Everything was spinning when I left Dorian. I needed to sit down half way up the stairs to my room. The world kept shaking me to the core. I turned the card in my hand over and over. It was just data – my life – my entire life. Everything in it. But I had bigger problems to deal with than my own problems. I had to talk with Jace. I had to deal with Darwynn, he was staying Adrian right now. I had Faelen with Matt to deal with. I had too much to deal with. And now I needed to prevent more boys and girls from getting hurt. Because it wasn’t going to stop.
It had been pretty much go go go since I left Sage’s house. A perfect night together – granted there were tears, but not bad ones – not really, and I hadn’t had a chance to even say hi. I sent him a text, “Go out tonight? Wherever you want. 8pm?”
I was outside when my phone buzzed a notification for a reply from Sage. It always made me smile when I heard the small ping go off. “Sounds great! 8. I’ll make a reservation. Dress nice.”
I groaned at the dress nice part, there was no telling where he was going to take me out. But I didn’t really have time to deal with it right now. I had to hop a train to Adrian’s place so that I could fetch Darwynn. He had to make the rounds or risk getting kicked out. And I had something I wanted to talk to him about anyway.
Adrian’s house doubled as he place of work. Around back you could go in discretely for a session. Adrian was a psychologist who focused on sex issues. If you and your lady couldn’t get it up anymore, Adrian helped you fix that. If you happened to like your sex a little kinkier, Adrian could help you with that too. He was one of the few sex ed teachers in the city who also taught people about the BSDM lifestyle. I had a feeling Darwynn would be ready to find a new place to stay.
And I was right, I knocked on Adrian’s front door and Leah answered with a bright smile. “Nox, darling, we were about to call you.” She opened the door wider for me and I stepped inside. She wrapped her arms around me and whispered, “I think our guest would find himself more comfortable elsewhere.”
I smiled and hugged Leah. “We’ll find him a place to stay. He has to check with the CCB anyway, Marshall will help I’m sure.”
Leah nodded and lead the way into her living room. “Darwynn, look who’s here.” She smiled brightly and Darwynn looked a little gun shy as he looked up, but the relief flooded his features and his smile and eyes grew bright.
He didn’t say anything but he was ready to leave their hospitality. Being a supernatural creature with exceptional hearing and smell made living in a place of sex rather much if you weren’t used to it. I could hear Adrian downstairs with a D/s pair. A normal human couldn’t, but there was only so much sound proofing one could do to supernatural ears.
“Let’s go talk with Marshall, he’ll put you up someplace a little less friendly.” I grinned at Darwynn and his smile faded only a moment before he stood up and walked to the door to grab his bag.
“Thank you Ms. Leah. Tell Adrian I appreciate all he’s done for me.” Darwynn extended his hand and smiled at her.
“A pleasure. A friend of Nox’s is most definitely a friend of ours.” She said as she shook Darywnn’s hand. “Do come back on a less eventful day. It would be an honor to hunt with you.”
That was the wolf’s way of saying welcome to the family. Darwynn nodded his thanks and headed for the door. “Tell Adrian, next time don’t scare away my friends with his playmates.”
Darwynn turned around and he was not doing a good job of blushings, though his face was shocked and he was trying to hide that. “It’s…”
I grinned at him. “Look, lover, if I thought I had another place for you to stay I’d have let you stay there. I’m sorry Adrian was booked last night and today.”
I interrupted, “You look like you got very little sleep. And I know what Adrian does for a living, I was a client at one time.”
He stopped and stared at me like I was an alien. He shook his head. “What’s a boy like you need with a man like that?”
I laughed. “Adrian taught me how not to be a victim.”
“You mean you weren’t always so cocky?” He laughed.
“No, I’ve always been cocky. I just learned how to cope when someone decided to call my bluff.” I grinned at him as we walked down the street. “I had a rough start, and I had certain triggers I needed to learn to get past or I’d have ended up worse than Faelen.”
“You mean dead?” Darwynn asked.
“Most likely.” I shrugged. “I had a mouth, I’m half human in a supernatural world, I had been taught early to submit completely and unerringly to my betters. I didn’t know I had a choice in the matter. Adrian taught me I did, taught me to say no. Taught me rules I could live by to have the kind of life I wanted and maintain control of it.”
“I can’t see you giving up any control.”
I smiled. “Then I’m doing it right.” I tapped him on the arm and pointed to a set of glass doors in one of the taller building in the city. “The CCB is this way.”
“You know a lot of people don’t you? Leah was saying Adrian and the local pack leader get along because of your intervention. Said you actually know Il Cane.”
I laughed. “I’ve not actually met her. I know her son intimately. He’s a good friend.”
“Intimately….” His eyes grew wide. “Do you sleep with everyone you meet? Should I be worried?”
“No. I offered to feed Ant, his mother has strong empathic powers, but he does not, but the line is still strong and he can’t control his bit like most vampires. And I like men, when he fed from me, I took it to the next level and he went with it.”
“Why would you feed a vampire, doesn’t that kill Venatori?” He asked.
But there was a man in a dark gray suit standing in the shadows of the empty stair well. His dark brown hair was too dark, his skin too pale and he looked a little hungry. “He feeds us because that is all he has to offer us. He is but a mere pawn in the game of vampires and werewolves.”
I groaned. “Desmond, I need to speak with Marshall, not you.”
“Marshall, is busy boy. I can deal with your lion friend here. For a price.”
“I want to speak to Marshall, Desmond. We can wait.”
The vampire pouted. “You never come to see me!” And in that instant he was flying up the stairs at vampire speed.
“Don’t mind him, he’s an asshole on a good day. But he’s harmless. He thinks he rules the city. But Del Figlio does; he’s only notable because he’s council and a master in his own right, and his Chevalier is one of the richest men in New York City. And together they fund the CCB. They don’t run it, that’s James Wright.”
“So why aren’t we meeting with him?”
I grinned. “I don’t know him.”
“But you know the richest man in New York City?” Darwynn’s disbelif only added to the irony.
“No I don’t know the richest man in New York City – that would be Asher Eriksen – he’s Venatori. Marshall is second richest.”
“And you know him on a first name basis.”
I laughed, “He’s a wolf. I know every high born wolf in New York City. It’s how the three so-called packs get along. Intermediaries – the vampires and myself.”
“What’s a Venatori doing meddling in werewolf disputes?”
“I need to know who to go to in which neighborhoods, so that when I have a mark I know the full story. I don’t kill my marks, Darwynn. I take them to the people who can help them. If they aren’t a lost kid and are killing for pleasure I take them to the Venatori and let them kill them, but even then I give them to the leader of their neighborhood, be it vamp, or wolf. CCB has no territory here. Just this building and their havens.”
“So why bother letting them know I’m in town?”
“Because it’s how we keep the peace. You aren’t a wolf, so you can’t swear fealty to Adrian or Dom. Your only option is the CCB, and Marshall is your way in. All vamps swear fealty to either Desmond or Ant, if you are lucky enough to corner Bernstein that’ll do too. If you are a Dragon, you keep quiet or join the CCB. Most dragons right now claim loyalty only to the Dragon council so they keep quiet.”
“What about others? Do they know to do this? I’m new here how would I know to find the CCB?”
“Someone would have found you and brought you to James. James might kill you then for not coming to him right away.”
“Tough life this city life.”
I knocked on a door and a small voice called “Come in.”
We opened the door and a small bird like woman looked back at us. I gave her a little wave and she blushed. “Petra.” I said as I took her hand from her desk and kissed it. “I need to speak with Marshall.”
“Mr. Vallejo told me to tell you Mr. Kent is busy and he would be glad to see you in his Chevalier’s stead.”
I sighed. “I have to register a Therian – mountain lion class. Can Desmond help me with that?”
She shook her head. “No, Master Wright says – the vampire has no rights here – he’s dead.”
I grinned. “I need to seep with Marshall then, Petra. This is Darwynn Randall. He’s …”
She interrupted me, “Oh we’ve heard of you Mr. Randall. Please come, I will get Mr. Kent immediately.” She lead us into Marshall’s empty office. “Please sit, make yourself comfortable, Mr. Kent will be right with you.”
“They’ve heard of me?” Darwynn asked.
“Anyone who kills Venatori is CCB heroes.” I said flatly. “Speaking of which I need you to think about something.”
“What’s that boy?” He said with mock outrage.
“I’d like to send you out to various other camp sites when classes go out. Tame the beasts, or at the very least let me know the things that go down out there. No more kids need to die because of some petty feud. ”
“You think to right centuries of tradition?”
I shook my head. “I seek to right the deaths of innocent children everywhere.”
“Noble. What can I do about it? I’m nothing.”
I smiled. “Tell me, is all I ask. I’ll give you a location, I’ll fund the flight and the travel expenses, you be my eyes and ears and I’ll do the rest.”
“What makes you think that will make a difference?”
“Just think about it. Think of it as a free vacation, and a means to look for a new home for you and your cause while relaying a little information back to me.”
“Why should I help you, Nox?”
The doors to the office opened and a blond haired blue eyed man walked in. He was stunning, as usual. His suit was properly pressed and starched and he looked like he was made of money. He smiled and spoke softly, “Helping Nox, helps yourself. The most powerful Venatori is not the man who sits on the throne dear lion.”
I rolled my eyes. “Marshall, Darwynn Randall. Dawywwn, Marshall Kent. Our liaison to the CCB.”
“It is my honor to sponsor your membership into the Creed of Celestial Beings on behalf of our friend here. He does more good for our kind than all of his combined. How do you think we became the most peaceful supernatural city on the planet.”
“Because the Venatori sit on your doorstep?” Darwynn said sarcastically.
“You would think that, and the world believes it. Peace isn’t held by that, trust me. ”
Darwynn laughed, “You’re telling me this scrawny boy keeps the peace.”
Marshall joined him in his laughed, “For heaven’s no. It is not this boy who keeps the peace, it is the bonds he forges. He’s tied to the most powerful vampire in the city. He’s tied to an Alpha wolf in the city. He is the strongest Cesari to ever grace this city with his fire. The boy simply needs to take his place as rightful king and this city would find peace.”
Darwynn asked, “And how does he take his rightful place?”
I frowned, I knew the answer. I’ve always known the answer. Marshal smirked as he said, “My killing the false king.”
“He’s not a false king, he’s not a king at all, Marshall. He’s the leader of the Venatori. And I will not kill Mark Green.”
“Such a pity.” A voice from the other side of the door said as Desmond walked in. “You see Marshall, he is no king. A puppet maybe, for the son to pull the strings, or maybe the wolves. The dragons can call the would-be usurper. He’s nothing. Il Cane dotes on a boy because he might be prophecy fulfilled. What does she know? She’s insane.”
“Can we move on? I’ve heard you two bicker about this for hours before. Darwynn needs clean passage in the city, in and out for as long as he wishes. Can you get it for me?”
Marshall smiled, “And down to business, my boy. What will I get in return?”
“What do you want, Marshall?”
“What does everyone want from boy?” Demsond laughed.
“I don’t know you tell me, since you seem to know.”
He flashed his fangs at me with a hiss. “Your blood fool boy.” He lunged at me only to be stopped by a wall of air.
I grinned at him. “You think I’m stupid Desmond?”
The vampire pouted – again. Marshall laughed. “While my master is correct, he will not be partaking of the gift you bestow upon us.”
“Then what do you want it for?” I asked.
“That, my friend, is none of your business.” He held up a syringe and smiled, “Do we have a deal?”
“I’d rather he bit me than you stick that thing in my arm.”
The look on Desmond’s face was priceless but he looked at Marshal and it was washed away in a moment. He sighed and turned to me, “I will ease the fear. Close your eyes and let me touch you. Fear will not sustain me but it will be a mere taste of what you offer.”
I sighed and dropped the wall of air. Desmond touched my arm and I felt him shudder and gasp, “Drop you shield, Nox, so I can feed from it all,” he begged.
I sighed and let go. It was the least I could do for the favor he was doing. Desmond fell to his knees as my shield fell, his head rested against my arm and Marshall deftly wrapped the cord around my other arm and drew blood quickly. I felt nothing but the warmth of vampiric power coursing through me. Desmond was an empath – he fed on emotion. He gasped when he let go and dropped to all fours. “By the gods….” he whispered.
Marshall handed Darwynn a sighed form, “Leave it with Petra and welcome to the New York Branch of the CCB. May the heavens ever guide you.”
I stood up and put my hand on Desmond and whispered, “Thank you.”
He looked up at me with a frown, “It is I who should thank you. I have never felt so much pain except for that in Il Cane.” He smiled then, “It is a glorious feed.”
We walked out and Petra took the paper from Darwynn’s hand and smiled at me, “Next time bring a flower.”
I grinned at her and formed a pattern of a flower. It would never die, or wilt or wither, it would just be.” I handed Petra the white daisy with a smile and she stared at me in awe.
Darwynn laughed, “Do you charm everyone you meet?”
I shrugged. “Not everyone.”
We walked down the stairs in silence and out the building and my phone rang. “Petra?”
She giggled, “Mr. Kent has sent an address of a safe haven to Mr. Randall’s phone. And he has a meeting with Mr. Wright tomorrow at 8am sharp. He cannot miss it.”
“Thanks, Petra. Tell Marshall thanks.”
“He said to thank you. You’re gift will be most useful.” And then she hung up. I wondered what they wanted my blood for if not to feed on. Desmond had taken my fear but thinking on it now I shuddered. I hadn’t panicked then but I would probably now that I was thinking about it again.
I really needed to see Sage sooner rather than later. Darwynn interrupted my thoughts. “I think I can find my new place and make the meeting. I’ll think on what you asked me. I have your number. You keep in touch oh prophesied one.”
I rolled my eyes, “Can you forget you heard that from those two?”
Darwynn nodded, “Not on your life.” he grinned at me and waved. “May your hunt be true.”
“May the moon guide you.”
Darwynn laughed as he rounded the corner. I don’t think expected me to say the proper good-bye.