I had no idea what was in the smaller buildings. I knew that the larger building was all of the housing, with enough rooms to comfortably house us and even most of Lynn’s followers comfortably. If I had to guess, I’d say the smaller buildings were probably bunkers stockpiling weapons. I knew I wouldn’t have to wonder long to find out. Christian would give me the grand tour.
“Does it make your skin crawl to have all of the goth humans in your safe house?”
He shrugged, seeming unaffected. He probably loved the thought of showing off his pride and joy to more people. “I’d rather not be bored up here. And anyways, they’re all humans. What’s the worst they could do? Lynn even made them all leave their phones behind.”
It still made me antsy. An overcrowded safe house… so much was wrong with that.
Christian sped into the oversized garage that opened before us with surprising swiftness. The concrete ground below the porsche began to lower immediately. It was a surprisingly smooth ride, and went down a shockingly far distance. I gave Christian wide eyes. “How far underground does this thing go?”
He grinned. It was such a smug, toothy grin. It made me want to either smile or punch him, depending on why he was wearing it. “You’ll see.”
Something occurred to me. I smirked at him. “Did you make yourself a bat cave?”
He wiggled his brows at me, shameless. “A slayer cave, to be exact.”
I shook my head, grinning. “You have way too much dough for a super-nerd. The combination is a danger to society at large.”
He threw his head back and laughed. It was infectious, especially after such a tense, volatile morning. “Wait ’til I give you the grand tour.”
We got out of the car. The room could have almost passed for an oversized version of a normal garage, all smooth gray concrete. A small elevator took us back up to the main floor of the house.
As we stepped out of the elevator and onto the main floor, a goth kid handed me a note and a flower, darting off without a word. I shared a confused look with Christian before looking at the note. I handed Christian the flower, muttering, “candy ass,” when he took it. He just smelled the flower, smiling pleasantly, unfazed.
The letter was on old parchment, wax seal and all. “What the hell,” I said, ripping it open. I felt my whole face turn red as I began to read it.
Christian whistled softly from behind my shoulder. He had read it shamelessly from over my shoulder. “Oh boy,” he said, and I could hear the laughter in his voice.
I turned sharply, jabbing a finger hard into his chest. “Don’t even think of breathing a word of this to anyone.”
He shrugged, grinning. “I won’t, if that’s what you want. But, damn, Jilli-”
“And don’t breath a word about it to me, either,” I growled. I was shocked that he actually listened.
Lynn approached me next, looking strange, and worried. Christian gave us a moment of privacy to speak to each other, and I caught her up quickly on all of the messes I’d been making, and attempting to clean up.
She seemed distracted at all of my news, which worried me. Some messy stuff must have been going on with her life if she didn’t so much as blink at the the catastrophe of mine. “What’s going on, Lynn?” I asked her finally. “Are you okay?”
She nodded. That was all. I got a real bad feeling, deep down in my gut.
My guided tour of the palatial retreat ended at the full-sized bar. It was an impressive room, complete with an actual bartender manning the fully stocked bar. “Is that one of Lynn’s followers, or did you really hire a bartender?” I asked him, running a hand along the grainy pattern on the sandy toned granite that topped every surface in the place.
Christian laughed. “That is a goth, making himself very useful.” He raised his voice so it carried to the bar. “Fix me whiskey straight up, my good man. The stuff in the fancy crystal decanter will do. And the lady will have a glass of room temperature water with a lime. Thank you.”
The kid nodded happily, humming to himself as he followed Christian’s instructions. “He makes a terrible goth,” I whispered in an aside to Christian. “He’s downright chipper.”
We thanked the boy for our drinks and took them to a seating area that could have passed for VIP seating at a club. “Well, what do you think of the place?” Christian asked. I could tell by his eager expression that he wanted me to be impressed with his desert palace. He was so like a kid in some ways.
I smiled at him indulgently. “It’s perfect,” I finally answered him. He beamed at me.
“You gonna share some of your weapon’s stash with us for the necro roast?” I asked him, even though I knew I didn’t have to.
“You know it, girl.” His usual endearment with his faint british accent almost always made me smile. “And Caleb brought us all some nifty gifts. He says I can’t see mine until the necro roast. He seems to think I would waste it before it’s needed. That makes me think it’s some sort of flame thrower. It feels like waiting for christmas.”
I shook my head at him, laughing.
We stayed in the bar room, chatting, and I was surprised to have a packed house before long. Apparently this was the popular hangout spot of the house. I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was a bar.
I was even more surprised about a half an hour later. Two goth girls had just introduced themselves to Christian and I. Mostly to Christian. They both had black hair and brown eyes, with about a pound of black eyeliner on. They were like different sized versions of the same person. It was bizarre. One of them was a short, heavy girl. The other one was of medium height, and was stacked like a playboy model. The pinup girl was named Cherry, and I knew by the way they flirted that Christian had found his bed partner for the night. I rolled my eyes. He was about to take a walk on the goth side. Whatever. And by the looks the other girl, Juliet, was casting at him, he could get a twofer tonight. Barf. I tried to erase the mental image from my head.
“I’m hungry,” I said suddenly, to no one in particular. I didn’t think anyone would pay me any mind. Seemingly out of nowhere, a bag of food from my favorite mexican joint appeared on the table in front of me. Two more bags joined it. Slowly, I looked up and to my left in to black-lined, dark blue eyes half hidden behind curly dark hair that fell into a handsome face as though it had been arranged that way. Luke was staring at me with an intensity that made me feel immediately uncomfortable and embarrassed. “Mistress, I drove back into town and got you your favorite barbacoa bowl for lunch. It has brown rice and all four kinds of salsa, just how you prefer.” In a fluid motion, he sank to sit in a classic submissive pose, his eyes downcast. “Please, Mistress, may I watch you eat your lunch?”