of the oven; turning to set the meat pie down on the counter she gave a small squeal of surprise. "Goodness we need to put a bell on you."

Katiya nearly jumped a foot back in surprise as well, staring at the stranger. It took her a moment before she realized who it was that was standing there. She looked a lot different than she had in that basement cell. "Fiona?"

"Yes, and you must be the new pet, everyone thinks has replaced me." She grinned.

"People can have such small leaps in logic. Just because we share hair color doesn't mean you're a replacement pet. Alexei isn't like that. Oh, where are my manors, come in, come in. Sit and have some food."

This was a completely different woman than the one Katiya had met in that stinking cell down the stairs. She took a seat, smiling hesitantly. "So you're not mad with me?" Best to be clear on this. There were already enough people who didn't like her in this house.

Fiona raised an eyebrow in puzzlement at the question. "Why would I be mad?" She turned grabbing one of the meat pies that had come out of the stove earlier and started to cut it up. Tsking as one of the Tigers had decided to lounge in front of it for warmth.

"I brought food down to you?" Katiya shifted into the seat, her stomach rumbling again as she smelled the food. "You were pretty mad."

"Ah that, I wasn't mad I was… well maybe a little bit... but not at you, I was more mad at Alexei, really. That wasn't anger that was madness. Being a pet is easy, being human is hard." She brought the pie over and set it down with a fork. "Do you mind if I sit with you?"

"Poor Warren still is under the illusion women are fragile things, and I think I wore him out. So it was only fair that I take over the kitchen this evening." She smiled a small mischievous smile.

Katiya shared the smile. "I'll make sure to tease him about that next time I see him." She watched, with as much patience as she could muster, as Fiona cut pieces. "Thank you." She immediately started eating, ravenous even though she'd eaten well before leaving the manor earlier. "I've never eaten so well as I do here."

"I know it’s a shame really. Human's should care for their own but they don't." Fiona's eyes studied the girl in front of her and almost felt like giving Alexei a piece of her mind. The thing was a babe really. Maybe vampires had mid-life crises, like some of the bloated rulers of Europe and Asia did.

The other woman closed her eyes, groaning in pleasure as she swallowed another mouthful. Scraping the plate clean she licked her lips. "I've never found humans to be very kind or caring." She took the opportunity to watch Fiona eating a bit more leisurely. "You've been with Alexei for a long time?"

"Oh yes, she saved me, although she didn't mean too. Which is ironic because once I realized what she was I just wanted her to kill me. Now however, almost 900 years later I'm glad she didn't or I wouldn't have met Warren."

Sensing a story, Katiya leaned against the table. "How'd she do that?"

"Our meeting isn't a pleasant story. I was born on an island far from here, and when I was but a girl probably younger than you our coasts’ were being raided and plundered by mighty warships. These raiders took me as their plunder." The weight of decades had made the loathing and horror about what had occurred nearly disappear.

"For a month I was on that boat with them passed around, kicked around until one day we got caught up in a storm. The ship wrecked on a rocky coastline in the dark. Alexei was denning in a cave on the coast; she was more brutal and animal at this point. She heard the wreck and came down to investigate and began to kill the hapless raiders on the shore. I remember this creature stalking me in the rain, getting glimpses of it in the lightening covered in blood and furs. And finally between one blink of my eyes and the next she was standing there staring at me, and all I could think was finally, death had come; and all the pain and humiliation would be over. So, I bared my neck and she just looked at me confused." She chuckled now at the memory.

"You knew what she was?"

"No I had no idea, but I had seen in the flashes of light what she had done to those raiders. And Katiya I desperately wanted to die at that moment."

"No wonder she was confused." Katiya could imagine Alexei wild and feral; it lingered below the statuesque woman's surface.

"Yes, vampires aren't use to prey coming to them." She chuckled again, "it’s those moments when people and things surprise her that I think she falls in love. It’s an extraordinary thing to do to a vampire, and she is the only vampire I've met who appreciates the surprise even when it hurts her."

Katiya's interest ratched up another notch. "She loves you." It wasn't really a question.

"Hmmm, there are so many ways to define love. She needed me, and we have affection, but true love that bards and storytellers speak of, no we don't. That is the harshest lesson we've ever learned in our years together, and that is why she let me go."

Fiona's face took on a sad look. "She had to let me go or nothing would change, and I had fallen in love with Warren and the idea of being a wife and mother."

"He was very worried when you were... recovering." Katiya hesitated over the last, not sure how to put it.

Fiona nodded. "I bet he was, he doesn't understand what severing the ties to vampire can be like. He's human, a servant, not a pet. So he sees slavery and cruelty, without understanding the dynamic that goes on. At least with Alexei, most other vampires that have pets are just mean and cruel. But worst of all he's a man who has to share what he loves with a woman more powerful..." She just grinned though. "But I love him so I will learn to put up with his jealousy."

"Fiona," Katiya paused, considering how to ask what she wanted to. "Alexei, is she always, so intense?" It was hard to explain what she meant.

Fiona thoughtfully stared at the young woman, "She can feel like that, but some of that is her age it gives her this..." She paused searching for the right word. "Presence, I guess would be a good word for it."

"It's intimidating." The younger woman admitted. "She calls me mouse. I'd never seen anyone like her before. So powerful, beautiful, presence is a good word for it. I have to remind myself to avoid being timid around her. I'm babbling again." She winced as the rush of words tumbled out.

Fiona patted Katiya's arm. "It will be okay, and with all predators it’s good to remember not to be timid in their presence it just triggers the wrong response."

"What response is that?" Alexei said as she stepped into the kitchen, she paused seeing Katiya and Fiona sitting at the table obliviously in conversation. It felt awkward and a bit self-conscious to have the person you use to fuck and use for food being chummy with the one you were currently... yeah she'd just let that thought go.

Whatever thoughts Alexei was having, it didn't look like one that she enjoyed having. So once again Katiya found herself saying something she wouldn't to anyone else. "The one where you close your eyes and moan." She smiled sweetly at the vampire who had been avoiding her.

Alexei's eyes widened a bit in surprise and so did Fiona's. The vampire’s mouth opened and closed but she had no idea what to say to that.

Fiona just started to chuckle tears coming to her eyes. "Ah, she got you there."

The younger woman demurely cut another piece of pie, she felt like she'd earned it.

Gray eyes narrowed and Alexei scowled not in the mood to be mocked she'd seen her tonight, seen Katiya go off with that Hunter. She was positive if she stepped any closer she'd smell the hunter's scent on Katiya's skin. With a frustrated growl she turned and stormed out.

Katiya sighed, watching Alexei leave even though she'd half expected it. "I think she's avoiding me." She took a bite of pie, even though she was suddenly less hungry.

Fiona got the laughing under control, "She can be such a baby sometimes." She got up with a snort and started rummaging around the kitchen, until she found the med kit.

"I've notice a lot of tension in the house since I've been deemed fit to re-enter society."

Katiya forced herself to finish off the piece of pie that she'd cut herself, shrugging. "I think I did something wrong." She was scared that mistake had been in Alexei's bed.

"And what do you think you did wrong?" Fiona asked quietly coming back to the table and setting the kit down.

Fiddling with her plate, Katiya shook her head, not sure what to say to that or even where to start. "There are probably a few things I've done wrong." She sighed, deciding to trust this likeable woman and started retelling the story, or at least most of the big points, from when she'd first met Alexei in the warehouse to the adventure this afternoon.

Fiona didn't say anything but just listened. "Interesting." Was the only thing she could think to say once Katiya had finished.

Mouth dry from the flow of words she'd just strung together, the younger woman took a mouthful of water from the pitcher on the table. "I know I've made a mess of things."

"No, well yes. Spending time with a Hunter wasn't the wisest thing, but it would have been worse if you'd taken the poor girl up on her offer, your guts would have been strung around the city like tinsel. Alexei doesn't do jealousy well, its an emotion she hasn't had a lot of experience with, really who's going to make a vampire over a 1000 years old jealous?" Of course Fiona knew of one small human woman who would, she was staring at her.

"I know." She fiddled with the plate, thinking. "I said I'd get her things back and find out who hired the brothers and Ivan to steal them, and I will. I have a name now and a place, so all I need is to be there, find out who they are, and then she can go hurt them to her hearts content."

Vidar came slinking into the kitchen looking annoyed; he plopped down at Katiya's feet with a groan.

Fiona reached down patting the great white hound, it had been a long time since she'd seen him, and that right there told her a lot of how Alexei felt about Katiya. "So, I'm curious why didn't you take the Hunter up on her offer, I can tell at least a small part of you find's her attractive."

She stiffened a little at that. "I don't betray a trust." She'd agreed to Alexei's terms and she'd follow that agreement even if it hurt. Like the scene they'd had in the bedroom after making love. She'd been sore for days after that and it hurt to have it reaffirmed to her what exactly her position was with the master vampire.

Reaching down she also petted the hound. "Sorry Vidar, I caught a carriage home. Hope you didn't run around too much."

The hound huffed but licked her hand showing he wasn't to upset.

Fiona smiled and then pushed the small kit over to Katiya. "She likes you Katiya, she likes you more than how a vampire normally likes a pet."

Cautiously, Katiya raised her eyes from the hound to meet Fiona's, studying them. "She does?" She had a weird way of showing it then.

"Katiya, a pet would be down stairs in chains, maybe recovering from a beating or two. I know I've seen her do that, I've had her do that to me. You disobeyed her, you smell of someone she finds a direct threat and yet you still get to come and go as you please. Vampires don't act like that towards their pets."

"Oh." She blinked, taking that in. That was how Alexei had treated Molly. Still trying to figure out what that meant she took the offered kit. "I should go see to her?" She guessed.

"She's hurt, and she's probably going to be defensive and a big baby, but patching her up should be a good way to break the ice." She reached out patting Katiya's arm. “Vidar why don't you stay here and keep me company?"

The hound’s tail thumped happily against the floor, it was nice and warm and he was sure food would be coming soon, even if he had to share with the tiger.

"She's been avoiding me though." Katiya worried, even as she slid out from the table and stood up, holding onto the kit.

"I told you she's a big baby. And..." she looked at Katiya to see if she understood. "She probably doesn't understand what she feels. When she was human..." She hesitated, "She was from my best guess turned near the same time the Roman Empire fell, and humans were more about survival than emotions."

Katiya nodded slowly. She thought she understood. "Thank you Fiona. It's nice to meet you, again."

"Yes, it’s nice to meet you under a better situation."

Squaring her shoulders, and rather feeling like she was going into battle, Katiya started through the house in search for its master. She wasn't keen on meeting anyone else, other than Shiro so she tried to move quickly, not lingering long in the hallways.

Alexei felt like a dog chasing its tail, she could see the exit wound on her back but couldn't reach it. It was still bleeding sluggishly. With an annoyed growl she rinsed her hands in the glass bowl of hot water, it was already pink with her blood. Wincing she grabbed a cloth and patted the several scratches on her torso and then the self-inflicted stab wound in her front just under her right breast.

"Well it seemed like a good idea." She muttered

"Alexei?" Katiya paused at the door, staring down at the trail of dark red blood that led through the room. That was a lot of blood.

Alexei snarled, if she had been a cat her ears would have laid back. She grabbed the marble counter in front of her as she watched Katiya approach. "Don't come any closer." She closed her eyes; Katiya did smell like that woman. "I can smell her on you." She whispered.

The redhead stopped kit in hand, torn between wanting to help and self-preservation. "She had a message from the people who stole from you." This wasn't going to work; she could see the tenseness and barely controlled fury. "Would it help if I bathed quickly to remove the smell? Then I can help you."

Alexei swallowed and opened her eyes they were tinged with red. "Yes, please."

"Don't leave. Please?" Katiya placed the kit on the floor and started to back towards the bathroom. This was going to be the fastest bath she'd ever taken.

Alexei watched her set the small bag down and slowly back away, trying so hard to do everything correct so not to make the situation spiral down any further than it already was going. She closed her eyes trying to push away her monster; it was hard to find that piece of the human, and the girl she had once been. A girl destroyed with her last human memories waking up thirsty in the grass too weak to move, feeling her hurt flutter in her chest, as her body slowly gave up on life. A body broken and violated in every way, while the soul inside remained defiant to the eventual outcome. 

The meek did not inherit, the good did not vanquish evil, and a young girl from the Steppes did not slay the monster. Fingers touched something smooth, wooden, a cup, fallen, discarded just like her, desperately her fingers clasped around it. Hope bloomed as something sloshed inside, weakly she brought it to her lips as something inky and dark spilled over the sides on to the grass, her torn clothing and flesh, and finally she made it to her lips. She didn't see the grass whither and die. She just drank and drank, drank far more liquid than that one simple cup could hold but she kept drinking and then she burned. Becoming a vampire was a dark evolution; bursting from the cocoon that had once been the flesh of a human girl she was remade and new. Some internal organs were shrunk because she would no longer need them, others were larger, she was an all-together different animal than her fellow humans now.

Her soul was shattered and re-knit and the part of her that once held back all the dark thoughts and deeds no longer voiced the cool logic to stop such desires.

Being vampire she had no idea if her soul was now infused with an evil spirit or demon or if it was merely her own dark desires. She had spent many hours debating it with others. Much like their shapeshifting cousins they were animals, but monstrous creatures created out of human pride and hubris, by five men who wanted to be equal to God. In some respect vampires were every deep, dark desire mankind wanted they were strong, powerful, seductive, and immortal; but they were beasts.  She was no different, although she had striven with her age to be a smarter less bloodthirsty animal.

At this moment though she didn't feel her age. She wanted Katiya, with a hunger that almost burned, why she wasn't sure. Katiya was willful, troublesome, independent, and a whole slew of things that made her a bad pet and would make her an awful child of her blood. But she wanted the redhead nonetheless. Anger burned nearly as bright as her want; when she thought about that other woman with the air of mystery, and dangerous appeal, she'd met hunters before and didn't have to be up close to know, touching her Katiya.

The thought of dark hands on Katiya, made her unconsciously bare her fangs in a snarl.  Those jealous thoughts she'd never admit too, pushed her over the edge and she broke away from counter and in a blur of motion had Katiya caught up in her embrace. In a quick move she had the woman spun around both hands pinned behind her back. Alexei's eyes were dark, and glittered dangerously.  She liked that, it was a slave pose, one that pushed certain attributes out into the forefront. She walked Katiya backwards into the wall pinning her between two immovable objects, her eyes never leaving the tops of creamy flesh that were being put on display. 

"I can smell her on your lips." Her voice was husky, dangerous teetering on a knife's edge. "Did you like it when she touched you? When she kissed you? Or did you just wish it was me touching you kissing you?"

Those glittering predator's eyes glanced up now watching the way Katiya's pulse hammered in her throat and the dilation of the eyes.

A human girl who had never been or had the experience of love could bring no understanding to the dark, razored soul of the vampire she had become.

Alexei had moved so quickly that Katiya's merely human eyes couldn't track her. She was just suddenly captive, hands’ clasped behind her in a grip that might as well have been bands of iron. "She kissed me." The redhead gasped, not able to move. "But you’re a better kisser."

Alexei gazed at Katiya, her head cocked a little to the left as if judging the truth of her words.

"You are." Katiya's voice was a little louder this time.

She shifted her grip so both of Katiya's were held with one of her hands, giving one of her hands freedom. "Better maybe, but wanted is the question." The fingers of her free hand came up stroking Katiya's eyebrow, down the side of her face and to the red lips that had been so recently kissed.

Blue eyes narrowed and Katiya's lips thinned. "How many more tests am I going to have to pass? I thought I already proved that when I was with you in your bed."

Her fingertips lingered for a moment before wandering down to the front of Katiya's dress. Her eyes narrowed at the harsh words leveled at her. She growled and easily she tore the fabric exposing more of the young woman's breasts to her eyes. "You may have been in my bed but I'm not certain you want to be there. Not five minutes after we're done and you're talking about that hunter."

This was interesting and Katiya wasn't sure yet if she liked it. The scary part was she wasn't sure if that would matter at all to Alexei right now. "I thought you wanted the truth." She whispered, shaking slightly.

"What's the truth then Katiya?" Her eyes came up for a moment before going back down to the flesh before her. She could hear Katiya's heart pick up it’s beating, like a rabbit caught in a snare. Corsets were such evil delightful things, to wear one was a pain but to view a lovely woman in one was delightful, it practically served a woman's breasts up to be devoured.

"That I chose to be here." This wasn't the time to tell her about the Tereza's offer to run away, she wasn't suicidal.

Alexei looked up again briefly for a second there was a look of insecurity in her eyes. Her iron grip relaxed but she didn't let go. She leaned down kissing the pulse point on Katiya's neck her naked flesh pressing against Katiya's own flesh and some parts against the soft cloth of her dress.

The human woman tilted her head, baring her neck and her breathing hitched as Alexei's lips touched her skin. She swallowed, knowing this was a bad idea. "You wanted me to bathe and you’re still bleeding."

"Even now... now that you can see and understand what kind of monster I am. Do you still choose this?" She went still, like a statue she stood her lips still gently pressed to skin waiting for the answer.

She ignored the question; yes she was still bleeding, staining the floor and Katiya's dress. Yes the young woman still stank of that Hunter, and she wanted that gone replaced with her own scent. But she wanted to know, she didn't know why, because she'd never cared what Molly, Shiro, or even Fiona had wanted.

That wasn't much of a choice to make, even now. "I haven't changed my mind." This was insanity; she should be running from here screaming if she had any sense. Too bad she'd never had much interest in sense.

Alexei nearly sagged in relief with the answer; she kissed Katiya's neck, chin, and then her lips. Kissed her lips over and over again to remove the stain left by that hunter.

The kisses were nice, nice enough that Katiya found her eyes closing and her lips parting. Encouraging them to deepen as they went. The shower could wait. Testing, she tried to free an arm, finding it really unfair that she couldn't touch when Alexei seemed to be able to do anything she wanted.

Alexei purred as she was allowed entry into Katiya's mouth. She allowed the redhead to pull her arms free, with her own hands now free she brought them up to fondle the breasts practically served up for her pleasure.

Katiya arched her back, pressing up into that touch. "The corset" She gasped, interrupted again kissing. "Off."

Alexei blinked, as the kissing was interrupted, she growled but did as commanded. She enveloped Katiya in her body so she could reach around and rip open the ties. "I'll buy you another one." She growled out.

"Hate them." Katiya gasped, struggling to get her arms out of the cursed thing and was so very happy when it fell aside, torn and tattered. She was going to burn that thing.

A naked Alexei was a wonderful thing, and the smaller woman was taking full advantage of the situation by stroking that wonderful body while she kept Alexei's lips busy. Her mind was shutting down; all that existed was the so very nice press of flesh against flesh. She'd been sore after the first time, now to see if that would happen again.

"I think you're sexy in them." Alexei breathed out, she continued to kiss Katiya her hands shoving the dress down and out of her way. Her hands grasped around Katiya's waist and lifted her up. "Wrap your legs around me." She urged between kisses.

Stepping out of the dress, she did as asked, wrapping her legs around Alexei's waist. Pressing herself up against the bare flesh and shuddering.

Alexei's brain couldn't think beyond what they were doing. She had punished her body too much this past week. She should be slow and gentle, take them back to the bed. But she couldn't get that to sink in to her brain. She still had Katiya trapped between her and the wall, a position of frantic need and want; lovers saying good-bye, saying hello, soldiers and sailors off to fight wars or seeing friendly ports.

This was much more frantic than the last time, different, but good. Katiya shuddered as she was lifted so very easily and pressed between Alexei and the wall. "More." She whispered, hands clutching at Alexei's side. "Please..." she wasn't above begging; she'd do begging.

The vampire easily held Katiya up between her and the wall. She licked and kissed all the flesh she could get too. She inserted a hand between their bodies finding that Katiya's body did not lie; she wanted this to be here with her. Her fingers found her hot and ready, for a moment her brain betrayed her, whispering this was not for her it was for the hunter. Her eyes clenched shut and she rested her head between Katiya's breasts for a moment.

Something changed and Katiya stopped her own kissing and teasing Alexei's breast with one hand. "What is it?" She whispered, finding an earlobe that she could suck on then nip at. She didn't want to stop, she was so wet and Alexei's fingers so close.

Katiya's whispered words penetrated her ears and she blinked and pushed everything away but the moment she was currently in. "It’s nothing." She whispered. "You're so wet and ready." She shivered and let desire overwhelm her again. "Mine." She growled out next to warm flesh as her fingers slid inside.

Alexei said that a lot, Katiya noticed the mine thing. Someday they'd probably have to talk about that, or whatever it was vampires did. "Yours." She moaned, thrusting her hips up to meet the fingers.


Despite her supernatural strength eventually Alexei couldn't keep them both upright and they collapsed onto a heap on the floor. She made sure that she hit first with Katiya falling on top of her.

She was still for a moment, her heart she could feel it actually pounding in her chest and she sucked air into her lungs.

Katiya laid there, her head on a naked breast, still trying to catch her breath. That hadn't exactly been how she'd seen this evening going. "You’re still bleeding." Her voice sounded strange even to her, hoarse from exertion and screaming.

"Okay." Alexei agreed.

"Just so we're clear on that." Katiya shifted, trying to get some of the red hair out of the way. She smiled, kissing exposed skin.

She blinked and drew Katiya down to her, wrapping her in her arms; one hand pushed back the damp red hair. "You didn't pass out this time, going to have to try harder next time." She whispered against the scar tissue on Katiya's neck before baring her fangs and letting them slip delicately into the flesh.

"You tried really hard." She murmured before stiffening in reflex, and then relaxed, eyes fluttering shut, as the sharp pain from the bite faded.

Alexei kept the bite shallow only piercing the skin enough to let a small trickle of blood flow into her mouth. One mouthful then another and she drew out licking the wound like a cat with a saucer of milk until it closed.

"Your back." Katiya whispered. "Lyov gave me a kit; I should try to stop that bleeding."

"Its okay. Better now." She could feel her body growing warm and flush now that she had fed. Her heart rate was reducing but it was still an interesting sensation to have it hammer in her chest almost like she was human again.

"Then are you going to tell me why you were bleeding everywhere?" Katiya wasn't sure how far she could probe, not after the last little while of being out in the cold, exiled.

"Hmmm? I stabbed myself, couldn't get the little bastard off my back, entry wound is a little below your head. Haven't been eating." She murmured still feeling sated and content; her eyes were nearly closed.

There it was again, Katiya shook her head a little, that weird sense of a conversation that was so far out of the ordinary that there really wasn't any polite way to answer. She shifted enough to see the entry wound though, a dark red angry scab, but it was healing.

"What can I do?" She asked instead.

Alexei opened her eyes puzzled, "Do?" She was still stunned when Katiya wanted to help her. Because when she looked at the woman, there was no agenda in her eyes, she generally wanted to help to be helpful.

"Do." Katiya agreed. "I keep trying to tell you, I'm useful." She shifted them around, grinning at the surprised look on Alexei's face as she straddled the vampire, deciding it was her turn to be on the cold marble floor. "I'll find out who stole from you tomorrow. But is there something else I can do?"

Alexei leered, "Oh I can think of a few things." Her mind going into the gutter now that there was a very naked redhead on top of her.

Blue eyes instantly went darker at that leer and she shifted so that more flesh was pressing against naked flesh. "That can be arranged." Sliding a hand up the blonde's chest.


Katiya was very happy that they had made their way to the bed before she'd passed out and Alexei had succumbed to the rising sun. The naked redhead slipped out of the bed, leaving Alexei still in her catatonic state in the middle of the bed.

Once again clothes had been laid out for her near the door. She really wished she could understand how Lyov always seemed to know what was going on around the manor. She wasn't that happy about the dress that was awaiting her, but since she expected to go into the city during daylight it probably was a good idea.

A little suffering as she got into the corset and the dress, then she made her way downstairs, heading automatically towards the kitchen.

Still enjoying the pleasant hazy happy feeling from the night before, she entered the kitchen, smiling as she spotted Fiona and Warren. "Morning..." she paused, taking in the angle of the sunlight. "Er, afternoon."

Fiona was laughing at something Warren had said to her and she reached out tweaking his beard, but the man didn't mind at all. He quickly blushed though when Katiya came in, somewhat embarrassed to be acting like a school boy.

"Aren't you two cute." She smiled, helping herself to a cup of tea as she made Warren blush more.

"Oh good morning dear heart." Fiona smiled broadly her eyes however, took in all the little details of how Katiya looked. "Honey?" She asked immediately getting the large man's attention. "Why don't you go tend to the green house while I finish up in here?"

"Uh, um, of course dear." He said confused but went out through the door into the hot house.

Katiya looked confused as well. "Is everything all right? I'm sorry I teased you."

"Oh its fine. He's just a man and they have delicate sensibilities when it comes to certain things. And you my dear, look like a woman who has been well and thoroughly...” She paused a moment testing out the right word. "Well, I guess you broke the ice."

Katiya couldn't stop herself from smiling, she tried hiding it by taking a sip of tea, but she was pretty sure she wasn't fooling anybody. "Maybe. She was hurt."

"Thoroughly ravished then." Fiona said with a mischievous grin. "Hurt was she, did you kiss it and make it better?"

The younger redhead flushed almost as red as her hair. She rallied though. "I had to help. Hopefully that means Alexei won't be ignoring me anymore." That would be good.

"Always good to lend a helping hand - or two, and maybe a tongue." She chuckled.

Katiya nearly choked on her tea. "You're in a good mood this morning; I'd have to say I'm not the only one who had a good evening."

Fiona calmed her humor at the poor girl's expense. "It was a far better morning in my case. So are you feeling better about you're place in the house?" The older redhead leaned over and gently pulled the neck of the dress down just a tad inspecting the markings there. Alexei couldn't have been that mad the girl only seemed to still have the original scars, and she was up and about obviously not drained to exhaustion.

Care was not something Alexei was good at when she was in one of her destructive moods.

"Yes I am." She let Fiona see her neck. "She only bit a little, she didn't take much. I feel fine, just hungry." She bit her lip, and then decided again to trust her. "I was afraid, she was... on edge when I found her. But she didn't even let me wash before..." Her cheeks went red again.

"Oh, oh." Fiona sat back and looked embarrassed. "I'm so sorry, I should have realized you would have smelled like that woman. I'm so sorry Katiya."

She shrugged, reaching for a piece of scone that had been left out. "She can be scary when she wants to, but she didn't hurt me."

"If she wasn't feeding, yes she can get scary, the longer they go without food, the less and less human they become. It slowly strips away from them. But you're okay? She didn't force you to do anything you didn't want?" Alexei was normally very sensitive to that, but the truth was Alexei was a vampire, and social norms for humans weren't really the standard for vampires.

Memories from the second round of physical activity flashed through her mind and Katiya shook her head fast, before her face could go red again. "No." She smiled, a little shyly. "I enjoyed it. Is that bad?"

Fiona smiled, trying to be reassuring, and set a warm hand down on Katiya's. "No dear, its not. I bet you've been led to believe that enjoyment of sex is a sin unless it’s done a certain way, with your husband, and all that. On the other hand maybe you aren't that girl; you know there's more to life than the surface, because you're a little sneak thief. You've had tastes of the dark side of society. Some of those are brutal and harsh, and other's seductive. Perhaps you were embarrassed how much the hidden world appealed to you?"

The pleasant sexual haze was going and Katiya frowned. She'd been doing such a good job of avoiding thinking of things. "I've always known I wasn't part of what people think of as normal. My father taught me how to survive, but he always said we couldn't trust normal people, they wouldn't understand us, and they’d hurt us. After he died," her voice cracked a little "I tried to be normal."

She shrugged, ignoring the dull ache it always left in her chest when she talked about her father. "I like women." She whispered, not able to even say that without looking around to see who was listening.

Fiona kept her face neutral but gently patted Katiya's hand. "Is that the first time you've admitted it to yourself?"

Shaking her head, Katiya looked down. "No, I knew." She'd had a quick kiss with that girl in the market before everything had changed. "I just... haven't told anyone else." Even her father, he wouldn't have understood, she'd known that.

"Ah, so this is the first time you've ever said it out loud to another person. Well considering some of the things that have gone on in this house, that is a far smaller sin."

"So you agree with the priests then." Katiya looked up, troubled eyes watching Fiona. "That it's a sin."

"I'm sorry; I could have said that better. No, Katiya, I don't think it’s a sin. I was born before the church was even a glimmer in the world's eye. So I don't understand their fascination with sex and the banning of it."

"Oh." She relaxed, relieved. She didn't want this kind woman to think she was a horrible person. "Thank you. That was hard."

"You're very brave woman, I know that wasn't easy. But know no one will judge you here. Besides I completely understand the appeal of the fairer sex." She gave another one of those mysterious smiles.

Katiya blinked and then grinned. "I guess you do." She kept forgetting how long Fiona had been with Alexei. "I should go, I need to get into the city before it gets dark and half the day is already gone."

She set aside the empty teacup and stood, pausing. "Fiona, have you seen Shiro today?"

"Not since she came back with Vidar last night, the poor dear is depressed, I can tell." The older woman got up from the table, "Let me get you some bread and cheese to take with you."

"Thank you that would be delicious." she trailed along behind the other redhead. "Will you look in on her? She was hurt by the vampire master of Alexei's."

"Karl?" Fiona's voice took on a fearful tone.

"You know him?"

"He's a monster." She said firmly. "A real sadist that one, all his children are the same, stay away from them. Alexei may have her moments where her vampiric nature gets the better of her, but he revels in being the master over life and death."

She gathered up a hunk of cheese and bread. "He delights in punishing Alexei, because I think deep down he knows she's better than him in every way, why she lets him hurt her I'll never understand, but then again we mere mortals aren't allowed in on the Vampire Council."

"He hurt Shiro, taking blood from her. She hasn't told me much but she's upset. Will you check on her?" Katiya worried about the quiet woman. She'd think about the vampire council later.

"Of course dear, I'll check in on her." She handed the bundle to Katiya, “Now be careful."

Katiya's grin turned into a teasing smile as she took the bundle. "Yes mother."

"Hopefully someday." Fiona said wistfully.

"Hopefully someday what?" Vidar said looking very human and dressed in a sheet he had borrowed off the bed he had used the night before. He was rumpled and sleepy looking, one of the twins, he had no idea which one, had found him fascinating enough to take for a romp before sunrise.

"Good of you to remember clothes of a sort when you're in man flesh." Fiona teased the Hell Hound.

"Good of you to get up." Katiya chimed in. "We've got things to do."

"Its been pointed out to me that women don't like my manly bits dangling around." He gave a long-suffering sigh. "Of course we do, because you can't just enjoy a fun day of doing nothing."

Fiona chuckled. "Welcome to the modern age."

Vidar muttered something that could have been, 'the modern age sucks'.

"Besides, I'm not as long lived as you, Vidar." Katiya smiled innocently. "Shall we go, or did you want to put on clothes first?"

"Hmmm, probably go as a dog if you show up with another person your shady underworld contact may freak out."

He yawned again. "I'll meet you out front; I'm just going to go put the sheet back."

Katiya watched him go then turned and raised an eyebrow at Fiona. "I'm still not sure what he is, are you?"

"He's a stubborn pain in my ass, but he's a Hell Hound, and he considers you I think like a sister or daughter, regardless you're pack to him, and that is a great complement. Okay now off with you, and do be careful, Alexei will raze the city to the ground if anything were to happen to you."

Katiya gave a disbelieving snort at that. This was a (who knew how old) vampire they were talking about and Katiya knew where she was on the food chain. "I'm sure she would survive."

"She would survive, yes. But doesn't mean she doesn't care about you. Vampires are different from humans they show their caring in brutal and sometimes vicious ways. Okay off with you, and try to be home before dark."

"Thank you Fiona, for everything." She hefted the packet of cheese and bread, impulsively giving her a hug before heading for the door.

Only once she had gone did Warren emerge from his pretend chores in the hothouse. "Everything all right?"

Fiona smiled and walked over hugging him tightly, before giving him a kiss on his bearded cheek. "Yes, I think it might be." Depended on Alexei of course, perhaps the vampire could learn to love. She was capable of caring, but Fiona knew she really didn't understand love.


"I can't believe I'm wearing a dress to this meeting." Katiya grumbled to the hound that was pacing alongside her. It seemed odd to be doing something that wasn't proper work dressed as a proper lady. At least she wasn't getting any odd looks during as she moved through the afternoon crowds. Even Vidar wasn't drawing too many curious glances as they headed towards the notarary's office.

"Stupid society dress codes." She mumbled giving a glare to a passing man who blinked in surprise and stepped away.

Vidar didn't care; he only wore clothes because people got weird around him if he didn't. He preferred to go naked himself.

"You probably just walk around naked all the time don't you?" She said to the hound, ignoring a curious look from another passerby.

The hound yipped in response.

"Lucky." The redhead whispered, opening the door to the shop to the sound of the little bell dinging as she did so.

A young man looked up from the ledger he was examining. "Can I help you?"

Katiya paused for a second, she'd been expecting the young man she'd seen here last time she'd visited. There were more people involved than she'd thought. "I have an appointment."

The man just stared at her expecting more, when she remained silent he rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Are you here to see Mr. Onaslava, or Mr. Gorskji?"

Cursing herself for not looking more carefully at the slip of paper, she'd meant to but Alexei had distracted her, Katiya took it out. "Um... Mr. Gorskji."

"Right, I'll let him know you are here, Mrs.?"

"Katiya." She smiled. "It's just Katiya."

Vidar wondered if he could eat the pompous ass of a man, he was a nobody, a pencil pusher.

"Don't even think it." She whispered out of the side of her mouth at the hound as his lips curled up to reveal the tips of fangs. "We're here to play nice."

The hound huffed and lay down

After a moment the young man came back. "Yes, Mr. Gorskji will see you now. Follow me please."

"Thank you." She was on her best behavior as she followed along behind him. Her eyes were constantly moving though, taking in the surroundings and examining potential entry points incase she had to pay a late night visit. Her father's training was, as always, with her as she imagined the best ways to break in.

He stopped in front of a door and then knocked. A muffled, "come in" was heard.

"I have a Katiya, here to see you."

He said softly as he opened the door.

"Very good, please leave us Peter."

With a sniff of disdain the young man left.

Katiya smirked a little as the officious young man left them. "Good afternoon Mr. Gorskji."

The office was shadowed and a thick, heavyset man sat behind the desk. He studied her, unconsciously playing with his thick handle bar mustache. "Nice to meet you Mrs. Katiya, please have a seat." His eyes widened as he spotted Vidar at her heels.

"He's with me." She smiled pleasantly, smoothing out her dress as she took a seat in the offered chair. "Thank you for the invitation."

"Yes. Well, it seems that I cannot get what my client desires, and I pride myself on going above and beyond to make sure the people I serve are happy. I understand you can help make my client happy."

Katiya didn't know the person sitting across from her, which meant either he was new to the fencing and acquisitions, doubtful, or he moved in completely different circles then her father. "For a hefty price I can get what your client wants." She agreed.

"I'm interested in how you came to know of us, normally I don't deal directly with the... uh... workers, we deal with middle men who hirer who ever they need to get the job done." He leaned forward as much as his gut would allow.

"I have a lot of friends." Less then when her father was alive, but it was close to the truth. "I make a point of working directly for the people who hire me. Middle men tend to get sloppy and dangerous."

He nodded. "Very well. We will try this." Because he was desperate, if he didn't get the key and cup soon, he had no illusions that everyone in his office would be dead.

This was going to have to be done carefully. "I'd need to know, exactly, what it is that your client wants." Her mind was whirling, trying to figure out how to find out who the client was.

"My client would like a key and a cup from the residence of Alexei Petrova. Will that be a problem?"

"It shouldn't be." She frowned slightly. "What kind of key and cup?"

"The key opens the door where the cup is hidden, that's all I can tell you, the cup is rumored to be simple, unremarkable, and carved from wood, it holds within it a dark black liquid and it never goes empty."

That didn't sound like a normal cup. "That shouldn't be hard to find. What would I get in return?"

"What do you want?"

"To meet your client." She smiled.

He made a face. "I cannot promise that, but I will do what I can."

"Tell your client that's the deal. He gets the cup and key in exchange for a meeting. No meeting, no cup and key."

He steepled his fingers in front of his face. "There is a rumor that Alexei is a follower of Sapho, you may try that route to get close to her. Just a suggestion." He nodded. "I will pass that a long."

The redhead patted Vidar on the head and stood up, smiling at the fat man. Now if only she could sneak in after dark and take a good look around. That would have to wait until she got Alexei to allow her to go out after dark of course; she wasn't going to risk disobeying the vampire on that one. "I'll wait for your client's response then."

"If you would return tomorrow, I will have an answer for you."

"Until then." She left, waiting until they were outside of the office before talking to the white haired hound. "Now to go see if Alexei will let me investigate this place tonight."

She'd mentally mapped out everything she could see and a little breaking and entering might prove informative.

Part 6

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