I hung up the phone, looking at Dom. He was eyeing me coldly. “I’ve gotta bounce,” I said. I paused awkwardly. “My kind has an enthrallment spell. I’ve seen humans ruined by it. It plants a pernicious, persistent devotion that holds you in it’s grip for a lifetime. I don’t have any idea if druids can be affected by it, and I was never taught the enchantment, but I wonder if I inadvertently cast it on you, when you were young.”

He laughed, and it was a bitter sound. “Wouldn’t that be handy? Any spell cast surely has a counter-spell. But no, I think not. And doesn’t that just say it all about us? Love is such a foreign concept to you that you think it must be an errant spell.”

I flinched. Talk about a jab that hit it’s mark. The sad thing was, Dom was all I knew about romantic love, and I really had tried my best to show it to him. But amidst the pain in my chest, his words also brought me the beginnings of an idea. What I wouldn’t give to have that counter spell, just to cast it on Dom to see if it had any effect. If I had somehow enthralled him, he had a right to be free. And I needed to know.

He nodded at the door, dismissing me. “Sloan will go with you.”

“Ugh. I don’t even know where my car is.”

“Sloan has a car. She can drive you.”

I glared at him. “I’m pretty sure Sloan won’t want to go where I’m going.”

His lip curled in a half-smile. “Yes, Club Dante. I heard.” There was disgust in his voice. “I don’t care what kind of sordid places you frequent. Sloan goes with you.”

I gave a little half wave as I stormed out. I knew he wanted a fight more than anything else and it wasn’t hard to figure out that having Sloan follow me around was the lesser evil.

Sloan was waiting in the antechamber, by the elevator. At my entrance, she rose from the chair she’d been lounging in. She gave me a blank face, not saying a word, just pushing the down button on the elevator. We both filed in silently.

“Any idea where I could pick up clothes this time of night for an S&M club?” I asked bluntly as the elevator began to move. I was wearing the tattered remains of my combat gear. My cargo pants still covered the essentials, but the black tank I’d worn under my armored vest was pushing it. The material that had covered my stomach had burned away completely, leaving my midriff bare. The chest area was at least covered, though the straps on the tank looked in danger of falling off.

She looked a little surprised at the question, but recovered quickly, eyeing up my tattered clothes. “What you’re wearing should work, if the club is dark enough to hide the Necro blood. That torn up, shredded look is actually kind of in right now. You need different shoes though. Some black stilettos would be better.”

“I don’t do heels. I’m keeping the shoes.”

She shrugged. “Like I care.” She was silent for a moment. “Shit, does Dom know you’re going to an S&M club?”

“Yes. You don’t need to come, though.”

“Why the hell would you tell him about it?”

“He overheard me talking on the phone. Believe me, it’s the last place I want to go, and certainly the last place I wanted to tell him I was going. Just loan me a car and I’ll get out of your hair.

She just gave me a level stare. “Are you saying you’re being forced to go to an S&M club?”

“Yes, I am.”

She just raised a brow. “I don’t even wanna know. Though I suppose I’ll be finding out soon enough, since I’m coming with you. Don’t bother trying to lose me. I’m your shadow until I’m ordered otherwise. But believe me, I’d rather be doing just about anything else.”

“Me too.”

We reached the parking garage, and I waved her ahead. “Lead on.”

She led me to a new black mustang with bronze racing stripes. “Nice car,” I told her.

“Whatever.” She slid into the drivers side, starting the car and backing up right as I shut the passenger door. “Where am I going?”

“Club Dante. Need directions?”

“Sadly, no,” she replied shortly. I was more than a little curious how she knew about the club, but knew better than to press my luck and ask her about it.

Several silent minutes of driving weakened my resolve. I finally asked, “Ok, so how do you know about Club Dante?”

She cast me a cursory glance. “You need me to turn on the radio or something? I don’t feel like chatting with you.”

“Sounds like a touchy subject.”

She turned the radio on, tuned it to the rock station, then cranked it up loud, effectively drowning me out for the duration of the drive.

 I’d thought getting through the door would be a problem. I knew a little about the place from Lynn. At least enough to know you needed a password to get through the door. So I was pleasantly surprised when the doorman opened his little eye slot, widened his eyes, and the door swung gently open.

The small doorman was in full S&M getup. From the looks of it, I guessed he was a sub, covered in only latex straps. He stared at me, literally open-mouthed.

“We good to just go in then?” I asked him.

He looked like he wanted to speak, but was just kind of sputtering. I shrugged at him. “I’ll take that as a yeah. Thanks, dude.” I brushed past him.

I had no clue about the layout of the club, but figured I could search every room until I found Caleb or Lynn. A simple plan, but sometimes simple works just fine.

I was striding down a narrow hallway when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. A small figure darted around a corner to my right. I would’ve sworn it was a child. My brows drew together at the thought of a child in this place.

I caught up to the child in a dark room at the end of the hallway. I switched on the light in the small room. It was a little girl, and she sat huddled on the ground in the back corner of the room, skinny knees pulled up to her chest, head down. Her streaky, ashy blond hair was a tumbled mass that touched the ground where she sat. It covered her arms and face almost completely.

“Are you ok?” I asked her quietly. She tensed at the sound of my voice, but didn’t answer.

“What are you doing here? This is no place for a child.”

At that she looked up. Her eyes were a startling lavender, her features lovely and delicate and unmistakably asian. Though by her streaky blond hair and lavender eyes, it was obvious that one of her parents was not. She stood. She was tall and delicate, and wore a stained, baby-blue nightgown that was close to rags. I guessed her age at maybe nine.


Tags: R.K. Lilley Heretic Daughters Vampires
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