While they were eating their dinner, Alexis explained how her own gift worked. “You were right, witches and vampires should be mortal enemies, and having a witch like me working for someone like Lucien… well…. let’s just say that I’m not popular in the community,” she smiled. “Thankfully, I’m not a New Orleans witch, that would have been far far worse. They’re so attached to their old beliefs and rituals that it’s pathetic.”
“I don’t like witches much. Especially those who can see the future,” Bella replied as she took another bite of her food. She had to admit, it was delicious, one of the best things she had ever tasted.
“I know that, and that’s why I want to be open with you, because I don’t want to give you any reason not to believe me. Or trust me, but trust is something sacred, trust is to be earned. Lucien mostly uses me to predict the future for him. He’s quite the successful business man, but he’s had some witchy help on his way up. He drinks from me, and I can see his future. Or at least bits and pieces of it,” she explained. “Images will become more clear once the opportunity approaches, but I’m good at what I do.”
“Giving him bits and pieces doesn’t sounds like you’re good.”
“Hey! I do that to protect myself, you know. Self preservation. I like to stay alive.”
Bella slowly nodded as she continued clearing her plate.
“It works different on non-vampires, like humans and witches. With you, for example, the moment you stepped into the penthouse last night, I started getting dreams about you. About your life, not quite clear as some areas are hidden, but I got the reader’s digest version. When I woke up and saw you, I started to see endless possibilities for you. And it was then when I realized what you truly are.”
A little bit alarmed by what Alexis could have found out about her, Bella looked at her with big eyes. “What do you know about my life?”
“Just that you’re a whore and have been running from a coven of Cold Ones, but that you’ve also protected yourself with magic that I can’t get through to, so maybe it’s for my own good if I don’t pry.”
Sighing slightly, she nodded again. She was grateful that even with her having fallen off the face of the Earth for a while, there was still an active protection spell around her, hiding her true life, hiding Débauche to protect the other girls.
“I had to double check my information so I called my mentor with a hypothetical question about what you are and he confirmed it. What you are, Isabella, is quite rare and quite powerful.”
“What am I?”
“You’re a singer.”
She winced at that. Edward had called her his singer. Emmett had killed two singers because they smelled so good and she was pretty sure that all the other singers had been turned or killed. “That’s nothing new.” She then smirked. “If you’re referring to my voice, then you’re out of luck. I can not hold a tune even if my life depended on it.”
“Well, if you know you’re a singer, then you must also know that they don’t tend to survive for very long after getting in contact with their audience,” Alexis pointed out with an amused smile on her face. She liked the snark that Bella was throwing at her, she was definitely hiding something. Why else would there be an entire blank section of her life in her dreams?
“No, they don’t, but I escaped seven years ago and I’m still running.”
Alexis nodded and took a sip of her drink. “Did you know that singers become more potent, more powerful, if they stay alive longer? Their blood could start to appeal to other Cold Ones, almost drawing them in, making it harder for the singer to stay human.”
Bella snorted out her drink. “That is just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I’m sorry, but that’s just…” she hiccuped. “Impossible.”
“No, I’m serious,” Alexis laughed. “The longer you stay human, the more potent you’ll become.”
“And what could I do, other than attracting Cold Ones and pray that they don’t kill me?”
“You kill them, of course,” she replied nonchalant as she put her empty plate on the table and crossed her legs over each other. “You lure them in, and kill them.”
Bella smiled at that. “And how do I do that when they’re made out of a solid mass, their blood is poisonous and on top of that, even Cold Ones have trouble with pulling Cold Ones apart so how am I, a mere human, supposed to kill them?”
“You become immortal. You’re in a city filled with vampires! Have some blood in your system, jump off a building and rise more powerful than ever.”
Alexis was telling a story, and Bella was not going to fall for it. “My knowledge of your vampires is quite slim, but isn’t it the same way as with the Cold Ones, that if you’re remotely magical you’ll lose that upon death?”
“Ah, yeah,” she sounded bummed out and thought for a moment. “That is true… but you’re not a witch. You’re something else.”
“But still, even if that was the case, if somehow I became like… those things in mythology, a siren, that would be lost the moment I turn,” Bella shrugged. “Nice story, Alexis, but I’m afraid you and your mentor have lost the plot.”
“Damnit, I was so excited for you about this. That you’d finally have answers. Or a purpose. You deserve that. Those rotten Cold Ones have been messing with you for far too long.”
Bella shrugged as she put her plate on the table and pulled on her shoes before getting up. “Well, story time’s over. I think I’ll leave now.”
“No, you’re right, this is freaking me out. A nice vampire and a witch working for him? No, this is just too much. Tell Lucien I won’t tell on him for what he wanted to do last night but I can’t stay,” she turned around to address Alexis even further, but all of a sudden she could feel her head spin. “Oh, that’s not good…”
“You might be resistant against compulsion and mind invasion, little girl, but you’re not resistant against drugs or magic, sleep tight!”
Bella came to to Lucien yelling at Alexis. “I specifically told you not to harm her!”
“She wanted to leave! She can’t leave! She’s special!”
Bella smirked at that. She could turn this entire situation around and make sure that she wouldn’t end up hurt. She was going to demand money. She was going to command the place and own it. Hell yeah. Damsel in distress? Nah. She was kickass.
“Alexis, I know that but if she wanted to leave you should have just let her go,” Lucien sounded desperate. “I was trying to have her getting to trust us.”
“And she saw right through that. She’s smart, Lucien. She knows more than she lets on. She could be dangerous.”
“Yeah well, while she’s out, I took a few vials of blood for testing.”
“You were gone for days, Lucien. Days. I had to keep her here for when you’d return, and I did. So, go make nice to her. She must be waking up by now,” Alexis said playfully. “Careful though, I think that for a human, she packs quite a punch.”
Lucien barged into his bedroom finding Bella sitting up and looking at him as if her look could kill. “Isa… I am so terribly sorry.”
“Save it,” she said with a shrug. “You owe me 5 grand.”
Lucien blinked. “That is outrageous! For what!”
“My time. You were gone for days, I hear. I’ve been keeping your bed warm. I think 5 grand is a decent fee for keeping your bed warm,” she said as she crossed her arms over her chest. “Because your witch kept me asleep all the time, I had to include hazard pay. Risk of bedsores and all that.” She then smelled her armpits. “Be glad I don’t make it 6 grand for making me stink like a fish vendor.” Bella got out of bed and picked up the clothes that Alexis had bought her. “I’m going to take a nice, refreshing shower. When I’m done, I want you to have the money or I’ll tear off your cock and shove it up your ass.”
“You heard me,” she smiled at him as she walked into the bathroom, leaving the door open. “For another 200 bucks you can have me any way you want. If you want a date night, that’s 500 bucks, including valet parking of your cock in my pussy. 750 bucks if Alexis wants to join us.”
“Fork over the money and decide what you want,” Bella said as she started to throw her worn clothes out of the bathroom and filled up the bath. She was being bold, but having been out for the count for so long had recharged her batteries.
If they wanted to screw with her head, she was going to screw with them. Survival of the fittest and she knew all about survival. Taking her blood for ‘testing’? Lucien had said that he didn’t want her blood and yet the witch took it from her. No, something shady was going on and Bella wasn’t having it.
Going head to head with vampires? Well, maybe she had a death wish, but at least she’d die trying. But she was quite sure that they wouldn’t kill her, otherwise Alexis would have done so already. They wanted her for something and she was going to exploit that.
She realized that Myriam must be worried sick, and made a mental note of sending Myriam a message from her ipad if there was a free wifi signal. If all went well, Bella would be home in no time. Yeah, maybe it had been a little bit too soon for her to spread her wings and go ‘fuck all’.
Bella was just about to get into the bath when Lucien entered the bathroom, fully clothed. She turned around to face him in all of her naked glory and cocked her head as she eyed him. He was holding something behind his back. “Whatever that is, it looks too big to be my money.”
“Wow, well… uhm,” Lucien said as he hungrily licked his lips. “You are beautiful.”
“I know,” Bella replied curtly. “Thanks.”
“I was gone for a couple of days, yes, and I am very sorry for what Alexis has done to you, but I promise you, you weren’t violated in any way.”
“She took my blood.”
Lucien winced and then shrugged. “Apart from that.”
“I want it back.”
Sighing, Lucien slowly nodded. “Very well, I shall get you the vials, but in the meantime, maybe my present to you would please you?”
Bella crossed her arms over her chest and hoped that she could continue to keep up the surge of confidence in herself, she was feeling awesome despite the fact that the vampire was probably mock grovelling at her feet. Her eyes widened in shock when he produced her present from behind his back. “How?”
“As I said, I was gone for a couple of days because I came across this one,” he said as he looked at the head that was dangling from its red strands of hair. “She made some rather crude comments about your scent being on me and what she wished to do with you. Of course, to defend your honor, I dismembered her. Made sure her body burned and brought you her head. Now, sweet Isa, what do you wish for me to do with her head?”
She was slightly taken aback by Victoria’s head, it was still moving and luckily it wasn’t speaking but a sense of relief came over her and she couldn’t help but to smile widely. “Do you have the intention to make use of my offer, Lucien?”
“Perhaps, yes,” Lucien smiled at her. “I wish to take you for a night out in town. A friend of mine just opened an exhibition and I really wish to see the look on his face when we meet. I haven’t seen him in centuries.”
“Yes, perhaps after that, we could continue the night together.”
“Good, then I want her in the bedroom, facing the bed. She can watch us,” Bella said with a nod and got into the bath, grateful to see a clean razor sitting on the edge of the bath. “I suppose I’ll have to prepare for our date,” she said playfully and winked at him. Bella had no intention of going back with him, not if she could help it. She hoped that she would be able to message Myriam and that she would come and find her. But the idea of Victoria watching Bella have sex with someone thrilled her as well.
Maybe Myriam could wait for one more day…
Well, at least Alexis hadn’t dressed her like she was starring in some sort of clothing commercial. Bella still hated her, she hated seers, but at least the clothes were alright. The red and black pencil dress was figure hugging and accentuating all of her curves in the right places and the heels weren’t too bad either.
The best part about the dress was that Lucien couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. Yeah, she was definitely going to have to wear him out in bed later. She was now in work mode and there was nothing that could stop her from doing anything else. She was in control – for the moment.
Lucien’s driver took them to Algiers, to a jazz club with a very rich history. Klaus had told Bella about this once; St. James Infirmary was a staple, it had been a neutral meeting ground for all three factions of New Orleans for centuries and only last year they warded it with spells so that nobody could use offensive magic, only defensive. It was a safe place, it was also a place where Bella couldn’t be tracked.
The way Lucien spoke of his old friend made her wonder if they were even friends. The words he spoke were laced with contempt and anger and when she asked why he was being so weird about it, he truthfully said that his friend had deceived him once or twice, but despite that, there weren’t any hard feelings. It happened centuries ago and who held grudges for centuries?
Bella knew the answer to that. All vampires did. Now she wasn’t so sure if she’d leave the party alive or in a body bag.
She looped her arm through his as they walked into the building and the first thing she noticed was the amount of paintings on display. There were a lot of them. Then there were the people and a particularly loud art critic. “It’s a derivative fiasco- little atmosphere, less technique. It’s nothing more than a self-congratulatory ego trip,” the man said, causing Lucien to grin and carefully maneuvering the both of them around a few paintings before Lucien spoke up.
“I wouldn’t expect you to host an art show without compelling the critics to speak your praise.”
“And I wouldn’t expect an uncultured savage to crash such a formal affair.”
Bella held her breath in shock. She knew that voice. It was Klaus! Luckily, she was still hidden by some paintings and quickly unhooked her arm from Lucien and walked to the other end of the infirmary to collect herself. She didn’t smell like herself because of the products in Lucien’s bathroom that obviously belonged to Alexis and she was wearing new clothes so hopefully that would diffuse the scent somewhat, but she was panicking.
There was no doubt that Klaus would send her home. Immediately.
Her eyes fell upon a painting that she sort of recognized. Moving towards it, she observed it, the brush strokes and the image itself. It was obvious, to her at least, that it was her. Her face was unrecognizable and it was mainly her back, but it was her. She recognized the curtains that were hanging in her room at Débauche. Her image was holding the drapes, almost as if she was hiding or peeking through the windows and it was just so beautiful.
Then she saw the tag next to it. The name of the painting was ‘A candle lit in the night’, watercolour painting and it wasn’t for sale. She just kept staring at the tag and the painting as if she was in some sort of trance. It didn’t make sense. Why would he have pushed her away if he thought about her like this?
“You do realize that your absence in the lives of your friends, your family, is felt quite deeply, don’t you?” Klaus’ soft voice sounded from behind her.
She wiped away the tears that she hadn’t realized that were falling from her eyes as she turned around and met his gaze. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I was going to send Myriam a message but I was indisposed for a few days, and now I’m working.”
“Hmm,” she nodded. “I felt that I needed to make him pay for what he did. But don’t worry, I’m not hurt, he didn’t hurt me. In fact, he’s really nice.”
“Of course he is,” Klaus smiled at her, but she could see the worry in his eyes. “Well, enjoy the party and your date. I shall not interfere or alert our mutual friend that you’re here. I’m here if you need me.”
She was shocked at his words. “You’re not going to drag me by the hair and force me to go home?”
“You’re safe, that’s all that matters. Were you planning on going back home with him?”
“Maybe, it depends on how he’ll treat me at this party of yours,” she said playfully. “Perhaps I could persuade the artist of these glorious paintings to make me a better offer?”
“No persuasion needed. Enjoy your night out, Isa, I’m certainly going to do that myself now that I can breathe a little bit better.”
She couldn’t believe him. Was he really leaving all of this up to her? “Make the offer when you feel like it and I shall send my date home after returning his money,” she gently put her hand on his arm and squeezed it before excusing herself and went to find Lucien.
“What was that all about? Do you know Niklaus?” Lucien asked confused. “Is everything alright?”
“Everything’s fine,” she smiled up at him. “We have mutual friends. Had I known you were going to take me to his party, I would have definitely packed more condoms in my purse. Are you going to buy me a drink?”
“I will buy you a drink, but then you’ll have to explore the gallery a bit on your own, I do need to talk to Niklaus for a moment or two.”
Bella pouted. “You’re no fun.”
“I want to reminisce a little, it will be no fun to you because you don’t know what we’re talking about. Now, be a doll and behave yourself,” he said kindly as he pulled her along to the bar to order her a drink. Handing her the glass of wine, he let go of her and playfully smacked her ass. “Off you pop.”
“Asshole,” Bella muttered as she walked away. “Men are such pigs. It’s a good thing they have money but ugh.”
“I heard that, love.”
“I know you did, dear,” Bella smiled at Lucien as she looked over her shoulder before making her way to the other side of the room to create the idea of privacy between Klaus and Lucien.