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Friday, April 28, 2023

F³ Underestimated 10

            I walked robotically, one foot in front of the other, staring straight ahead. My mind, though, raced, trying to come up with a deflection, a way to avoid having to give the proof that Nikki had mentioned. Being a blood donor to a vampire was at the bottom of my list of things to do tonight. Dying was right above that.

            “Take ease, Matthew. We are here to enjoy the evening. Remember that this is a social place. Rigid pace and a stony face will make people suspicious.

            I took a breath and relaxed my face and gait. I couldn’t will away the churning stomach, but she was right. If I acted suspiciously, then they would demand such proof.

            I turned my head and whispered up into her ear. “If I’m a boytoy, then we shouldn’t be so proper in public.”

            I wrapped my arm around her hip and kissed her on the neck. My lips met cold flesh, which did nothing to settle my stomach, but I was prepared for it. Vampires were cold-blooded, in more ways than one.

            “Spank me and waggle your finger at me. I’ve been a bad boy,” I whispered so low that only she could hear it.

            She stopped, turned to me, swatted my rear with a gloved hand, and waggled her finger in face. “Matthew, do not be so forward. Only when I give you permission.”

            “I’m sorry,” I said, frowning down at her feet, sufficiently abashed at being scolded.

            She lifted my chin with two fingers. “Now, now, I can hardly stay mad at you for your adoration of me. Be good and I shall give you a reward.”

            I put on a child-like smile and nodded.

            She leaned in to kiss me on the mouth. “Very good, Matthew. They shall certainly underestimate you if all of your attention is perceived to be amorous.”

            I could live with underestimated. It was a big part of how I had managed to stay alive so long.

Friday, April 21, 2023

F³ Chilling Proof 09

            The driver, not one of Nikki’s regulars, opened the door for us. Nikki exited gracefully, me less so. I pulled on the black fedora Nikki had provided, and offered her my arm. Unlike Hollywood or other prestigious places, the Fairhaven Club wanted privacy as well as ostentation, so we were in a drop-off area well-protected from prying eyes despite being the middle of Fairhaven’s crowded streets.

            Nikki pulled an ID card from her purse, pressing it to a plate to trigger the doors. My own Fairhaven ID was useless in my wallet since I refused to cough up the ransom to keep it activated. Max Auron had provided a membership to me solely to conduct business, which thankfully had lapsed.

            “Aren’t these people going to recognize me?” I whispered. “Know what I’m doing here?”

            “They will recognize you, but they think I keep you for pleasure, not practicality.”

            “So I really am your boy-toy?”

            “Quite so, Dumpling. Hopefully, though, our ruse will not require proofs of our relationship.”

            “Like kissing in public?”

            “Like drinking your blood.”

            My stomach churned as my blood ran cold.

Friday, April 14, 2023

F³ The Goal 08

“Wait,” I said, still looking at the carpet, but I squinted, trying to focus on something from my memory. “Are we talking about Max Auron? That was his thing, brokering in objects of power.”

“I have not heard mention of Maximilian in some time. He usually never made a secret of his comings and goings, rather, he broadcast them for all to hear. And I would think that he might view the Club’s doings as competition rather than something he involved himself in.”

“But you don’t know for sure.”

Nikki shook her head.

“Okay, so where am I going to find this evidence?”

“Several rooms hold filing cabinets and computers have records. I believe, together, we can access them.”

It was a thought. But it also didn’t sit right with me. Records were likely to be in secure areas, and computers were password protected. I wasn’t a hacker, and I certainly wasn’t going to involve Ira in this. Even the filing cabinets could be problematic depending on what kind of scheme they used, and what they were hiding it behind. Wasn’t like I was going to find a file folder labeled ‘Artifact Smuggling.’

            “We’re here,” Nikki announced.

            So much for coming up with a good plan.

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