God, so much excess energy buzzed around the place. Snort. Obviously these master vampires weren’t as great as they thought they were if they were leaking energy like that. And to think that they were looking down on me.
The way that Jared once had, I suddenly thought.
For a second, the question of whether he might return to that frame of mind after we had shagged entered my mind. I quickly discarded it. I didn’t want to explore that idea, afraid of the answer. Yes, afraid. I concentrated on the feel of Jared, his scent, his proximity, his promise of what was to come later. The end of this gathering couldn’t come soon enough. I never liked parties. Not vampire ones anyway. Going as someone’s consort made the night even worse. Not only was I under Jared’s control, but I couldn’t wander off and socialise or drink from any of the intoxicated humans. And if any vampires did decide to talk to me and it turned out that they were a total bore, I had to stand there and listen to it, nodding in agreement with things I couldn’t give a crap about or laughing at jokes that wouldn’t be funny at any time in any place.
Worst of all, if any vampire decided to subtly feel me up a little, I couldn’t do anything about it other than tell Jared and hope he told them to get their hands off me. Victor always did, which was something that I had always been grateful to him for. He never let anyone else ever touch me, or bite me, and he would refuse anyone who proposed that I bite them.
Here comes Connelly, Jared informed me.
Yes the friendly looking bloke was on his way over, obviously eager to greet any guests who arrive. He seemed even more enthusiastic due to it being Jared.
“Jared,” he crooned, shaking his hand. “Always good to see you. You look well.”
“And so do you, Rupert.” He flashed him a charismatic smile.
“Your charm is still there, I see. May I enquire about Antonio?”
“He’s great, thank you. Sends his regards.”
“Ah, you must thank him for me. I have hopes to visit The Hollow later this year...”
The conversation faded from my attention as my eyes settled on something else. Bennington. He was stood at the arched entrance to the dining room, sipping a drink...and staring straight at me with a disturbing smile plastered on his grimy face.
Reminding myself that it was important to play my role, I returned his smile of acknowledgement. He gave me a look that said he would see me later, and then he waltzed off into the dining room. I had no doubt that he would see me later, especially now that he had seen me with Jared. If he planned to attack The Hollow the last thing he would want is me fighting on Antonio’s side. Three times he had challenged Victor, Bennington’s idea of a duel, however, was to set one of his vampires against the others’. All three times Victor had used me, and all three times I had won the duel. Bennington knew how well I controlled my gift, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made one last ditch effort to collect me. Luckily, I was secure in the knowledge that Jared would oppose this.
I returned my attention to Jared and Connelly in time to hear Connelly’s, “This one is a massive improvement on your last consort.”
Could I resist smiling at that? No.
“Yes, she is,” agreed Jared.
I felt Jared stiffen. He was obviously waiting to be frowned upon or looked at like he was crazy. He should’ve listened to me.
Connelly flashed me a smile. “And a beautiful one, too. May I ask your name?”
Say Samantha, not Sam, said Jared. High Master vampires don’t abbreviate their consort’s names, it’s too informal.
I know. My expression was shamelessly flirtatious, only missing the wink. “Samantha.”
His smile became cheeky and his face was suddenly flushed. He turned back to Jared. “It has been so long since I have had an encounter with a Sventé. This brings back some fantastic memories, I must admit. Dare I ask if your new consort is available only to you?”
Translation: Can I borrow her for a few minutes? I couldn’t hold back a smirk. Told you.
“I never was very good at sharing,” said Jared, sliding his hand from my back to around my waist. God that felt good.
“Ah,” murmured Connelly disappointedly but without dropping his smile. “Well, Jared, when you next do a consort spring cleaning, be sure to let me know. I do believe you may set off a trend.”
The noise of the Grand Entry doors opening and closing behind us pulled us all out of the conversation. Connelly laid his hand on Jared’s forearm. “I have to dash. More guests to greet. Please enjoy your evening, I’m sure we will speak again before you leave.” Connelly bowed his head at both of us. “A pleasure to meet you, Samantha.”
“Did he really just suggest I pass you on when I’m done?” asked Jared disbelievingly once Connelly had left to greet his new guests.
“What, you’ve never had anyone do that before?”
“Never. I would never have thought he’d have been so interested when you’re a Sventé.”
“Look, upper class vampires getting involved with Sventés is a bit like dogging – it happens, but no one let’s on that they do it.”
His laugh was silent. “And here I am strolling around with one like it’s the norm.”
“Believe me when I say that if they look shocked it’s only because they wouldn’t have expected you to be so out-in-the-open about it, not because they truly think it’s degrading. If you decided to pass me round this place like a parcel they’d all make sure they handled me at some point, I promise you that.”
Jared’s lips were suddenly at my ear. “The only vampire who’ll be manhandling you tonight is me.”
“If I let you.”
“You get such satisfaction out of teasing me, don’t you?”
“I still maintain that you like it.”
It wasn’t long before master vampires came to greet Jared, each with the same questions – How was Antonio? Was Jared well? Was I his new consort and did he like to share? I could sense that Jared was getting more and more aggravated by that last question. His grip on my waist intensified until it was possessive and a blatant display of ownership. Even that didn’t discourage people from asking. Of course there were the odd looks of disapproval but never did those snobbish vamps let Jared see their distaste; they probably feared causing offense.
One by one the High Master vamps that Jared had told me about last night also came to greet Jared, except for Bennington. Although I glanced around and feigned disinterest, I was listening intently to every word that was exchanged and the tone in which those words were delivered. I almost laughed aloud at how their consorts, all Kejas, seemed to look down on me. They disliked me even more when the High Masters questioned Jared about me, his new consort. I didn’t let it show that I was getting sick of being referred to as a consort. It brought back memories I didn’t want to think about.