Chapter 8

madeleine-ragsdale-691073-unsplashKatherine Nilsson watched everything from her office on the second floor of her club, Eternity, as she waited for Christian to return from his errand. Looking down at the club through walls of mirrored and tempered glass, she could see most of the club without having to worry about anyone being able to see into her office. Her grey-eyed gaze rolled over the masses of people on the dance floor and then turned toward the bar.  The strobing lights and pulsing music below barely affected her senses. It was a good night. The club was packed, and most of the people working below were rushing around or at least they should be.

Katherine’s eyes fixed on Shyanne as she interacted with a man at the bar. Standing alone in the darkness of her private office, she folded her arms across her chest in disapproval. Shyanne was at the bar, talking to a man who had passed her something on a piece of paper. She could not see the man’s face from her viewpoint, but he seemed out of place and still had Shyanne’s constant attention. This wasn’t a good thing, especially since it was obvious she was trying to captivate him. She did not seem to understand restraint, but Katherine hoped to help her as she grew more used to the world she had recently joined.

As Katherine continued watching, the man turned to leave and made his way through the crowd. She watched as he made his way awkwardly through the club and smiled as he turned and walked right into whom she had been waiting for. Her arms unfolded as she studied Christian’s reaction to the man bumping into him. Christian seemed upset, but not threatened and that was enough for her to look back over to the bar. Shyanne was leaving the bar with a look of concern, and it seemed as if she was headed directly toward the office.

With a sigh, Katherine turned and smoothed out the sleeves of the black leather dress that clung to her tall and lean frame. She began moving toward the door of her office and paused in front of a mirror. She swept her long blonde hair over one shoulder and then walked from her office and into the relatively private area that was reserved exclusively for club members.

There was no one else in the room at the moment save for two men hired for security. Two guards stood next to the elevator and stairs that led up to the room, and another two were downstairs to make sure that only approved club members were permitted upstairs. It ensured the sheep did not know of the predators among them.

The room was illuminated by recessed lighting that cast dim red and blue light across everything. Ornate French Rococo sofas and daybeds were spread about the large open area. A sleek, black grand piano was in one corner near the long, dark oak table where Katherine held meetings. With red walls adorned with several baroque paintings, the room was different from the club downstairs. There were some things from her past she had been unwilling to part with over the years, and so she kept them either here or at her home.

Katherine felt a craving inside her building but knew she would have to be patient and tend to business concerning the city first. The elevator dinged and the doors opened slowly. She met Shyanne’s eyes as she stepped out of the elevator.

She folded her arms over her chest again as Shyanne walked over. The leather of her dress creaked softly as she nodded at the guards and they both moved out of view into the curving stairwell.

“Who was the blood bag?” Katherine asked in a flat tone.

“He was asking a lot of questions around the club, so I thought it best if I talk to him,” Shyanne replied defensively.

“It looked as if you wanted to do more than talk to him…” Katherine intentionally let her comment trail off.

“I don’t know, there’s something about him. I can sense it on him.” Shyanne tried to hide the smile sneaking across her face.

“Is he a cop?” Katherine asked.

“No. At least I don’t think so.” Shyanne paused. “He’s looking for a missing friend who he says has come into the club.”

“You should have just turned him away,” Katherine began. “I’m not concerned about one person asking questions about missing people. The cops leave us alone because I tell them to.”

Shyanne nodded but pressed the issue. “I think you should look into it.”

Katherine walked over to the small bar, and Shyanne followed her.

“Why do you think I should do that?” Katherine asked as she uncorked an unlabelled bottle and poured herself a drink. The amber liquor flowed into the glass, and she replaced the cork on the bottle and let both items sit on the bar. She looked at Shyanne from behind the bar with emotionless eyes.

“His friend looks a lot like the others,” Shyanne said as she placed photographs on the bar top between them.

“The others?” Katherine asked as she looked down at the photos with insincere curiosity. She knew what Shyanne was hinting at, but did not want to hear the answer.

The photographs showed a young and attractive woman smiling at the camera. She had long, blonde hair, blue eyes, and vibrant skin. The woman in the photo was beautiful, without a doubt. Katherine sighed and felt her rage mounting, but forced her emotions deep into the darker parts of her mind. Self-control was necessary in front of those who swore loyalty to her.

Katherine looked back up to Shyanne. “I see.”

“Is there anything you want from me?” Shyanne asked.

Katherine studied her for a long moment. Shyanne was young and searching for her place in a world of monsters masquerading as their former selves. Katherine was no exception, though, over centuries, she had learned the importance of composure. To lead the city, she knew she had to be someone others wanted to follow. Her focus was turning more and more toward identifying the killer amongst their kind.

Finally, Katherine replied, “Not at this time, Christian has been out looking into what we know so far. I am appreciative that you brought this to my attention so quickly, perhaps he knows something we don’t.”

Katherine lifted the glass up to her face and inhaled through her nose. The notes of honey and berries in the mead reminded her of a time long ago, and she closed her eyes briefly allowing herself to be lost in memories from lifetimes ago.

“Jeremy.”

“What?” Katherine’s eyes snapped open bringing her back to reality. Shyanne was now sitting at the bar and had flipped over one of the photos, showing where his name and phone number had been written down.

“His name is Jeremy LeBlanc,” Shyanne added as she tapped the photo.

Katherine could hear the rising tone in Shyanne’s voice as she said the man’s name. She was about to respond when a soft ding came from the direction of the elevator. Both women looked in the direction of the elevator and Katherine smiled softly as Christian exited the elevator, moving toward the bar.

Katherine called out a greeting to Christian in Japanese, to which he nodded his head in response. She knew he was of Japanese descent and that was all she knew of his history before the two of them met. He did not offer, and she did not ask. He had been at her side for a long time, and she knew the one thing that mattered most. He was the closest thing to a trustworthy ally in a world of deceptive predators.

She watched Christian as he moved. His was impeccably well-dressed in a black suit and the leather trench coat wrapped around his wiry, athletic frame nearly touched the floor. He had a swagger to his walk as if he had nothing to fear and as far as Katherine knew – it was true. Somewhere within him, underneath his calm demeanor was a storm of ferocity and ruthlessness.

Christian leaned up against the bar next to Shyanne without a word. Katherine noted the subtle shift in Shyanne’s posture as she angled herself slightly away from Christian. Shyanne was always uncomfortable around him, and Katherine watched as she seemingly forgot that the two of them were having a conversation. She wondered if Shyanne would ever get past her uneasiness around him.

“Shyanne?” Katherine asked as she leaned down against the bar to look her in the eyes.

“Yes?” Shyanne replied as she met her gaze.

“If there is nothing else, you are dismissed. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

Shyanne nodded silently and quickly turned to leave.

Katherine glanced over at Christian as he ran his hand gently over the stubble of his short beard. His face was expressionless, and she shook her head at him in disapproval.

“One more thing, Shyanne,” she called out as she looked down at the photos and flipped them back over to see the young woman in them.

“Yes?” Shyanne turned fully to face her as she paused at the elevator. She forced a smile as she met Katherine’s gaze.

“Stay away from this human, Jeremy LeBlanc. Christian will look into him.”

The smile vanished from Shyanne’s face, and she nodded in silence once again before turning and heading back downstairs.

With Shyanne out of the VIP area, she turned to Christian and sighed. “Why do you always have to do that?”

Christian shrugged as he finally took a seat at the bar. “I do not mean to intimidate her.”

“We both know that is a lie,” Katherine responded flatly and drank the glass of mead in front of her and let the taste sink in. “I think you enjoy making her uncomfortable.”

“Perhaps she is concerned I will come for her one day?” he replied.

“That is possible,” Katherine paused before changing the subject and sliding the photos on the bar over to him. “There may be another one.”

His face was calm as he studied the photos for a moment and then looked up to meet her gaze. He shook his head slowly. “You will not enjoy the news I have.”

“That is dependent on if you actually have news.”

“Nothing,” he said as he shook his head. “The police have nothing new, but they are at least keeping the deaths unlinked and off the news. I have not been able to find anything linking to anyone, but I am certain it is one of us.”

“Everyone in the city knows better than to cross me.”

“It could be someone new or someone acting out against you.”

“All the more reason to know who is violating my rules,” she replied as she gripped the glass in her hand and rotated it slowly, watching the mead gently slosh. She weighed the possibilities of it being someone new who didn’t know her orders or someone in her circle that was potentially making a move against her.

“I agree. When we find out who is responsible, they will see their last sunrise.”

“I need another favor, Christian,” Katherine said as she looked back down at the photos on the bar and copied down the phone number written on the back onto a napkin from the bar.

Christian leaned back in his seat, listening calmly.

“A human came in tonight who did not belong. He was asking about this missing woman and said he knew she had been in Eternity. In case she is the latest to be taken, I want you to have someone review the archived footage for her. If she has been here – I want to know when and who she was with.”

He nodded. “Anything else?”

“Find out what you can about this Jeremy LeBlanc,” she said as she tapped the phone number on the back of the photo.

“Do you want me to be direct?”

“No, I doubt there’s a need for you to pay him a visit,” she replied. “I think I will go see him. Shyanne said she sensed something was different about him. You should have seen the way she was throwing herself at him at the bar.”

Christian sighed. “She reads them like a crystal ball and goes through them too quickly for such a small girl.”

“That’s not what concerns me,” Katherine began. “He seemed completely unaffected by her and left of his own free will.”

“He’s lucky. Shyanne has drugged the last two because she’s figured out she can feel the effects when she feeds from them.”

“Nevertheless,” Katherine said as the faint smile disappeared from her lips. “I think I will introduce myself and see what he knows. I want you to call a meeting, all club members must attend. They have two nights to respond.”

Christian nodded and excused himself, taking the photos with him and leaving her alone at the bar. She moved over to lie down on one of the daybeds, relaxing against the soft cushion and pillows.  She could still hear the pulsing beat of music coming from the club below. As she lay there, she wondered what it was that Shyanne had sensed in the human from earlier that night. She refused to trust Shyanne’s ability to read others but decided she would see for herself how he could resist Shyanne’s supernatural allure.


Photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash

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