The twenty minute wait was spent silently, everyone taking turns either staring at Jay who still ignored everyone or at each other, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Had the Coalition really failed so spectacularly? It had been meant to help everyone but the longer Richard thought about it, the more he realized that it wasn’t working that way.
The Coalition unified the groups, but not the outsiders and he himself had used it to gain information on Jay and his friends only weeks before. So, yes, something was definitely going wrong.
Before he could start to really brood over the problem however, Jay jumped to his feet with impressive speed and spun toward the heavy wooden door leading upstairs. Naturally, everyone followed his gaze as the door swung open and revealed… Elisabeth.
There was a moment of jarring confusion during which Richard wondered what one of his students was doing here. Then reality re-entered the building and everything slipped into perspective.
That defeated gaze he had built so much of his concern for her on? It hadn’t been one of defeat at all. It had been one of permission. She had allowed Jay to order her around. And from the way he dropped to his knees the second she came to a halt next to him, it was very clear that ordering her around had been a one time thing.
He pressed his face against her thigh in a very cattish way and Richard swore he could hear the tiger purr. He hadn’t known tigers could purr.
He risked a glance over at Anita, who had, as expected, shot right past surprised and set up tent in angry-ville. Jean-Claude, standing next to her, had obviously been informed via telepathy of who the new comer was because he took half a step forward and greeted, “Miss Summers.”
And just like her tiger before her, she refused to pay any respect to protocol as she inclined her head and offered, “Master of the City.”
She looked him directly in the eye and Richard wondered just how he had missed all the signs.
The vampire nodded. “Indeed I am. And I would like to know why I have yet to meet a self proclaimed alpha staying in my city.”
To her credit, she didn’t flinch. She grinned. “Self proclaimed, huh?”
She looked down at Jay. He shrugged and grinned back before she turned away from him to inspect the room. Her gaze landed on Richard and turned accusing but she didn’t say anything.
“I had nothing to do with this,” he felt the need to defend himself. Anita gave him a look. He ignored her. As did everyone else.
Jean-Claude decided to play nice and offer a second warning, “My question, ma chérie. And I do wonder how one as young as you can claim dominance over a fellow alpha. You are a teenager, non?”
He was pushing all the buttons he could reach from where he currently stood, knowing nothing about her. It was more Anita’s modus operandi than his but, Richard guessed correctly, only months after the Council’s last visit, they were all willing to play by the animator’s shoot now apologize later routine.
Elisabeth pulled a face. “Do you have any idea how fed up I am with people telling me that? I swear, the next time someone calls me ‘kid’, I’ll have tongue for dinner.”
One raised eyebrow was all the reaction her little outburst got. Richard, still watching from his seat wondered quietly which Elisabeth was the real one, the cold stand-offish one from school or the annoyingly quipping one. For some reason he had the feeling that neither was real. They were both masks she put on as defenses, keeping who she really was locked up tight.
“So you’re not a kid then?” Anita sounded patronizing. Somehow, the Ulfric was sure that patronizing was the wrong way to speak to the blonde but then, Anita had the button pushing down to an art form as well.
Summers grinned again. It was a slightly maniacal grin that made one want to hide all sharp implements. “Miss Blake, how nice to meet you again. Still trying to shrink me?”
“Right now, I’m considering shooting you, to be honest.” Anita had never gotten so testy when Jean-Claude’s power base was threatened before she started sleeping with him.
Elisabeth laughed. “I tend to get that reaction a lot. And to answer your question, I am no more a child than they are.” She waved a negligent hand toward the three vampires in the room.
“Yet,” Jean-Claude argued, “You possess the body of a young girl. Why should we believe you?”
A shrug. “I don’t know. Prove that you’re as old as you claim to be.”
Richard could see the point. So could the Master of the City, considering the fact that he backed off. “What are you then, ma chérie?”
At Elisabeth’s feet, Jay was suddenly laughing quietly, his shoulders shaking. Everyone turned to look at him questioningly but he only had eyes for the blonde above him as he asked, “Why do you let him talk to you like that? You could-“
Whatever he was about to say was cut off sharply as she dug her fingers into his short black hair and gave it a harsh tug backwards. He let his had snap back with the pull, mouth shutting immediately. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
Instantly, she let go of his hair, settling for stroking it instead. Then she turned back to face the assembled masters and alphas.
“Where I come from, I had a whole bunch of names. The one most commonly used was Slayer.”