Things seem to be getting worse instead of better for Kirk and Drea. They’ve been robbed, vandalized and found a dead body all in the last few days. Most recently, Drea was approached by a man posing as a customer. He threatened her before she threw him out of the shop.
Drea ignored the infuriating customer’s jibe, though she stiffened, the hairs on the back of her neck rising uncomfortably. Unhesitatingly, she let the door swing shut behind her. Visibly shaken, she went to the wine rack. Selecting a bottle of wine at random, she opened it, pouring a large glass, downing it in one, long gulp. She was repeating the process when Kirk walked in.
“You’ll make yourself ill,” he said with a frown of concern. “What’s put you in such a state?”
Drea told him of her encounter with the odd man. When she told him the man’s parting comment, she went weak in the knees.
“He can’t possibly know anything,” Kirk tried to reason with her, but his voice lacked conviction.
“Of course he did! His method was crude, but he knows – or suspects. Why else would he want blood pudding, blood sausage and steak tartar?”
“He was probably just trying to gross you out.”
“He – knows. We have to contact Phillida. The Council needs to be informed.”
“You’re right, of course. Will you knock off the wine? You’ll vomit it all up in a minute. That’s a very expensive vintage.”
Drea grabbed a phial of dark red liquid from a steel box in a secret wall safe. She added the liquid to the wine, sipping the last drops from the phial. Rinsing it, she put the empty glass tube back in the box, hiding it once more.
He poured himself a glass of the modified beverage before pouring another for her. Raising his glass, he examined the liquid with a discerning eye.
“We knew there would be risks attracting this kind of attention, Drea.”
“I know, Kirk. But so soon? I had hoped it would last awhile longer. You’re just recognizing your dream.”
“My love, my dreams were all answered when I met you.” He took her hands to his lips. “You changed my life.” He kissed her knuckles, turning her hands to kiss the pad of her thumb, as he let his lips drift to the center of her palm.
“This is not the first business we’ve lost, nor will it be the last.”
“What if he was a hunter?” Her question cut through the calm he tried to create.
“Then we deal with him on his own terms. The way we always do.” His lips continued to caress her hands.
Drea shivered, a tingle running up her spine.
“What if he won’t take a bribe?”
“The choice is then simple – turn or die.”
“He could kill us, Kirk.”
“We are not without skills and resources, my love. The Council….”
“The Council will throw us to the dogs. Look what happened to Jasmine!”
“She was careless,” he replied gently. “Sloppy. We would have dispatched her ourselves, had it not happened.”
“How can you be such a heartless bastard?” She asked, jerking her hand away. “Jasmine was our friend!”
“Perhaps, but she put us all at risk. She was too outrageous and obvious. Showing your fangs in public, even as a Halloween costume, is bound to attract the wrong kind of attention. Then starting that group of depressed teenagers. What was she thinking?”
“She was lonely.” Her fingers touched his cheek, brushing his hair gently. “Just as I was – until I met you. Turning you was the best idea I ever had.”
“You did it for the sex,” he said, taking her wrist to his lips.