Andre paced back and forth in front of the sofa where Emma had fallen asleep. The impromptu strategic planning session taking place between him, his Queen, Sigebert, and Rasul was too quiet for human ears to hear, but all the same, he wanted to get Emma safely back to his quarters, and then he wanted to…play.
While he was concentrating on their forming plans, he was also impatiently flipping through his mental repertoire of favored interrogation techniques. If the captured were had any information whatsoever, by daylight he would have it one way or another.
Sophie-Anne wondered if her eldest child was aware that his increasingly annoying pacing was serving dual purposes: he was expressing his impatient frustrations, true, but he was also a moving barrier between Emma and the other two males in the room.
As tedious as his constant movements were, she allowed him this reprieve. She’d never seen him act quite like this before, and pondered whether to give him a clue or let him flounder about as males have done since time began.
Meh, she decided. He should flounder. As much as she loved her child, she was fully aware of his arrogant tendencies, especially where humans and emotions were concerned. Emma was proving to be a delight in more ways than one.
Soon enough Andre dismissed Rasul with instructions to feed quickly and then spend the rest of the dark guarding the door to his quarters. He then arranged the highly-skilled services of two of his most trusted, well, least distrusted, were guards for daylight duty.
He scowled at the thought of their stench permeating the hallway outside his quarters, but didn’t trust BeauChamps to not attack during the day.
No, he didn’t trust that rat bastard for shit.
To his Queen’s open amusement, Andre quickly heated then downed two bottles of Royalty Blended. He knew the upcoming stench of free-flowing were blood would ruin a decent feeding.
After discussing a few more details, he could finally take his leave. He gently lifted the still-sleeping Emma into his arms after gesturing for Sigebert to grab her pills and the crutches the ill-tempered doctor had popped by not too long ago. By now Rasul should be finished with his meal and could guard her while Andre did what Andre did best.
Although he held Emma so gently in his arms that she never once stirred, the expression on his face was borderline feral as he stalked toward his quarters followed by the silently smirking Sigebert.
Wybert’s twin had witnessed Andre in action numerous times over the centuries, and was definitely looking forward to seeing this child of his Maker employ his particular skills once again. That damn were deserved what he was going to get, and what he was going to get would involved more pain and agony that he’d ever have thought possible. The hard grin gracing Sigebert’s rugged face was almost grotesque as he considered how that damn were would suffer.
Though he’d never admit it, however, sometimes those skills, and especially Andre’s acute willingness to use them, alarmed Sigebert a bit. One thing he knew for certain: if that were knew anything of use, they would know it by the night’s end.
For a moment he pondered the discrepancy between Andre’s obvious temper versus his incredibly gentle handling of the female. Then he shrugged his massive shoulders. Andre had always been hard to decipher, plus they were already at his door.
After smoothly lowering Emma to the bed, Andre growled silently when he noticed that her clothes still bore the bloody evidence of the earlier attack. As impatient as he was to begin “working” with the were, the thought of her sleeping in those clothes bothered him for some absurd reason.
He brusquely relieved Sigebert of the bottle and crutches and had him wait outside in the hall. A few minutes later, after cursing himself for wasting the time, he had changed Emma from her dirty clothes into one of his clean button-up shirts. If he happened to take the extra three seconds needed to ensure her pillow was properly positioned and to draw the cover up over her subtly relaxing form, well, it was only three seconds.
If he had also happened to linger during the disrobing process, he atoned for his understandable lapse by calling down to the kitchen and asking for the female human who had brought her coffee earlier. She seemed to like that particular kitchen worker.
After briefly conversing with the woman, he placed a second quick call to his royal accountant. He then secured his door and, with Sigebert by his side, sped at an inhuman rate to the royal dungeons.
After descending the levels of stairs needed to reach the underground portion of the palace, in unison Andre and Sigebert stalked down the innocuous hallway leading to the more specific “guest quarters”. While both males wore similar fearsome, vindictive expressions, Sigebert’s twisted grimace betrayed an almost cheerful anticipation of the retribution about to be exacted on the one were left who had dared attack not only him, but the defenseless female in his care.
Andre wore the cold, vicious, fierce facade that fit him so well.
He nodded a dismissal to the attending guards who shivered a bit at the look on his face and left. The door behind Sigebert slammed shut with a resounding clamor.
The decor of the small “guest” rooms was in no way consistent with that of the rest of the palace. Instead of luxurious bathrooms and king-sized beds, the “amenities” ran more towards soundproof walls and surveillance systems. The room had a concrete floor with a convenient drain in the middle, and the walls were of a similar, easily cleaned material. A water hose was coiled neatly near an exposed faucet on the same wall as a large sink.
Each darkened, dank room was basically the same. All had similar versions of Andre’s favorite implements both hung from a wall and displayed on a large table. Another wall supported silver hanging cuffs, silver neck belts, and silver thumb screws, and there was always one heavy, silver-coated chair situated over the drain in the middle of the room. Each room was also adorned with strong suspension cuffs hanging from the reinforced ceiling.
These rooms weren’t where unintentional guests were held over – those rooms were farther up the plain hallway and came complete with a toilet and a bed…items deemed rather unnecessary for the interrogation rooms. If guests left these rooms, it was generally in pieces.
For expedience Andre sometimes allowed his victims to remain in chains attached to either a wall or a chair during the information extraction portion of their time together, but for this particular were, he felt a curiously strong desire to beat the immortal fuck out of him several times before finishing his miserable existence.
No matter what his more primal inclinations were, however, he had to first gather whatever information the dog might have.
Both pairs of old vampire eyes locked onto the burly, ill-kempt were who was enjoying the silver cuffs attached to the far wall. The were, bloodied and bruised from his failed kidnapping attempt, snarled uselessly when he spotted the vampires, although his eyes did widen considerably when he recognized Andre.
“This is your one chance to die a painless death, mongrel. Tell me what you know of BeauChamps plans.”
While the obstinate were shivered at ice in Andre’s tone, he still managed to find his false bravado, and snapped and snarled uselessly.
With forced calm, Andre slowly stalked over to the table, quietly donned a pair of gloves, and selected a dulled, serrated silver-bladed knife. He moved to stand in front of the were, and slowly inspected his knife. After seeing the silver blade, the were snarled louder.
Annoyed that he couldn’t relieve the noisy beast of his vocal cords yet, Andre slowly broke three ribs with painstaking precision so as to derive the most excruciating pain possible.
“The next noise from your pathetic throat had best be relevant to my interests, dog.”
Andre was not completely displeased with the fetid wolf’s natural disinclination toward cooperation. Jaw clinched, fangs gleaming through his lips, he simply stalked back to the table and gathered a few more supplies.
Long minutes and numerous pained howls and screams later, he displayed his handiwork to Sigebert, who involuntarily flinched. No one really wanted to see the internal workings of a were’s broken, exposed ribcage except perhaps a doctor, and Sigebert was not medically inclined.
The stench of cauterized were permeated the chamber. Andre didn’t want the nasty fucker dying of unintentional blood loss one second before he was ready to send him on.
“Again, you filthy excuse for a supe, tell me of the plans revolving around Emma.”
The were, gasping in agony and feeling his life’s blood slowly seeping from the silvered and cauterized wounds, partially cooperated.
Andre wasn’t satisfied, not by a long shot. The longer he was in the presence of this disgusting beast who would have taken his Emma, the louder his bloodlust screamed.
He reached for the silver dust again.
The were sang like a beautiful canary.
Half an hour later, he turned to Sigebert after releasing the now partially healed were.
Sigebert raised his brows, then gladly complied.
When Andre was eventually satisfied that retribution had been achieved, he contacted the dungeon “cleaners” then went to the small but well-stocked room he kept for his personal use in that lowest, hidden, area of the palace. After a quick but thorough shower and a change of clothing, the few nicks on his knuckles had completely healed.
Finally he could tend to Emma.
On the way to his quarters, he pondered again his decision to not give her his blood to heal her wounds. He resented the fact that the thought of giving her his blood had even crossed his mind in the first place, and he chose to pointedly ignore that brief but strange sense of gratification? satisfaction? that the mere thought had inspired. The pull to heal her with his blood was foreign, illogical, and detested.
The blood, he sternly reminded himself, was precious and not to be wasted on every hurt human he happened to come across.
He satisfied himself with the knowledge that the pills the doctor left for her use would ease her pains. When the doctor had reappeared with the crutches, he had questioned her about the bottle of pain relievers she’d left for Emma, and was reassured that they would, indeed, keep her comfortable while she recovered, and should be supplemented with an over-the-counter medicine.
That her mobility would thusly be impaired for several days was just the lucky break he needed to help keep her safe. It was either that, or just lock her into his chambers, but for some reason he preferred her to remain in his quarters willingly.
When he approached his door, he nodded to Rasul and took the bag he held out for him. After a brief chat, he dismissed the darker vampire and secured his chambers.
He stood for a long minute just inside the door and simply inhaled Emma’s sweet, clean scent pervading the entire area. Suddenly feeling somewhat lighter in spirit, Andre blurred over to his bedroom where Emma lay sleeping peacefully in his bed. He immediately noted that she had barely moved since he’d left, yet her covers needed a minute adjustment anyway.
Several minutes later he was irritated to find himself just staring at the human…again…and stomped off to her bathroom to take out the contents of the bag. He placed the large bottle of Advil on the counter, and then refolded the clothes properly.
He smiled at the lacy bra and panty set, and could just imagine Emma’s blush when she found them. The outer clothing looked comfortable and practical, something he oddly considered that Emma might like. The kitchen worker had followed his shopping orders well.
He glanced around, then stared at the pills for a moment. Didn’t humans need water to take them? A quick call to the kitchen resulted in a couple of clean glasses being brought up immediately.
While waiting for the glasses, Andre wondered what Emma would actually do while being kept in his quarters. Her ankle might be injured, but he was certain her mind was in perfect working order, and from his own recollections he knew boredom would be a big problem. When he answered the quietly tentative knock at the door and discovered the same kitchen worker from earlier, he charged her with another task, then sent her on her way.
He scowled mightily when he found himself sitting at his desk with pen in hand to write Emma a note, but shook his head and finished the note anyway. Fuck, he’s already written her damn name by the time he’d caught himself.
With missions accomplished, retribution sought and won, and human cared for, Andre slipped into his hidden chambers, downed two more bottles of heated foul blood substitute, and relaxed into his daytime slumber.
Emma slowly stretched and was enjoying the peaceful softness of the bed until a wave of soreness reminded her of the events of the previous evening. Moments later Ma Nature naturally decided to chime in.
She rolled her eyes at that inconsiderate bitch and slowly sat up. Startled, she suddenly realized that not only had someone put her to bed, but that they’d changed her dirty clothes, too. With the way Andre was acting the evening before, she somehow doubted that he’d let anyone else do it, so it must have been him.
Her whole body warmed and tingled at the thought of Andre stripping her down and seeing her naked. She checked…well, thankfully not completely naked; she still had her panties and bra on under his huge dress shirt. She wondered for a moment where her slightly-bloodied pants and top went.
Mother Nature then knocked a bit more intensely and Emma grunted as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. She was sore all over, but didn’t really want to take any more of those amazing pain pills the doctor had left for her since they made her itch.
She stood up, then promptly sat back down and practiced her cursing. Even she was surprised at how sore her ankle was. That was when she noticed the pair of crutches propped between the bed and the nightstand.
After convincing herself she was Gumby in a former life as she stretched to grab the crutches, she managed to get up and hobble over to the bathroom. She laughed when she caught herself locking the door – who was going to dare to come into Andre’s quarters during the daytime?
While paying Ma Nature her dues, she saw a pile of clothing on the large counter, a new glass, a huge bottle of Advil, and a note that of course, she thought sourly, she couldn’t reach from the toilet. She thought about using the rubberized “foot” of a crutch to slide the note over, but decided to just wait.
Emma leaned back and willed herself to find a better mood. A few minutes later, when a better mood still remained elusive, she gave up and finished her morning routine.
She washed her hands and face, brushed her teeth, grabbed the note, then sat back on the toilet. Standing was a bit more challenging with a hurt ankle.
Follow the same routine as yesterday – do not leave my quarters, and order what you will from the kitchen.
You are to use the crutches the doctor brought for you, keep off your feet as much as possible, and keep your ankle elevated. Take pills as needed.
I have procured clean clothing for your use.
We will speak when I rise.
Well, Emma thought as she made a very immature face, that’s short and to the point.
Cursing at how difficult it was to rise from the toilet seat without putting pressure on her ankle, she hobbled over to the pile of clothing. She figured her own bags must still be in the back of the SUV from last night.
She was surprised to find that everything was designed especially for comfort…and was in her exact size. She really wanted to know who to thank for the comfy yoga pants, the soft T-shirt with the lower-cut boat neck, and the socks. She blushed when she discovered the lacy new underwear, but was very glad to find it. While she absolutely could not imagine Andre in a store somewhere selecting stretchy yoga pants, she could imagine his long fingers skillfully sorting through lacy panties and bras.
Emma hurriedly dressed and called the kitchen for her breakfast-slash-lunch.
Twenty minutes later Emma sat at the now-familiar table gazing at all the food. Once again the kitchen had outdone itself: half a pound of perfectly-fried bacon, two eggs over-medium, crispy link sausage, four beignets, a small bowl of sweet dipping syrup, a bowl of fresh fruit chunks, a tall glass of orange juice, a tall glass of pineapple juice, and a full coffee service with milk and Splenda. There was even an extra insulated carafe of hot coffee and one of cold milk for later.
The part that puzzled Emma was that the only things she’d actually ordered were the beignets and coffee service. The female kitchen staff person who’d delivered it- Tracy, from the evening before – was extremely nice…as were the two weres she was surprised to find guarding the door. One of them even stepped into the doorway to monitor Tracy’s activities as she pushed the cart to where Emma indicated, and proceeded to set up the coffee and made sure that Emma could easily reach whatever she wanted. Just before she left, she indicated a large tote bag on the bottom shelf of the cart.
Curious, Emma made herself a cup of coffee then investigated the bag. Her jaw dropped when she saw the contents: two celebrity gossip rags, three women’s magazines, two generic puzzle and word-search books, a deck of playing cards, a small manicure set, small cotton pads…
She shook her head, took another sip of her coffee, then started pulling even more things out of the seemingly-bottomless bag: ten different mostly-pink colors of nail polish, nail polish remover, hand lotion, and a small but colorful book about coffee, of all things.
There was even a note advising Emma to let Tracy know if she needed anything else to help keep herself occupied while she recovered, and that she hoped she recovered soon.
Huh. Emma smiled, then snorted. She figured that if Andre had fingerprints, they’d be all over this situation. She glanced back to the food cart as she pondered the overly-copious amount of food. She shrugged, then dug in.
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