Andre strode impatiently to his Maker’s chambers in answer to her summons. While there was no sense of urgency, he knew she wouldn’t arbitrarily call for his presence…but that didn’t mean he had to… He refused to ponder this slight, sudden antipathy towards answering his beloved Maker’s summons.
When he approached the hallway leading to her doors, the reason for his requested presence was annoyingly identifiable: Beau-fucking-Champs. His stench was fresh, and as foul as usual.
He strove to keep his fangs sheathed even as a low growl escaped. Andre wasn’t the least bit surprised to discover that the asshole was making a nuisance of himself to his Queen. That cocksucker needed killing and soon.
As he approached the doors to her main salon, he nodded to the attentive vampires guarding the entryway and, without pause, tossed both doors open to enter. He smirked to himself at this dramatic display – no one else would be able to get away with such a strong entrance to his Queen’s salon.
“Andre, how delightful to see you this night. I was just now remarking to BeauChamps that I was missing my second,” Sophie-Anne greeted with no evidence of upset or anger tingeing her dulcet tones.
“My beautiful Queen, how fare thee this lovely night?” Andre could play the delightful attendant when needed, and bowed low over her bejeweled hand. He truly despised the elaborate, boring, and completely useless games of court, but he could certainly act the part.
Playing right along with their well-practiced charade, Sophie-Anne tittered as expected, and allowed the farce to continue knowing full well that her child’s “unexpected” entrance had thwarted BeauChamps’ latest plot to secure her hand, and therefore her properties, titles, and power. The stupid fool was so overly-confident in his scant charm and charisma that he really didn’t think she saw right through him.
If she didn’t so badly want the land he was trying to hold over her head…and if so many others didn’t already know of his stay at her court…she’d gladly let Andre have his particularly torturous way with the disgusting fils de bas.
After watching the two powerful vampires exchange a volley of standard, innocuous greetings and comments about the weather, BeauChamps’ patient facade finally started crumbling.
“Yes, well, Andre,” he sneered the name, “Your Maker and I were enjoying a private conversation before your unexpected interruption. Aren’t you supposed to be torturing criminals or something? Anyway I’m certain you have other more important chores you need to do for your Maker, so don’t let us keep you.”
Being well aware of her child’s temperament and his simmering need to rend the vile, loathsome vampire’s body apart limb by limb, Sophie-Anne quickly stated, “Although your unscheduled visit has certainly been…enlightening, perhaps my secretary can pencil you in for an actual appointment, BeauChamps. I wish to speak with my child now. Do be a dear and shut the doors on your way out,” she ordered with a flick of her hand. Her dismissal was painfully obvious.
Quickly stifling a small growl, BeauChamps rearranged his deep glower into a seemingly pleasant expression, bowed over the Queen’s hand, and made his exit with what pride he had left.
Neither remaining vampire spoke until a guard knocked once on the door, the usual signal that a departing visitor had exited the hallway and was out of general eavesdropping range. Then, speaking faster than even most vampires could have understood, Sophie-Anne gave Andre the details of BeauChamps latest annoying visit.
As they discussed the ramifications of the entire debacle, Andre’s phone rang. Instantly concerned since he knew that particular ringtone wouldn’t sound unless there was a problem, he answered immediately even though he was in deep conference with his Queen.
“What’s wrong?” The strident demand for information sharpened his tone.
Sophie-Anne was surprised that Andre would so quickly answer his cell in the middle of a plotting session, but the concern in his voice made her even more curious…as did the eruption of his fangs.
A moment later he snarled, “Fuck – don’t let her answer the door. I’m on my way.”
In the blink of an eye he was gone with no explanations. Sophie-Anne relaxed back into her plush sofa and sighed. Emma…this had to be about Emma. Another something untoward must have happened to her little human friend. She shook her head. She found that she…missed the girl and her refreshing humor and unusual attitude. That girl – without even meaning to, she had managed to completely unsettle her whole household.
No, the Queen corrected herself, not her entire household…just most of the more important male vampires in it. Andre, whether or not he would admit it, was certainly affected, and to a lesser extent so were Sigebert and Rasul. Even Wybert seemed to appreciate her, and he was doing good to think about something other than his sword and guarding his Maker. And, from what she had heard from her spies, even the kitchen help of all things liked the girl.
With a bemused shake of her head, Sophie-Anne reached for her own phone and dialed for more guards. Whatever was going on, Andre would most likely call upon at least one of the twins for assistance, and she would certainly not begrudge him their help. Apparently some humans required more upkeep than she’d previously thought.
She then considered the possibility that whatever was going on with Emma could also be a diversionary tactic against herself, and planned accordingly. One didn’t become a Queen by being a vapid little twat like that wannabe Freyda of Oklahoma.
Sophie-Anne shuddered at the thought of that overblown, self-important bicycle of a bitch. She knew exactly how Freyda became a queen – on her knees with a knife hidden behind her back.
As Andre blurred to his quarters, he mentally “called” his brothers to join him – there would most likely be a damn bloody mess to clean up. He knew that whoever was banging on his door was not Rasul. The dark vampire been told to call either himself or Emma should anything questionable happen.
A second after he rounded the corner into the hallway that led to his door, Sigebert and, to his surprise, Wybert both joined him. Snarling too quietly for anyone but another vampire to hear him, Andre quickly commanded his brothers to leave the weres hurting but alive. He would need to question them, and then make them pay with their blood and then their lives for threatening his Emma.
Thankfully the weres foolishly attempting to break down the door didn’t notice the pissed off vampires until it was too late. A short but intense skirmish later, all three weres were lying bloodied, broken, and unconscious in a heap on the floor. Wybert secured the prisoners and called for back-up with dragging their bodies to the basement.
After wiping his bloody hands on the remains of his shirt and tossing it aside, Andre unlocked the scratched but completely intact, reinforced door. His eyes immediately sought out Emma who was sitting up wide-eyed on the sofa. The were-lynx was standing in front of her ready to defend until she realized who they were.
Shocked and concerned with Andre’s gory appearance, Emma attempted to get up, but he blurred over to her before she could rise. He immediately knelt before her and gently pushed her back onto the seat.
“Are you ok,” she asked, her concern obvious, as she took his hands in her own.
“Shhh, I’m fine, and so are you. You’re safe now,” he reassured her quietly.
Sigebert and Tracy were both shocked at the tender tone of his voice. This was most certainly not the Andre they knew.
Her visual inspection completed, Emma lifted one hand to wipe a smear of blood from above his eye. She held it up to him and commented wryly, “I don’t have to ask who won, huh?”
Relief that the stressful situation was over made her almost giddy, and she gave Andre the benefit of her dimples even as her lips still trembled.
Andre just shook his head and gathered her close as he nestled her head into the crook of his neck. He didn’t quite understand this need he suddenly had to hold her firmly to his body, but was glad he did when she wrapped her arms around his waist. He was surprised at how tightly she held onto him.
What amazed him even more was the control he’d had in not eviscerating every were in the hallway. A low growl escaped from between his fangs still lowered in anger. They were at his door, trying to get to his Emma. His blood demanded that those fuckers die in excruciatingly painful ways, but his brain demanded that he bleed every possible bit of information out of them before teaching them the new meaning of pain.
Still, the thought of them getting their paws on Emma…he pulled her even closer to his chest.
Emma swallowed hard, then whispered, “That…that was kinda scary.” The fear in her voice, and the accompanying shiver, nudged at his heart.
He wasn’t exactly sure how to soothe her, but he hated how upset she was. He awkwardly started running his hand up and down her back like he’d seen silly people do in movies, and when she started relaxing against him, he found the motion came a bit more naturally.
Suddenly he became aware that they weren’t alone. He cleared his throat unnecessarily, but found that he didn’t want to part himself from the woman holding onto him so tightly. In one smooth movement, he rose with her in his arms, then commanded Sigebert to view the surveillance videos from the hall and adjoining corridors, commanded Tracy to wait just in case her mistress needed her, then strode off to his former bedroom.
Once inside he closed the door with his hip then very gently eased Emma onto the bed. As he turned to go to his closet, she grabbed his hand. He immediately sat down beside her.
“Tell me what happened out there,” she asked as she tried not to show how upset she still was over everything. While his bare, glorious chest was a most attractive sight, the gore ruining his khakis was a horrid reminder of the night’s events.
Andre reached over with his other hand and smoothed her hair from her face. He couldn’t ignore the drying were blood on his hands and arms, and refused to allow more of it to defile her. “Let me shower and change out of these clothes, then we’ll talk.”
Emma nodded her agreement, but forgot to let go of his hand.
In a move that surprised both of them, he raised her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. With a startlingly sweet smile, he placed her hand on her stomach and rose quickly from the bed.
While Andre showered and changed clothes at an inhuman speed, he reflected dispassionately on the fact that he wasn’t experiencing the expected bloodlust from the fight. Normally he’d be craving a deep feed and a hard fuck by now, but in all honestly, he wasn’t wanting either one.
He snorted. Of course he was thirsty and horny as fuck, just…not for one of the used donor-whores housed in the palace for just those purposes.
He knew he was changing somehow, and while the concept itself somewhat worried him, the actual changes he’d sensed in himself didn’t bother him in the least.
That worried him most of all. He shook his head and finished his ablutions.
In clean clothes but with his hair still damp, Andre returned to Emma who had scooted to what he knew to be her preferred side of the bed. He subdued the wry grin threatening to soften his lips as he settled himself against the headboard beside her.
“When was the last time you heard from Rasul,” Andre asked as Emma scooted closer to him.
“I haven’t heard a thing from him since he left while you were still here. Oh no – why?”
“He’s missing, and I suspect he was kidnapped. We have to consider that while this was obviously an attempt on you, it might also have been a ruse to weaken our guard.”
“Who was at the door?”
Emma snorted; she couldn’t help it. She knew Andre hadn’t meant to deadpan his answer – that’s just how it came out – but it still tickled her funny bone.
“Well, they couldn’t have had anything decent in mind or they wouldn’t have been there in the first place, so…good job, Andre. Thank you.”
He’d quirked his brow and tried not to laugh when she’d snorted, but it was a losing battle, especially when her dimples made their appearance. He gave in, smirked, and responded, “You’re most welcome, Em.”
With that, Emma’s burst of anxiety-fueled energy disappeared, and she slowly slid down on the bed and rested her head on his lap as she wrapped one arm across his thighs.
Andre stiffened in shock for a moment, then found himself lightly stroking her hair. He didn’t understand exactly why she would want to rest her head there of all places, but he allowed it since it seemed to give her some sense of comfort. He acutely despised the acrid scent of her fear.
With a deft twist of his wrist, he removed the thing holding her hair up and for a moment seriously considered tearing the damn thing to shreds. He hated it; hair as beautiful as hers should be free to flow softly down her back. He flung it across the room and hoped she wouldn’t find it any time soon. With a profoundly deep sense of satisfaction he felt her slowly relax as he gently threaded his fingers through her hair, and knew it wouldn’t be long until she slept in peace.
Three minutes and forty seconds later he felt her finally succumb to her exhaustion, yet he felt no desire to leave her bed and tend to the urgent matters at hand. Instead, he watched as his hand stroked her arm a few times before he saw his arm curling around her small body.
Four minutes. He decided that he would give himself four more minutes with her before covering her with a blanket then leaving. The sight and sounds of her slow, even breaths were both calming and reassuring, and the weight of her beautiful head on his thighs seemed…anchoring, rather than annoying.
Nine minutes later he reluctantly forced himself to emerge from the bedroom. Andre then ordered the were-lynx to watch over Emma until he could return to her bed.
He and Sigebert had security videos to watch, and prisoners to interrogate and torture. The weres would then plead for their deaths for many, many nights to come.
Andre’s face tightened in frightening determination. He had a human and a Queen to protect.
*A/N: The phrase “fils de bas” means “bastard” according to: THIS SITE Also: Reviews are inspiration!*