The Book

Alex called Benji after our shower to confirm their plans. I only half listened to the conversation. I really didn’t understand what was going on with Benji coming to New York. And I didn’t exactly ask, but it had to do with vampires. That much I understood, which was why Ant had gotten involved in helping them.

I was folding Alex’s things and putting them in his bag when he wrapped his arms around me and pressed a kiss to my neck, “You do know that they are going to be a mess.”

I nodded, “Yeah, but at least the mess will be easier to find things in.”

Alex sighed as he sat down on the bed and pulled something out from underneath it. I glanced at the large tome, the leather binding and the image on the cover sort of swirled and pulled at me. I had to look away or it might make me sick. I don’t know if Alex saw my expression or read something else, he asked, “You okay?”

“Just a strange book.”

Alex shrugged. “Won it in a poker game. The vampires Benji’s running form were trying to win it from some guy, Decon Claire…”

“Deacon LeCleair?” I asked. That was the guy Ant sent me looking for and sent him to Vegas. He was here in Vegas. The coincidence had me turning around, “You have the Book Ant is looking for?”

Alex shrugged. “They didn’t seem happy that I had the book. They thought they had it all wrapped up but I came in and got the winning cards. It wasn’t hard, they thought I was just some chump.”

“Cari has that book under protection. It got stolen, Ant asked me to find the guy who stole it.”

He handed me the book. I didn’t take it and Alex stood up and shoved it in my hands. “Give it to the dark prince. I don’t want it. I only won it because they wanted it.”

The book felt warm in my hands. I touched the cover and it was almost like the words rearranged themselves as I looked at it. “The Origin of Species” the title read.

Alex glanced at the cover, “You can read that?”

I looked down at it again, “You can’t?” I didn’t really know what I was seeing. But I understood it.

I flipped open the book and read the first page. It was just the title like any other book I’d ever read. Except that it seemed like the letters moved and then I understood them.

“The Origin of Species” I said again.

Alex walked over to the bed stand pulled out a pen and paper that was kept in the drawer there. He drew a symbol on the page. “This is one of the characters I see. What do you see?”

I shrugged. “It’s a pictograph. A symbol. It looks like something on the rune stones at the AU building.” Alex walks over and points to the symbol on the page. “Yeah it’s the same.”

Alex looks up at me with questions in his eyes. “And what does it all say?”

I look back down, “The Origin of Species.”

Alex looked down, “Where does it say that?”

I look up at him and then back down and I shrug. “I don’t know but I know that’s what it says.”

Alex frowned and grabbed the book. “Later. We’ll deal with this later.” He wrapped it in a towel. He was oblivious to the fact that it was the hotels.

“You gonna steal the towel?” I grinned at him playfully.

He looked down at the towel then back at me. He nodded and smirked, “They won’t miss it.”

“You sure?” I poked at him.

He nodded as he opened up another bag full of towels and a robe or two. “Maria is more than happy to give me the linens.” Alex’s smile said he’d used his power on her.

“I’m sure she is. You tip her well?”

Alex gave me a weird smile but he went about his packing pushing me out of the way with a quick nod. He hadn’t tipped her at all. That was my guess. I pulled my wallet out of my jeans, that I’d cleaned earlier and was wearing again. Alex had mentioned shopping, but I wasn’t keen on the idea. We’d see. I had hoped to distract him from the experience. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go I just didn’t want him to spend mone on me. I could buy my own clothes. I put a slightly folded hundred on the dresser by the TV where Alex’s key cards sat.

“Fuck Nox. They aren’t worth that.”

“What are they worth to you Alex?”

He stared at me but didn’t answer my question. He probably didn’t care one way or the other. “If you are going to manipulate someone the least you can do is compensate them. The first thing I learned in the field is people are more cooperative if you are friendly. The second thing I learned is they are people too and they deserve to be treated right. Otherwise why bother doing any of it.”

“She’s just a cleaning lady.” Alex said.

“Yeah who will probably get money taken out of her paycheck because towels went missing.” I didn’t know that for certain. But in some places that’s how it worked.

Alex stared at me as I packed the last shirt in the bag he’d had and zipped it up. He was still looking at me when I set his bag on the bed with the rest of his things. “Is that why you dropped a hundred on the table when we had coffee with the wolf?”

“I do that because they are good to me in other ways. Informants are better if you make it worth their while. And the places you want to keep a secret you make sure that it’s worth their while.”

I shook my head. I felt like I was lecturing Alex.

“Do you pay for favors in any other way?” Alex asked. I was pretty sure he was asking if I gave up sex for information. But he didn’t ask that.

“Usually it’s favors for favors. For some I give blood. But I’ve never sold my body to get my way if that’s what you are asking.”

Alex relaxed a little, though I knew he didn’t like the idea of my donating blood. “If you have a problem with my favors, I can stop giving blood. It’s a better form of currency than money with a vampire. They tend to be too long lived for the information I want. The babies are happy with the money.”

“Like the prince of darkness.”

“Yes. Money means little to Ant. Power is more of an incentive.”

“Even though he has to do what you say?”

I looked at him confused, and then remembered our discussion about the bond I’d accidentially created. “I would never force him to do anything he didn’t want to do.”

“But you could.” Alex said as if it were a normal thing to consider, and for him it was. He pushed people all the time. Just like Maria.

“I won’t though.” I said. I wanted to change the subject, “What are we going shopping for?”

Alex looked at me and frowned, “I didn’t get the feeling you wanted to go.”

“I don’t. But you want to take me. So I’ll bite. But Alex I get to say no.”

Alex smirked, “We’ll see.”

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