A New Threat?
Lucien LaCroix stalked through the newly restored gardens of Castle Vladislas deep in thought. He did not apologize, ever; at least not to anyone who was not an Enforcer or the King. It was simply not in his nature. He had never thought that his two favorite children would ever be placed on that very short list, but now he was faced with that very situation. Nicholas’ temper tantrums over the centuries had been caused, not by his willfulness as Lucien had always assumed, but by Lucien’s own carelessness in taking proper care of his son. If he had only looked deeper into why Nicholas had been so very uneasy around other vampires! ‘If only wins no battles!’ he reminded himself sharply.
LaCroix stormed to the top of the curtain wall and looked out over the forest that surrounded Castle Vladislas. It was as dark as any night he had ever seen. The only light to be seen came from the moon and stars. He could not even see a faint glow from the village. He was more than happy to ignore the fact that the village was even there. The presence of so many mortals only reminded him of his current difficulties. Nicholas had been obsessed with mortals for nearly three centuries now. Lucien wrenched his mind away from the mortals and turned his attention back to the problem facing him.
The only question was what form should his apology take? He most certainly would NOT simply tell Nicholas that he was sorry. He would not demean himself that way. There had to be some sort of gesture that he could make that would achieve the same result. Most of what he would think of as an appropriate gesture he knew that Nicholas would reject out of hand.
In some ways the fact that he knew he should also apologize to Janette was even worse. Janette was a fine daughter, a good vampire and had made a fine companion for centuries, but she was a woman. Lucian had never apologized to a woman, not once in his two thousand years. On the other hand, there was a gesture that he could make to her that would do and that he knew she would accept. It had been a mistake to turn the boy child she had asked to take in during WWII. It seemed that she had had plans for the boy that he had not been aware of. He had been nauseated with the way Nicholas and Janette had been playing house and parents to the boy, and had turned the child so as to return his household to normal. If he procured a child for her, one that she could once more do with as she saw fit, he would have to do nothing more. That still left the problem of Nicholas.
Although Lucien did not want to admit it, it was the rumors coming out of Toronto about his son that had him contemplating making an apology. It seemed that Nicholas had at long last given up his search for mortality. That meant that it was his treatment of his son that had driven Nicholas to such absurd lengths to escape him. He hadn’t been careful enough with his son, and in doing so, had lost him forever; unless he could find a way to show that he regretted his actions. It was only this small possibility that had him even contemplating making the apology.
Where he could easily get a child, no an infant, with the new queen pregnant that would suit things better, for Janette, he had only a few ideas about what to do for Nicholas. The directors of the orphanages in this country were easy to bribe and he would be able to send Janette an infant in a matter of days. Dr. Lambert, on the other hand, already had as much funding for her research as she would ever need now that vampires were public knowledge.
That woman was the one that Nicholas had fallen in love with, something that could easily torment Lucien’s undead heart if he let it. The king had put an end to their agreement, so there would be no repayment for his beloved Fluer’s life. No matter what other’s thought, he knew that before now Nicholas had never truly been in love before. He marched down the stairs to the flower gardens that he had ordered replanted. There was a white rose against one wall. He paused there, gently touching one of the closed flowers. Could he let her memory go unavenged?
It would be the smart thing to do, he knew that. He also knew the odds against his survival if he did not. Lucien LaCroix had not been a top ranking general for the Roman Empire because he bought his way into the position. He simply had a hard time letting go of the idea. It had been the only thing that had kept him going on many occasions over the last eight hundred years. Any time another woman had caught his attention, the memories had overwhelmed him, and he had taken his grief and anger out on Nicholas. It wasn’t like he had romanticized her memory either, vampires had perfect recall. He could smell her scent, recall her words, even remember the feel of her soft hand any time he wished.
It was that memory that had caused Lucien to look after Fluer’s descendants over the centuries. Nicholas had tried, but he had made certain that it was he who would be the one that his Fluer’s family could turn to. At least he had that comfort. Lucien stopped in his tracks and cursed. That was the gesture that would ensure his son’s return; returning his family to him. LaCroix roared his fury into the night.
“Should I worry that you seem to know the name of every clerk in every flower shop in Toronto?” Nick teased. Schanke scowled from his side of their desks, phone caught between his shoulder and his ear, and his hands working on a list on his desk. “It’s called politeness, customer service and a rookie with a phone book Knight,” he whispered. “Yes, four dozen roses, to be delivered to Dr. Natalie Lambert at the city morgue.”
“Yes, at the morgue,” Schanke confirmed.
“Because that’s where she works,” Schanke said rolling his eyes. The clerk’s reaction of disbelief was one that he’d been getting all night since he’d started calling flower shops. It was no wonder that Nick had been so hesitant about ordering flowers for Nat, or the fact that he’d willingly traded his partner doing Don’s paperwork for the job.
The fact that Nick had simply handed over a credit card and told him to order whatever hadn’t surprised him. What did Nick know about ordering flowers anyway? That was a modern custom that he seriously doubted his partner had ever needed to take part in before. The fact that Nick had told him to simply get Nat all the roses he could, and hadn’t so much as blinked at the prices, had him thinking that maybe the joke Nick had once told him about moving, (what had it been half a million? A million and a half? It had been something like that) from his savings to his checking account during that cult case hadn’t been a joke after all.
“Knight, Schanke, Vetter! My Office!” Stonetree yelled. They put up what each of them were currently working on and filed into the captain’s office. “Alright listen up. We’ve just had a credible threat against King Stephan.”
While they were homicide cops, rather than major crimes, everyone knew that the three detectives were involved in the vampire community up to their necks. So being called into their captain’s office for this threat was no surprise to them. It was also no surprise to the other detectives gathered in Stonetree’s office that Knight had his cell phone out and was making a call almost before Stonetree had finished. “Janette, someone’s made a threat against Stephan. I’ll let you know when I have the details. For now, stay with the king and keep safe.” Nick closed his phone and turned his attention to the other captain standing next to Stonetree. “What do we have?”
Tracy Vetter let herself and her tagalong into her apartment. “Bathroom’s through there,” she pointed out for her fellow detective. Rather than follow Nick, Schanke and the major case detectives assigned to work with them, down to the Raven so that they could get to know the major players among the local vampires, Detective Carpenter and Tracy had decided to head to her place to continue to go over the files of possible suspects. The back seat of her car was full of them, as was her arms. She went to put her armful down on her kitchen table and start a pot of coffee. If they had to stay up all day, she was going to need better than the sludge they had down at the station.
“HEY!” she heard, coming from the bathroom. Automatically she pulled her gun as she hurried into the living room. There she found Carpenter hauling a semi-naked young man out of the bathroom. “This guy was about to take a shower in your bathroom and he’s covered in blood,” the detective explained.
Tracy smirked. It seemed that Carpenter was going to get his first lesson on the Community right now. “Let him go Carpenter.” She turned to what she figured was a fledgling. For some reason it was the younger members that tended to show up at her place. “Go ahead and finish your shower. Just remember the rules and there is o and a positive in the fridge if you’re hungry.”
“Thanks my lady,” the vampire said, giving her an awkward bow before hurrying back into the bathroom.
Tracy turned to the bewildered detective. “If he was mortal, you’d be right to be suspicious, but he’s not. My apartment is a sanctuary.” She turned and led him to the kitchen.
“What’s a sanctuary?” Carpenter asked. He sat down at the table and watched Vetter bustle around the kitchen. He wished that he had about half of her energy. “And what was that my lady business about?”
Tracy paused in making a pot of coffee and glanced over her shoulder. “Nobody told you that I’m a lady in waiting to the Queen of the Vampires?” Carpenter shook his head slowly. “Well someone should have,” she muttered. She switched the pot on to brew and went over to sit down at the table. “A sanctuary is basically a bolt hole. My place is one where vampires can get cleaned up, get a packet of blood and spend the day if they get caught out by the dawn. I get paid for it, either in money or information. We’ve gotten quite a few tips that way. It’s mostly the younger ones that hangout here anyway, that and the occasional carouche. I’m all set up here with blood deliveries and my windows are covered with shutters and heavy blinds. They don’t have to worry about sunlight and few mortals with homicidal intentions are going to go breaking into a cop’s place.”
Carpenter shook his head. “I’m going to get the rest of the files. When I get them all up here, you can tell me everything that I didn’t get briefed on. I’m thinking that there’s a lot of stuff that someone didn’t consider important that I should know.”