Page 21 of 21

No one chooses to go through eternity alone.

Chapter 40: The Vampire Agent

When Cassidy set off for work Wednesday morning, she was conflicted about her life and some of the choices she recently made. When she assessed her current situation, she weighed in the animosity that several fellow officers now felt toward her, the encroaching presence of blood sucking vampires into her day-to-day life, the potential legal trouble she could face if the world discovered the secret she had been keeping from it and the physical dangers she exposes herself to every time she engages with a wayward vampire. When she asked why she was putting herself through all of that, she could not help but wonder if the answer came down to one word, Cristiãn. She was fully cognizant of the strength of her feelings for Cristiãn. She had accepted that reality several weeks ago, but it was her hope that the promise she made to herself not to allow her feelings to overrule her judgement would be a counterbalance to her romantic inclinations. She was now considering the possibility that her intellect was not an effective check on her emotions when it came to Cristiãn. A larger problem that Cassidy was now dealing with was her awareness that knowing this changed nothing.

As Cassidy walked through the Manhattan South Homicide squad room for the second time since her flamboyant arrest of Kathryn Dryden and Karl Volker, she experienced the angry stares and silent treatment of her coworkers. She made a couple of awkward greetings and got nothing back in return. When she sat down at her desk, she went to work doing research on a cold case in the team's register. Almost from the moment that she sat down at her desk Cassidy began getting incoming calls directed to her by the squad room's administrative aide, Robert Loeb. The frequency of calls being directed to her desk was far more than anything she experienced before. It took her less than an hour to notice the trend, a crush of fans, people who frequently call the police about nonexistent crimes and newshounds were calling in to speak with her and only her. Cassidy brought the calls to a stop by telling the administrative aide that she was unavailable for outside callers.

For much of the day, Cassidy worked alone. Her fellow officers distanced themselves from her socially, and she reciprocated by concentrating on her investigative research. She was less than thirty minutes away from the end of her workday when Robert Loeb yelled to her.

"It's another outside caller on line four," Robert reported. "The caller said to tell you that she's a friend of Evan and Christine's. She said you'd take the call if I told you that."

Cassidy was alarmed by the administrative aide's report and stopped what she was doing to consider the possibilities and what she should do. Cassidy's hesitation to dismiss the call alerted Vera that there was something special about it to Cassidy. She also stopped what she was doing to listen for Cassidy's response.

"Do you want me to tell her you're unavailable?" Robert asked after a moment of silence.

"No," Cassidy suddenly responded. "I'll take it," she quickly stated while snatching up her desk phone and patching into line four.

"This is Detective Tremaine," Cassidy announced into the phone. "Who is this?"

"I'm a friend of Evan and Christine's," the female voice answered slyly. "Are you interested in hearing more?"

Cassidy paused to consider the response from the woman on the other end of the call and her question.

"Yes," Cassidy returned after a few seconds of thought.

"Why?" The voice on the other end subtly queried.

"You called me," Cassidy softly disputed.

"Detective, I need to know we're on the same page," the female voice countered assertively.

Cassidy paused to consider what the woman was asking her. She soon realized that the woman wanted to hear something to verify that she was not acting as a police officer but that she was acting as a vampire agent.

"I know friends of Evan and Christine who are looking for you," Cassidy whispered into the phone, "friends with fangs."

A pause followed Cassidy's declaration. She waited in silence for the woman to respond to her statement. It was her hope the report of vampires looking for her would convince the caller that she was not acting as a police officer.

"The Met, one hour," the female commanded. "Come alone. There's a trash receptacle to the left of the main entrance. You'll find a Shake Shack bag in it; a cellphone will be inside the bag. Stand outside and wait for my call."

"And who will I be talking to?" Cassidy questioned with a sternness in her voice.

A moment of silence followed Cassidy's question.

"You can call me Jezebel," the female answered.

A second later the call disconnected.

~~~~~Line Break~~~~~

Vera noticed Cassidy's attentiveness to the phone call from a friend of Evan and Christine. She immediately became intrigued by the hushed tone Cassidy was using for the call. She noticed that Cassidy always looked away when she spoke into the telephone and she shortly concluded that there was a secret here that she had to uncover.

When Cassidy hung up the telephone, Vera quickly turned her attention back to the work on her desk. With her every action, she showcased an appearance of being disinterested in Cassidy, but in truth, she thought of nothing else. Twenty minutes later when the squad started leaving for home, Vera preceded Cassidy out of the squad room by several minutes. She then positioned herself in a discreet location on the ground floor and watched Cassidy leave the precinct from afar. When Cassidy came out of the building and got into a cab, Vera was curious to the extent that she had to follow. She knew that Cassidy was not leaving her car behind and going home in a cab. There was also no official function or request that warranted Cassidy's attendance downtown. Vera knew she would have heard of it. Vera's intrigue grew even more when the cab Cassidy was in began steering a course away from City Hall.

Vera was following behind Cassidy in another cab. She wanted the same freedom of movement as Cassidy so that she could follow her wherever she went. When Cassidy got out of the cab in front of the Metropolitan Museum, Vera did the same from her cab half a block behind. The evening rush coupled with the usual bustle of people outside the Metropolitan Museum made it relatively easy for Vera to go unseen by Cassidy. She quickly crossed the sidewalk, positioned herself behind a water display and began watching for Cassidy to continue leading to her destination. She was anticipating her concealment would be a temporary situation, but it soon became clear to her that Cassidy had reached her destination.

When Cassidy started up the stairs to the front entrance of the museum, Vera began moving forward to follow. She was a few steps into her pursuit when Cassidy came to a stop in front of a trash can at the left of the entrance and began fishing around inside. Because of the way Cassidy was digging through the trash, Vera suspected something had been left in the receptacle for her. Now convinced that Cassidy was not going inside the museum, Vera moved closer to the side of the building so that she could use it as cover. She then watched as Cassidy pulled a bag out of the trash, open it and then retrieve something from inside. After Cassidy threw the bag back into the trash receptacle, she began wandering back down the stairs while scanning the crowd of faces in front of her. At that moment Vera feared that she was too close to remain concealed for long and began moving away. After a short walk of fifteen to twenty yards, she found an empty chair beneath a tree and sat down with her back partially toward Cassidy. When she briefly glanced back over her left shoulder, she saw Cassidy standing on the stairs below the museums front entrance. Her attention was still focused on the crowd of people outside the museum. After a few more glances, Vera found Cassidy leaning against a handrail and talking into a cellphone.

It immediately became clear to Vera that the cellphone in Cassidy's hand was what she got out of the trash receptacle. It was also clear to her that Evan and Christine's friend and Cassidy did not trust each other. Those two facts suggested to Vera that something sinister was going on between the two of them. Finding out who Evan and Christine's friend was and what he or she was into with Cassidy suddenly reached a whole new height of intrigue with Vera. She settled into her chair and watched Cassidy with peeks over her left shoulder.

The conversation that Cassidy was having with Evan and Christine's friend lasted for more than ten minutes. When it was over, Cassidy descended the remainder of the stairs and started walking down the sidewalk in Vera's direction. Concerned that she might be recognized if she stood up, Vera turned her head away from Cassidy's approach. While waiting for her to pass by, Vera took out her cellphone and pretended to be reading something on the display. She had a good estimation on when Cassidy would pass. When she was confident that Cassidy had passed her by, Vera turned to look over her right shoulder and was startled to see Cassidy standing just behind her. Cassidy's face was in a scowl and her arms were crossed. Vera quickly jumped up and confronted Cassidy with a matching demeanor.

"Don't ever follow me again," Cassidy warned in a hostile voice.

"What's the matter, Tremaine, are you hiding a secret life?" Vera grumbled at Cassidy.

"My life is my business," Cassidy spat out defensively.

Vera felt embolden by what she perceived to be a sensitive subject for Cassidy. She inched a little closer and hardened her stare.

"There's something not right about you, Tremaine, and I'm going to find out what it is," Vera softly spoke into Cassidy's face.

"I advise caution there," Cassidy returned in kind. "You may not like what you find."

Cassidy hesitated to emphasize her warning, and then she started to leave.

"This is kind of out of your way just to take a call, isn't it?" Vera quickly spoke before Cassidy could fully turn away.

Cassidy stopped in response to the query and turned back around. She paused to consider Vera and her question, and then she looked down at the prepaid cellphone in her hand.

"I was passing through the area and caught a wrong number," Cassidy flippantly replied. "Go figure," she added while tossing the cellphone up for Vera to catch.

Vera caught the cellphone just as Cassidy turned around. For several seconds, she watched Cassidy walk away, then she dialed the only number that called into the prepaid cellphone. After a couple of rings Vera heard an electronic message that said, 'the cellphone you have called is turned off.'

~~~~~Line Break~~~~~

"Have you done this before?" Deputy Zachary Lowenthal asked as he looked out over the steering wheel.

"A few times," Parole Officer Todd Lahey returned with a shrug. "This is different though. I mean, in the past they were all in state and usually local."

"Oh," Deputy Lowenthal acknowledged with indifference.

"How about you?" Parole Officer Lahey queried after a pause. "You do this often?"

"No, no," Deputy Lowenthal dismissed with a slight shake of his head. "This is an odd man out thing for me. I'm in limbo right now—I'm waiting to be assigned a new shift. I was out… medical leave."

"Line of duty injury?" Parole Officer Lahey queried with interest.

"Nah," Deputy Lowenthal countered dismissively. "Hernia operation, it had me down for a few weeks."

Deputy Zachary Lowenthal was steering his patrol car to the home of an ex-convict. Parole Officer Todd Lahey was riding along with him because of his past relationship with the ex-convict. Up until today, Deputy Lowenthal and Parole Officer Lahey had no knowledge of each other. They met for the first time less than an hour earlier. Their coming together was a matter of convenience. Deputy Lowenthal had a duty to perform and Parole Officer Lahey was recruited as his partner in the task.

Deputy Lowenthal and Parole Officer Lahey were on a mission to inform the next of kin of a recently deceased person of his passing. It was customary for a social worker to perform this task with the accompaniment of a law enforcement officer, but the circumstances of this notification suggested that the parole officer of the person being notified was a better fit for this notification.

"So, you're okay now?" Parole Officer Lahey inquired about Deputy Lowenthal's hernia operation after several seconds of thought.

"Yeah, I'm good to go. Why?" Deputy Lowenthal asked with a glance to his right. "You think there's going to be a problem with this guy?"

"Nah, this is a cakewalk," Parole Officer Lahey returned dismissively.

Parole Officer Lahey reached down and touched the large manila envelope laying on the seat between them.

"May I?" Parole Officer Lahey requested with a look toward Deputy Lowenthal.

"Help yourself," Deputy Lowenthal answered after a quick look to his right.

Parole Officer Lahey promptly picked up the envelope and pulled out the paperwork inside. He immediately began examining the documents.

"What's the story on this guy?" Deputy Lowenthal queried for conversation.

"Armed robbery," Parole Officer Lahey casually explained while he continued to flip through the paperwork in his hands. "There was an assault with a deadly weapon charge. He had a prior—assault and battery. He wouldn't give up his accomplices on the armed robbery charge, that added some time to his sentence. He did it all—never said a word."

"He sounds tough," Deputy Lowenthal tossed out with surprise. "Has he been clean since he got out?"

"Yeah, but there's—a special circumstance there," Parole Officer Lahey answered while he continued to look over the paperwork in his hand.

"Like what?" Deputy Lowenthal queried with curiosity.

"You'll see," Parole Officer Lahey returned with a smile and a shrug.

Deputy Lowenthal accepted that reply and drove on in silence until a new thought became a question for Lahey.

"Was he and his brother close?"

"I couldn't tell you," Parole Officer Lahey responded with a contemplative shake of his head.

Parole Officer Lahey finished looking over the paperwork from the manila envelope, returned it to the seat between them and then continued his reply to Deputy Lowenthal's question.

"I don't recall him ever talking about him, but I heard that his brother was a suspect in the armed robbery that sent him to prison."

"That could be why he didn't give up his gang," Deputy Lowenthal mused.

"Could be, but I doubt it," Parole Officer Lahey casually countered.

"Why is that?" Deputy Lowenthal asked with surprise.

"Well, we're talking about a hardcore criminal here," Parole Officer Lahey explained with a shrug that said the answer was obvious. "I mean, he took a shot at a cop. His father was a convicted murderer who died in prison a few years back."

"I guess that explains the brother's situation," Deputy Lowenthal acknowledged with a knowing shrug.

"I suppose," Parole Officer Lahey agreed with nod.

Parole Officer Lahey looked up from his introspection and out at a house at the far end of the block. He pointed toward the building for Deputy Lowenthal.

"It's at the other end of the block."

Deputy Lowenthal steered the patrol car down the block and parked in front of a ramshackle three-bedroom house with a severely unkempt lawn. With respect to the neighborhood, the appearance of the property was not out of place. Deputy Lowenthal and Parole Officer Lahey got out of the patrol car and started up the walkway to the front door of the house side-by-side. When they stopped in front of the door, Deputy Lowenthal briefly searched for a doorbell. When he failed to find one, Deputy Lowenthal gave the front door five firm knocks. Several seconds later, someone inside began yelling at them through the door.

"Who is it?"

"Aidan, it's Todd Lahey. I need to speak with you," Parole Officer Lahey loudly returned.

Seconds after Parole Officer Lahey spoke, they started hearing someone on the other side opening locks and removing a chain from the front door. When the unlocking and unchaining stopped, the door began to gradually swing open. Deputy Lowenthal soon saw that Aidan was negotiating the opening of the door while maneuvering his wheelchair out of its way. When the door was fully open, Aidan glanced up from his wheelchair at Parole Officer Lahey and then over to Deputy Lowenthal for a longer examination. His expression was a look of annoyance mixed with anger. After a few seconds of looking at Deputy Lowenthal, Aidan turned his attention back toward Parole Officer Lahey.

"What do you want?"

"Mr. Dalby, can we come in?" Deputy Lowenthal politely asked.

"No, what do want?" Aidan angrily countered without hesitation.

"Aidan," Parole Officer Lahey sharply interjected. "This is about your brother," he finished in a gentle tone.

"What about Ben?" Aidan asked with an intense stare.

"Mr. Dalby," Deputy Lowenthal began in a somber voice. "Your brother, Benjamin Dalby, is deceased. His…"

"He's dead?" Aidan challenged with alarm. "Ben is dead?" He queried again with a sudden look of shock toward Parole Officer Lahey.

"Yeah," Parole Officer Lahey concurred with an apologetic nod.

"Is there someone…"

"Wait, wait," Aidan sharply interjected with a confused expression. "How is my brother dead? He was doing just fine a few days ago?"

"Your brother died under suspicious circumstances," Deputy Lowenthal answered with a straightforward delivery.

"Somebody killed my brother?" Aidan asked in a demanding tone. "Who?"

Aidan was leaning forward in his chair as though he was ready to jump out of it.

"The New York City police Department is investigating your brother's death as a possible homicide," Deputy Lowenthal explained. "All I know is what's in the information they sent us."

"What information?" Aidan queried with insistence and anger.

"Your brother's death has been labeled suspicious, and because of the fire, his dental records were used for identification." Deputy Lowenthal answered respectfully.

"Fire?" Aidan suddenly exclaimed.

Aidan's sudden outburst surprised Deputy Lowenthal and stopped him before he could finish his report.

"My brother was in a fire?" Aidan continued to rave in complete astonishment.

"Your brother's body was found in the debris of a burned-out building," Deputy Lowenthal answered. "But the cause of death was ruled as sharp force trauma. That's all I know. The Burlington County Sheriff's Department was contacted to do the notification to you, his next of kin. Contact information regarding your brother's remains and the investigation into his death are in here," he finished while extending the envelope toward Aidan.

Aidan silently considered what he had just heard, then he took the envelope presented to him and placed it in his lap.

"Will you be needing any…" Deputy Lowenthal began before Aidan cut him off.

"No," Aidan nearly shouted.

Aidan immediately began rolling his wheelchair back from the doorway. When his chair was clear, he reached out and slammed it shut. Over the next several seconds Aidan could hear Parole Officer Lahey and Deputy Lowenthal walking away from the house as he fumed into the empty space in front of him. Then he opened the unsealed envelope and pulled out the paperwork inside. The sound of the car that Parole Officer Lahey and Deputy Lowenthal arrived in could be heard driving off as he examined the information printed on the papers. Aidan's anger continued to swell as he looked over the information that validated his brother's death. As he read, his eyes turned into tiny mirrors glinting with reflected light. A grumble began to rumble up from the depth of his chest and reverberate out his nose and mouth. Fangs began rapidly growing out among his gritted teeth, and as his fingernails grew out into claws. Seconds later, Aidan threw his legs out to either side of his wheelchair footrests, planted his feet onto the floor and pushed himself up into a stance while crumpling the paperwork within his fist. In a single continuous motion, he turned about, grabbed the armrest of the wheelchair, lifted it off the floor and threw it across the room as though it were a small plastic toy. When the wheelchair settled onto the floor, Aidan turned his gaze up at the ceiling and ROARED!

~~~~~Line Break~~~~~

It was 7:55pm when David (Cristiãn) responded to the knocking at the front entrance of The Cavern Nightclub. When he opened the door, he was not surprised to see Cassidy standing outside. He promptly opened the door wide so that she could enter. Cassidy stepped into the lobby of the club, stopped, turned around and waited for David (Cristiãn) to close the door behind her.

"You ready for this?" David (Cristiãn) asked with concern.

"I'm ready," Cassidy returned resolutely. "The question is, are they ready?" She asked with a head gesture toward the main room of the club.

"Yeah, they're ready," David (Cristiãn) answered with a nod.

"I gave them my word, David," Cassidy said with authority.

David (Cristiãn) took a moment to assess the level of concern in Cassidy's expression.

"Cassidy, you're the vampire agent," David (Cristiãn) advised. "Your word is law."

"Good," Cassidy acknowledged. "And I'm not a vampire agent," she disputed.

"That's not the way they see it," David (Cristiãn) countered with a smile and a look toward the club's main room.

"Whatever," Cassidy returned with look of annoyance.

After voicing her objection, Cassidy looked down at her watch.

"It's time," Cassidy announced.

It was at that moment when David (Cristiãn) reached into his inside suit pocket and pulled out a mini glass jar with a cork in it. Inside the jar was blood. David (Cristiãn) held the jar up as an offer to Cassidy.

"Would you like an insurance policy?" David (Cristiãn) tentatively asked.

Cassidy reluctantly considered the jar. She understood that David (Cristiãn) was offering his blood as a protection against vampire pheromones. In the past she passed on this offer, but the number of vampires and the new vampires had her thinking hard about the offer. After a few seconds of thought, Cassidy took the jar from David's (Cristiãn) hand, uncorked it and drank the blood. After downing all of it quickly, Cassidy corked the jar and gave it back to David (Cristiãn). She then gave David (Cristiãn) a look that suggested she could not believe what she was about to do, and then she turned to the front entrance, pushed the door open and stepped outside. When she walked out onto the sidewalk, Cassidy found an extremely attractive woman standing there. The woman examined Cassidy with her eyes, and Cassidy soon returned the examination with a suspicious look. After the pause to assess each other, the attractive woman took three steps and stopped in front of Cassidy.

"So, Detective Tremaine," the attractive woman spoke pleasantly. "Is it safe to enter?"

"That depends. Who am I talking to?" Cassidy inquired with a hint of defiance.

"Lola," Lola answered with a smile. "But you know me as Jezebel," she added with a shrug of indifference.

Cassidy gave the attractive newborn vampire a quick down and up look. Lola looked past Cassidy and did the same to David (Cristiãn).

"Yes, Lola, it's safe to go in," Cassidy answered with a nod.

Lola gave Cassidy another moment of scrutiny, and then she stepped back and gave a beckoning wave to someone down the sidewalk. A few seconds later, a group of ten individuals moved up behind Lola. When they were all assembled, Lola turned around to face Cassidy.

"After you, Detective," Lola casually instructed.

Cassidy briefly looked the group over, and then she began leading them through the front entrance of The Cavern Nightclub and past David (Cristiãn) who was holding the door. They all gave David (Cristiãn) a suspicious look as they passed. When they were all in the lobby, David (Cristiãn) shut the door and led them all into the main room of the club. Cassidy followed his lead. Lola and the other ten followed behind her.

When they came into the main room, Lola Keener, Keegan Walsh, Patricia Boyd, Mary Thistle, Paula Cross, Russell Cross, Sarah Price, Kenneth Price, Donny Ellis, Kimberly Stratham and Beau Stratham formed up into a shoulder-to-shoulder line in front of the bar. Down in the center of the main room, Ryan Sandoval (Radu), Alexandra Hays (Flavia), Ronald Hollis (Sorin), Brooke Chapman (Adrianna), Herman Weber (Stefan), Mia Bauer (Helga), Armel Valcourt (Petru) and Simone Deveaux (Nadja) stood in a loose group. Cassidy gravitated to a position between the two groups and David (Cristiãn) took a position at the side of the room and crossed his arms.

"Okay, so we're all here," Cassidy announced while panning back and forth to both groups. "Promises were made, and I expect those promises to be kept."

"Absolutely," Stefan agreed while taking two steps forward. "We hold no hostility for our newfound cousins as long as they can say the same for us."

"Hey, we're here," Lola stated with a what the hell gesture of her hands and matching facial expression.

"And this is all of you?" Stefan questioned with a cautious edge in his tone.

"Yes, this is all of us," Lola answered with a nod.

"Because, if you're lying to us, there will be consequences," Stefan ominously advised.

"And who the fuck are…" Patricia angrily began to counter.

Lola quickly stepped out with a warning finger directed at Patricia that stopped her from finishing what she was about to say. Once Lola was sure she had Patricia's attention and silence, she turned toward Stefan.

"Hey, we're here because Detective Tremaine told us that there would be no unfriendliness if we came," Lola began pleasantly. "That was her promise to us, and we promised her that we would all come in. Well, here we are. This is all of us that I know about," she attested with outstretched arms. "That business Tony had going on was his business. What you see in front of you is… collateral vampirism. We were turned by friends and family members for personal reasons. We have no conflict with any of you, and we don't want to be your enemies."

Stefan held his silence to consider Lola's words.

"We prefer the name Immortal," Brooke softly announced into the lull of the exchange.

"Fine. You won't get an argument from me," Lola tossed back.

"Okay then," Stefan began with an air of resignation. "If you're going to be one of us then you must learn the rules—and follow them. When you obey the rules, we have no problems. Break a rule, and we have a problem."

Stefan paused to give emphasis to his words.

"Mortals are our greatest threat. Once upon a time there was a thousand of us," Stefan continued solemnly. "Now there is only what you see here and a few more. The mortals did that. It was a purge, and we were nearly erased from existence. It happened once, and it can happen again."

Once again Stefan paused to give weight to what he said and to what he was about to say.

"We expect you to keep your new selves a secret from the mortals," Stefan continued with a step forward. "If they find out about you, they'll start looking for us."

Stefan paused again for emphasis and scanned the faces in front of him.

"Detective Tremaine is our—singular in-house mortal," Stefan haltingly advised and with a gesture toward Cassidy. "She is the only mortal who knows about us, and she guards our secret."

Stefan hesitated after that statement.

"She also has it setup so that if anything happens to her the secret of our existence goes public," Stefan said in a dire tone. "Names—faces—addresses—fingerprints, it's all in a file that she is keeping—sequestered inside the NYPD database. Your information will now go into that file. That is non-negotiable," he asserted with finality. "So, it's in all our interests to keep Detective Tremaine healthy and happy," he finished with an annoyed look at Cassidy.

Stefan's attention lingered on Cassidy for several seconds, and then he turned his gaze back toward the newborns.

"We've been doing this for a long time," Stefan continued in a pleasant tone of voice. "And we take care of each other. If you're going to be one of us, then you must do the same. Each of us exist for the survival of the whole. We'll do what we can to help you adjust and to make your lives comfortable, but you need to understand this, there is only one penalty for breaking a rule… death."

Stefan paused to give weight to what he just said.

"Death is the only punishment we mete out," Stefan continued nonchalantly. "Life or death is decided by a majority vote from the members. There is no reprieve from a death sentence from the members, and you will not be resurrected," he finished with finality.

Again, Stefan hesitated for effect.

"So, it's in your best interest to make and maintain friendships within the group, because someday you may need their vote," Stefan slyly spoke.

Stefan panned the faces before him for a few seconds before speaking again.

"Are there any questions?" Stefan finished blithely.

The newborns were slow to act on Stefan's offer to answer their questions, but soon they began stepping forward with their questions and concerns. As they began to move out into the center of the main room, the Dacia Vampires reciprocated and moved forward. Their mingling quickly freed Stefan from the job of being the spokesperson. As that was happening, Cassidy turned her attention to Stefan and something he said. As two groups mingled, she went over to Stefan with a stern expression.

"Resurrected?" She challenged.

Stefan first looked at Cassidy with an expression of confusion, and then he quickly realized where she was going with her query. She had deduced that they had resurrected Razvan and Dumitra. His initial thought was to defend their actions on the grounds that the Dacia Vampire members did not render a death sentence to Razvan and Dumitra. An instant later, Stefan decided against putting up that defense and said nothing in the hope of delaying the angry onslaught to come. Nadja noticed Stefan and Cassidy's exchange unfolding and moved over to listen in.

"Razvan and Dumitra are alive," Cassidy asserted with a flair of fury. "That's how you knew about Tony and Jerry," she continued with an angry point of her finger. "You've been talking to them all along."

"We needed to know everything they did," Stefan explained defensively.

"And where are they now?" Cassidy angrily demanded.

"They're—in—isolation," Stefan answered with some effort to find the right word.

"Isolation?" Cassidy roared. "They should be dead. They killed my partner. I want them dead."

"Well, there's still the problem of information," Stefan delicately explained. "We need to know everything."

"We know what they did," Cassidy growled. "Tony McGuire is dead. Jeremiah Kingston is dead. What more do we need to know?"

"Well, that's the question," Stefan coolly returned. "We don't know all that they have done over the past sixty years. Keeping them around, temporarily, to answer any questions that may come up seems… prudent."

Nadja listened to the exchange with an amused expression.

"What?" Cassidy nearly screamed with fury.

Cassidy briefly attracted the attention of all within the room.

"Think of it as a stay of execution," Stefan continued with a shrug. "After all, it's in everyone's best interest to learn all that we can about Razvan and Dumitra's activities."

"And how long is temporary?" Cassidy challenged with a suspicious glare.

"Not long," Stefan returned with an indifferent shrug. "At least not long by immortal standards," he finished with a smile.

Cassidy had no quick response to Stefan's reply and immediately went into fuming. As she did, Stefan turned and walked away. Cassidy turned her attention toward Nadja in reaction to seeing Stefan's back.

"You knew about this?" Cassidy asked with an angry scowl.

"Hey, I was under orders to keep quiet about it," Nadja returned with a smile and a toss of her hands.

"How do you resurrect a headless vampire?" Cassidy bellowed with a mixture of rage and disbelief in her voice.

"Oh well, it's simple, really," Nadja returned with an indifferent shrug. "You put the head back in place before decay sets in, and the body mends itself."

Cassidy went back to fuming with a shake of her head in disbelief. She did not know what to say or do in response to what she had just learned. Shortly into her fuming, a neighboring conversation caught Cassidy's attention and she turned to listen in.

"I'm having these… sensations with my brother," Paula hesitantly advised Alexandra. "And it's making things very uncomfortable between us."

"Did you turn your brother?" Alexandra cautiously inquired.

"Yes, I did," Paula confessed with a downhearted nod of her head.

"Yeah, that happens," Alexandra delicately replied. "You're reacting to each other's pheromones. But don't worry," she continued with an upbeat flair. "That'll stop when you mate with someone."

"Mate?" Cassidy quickly interjected. "No, no—no mating, no turning humans into vampires," she countermanded profusely.

"Relax, detective," Nadja softly spoke and with an amused smile. "Flavia (Alexandra) is not talking about turning anyone, necessarily."

Cassidy turned to Nadja with a confused expression.

"There is a risk that one or more of these newborns will want to mate with a mortal. We'll have to keep an eye out for that," Nadja explained with a casual delivery. "But, since turning mortals is against your rule, they'll more than likely start hooking up with each other. And the genetic bond between immortals reinforces the romantic bond."

"Big time," Alexandra seconded with wide-eyed enthusiasm.

"I thought vampires—I mean immortals were only capable of creating genetic bonds with humans?" Cassidy questioned with surprise.

"That's the convenient way," Nadja commenced to explain with a shrug of indifference. "Love triangles among immortals usually end when somebody dies, and that normally happens fairly quickly. That's why we mostly mate with mortals."

"Yes, but I was told that vampires—immortals had to have a genetic link to form that… pheromone connection?" Cassidy challenged.

"Yeah, well, when two immortals… fuck, the female immortal's body undergoes a common biological reaction."

"What reaction is that?" Cassidy asked with a suspicious accentuation.

"We get pregnant," Alexandra hurriedly answered.

"What?" Cassidy countered with astonishment.

"But we don't have the babies," Alexandra quickly assured.

"Because our bodies self-maintain to be at the peak of… virility," Nadja continued to explain. "We female immortals get pregnant every time we have sex with a male immortal."

Cassidy gave Nadja a disbelieving look.

"Yeah," Alexandra eagerly supported with an excited nod of her head.

"The pregnancy is quickly integrated into our bodies, and in doing so it transforms our… kinship," Nadja further explained.

"What does that mean?" Cassidy challenged with a frown.

"We immortals may have a common immortal ancestor," Nadja began after a moment of thought. "But we are genetically… unique. With our maker and our progenies, we have a genetic similarity and that is why we have a pheromone kinship. Zygotes dislodge the pheromone kinship we have with our makers and our progenies and bridges it to the male immortal who contributed to its creation."

Cassidy was amazed by what Nadja was telling her. She looked to Alexandra to see if she was being lied to.

"Um hmm," Alexandra concurred with a quick nod of her head.

"Put another way," Nadja continued to explain. "We transform into a genetic match for the immortal we choose to fuck," she added with a flourish of her hands.

"What?" Cassidy blurted out in astonishment.

"Yeah," Alexandra supported with an excited nod of her head.

"Within a community of immortals, there is nothing more despised among the women than a female immortal without a mate," Nadja finished with a smirk.

Cassidy immediately began considering the possibilities that came with what Nadja and Alexandra had just told her. Seconds later she turned her attention toward David and the conversation he was now having with Lola. The sight of them together set off an alarm inside Cassidy that she did not know was there. After noticing where Cassidy's attention went, Nadja leaned in and spoke softly.

"It adds a whole new meaning to the phrase, changing for a man, doesn't it?"

~~~~~Line Break~~~~~

Not long into the mingle between the newborns and the Dacia Vampires, Lola backed away from the conversation she and Mary were having with Helga. Her attention drifted toward the exceedingly good-looking Dacia Vampire standing at the side of the room. She had learned early in her talk with Helga that the standalone male Dacia Vampire was the owner of the Cavern Nightclub, that his public name was David Burrell and that his vampire name was Cristiãn. She also learned that he had no mate and that he was in a semi-romantic relationship with Cassidy Tremaine. That information, on top of his good looks, made him even more interesting to her. Lola's disengagement with Helga was wholly motivated by a desire to engage with him, and she walked a slow straight line right up to David.

"Hi," Lola greeted with a hint of a smile and a fixed stare.

Lola was standing directly in front of David with her arms crossed and little more than a foot of distance between them.

"Hello," David pleasantly returned to Lola's greeting and with a slight bow of his head.

"They tell me that you own the Cavern?" Lola stated with a questioning inflection.

"I do," David confirmed with a nod and a slight frown of confusion.

"Good," Lola responded with discernible enthusiasm. "That makes you the perfect person to answer my question."

"I'll do my best," David replied with a smile.

"I'm sure your best will do just fine," Lola countered while giving David a leisurely down and up look.

When Lola's gaze came back up to David's eyes, she fixed her stare there and displayed an amused smile.

"What's your question?" David queried to break the silence.

Lola uncrossed her arms, placed her hands on her hips, took a sassy pose and spoke.

"Who do I fuck to get a job here?"

THE END