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A Strange Alliance - Rene/Paris/Ghost

[cross posted to were_ghost bq_x_stain and blood_paris ]

Takes place after At the Cabin

Paris waited outside the warehouse/loft, hoping that he could catch up with the werewolf, Stefan Volkov. Paris leaned against his rental car (a red convertible Corvette), taking in the hot summer air. Perhaps wearing black jeans and a matching designer shirt were not the best option for this balmy night.

The were pulled up beside the freight elevator of his loft. Ghost wanted to take a quick look at the preliminary construction before his appointment. ‘I’m not alone but it can’t be....’ His brain tried to process who he was seeing. “René?” The face was a match but the smell was all wrong. This was not his mate. ‘Paris.’ It was the only logically explanation, since he’d left his lover safe and sound back at the cabin.

The vampire smiled warmly as he walked up to the gorgeous werewolf. “Greetings, I’m Paris of Troy,” he introduced himself, his exotic accent making it obvious he was not René. Paris was a bit distracted by Ghost’s beauty. He looked at the werewolf with a deceivingly innocent expression, highlighting his dark eyes. “You are Stefan Volkov, yes?” The man’s scent was one of wolf, so Paris was fairly certain he was in the presence of who he wished to speak to; for a moment the vampire thought he had confused Stefan for Karl, but the scent was different.

‘Vampire.’ Could it be? Could his lover’s doppelganger be the thing that René feared? The scent was unmistakable now that Ghost had met Sean. His first instinct was to lash out at this look-alike, but he felt no danger with this one, just like with Sean. No reason to stir up trouble until he knew why the vampire was here. “I am. Can I help you?”

“Actually, I am here to see if I can be assistance to you and René. I know my--protégé has become a bit stubborn when it comes to René and I do not wish for there to be an altercation between our people. René is not thralled in the traditional sense, therefore he has freedom that most thralls do not. I personally do not subjugate my thralls to forced servitude but René’s benefactor is young, and while her intentions are noble, I oppose her method of execution. I do not believe in forcing someone into this life; one should always have a choice. But I digress and my point is this, should your meeting with her go awry and she threatens to stop supplying René with the blood, then I will do so without any compromise.” Paris handed Ghost a business card. “My personal cell phone is on the other side. I am hoping that René’s benefactor does not give into her possessive nature and rage, for she truly does love René and wants only to protect him. But you need not fear, it is not the love of one lover to another. You will understand more once you meet her.” Paris gave Ghost another warm smile.

“You may ask why I wish to help you. René is family to me--a descendant, but family nonetheless.” The vampire paused a moment. “René is unaware of being given the blood. You see, not only does the blood keep René young; René needs our blood to sustain him due to the injuries and abuse he endured while in the service of another. Without it, he will go into a coma. There are two ways I see to cure this condition. One, of course, is to make him one of us, but that would have to be his choice. However, René should be aware that there is another way. One of my childer has the gift of healing. She could easily remedy René’s condition as long as it remains physical and not a disease. Only our blood will keep a disease at bay, though were bear blood is also quite potent with healing abilities--which is another alternative for you to try, if you do not trust my kind--there is one in town and he is a good friend, one I trust implicitly with my life. I could introduce you if you have not meet already.” Paris was, of course, referring to Tristan. “But again, I digress. What say you to my proposal? And which course of action do you wish to pursue?”

‘What?’ The were’s mind screamed. The only thing he understood was that fact that René’s benefactor was a vampire. This fellow, Paris, had confirmed that, but the rest…. René receiving blood? Injuries? Coma? His wolf raged; it wanted to attack this guy for daring to look like his mate and for suggesting that René was in danger. Ghost mentally grabbed his wolf by the scruff of the neck and yanked him back, then forced his features into something less threatening. Even so, he was sure his wolf’s anger was peeking around the edges. “That’s a lot to take in, you must admit. But for sake of argument, since you seem to know an awful lot about the situation, then you must also know that René is terrified at the idea of being around vampires or having anything to do with them. He would never accept a proposal to become one of you, and he would probably be sickened by the thought that he was being fed vampire blood without his knowledge. This benefactor has several strikes against her already and none of it has anything to do with my relationship with René.” Ghost paused and took a breath. “ As for your proposal...I would do just about anything to keep René safe, but it will be a long hard road getting René to accept any of this.”

Paris took a cautious step back. Stefan’s thoughts overwhelmed him for a moment but Paris quickly regained control. “Forgive my intrusion, I did not mean to offend, sir were. I’m trying to offer assistance, but it seems my social skills are lacking of late.” He bit down on his lower lip worriedly. I always seem to make a mess of things, he scolded himself before taking a deep breath and continuing. It was too late to turn back now. “Yes, it is a lot to take in and I apologize for bombarding you with all of this.”

Paris gave Ghost a sympathetic look. “I am aware of René’s fear of my kind, and with good reason. I can reveal my nature to him if you feel it prudent, but I do not wish for him to be afraid of me. I am concerned about his health, but as I mentioned there are alternate methods. We could try those and see if it will cure his condition. I do offer my blood if he should require it, but you are right, that should be his choice as well.”

Ghost had not hidden his frustration very well. He could see the concern in the vampire’s eyes. The vamp had sought him out in order to offer help, and the were had simply thrown it back in his face. “It will be his decision, for René is terribly stubborn.” Ghost stretched out his hand in friendship. “For myself I must apologize. There is no excuse for my behavior. You have not threatened René in any way. I’m afraid that my lover’s fear has contributed to my protectiveness. I will find some way to present your offer.”

Paris’ smile returned and he took the werewolf’s warm hand in his. “Thank you for your trust. I will do everything in my power to make sure it’s not misplaced. Please let me know what René says once you speak to him. Without the blood he will suffer the internal injuries, including paralysis, from the abuse of his former master. He was a real bastard. I made sure he would never come near René again, but my kind can be stubborn. Be wary of any Romanian aristocrats if they come into town.”

Ghost wanted to ask how Monica and Alfonso were getting the blood into René without his knowledge, but he had to hurry to meet with them. He certainly didn’t want to make a bad impression. He scoffed. ‘Like he could make a good one now.’ “I consider myself warned, but if that bastard comes anywhere near René....” ’I’ll tear him limb from limb’. He shook his head. He needed to get a hold of himself. He was about to walk to the lion’s den. “I will let you know.”

“Yes, and do be careful,” Paris said with a sympathetic smile, walking around the convertible to get into the driver’s seat.


Monica waited as patiently as she could, her manicured nails lightly tapping the side of the wine glass, waiting for the werewolf Stefan to arrive. Her other hand idly played with the delicate diamond pendant that hung from a white gold chain (a present from her adopted sire).

“Mistress, I’m certain Stefan will show soon. It is early yet,” Alfonso said in a most respectful tone.

“I’m just not sure what to expect from this--wolf. I fear for my son’s safety. Our kind does not usually mingle with the weres,” Monica replied, taking a small sip of the wine.

Monica licked the remaining droplets of liquor from her sultry lips as her dark eyes watched for any movement from the entrance, hoping that their invited guest would soon arrive. She was dressed in an elegant strapless cocktail dress and spike high heeled shoes to match; her long dark hair was swept up in a loose bun, with small stray strands that framed her pretty face.

Ghost had not had time to check on the construction after the impromptu meeting with the vampire, Paris, but he could see it helping with the meeting to come. He knew more about the situation now than even René. This meeting had to go well somehow for René’s sake.

The were parked his bike well back out of view of the restaurant’s entrance. He didn’t need the ‘rebel without a cause’ look to be his first impression. He’d chosen a pair of black dress pants and a matching silk shirt for the evening. It was not his usual wardrobe, but he didn’t think leathers would be appropriate for this situation. The all black ensemble still made him look broody and dangerous, but that was just his nature. He couldn’t change that. He did pull his dark mane back instead of letting it hang around his shoulders.

Ghost entered the restaurant and walked up to the maitre’ d to give his name. He assumed that this benefactor had already informed the man that Ghost would be expected.

“Oh yes, the lady is expecting you, follow me,” the maitre’ d said with a wave of his hand.

“Stefan approaches,” Alfonso whispered to Monica.

Ghost’s eyes moved ahead of the man leading him to the table containing Alfonso and a very beautiful woman in black. It took but a second or two for the were to match her with the photograph in René’s apartment. Now this was interesting development, and frightening too - for René. His lover’s mysterious benefactor was not only a vampire, but his mother ,who was obviously quite alive - or so to speak. As Ghost shortened the distance between them, he could see the resemblance. René had his mother’s chin and graceful neck but the eyes told another story. Where René was open even when scared, this creature before him radiated another emotion. This vampire meeting would not be like the others. He needed to be even more cautious than he was with Alfonso. Way too soon, they had reached the table and Ghost waited to be introduced.

Alfonso got up and greeted Ghost with curiosity, his southern charm clearly on display. “My lady, this is Stefan Volkov. Stefan, this is my mistress, Lady Monica Tremaine.”

Monica greeted Stefan with a sincere smile, though her eyes remained ever vigilant as she took in the werewolf, studying him. Stefan was gorgeous, and she immediately saw the attraction her René had toward this man.

Monica had little dealing with were kind, and she hoped she could make the man see reason as to why his relationship with René had no future. Especially since she planned on making René a vampire. It would only lead to heartache for her son. It was not that Monica was opposed to René being with men, just not this man--and definitely not any werewolves.

Monica held out her hand to Ghost and shook it, taking his much warmer hand against her cool one. “Pleasure, please have a seat. Join us,” she said, indicating the empty seat beside her on the round table. “We have not as yet ordered, so if you are hungry please feel free to order whatever you wish.”

Ghost took the offered hand. ‘So cool.’ Not like Paris’ warm palm. ‘Curious,’ Yet somehow he knew she would be like that - cool, calculating. “Charmed, I’m sure. Thank you for inviting me.” The were took a seat and glanced at the menu like he was having dinner with friends at a new eatery. He didn’t think the scene would stay cordial for long, but he could try a little diplomacy. “So, what’s good here?”

“I recommend the jambalaya, it’s made fresh,” Monica replied, glancing over her own menu. “My dear Alfonso here adores the chicken marsala, and I favor the creamy shrimp ravioli.” She gave Ghost an apathetic glance from behind the menu, despite the warm smile that adorned her lips.

Monica eyeing Ghost was not lost on Alfonso. He shifted in his seat, attempting not to look or act jealous. That would not be--appropriate, but it was he felt. Alfonso averted his eyes and concentrated on the menu.

Ghost would rather have a steak barely kissed by the flame, but he didn’t want to confirm the stereotype of a barely tamed wild beast with raw flesh stuck between his teeth and blood dripping down his chin. ’Then again.’ Thinking of who he was dining with made him chuckle. He covered the laugh by clearing his throat. “I think I’d prefer the jambalaya if it’s spicy, and a nice glass of Cabernet.” The were liked hot things. René writhing beneath him came to mind. ‘Hmmmm, I wonder if she can read my mind?’

A frown marred her pretty face as Monica read into Ghost’s thoughts. She did not approve of the image of her son writhing beneath this--wolf. However, she quickly masked her annoyance with a steady smile. “My René enjoys spicy foods as well. Did he ever tell you of his favorite dish? Enchiladas Verdes?”

“I don’t think he mentioned it, but I’ll remember to order it the next time we are out. He may be able to fix it himself. He is a fairly fine cook as well as a brilliant musician.” Ghost sipped his water. He wondered how long it would take for Monica to come to the subject of this meeting. Should he cut to the chase and bring it up or just sit here making small talk and discussing favorite dishes? He nodded to himself, indicating that he had come to a decision. Let her bring it up.

The vampire took the invitation to begin the course of discussion. No sense in delaying the inevitable. “I used to make it for him when he was a little boy,” Monica said, feeling a little nostalgic. “By now I’m sure you must know who I am in regards to René--I’m his mother. Circumstances bade me to stay away from my son, but I do not plan on hiding from him forever.

“I see no sense in hiding the truth from you, were. You are bound to find out sooner or later. I’d rather you hear it from my lips than the viperous tongues of others.” Monica put the menu down and took a drink from her wine. “I married young because I thought that was what one had to do when they got pregnant by their boyfriend. It was the late seventies and the prospect of being a single mother was frightening, so like a fool I married the idiot. He turned out to be an abusive asshole so I sought a way out. Never thought I would capture the attention of, well--you know. He promised me that he could grant me a new life, one where I could protect my child—he failed to mention that once I was turned I would not be allowed around René. The hunger was strong and I feared hurting my baby, but I believed my maternal instincts would protect René from any harm from me. So one night, I went back to the house to get him and run away from my sire--I had no idea how I would take care of him during the day, but that didn’t matter to me, I didn’t want to leave my baby.”

Monica closed her eyes and paused. “My sire found me; it wasn’t difficult to discern where I had gone and why. He forced René from my arms and dragged me out of the house. I was screaming and fighting but he was stronger and I could not break free. After that, my sire brought me to New Orleans and kept a tight vigil on me. It wasn’t until I went with him to Chicago that I met a descendant of mine, another of my kind, who helped me break free from my--predicament. After I was free, I immediately searched for my son, found him to be caught up in some dire circumstances, and immediately had him extracted from that dangerous atmosphere. My adopted sire helped of course, but it was I who made sure that--monster--would never come near my René again.”

“When I found René, he was in a bad place, emotionally, physically, even spiritually. He required guidance and support. I had my loyal servant, Alfonso, see to René’s needs as I could not present myself without causing serious alarm. I had hoped that by now some of René’s fear might have diminished, but alas, he remains as afraid of my kind as he was before. I want to see him and speak to him. I abhor having to hide behind the mask of an anonymous benefactor, but I will not risk placing fear in his heart; I will wait until I feel he is ready.” Monica was leaving bits out, of course; the fact that she had killed her sire and Paris had saved her by adopting her; how she meet Alfonso, and so many other little things that led her here. “Knowing this, I hope you can understand why René cannot know that I am his benefactor or what has happened to me. I ask your confidence in this matter. His fear of our kind makes things--difficult. But I love my son and will protect him at all costs.”

Monica was leaving out some important facts, if Paris was to be believed. Who could the were trust? He trusted René. He sensed by the tiny flickers of emotion that Monica could read some of his thoughts, so he concentrated the good things. He envisioned René teasing beautiful music from the strings of his cello and the silly grin on his face as he made breakfast for the both of them. He filled his mind with the good times and pushed back the moments of fear. “As will I, we just seem to have different ways of going about it. I thank you for offering me your story, though the knowing puts me in an awkward position, but I must ask. Why am I such a threat to you protecting your son? It would seem that we want the same thing. Is it simply because of what I am, what you are? I admit to not knowing too much about the politics between our two people, but what I know is that René is special. He’s talented and full of life and love. I want to give him the support and peace of mind to be free to develop his talent to the fullest. I will not see him shrunk in a corner quaking in fear of being forced back into a life of abuse and pain. So I say again, why am I here?”

Monica blinked a few times, taken aback by the werewolf’s candor. It elicited a wry smile from Alfonso. “Told you he was direct.”

“So I see, but I appreciate his honesty,” Monica replied as her French manicured nail traced the rim of the wine glass. “You ask why I wished to meet with you. Is it not obvious? Being what I am, you must know that René cannot be with you. You are wolf, he is my son and I will not lose him again. Our people do not mix well, it is--frowned upon. For René to be with you will only bring more trouble his way. I do not wish to see him suffer again.

“I do not doubt that you can offer protection, your kind are formidable warriors, but what would René’s life be like at your side? Especially after I reveal myself to him? It would be unfair for him to be caught in both worlds. Eventually he will be questioned about his loyalties,” Monica said with genuine concern shining in her eyes.

Ghost knew that some of what Monica said was true, but she seem to be getting ahead of herself. “A mother’s love for her child is a precious thing. You made choices in the past to free the two of you but didn’t count on the betrayal from those who had promised freedom. Now you want to make up for those lost years, but at what price? The little boy you wished to protect is no little boy anymore. He’s a man with his own dreams and future, and he must be allowed to live it. If you push him, you will push him away, not bring him closer. In time he may accept what you have become and the reason why. I would be willing to help, but what I won’t do is abandon him. Whatever is to be faced, we will face it together.” Ghost had a feeling he would be eating dinner elsewhere but he had to say it.

“I’m sure you believe that you love René, but in time you will need to find a mate and then what will become of René?” Monica argued, knowing that there was some truth to the rumors that weres tended to mate.

“Not all weres mate, but most do.” Dare he say it out loud? It would end the conversation quicker, and probably not civilly, but she’d made the point. “Nothing will change for René. I have a mate.”

Monica looked surprised. “You have someone and you’re cheating on them with my René! Why would you put him in that type of danger? I can’t believe René would ever agree to that.” She waved her hand as if dismissing the idea. It angered her to think that this wolf had a mate and dared to say he cared for René while committed to another.

Ghost shook his head. That was the wrong way to go, but it would come out eventually, so... “I would say calm yourself, dear lady, but I fear you will like my explanation even less.” Ghost waited until he had her attention again.

“Well, then explain it to me because I fail to understand,” Monica replied, reaching her hand out to gently touch the wolf’s arm. “My son deserves true happiness and if you have a mate and him on the side, I do not see how this can be possible.”

Ghost faltered for a second. The touch surprised him. There was tenderness and real concern in it. “You may need to expand your ideals of what you feel could make your son happy...or should I say who.” Ghost took a big breath. “My mate is René. There is no one else.” Once he started, he couldn’t stop. He wanted so much to somehow change Monica’s mind about her son’s future. “Now I know this is the last thing you want to hear. It doesn’t fit with your plans, but it has happened and he is happy, and I will protect him from anyone who would spoil that for him.”

“Wait--what?” was all Monica could say in response, raising a finely arched eyebrow. She had not expected that response from Ghost. “But how can René be--? He can’t, can he? I mean, he’s not were--I don’t understand.”

Alfonso choked on his drink, a look of complete shock on his handsome features, but he remained silent. This was a development neither had expected.

“I would not have thought it possible either, but the signs are all there. René’s overwhelming physical need for me. My wolf’s protectiveness. Even now he claws at my insides because you are so close. René is everything that I desire in a mate and I would not have thought that before meeting him.” Ghost took advantage of the fact that he had Monica’s full attention. “René and I have been honest with each other from the very start. We have told each our stories and revealed the truth of our pasts though it was very painful. We accept each other’s frailties and faults. Accept me in René’s life and I will do everything that I can to bring the two of you back together but I warn you, try to drive us apart and we will disappear.”

Monica opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. She was both offended and relieved at what the wolf had told her. She knew now that to pressure the were away from René would only serve to push her beloved child away--and worse, have him disappear. Despite the fact she had resources at her disposal, thanks to her adopted sire, hunting a werewolf and his human mate (even if it was her only son) would provoke notice from the Vampire Prince.

That was an audience Monica had no desire to make. Her only choice was to come to a compromise with the wolf. The were could offer protection that neither she nor Alfonso could provide; she had heard it told that werewolves were extremely protective of their mates. “All right, you’ve made a valid point,” Monica answered more calmly as she straightened out the napkin in her lap. “I would appreciate any assistance you can offer regarding revealing myself to René. I know it won’t be easy for him. I fear his rejection. He most likely believes I abandoned him, and upon seeing me that will only reinstate his belief--once I tell him what I have become, it’s inevitable that he will want nothing to do with me due to his fear.” A single tear ran down her face. “I--I love my son. I stayed away because I had to, even after I escaped my master. Until we can control our hunger, it is dangerous to be around mortals,” she said softly. “I could not bear the thought that I would hurt him--he’d been through so much already.”

Ghost respectfully lowered his eyes to his mate’s mother. “This I will do. You have my word, Lady Tremaine.” Ghost looked back up. “Right now René needs security and peace so he can finish his studies. I admit to being a bit of a distraction because the relationship is so fresh and intense, but I will keep him on track. Graduating means much to him even if he has not stated it in so many words. Completing his studies will go far to heightening his self-worth and diminishing what that monster did to him.” Ghost knew that Monica had not told him everything. She had failed to mention the injuries and her “cure” for René’s condition, but he didn’t know how to bring it up without bringing up the “other one” (namely Paris). He would remain the were’s ace-in-the-hole against possible treachery from Monica.

“I am renovating a home for the two of us. René has already agreed to move in with me. Since I would like to take care of his needs, is there anything I would need to know in order to make the move as carefree for René as possible? Please be at peace, I will not move him until he finishes his studies and nor take him from you. My new loft is in town.”

“Thank you, Stefan,” Monica said, gently squeezing his hand before brushing her tear away. She gave Ghost a rather embarrassed smile, but it was sincere. “I will trust you to protect René and grant him security. Once he graduates from Loyola, I have arranged for an audition with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. I know classical music is not always his preferred choice, but I do know he enjoys it enough to at least play with them. Most of the talented musicians there have other jobs, so he is free to pursue a career in production, teaching, film scoring--or even start up his band,” she chuckled. “But he will need some type of steady income to provide for himself. My adopted sire has some influence in the art world; he could assist with this.”

The waiter came by to take their orders, temporarily disrupting their private conversation. Once they were done, Monica continued. “There is something about René that you should know. He had a boyfriend, a real ass, back in New York; threw him out a window, causing René to not only break his back, but suffer grave internal injuries as well. The doctors said he should be dead, but the blood kept him alive, if barely. René lost a lot of blood with the accident, so I flew to New York with my adopted sire and arranged for him to have some of mine to heal him. It worked, he was able to walk again, and I thought that would be the end of it--but I realized that as time went on and René did not have the blood, he would begin to have pain and have difficulty walking. It was then that I knew he had to have a steady supply--so through my faithful servant, Alfonso, I supply René with the blood he needs to keep him alive. My adopted sire speaks of alternate methods, like were bear blood, but I dare not take that risk--what if it doesn’t work? I won’t have my child die,” Monica said worriedly.

Ghost wouldn’t bring up his visit with Paris and the treatments he spoke of. It would only worry Monica and might cause her to do something rash. He frowned and nodded to let her see that he understood the graveness of the situation. “René told me about his former master and his abominable treatment of him. It pains me to think that anyone would ever treat your son that way. The monster has no heart.” Ghost let all the venom coat his thoughts. He hoped it would assure Monica’s continued cooperation. “I understand the reason for it, but how is it that René receives blood without his knowledge? How is it done?” The were hoped that wasn’t pushing it, but if there was a need to cut off René’s supply Ghost needed to know where it was coming from. He continued to fill his mind with thoughts of René sick and dying, which broke his heart, but that was the feeling he wanted portray to Monica.

“If René does not get the blood, he will die. You understand this, don’t you?” Monica stressed. “I cannot reveal what the source is until we trust each other a little more. Your nature repels all that is my kind, and the fact that my René is your mate makes you all the more protective. Believe me, the blood is what is keeping him alive--and young.”

So this chess game was over for the moment. He would learn nothing more on the subject from Monica, but she was not his source. Better not to push and keep her on semi-friendly terms. “Fair enough. I appreciate your candor.”

“If you are worried about the blood making him a slave, you are incorrect. It doesn’t work that way, at least not the way I’ve been taught. Perhaps others of my kind use manipulation and trickery to attain their goals, but I am doing it solely for medical reasons. I would never enslave my baby boy,” Monica said, hoping to relax the werewolf a bit. “To enthrall someone into service requires more than just our blood, there’s a ritual of sorts. And if one wishes to force someone into this, it is possible, but those types of relationship between my kind and their servants always end in tragedy for both parties. The bond was not made willingly, therefore it holds no substance, at least that is what my adopted sire told me. He is very much against forcing any mortal into anything they don’t wish to do.”

The waiter came by with their dishes and Monica took in the sweet aroma of the food, “I’m famished, thank you,. she told the waiter as he set the hot plate of chicken marsala by her.

Ghost accepted his meal with a gracious ‘thank you’. All this finessing and outmaneuvering had given him a tremendous appetite. Probably more than this fancy little plate of food could satisfy. One taste told him the meal was of excellent quality and would suffice for the time being. After a few bites his mind shifted back to Monica’s statements about thralls. “René didn’t seem satisfied by the relationship he had with his master. Was he forced into it? And what did you mean that it ‘held no substance’?“

Monica paused a moment, considering her answer. She wanted to tell Ghost what she meant, but she still had to keep vampire secrets safe. “Let me see if I can explain what I meant by that. Umm, when one of my kind forces an individual into ‘servitude’, the bond doesn’t take correctly because the mortal is somewhat subconsciously fighting it--at least that is what I was told and I see no reason to doubt it--but I am certain there are others who would disagree. Perhaps if one is old enough they can impose their will on someone else, but I would like to think that the other has a chance to fight back, even if it takes some time to break the--spell.” She shook her head, not pleased with the word choice and her curls loose around her face jingled with the gesture. “As for it not holding substance, since the mortal did not enter the pact willingly, then he or she holds no true loyalty. Think of it as a forced marriage. Someone is going to be miserable in that pairing and they will want a way out.”

Alfonso had been quiet for the most part but now he looked to his master for permission to speak. Monica nodded and Alfonso cleared his throat, dabbing the napkin at the edges of his mouth. “I do believe, if our research is correct, that René entered the partnership with the other willingly. But it may hold true that René was unaware of all the terms of the ‘contract’ he had entered. I believe there was deception on the other’s part for not explaining it fully to René, despite René saying ‘yes’.”

“How could he have known what it was going to be like? That would depend on the honesty of the one he made the “contract” with, and I get the impression that René got much more than he bargained for and it was not always pleasant.” Being reminded that it was a vampire who hurt his René soured Ghost’s stomach. A very soft growl escaped. “This one that René was bonded to. He is truly gone?”

Monica and Alfonso gave each other a quick look, then the vampire turned her attention back to Ghost. She picked up her wine glass and took a small sip from it, licking her lips as if in thought. “All I can tell you is that he will not bother René again. I cannot tell you more than that, I’m sorry,” she said regretfully.

Alfonso looked as if he wanted to say more, but remained silent, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Monica put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and smiled at him. “Perhaps one who is ancient could tell you more about the one who tricked René into the bonding. My adopted sire. His name is Paris, as in the Paris from legend--from Troy. René and I are his descendants,” she said proudly. “I can ask him to seek you out. He looks exactly like René, you won’t be able to miss him.”

“Paris? Yes, I’ve heard the name. René mentioned meeting him and their ‘similarities’. It seems that our René was destined to be a part of the supernatural world whether he liked it or not. But I must be careful. I will not upset my mate by seeming to be consorting with that which he finds terrifying. Meeting with you was unforeseeable but meeting with a vampire deliberately might be stressing the trust the two of us have built.

“What he needs now is less stress, which you could help with. Now don’t take this personally, but that little snot, Jeremiah, needs a muzzle. René has fingered him as one of yours. The boy makes improper advances toward René and I’ve seen him get physical. I don’t like that. If you wish for him to stay in one piece, might I suggest some obedience training, my lady.” Ghost added the last in hopes of smoothing any ruffled feathers.

“Jeremiah? Who is this Jeremiah?” Monica asked, surprised. “And what makes you think he works for me? I have Alfonso and a few servants, but they work at the house and there is no one by that name.” She looked at Alfonso as if the answer were written on his face. “Did you know of this Jeremiah?”

“A classmate of René’s from what I understand. He seems to have taken a liking to René, but I have not witnessed any assaults on René,” Alfonso replied.

“You are not with my son twenty-four seven. Find out about this Jeremiah, just to make sure he is not working for another—faction,” Monica instructed, looking worried. What if this Jeremiah worked for that Romanian vampire, Doviculus?

The vampire truly looked surprised. Ghost was taken back by this. Perhaps the jock really was just an avid fan of his mate’s who couldn’t deal with his own sexuality. “René may have been wrong about Jeremiah, but you can see how jumpy he has become. He can handle Jeremiah the human, but the possibilities that the little bastard could be a thrall rattles him. He sees spies everywhere and that’s not good for him.” Monica and her lackey needed someone else to occupy their time besides his sweet René, and if they taught Jeremiah some respect while they were at it, so much the better.

“My poor baby, it must not be easy for him,” Monica said with some regret. She wished she could shelter him from all the harm in the world, but as Ghost mentioned, René was hardly a child anymore. “If we discover that this Jeremiah is working for another of my kind, I will inform you at once. In the meantime, Alfonso will confront Jeremiah and see if he can be persuaded to leave my René be.”

Ghost held his hand up. “No need unless it is discovered that the boy is working for another. René can certainly handle a mere human, despite his slight built. He prides himself on standing up for himself. It is only the thought of vampires that rattles him to his core. Jeremiah was just an annoyance until he thought the boy worked for you or one of your kind.”

Ghost lifted his fork to take another bit of his dinner, only to find that there was very little left. When had he finished it? He chuckled to himself. Leave it up to his wolf to concentrate on what was important while Ghost pumped the vampire for information. He lifted the remaining bits to his mouth and chewed, savoring the spicy sensation burning his lips.

The were lowered the fork and picked up his napkin, dabbing at the corners of his mouth. “Lady Monica, this evening has been enjoyable as well as informative. I agree to keep your secret for the time being. René is not ready to learn that truth, but if he should learn of our meeting I will be honest with him.” Ghost finished the last of his wine and replaced the glass. “Please don’t think me rude but I must leave you now. Please enjoy the rest of your evening.” Ghost again lowered his head in respect.

“Not staying for dessert? Very well, my handsome were, we will talk again, of this I am certain.” Monica smiled sincerely at Ghost, rummaging through her purse and handing Ghost a business card with just a phone number. “Call me if you need anything.”

Ghost gracefully rose and accepted the card. “Thank you but no, perhaps another time, my dear lady.” He had an urgency to move away from this vampire. The feeling had been growing all evening. His wolf had been agitated ever since meeting with the other vampire, and the edginess had steadily increased since his arrival at the restaurant. It felt like his wolf was physical pacing restlessly inside him. The were wasn’t sure if it was the proximity of the vampire or the time period he had been away from René. Both situations were new for him.

Monica smiled genuinely at Ghost. “It was a pleasure meeting you. And if you need to tell René about our meeting, should he ever ask...I hope you will show kindness and paint me in a good light,” she said with some trepidation. “He’s the only child I have. I value him above all else but strangely enough, I feel he is in safe hands with you.”

“I appreciate the compliment, and I will do my best to convey your story to René when the time comes.” Ghost gave a slight bow. “Good night, my lady.” The were then turned and made his way to the door and out to the street, leaving the vampire and her thrall behind.



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