Killer Queen 2: Howl of the Demon Wolf

Killer Queen: Howl of the Demon Wolf
By Dr. Bender

In 1944, Suzanne finds herself newly turned and stuck with an unloving 'mother'. Ten years later, the serial killer that led her to a certain Sorority house has struck again...


Killer Queen: Howl of the Demon Wolf
By Dr. Bender

1954

I was bored out of my mind. Sitting on a stool at the bar, I nursed a stiff drink and a cigarette for show as the jukebox droned the slow, monotonous, melody of Earth Angel for the millionth time that night. The Guardian had a space cleared so that couples could slow dance, a fact taken full advantage of by both the Delta Beta Zeta girls along with the handful of servicemen about to be shipped off to Korea and the young men of Ravencrest University. Carmilla ensured that her bar was always prime hunting grounds and unfortunately that sometimes meant bowing to the more idiotic demands of popular culture.

While most of the girls went for the puffy shin-length dresses, garish pastels and headache-inducing patterns with their waists clinched so tight that their belts doubled as contraceptive aids, I stuck to a classy ankle-length black dress that hugged my every curve. In an effort to be more fashionable without cutting my hair, I wore it up in an elaborate style that was a fusion of a bun and a high ponytail. I much preferred leaving it loose to flow as it willed but if being both a vampire and a woman teaches anything it’s the value of keeping up appearances.

My boredom was only exacerbated when one of the young servicemen slid onto the vacant stool next to me. “Hey, doll,” he greeted, his breath overly minty due to the fresh stick of gum in his mouth. “Say, has anyone ever told you that you look just like Marilyn Monroe?”

The arch look I gave him would have warned off a large predator but the specimen in front of me was oblivious. “Why yes, you’re not the first liar to occupy that seat.”

He laughed insincerely as if I’d made a joke. “I dig it, baby. If you don’t mind me saying, you’re a real barn burner, dollface. Care to cut the rug?”

“Take a hike, bozo,” I answered squarely, not in the mood.

Apparently, his experience with girls had taught him that persistence works, so he stayed glued to the chair and lit his own cigarette. “Come on, toots, I’m a nice, friendly, guy. Ask any of my pals over there, they’ll tell you I’m a perfect gentleman. If you’re not happy here, we can blow this Popsicle stand and paint the town red.”

He seemed determined to personally shift my mood from bored to annoyed. “Great idea, you can start by slitting your wrists.”

“Ouch, baby, that really hurts,” he said, putting on the wounded puppy eyes. “You know my unit is shipping out tomorrow. Tonight could be my last night on American soil… is one last sweet memory of home too much to ask?”

Snorting, I turned to look him right in the eye. “Don’t worry, baby. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of Korean whores for you to fuck when you get there.”

“Christ,” he swore, finally picking his ass up out of the chair and backing off, “this chick’s no lady.”

Turning my back to show that I was ignoring him, I found the bartender waiting with the bottle held up over my glass. “Reload?” He asked, short and to the point. I liked that. Noting that my constant sips had reduced the alchohol to trace elements, I nodded and allowed him to pout. “I have to ask,” he prefaced his question hesitantly, “but if you hate it here so much, why come at all?”

The question surprised me and I was forced to take a few moments to consider my own reasoning. “It’s Friday,” I mumbled, shrugging, “I always drop in on Fridays, you know that.”

“I do know that,” he admitted, leaning against the bar nonchalantly, “but the question still remains.”

“All I know is that over the last decade, the pickup lines have gotten worse, the kids are more easily impressed and the Nuclear Family is crushing the spirit out of America,” I griped.

He grinned. “You’re just getting jaded, baby. The pickup lines were always bad, the kids have always been idiots and America sold its soul a long time ago. I’m just saying, maybe you need a change of scenery.”

I shrugged again. He was probably right but I was feeling petulant enough to not give him the satisfaction of admitting it to his face. I was feeding well but I was constantly horny thanks to an unstimulating and predictable sex life. Pick up guy at bar, drag to private place, suck and fuck, rinse, wash, repeat. To top it off, there is only so much that mesmerism can do to enhance a man’s attributes, so finding a man with natural talent was akin to winning the lottery.

Lesbian relations were proving more and more problematic as the decade wore on, what little freedom people had been allowed to express crushed under the weight of anti-communist paranoia and the upsurge of conservatism. Indeed, Carmilla had been forced to place a moratorium on several so-called ‘deviant’ behaviours because of the undue attention people were giving to each other’s private lives. On the other hand, it did make the younger DBZ girls a source of endless amusement as they were forced to seek relief in the arms of a man.

The lack of a spirit of adventure amongst the young men of Ravencrest also made casual sex spectacularly dull. The thought of yet another encounter in the missionary position made me want to tear someone’s throat out. I’d been a libertine in my masculine life, as an unbound vampire woman I’d discovered that variety was indeed the spice of unlife. The anniversary of my first decade of unlife was drawing closer, a milestone that apparently would mark a point where I could leave Ravencrest behind if I wanted to. I found myself considering a trip back to Paris, maybe even a visit to the old brothel if it still existed.

The question was, did I want to stay? My self-inflicted exile notwithstanding, I’d found myself caring for the girls of DBZ years ago. Even the power-hungry bitch Wisteria, perhaps due to some remaining sentimentality on my part since she was technically my mother, even if she didn’t act like it… or maybe because she didn’t act like it. I remembered a time when I’d thought that being a vampire meant leaving stupid human emotions behind. No such luck.

Draining the glass, I staggered a little as I minced into the ladies’ room on my high heels, acting for the sake of appearances. Playing human is tough work, you have to remember to do all the little things Vampires no longer feel the urge to do like periodic trips to the toilet; nevermind that your enhanced sense of smell makes public bathrooms more than a little disgusting, even in supposedly clean joints like The Guardian. The moment I opened the ladies room door my reverie was broken by another all-to familiar stench, though not the one that I was expecting.

Blood. Lots of blood. Old, dry, useless blood. One of the fun facts you learn as a Vampire is that women’s restrooms always have a little bit of that oh-so-sweet smell even if we aren’t using it to feed regularly. This wasn’t just a few used tampons in the dustbin or even spillage from a feeding. It was enough blood that whoever had lost it probably wasn’t breathing anymore.

One of the damnable things about having to act human is that sometimes you have to be patient and follow the ritual even when more pressing matters are urging you to act. A quick glance at the restroom was enough to show that there were no dead bodies bleeding all over the floor, so the scent was quickly narrowed down to the high barred window that led to the alley out back. Even so, I hopped into one of the stalls for a bit, washed my hands and powered my nose before going to talk to the bartender.

Carmilla doesn’t pick idiots to run The Guardian since they need to know a bit more about how things really work than is usually healthy for a human. He had a waitress take his place and was using the private phone out back the moment he heard the word ‘murder’ when I whispered it into his ear. While he called in the cavalry, I left out the back door.

The rotting trash in the alley couldn’t cover the smell of a human corpse, at least not to a vampire. In fact, the alley had served as a feeding ground for the girls of DBZ for so long that even the tiniest spots of blood left over from feeding had accumulated into its own peculiar bouquet. The darkness brought me confidence, however. After all, I was a daughter of the night, more at home in the shadows than anywhere else. Where a human would be almost blind, I could see more clearly than in daylight. Unfortunately, this was one time where being blind might be beneficial.

She was obscured by a group of trashcans but her blood led me straight to her. She was young and pretty, my first thought a lament of the waste of youth her body presented. Perfectly still, covered with dirt, her corpse stared up at the star-filled sky, as empty as the ravaged remains of her hollowed-out throat. Chills ran down my spine, however, when I saw the symbol carved into her forehead.

#

1944

“You first,” I heard Dominique whisper to her companion in the hallway through the door of my cell.

“Don’t be such a pussy,” her companion, whose voice I didn’t recognize, admonished. “She’s chained up tighter than the cunt of a minister’s daughter.”

“Colourful,” Dominique growled, “but I’ve known too many ministers’ daughters to find that comforting. You go first; I’m not taking the bullet this time.”

“Fine, fine,” the other complained as she unbolted the door and gently pushed it open. I swear I could hear the tension in their muscles as they tried to anticipate what would happen next. Their horrified gasps when the sight of my bonds lying empty on the floor was revealed almost made me giggle.

“Check the ceiling!” Dominique hissed, having learnt from our previous encounter.

“She’s not there,” the other one insisted, poking her head in and checking up as well as side to side. “Shit, can she turn invisible or something?”

“I don’t think so… even if she could, she wouldn’t be able to sneak past without us noticing.”

“You know her,” the other one prevaricated, fear obvious in her voice, “maybe you should go first.”

“I told you, I am NOT taking the bullet this time. Maybe you’d rather tell Wisteria you’re too chickenshit to handle a fledgling…”

“Fuck you,” she retorted before taking a few cautious steps into the room.

The problem with converting a room in a civilian house into a cell is that they’re not really designed for the task. Cell doors open out from the room so that prisoners can’t hide behind them out of sight of their jailors, so simply slapping a lock on the other side of the door isn’t a perfect solution.

I’d already discovered one of the benefits of being a vampire was that you could move very, very, fast if you really want to. In an eyeblink, I stepped out from behind the door and grabbed the new girl, pulling her into my embrace. Like all the DBZ girls, she was cute. Her already large brown eyes widened in fear as I ran my fingers through her wavy chestnut hair. “Hi,” I greeted, showing off my fangs for effect, “how does such a sweet looking girl like you get such a potty mouth?”

She shuddered as my power took effect. I’d heard one of my guards surmise that this ability was just the tip of the iceberg to what I could really do but I was pleased with what I had for the moment. It’s not so impressive compared to some of the other abilities I’d seen demonstrated, Dominique’s telekinetic powers were more impressive, but the ability to induce pleasure in anyone at a touch wasn’t something to be sneezed at. In moments, she was pressing herself against me, having forgotten her fear or even that the rest of the world even existed.

“Let her go!” Dominique demanded, her hand outstretched towards me and fangs bared. Despite being able to move objects with her mind at will, she still made gestures in moments of stress. I spared a quick glance at the chains behind me but it seemed that it was just a warning this time. Not that I was worried, I’d placed myself well out of reach this time.

“What’s your name?” I asked the cute vampire in my arms.

“Angelina,” she answered.

I had to chuckle. “Such a pretty name for a girl with such a foul mouth; Wisteria must have a sense of humour. Dominique, you know whatever you do to me with that power of yours, Angelina here isn’t going to get out of it unscathed.”

“I’m not going to let you drink her blood either,” Dominique stated with determination, “I have a nice, big, man for you to suck on out here if you want blood.”

Angelica did look delicious and her description of my usual faire made me lick my lips but I’d been trapped in my cell for so long I’d lost track of time. “Actually, I’d much rather you just step aside so I can have a chat with our mother,” I answered, “she has some explaining to do.”

Dominique blinked and lowered her hand. “You really don’t want to drink our blood?”

“Oh, I’ll admit, it’s tempting,” I answered, making Angelina squeal a little when I nuzzled her neck, “but I don’t need it… yet.”

“Maybe you’ve finally overcome the thirst then,” Dominique said with a sigh of relief. “If that’s the case, I can take you to see Wisteria and we can move you out of this cell.”

It was my turn to look shocked. “Wait, you’ve kept me chained up in here because of the bloodlust?”

Charissa huffed. “When a new vampire is turned, they undergo a period of intense, uncontrollable, blood thirst that pushes them into accepting their new condition. Not so convenient with a group like ours that needs to stay out of sight.”

“Shit,” I swore, transferring Angelica to my other arm, “I thought you were stopping me from going to the police.”

She threw her head back and laughed. “Oh, your friends have already been taken care of. Carmilla sent them home with a slight headache and no memory of any link between that murder and the sorority house other than circumstantial proximity. Hell, you were barking up the wrong tree anyway, we don’t kill people.”

“Vampires that don’t kill people,” I scoffed, remembering the depths of depravity I’d reached during the blood thirst, “you can’t be serious.”

“Serious as a funeral,” she said, shrugging. “Dead people attract attention that we don’t want. After the blood thirst passes we can resume a relatively normal life.”

Strangely, what she was saying made sense to me. Considering that in life I’d been a patriotic cross-dressing dominatrix spy, a socially conscious gender-switching vampire sorority wasn’t that big a leap of faith. Making a decision, I let Angelica go, leaving her dazed and blinking stupidly after me as I stepped out of the cell, noting that I was actually several inches taller than Dominique. “All right, if ‘mother’ has all the answers, let’s go see her.”

“Oh, she has answers,” Dominique grumbled as she led me down the hallway, “probably not the ones you want to hear, though.”

#

1954

Carmilla was pissed. “Almost ten years to the day, throat torn out with the same symbol carved into the forehead,” she summarized as we stood over the body along with her daughter, Josephine. “Fucking serial killers.”

Josephine scowled. “The first one was dumped near the Sorority house, now this one. That’s not a coincidence.”

“You think it’s a message?” I asked, trying to stay focussed despite my general state of frustrated arousal. Oh, no, dead bodies aren’t enough to kill that.

“Maybe,” Carmilla sighed, “or it could be a challenge.”

“Ten years between victims,” Josephine noted. “So for whatever reason, the timing is important to the perp even if they’re trying to bait us.”

Carmilla chuckled at her. “Perp? You’re watching that ‘Dragnet’ show of yours too much.”

“Well, I have always been your girl Friday,” she quipped, “so Joe Friday isn’t too much of a stretch.”

“Could it be one of our own girls?” I asked, trying to pull the two older vampires back on track. It always shocked me a little when their nonchalance exposed my remaining vestiges of naivety.

Carmilla shrugged. “It’s a possibility.”

“Are you serious?” Josephine scoffed. “We teach our girls better than to leave a mess like this.”

“Suzanne here isn’t the only one of us that gets bored,” Carmilla mused.

“Wisteria?” I inquired.

“Never did anything like this,” Carmilla replied, divining my intent. “I doubt this is anything truly magical, more like the pseudo-mystical version of putting a horse’s head on someone’s pillow.”

“I don’t remember us pissing anyone off recently,” Josephine said, tapping her chin. “You don’t think it might be anything to do with the curse, do you?”

“I doubt it. This feels more like a child trying to play in the adult’s pool.”

I sighed, turning to walk away. “Oh, well, I’ll leave you guys to it then…”

Carmilla wrapped her arms around me from behind, stopping me in my tracks. “Actually, honey, I was hoping to tempt you into solving this little matter for us,” she whispered into my ear, her lips brushing against my skin.

Somehow, after all these years, she was still the only vampire that could push my buttons. Even Wisteria hadn’t been able to slip under my guard and she was my ‘mother’. Deep down, I considered the possibility that I let Carmilla manipulate me because I enjoyed her ministrations but my lust for her pushed all other thought aside. “What do I know about solving murders?” I breathed.

“What’s there to know? Ask the right questions and compel the truth, you’re better suited to that than anyone,” she complimented, kissing my neck. “Besides, your ability to affect female minds makes you best suited to talk to this girl’s friends.”

Feeling myself losing control made me shiver as much in delight as far. Carmilla could actually hurt me if she wanted to. What really frightened me was how much I wanted her to hurt me. I gave in. “OK! All right, I’ll figure it out.”

“Good girl,” she said, stroking my hair fondly before letting me go. “Come on, Josephine, let’s call the Inquisitor and get this body out of here.”

I watched them pack the body off for cremation. In a few days she’d be nothing more than a missing persons statistic in some forgotten file, what the vampires couldn’t arrange, the Coven’s Inquisitor would see to. In ten years as a vampire, I’d never killed. In fact, the deaths on my conscience had all occurred while I was alive but that had been war, not murder. Now I found myself responsible for bringing a small measure of justice to the friends and family who would never know what had happened to her. It wasn’t a pleasant sensation.

The night air was cool against my face as I began the long walk home, wanting nothing more than to be alone with my thoughts.

#

1944

My first impression of my vampire mother was that she had a serious god complex. Her bivan was an ornately carved antique with red velvet lining that looked like it was a genuine relic from 17th century France. Several other pieces of immaculately preserved antique furniture were scattered about the room. She obviously preferred black, which lent a stark contrast to her pale skin. Her dark hair was loose but immaculately combed, though the style had been out of date for some time but her beauty made such concerns trivial. In all, she had the air of a decadent queen, sipping chilled blood from a golden goblet sculpted into the shape of an inverted Angel entwined by a snake.

“Well, if it isn’t my youngest daughter,” Wisteria greeted as we entered what Dominique called ‘the sitting room’, not bothering to rise. “I’ve heard much about your rather… difficult nature from your sisters.”

Despite what she’d done to me, something about her commanded my respect. “We didn’t exactly part on the best of terms ‘mother’,” I replied, “I thought I was a prisoner.”

“I care not,” she said, waving away the ire in my voice like a bothersome fly. “More importantly, you are here with us now and I’m gracious enough to give you a chance to prove yourself worthy of the gift I’ve given you.”

“Gee, thanks,” I sneered sarcastically.

“They tell me you can induce pleasure at a touch,” she continued, ignoring me, “tell me, have you tried other sensations?”

I frowned. “No.”

“Then try now,” she ordered, pointing at Dominique, “try to inflict pain on Dominique. Dear, hold out your arm.”

Gulping, Dominique grudgingly rolled up her sleeve and held out her arm meekly as ordered. Looking back and fourth between her and Wisteria, I couldn’t decide which was the crazy one. “Are you insane?” I asked, incredulous.

“You need to test the limits of your power,” Wisteria answered, her eyes narrow, “Dominique is close to hand. This is simply logical.”

“You’re asking me to torture her!” I protested. “Assuming I’m capable, I’m honestly not too excited to do that, thank you.”

Our eyes locked. I saw her irises flash eerily for a moment when she spoke in a low, dangerous, voice. “Try to inflict pain on her now.”

“Are you deaf? I said…”

Her hand over my mouth, claws digging into my cheeks, silenced me. She was so close I could feel the stillness of her body, the hollowed out shell no longer human. She was far faster and much stronger than I was, in that moment I knew she could tear me apart if she wanted to. Looking right into her pale eyes from inches away, she spoke again. “I order you to inflict pain on Dominique.”

“Fine,” I spat into her face, wrenching myself away, “but only under protest.”

When I turned to comply, however, she stopped me with an icy hand on my shoulder. “Wait,” she ordered again, “look into my eyes.”

Frustrated, I turned to face her. “Do you want me to do this or not?”

She said nothing, staring into my eyes intensely.

Putting my hands on my hips, I stared back and tapped my foot. “Well? Look, I know you’re stronger and faster than I am but seriously, if you think you can intimidate me with nothing but a stare…”

“She’s not,” Dominique interrupted me, her hands trembling, “she’s trying to command you but she can’t…”

Wisteria’s arm blurred into motion as she backhanded Dominique, sending her flying into the wall. A moment later, I was bent over a sideboard, arms wrenched behind my back. “HOW CAN YOU RESIST ME?!?” She demanded, fangs beared. Vampires can regenerate most wounds but we still feel pain. Wisteria proved that to me when she inserted her right index finger through my shoulderblade. “WAS IT CARMILLA? HOW IS SHE PROTECTING YOU?”

“I’m not, Mother,” Carmilla answered for me from the doorway when it was all I could do not to scream. “You can let her go.”

The old vampire discarded me like a rag doll and let me lie in a heap in the corner. “Such potential, SQUANDERED! I thought if it proved that she could simulate any sensation with a mere touch that her ability could be put to use but if she refuses to obey, even this is useless! If you’re blocking me somehow…”

Carmilla snorted. “You know I’m not your match in witchcraft, I’m as surprised as you are… though not as upset by the development. You have to admit, an inviolable mind is quite the power in and of itself. It just so happens that it only benefits her.”

“Bah!” Wisteria snapped. “If she can’t be tamed, she’s no use to either of us!”

Rolling her eyes, Carmilla sighed. “Really, I don’t remember you needing those mind tricks of yours before we arrived, I’m not sure what your fascination with them is now. I’m sure Suzanne can be taught to appreciate the benefits of our shared condition and find a place with us. Besides, she might have a hidden ability that hasn’t had the chance to manifest yet.”

“You want to waste your time, go right ahead,” Wisteria smirked viciously, “but I’m not handing her over to you. I won her fair and square…”

“Yes, all right,” Carmilla interrupted, “you came out on top that time. Is that want you want to hear?”

Wisteria considered that for a moment before stepping past her and striding out the door. “Maybe I’ll get bored of hearing that,” she said over her shoulder, “in a few decades.

#

1954

I started searching the university records on the morning after I’d discovered the body behind The Guardian, specifically the ones pertaining to sororities other than DBZ. Photographic records were usually a pain in the butt for us even though Carmilla used her influence to keep the DBZ girls out of the spotlight as much as possible. There was always the worry that someone would spot the same girl in two photographs several decades apart, which required a great deal of fiddling to mitigate.

I’d been substituted for by an actress in my own graduation photographs, for example, after hypnotizing everyone I knew into believing I was her. The actress had also been brain wiped of the whole affair, naturally. So it was that I had a doctorate of medicine but a clerical inability to prove it. Still, classes served a greater purpose of keeping me tied to DBZ in the vampire equivalent of a fish breeding farm: calm waters and a plentiful food supply.

I was surprised when my assumption paid off and I found the girl’s face amongst last year’s group photograph of the Lambda Omega Lambda chapter along with a name: Bethany Rawe. She was smiling in the picture, blissfully unaware of her future.

After packing the archives away, I was walking up the path towards the LOL chapter house minutes later. They were more central to the campus than the DBZ house, which we encouraged the students to forget about us. As such, LOL and the other sororities took the brunt of Fraternity pranks, which was perfect. The LOL house itself was a Greek column affair with liberal whitewash over the front. Luckily some of the girls were sitting on the front porch with piles of study papers in their laps so I didn’t have to go through the den mother.

“Hi,” I greeted enthusiastically, “I’m looking for Bethany Rawe, have any of you seen her around?”

A few of them shrugged, hardly paying me any mind, but one girl with strawberry blonde hair looked up at me. “Um, actually I don’t think I’ve seen her for a day or two. What was it about?”

“Oh, I just found something with her name on it and I knew she was a Lambda Omega Lambda, so I thought I’d save her the trouble having to pick it up from Administration.”

“Well ain’t you swell,” the brunette next to her muttered sarcastically.

The blonde rolled her eyes. “No need to be rude, Grace. Sorry, Beth isn’t exactly on everyone’s friendly list right now; she has an unfortunate habit of stealing other girl’s boyfriends.”

“Oh my,” I gasped, playing the innocent. “Well, uh, any idea where she might be?”

“I think she went with Gina to the party last night,” Grace commented, “I think she’s still sleeping it off.”

The blonde sighed, moving the papers onto the seat next to her and weighing them down with a heavy pencil case. “Come on,” she said, standing up and smoothing her dress, “I can escort you in.”

With the blonde leading the way, I got a good look at her from the back. She’s wasn’t in my league but she definitely had the ingénue look down pat in her knee-length powder blue dress that was tight enough above the waist to hint at the movement of the body beneath it. I pity the other DBZ girls sometimes, a constant diet of beefcake must be so monotonous. “Sorry, what was your name?”

“Amy,” she introduced herself with a sweet smile.

“Suzanne,” I replied with a wolfish grin.

Amy knocked on the door and got a tortured groan in response. Opening the door gently, she poked her head in. “Gina, are you decent? Someone here’s looking for Beth.”

“God, what did I drink last night?” Gina moaned. Peering over Amy’s head, I could see the girl almost tied up in her bedclothes with a water bottle pressed to her forehead. It might have been comical if her face wasn’t twisted in agony.

“Mind if we come in?” I asked while pushing Amy inside and closing the door behind me.

“Wha the heck do you want?” Gina asked blearily, squinting at us.

Turning to Amy, I quickly put her to sleep with a fleeting glance and lowered her into a chair before locking gazes with the girl in bed. “I know a great headache cure,” I whispered, sitting next to her on the bed, “want me to show you?”

She nodded dopily, fully under my spell. The tension melted from her body as I stimulated the pleasure centres of her brain. Modesty temporarily suspended, I was impressed when her hands began to caress her breast through her silk nightgown, breathing heavily.

I wasn’t ever able to induce anything but pleasure with my touch, unfortunately. It also doesn’t work on vampires if they’re ready for it, even Josephine can block it reflexively, against Carmilla it’s useless. By extrapolation, I wouldn’t even attempt it on Wisteria. On humans, however, it works just fine.

“Isn’t that better?” I asked in a low voice.

“It feels so good,” she sighed, smiling rapturously.

“Good. Now, Gina, I need you to tell me what you and Bethany did last night.”

She frowned a little but continued to rub herself. “Oh… Beth said she knew a club… J.J.’s Jazz Club downtown. She said if we got all dolled up the doorman would let us in. She was right, we got in without having to wait in line. The band was playing some new sound they called ‘Bee Bop’ and men kept buying me drinks…”

“What happened to Bethany?” I interrupted.

Her look went strangely blank as her hands paused. “I… I don’t remember. We were dancing and having fun and then… I can’t remember what happened. Someone brought me home; I thought Beth had gone with someone like she usually does.”

“Who did Beth dance with?”

Her jaw worked a bit before she finally shook her head. “It was a man but his features are all… blurry… I don’t know…”

“Shhh,” I calmed her, stroking her cheek. “Relax and let your worries just melt away. Sleep for a little while, when you wake up you’ll feel all better.”

She nodded absently as I lowered her gently into bed and tucked her in. Feeling mischevious, I mesmerized Lisa into believing that my quest to return Beth’s pencil case had proven futile with Gina still fast asleep and while she was available, I had a quick bite. She was watching me wistfully as I walked away from the front porch feeling pleased with myself.

It surprised me that I hadn’t ever been to J.J.’s. Standing across from the low, darkly painted, windowless building it didn’t really stick out amongst the other buildings like most clubs generally try to do. Naturally the club was closed in the middle of the day, so I slipped around to the back and worked some practical magic on the back door with a couple of bobby pins.

The inside of the club was much ritzier than the outside. The stench of cigarettes still hung in the air of the poorly ventilated rooms which were dark with heavy red curtains draped over every wall. The main room was surprisingly small, taken up largely by the polished wooden dance floor, the bar and the stage. I picked my way through the scattered boxes and crates of booze backstage looking for the manager’s office but found something more curious first.

The sign on the door read ‘DO NOT ENTER’. That didn’t attract my eye as much as the five deadbolts keeping the door securely shut or the padlock that I guessed was there purely to deter the casually curious. Picking the padlock was appallingly easy and the door was soon thrown open to reveal a set of old stone stairs leading down into the basement. Curious, I began the descent.

#

1944

“It’s not just vampires either,” Carmilla explained as I sucked on the neck of a mesmerized fraternity boy that seemed to think he was attending a formal dinner party. “There are weres, witches and plenty of other things besides and Ravencrest is home to a great many of them.”

Having taken enough blood to satisfy myself, I withdrew my fangs and licked the wound closed. “You know what really disturbs me? None of this really disturbs me.”

“Part of our condition,” Carmilla shrugged, “as well as our selection procedures. We don’t pick inductees out of a hat, only the best are given this chance. You not only offered innate potential but a very unique set of skills. I’m just sorry your transformation got tangled up with the little spat Wisteria and I are having at the moment.”

“What’s that about?”

“Insecurity,” she sighed. “We came here because Wisteria was working on some sort of secret project of hers. Somehow we wound up cursed. She says she’s handling the matter but it’s been forty years, even my patience with her can only be worn so thin. Believe it or not, she’s usually reasonable to deal with but she’s obviously feeling the need to use you to prove a point.”

“You want me, she wants to score one on you to prove she’s still on top,” I muttered bitterly, “yeah, I get that part. What did you do with my friends, by the way?”

“Altered their memories and sent them on their way,” she answered honestly. “We don’t kill in Ravencrest, in case anyone hasn’t informed you yet.”

“Dominique gave me the memo,” I nodded, “anything else I should know?”

“Don’t make trouble at The Guardian, that’s our safe feeding ground away from campus. Respect the territory of others. Don’t get caught and don’t do anything else that might piss off me or Wisteria. Generally there is only one punishment; we’re not big on second chances. Also, we have two broods here at DBZ, Wisteria’s lineage and mine. Until I can get Wisteria to let you go, you’ll have to deal with your older sisters. I’ve placed you under my protection but even I can’t be everywhere.”

“So that’s it? I’ve got no choice but to kowtow to that bitch? You think you can just turn me into this… thing?”

“If you want to whine about how unfair the world is, I think there’s a primary school down the road,” she offered. “We both know that the world isn’t fair, Suzanne, but look at it this way. You’re going to live for a very, very long time. You have power and a body that will remain young and vibrant throughout your days. Over dinner you confessed to me that you sometimes wished you were back at the brothel in France… I would have given you all that in good time and allowed you to accept it on your own terms. Can you say honestly that you would have refused me?”

I had to consider that question for a long time. “No, I wouldn’t have refused if you’d asked,” I finally admitted. “I guess that’s why I helped you track down my old friends. At first I thought it was the old Suzanne’s choice, that I’d finally snapped under the strain. But the old Suzanne was just an excuse, a coping mechanism I put on whenever I got in that dress and played her part. The truth is that I was more myself when I was that old Suzanne than when I was Lance. When you turned me, I guess I just… fell into the old pattern. I took my orders and played my part, it was just like old times. That old Suzanne died along with Lance but the name still… fits, if that’s the right word. Am I making sense?”

She nodded. “Adapting to being a vampiress is a long process, some elements can take decades to come to terms with. My daughter Josephine refused to take a man to her bed for a very, very long time. Give it time; I wouldn’t have picked you if I didn’t think you had what it takes. There’s no rush, we have all the time in the world.”

#

1954

“Now you I wasn’t expecting,” I told the beast pacing in front of me.

The basement was much older than the building on top of it, several hundred years older by my calculations. There was a lot of dust and cobwebs like nobody has swept for that long, which meant the previous visitors had left plenty of tracks to show that the room was still used. The reason nobody swept the floor, or even used the room when they didn’t have to, was sitting in the middle of the room inside a magical circle that bathed the room in a baleful red luminescence.

It was near six foot tall at the shoulder lying down, I didn’t want to think about how tall it would be standing up. Peering at me with deep crimson eyes, the beast bared its fangs at me as the dark fur on the back of its neck rose. “Vampire,” it sniffed, the deep voice reverberating through the stonework, “I knew eventually one of your ilk would attempt to hunt down the cause of these slayings… but honestly, I didn’t expect you to arrive so soon after a fresh kill.”

Putting my hands on my hips, I considered the situation. “Well, if I remember my lore correctly, as long as you’re inside that circle and I’m on the outside this can remain civil.”

It snapped its jaws together once, making me jump. “Maybe I’m just feeling lazy today, let’s not ruin the moment by allowing either of us to get too comfortable.”

Scowling, I shook my head. “What’s your name, beast?”

“What will you give me for it?”

“Nothing,” I retorted, “don’t make out like it’s a big deal to give out your use name.”

It chuckled, nodding. “Can’t blame an old wolf for trying. My name is Garmr.”

I cocked my head to one side, curious. “Garmr. As in the guardian of the Norse underworld?”

“Niflheimr,” the beast expounded, “land of the inglorious dead, the realm of Hel. Not that it’s likely I’ve been missed in the last ten years, we don’t exactly get many visitors these days.”

“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked, hardly believing my ears.

“Well now, that’s entering the realms of privileged information,” it grinned, showing yellowed fangs.

“Whatever, all I have to do is call in my elders and dump this mess in their lap…”

“Wait,” he growled, stopping me from leaving, “maybe you and I can do a deal.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” I replied. “You obviously want something; it’d be in my best interests to hand you over, probably score big brownie points with my mother.”

“Why acquiesce the power that I represent to another?”

“Because I’m not particularly interested in power,” I snorted. “Heck, look at you. Big lord high muckety-muck trapped in a little circle.”

“What makes you think I don’t want to be here?”

“Because the décor is just to die for,” I quipped sarcastically, gesturing at the threadbare room. “Look at you, you’re not some domestic pet, you’re a hunter. Aside from that, if you wanted to be here that circle wouldn’t be necessary.”

“Well, since you seem to know so much, perhaps you can divine the rest of my situation as well.”

“And let you toy with me based on my bad assumptions? Nah, much easier for me to go fetch someone who knows what they’re doing…”

“GODS BLAST IT! All right, all right, I’ll tell you what you want to know,” Garmr sighed.

I found a relatively clean spot to sit on the floor while the demon wolf span his tale of greed, deception and murder.

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted a short way into the monologue, “musicians?”

“As much as it shames me, yes,” Garmr sighed again. “As I said, they were improvising during one of their ‘jam sessions’ and accidentally hit on the correct series of notes to summon me… music’s always been a weakness for most guardians, though my cousin Cerberus is maybe more famous for it. In any case, their music somehow tapped the latent potential of one of their members and I was dumped onto this miserable little mudball.”

He stretched a little before continuing. “So there I was ready to eat out their hearts and be on my way when their band manager leaps between us and offers me a deal. Amused by his foolhardiness, I indulged him, which was my core mistake. I quickly learned that humans have become quite a bit more sophisticated in the years since I last encountered them, or maybe I’ve lost my skill at riddle-lore. In either case, I’m shamed to admit that the perfidious jackass got the better of me.”

“What did they want from you?”

“The usual, wealth, fame, success and sex with beautiful women but I don’t have any direct influence over any of those things. What I could offer was skill at their craft, luck in attaining contracts and other things more in the nature of success in the hunt.”

“How did they trap you?”

Garmr growled. “This ‘manager’ of theirs used his foul human trickery known as ‘fine print’. I’m bound against harming them so long as they supply me with the sacrifice of a woman I could take as a bride in Niflheimr once every ten years. Of course, I haven’t been able to reap the benefits of the arrangement being stuck here.”

“So the girl’s souls or whatever are in Niflheimr?”

“Awaiting the return of their groom,” he preened. “Of course, if you wished to bargain for their return, you’d have to talk to my mistress.”

“Hel, the daughter of Loki? Yeah, I’ll pass on that, thanks. So, say it was in my best interests to see you returned home after exacting bloody revenge on your tormentors. If I was able to free you from your contract, do you think you could confine yourself to killing them in private before leaving so I can cover your tracks?”

It took a deep breath. “A fair trade, perhaps more than fair. Though I dislike entreating with anyone of this realm, it is done. So long as I get my vengeance, I can give you this small concession in return for your service in this matter.”

“I’m so glad we could see eye to eye,” I muttered.

#

1947

Friday night at The Guardian was the perfect time to hunt. The men were tired from a long work week, needing nothing more than to blow off some steam. Drinks flowed freely from the bar, lowering inhibitions and dulling minds, easy pickings for enterprising fledgling vampiresses. I wasn’t the only DBZ girl sitting at the bar, though, as the influx of new blood after Halloween had given me more sisters to deal with.

The post war years brought a lot of change to Ravencrest. Our men returned from war and the allied nations were busy dividing up the spoils from the axis powers. Riding high on the wave of relief, marriage and birth rates were sharply on the rise. After five years hiatus, living in fear for our brothers and fathers overseas, working in factories to prove their arms, young women had also found their own sense of independence that they’d never experienced before. Honestly, I was glad that I’d lived to see it.

After the first few influxes of new blood into DBZ, even if it were only a few new girls, I’d thought that no longer being the youngest would make my lot in unlife better. Wisteria, however, made it clear that I would rank as the lowest member of her coven until I manifested a talent she deemed useful. Fortunately, I had two things on my side: Carmilla’s support and my own relative experience. They could order me around but I made sure they’d regret it. That didn’t stop them from inflicting petty slights on me for no other reason than that they could.

This particular Friday night was slim pickings amongst the menfolk with at least two girls for every guy on the dance floor. To make matters worse, my compatriots from DBZ had already staked their claim on the prime cuts, leaving the rest of the girls to fight over the scraps. Being the lowest ranked member of the house, I was naturally left out in the cold. Frankly, I had a hard time working up the effort, even though I was several cuts above any human girl, so I sat at the bar and ordered a Bloody Mary just to be sociable. The barman was cute but off limits, so I stuck to simple conversation.

“Not too many of the boys around tonight,” I said, implying the question.

“Big game tomorrow,” he grunted, “coach said that he’d castrate any member of the team that went out drinking tonight.”

“Ouch, that’s a bit extreme,” I commented.

“Guess he really doesn’t want to lose this time. Hey, how long do you think it’d take for the girls in this place to tear a shark apart with their bare hands?”

“If it was male? 2.8 seconds,” I quipped, taking a sip of my drink. He laughed, which made me feel better.

I noticed the young woman that flopped onto the stool next to me before she even registered that I existed. The first thing that caught my eye was her curly auburn hair that barely brushed her shoulders, reminding me a little of the old picture of Venus Ramey that I’d left somewhere in my old house. The rest of her wasn’t as buxom but she was still gorgeous and she had a lovely face with high cheekbones along with a daring glint in her eye that attracted me immediately.

She took a cigarette out of her purse and I had my lighter out before she could even ask the bartender for one. Our eyes met and I felt my will slipping into those deep blue eyes. To my amazement, I knew that I could do anything I wished with her, just like I could with any man. “What’s your name?” I asked, lighting her cigarette.

“Millie,” she answered, staring at me, the cigarette totally forgotten, “Millie Werner.”

“Pretty name,” I complimented. “This joint’s pretty dead, isn’t it Millie? What’s say you and me find somewhere with more… pop.”

Her grin lit up the room. “Sounds like a scream. Come on, I’ve got a car.”

The back seat of a car isn’t the greatest feeding place but every pubic feeding ground has an element of danger to it. I had Millie drive to an isolated spot I knew about when a boy had driven me there intent on a little hanky-panky. He got a lot more than he bargained for that night. So did Millie.

Making love to a woman again after so long was a breath of fresh air in my short unlife. Fumbling, hairy, young men are good, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes one needs the feel of soft, yielding, flesh and smooth skin as contrast. The blood is also different, I can only equate it to the difference between red and white wine to the human palette and I drank of her in more ways than one.

Next morning, I drover her home, carried her to bed and made breakfast for her and her roommates. Millie herself was barely 21; she and the other girls had pooled their money to pay the rent and rates on the place while attending the university. By the end of breakfast, I’d implanted a latent desire to see me again in the four other girls of the house, staking my claim on a rich feeding ground as well as the promise of some fun later. I left after I made sure Millie was feeling ok and wouldn’t talk about what we’d done the night before, even to her friends, feeling elated.

“Is that all?” Wisteria asked dismissively after I announced my big discovery.

“Is that all?” I repeated incredulously. “Even you can’t enchant a female mind! I thought you’d be thrilled! I can be useful to you now, mother!”

“Dominique can crush a man with nothing but a thought,” Wisteria explained, obviouslt bored. “Tina can control fire, one of the very banes of our existence. We have survived for decades without needing to influence women; your talent is nothing more than a curiosity, still useless. But then, I’ve come to expect no less from you, my most disappointing child.”

Carmilla stepped in before I said something that might have gotten me killed. “I can see plenty of merit in this talent personally. If you tire of her, I’d be happy to take her off your hands.”

Glaring at her first child, Wisteria scowled. “And leave your brood one up on mine until next Halloween? Not a chance, Carmilla.”

“Yet the way you talk, it would seem that you think your one vampire short anyway,” the redhead observed. “Besides, you know how this works. A favour for you means a little quid pro quo from me, it all evens out.”

“I do tire of Suzanne,” she admitted, sounding tempted, “but not of the consternation my acquisition of her is giving you, dear. With the overall quality of the rest of my daughters I can afford one runt in the litter. Besides, it seems that kicking her around has proven to be quite the bonding experience for her sisters, I wouldn’t want to deprive them of their toy.”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow at her mother. “Are you seriously doing this just to spite me?”

“Darling, I love you,” Wisteria said truthfully, “but I’m afraid that love may have blinded me to certain realities. Just because I love you, don’t think that I will fail to do what must be done. Suzanne here serves admirably as a reminder of that fact.”

“Permission to leave, mother,” I asked politely. I took her negligent wave as acceptance and stormed out of the sitting room. Carmilla caught up with me halfway down the hall.

“Don’t do anything you’ll regret,” Carmilla ordered. “I’m wearing her down. Don’t worry; she’ll tire of this spat with me eventually.”

“In how long? Another three years? Ten? Thirty? I’m sorry, Carmilla, but I also tire of being treated like dirt.”

“Rash action will only get you killed.”

“Whatever action I choose to take will be measured, I assure you,” I said coldly, leaving her behind as I turned several carefully woven plots over in my mind.

#

1954

“JESUS CHRIST!” Mr. Falton Weiner, band manager, exclaimed when he opened the door to his office, his name and title helpfully lettered on the glass.

I uncrossed and re-crossed my legs under his desk, giving myself enough time for a dramatic pause. “Sorry, you must be mistaking me for someone else,” I quipped.

He scowled for a moment but his mood changed when he saw my face. “Jeeze, doll, you scared the living daylights outta me. Did Peter put you up to this?”

“Actually, sport, I came to read you a bedtime story.”

Smiling, he closed the door and went over to his drinks cabinet, pulling out a bottle of burbon and a glass. “Never let it be said I failed to indulge a beautiful young lady.”

Inclining my head in thanks, I pulled a piece of paper from my purse, carefully unfolded it and read the contents out loud. “I, Falton Joseph Weiner, known henceforth in this contract as the party of the first part, do swear my oath to Garmr, known henceforth in this contract as the party of the second part…”

Falton’s glass slipped from his fingers, shattering on the floor. The burbon soaked into the cheap carpet as he stood there staring at me, pale as a sheet. “Where did you get that?”

“I have to admit, the last place I expected to find it was in your own safe deposit box,” I said, refolding the piece of paper and tucking it safely away. “Falton, you’ve been a very naughty boy. Binding forces beyond your understanding, sacrificing young girls for your own success and generally pissing off all the wrong people.”

He slumped into the seat opposite me. “You couldn’t… even if you had an in with the bank, you’d need my key to open the box.”

Leaning over, I opened the closet that concealed his safe before opening the safe as well. “Not the brightest idea keeping the keys there, though I suppose you were worried more about your boys getting their hands on this. As long as you keep this little piece of paper, you have them by the balls. After all and how on Earth are the police ever going to suspect this is all over a pact with a demonic wolf?”

“Look, I tried to do my best over a bad situation,” he explained guiltily, wringing his hands, “you’ve gotta believe me!”

“If I didn’t think that, I’d have had you shot,” I lied, standing up to walk around the table towards the door. “As it is, I’m prepared to do what I can to help you out of this mess.”

Handguns sound like firecrackers when they go off. I hardly felt the entry of the first shot in the small of my back. The second hit one of my ribs before bursting from my chest just below the collarbone. When I turned to face him, the revolver still smoking in his hand, I put my hands on my hips and tapped my foot impatiently. “Do you have ANY idea what this dress cost me?”

Obviously he didn’t, since he unloaded the other four bullets at me. One missed but the other two bullets ensured that the dress was beyond repair. Crossing the room in an eyeblink, I wrenched the gun from his grasp, bent him over the desk and pressed the hot barrel firmly against his ass cheek. His burning flesh reminded me of bacon.

“What the fuck are you?” He asked through clenched teeth after he’d finished screaming.

“Pissed off,” I answered. “Two dead girls, hunted like animals, Mr. Weiner. I’m going to make sure you know how they felt in their last moments, and your friends too. Now, look into my eyes.”

Getting him to call the band members to order them back in to work was easy. Programming him to lead them down into the basement once they’d arrived was child’s play. Locking the door behind them before I tore the contract in half was also relatively painless but listening to their screams, smelling their blood as it was spilled on the stairwell, was hard enough that I wished cigarettes still affected me the way they used to when I was alive.

When the noise stopped, I found myself leaning against the door, holding a breath I no longer needed. “Garmr?” I called out. “Garmr, our deal is done; you’re free to go back from whence you came. Garmr?”

Just as I placed my ear against the door to hear better, the barrier buckled sharply as the demon wolf hurled his whole body against it. Knocked back several feet onto my well rounded ass, I growled, baring my fangs. “We had a deal!”

The blows against the door paused for a moment before Garmr spoke. “Yes, I promised I would leave and so I shall but the blood of these pigs has excited me for other diversions. The girls waiting for me in Niflheimr are sheep and right now I’m in the mood something more… stimulating. I can smell your lust, little one; does the idea of my bloody maw excite you? Would you kiss my lips to drink of my kills? I know you would, vampire, you’re a hunter just like me. If you don’t mind if I mix your fairy tales, get ready Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf is about to huff and puff and blow your door in.”

Leaping to my feet, I hissed, baring claw and fang as Garmr burst through, breaking the door, locks and all, off its frame. Vampiric speed kicked in as I grabbed his gaping jaws, knocked onto my back as he pinned me to the ground with his front paws. It was all I could do to hold those great fangs at bay, gore dripping from his fur onto my face. The rumble of a growl deep in his throat reverberated through my bones as he glared down at me with those baleful red orbs.

Thrusting his head to one side, he wrenched free of my grip and sank his teeth into my shoulder. It wasn’t like being shot; I felt his saliva burn in my flesh, forcing a scream from my throat. He could have torn me to pieces but he had an altogether different intent, the lust in his eyes easy to read. As excited as the smell of blood was making me, I didn’t have the same compunctions about hurting Garmr.

I stabbed the claws of my right hand into his side, digging deep between his thick ribs. He let go of me and howled, his dark blood spurting over my face as he rolled off me. Pressing the advantage, I grabbed him around the neck and twisted with all my strength, though it availed me little. He bucked several times but I hung on, ironically, for dear life. Then, just as suddenly, he disappeared, evaporating into mist.

His sudden departure back to his home left me dangling in the air without support, so gravity asserted itself and pitched me onto the ground flat on my face. Taking account of myself, I was practically naked, what remained of my dress after being shot had been shredded by Garmr’s claws. My wounds healed but the bite still burned for a few days until it finally subsided.

Those few days were spent cleaning the mess left in the basement. A call to Carmilla had the club quietly purchased from Felton Weiner and signs were posted saying that the club was closed for renovations until it was reopened under new ownership. Landlords were told that Felton and the band had moved to Chicago to try to make their mark and the club, the band and the murders were quickly forgotten.

People kept telling me that I seemed different after that night. Millie mentioned it when I visited her and her roommates before I started what I could only describe as my victory orgy. Perhaps it was my first brush with the true death since becoming a vampire, maybe all that blood excited me more than I’ll admit, but since that night, I felt freer than I’d ever been. I found myself enjoying the hunt, craving it even.

But that’s not so strange for a vampire…

#

1948

Dominique had Mina pinned to the wall with seven steak knives before Angelica blindsided her with a right hook from behind. Tina was chained up in a corner with a bag over her head, struggling for all she was worth as she tried to bite her way through the cloth. Kelly had several other vampires held at bay using her pyrokinetic talent to turn a candle into a flamethrower. In short, the DBZ recreation room was a battleground and I was standing right in the middle of it.

“Oh, no, please don’t fight over me,” I begged with all the sincerity I could muster.

Everyone paused when Carmilla stormed into the room, her face like a thundercloud. “What is all this?!?” She demanded, plucking a makeshift wooden stake from Angelica’s hand.

Moments later, everyone was blaming everyone else except for me. The convoluted web of relationships I’d woven over the last year, the intricate plots and trouble I’d stirred up had finally come to a head and exploded rather spectacularly. I was too smart to gloat, however, so I kept my head bowed humbly and made myself small enough to escape notice.

When Wisteria barged in, however, she scanned the room once and knew just who to blame. Even so, I had to suppress a smile even when she picked me up by the neck and rammed me into the wall. “YOU! You’re responsible for this! I know! You’ve been undermining my authority for months! Haven’t you? HAVEN’T YOU!?!”

Actually, I’d been undermining her authority for nearly a year but I wasn’t about to tell her that. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I gasped.

“Mother,” Carmilla said gently, touching her arm, “we don’t know she had anything to do with this. We’re all cooped up in this house together; our children’s tempers were bound to flare like this eventually.”

“Then would you care to explain why only my children are fighting? Or why this one remains unscathed? I trust my instincts.”

“As do I,” the redhead soothed, “and I swear to you, if she is guilty then I will mete out an appropriate punishment. Can we please finally heal this rift between us?”

“Whenever we speak on this matter, I regret not teaching you humility,” Wisteria snapped, “no, you can’t have her. You will never have her for as long as I remain, she will be my abject lesson to you, never to doubt my determination! If you can’t have her and she refuses to behave, however… she dies.”

“I can’t let you kill her,” Carmilla stated firmly, “her ability to enchant females alone is worth too much to us as long as we remain trapped in Ravencrest. Wisteria, I love you, I know that you’ll break the curse. Don’t take your frustrations out on someone who has nothing to do with this.”

Wisteria was silent a long time before letting me go. “I won’t let you have her but I can’t keep her. She has cast her own dice, let her live with the consequences. Suzanne is hereby exiled from the Sorority house. I no longer claim her as a member of my lineage, may no-one who wishes to remain here allow her succour within these walls! I also deny her right to freedom and progeny. She can fend for herself alone here in Ravencrest. I want this room spotless by the time I choose to return.”

With that, she swept from the room, leaving Carmilla staring after her grinding her teeth. “Well, you heard her,” the redhead vampire shouted at the childer around her, “get to cleaning, lest she take it into her head to return post haste.”

The vampires were busy cleaning within moments, through plenty of furniture was going to have to be dumped and replaced. Carmilla helped me up from where I’d landed on the floor, scowling. “Well, I hope you’re happy.”

“Ecstatic,” I sighed, the prospect of being able to leave literally euphoric.

“I can’t let you take your things; they’ll be divided amongst the other girls.”

I snorted. “Nothing I want to keep anyway.”

“Where will you stay?”

“Last I checked, my old house is still there,” I shrugged, “according to records after all, I haven’t been reported dead or disappeared. I’ll get it transferred into my name; maybe I’ll pass myself off as my own long lost daughter or something.”

“Don’t think this means you’re free of me,” Carmilla admonished, handing me her card, “I expect you to be available morning, noon and night.”

“Carmilla,” I sighed, kissing her cheek, “for you, anything.”



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