Hello again, loyal readers! Yes, it’s me, your intrepid reporter from Huff ‘n Puff, which, by the way is doing way better, ever since MY interviews with the vampire community started showing up on a regular basis. I hate to brag, but, well, the name Anne Rice has come up a time or two. Ahem. Anyway, I’m about to lay another exclusive interview on you. It’s January as I’m recording this. I’ve just left Cynthia Leighton and her personal Vampire Lord, Raphael, who agreed once again to speak to me. Interviewing a vampire as powerful as Raphael is always a risk, but fear not, I go willingly into the lion’s den for you, dear readers.
Once again I braved the hectic traffic on Pacific Coast Highway, and traveled beneath the mysterious trees leading to Raphael’s Malibu estate. I pulled up to the gate, and … the guards were still wearing SWAT black—does anyone listen to my fashion advice? Apparently not.
Okay, so, Malibu, vampires, beautiful white mansion by the sea … the usual. I parked my car by the front door, and gave the guard my keys (Still have the spare set in my purse, which might have saved my life, but that’s for later.) Anyway, after that, that vampire guard, Juro, the really HUGE one, met me inside the glass doors. I greeted him warmly, because, you know, we’ve met a few times and we’re like best buds now, but he just stared at me. And, hey, I get it. He’s on the job. He has a rep to maintain. I’m sure if we met, like, in a bar or something, he’d be all, “Hey, itty bitty reporter! How you doin’, babe!” But we’re both professionals, you know, and I respect that.
So, moving on. My friend Juro tells me to follow him, and I figured we’d be going upstairs to Raphael’s office again, but instead he takes me down this long hallway, and then to this big glass sliding door that goes outside. Outside? In January? I don’t care if it is Malibu, you think it doesn’t get cold here in winter? Well, let me tell you, it fucking does! But do I blow the interview because it’s cold? Hell, no. Didn’t I just say I’m a professional? This is just part of the cost of my profession, dear readers. And I want you to know, journalism is a dog-eat-dog world, but I’m here for you.
Where was I? Oh, right. Okay. So, Juro opens the big glass door and gives me a look. You know, the one that says Get the hell through this door. Or whatever. So, I got the hell through the door and into the cold, wet air of a Malibu night. And the first thing I notice is this thick wall of fog sitting right off the cliff in front of the house. I hate fog. I was on a boat with a guy once in Redondo Beach. We were only in the marina, but still. We were, you know, making out and he wanted me to … you know … and I didn’t want to … you know. But it was really foggy and I didn’t want to walk back to the car by myself, because what if I took a wrong turn and fell in the water or something, so instead I offered to … Uh. Never mind.
Where was I again? I’m kind of rattled tonight, readers, and you’ll soon discover why. But I need to tell you the whole story. So I walk outside (in winter!) and there’s Cyn and Raphael all tucked up with each other on a big double chaise, looking all cozy and comfortable and, most importantly, warm. Fortunately, they’re sitting by one of those outdoor fire pit things, and there’s a good fire going, ‘cuz I’m pretty sure they’re not going to invite me to cuddle. Not that I would. Not after tonight. But that’s for later.
So, I sit down and pull out my recorder and my notepad, and I realize I’m going to have to make this quick, because fire, schmire, there isn’t a fire pit in the world that’s gonna keep me warm. If I’d known I was going to be conducting the interview in the Arctic, I would have worn my damn parka! Ahem. Anyway, I get started.
“Hey!” I said, trying for cheerful even though I’m wondering why they couldn’t have moved their very attractive asses inside. “Nice seeing you all again.” Cyn was nice. She smiled and kind of waved. But Raphael clearly didn’t appreciate my effort, because he just stared at me the way he does, the way that makes you want to check all your body parts to be sure they’re still there.
“Well, let’s get started then,” I said, because I’m no wimp. And because I HAD checked and as far as I could tell all of my body parts WERE still there. I started with the easy questions.
“Cyn, last time I was here, I asked Raph, er Lord Raphael, what it was like to have you in his life. So, this time I’d like to ask you the same question. You’ve been together a year now. What’s it like?”
“Sheer hell,” Cyn intoned. And I kind of jumped, because I thought oh, my God, he’d holding her captive, and she’s, like, trying to break away and she needs my help, and thank God, I kept my keys, and … but then she laughed. “He’s a brute, but he’s my brute. I love him to pieces.”
Raphael rolled his eyes and sighed, but then he kissed the top of her head, and it was just the sweetest thing. And I thought, well, darn, he’s just a big puppy … But then he looked at me that way again, and I remembered he was the real deal, the big Kahuna, the Lord of all Vampire Lords, and that maybe he could read my mind, so I squashed all thoughts of puppy dogs.
“Raphael, stop it,” Cyn scolded him. “You’re freaking her out.”
That was nice of her, but completely unnecessary. I definitely WASN’T freaked out. I don’t DO freaked out. I’m a reporter. So, I got on with my reporting.
“Lord Raphael, rumor has it Cyn was badly injured on your recent trip to Seattle. I have a source who claims he saw you carrying her off your private jet, and she looked—”
Cyn interrupted with a glance in Raphael’s direction. “You reporters,” she said, speaking rapidly. “Do I look seriously injured to you? It was a broken leg. That’s it. And not even a full break, more of a crack. I’m already full recovered.”
I turned to Raphael to see what he had to say, but his eyes were kind of glowing, and I thought, “Uh oh.” I’d heard vamps were really protective of their mates, so maybe asking him about when Cyn was hurt wasn’t my best move. I moved on.
“Cyn, you friend Sarah got married recently, and I see you’re wearing a gorgeous ring, by the way. Are you two contemplating a walk down the aisle?”
“Not unless the aisle you mean is in a fine department store. We’ve done all the mating rituals we’re going to.”
“No white dress, no big wedding?”
“If I want an elegant dress, I’ll buy one. I don’t need to get married for that. And I’ve never liked big parties.”
Okay, then. No go there.
“Lord Raphael,” I forged onward. “You recently purchased the last piece of significant oceanfront on the Northern coast. But you’ve been very vague about your plans for it. Care to share?”
Raphael looked like he’d rather toss me off the cliff, but Cyn poked him, so, after giving her a narrow look, he said, “That acreage will remain undeveloped, as it should be. That’s why I bought it. There are too many of you humans cluttering up the landscape as it is.”
Well, geez. That wasn’t very polite, was it, dear readers? But it was nothing compared to … No, wait. You need the whole story.
Cyn kind of nudged Raphael when he said that. “What he means,” she started to say, but then Raphael turned his head to stare at her and she laughed instead. “Well, I guess he means exactly what he said.”
I was so cold, I could barely feel my fingers at that point, so I went for the big question. It was the one question I thought might be dangerous, but it was the one I’d really come here to ask, so I gathered my courage and said, “Lord Raphael, I’m hearing all sorts of rumors about a war among the vampires. People are calling me almost every day to ask what I know, because, I’m like an expert in the paranormal community. So, I’m asking you, is there a vampire war coming, and do humans need to be afraid?”
Now, I don’t frighten easily. I’ve ventured into the unknown time and again to get the story for my readers, the real stories, the ones no one else will cover. But when I asked that question, the whole world seemed to suck in a breath and hold it. Nothing moved. The wet breeze off the ocean stopped blowing, the fire in the fire pit froze in place. Even Cyn seemed to stop breathing. But Raphael … he smiled. And he’s a gorgeous hunk of male. But that smile was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen.
“If there was a vampire war, human,” he growled. “It would be none of your affair. I suggest you cease prying into matters that are well beyond your ability to understand. You may leave now.”
And that fast, the world returned to normal. A foghorn sounded off the coast, the fire was dancing once again, and I was colder than I could remember ever being. And I had to wonder if I’d imagined the whole thing. But I couldn’t get out of there soon enough. It was like my body had its own agenda. Juro appeared at the glass door and I was more than happy to follow him down the hall back to the front door. In fact, I was walking so fast that I passed him up in the hallway, and was already pulling out my extra set of keys by the time I got to my car. I didn’t even wait for the vampire valet guy.
I drove as fast as I could back through the gates and under the trees, and once I was on Pacific Coast Highway, I pulled over as soon as I could and recorded all of this for you, dear reader. So, if anything happens to me, remember, my last thoughts were for you.
And that’s the end of the recording. There were no other notes found in the car, and no other recordings to validate the events described. We leave it to you, our readers, to decide for yourself. Did the described events really happen? And where is our missing reporter?
Love, the ache in your heart when you meet the one. It can take you to soaring heights; and it can leave you bleeding in the wreckage. Loyalty, the thing which binds a Vampire Lord to his children for eternity . . . . unless it rots from within, birthing hatred. Betrayal, it comes in many forms and from many sources…love…loyalty…betrayal.
War has come to the North American vampires, and Vampire Lords are reaching across territorial lines to strengthen allies and weaken enemies. The most powerful Lord of them all, Raphael, could change the course of the war and determine who raises the final banner of victory. But at what price? And will his mate, Cyn, be the one to pay it?
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