DISCLAIMER: Devil Wears Prada characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. I make no money off of this and I intend no infringement. Also, I don't own Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake and Merry Gentry universe and I mean no infringement there either, I make no money from this.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to all those who've pitched in on beta-ing duties throughout this journey– Jackalopetrope , Seelyfey, Punky_96, and Melanacious. I definitely couldn't have done it without y'all. Also thanks to the Laurel K .Hamilton Fan Sites: Gentry & Blake which were lifesavers in terms of research.
CROSSOVER: DWP with Laurel K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry & Anita Blake 'Verse.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: for Merry Gentry Series.

Gift or Curse
By blackgrl71



Andy had always known she was different, and while she was raised in the loving, warm, and secure, environment of the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio – she always sensed something…creeping, for lack of a better word, after her. The older she got, the greater the feeling grew, and she felt that her time was… running out, something was coming for her. It was the little things---like that time she was 8 years old and that big giant diaper-stain and "resident bully' Billy Donovan kicked her in the shins. She'd punched him in a fit of rage (Just like she saw Muhammad Ali do that time while watching Thrilla in Manilla with her parents), only it was out in the parking lot.

The kids that were surrounding them still give different accounts of that moment. "No, I'm telling you that hole was already there!" or "Dude she had one of those brass knuckles-thingee…," and so on and so forth.

All she remembered from that day was that old adage, 'seeing red,' and well, she saw fireworks … coming out of Billy's ass. She'd wanted to see him bleed. The blood-thirst had frightened her. She'd hit Billy so hard he flew back and hit Mr. Haggerty's truck with enough force to make a SIZABLE dent in the right fender. Then, like a shark scenting spilled blood in the water, she'd narrowed in for the "kill." She went to throw another punch, missed, and actually put a hole in Mr. Haggerty's truck. It wasn't until she felt a number of hands pulling her off and the sudden silence that she realized that something had happened.

Her hand fared a lot better than Billy's head. And while her parents were mortified and pissed beyond belief that Andy would engage in violence, (Billy is still a tad bit slower than he was before that moment) she could have sworn that a flicker of… something—like unease—appeared in their eyes amongst the anger and disappointment.

She had various other mishaps throughout elementary school and junior high (complete with several parent-teacher conferences) before she learned to "mask" her strength. The only reason people didn't think she was a total freak was because most adults refused to believe an "innocent" looking girl could do those things. As it was, by the time she got to high school most kids were too wary of Andy to bother her. Thank gawd for Doug and Lily, Andy thought.

It wasn't until high school that Andy learned that she could actually pick up the front end of a car without breaking a sweat, and she never got sick – not even when the chicken pox almost knocked out the entire 3rdgrade for weeks. Plus, there was her unusual fascination with Barry White… she FIRMLY believed that that had everything to do with her unusualness. Lily and Doug, her devout "swingmen" and BFFs, had banned her from ever doing the music selection after Andy made them listen to 'Let the Music Play' 30 times that one night during a sleep-over. Some people just can't appreciate musical greatness.

But there were other 'qualities' that made her more troubled, qualities that appeared after she hit puberty. Her sense of smell and hearing became acute. So acute that she could hear a person's heartbeat frantically pounding out of their chest, or smell when her best friend was menstruating from 10 feet away. Lily that is, not Doug. It was intoxicating, so intoxicating that it was all she could do to not shove her face in Lily's crotch – which almost happened once. That delicious metallic mixed with Lily's natural womanly essence. To say it was an embarrassing moment would be the understatement of the year. But that metallic, musky-sweet, scent, was so yummy that Andy had to pinch herself to not give into the instinct to pounce.

As time passed, Andy grew into a beautiful young woman and she acknowledged that she was graced with a set of lucky genes. What she did not know, was that her beauty was all compliments of her Sidhe/Fey genes. She moved with an effortless grace that eluded most teens, and her athletic prowess made her stronger, faster, with reflexes that even world-class athletes would envy. Sports, however, were just a hobby for Andy, and a means to pay for college – much to the frustration of her coaches. She had enough self-preservation about her uniqueness to significantly tone down her advantages.

It was at this same time that Andy also discovered that she was a bit of a breast-girl; otherwise how else could she explain her fascination with other women's breasts? Not to mention Andy's were no slouch either. At a little more than handful her sensitive nipples were an asset (or curse depending on the situation) when her libido went into over-drive. When she masturbated, she imagined Mrs. Atkinson, Andy's English teacher and first crush. Mrs. Atkinson loved wearing blouses that showing plenty of cleavage. Sometimes her blouses were just low enough to give Andy a glimpse of her delicious lacy-looking bras. And if Andy tried hard enough, she could imagine seeing a hint of dark-pink areola peaking out. It was always enough to work Andy into an oily-froth with sticky thighs by the time she got home.

Which leads to the…how did one say this…Horniness? Craving? Addiction? …When it came to sex. So much so, that it felt as if her skin would peel off if she didn't do something about it. After her Mom walked in on her with her hands shoved down her pants in a fit of desperation, followed by the ensuing "birds n' bees" talk, Andy knew that she NEVER wanted to talk about it again. But, unfortunately, her Mom was the product of Hippie-commune upbringing (which you'd never guess from her stern image projected as a 4th grade teacher). So the next day, she found books and articles that her Mother "helpfully" left on her bed, with a note saying: Never be ashamed of your body, but be safe, and love yourself.

After a while, Andy began to recognize a pattern: a certain time of the month made her practically incoherent with lust unless she spent several hours and countless orgasms, panting through the coursing heat. During this time, her sense of smell became even more acute than usual. If Lily was around and menstruating, Andy realized that she had to beat a hasty retreat for fear of doing something she'd really regret. Like holding Lily down, spreading her wide, ripping her panties…

Needless to say, Andy had a pretty extensive knowledge around sexuality by the time she hit college at Northwestern. Enough that aside from pursuing a degree in Journalism and being a member of Northwestern's Women's Volleyball team, she had very popular college online show related to sexuality. To the mortification of her Father, it allowed fans to write in on her blog with their questions including dares related to sexuality called Early to Bed (named after her favorite sex toy store in Chicago). She'd try out her favorite dares and offer a critique and some kind of anecdotal lesson the following show. It worked wonderfully right up until that donkey suggestion. Then she realized she needed some strict guidelines. Plus she could play Love Serenade by Barry White for the show's Intro – how cool was that?!

To make college even more complicated, Andy discovered she liked girls. Said discovery occurred during what became known as the "Nate Incident."

The "Nate Incident" happened when she'd talked Nate, whom she was seeing at the time, into wearing a set of women's lingerie for the purposes of "research" for her show.. She'd made him shave… everywhere. She'd helped. Sort of. At least if you ignored the part where she accidentally nicked his left ball. How was she supposed to know he'd cough right at that moment? Dealing with the bleeding, in combination with her roommate seeing Nate in lingerie, sort of soured the very new relationship rather quickly. So Lily and Doug had labeled it the "Nate Incident." Now, he stammered, blushed, and always beat a hasty retreat (in the opposite direction) whenever they accidentally crossed paths. It was really too bad because he made the best grilled cheese sandwiches.

Nevertheless, Andy's popularity grew during college, which to her consternation might have had more to do with her "exploratory sex show" than anything else. It was also at this time (following the Nate Incident) that she accepted that she preferred women. There was a reason why she made Nate dress up in a lacy thong, or that the smell of Lily and other women menstruating sent her into heat. Not to mention her being a 'breast-girl.'

Doug was thrilled of course upon her declaration, "OMG girl! Now both us 'girls' can prowl the nightclubs in either Girls-Town or play fag-hag with Lily in Boys-Town! You know they have a fierce Drag King show every other Thursday at Circuit!"

Lily just looked on in exasperated amusement, "I always knew you had one foot out that closet. Don't think I haven't caught you checkin' out 'the goods' a few times."

When Andy finished blushing she posed the question, "Should I tell my parents?"

"I DEFINITELY think you should have sex first, just to be sure!" Seeing pissy smirks on both women's faces, Doug followed up with, "Well, it shouldn't be hard, you have the #1 college blog-show about sexual exploration AND you're a jock?! You'll have a gang-bang before the week is out." He received a couple slaps on the head for his prediction.

But that didn't stop the twinge of heat between Andy's thighs at the thought of fully indulging herself between a woman's thighs. Immediately, her thoughts ran to that woman from the hotel lobby. She had been covering a story for her college newspapers about hotel workers and unions for this swank hotel in Downtown when she'd laid eyes on her.

Her contact was thirty minutes late, her feet were freezing and she really just wanted to go home. God, if she didn't need this interview so badly, she would. She was halfway through another edit of her notes, when Andy felt the presence. Something shimmered through the air, almost electric, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and her heart gallop. Looking up from her notes, she searched for the source and felt the world go silent as her eyes fell on the silver haired goddess within the entourage of 3 men and 2 other women.

She moved like a shark across the lobby floor, devouring the dead space around her and forcing the world to move in her wake. Arctic ice-blue eyes glanced around the room, as if looking for someone, before resting on Andy for just a moment. Andy felt like she'd been punched—she couldn't breathe. Whole minutes were lost between breathes and heartbeats as the woman did a leisurely scan down Andy's body—from her favorite sporty leather jacket over a v-neck sweater to her snug jeans, all the way down to her booted feet, before traveling back up again.

For a moment, their eyes locked, and Andy felt every part of her body tighten in response. Static crackled in her ears and her skin itched everywhere. The heat in the other woman's gaze rivaled the sun, and Andy felt burned…consumed. Her eye sockets felt hot – it wouldn't be until much later that she'd know that one of her Sidhe powers came online, making her eyes glow tri-colored: brown, copper, and gold.

If she'd taken a moment to look down she'd have noticed the visible dents in her armrests from her fingers. Her nipples instantly hardened into diamonds, the twinge between her thighs became an ache, and if Andy were to pass a finger through her folds right then, she was certain that she'd be wet. She didn't understand what was happening to her, but looking into her goddess' eyes, she knew she wasn't the only one affected. Arctic-blue orbs widened in surprise, narrowed, then disappeared altogether as the other woman turned on her heel and walked rapidly in the opposite direction. Before Andy could even speak, she was gone.

"Christ!" Andy ran shaking fingers through her hair before realizing that she was actually panting.

Andy never forgot the goddess, and the woman featured many times in her fantasies, but fantasies weren't the only thing Andy had – there were also the dreams.


Chapter 1

Andy's dreamscape was a draw on whether they were calm, soothing, sensuous or nightmarish. Sometimes Andy dreamt of a woman with hair like her's, tri-colored golden eyes, and gleaming, movable inky patterns all over her skin. Huge black dogs, dark obsidian horses, and giant wolf all danced like shadows puppets across her skin. Sometimes they overlaid her body entirely. Andy often found this particular dream comforting. Almost like waking with a belly-full of warm oatmeal.

Other times, they were terrifying; filled with landscapes and figures that left Andy waking in resonating terror. In them, she was hunted by an entity she'd deemed the Dark One. It moved like an ominous stain across that spilt across the floor, eating up all light. She often pictured it creeping down New York Ave, shutting down the streetlamps and sending the animals scurrying in hopes of not being swallowed. Gruesome scenes always followed it in its wake—beautiful, broken bodies, wrenching screams and chilling visions of dark red blood cascading like ribbons through stale dead air. It was an oily darkness so severe you could barely make out your hand in front your face. Andy could often be found huddling in abject fear in a corner after such a dream. As if the oily darkness could reach out from her subconscious and seize her with its tentacles.

Other times the Dark One would sharpen into an actual figure no less terrifying: In those dreams, there was another woman with beautiful pitch-black hair that flowed long and sleek, almost eel-like across her shoulders. It seemed the most 'alive' thing about her. Everything else seemed to convey death and pain. Her skin was almost translucent, like moonlight, with full breasts, very tall, long gracefully proportioned limbs, muscled yet feminine. She was absolutely beautiful, but beautiful like a Black Mamba waiting for you to get closer, deadly intent emanating from her body. Dream Andy had never seen her face … and that was a huge relief. Her self-preservation told her that if that ever happened…It wouldn't go well for her. Andy shivered, tension tightening her shoulders, the resonance of those dreams continued to echo on her conscious, clogging her with fear.

She had no idea what any of this meant, it was just an instinct. However, it was the other woman with brilliant, blood-red hair and glowing moonlight skin, that gave her an entirely different feeling; a sense of… belonging? Warmth? A recognition of… what, Andy had no idea. She'd woken up many times, looking frantically around, gasping, shaken, only to realize it was just a dream, the woman just beyond her grasp. She'd then felt a sense of loss so keen that she didn't even realize that her face was wet with tears until she felt them tickle off the end of her chin. If only her dreams could somehow offer more information. She had a feeling that some of those answers would be important in "real life". And if there was one thing that Andy had realized over the years as more of her special qualities have come "on-line," it was that her instincts were her life-line.

The other people who featured strongly in her dreamscape also made her anxious, but at the same time filled with a sense of… yearning. There was a man with silver, Christmas tinsel-colored hair, an obsidian-onyx-colored man, with long gorgeous inky hair, and a Green Man with gleaming, mossy skin, and grassy colored hair. They all swirled throughout her dreams like a kaleidoscope. Another man that should have been more nightmarish because of the tentacle-like-things often waving wildly around him, wasn't. For some reason the tentacles never scared her and only made her intensely curious. She could never see the faces of these people, she didn't know who they were, but they appeared often enough in her dreams throughout the years – ever since puberty. She knew they were Fey, but she had no idea of what kind, because only the Fey looked like them: perfect, moonlight skin in some cases, hair-color that would be impossible to find in a bottle… and then there was the huge green dog. The Dog would appear at various times, interspersed with these individuals – sometimes in the beginning or at the end. But the Dog would often stop and just look at her – as if she were consciously standing in front of it.

She finally did some research on what this Dog looked like and the meaning of its appearance. The dog, it turned out, was known as Cu Sith: the Hound of the Sidhe. Its magic was powerful, wild and unpredictable. At the size of a pony, solid green, with huge yellow-green eyes, it was the official guard dog of the Mound where the Fey resided. They were thought to have disappeared, but Andy had seen them in her dreams even before she'd been compelled to look it up. What does this have to do with me, she wondered?

It frustrated her to no end because while she knew that the Fey existed, very few people ever met them. Everyone knew the general story of the Fey of course; Thomas Jefferson granted them asylum way back when after the Fey Wars between the Seelie Sidhe and Unseelie Sidhe (supposedly one represented the 'light' and the other represented the 'dark') nearly destroyed the Fey and everything else. The Treaty between Jefferson and the Fey stipulated that they couldn't be worshipped as gods or goddesses and couldn't practice any of their magic on humans. Violation of this would either be deportation or punishable by law.

Humans found them very fascinating. Who wouldn't when you had beautiful women like Queen Andais of the Unseelie Court and stunningly handsome men like King Taranis of the Seelie Court? Of course there were other Fey who were neither Seelie nor Unseelie, and even had their own lesser courts, but the American public was fascinated by the Sidhe. And among the Sidhe, Princess Merry Gentry of the Unseelie Court was their favorite icon. The attention was unsurprising. Merry was the only American-born royalty and she lived in Los Angeles.

All this, Andy knew, because she'd always secretly found the Fey as fascinating as the rest of the world. Plus, she did a research paper on them for a World History class in high school. Not that she was one of those nuttily obsessed fairiephiles. She at least had some sort of life outside her fey obsession. Doug, on the other hand, was a TOTAL faeriephile – couldn't get enough of them. He had all the posters, books, and fanzines the media churned out.

"Oh. My. God!" Doug would squeal while watching E-Networks' The Chelsea Handler Show. "Did you see that Fendi bag Princess Merry was rockin' last week?! I'm SOOO jealous!"

It was a wonder Doug hadn't been put on one of the Fey and Supernatural Affairs watch-lists yet.

No, Andy's fascination was different. It wasn't the crazed obsession of a fan, or the frenzied curiosity of the media. For her, it was about exploring the feeling of kinship she felt with the Sidhe, and the need to know why she felt such kinship. It was all intensely personal for her, and even Lily and Doug didn't have a clue how much time she spent thinking, reading, and dreaming about them. Sometimes Andy wondered if She was Fey or even Sidhe. It would explain Andy's intense reaction to her.

However, all of this was irrelevant because Andy's current situation quickly brought her back into focus between a woman's thighs, wetly slapping skin, and a quickly approaching monster orgasm.

Later on that week.

When Doug and Lily met Max, (Andy's newest girlfriend) Andy had to remind them to not gawk. "Guys is it possible you can stop drooling? I get that she's ridiculously hot – but that's why we have lots of sex!"

She received a slap on the arm for her explanation, "Andy!" Max rolled her eyes in amusement and shook her head at her girlfriend.

Turning back to the group, Max held out her hand in greeting. "Hi! My name is Max."

"How did you guys meet?" asked a still flabbergasted Lily.

Max was a pre-law student at DePaul University. They met as most people did: by accident – in a strip club. No, Max was not a stripper, although that didn't stop her boss from hounding her to be a dancer. Max was a bartender, who thanks to a generous dose of great genes, made a killing on tips each night she worked. It was how she paid for school. Her parents stopped paying for her schooling when she came Out to them.

"Well...," Andy couldn't stop her grin from widening, "we met on an outing Dougie took me to earlier this week."

Earlier that week, Doug and his friend Michael, taking their "gay pride intro" seriously, decided to take Andy to Baby's Milk "Gentlemen's Lounge" (aka strip club) as part of her indoctrination into the "gay life." Andy remained dubious that this would be a place to find a nice girl. What kind of name was Baby's Milk anyway?! I mean, are they kidding me?! However, she went along anyway, and had been, surprisingly, not disappointed.

Trailing Doug into the flashy of the strip club, Andy couldn't help but roll her eyes and sigh heavily in disgust."Now tell me again how I'm supposed to find a "someone" here? You do know that even lesbians don't consider this a top choice for meeting potential dates right?"

"Heelllooo! You're not supposed to find a "nice girl" just yet," said Doug. "You have to get your feet wet first. Have sex, figure out what you like…,"

"I sorta already had sex with a woman!" Andy replied.

"Yeah, but that was for your show – or so you claimed, and you only kissed her while groping her breasts." Doug pointed out. "We found it a lil'… odd then, but now we know the real reason for that little episode don't we?" He waggled his eyebrows lecherously in her direction.

Andy just rolled her eyes again and didn't merit him with a response. Instead, she took the moment to take a look around at the small club from their corner spot. The floor was filled with low tables and small sofa lounges like the one she was sitting on, and a catwalk stage at the center. With gleaming silver polls holding mostly naked women, the stage dominated the room. It was a nice view. So with the heavy base of the music thrumming against her skin, Andy sat back and tried to enjoy the experience.

Everything was fine until a scantily clad woman with gravity defying breasts began in gyrate directly in front of her. "Would you like a dance beautiful?" She asked, pushing herself into Andy. In response, Andy sprawled further into her chair and tried to shrink away.

"Umm…I gotta go get a drink," she said, dashing off over the protests of Doug and Michael to the bar.

Andy needed to cool down. Her libido was raising its inconvenient head, and Andy was having a hard time controlling her urges. The scent of pussy had seared the inside of her nostrils immediately when she entered the club, and became excruciating when she sat near the stage. She was embarrassed and getting hornier by the second. Not really looking at the other patrons, some of whom were lecherously checking her out, Andy approached the bar and wondered how long she'd be able to stay before she did something she'd regret.

"You look like you could use this honey," a voice said, before a murky purple-colored, drink landed in front of her. Andy looked up to find gorgeous brown eyes in a heart-shaped face, framed by long wavy brown hair. The bartender's skin was like silky smooth café au lait and she was, in a word, hot! Once again, Andy didn't realize that with her increasing libido her own beautiful tri-colored, gold-copper-brown eyes were becoming decidedly more heated.

"Thank you. What's in that?" Andy said, gesturing towards the drink while having an extremely difficult time keeping her eyes off the woman's lips.

"Hmm… let's see, a little soothsayer, some divination, and ta-da, you have my special brew," Gawd, she should bottle that voice and sell it as 'sex, Andy thought.

"The name's Max." A graceful, long-fingered, hand enclosed Andy's, and it was only through sheer will-power that Andy didn't launch herself over the bar, throw Max against the wall, and slide her fingers in…, "Oh, ah, Andy. My name is Andy." Andy could feel the full bloom blush spreading across her already heated skin.

It was only after a couple of Max's potent drinks, introductions to Doug and Michael, a frantic dash to a taxi and Max's apartment, that Andy realized how lucky she was. If you were going to "break in" your lesbian card, you couldn't beat a woman who looked like Jungle Julia from Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Talk about a "test drive".

3am found Max gripping the rails at the headboard with her gorgeous ass in the air, dripping with sweat and come. What was this; the 6th orgasm? When she felt Andy's fingers swirling around her already swollen, hyper-sensitive, clit; making her hips buck and grind again and again onto Andy's 'cock', Max realized she was going to have to re-schedule her study group later on today. She'd need to rest. "Oh God! I'm cumming… oh, god! Oh! Yes!" She wailed as her orgasm whipped through her body, eyes squeezing shut. She could feel her cum pouring out from between her thighs, the wetness increasing the clicking sound every time Andy moved inside her.

As Andy pounded into her body using a cork-screw motion to hit every nerve-ending inside her pulsating channel, Max felt another wave of orgasm crest. If she'd looked behind her at that moment, she'd have seen Andy glowing like a luminescent light.

Andy's now glowing tri-colored eyes watched voraciously as her 'cock' slid in and out of Max's cunt. "Gosh you should see how beautiful and nasty this looks," Andy gasped as her hips undulated, "– the way your pussy grabs onto my cock is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. It's like you don't want me to ever pull out do you? Who knew I could make you this wet?!"

Andy could feel her orgasm gaining strength and she knew it was gonna be the biggest one of the night. Her hand dug into the side of Max's torso, while the other continued to swirl over Max's clit. She leaned down, long, dark, sweat-dampened hair falling messily over her lover's shoulder and she nuzzled the small hollow in the crook of Max's neck. The urge to bite down hard was very, very, strong. She could almost smell the blood—metallic, with hints of cinnamon—racing through Max's veins. It was as if all the previous orgasms were building up to this point and like the others, it wasn't Max that brought her over the edge. It was Her. The memory of piercing blue eyes flashed through Andy's mind as her swollen clit throbbed rhythmically. Brought to the very precipice of the abyss, Andy gave into her instincts and bit down. Bright, blinding orgasm ripped through her being, and Andy could hear Max's answering howl as they both lost themselves within the intoxicating mixture of blood, lust and pain.

"Jesus!" gasped a limp Max. "Are you sure you've never done this before???"


Chapter 2

The Gathering

Her heels clicked steadily against the marble floor as they beat a path to the wide double doors at the end of that hall. Silent sentinels lined either side of the hall, but they were of little concern to her. She could feel the power emanating like a nuclear power source from the other side of those double doors. Damn Jean-Claude – she wanted absolutely nothing to do with these parasites! Earthmover and Padma?! Bloody hell! How could He of all vampires, from all the council lines – Belle Morte, gain a Truimvirate? A powerful one at that! All in "lovely" St. Louis for Christ's sake?! It was inconceivably vexing.

To add insult to injury, Jean Claude, along with his other two triumvirate members, Richard Zeaman; Ulfric or wolf king, and Anita Blake (a Vampire Executioner and a Necromancer), had managed to rattle the Vampire Council; Rattled them so much that it brought Miranda into their sights - again. She absolutely did not want to be there, and she was almost certain that the feeling was mutual. She'd almost run her sword through the Master of the Beast/Padma's heart the last time they'd gathered. And she'd most certainly had her deceptively powerful hand around Mussette's (Belle Morte's 2nd) throat, as she attempted to slowly crush the other vampire's wind-pipe. No, she didn't think they were keen to see her again if they could avoid it. It was why her current wrath was focused on Jean-Claude. Whatever he'd done had shaken them enough to once again demand she join the Council.

Well, if she was going into "battle" at least she'd worn the appropriate attire. Red Prada heels of course, a dark-grey, pin-stripe pencil skirt suit fashioned by her protégé Domenico Vacca just for this occasion (Domenico is a Were-Rat; powerful allies to have in New York City) and her trademark Hermes scarf all spoke of power. It was so nice to have power. Miranda smirked a little before continuing on in a brisk pace.

Anyone looking on would have been immediately treated to her icy-impassive gaze. Looking indifferent was a necessary skill when dealing with other Master Vampires, especially this group. They would never know how very much she despised almost all of them; Especially Belle Morte, a former lover and current Council member. Their relationship had been… complicated, for lack of a better word, and a mistake.

The complication was why Belle Morte's presence infuriated Miranda even more. She hated imprecision. "Nigel, Emily, I want a plane ready to go in 3 hours. I don't plan to be away from New York any longer than I have to."

"It's already re-fueled and ready to go," said Emily. "In addition, your daughters have extended their stay with their Father as you requested."

Emily knew that there would be fall-out from this meeting and knew that Miranda didn't want her daughters anywhere near the cross-fire. She was really, really, sorry that Padma's son was killed. She would have enjoyed tearing his heart out before eating it. However, his father: Padma; Master of the Beasts, would more than suffice as a replacement. It was a given that Padma would, inevitably, push the limits of propriety. In that event, she sincerely hoped that she'd be allowed to teach the bastard some manners. Then there was Belle Morte. Emily's expression hardened even more – if Belle decided to release her succubus power, the Ardeur, things could get… difficult. Very fast. Memories from the last Council meeting filled Emily with rage, and it prompted her to shift partially, bleeding her eyes wolf and changing her hands into huge, furry, claws. Only really powerful Weres could shift so fluidly halfway and Emily felt a sudden need to exhibit her power.

"None of that Emily!" said Miranda, giving Emily the infamous Priestly glare with one eyebrow raised, "Surely you can understand that going in with your guns drawn will make this ordeal more unnecessarily difficult than usual?"

Emily looked contrite. "Sorry Master- "

"No no. I do not have time to hear your insipid excuses. Just shift back. That's all."

Miranda slipped off her Dolce & Gabana sunglasses before leveling her gaze at her Lieutenants. "I expect you all to be on your best behavior. These barracudas will no doubt test my patience and yours. But keep in mind that unless provoked, every move you make will not be done so without my consent. To do otherwise will make me very displeased. That is not an event you want to see happen I assure you. Am I right Jaqueline?"

Miranda smirked as she watched an expressionless mask quickly replace Jaqueline's minute expression of desperate hatred. "Yes…Master," Jaqueline admitted grudgingly. It was not a period in her life she cared to re-live anytime soon. She had needed several quarts of blood throughout the week to recover from Miranda's little "lesson."

"Good," said Miranda with a decisive nod. "Now let's get this over with." Continuing on to the meeting, Miranda allowed a little of her Power to leak out, making the air feel as if you were standing next to an oven. Her eyes narrowed while her expression fixed into a disdainful, impassive mask.

Nigel rolled his eyes over Emily's momentary lack of control before strolling ahead toward the meeting chambers. As Miranda's Second, it was traditional to for him to precede Miranda into any Council meeting – mostly to ward off potential surprises. Nigel took life a little less…seriously than his fellow vampires. After living for over a 1000 years, it had all become routinely tedious for him and he had a hard time drumming up the desire to stress. It would not do, however, to underestimate his apparent boredom for weakness. That, was likely to get you a quick introduction to the monster underneath. While looking fashionable and immaculate was a 'must' for most of Nigel's daily life, he had no qualms about getting dirty.

Threaten his Mistress and he'd give you a quick intro to just how committed he could be in protecting his Line and family. This gathering was a prime example of that. Nigel knew at some point during this meeting someone was going to cross the line. It always happened whenever Miranda encroached onto their "territory." Probably some fight or flight instinct, Nigel mused. Nevertheless, whatever came, Nigel would be ready. Removing his glasses to put inside his suit jacket, Nigel straightened his shoulders, shifted his hands so that his nails looked like daggers, and got ready to rumble. At the door, he and Miranda shared a brief look, followed by a nod before they both entered.

Miranda knew that whatever games she was about to endure from these self-involved narcissists (not even good ones at that) would most likely involve bloodshed, pain, sadism, and egos that made Pinochet seem like an altruistic Girl Scout with pig-tails. Then of course, there was Belle Morte. Miranda gave a great mental sigh. Whenever they… connected, people either died or endured excruciatingly painful recoveries. Occasionally there was sex, at least until Miranda was forced to do something drastic in order to leave her presence. All told, Miranda found the whole lot of them despicable—so pointlessly caught up in how to inflict the most pain and dissension at any given time, without conscience or some hint of humanity. The "great" Vampire Council. Miranda gave a mental snort. Pathetic.

She already knew why they were here. It was inevitable. They would ask her, once again, to join them. And she would turn them down, once again, as always. She had a very public life as the most powerful woman in the fashion industry. A life that could not include a secret Vampire Council's numerous machinations to take over the world. How very tedious – Doesn't the theme ever get old? she thought.

Miranda found comfort in her Second as Nigel walked protectively in front of her. Today he looked as if he couldn't hurt fly with his slight build, loosely tied cravat and his John Galliano pin-stripe suit—the epitome of male fashion excellence; albeit a very gay one. His artful pretension worked well to her advantage because he was often underestimated – to the detriment of thousands of victims throughout the centuries. Most couldn't even fathom that he was a powerful Master Vampire, with hyenas as his Animal to Call.

Following behind them was her Pet and her Lieutenants: Serena was a very rare Were-Tiger and Miranda's Pomme de SangApple of Blood. As Miranda's Pomme de Sang, Serena was Miranda's personal blood bank and occasional sexual submissive. Her Pet. In return, Miranda gave Serena protection against all others. If one looked very carefully, in good light, you could actually see the light brown tiger-stripes stamped all over her body. One of Miranda's favorite marking areas was near the stripe on her right groin area.

Next to Serena, on the phone arranging all the proper arrangements during their unfortunate stay, was Emily. You wouldn't know it, but Emily once fought her way through one of the biggest and meanest Werewolf packs in America and came out on top. She was a very rare female Ulfric (leader) of the New York clan, and could force other wolves to shapeshift and call their Flesh to Heal. Her slight build gave no indication of her shape-shifting abilities and most were surprised by the fact that Emily almost cleared 6'8 when she was in full wolf form. Her power was hereditary making her much more powerful than most female (and male) Were-Wolves.

Behind Emily were James (another Werewolf) and Jaqueline ( a vampire). After Serena, Jaqueline was one of Miranda's favorite pets – mostly because Miranda knew how very much Jaqueline didn't want to belong to her. But beyond the appeal of her servility, Jaqueline had another quality that made her valuable. Jaqueline was a Rotter—a nasty piece of ability that allowed a vampire to suddenly appear as if they were rotting before your eyes. Luckily the decaying smell was not included. However, it served as a nightmarish vision when one had to "encourage" a reluctant someone to do something Miranda wanted done.

Miranda was well aware that Jaqueline… despised her.

However, being locked in a casket wrapped with silver chains, complete with a heavy silver cross, and being unable to feed forced her to submit to Miranda rather quickly. Taking the Blood Oath sealed the deal. Miranda had "inherited" Jaqueline after she'd forced the Master of the City of Paris to meet the business end of a Manolo Blahnik 6 inch heel.

James on the other hand, revered Miranda. He was a werewolf powerful enough to even become an Enforcer/Hati of the local Clan if he wanted. Though not Alpha enough to become Ulfirc like Emily, he made for an excellent Enforcer for Miranda. Unlike most of his brethren, he'd rather look at satchels all day, interspersed with wild hunts around the Full Moon near the Hudson than become involved in Werewolf politics.

Bringing up the rear was Roy, part-time personal driver, body-guard, Were-Rat. Were-Rats had a long history in the security business, and in New York, a city teeming with rats, they were invaluable allies. They were especially useful when one had to deliver a message without being seen. The sewer systems in any established city was always extensive. Miranda gave a mental shudder at the thought. Were-rats were such unsanitary creatures. Unfortunately they were necessary allies for any Master worth their weight.

Just before entering the council chambers Miranda considered Jean-Claude once more. And yet again, she could not imagine how a vampire, who hadn't even been a major Master Vampire long, had gone on to become such a force to be reckoned with. Particularly fascinating was this Triumvirate. The Council claimed his powers were mutating, growing, and Miranda wondered what the hell was going on in that city. And his human servant was even more interesting; a human necromancer who was actually turned into a vampire servant – Astonishing! Such an alliance had not been established in centuries.

Perhaps she could have the Runway staff set up some kind of a location shoot there St. Louis. Although, for the life of her she couldn't imagine what such a little backwater bayou could possibly contribute to the pages of Runway. Mentally, shaking her head, Miranda banished the thoughts and glared at the sentinel. The sentinel started, then scrambled to open the door before stumbling away as fast as he could.

Ignoring the idiotic doorman, Nigel entered through the double doors and immediately began to scan the area. A few moments passed before he gave the signal for Miranda to enter.

"Bonsoir, Miranda, it's been some time since we've been graced with your presence." The voice was droll and laced with a bit of mockery.

"Ah Musette," Miranda replied without turning her head, "I see you've somehow managed to avoid the sun. I was hoping with that eclipse last week you might have… accidentally walked outside only to find out too late that it was temporary. Oh well, no matter how much I try, not everything works out for the best."

"Where is your Master? Must I remind you of your manners?" She could feel the seething hatred emanating from Musette like rays from a hot sun.

Before she could give the insubordinate vampire her full attention though, another voice rang out. "Ah, Ma chere, surely you did not come all theez way to… 'ow do you say it? Antagonize, my 2nd?"

Miranda did not need to turn to know that voice. It pooled across her skin like a live thing, a knife's edge wrapped under warm satin and whispered silk.

Belle Morte!


Chapter 3

Many say that all magic began in the Faerie Mound in Ireland. From Necromancers to Shapeshifters, and Goblins, their humble beginnings began with the Fey. Once worshipped by man as gods, the devout lost faith, infighting between the Seelie and Unseelie Court practically tore the world apart. This was the 'beginning of the end' for them as the humans instituted a UN Law exiling them from their lands. Until American President Thomas Jefferson granted them asylum.

This unrest between the Fey began to swallow their magic. Important magical relics disappeared, many Fey lost essential pieces of their magic; like a Demi-Fey losing its wings. Even The Mound began dying. Swallowed by the Mound. There's a saying, if the Mound goes than all things magical goes with it. A bit like a power plant that feeding all the electricity on the East Coast that suddenly loses power – darkening the Coast. The Goddess Danu no longer favored the Faerie – perhaps she felt they've lost their way, no longer fit to serve magic in all its glory-ness. This included fertility, as the Mound grew barren, so too did the Faerie.

This created enormous pressure on the Fey's rulers: for the Unseelie Court: Queen Andais, Queen of Air & Darkness and King Taranis of the Seelie Court, King of Light and Illusion because their subjects wanted them to bring magic back to the Mound. By extension their own magic would return, magic that made each Fey unique, magic that had been missing for centuries like a body without a life-force.

One assumes that given the Courts identifying monikers that the Seelie Court representing 'goodness and light' and that the Unseelie Court represents the opposite: "darkness and pain'.But appearances can be deceptive. Unseelie Court represents those who are unwanted, the good, bad, the horrifying, and the discriminated. While the Seelie Court is rigid, falsely perfect, and pretentious: they kept things in the light so you couldn't see the darkness.

However, King Taranis is as dangerously crazy as the Queen Andais is dangerously psychotic. While they hate each other it's with a passion only born of unconsciously seeing how very similar each is to the other. But this didn't prevent them from being intriguing to humans.

The Fey are a media staple. The Sidhe men are gorgeous, muscular and virile, while the women embody envious feminine attributes with full breasts, tall, lithe, toned limbs graceful. Others like the Demi-Fey can fly into the palm of your hand. Their hair represents all the colors of the rainbow; brilliant grassy green, azul blue, morning dew-like frost, rich chocolate. The other noticeable trait is tri-colored eyes. A Fey has three-colors– almost like a target.

Each Fey have various powers attributed to them. Galen the Green Man has the ability to turn an entire patch of brown grass green. He was blessed by a fertility god and represents growth. King Taranis, can turn a room so bright that you can get sunburned – literally. But as the Mound continues to wither away their magic, their powers continue to decrease or disappear altogether. Mistral the Master of Storms hasn't been able to call wind or rain in 2 centuries. However some things in the Mound never loose their power: blood.

Blood is one of the most attractive commodities – want to seal a pact, do so through blood, need to call on some powerful magic: blood will do. Blood is a favorite "medium" of Queen Andais, right alongside hearing the screams of her victims. She is a bit more… blood-thirstier than most. Nothing better puts her in a good mood… well that and torture.

For a Fey to be tortured is almost a fate worse than death – for it is very difficult to kill a Fey. Either decapitation or being run through by an iron sword is the most… effcient way to kill a Fey. Needless to say what kills most other living things, only incapacitates a Fey, but iron is their "kryptonite" and can kill or slow recovery. Queen Andais has been known to skin a Faerie who has displeased her using iron. She can be often seen walking from the Hall of Mirrors in contentment after such a session. However the Queen is anything but content right now.

The Queen has a problem. Her Court was slowly dying; the Goddess Danu has abandoned them ever since The Wars. Her beloved son was crazier than her and while she would have almost given Prince Cel anything – including the throne, he had forced her hand to find other… solutions. Her niece, Princess Meredith Gentry, Princess of Flesh and Blood – who was not even a pureblooded Sidhe has changed things in spite of Andais' interference and threats.

Its funny how a small (and a few not-so-small) events changed everything! Her rage and despair over the turn of events knew no bounds! The now unidentifiable body in front of her could only groan as she twisted the knife in his stomach. Her son is dead!

She turned away from the body and sank wearily onto the settee located nearby in her chambers. No one would disturb her, in fact, the Court has been very quite since the latest events transpired. The thought of losing everything to that… niece of hers was intolerable, fists clenching! She looked down at her blood-soaked body, while licking the few drops that landed on her lips. And now… she has a Grand-Niece. And a powerful one at that! It was enough that Merry born 2 sons, blessed by the Goddess herself! But it was the daughter she had to worry about – the Goddess' Power is matriarchal.

A knock sounded on her door, "You had better have reason for disturbing me!"

The Goblin King, Kurag sank down to his knees, bowing his head in supplication. "I apologize for disturbing you your Highness, but I've just gotten word on that information you seek."

Andais looked on in disgust, as Kurag openly fondled himself – this was a sign of respect in the lesser Goblin Court, "Kurag if you cannot control yourself I have no qualms about you taking his place." She pointed towards the barely conscious, bloody, victim bound to the wall.

"I care not if that is acceptable behavior in your Court, right now you are in mine. In spite of your lineage, I expect you to have a care while in my presence. Is that understood?" she sneered evilly, she was spoiling for a fight.

But Kurag wasn't King of the vicious Goblins for being well-endowed, he is actually quite wily, "Again, I apologize Your Highness. However, if you attack me you won't be hearing about your Grand Niece – I believe the name the humans gave her is Andrea Sachs."

Kurag was also aware that the wind of change was upon them and the Queen had been in a dark, foul mood since that vile son of hers was killed by Merry, making Merry the sole heir of the Unseelie Court. In addition, Merry secured her place by baring children and her Fertility Powers bringing life back to the Mound, into the Fey. Babies were being born all around, the Living Rose-Garden was alive once again! He's hoping that he'll allow Merry to come for a visit to further bless his Court, allowing Fertility/Life and Death (they are the Unseelie Court) magic to spread.

Andais just stared at him in that unnerving predator way, "Very well. What other news do you have Kurag and what do you want in return? But remember? Do not try what little patience I have."

"Your Grand Niece is unknown by Merry. She was squired away at birth for her protection." It was hard to keep the smugness out of his tone. Plus his knees were beginning to ache worsening his disposition.

Andais paused in surprise before a wicked smirk appeared. "Hmmm. Do you know who the Father is?"

"No. But I do know where she lives. I'm thinking I'll be asking for a boon though. I want the Princess to bless my Court. All the other lesser Courts have gained their magic, but we have yet to –"

"The Red Caps? Are they not members of your Court? And how is it that Merry has no knowledge of her bairn? I think it would be hard for her to of missed the 3rd child pushed from her womb, don't you? She slowly circled him, making Kurag a bit… unsettled.

What the Queen did not know was that the midwife/healer who delivered Merry's daughter, also wiped everyone's memory of the third baby. That midwife was a Brownie named Morwen. She was small like all Brownies, with brown skin and skull-like features. They are magical creatures of Light who can clear a field of corn in one day or build a barn in a hour. Brownies were the backbone of both Courts. They were the chefs, the tailors, or craftsmen of either court.

Princess Merry's grandmother was a Brownie and through a Seelie family member's scheming caused her to go crazy which resulted in her death. She was the only true-parent Merry had left and was well loved by all Brownies. Morwen was honored to look after Merry's interests in the event of her death. So Morwen instinctively knew that for that little girl to be left to the "tender mercies" of Court intrigue would surely seal the girl's fate with either insanity or death. Particularly because of the Prophesy.

"The Red Caps are a law onto themselves and have pledged allegiance to the Princess. Most now live with her, in that place with steel and glass to the West. Princess Merry or the Fathers have no knowledge of Andrea's existence because it was wiped clean by Morwen."

Queen Andais knew about the Prophesy and didn't put much stock into – until now. However, what she didn't know was that Morwen has no fear of death; she'd do almost anything to save the Mound and the Fey – except letting either Queen Andais or King Taranis continue their destructive rule. It'll be worth the sacrifice when the Queen and King finds out. Now all she has to do is wake Andrea without either of them finding out.


Chapter 4A

Andy loved watching her little cousins 'rough-house' – they seemed so carefree, innocent. She wondered if any of them were… different – like her? She was currently staring out into backyard, while her mother finished puttering in the kitchen, preparing the potato salad for Andy's Post-Graduation-Moving-to-New York City-Celebration. Andy graduated with honors and an Ex named Max, the heart-break was extra.

"Look Andy, I love you but I can't move to New York City! My family is here and I've been offered an internship at this prestigious law firm here (Chicago)." Max was busy packing up her own apartment to move back home.

"But I thought we'd try to make it work somehow? " Andy could feel the tears running down her cheek.

"Andy, you don't even have a job waiting for you. I mean – maybe if you'd accepted that scholarship to either Stanford or Brown…,"

"That's what this is really about isn't it?" Andy knew that Max never thought her journalism major was as 'honorable' or prestigious as wanting to be a lawyer or doctor.

Max stopped for a moment and spoke what was really in her heart. "Come on Andy?! You're super smart, you graduated with honors. You could be anything you wanted." Max stopped packing for a moment, looking down at her hands before sighing, "What you need to do is find your way. Don't you know how special you are? You have a lot of unanswered questions about who and what you are. I think New York will start to give you those answers because not having them? Never fills that hole inside you."

"Besides if you were a lawyer? You'd probably end up being some kind of 'bleeding-heart' lawyer from some kind of non-profit," she sadly chuckled.

Andy knew that Max always thought she was a little too optimistic or naïve, "There's nothing wrong about wanting to know the truth and fight for what you believe in."

Max lifted hand to cup the side of Andy's face, while stroking her thumb through her tears, placing her other arm around Andy's waist, pulling her against her body, "I'm sure you'll be very good at it. I've always believed in you."

"I know the world is far from perfect – but I can't stand seeing something wrong and not trying to do something about it, "Max could hear the passionate conviction in Andy's voice.

"Besides I HATE being one of those people who complain about injustices and never does anything about… keeping the 'power structure on their toes is what being a journalist is about. Chronicling the human condition. And what's more fascinating than that?!"

Max just looked on fondly, before turning away to continue packing, "You know… while you're in New York you could try to find… Her."

Before Andy could offer a stunned response, Max continued, "I've always felt as if there was a 3rd person in the room. Maybe one day you'll tell me who she is?"

"Wha - , how did…" she gulped, "What are you talking about?"

"Andy I love you, but when your eyes glow in that certain way, right before you come so beautifully I can tell that you're somewhere else –" Andy interrupted,

"But that's not proof, I was having an orgasm!" Max stepped into Andy's body

Max chuckled, "Indeed we had some delicious moments. But Andy you always forget that I have a bit of the Sight, so when you're feeling an intensity of feelings you project… and many times I've see Her."

A deep blush spilled over Andy's skin, "Oh yeah, I keeping forgetting that about you… I'm sorry Max. you do know I love –"

Max wrapped her arms around Andy's shoulder, kissing her gently on her full lips, "Sweetie, it's cool. I've always known you were meant for something bigger and I for one, was not meant to be a part of that… directly anyways. You'll ALWAYS have me Andy."

They made mad passionate love one last time before Andy had to leave to prepare for the Graduation ceremony later on that day – and her family. Not to mention, having to get rid of red-swollen eyes from crying. Andy contemplated all of this while standing in front of her parents' sliding glass doors. What she never told Max was that going to New York City, staring out on her own, was to begin a 'journey' of self-discovery for Andy.

She thought about her latest dreamscape about Her. Her thighs clenched together to stave off the sudden twitch of her cunt.

The hotel lobby in Chicago again. Andy was sitting at the bar, sipping her favorite bourbon: Baker's. Suddenly she felt a shift in the air… She's here! She whipped her head around, looking, seeking. There! She could feel something shift inside her. Like a warm wave, threatening to spill over, movable images shifting on her skin, her eyes feeling increasingly hotter. She just stood in the doorway, trapping Andy's gaze in her own glowing, icy-blue, heat.

The smell of rain filled the air, her own answering scent of roses grew, mingling with rain – a greenhouse in a bar. Andy's gaze was finally released, allowing her to slowly travel down that smooth, milky column, locking on a steadily throbbing pulse, bluer than common, Andy wanted desperately to already have her lips sucking, nibbling that pulse-point.

Would she let her? Would she cup her head, run those long, tapered fingers through her hair? Would she make a sound? What kind? A gasp, a moan… a growl? Would she let Andy bite down? Andy's eyes briefly closed in ecstasy, chest heaving, at that thought

The thought of tasting this woman's blood made her nipples ache, her stomach clench, her hands to tremble, the 'need' growing, taking over every one of her senses. Suddenly she was in front of Andy, an unnatural stillness, like a cobra preparing to strike. Heat built up between them, coming from both of them, a surge continued to build in Andy, her clothes felt too tight, chafing against her skin, she knew her own pulse point was beating wildly, she wondered if she could hear it?

She leaned down, Andy gasped, her hips thrusting up wanting to rub against the woman's abdomen, as the woman ghosted her lips over Andy's pulse, nuzzling… it was too much. Andy almost couldn't take the deluge of feelings and Power filling her like an over-flown cup. She had the urge to run, her body tensing for flight. But Andy sensed that this was no ordinary woman but a predator who'd give chase.

Andy also wondered if the woman could smell her. She knew her panties were completely soaked, she could feel her cum trickling down the crack of her bottom. She hoped she didn't leave a wet spot on the chair. Particularly, as she felt the woman gently lick her pulse-point, up to the edge of her ear, to hoarsely whisper, "Who are you?"

The woman's hands gripped Andy's wrists, before sliding up her arms until she came to her biceps, gripping them, stepping into her body, holding Andy in place. Andy whimpered in sheer want – she's never felt anything like this!

Andy felt her hot tongue circle the rim of her ear (her ears were so sensitive!), before thrusting in mimicking another motion. Andy's own hands came up to the woman's shoulders, looking to hold on because she felt like she was drowning. Andy's hip started making small circular motions on the chair, her clit rubbing against the zipper on her jeans providing little relief to the tenacious ache in her pussy. She felt she was standing in the dessert at noon. Only it wasn't painful, it wasn't uncomfortable because the answering energy eking off of Andy like the floor of the jungle, smelling strong of roses and humidity.

The woman growled, eyes narrowing to slits, asked again, "Who are you? Why are you invading my dreams? What do you want?"

Her hands moved to Andy's sides, stroking up and down, down, over Andy's hips to cup her ass to firmly snuggle into her stomach and thighs.

Andy gasped, her feet kicking out in surprise, her nipples a pleasure-pain sensation they scrapped her lacy bra, "Oh Goddess!" she could feel more cum weeping from her cunt. Her clit felt swollen to the size of a marble. But the woman didn't appear to be as unmoved either.

Her face had a fine sheen of red…was that… blood instead of sweat? only Vampires sweat and cry blood! But the heat flowing off the woman's body was like the heat coming off black-top on a hot summer day. However her eyes were silver now, hardly any irises present. A delicious lock of snow-white hair fell over the woman's eye. She was nuzzling Andy's jaw-line now, moving closer to her mouth. Andy could feel the heat from her breath, the scent of her over-powering and delicious. Andy's mouth opened more to scent her even more, turning her head to that intoxicating mouth.

The woman lifted her head a little to stare into Andy's eyes, "What are you?"

Andy whimpered again, "I don't know!" before crushing her lips with the woman's.

Andy had suddenly woken up, gasping and sweating. She quivered in want… Damn her!


Chapter 4B

Shaking her head brought her back to the present.

"Are you sure you're all right honey?" Andy's mother came up behind her to touch her shoulder to gently turn her around to look into her mother's concerned, worried face.

"I'm fine mom. I'm just a little tired and overwhelmed about everything I have to do before leaving in a couple days."

"Are you sure this is what you want to do? I'm sure your father could still talk to his editor-friend Horace over at the Plain-Dealer." Her parents weren't huge fans of her moving to New York City. It was almost if they knew that once she left that they'd never see the Andy seeing standing before them today. It was more than "my little girl is leaving us syndrome'` that most parents experience when a child moves out. It frightened her.

They still don't know that their memories of Andy were magically implanted. Elizabeth Sachs "remembers" carrying Andy for 9 months, burping her, changing her diapers. She even "remembers" her first word, "Bo –"Andy's favorite stuffed pig. But she always knew there was something a little… different about her Andy. Richard and her became experts in avoidance in dealing about the 'special-ness' of Andy. It was better that way. But now Elizabeth felt that their time for avoidance was up.

"Mom, I appreciate it, but I need to do this!" What she didn't tell her Mom is that she wanted to know why she was stronger than even her bulky football player-friends from school, why her libido was off-the-charts, why her eyes started… glowing, when she was feeling intense emotions – mostly during sex. She found that the following day of meeting Max.

They'd slept pretty much all morning, woke up to feeling Max gently caressing her thighs, palming her mound as she snuggled up to her from behind, and moving her hips against Andy's bottom. Andy rolled over, throwing a thigh over Max's thighs, pining her beneath while thinking is there anything better than a hot woman writhing under you?!

"Good morning," Andy huskily growled. She moved her left thigh to hook underneath Max's thigh, opening Max's thighs even more. Andy began to leisurely thrust her pussy against Max. her nipples rubbed across Max's chocolaty-pink, swollen nubs. Max slid her arms around Andy's shoulder, while one hand tangled in the hair at Andy's nape, her long legs loosely wrapping around Andy's thighs.

Andy could feel the arousal racing through her at mach speed, thickening her veins, tightening her skin making it sensitive, Andy slid her hands down Max's torso, towards her back, over the swells of her upper buttocks, to cup her ass. Max shivered – Andy turned her on quicker than any lover she'd had before, leaving her almost breathless. But then she noticed something different about Andy's eyes. Where before her eyes were a gorgeous copper-brown, they now seemed to be… swirling? With hints of gold and… glowing?

"Andy? Your eyes! They're… kinda glowy?"

Andy was immediately brought back from her reverie when she heard a thump against the door from a soccer ball being accidentally kicked by her cousin Mark. She opened the door grabbing, trapping the ball before kicking it back.

"Hey Andy! Ready for my "Special Edition" burgers?" Andy's Dad asked. He was standing over a huge grill, with his 'Kiss the Cook' apron on.

"Sure Dad. You know how I like it, right –, "a grinning Andy gestured to the burgers on the grill.

"Yeah, yeah, you're the only one I know that eats beef that bloody, "he shuddered as he thought about that Porterhouse Steak she ate at Gene & Georgetti's Restaurant for her graduation dinner last week.

Handing over a plate with a fairly bloody burger with all her favorite fixings, her Father fondly looks at the beautiful woman his daughter has become, her grabbed her other arm, "Andy, I just want you to know how incredibly proud I am of you. And no matter what happens I'll always love you."

Andy could feel tears pooling in her eyes as she looked at her Father, before turning to look out at the rest of the assembled family-members, "Thank you Dad. That means the world to me." Her hand came up to gently squeeze her Dad's hand, before continuing on to the picnic table laden with all the fixins' essential for a proper bar-b-cue.


Chapter 5A

Miranda stood looking out her office window at Runway. Her daughters were still at their Father's – a request Miranda made following The Gathering. She might be planning an extended stay for them if what she anticipates will be the fall-out from that meeting. Miranda wrapped her deceptively strong arms around her middle, with one finger worrying a button on her Stella McCartney blouse. Thinking back to last week, Miranda knew that the time to meet with Jean-Claude needed to be sooner rather than later.


Miranda could feel her chest heaving with exertion, her side stinging as the rapidly healing wound closed, as the 'stale-mate' ensued. The smell of blood and other… things thick in the air.

"Fine, I'll consider your proposal to join the Council. In the meantime, in order to properly consider this disgrace of an "invitation, you should make plans for a meeting very soon. Or do you find that beyond your competence to facilitate this possibility?" sneered Miranda.

After the preliminary introduction for the beginning of the Gathering, certain… "protocols" had to be adhered to – Miranda thought it was all needless crap. Apparently these people have never heard of a computer or an I-Phone/Blackberry. Although she heard that one of them still 'plays' with an Iron Maiden – unlucky is the soul who is caught within her web.

The room was fashioned like a suite at Versailles. All glittering gold, Italian marble statues, and Louis IX furniture. Meant to 'look' luxurious but ended up being quite uncomfortable. The large round table and high-backed chairs appeared to be a Chippendale, rosewood, gleaming surface, and like some macabre tea-party, was fully set with table-ware and utensils. On the side of each chair were large pillows covered with damask pattern. These pillows were meant for the Pets to kneel in wait at their Master's feet.

Serena was decked out in appropriate Pet-attire. A delicate gold collar on her long-graceful neck, with a quick-release-lock that was attached to a long gold chain, that ended in Miranda's hand. Her hair was properly styled, gleaming burnished gold flowing down her back. She wore a beautiful La Perla sheer bra that clearly showed her full, medium-bordering large breasts, capped by pierced gold-hooped nipples. Followed by a sheer thong and thigh-highs. The set was the color of egg-plant and complimented Serena's bronze skin beautifully. She was on display, as were all the Pets were in varying styles of display.

In addition, her Lieutenants: Nigel and Emily, stood directly in back of her, ready to be called to attention at a moment's notice. But really to met out punishment should the need arise. Roy and Jaqueline were seated near the huge marble fireplace as all lower soldiers of each Council member were placed. However, Miranda put Roy near Jaqueline simply because she needed someone she trusted to 'watch' Jaqueline in the event that things got a little… heavy.

Serena loved being Miranda's Pet. She was an exceptional lover paired with the constant terror of disappointing her made for an invigorating arrangement. In fact she loved being owned and Miranda was a stern, strong, mistress that made it easier to submit to her. With that said, she found most of these… people horrifying. As she sat there in her beautiful lingerie set

Belle Morte sat looking in amusement at Miranda, "Your Pet is beautiful, perhaps later after business is conducted you might lend her into my graceful care."

"As delightful as that might be – particularly for my Pet, I'd rather she leave here with all her parts intact," Miranda drolly responded.

"Padma, if you cannot control your instinct to 'reach out' to my Lieutenants then I can promise you my 'instinct' to react to this insult will be very unpleasant. You decide how badly you want Emily." She could hear the growl welling up in Emily's throat, along with her Power pulsating out like an open oven.

"Non, non, please let us not begin on such… difficult terms. We 'ave much to cover, and in the spirit of cooperation Padma will allow one of his Lieutenants to briefly fill the role of a pomme de sang (bleeder) to Mademoiselle Daywalker. Won't you?" She turned those glowing golden-brown eyes on the Master of the Beasts.

He was a swarthy man, perhaps of Southeast Indian descent, who thought of how he'd love nothing more than to rip out Miranda's throat. But he also had the self-preservation to know that Belle Morte (and Miranda for that matter) could easily destroy him with little effort. However, the 'winds of change were upon them', he planned on being there at the end to help drive an ax into Daywalker's neck. Then he planned to pimp out her 2nd… Nigel, to the meanest vamp he knew. He seethed with hatred at the group. Soon, he thought, soon.

Emily wanted to literally tear apart Padma's throat and bath in his blood. She heard about what his son Fernando, did to that female wolf… rape?! She was viciously thrilled to learn that he met a violent end at her hands. Rumor is she has his bones somewhere in her house as a trophy. Emily would have done more than that: she'd send his 'remains' to his fucking Father. She shifted her hands into claws, as her eyes glittering with a hint of wolf glared in Padma's direction.

"Fine. Anouk, make yourself available. Enjoy." Miranda could literally see the acidic hatred bleeding from his eyes. She rolled her own in apparent boredom – which she knew would only infuriate him more.

Musette and Belle's little fiends; Valentina and Bartolome stood behind her in silent support. Musette likes her… underlings to be… young. They were Turned as children. A more twisted –than-usual-vampire was a pedophile as a human, when he was turned he violated Vampire law by adding a new twist to this… predilection. He would keep them locked in his castle dungeon, "playing" with them before Turning them.

Belle Morte feeling a sense of obligation and…a very mild form of shame killed him herself and then took in the only 2 left who were not… lost. The others had to be killed because they'd become little more than animals. And as a result Valentina and Bartolome will always have the look of "innocent" Disney characters. Miranda would LOVE nothing more than to destroy Musette's. Children! Even Belle Morte should know better than to indulge this creature her frivolities. One of the many reasons they were no longer occasional lovers.

Next to Padma is The Dragon. How delightful, Nigel thought. She attends these little gatherings about as much as Miranda does. But she's an old one – from ancient Roman times. Her olive skin remained as smooth as if she was 16. She probably was when she was Turned. But she is very powerful and can project her power – which is fear. She can make you feel like your fear is suffocating you – and some have to death. Little is known about her and Nigel had to give her credit; those shoes she's wearing are Jimmy Choos and her purse is Luciano Padovan.

The vampire next him is a 'rental', The Traveler's actual body hasn't been seen in a very long time. He usually inhabits other vampire's bodies and he can do so over a long distance. The one he's currently using looks to be in his early twenties – at least he was when he was Turned, with blonde hair and green eyes. Balthasar, his servant and long-time lover stood behind his chair, both very handsome. The Traveler gave Nigel the minutest nod.

However Nigel knew with much experience that he'd have to keep his focus on these proceedings as these things have a tendency to get out of hand. One chair remained empty: the Earth Mover – Mr. Oliver. He was believed to be the oldest vampire in existence, a rumored 1 million years of age. In fact, he even looked like a homo-erectus. Jean-Claude's human servant-necromancer killed him by ripping out his heart. He was a vampire traditionalist – Nigel had yet to figure out what that means. He minutely shook his head – Mr. Oliver was a very powerful vamp, he found it incredulous that he was killed by this human.

Nigel shivered at the next vampire that followed the empty chair: Morte de A'Mour. Jaqueline is of his line. The Rotting Vampire line is one that almost all find disconcerting which is a difficult feat for this group. He caught Nigel looking at him and smirked as Nigel watched in mild disgust as the upper portion of his face began to rot before his eyes.

All in all a very "cheery" group, he thought sarcastically.

"Now that that 'ez settled, let's move onto business, non? Daywalker in lieu of Monsieur Oliver's death, you are entirely too powerful to not offer your services to zee Council."

"Besides we would… work together more closely again – 'ez this not a marvelous thing?" Miranda mentally snorted, she knew damn well that they wanted her on the Council because having 2 such powerful vampires like herself and Jean-Claude makes Belle Morte very uncomfortable.

"In addition you will have to access the problem of his executioner – Jean-Claude and his human servant; the Necromancer and Vampire Executioner; Anita Blake." Belle Morte got up from her chair to walk towards Miranda, casually trailing a hand along the table.

"There seems to be some mistake, I am not, nor have I ever been even remotely interested in a place on the Council. I think I've made myself very clear in the past,"

"But surely you understand that you have a duty to your Vampire brethren?" Padma asked in fake-innocent tone, with the ever-present sneer on his lips.

Miranda immediately opened her Power which can feel as hot and intense as a the Sun on a beach, turning her glacial gaze with that Power leaking out of her eyes, "I don't think you know your place Padma? Do I have to remind you that it is beneath me?" rage was not something Padma would like to see from Miranda again.

While feeling as if his skin was getting mildy sun-burned, Padma's rage and hatred increased, over-shadowing his caution, "Me thinks that you don't have the… stomach for this –you've been around your humans for far too long making you weaker…" he barely finished his sentence before Emily was flying across the table.

Shifting her hands into claws, arms outstretched, elongating her teeth for tearing, slamming into his side. She knocked him out of his chair but before she could bring more damage, Padma let loose his own power causing her to shift even more – which for a Were being forced to shifted is very painful. It left her momentarily breathless giving Padma enough time to

Nigel was moving before Emily even made it to Padma, because one of Musette's co-torturers: Angelito ("little angel" – was actually huge and muscular) was moving towards Emily from the other side. Hands outstretched, with nails turned into deadly daggers, Nigel slammed into Angelito with a huge force, but not before swiping his hands down his face, leaving 4 deep scratches.

Angelito howled, wrapping a powerful hand around Nigel's waist, while the other came up attempting to impale Nigel on the side. Roy made a move towards Miranda, shifting himself to help guard her. Serena began to partially shift as well, in part because Padma's power was leaking across the room, but mostly to also lend protection to her Mistress.

Suddenly, a huge smack that sounded like thunder came down onto the table freezing everyone, "That is enough!" Miranda's her voice deeper echoing around the chamber, seeming all-knowing and powerful, her eyes glowing to their fullest indicating her animal to call – the great cats, her Power released, making it seem as if all the sound and color was getting pulled from the room.

Darkness was spilling across the room, "D'accord, d'accord, stop, merci…" Musette which had started to make her move towards Nigel's back, stilled.

"If I find that anyone has drawn blood from my Servants I can promise you that I will draw blood next. Padma, Padma, Padma – you do try my patience. It is unfortunate that Jean-Claude killed your son before I could. But I would have taken a great deal longer and with more pleasure in eradicating his presence from this world. Don't think for one moment that 'courtesy' would not extend to you and then we'd have 3 openings which would leave this Council in a bit of quandary. All those Master Vampires in America… and no where to go? What would they do…"

The threat and the scent of… fear elevated in the room answered Miranda's question about why they were insistent she join their Council. They were worried that a new, more powerful Council will be incorporated in America.

Suddenly a body pressed intimately against her from behind, a voice whispering into her ear, arms enfolding her waist, "We could rule this world together mon cher. Do you remember what it was like when we were together? You were so passionate – it was if there wasn't enough. It could be that and so much more –" Miranda could feel a hint of fang running along her neck from Belle Morte.

For a moment Miranda let her get away with it before grabbing one of her hands, her Power leaping out over her finger-tips, causing Belle to feel as if her hand was being dipped in acid.

Belle tried to hold her position – not wanting to 'give in' front of the rest. However she hissed in Miranda's ear in pain, "Why do you insist on trying my patience Belle Morte. Surely you understand that while I have my own line, She is still my Master. Are you asking me to… "

"Tell your Servant to get that dagger out of my side. If he draws blood then I agree things will get very ugly, very fast—"

"That warning is entirely too late." Miranda sneered in derision as she looked at the various failing fashion sense. Miranda released a big sigh while moving at the same time. In a blink she was standing behind Belle Morte holding the 2 little "demons" Musette's lil' torturers-- 2 feet off the ground. She threw them across the room, watching with some satisfaction as they hit the fireplace.

Hmmm, no fire? She'll have to fix that, mentally sending a message to: Nigel, it's feeling a little chilly in hear, would you start a fire? Flames began to lick outwards, caressing any vampires nearby, the screams piercing the air. In the meantime, Belle attempted to unleash her animal to call: big cats – including Serena.

Suddenly Miranda knew that if she would not acquiesce to joining the Council they would try to kill her. If Serena fully changes under Belle's 'calling' she'll be forced to do her bidding. White fur started to spill over her skin, with light-brown stripes interspersing the fur. However Miranda spilled her own Power out slowing the Change. Serena's back bowed under the strain. She raised her head towards Miranda, searching out her eyes: Miranda minutely nodded before Serena smoothly flowed to her feet, picking up a heavy chair to throw at Padma's head.

While this usually presented no problem, he was having a problem fending off the attack from Emily. Emily stood at close to 7ft, fur was already spilling down her back – it almost looked like it would be wet and anyone standing near would get doused in… goo for lack of a better word. But the fur was silky dry. Emily's fur was shockingly white, with black around her hands and ears. It made her wolf-yellows eyes that much more eerie.

Padma had been fighting on his knees, holding Emily's arms with their deadly claws at bay. The only reason he hadn't been able to Call her was because of Miranda's Power holding him at bay. He started to roll onto his back to flip Emily over before he was brutally hit in the side by a flying heavy chair.

It took his concentration off all the Weres he was trying to control but more importantly it gave Emily an opportunity to move her muzzle towards his chest, snapping jaws, saliva dripping ominously onto his chest. She pulled her head back and then with a great deal of power slammed her muzzle into his chest, you could almost hear a wet, tearing, sound, as her teeth bit into the muscle of his right breast. Blood splattered over her white fur making it look grisly. He began screaming once he realized that her muzzle was pushing on through his chest, tearing away skin, puncturing organs. The pain was excruciating!

A few feet away, Nigel was having a bit more problem. His suit was ruined, shredded from the talons on Antonio's hands. Antonio was almost as old as Nigel, only he was a hulking, menacing, 6'8, Master vampire. Which put them on more even ground. Plus Antonio didn't really care for Nigel after Nigel thwarted his advances – Antonio only played 'tough' and others have often found themselves needing some kind of medical treatment afterwards, if not outright burial upon a night in his "tender care." Nigel thought he was crass and conveyed that to him—apparently he can hold a grudge.

Nigel was able to bend backwards almost supernaturally to avoid another punch. Christ! Getting punched by him was like getting hit by a block of cement! He rolled, then swept a leg behind's Antonio's and as he fell, Nigel furiously looked around before quickly scampering over towards the fireplace, punching a piece of marble, he can hear Antonio coming up right behind, can almost feel the talons coming towards his bald head. Nigel quickly stepped back, swung around to bring full force his hand with the marble rock towards Antonio's unguarded head. The thud echoed around the room.

Giving a roar, Antonio leaped forward only to be hindered by a leaping Jaqueline?! She began rotting all over his head – which Vampire or not will make anyone distracted. He saw Antonio reach up towards Jaqueline, grabbing her shoulders to pull her off. Nigel quickly flowed forward so fast that human eye-sight would have difficulty following, sinking his talons into Antonio's chest.

Miranda grew out her talons and fully unleashed her Power. The smell of ran and thunderstorms perfumed the air. The growing Darkness continued, anyone caught in its path suddenly felt as if they couldn't breathe breath they no longer needed, and with it their own powers weakened.

Miranda nodded at Roy who too fully unleashed, his incisors grew down to his chin, his eyes turned golden with a glowing red ring around the irises. His pointed ears complimented his growing snout and powerful jaws. 2 wicked looking swords appeared in each of his hands with one already slashing upwards through one of the Rotting Vampires, its intestines spilling out, blood spraying both Miranda and Belle. It screeched, even though its mouth no longer had lips from it 'rotting' away. He readied himself before jumping up over Belle and Miranda fighting onto the table behind them moving towards one of Padma's were-lions. He lengthened his blackened nails into long huge cat-like talons.

Miranda and Belle Morte were actually frozen in horrific tableau as each tried to out-do the other in Power. Belle with her Ardeur and Miranda with the Darkness. The weaker Weres and Vampires around the room had fallen to the ground with both of their Powers unleashed, bleeding through their ears and noses, the vampires even sweating blood, unable to fight back.


The Traveler used his power to echo his voice over the fighting. All fighting froze in surprise, "That is ENOUGH!"

"Monsieur Nigel, Mademoiselle Emily, Daywalker, you've gotten your pound of flesh. Belle Morte, you've 'tested' them and lost – again."

Belle Morte looked at him with her glowing golden-brown eyes, "How dare you –"

"I dare because I will finish it! Let them go or there will be no one left. Do you think these Servants are the only ones I've brought to the soiree? I knew something like this might occur and in the interest of fairness if you are looking for a battle than make it official or we will come to an unpleasant conclusion here."

"I know that I may not be powerful here, but I've been preparing for the eventuality that you would not be satisfied."

Which brought Miranda to the present, standing looking out over the New York skyline, after office hours, mulling over what are the next steps? Last but not least are the dreams. They've started up again; about that young woman from the hotel lobby in Chicago. Who was she? And why a few years later does she still… feature in her dreams?

She sometimes still wished she'd given into the urge to glide over to that woman so that she could run her fingers through those chocolate brown waves. And those lips were too succulent to be left unattended for long. She imagined them pressing up against her throat, or nibbling on another part of her body. Despite her appalling fashion sense, she wondered what she'd look like in a red Valentino? She could still remember every little detail about her – even years later. It was… unsettling. Like so much of her life has become unsettling.

She sighed and brought an elegant hand up to rub the bridge of her nose – what to do next? Well certainly it meant a visit to St. Louis sooner rather than later and if these next steps include waking her Maker: Marmee Noir.


Chapter 5B

Back in Los Angeles

Doyle suddenly gasped, startled awake by that dream. He sat up panting, trying not to wake Merry. The… girl. This was the not the first time he'd dreamt of the girl. He looked up towards the doorway – "You've had them too," came a solemn whisper from the pale-haired figure.

"You mean I am not the only one?" asked Doyle as he gently extracted himself from a pale arm wrapped around his middle without the disturbing the woman

"No, Sholto has had the dreams about the girl as well. What do you think it means?" Mistral followed Doyle out of the room but not before gently closing the door.

"Have you told Merry?"

"No, I think it's time to find out what these dreams mean and why we are having them." Doyle hadn't admitted that 'the girl' feels… familiar. Or that upon waking from the dreams he often feels an… emptiness. The Sidhe often have prophetic dreams, the fact that the other… Fathers are having dreams about the same 'girl' makes it even more disturbing.

"What do you think it means – I mean who is she?" The fact that they were all Fathers made them more connected ---almost emphatic.

Princess Merry of the Unseelie Court was blessed by the fertility Goddess Danu and through an ancient through a legend became pregnant with twins fathered by 5 different Fathers at the same time. Much to the dismay of both Queen Andais and King Taranis this makes her a target of constant assassination attempts.

Queen Andais has given them reprieve because Merry in a decree by the Queen that whomever became with child first: Merry or her psychotic son Prince Cel would be named the next heir and she would step down. However, Queen Andais and Prince Cel underestimated Princess Merry's power – the hand of flesh and blood; she can turn a person's body inside- out. To add to this, once a cut no matter how small appears on a person's flesh she can cause it to 'spill open' causing that person to bleed out as if all their major arteries had been sliced open.

In addition, Merry had cemented alliances with several lesser Courts like the Goblin Courts, the Red Caps (10 foot grey giants who constantly 'sweat' blood from underneath their little caps on their heads. They're known to be vicious killers.), the Sluagh; nightmarish entities and possessors of the Wild Hunt. King Sholto of the Sluagh was one of the Fathers of Merry's children, making Merry Queen of the Sluagh. Members of the Seelie Court sought favor with Merry – in hopes that they'd over-throw an ineffective (and crazy) King Taranis and replace him with Princess Merry who brought life back to their Court as well.

Prince Cel was killed. However, in the interest of her life and the safety of her children, plus wanting to lead a somewhat 'normal' life Princess Merry chose to retreat back to Los Angeles. Merry is back working as an investigator for an agency – Grey's Security Agency, which specializes in all things Faerie and supernatural. And because of Merry's status as royalty, business is booming. Her men are often in demand as bodyguards – mostly for looks and less as actual security.

Her children are now grown, but like most Faerie they didn't look a day over 25. Mistral, one of the Fathers was having a hard time here in Los Angeles – something about metal and iron and enclosed spaces made it hard for the Sidhe. Mistral had never lived beyond The Mound, Sholto because of his alliance with Queen Andais and being King of the Sluagh required that he live in the Mound. However, he visits as much as possible.

Aiden closely resembles Mistral and his affinity with all things nature and weather-related made him a natural at Astro-Physics; he's now away on an internship at NASA in Houston. His pale hair looked like silver-pale; almost like clouds, but his eyes were a purple tri-color tone. He was more bookish than his brothers, quieter, introvert, whereas Solei was more extrovert.

Darius was the hot-tempered, fiercely protective brother. Resembling Doyle, his skin tone was a beautiful onyx color and tri-colored blue-light blue-dark-blue eyes. He decided to follow Doyle's footsteps and trained to in various martial arts and has stated that he planned to being a part of his Mother's Personal Guard. He's been staying at the Mound keeping tabs on things – he makes much of the Sidhe very uncomfortable because he so closely resembled the Queen's Darkness. However, he's arriving soon for a visit.

"Do you think this has to do with Frost?"

Frost was thought to be one of the Fathers – but Merry only had 2 sons. Frost was turned into a Stag as a sacrifice during the battle with Prince Cel and Queen Andais. The ache of that loss still resonates strongly within Merry. Doyle wondered about that – he decided to contact Sholto to see if he's dreamt about the girl. He also wondered about his sons – if they too have the same --

"Father? Are you talking about the girl?" Darius just arrived home from the Mound. He looked slightly disheveled.

Mistral grinned, "How was the flight?" like Doyle he hated traveling by plane.

"I wish I had a bit of your Powers Father then I could ride the wind instead of feeling like a ship in a storm. Anyways, I've seen that same girl on my dreams since I was a teenager. I thought she might have been a girl I had a crush on, but she kept re-appearing –"

"Why didn't you tell us?" Doyle walked closer to his son.

"Because I thought I was the only one… why? What's going on?" both of their sons were very aware of court intrigue and why their Family chose to live here in Los Angeles instead of the Mound.

"Well nothing happens by coincidence when dealing with the Fey – it's time to figure out who this girl is and perhaps find her. Chances are if we're having these dreams others –namely our enemies might know of her, which means she's in danger."

"Should we tell Merry –" began Mistral.

"Not yet, let me find out more information." The feeling of premonition was growing stronger and with a look of determination Doyle began walking back towards the bedroom. It was his turn tonight to sleep with Merry, which reminded him that he hadn't bothered to put on a robe to cover his naked form. But the Sidhe didn't have the same hang-ups that humans had around sex and nudity.

"Father, why do I feel as if…? I should know her?" Darius had a look of bemusement gestured towards his 2 Dads. Mistral and Doyle shared a look.


Chapter 6

St. Louis

Anita was not having a good day. Her favorite coffee mug broke, the Ardeur had been particularly… intense last night and her feeding had left her bruised and battered with bite marks from her lovers. She felt like she had the worst hang-over ever. Nathaniel only magnified her hangover when he told her he had found someone to Top him on a consistent basis and would she meet him to give the 'ok'. Since Micah – her lover and Nimir-Raj, (king) of the local Were-leopards Blooddrinkers Clan, wasn't around because he was handling some Furry Coalition business stuff, there wasn't even anyone to really de-stress her.

To make matters worse, Richard; the Ulfric of the local Werewolf Thronnos Rokke Clan had decided to pick a fight right after her mug-incident. He apparently felt the need to yell at her for failing to "control" the Ardeur, and practically accused her of purposefully impacting him through their metaphysical marks. And now. to top it all off, Jean-Claude was leaving her urgent messages about Council business – which was never good.

Oh how I just love being a human servant sometimes, she thought sarcastically.

Anita was one third of a powerful triumvirate with Jean-Claude and Richard consisting of the other two thirds. They'd been joined, out of necessity and not necessarily choice, thanks to a series of unfortunate events that had forced them to meld their power in order to survive. And as if that hadn't been enough, due to her abilities as a Master Necromancer Anita had accidentally formed a second Triumvirate with a Vampire named Damien and her Were-Leopard and Pomme de Sang: Nathaniel.

She can rarely leave home without Nathaniel because the Ardeur is so unpredictable and because Damien became crazed after she left him alone for a period of time. Of course being a former Viking often provided much needed 'muscle' when required.

Whilst tangoing with the supernatural, Anita had contracted several lycanthropy strains—most notably, wolf, leopard, and tiger, and with all the metaphysical confusion she had ended up wearing several different 'hats': she was Nimir-Ra (queen) to Micah and the leopards, Bolverk (protector and enforcer) to the werewolves, and Human Servant to Jean Claude, the master vampire of the St. Louis Kiss.

Being a Federal Marshall, official Vampire Executioner, and a consultant for the Regional Preternatural Investigation Taskforce (RPIT) on top of everything else, meant her life was rarely her own. It was depressing really. She was Anita Blake, one of the most powerful and feared Master Necromancers to come along in centuries, (much to the displeasure of the Council) and she couldn't even get a cup of coffee without an Act of Congress. Anita sighed.

Since it's a power that's all her own, her evolving power over the… Undead makes things very interesting… and often dangerous. Having a figure resembling something out of Resident Evil follow you home is not a pleasant experience. But she's accepted that she's now a part of the Monsters regardless if she still has to occasionally hunt them.

Currently, she was driving, with her ever-present Browning Hi-Power gun, along with Damien in the passenger seat, and Nathaniel in the back, on the way to Jean-Claude's club. Council business was best dealt with in person. And hopefully, if she was lucky, this would be done quickly and efficiently. In her experience, someone always got either hurt or killed when the Council got involved. Mentally, Anita checked her personal arsenal just in case.

It was a soothing exercise. The Firestar was in her left holster, two small knives were strapped to the inside of either arm, and her thin short sword was tucked against her back, the hilt reassuringly warm at the nape her neck, just under her dark midnight hair. The thought of her earlier conversation with Jean Claude made her regret her decision to leave the mini-uzi, Heckler and Kosch's MP in the back of the trunk though.

"Ma petite, you must come to the Club as soon as possible. It is about the Council." He sounded tense. Jean-Claude is usually an expert in shielding his thoughts or emotions. But when he was really worried about something the stress often leaked out via their connection before he realized he was doing it and then he'd slam his shields tight.

Anita tried once again to reach out to 'feel' Jean-Claude and continued to run into the same "wall" she'd encountered earlier. This was never a good indication of things to come.

She finally pulled into the Circus of the Damned. She could hear the music from the parking lot, "Do you know what this is about Anita?" Nathaniel pulled up next to her as they headed to the side entrance where the living quarters were located.

She sighed, "No, all I know is that it has something to do with the Council." She could see the look of fear in his lavender-colored eyes.

The door opened before they reached it, "Hey sweet cheeks, are you back because you can't get enough of me?" Jason, Jean-Claude's Pomme de Sang stood in one of his usual get-ups: tight vinyl shorts, some kind of sparkly-mesh shirt which allowed his nipples to poke through. He was an outrageous flirt, but it was completely harmless, if not at times annoying. Standing at only 5'5 he appeared completely disarming – once you ignored his fashion selections.

She rolled her eyes in exasperation, "How is everything tonight? You might as well give me the run-down because I'll get eventually get the details that Jean-Claude won't disclose from you later."

He held up his hands in a fake gesture of submission, "All I know is that Jean-Claude woke from his sleep really frantic. He went directly in his office after calling in Asher and when he came out he told me to start rounding up all the Lieutenants, Rafael, Richard, and now you."

This ratcheted up the feeling of nervousness and premonition she'd been feeling since Jean-Claude called her to come to the club. Last time it was about the Council Anita had become acquainted with a bunch of very scary vampires called the Harlequin. They were the boogeyman of even Master Vampires, and the only reason she had survived the encounter was because they'd violated their Maker, Marmee Noir's decrees. If they hadn't died as a result…Anita shuddered at the thought. It would have been bad.

Marmee Noir was currently in a Big Sleep, but she'd been "visiting" Anita in her dreams – not a pleasant experience, and it was Anita's guess is that she was waking. A very, very, scary prospect. The Harlequin had been frightening enough on their own, Anita had no desire to meet the vampire who'd created them.

They followed Jason to the main room that almost seemed filled with people. Jean-Claude, followed by Richard and his bodyguards Jamal, Sylvie, and Shang-Da, Rafael – Rodere (king) of the local Were-Rat clan and Claudia his bodyguard (and Anita's too). And Asher -- Jean-Claude's Second. Wicked and Truth; Master Vampires who were also brothers, Meng Die another of Jean-Claude's Master Vamp bodyguard, and Haven the one Were-Lion.

"Whoa! It must be serious if I get this kind of Welcome." Anita went over to Jean-Claude, bent down for a kiss and sat in the remaining chair to his right. Richard was on the other side.

"Patience ma petite. I wanted everyone here who are close to us and as a result might be affected by upcoming events." Suddenly the door opened and Micah followed by Merle his bodyguard came through. A chair appeared near Anita and he came around the table and various bodyguards to sit. He leaned over for a kiss on her cheek, "Have I missed anything?"

"Non, we were just getting started. I have called this gathering because I have received a request for entrance from one of the most powerful vampires in the world."

"Well that's nothing new –," Anita began.

"Non, ma peite. This is indeed new. This vampire is hated and feared by the Council members and she is Marmee Noir's Second." You could hear a pin drop after that statement.

"Wait a minute isn't she a part of the Council?" Richard looked as confused as the rest of us.

"She is not, but not for their lack of…trying," answered Jean Claude.

Anita snorted she could just imagine what kind of "persuasion" they'd used.

"Additionally, there was a Council meeting recently in which she–"

"Wait, she's one of the most powerful Vamps in the world and the Council is just getting around to asking her to join?" Nathaniel asked.

"Yes. The Council I believe that they insisted she join them, she declined and I believe things… crumbled? from there. If she is coming here she may attempt an alliance, which will bring attention from the Council once again, and this time there may be no… restraint."

"So she's not a part of the Council huh? Probably figured out like the rest of us what a bunch of bloated-egotistical vamps they are. Has she ever been a part of the Council in the past – wait why would they be concerned about us making friends with her?" asked Anita.

"I am now a Sourdre de Sang and she is as well, in addition to the Obsidian Butterfly in New Mexico, this means we could form our own base of power that would potentially challenge the Council. However, this is not something I'm even remotely interested in and I cannot believe that the Butterfly would be inclined to… how you say it? Play with others?"

"However this is not something I imagine the Council will believe or leave to chance." Rafael echoed from down the table.

"So the question is, do we form this alliance or do we avoid a potential headache?"

"Avoid if of course," said Richard. The rest of the room did not deign to comment. That the solution was so simple for the Wolf King spoke to his consistent ignorance of preternatural power and politics. Richard, HATES a huge part of himself, namely his wolf, and has inevitably made his life, as well as, the lives those close to him very difficult

"What else do we know about her? What's her name anyways?" Anita asked.

"She is known as the Daywalker, she is legendary within vampire circles. She's taken on Belle Morte and won. However, she has no patience for the intrigue that infests the Council. And humans know her as Miranda Priestly, Editor-in-Chief of a fashion magazine called Runway—"

"What?! Oh, my god! I LOVE that magazine!" exclaimed Jason, much to the confusion to everyone else. Fashion beyond the 1700s, (for some), leather and latex, and jeans, was beyond the scope of understanding to most of the people in the room.

"So she's a very public figure? Wow, how does she balance that?" wondered Anita.

"Wait, she's called Daywalker, I'm assuming that's one of her powers? That must make other vampires very uncomfortable." She almost couldn't fathom it, a vampire being able to walk about during the day.

"I don't think we need the trouble." Richard said, looking directly at Anita, "We've had more than enough of it already."

She sighed in irritation. "Richard wishing trouble won't find us doesn't make it go away."


Chapter 7

Back in New York

Today was Andy's interview at Elias-Clarke, for some kind of magazine called Runway. She was a bit nervous. She looked herself over one more time before grabbing her bag, I-Pod, and keys and then heading out. As she rode the subway, she wondered what kind of place it was; she hoped that her blue sweater, brown skirt, and clunky-heeled shoes were professional enough. She knew she was smart enough for the job, but being smart didn't always equal being a 'fit' for the job.

Her stop came up, and Andy gathered her things before starting for interview. She never noticed the two men following her. One with long, pale-blonde hair and the other with blue hair that exactly matched his skin color. Both were tall, broad-shouldered, and wearing suits – although the pale-haired one's suit looked like something out of 1920s gangster movie and the other wore a full-brimmed hat. Sidhe eyes hidden by dark shades tracked the young woman's movements.

Andy hurried through the lobby towards the elevators after passing through security. She took the elevator to the 22nd floor. She came to glass doors, surrounded by more glass and inside she could see people scurrying around in different directions. A red-headed woman met her right away. "Human Resources must think this is a joke."

She looked Andy up and down before continuing on, "We need someone who can survive here. It is a HIGHLY demanding job, Miranda expects perfection. Do you understand?"

Andy nodded as she hurried after Emily, "Well I'd like to be considered—"

"You're joking right?! Andy, an interest in fashion is required." She stated with scornful amusement.

But before Andy could reply, she felt a wave of weird energy prickling from Emily as Emily looked down to read a text on her phone. "Oh, my god, her facialist ruptured a disc! She had to cancel her appointment! She'll be here in 5 minutes!"

And with that she started frantically running around, straightening her desk and slipping on another pair of shoes. She ran into what, Andy assumed, was Ms. Priestly's office which was through a set of milky-glass doors.

A bald man, impeccably dressed in a uniquely printed suit and glasses, came through another set of doors to Emily's desk. Upon hearing of Miranda's imminent arrival, he straightened up and shouted, "Gird your loins!" Suddenly all the employees started doing full-on sprints to their desks, throwing away containers of food and changing flat shoes into heels. It was chaotic!

Even before the elevator opened Andy could feel something approaching. She had to almost physically restrain herself from standing up from the chair and walking towards it. As the elevator numbers got closer to the Runway floor, that feeling started to feel like someone had laced her veins with Icy Hot. But it wasn't unpleasant exactly. Andy stood around awkwardly trying to make sense of what was going on. Then the elevator doors opened… it was her! The woman from the hotel lobby! Andy sat up straighter, she felt as if her heart would beat right out of her chest, her palms itched, plus a whole bunch of other internal fireworks ensued.

The woman removed her sunglasses as Emily held the door opened. But even before she noticed Andy, Andy noticed that she paused minutely, lifted her nose as if 'scenting' the air before her eyes zeroed in on Andy. Emily glared over Miranda's head at Andy. With the slightest pause in her path towards her office, their eyes locked and if one could 'color the air' they would have seen white-hot energy arcing between her and Andy. All of this happened within seconds – almost unnoticed before Miranda schooled her features back into icy-impassiveness. She continued on towards her office, throwing her coat and bag on the empty desk that Andy was sitting at.

"I simply cannot understand why you cannot confirm a simple thing like a facialist appointment. Am I reaching for the stars? Nonetheless, I need you to confirm my appointment at that restaurant with the duck I like, and then get me 10 skirts from Gucci. Then I want you to tell my husband, 'No, I'll pick them up on Saturday and no later.' And tell Nigel that those models for the paratrooper shoot were short, fat, and paunchy – I want tall, slender, and attractive, is that so hard?" She paused for a moment to sit down at her desk. "Who is that?" she gestured towards Andy's direction.

"Um, tha, that is the 2nd assistant interview. I can simply send her –"she awkwardly stuttered out.

"No, no, I'll do it. Clearly you can't be counted on to make a competent selection since the last 3 were so disappointing. I'll have to do it myself." What neither Emily nor Andy knew was that internally Miranda was cursing the Fates.

Miranda could practically feel her flesh 'leap' towards the stunned brunette in response to her nearness. If one were to notice Miranda's hands as she powered up her Mac, flipping through notes, they'd see them trembling. The young woman's scent wafting in from the reception area was driving her up the wall! It was all she could do to not drag her in here and nuzzle her neck! It was ridiculous! To make matters worse, she was the woman from the hotel lobby in Chicago—The woman who had featured quite a bit (to her everlasting annoyance) in her dreams. She could not afford a distraction right now, and it would behoove her to send the silly girl away. Yes, that was by far the safest and most desirable action.

Looking up from perusing her memos, Miranda opened her mouth and, "Send her in," fell out. Looking back down, she continued reading through the various memos, mock-ups, and correspondences, while doing a quick perusal of Andy's resume.

Andy walked in to stand before Miranda's desk, "Thank you for seeing me Ms. Priestly –"

"Do you know what we do here at Runway?" Miranda interrupted with preamble.

"Ah, it's a fashion magazine –"

"You have no idea who I am, nor have you ever heard of… me before today?" Miranda drawled in icy tones.

"Well, ah, no-"Andy stuttered.

Miranda continued, "You have no sense of style or any sense of fashion." She finally looked at Andy in derision and boredom.

"Well I think it depends on what your definition of-," Andy tried to counter.

"No, no, that wasn't a question." She waved her finger at Andy, while Andy uncertainly looked down at her clothes, but before she could answer, they were interrupted by that bald man – Nigel?

He swept into Miranda's office and around her desk to show her something, "These dresses look like something on the Mainline at a Vegas show."

Miranda gave Andy one last inscrutable look before looking down at his proofs. Andy figured the meeting was over. She never felt such a weird amalgamation of feelings: humiliation, anger, fascination, yet, she thought Miranda never looked more beautiful and she couldn't help but feel drawn to her. But she wanted to lob one last shot before leaving, "You know I may not have the latest haute couture or know anything about Runway, but I'm smart, I work hard, and I learn fast…" Miranda stood, leaning on a hand. While she was studying Andy their eyes locked again. Miranda's cheeks pinkened before turning her attention back to Nigel.

"Well thank you for your time." Andy shuffled out her office and quickly to the elevators.

Why her? Why now? Miranda asked herself, thinking furiously about the possible consequences of Andrea's presence.

She was confused and not a little thrown by the sudden appearance of her dream lover.

As if her life wasn't complicated enough – the ink was still drying on her last divorce to Stephen. Yet watching Andrea leave ripped something inside of her, it was unexplainable. For some reason Miranda couldn't let her go. "Emily go get her. She seems significantly smarter than your usual selection." Emily stood there in stunned surprise before Miranda said, "Do stop your ugly imitation of a fish! Go get her!"

Nigel watched the proceedings with some surprise as Emily dashed past him toward the elevator banks. "Who was that sad creature?" he asked.

"My new Emily, now get me those proofs!" Miranda snapped. She definitely didn't need any more examination into her decision than necessary, and Nigel could be like a piece of gum at the bottom of a shoe when he put his mind to something.

Andy sighed as she moved through the revolving doors, leaving the building with a growing sense of aching loss. She knew in her gut that she was leaving something infinitely important behind.

"Wait!" someone yelled from behind. Andy turned and was surprised to see Emily. She looked resigned and irritated, her eyes oddly bleeding into a different color before quickly changing back. The first assistant beckoned with her finger. "She wants you back." She shook her head in aggravation at her new color-blind-fashion-disaster colleague.

A Bar Somewhere in Manhattan

Later she met up with Doug and Lily at their favorite bar to celebrate Andy's new job. They didn't notice the two men that were following Andy earlier, sitting near the back while making sure Andy was directly in their sights.

"Do you think that's her?" asked the pale-haired man.

"If the latent Power I'm feeling from her is any indication than I'd have to say it's a strong possibility. Not to mention, that the Power is… familiar." They could almost see the moving marks on her skin. They wondered if the marks had gained their magic.

"Like her Father?" Rhys, the pale-haired one wondered aloud.

The blue-haired one – Barinthius scratched his chin in contemplation. "I think the Goddess Danu has played a trick on us. The girl's power does not come from just one source."

Rhys frowned in confusion, "What do you mean? Merry? Well of course, she's her Mother, but-"

"No, I mean I think her Power comes from something more. It's very strong. Whereas Merry's sons seem to only have residual power from all their Fathers while strongly resembling their Dominant Father," he stated with growing concern.

Rhys looked stunned. "That's impossible, that has not happened in thousands of years! If either Queen Andais or King Taranis learn of this they will surely do everything in their power to kill her."

Barinthius shook his head, "What makes this even worse is that she has little to no idea about her heritage or any of her Powers. Meaning she will be unable to cloak herself from the Fey."

Rhys sighed mightily at the upcoming conflict, especially considering that they'd all just recovered from the last one. "When do we tell Princess Merry?"

"I must contact Doyle first before we proceed. In the meantime, we will have to stay here to offer her some protection." He shuddered at all the metal and iron surrounding him. He'd rather be home at the Mound. Most Fey did not do well in these environs.

"You should've seen all those people running around like it was a 2-for-1-sale at Macy's! It was nuts! Then she told me I had no sense of fashion!" Andy gesticulated wildly to the amusement of her friends. What she didn't tell them was the intense connection she felt with Miranda Priestly. But she quickly brought herself back to the present, she'd have time enough to digest and analyze her meeting with Miranda later.

"Well I'd be totally thrilled to be surrounded by all that haute couture, instead I'm stuck at Goldman Sachs analyzing numbers." Andy and Lily look at Doug with fond amusement.

"That's because you're a big giant queen! How you ended up in such a staid, unexciting job we'll never know. Anyways, I'm more comfortable in a pair of jeans, my favorite pair of motorcycle boots, and a t-shirt. But I'll tell you what: I refuse to change my entire wardrobe just because everyone I work with starves themselves just to fit into the latest fashion."

Swigging from a bottle of Dos Equis, Andy said, "Anyways, let's do a toast:" She raised her drink and deepened her voice to mimic the "mysterious Don Juan" spokesperson for Dos Equis. "Stay Thirsty my Friends." Her friends laughed because it didn't even sound close.

"I have to go to the bathroom and then I'm going to see if they have my favorite artist on the jukebox… you guessed it! Barry White!" Her friends groaned before taking a longer pulls on their own drinks.

"You just couldn't wait, could you?! Lucky for you I've resigned myself to hearing at least one Barry White song whenever we hang out!" Lily laughingly watched Andy saunter towards the bathroom.


Chapter 8

Andy was standing before the mirror in the bathroom, looking intently at her reflection – almost as if she'd look hard enough it'd give her some answers. Sighing in frustration, she thought, Why is my life feeling increasingly like a story where I play an unwitting character?

She thought back to her day – Runway… Miranda. She had a sneaking suspicion that some of the questions plaguing her life would be answered and that she wasn't going to like some of those answers.

When Emily came to tell her she'd gotten the job, for just a moment she thought about not taking it. The sense of premonition and anxiousness increased ten-fold riding up in that elevator, back to Runway… back to Miranda. It felt like a cord or leash being tightened around her neck, but not in a suffocating way, more like, "Hey, your Fate that you've been avoiding is here – time to meet her!"

There had been a steady hum of energy the minute she'd walked through those doors. It became even more irritating when Emily introduced herself – sort of—because that 'hum' felt like the heat from a toaster standing next to her. However, that was eclipsed by leaps and bounds the second Miranda walked through those doors. Something shifted inside her, like a light switch being turned on. It was like suddenly she had a sixth sense.

She just knew that Miranda could feel it too, even if she did treat her like some sort of field slave. She knew this because And could almost see the energy leaping off of Miranda and reaching out, like an ethereal cord, towards Andy. For a moment she looked around to see if anyone else noticed it, but Emily was just busy glaring at her in disgust.

They'd locked eyes again, and after that, it was like some kind of vacuum sucked in Miranda's energy, and she continued onto her office, leaving Andy feeling almost bereft. In fact, Andy stumbled a little, but covered it by fumbling for her resume. All in all it made Andy feel impotent… but fuck that! "No one puts Baby in a corner…" Andy sniggered at herself in the mirror – she'd always wanted to say that.

Personally, Andy would rather go on being the same, fairly easy-going, optimistic, oblivious, smart-ass, she'd always been. But with all these changes happening she knew she'd be adding a few more adjectives to her personality before all was said and done. Not a comforting thought at all.

Concentrating hard, she watched her eyes go 'online' as she liked to call it, glowing slightly, emphasizing her tri-colored gaze. Her skin felt… tingly. She knew the dark shapes that appeared on her skin were becoming more prominent. She pushed up the sleeve of her blouse and watched as the ink-like pattern moved, gently swirling and feathering across her skin. One finally took shape. Andy frowned, staring at it.

It looks like a… horse… with wings? Hmph! Well that's new.

It solidified on her skin and Andy tried to brush it off, focusing mentally, hoping it would go back to being more ethereal. Shit! It isn't working!

Andy sighed. She'd just have to come up with some story to explain it away. She couldn't drum up the energy to get more freaked out because frankly? Her life had gotten progressively freakier with no sign of it letting up anytime soon. What was one more freaky thing next to a whole freaky list?

Miranda pursed her lips in consternation as Roy drove away from Elias Clarke and toward home. What were the chances of those big brown eyes that had been haunting her dreams suddenly showing up at her office? Miranda thought she'd overcome giving into the very human tendency of impetuousness and desirous weakness. But for a moment she couldn't bear the thought that she'd never see her again – even though that was exactly what should happen. It would be a safer proposition all-around.

She rubbed the bridge of her nose in exhaustion. She needed some replenishment. She texted the meal instructions on her phone before putting it away in her purse and laying her head back on the leather-seat. However, her mind got "away" from her – once again.

How would Andrea taste?

She imagined that Andrea would purr like a lioness as she slid her fangs inside her. Would it also make her wet? Would arousal change her delicious scent? Her lips were luscious, pink and full, succulent enough to bite into. Miranda had refrained from sampling until now because she sensed something…off about Andrea. She suspected her second assistant was no mere human, but she didn't have the feel of a vampire or lycanthrope.

Christ, Andrea was in her presence for mere moments and already she was giving into her like a bloody kitten with catnip. Maybe when she fed she could focus on more important things, like the Book, whilst reconsidering why she should fire Andrea at the soonest opportunity. Although judging from the lack of fashion sense the girl had displayed so far, she wouldn't last very long– which would solve her problem.

They car pulled up in front of the townhouse on the Upper East Side. "Be here at no later than 7:15 tomorrow morning," said Miranda as she stepped out. "That's all." She closed the car door and walked up the stoop to let herself in.

Silence greeted her, and she headed towards the kitchen to open a bottle of Blood-Red wine. Her high heels made a rhythmic click as they walked across the polished hard-wood floor. It didn't last long though, for a moment later, Miranda heard the sound of keys rattling in the front door followed by heels heading towards Miranda's way.

"Good evening Master," said Serena, "I've brought the Book and your dry-cleaning as requested."

"Go into the study and get ready," instructed Miranda before she turned to finish her wine. "That's all." She imagined that Serena wouldn't be too pleased if she found out about Miranda's… slight obsession with Andrea. Serena's reactions, however, mattered little. The Were-Tiger was hers, unconditionally, and any problem her Pomme de Sang might have with Andrea was irrelevant.

Miranda tried to keep her hands from shaking as she lifted the wine glass to her lips once again. Sometimes Miranda had to calm herself before her encounters with Serena, otherwise she felt too ravenous and she hated feeling out of control. She took her time heading towards her study, letting it build deliciously. I think I'll have her service me tonight – I'm entirely too keyed up, Miranda thought.

Soft, muted, lighting came through the crack in the door of the study. She pushed the door fully open, looking on in satisfaction. Serena was naked, with her Master's collar around her neck, kneeling beautifully with her head bent in submission and her hair down, cascading across her back.. Miranda approached her slowly, like a large wolf stalking its prey. She could scent Serena's arousal even now.


Serena trembled in anticipation, keeping her eyes lowered, baring her neck in supplication. She thought back to the day she became Miranda's Pomme de Sang. There were very few Were-Tigers in existence, something about the gene being rather… fragile. Then there were the mating practices of Were-Tigers; little more than arranged-marriages/matings by the female's family –also served to keep their numbers very low.

There was no compromise on this. So she ran away from her Pride in Brazil, to work for her greatest love - fashion. It was her second year at Runway, she'd been in thrall of Miranda. Her Power was addictive, her attractiveness--intoxicating. She knew that if she could gain Miranda's favor, the fashion maven would provide the ultimate protection against the hunters her Pride might send after her. A likely scenario, for Serena would have been Queen to her pride, and her escape would be seen as nothing short of the ultimate betrayal.

She was, therefore, not surprised when one of the hunters accosted her as she came through the revolving doors of Elias-Clarke to attend a run-through at James Holt. Miranda had been just behind her, when one she felt something hard hit her stomach. She'd looked down to see herself bleeding. It almost felt surreal, it felt like she was hit with a bat, other people stopped, rushing over to help her, but she couldn't even move. Sounds became muffled, like her ears were stuffed with cotton, her hands clutched her stomach as blood and other things started slowly oozing out.

The hunter started throwing people out of the way to reach her, when she felt hands holding her shoulders, pulling her against a body. She felt Power flicking out, stopping the hunter in its tracks. She saw Nigel move past her towards the hunter and she could almost hear Miranda whispering in her ear, but Serena was quickly losing her awareness, sliding into darkness. Whatever the hunter had hit her with prevented her from healing as most lycanthropes could, particularly one of her lineage, and she was fading fast.

Roy suddenly appeared to take her in his arms before bending, sliding an arm underneath her legs, lifting her effortlessly, to walk towards the Mercedes waiting on the curb. She lifted her head with some effort to look behind her, seeing Nigel fighting with the hunter, before Miranda stepped up behind the hunter. Suddenly, he was lifted off the ground by and invisible force, almost as if he was levitating, and slammed brutally against the far wall. There was no more movement after that. The hunter had simply crumpled and fallen bonelessly into a pool of his own blood.

Miranda stood behind him, mouth stained red, her arm up to her elbow stained red. People stopped and stared, some were screaming, before time suddenly stood still, people freezing in their place, even the air seemed to freeze. Roy placed her in the Mercedes, before striding away towards Miranda. He stooped by the body, threw it over his shoulder and turned back towards the car, clicking a button on the keys to pop the trunk.

"Look at me!" Everyone turned towards Miranda, her eyes glowing with an almost whitish intensity – like stars going nova, it was like she was powering up.

You could feel her energy pulsing outwards. The smell of thunderstorms and rain permeating the air, even though there wasn't a cloud in the sky. People briefly closed their eyes, before stumbling a bit, looking around in confusion, only to realize that Miranda had already started heading for the car and was sliding in the back-seat with Serena. Nigel slid into the passenger seat next to Roy before he peeled away from the curb, and Serena, who had been fighting a wave a darkness etching on her consciousness, finally gave in.

When she woke, she was lying on a bed in Miranda's townhouse, her boss sitting next to her looking down at her. Miranda was wearing a beautiful dark dressing gown, her full lips erased of lipstick pursed, with an inscrutable expression her face. "You've put me in a bit of a bind. You'll have to make a decision or one will be made for you."

Serena looked at her in confusion before it registered, "You will be my Protector? My family will stop at nothing to get me back or harm me."

"Do you know who I am or more importantly what I am? You submit to me and you will be my Servant yes, but I was thinking something more… intimate."

She trailed her finger down between Serena's breasts – which she realized were naked. She swiped that finger through the congealing blood on her stomach before lifting it up to suckle off the blood collected. That action, Miranda's body screamed seduction and also menace. It was intoxicating, even through her pain, Serena could feel her arousal pooling between her legs.

"I know that you are a Master Vampire – the most powerful I've ever met. I know that you expect absolute obedience and perfection. I know that to be in your bed would be a privilege."

She watched Miranda's lips curl, "You will be my Pomme de Sang, my Servant, my Pet. You will have my blood run through your veins as part of a Blood Oath. In return I demand unconditional surrender."

"I am the Master of the City, I am known as Daywalker, I am a Soudre de Sang; Maker of my own vampiric line, I am your Mistress and your Master. And I am so much more. I am also your boss and I expect you to keep that separate from our arrangement. You betray me and your family will be the least of your worries. That's all." Miranda brought her other hand up to her mouth, her eyes began glowing a icy-blow with a tinge of white, her mouth opened and one of her impressive fangs made a small slash along her wrist.

Serena watched the bright blood well up before Miranda brought it down before her mouth. "I accept your gift and I will serve you to the best of my abilities. I give you my life, my loyalty, and my blood, Master of the City, Daywalker – this I submit to you willingly."

Miranda's blood wafted tantalizingly towards Serena's nose, she could feel a growl welling up from her chest, "Then drink my Servant, you now belong to me." As Serena bit into her wrist, lapping up her blood, Miranda's other hand slid around her shoulder, then down to cover a breast, and began plucking at a hard pink-tipped nipple.

Which is how she found herself now, naked, trembling with want, desperate arousal – which what this feeding always causes her. Miranda like a hunt closing in strolled around her, scenting her arousal on the air like a scented candle. She stood behind Serena and then Miranda slid her hand into Serena's blonde hair until she cupped the back of her head, then down until she wrapped her hand around several strands.

She suddenly yanked her head back causing Serena to let out a moan because she could also smell Miranda's arousal, her breasts heaving as she panted in excitement. Serena could feel her hips minutely thrust trying to relieve the building ache between her legs, her wetness smearing against her inner-thighs. Her neck was fully bent back, completely exposing her throat. Then she felt a hot tongue swiping her ear, a voice huskily whispered, "You are such a slut aren't you Serena? I bet if I were to swipe my fingers through your cunt right now you would soak them completely." Serena whimpered as she imagined just that.

"Answer me!" Miranda yanked even harder causing Serena to gasp and cry out, "Yes, god yes!"

Miranda began swirling her tongue around her ear, before moving down towards neck to nuzzle her pulse point. She suckled hard, so hard that Serena knew that if she wasn't a lycanthrope she'd be bruised for a week. But it was exquisite, her hips were slowly rocking back and forth as the ache grew from all the sensations Miranda was creating.

Miranda's other arm came around her waist, her hand hot against her stomach, nails digging in just 'this' side of pain, before the hand smoothed down her stomach, fingers worrying her belly-button, before stopping just before her thatch of hair. Her heart felt like it was going to pound out her chest, but it matched the throb that rhythmically pulsed between her legs. Her skin felt too hot, like it was stretched too tight over her bones.

She wanted so badly for Miranda to slide her fingers inside her, she felt hollow, she wanted her to fill her, with her fingers, with her fist. She wanted her to feel how hot and incredibly wet she's made her. She wanted her to ghost her fingertip over her rapidly swelling and pulsating clit. Serena turned her head into Miranda's neck, "Please, I need…," hips jerking.

"No, I need. I need to stop feeling her eyes scorching over my skin. I need to not wonder what her blood smells like. I need to not wonder what she tastes like, I want… her. So tonight… tonight, I'm going to feast on this beautiful body, on your wet cunt, your blood, so I can rid myself of other… wants." With that she slid her fingers over the pulsating clit, into the wet, scorching heat while sliding her fangs with icy hotness into Serena's throat, drinking deep.

Serena groaned loudly as she felt her blood being sucked from her artery and the long fingers stuffing her pussy, stretching her. Her hips swiveled over Miranda's fingers, almost at the edge. The combining sensations were exquisite, pleasure – pain seeping over her skin, in her blood. The answering rhythmic pulsations deep inside her gushing hole and her twitching clit was all the warning she had before the orgasm swept over her, stealing her breath, transferring to Miranda through their connection. She felt Miranda release a deep-throated, growling, moan, before her fangs left her neck, hissing, "Mine."

Somehow, Serena thought that sign of possessiveness was not meant for her.


Chapter 9

Back at Andy's Apartment

There were a few hard truths about herself that Andy'd been forced to deal with since she found that necklace in her Parents' garden: for some reason she was Fey and her Parents were not. Her Mom appeared to be just as bewildered (and a little scared) as she was because the Sachs were as "normal" as apple pie and basketball. After further discussion about possible ancestors and the gene pool, there appeared to be little evidence that this was passed down to her.

The obvious question is what the hell is going on and why her?

She was Fey – perhaps even… Sidhe. The symbol on the necklace--A circled serpent overlaid with a triple spiral, and a blood-stone in the middle—had resembled a Sidhe relic: A Fertility Goddess to be exact. Wouldn't Doug and Lily get a kick out of that?! This discovery should have been exciting to her as well, but Andy was tired. Tired of feeling like events were unfolding around her that she seemed to have no control over, tired of not knowing what was going on, or who she was! She needed answers! Answers that wouldn't come from a book. Real answers!

She'd come to feel more comfortable in her 'skin' –with all her other-ness, but she sensed that these magical manifestations were just the beginning. That sense of awareness had intensified when Andy came to consciousness after finding the necklace. The world had been fuzzy, but she remembered the blurry image of her Mother hovering over her. The latest development only vindicated her theory. She'd been feeling a buzz lately, almost like a mild electric current, humming along her psyche whenever she came across someone or something not human,

This had come into sharp focus when Miranda walked into the office yesterday. The humming had been so strong! Like sitting directly on a giant generator. She wondered if Miranda felt their connection. She had to, right? Andy sighed as she crawled into bed, exhaustion and sleepiness taking over her from such an emotional day.

Upper East Side

Miranda swirled the bourbon around in the high-ball glass. She was sitting in her favorite chair in her study, watching the amber liquid slide down like 'fingers' in the glass. A light perfume of sex and blood wafting in the air. She'd just finished working on the Book. Draining the glass before depositing it on the side table, she contemplated her current… difficulties. She felt like she was sitting on the precipice of something much larger, which, for vampires, usually meant nothing good. The fact that it had something to do with Andrea was irrelevant because she would do everything in her power to exclude Andrea from the coming events.

Her head fell back against headrest before she gathered the will to stand and head up to her bedroom. She needed to rest, she had a very long day tomorrow. Along with maintaining certain standards at Runway, her evening also consisted of attending to her Master of the City duties. There were a few "Rat-Packs" that were making a nuisance of themselves and the New York City Rodere (Rat King) had requested back-up in dealing with them.

Not to mention the local Nimir-Ra (king of leopards): her former husband Lucas would undoubtedly be asking for more visitation rights to their daughters – which she would, naturally, deny. He continued to make life difficult for her through his Pard. However, he failed to appreciate that in the world of Lycanthropes – the Wolves ruled, and with her Emily as Ulfric, making life difficult for her meant making life difficult for him. She made a mental note to instruct Emily to take care of this latest inconvenience.

In addition, she had to check into her various holdings throughout the City; Hades – a leather club; almost all Supernatural liked their kink, Lust Feeder – a Were strip club, their lycanthrope abilities allowed them to be much more flexible than the average human. However, more importantly it allowed her to feed the Ardeur and other… things. names were uninspiring, but then again, she probably shouldn't have allowed her daughters to name the establishments Alas, the indulgence of motherhood. Shaking her head, Miranda returned to her mental checklist, and reminded herself to send Nigel out to check her private blood banks.

In the meantime, she'd also need to start preparing for a visit to St. Louis while shoring up alliances. The life of the Master of the City of New York was never done. In midst of all this, there should be plenty of opportunity to fire Andrea in the near future and continue on with getting her life/unlife in order. Before she fell into the deep-dead-like-sleep, a flash of gold-copper-brown eyes appeared, taunting her. Damn her!


Chapter 10

Andy was awoken by the musical strains of Can't Get Enough of Your Love ringing on her cell phone, startling her into pushing the TALK button to groggily answer, "H – hello?"

"Why aren't you up?" a voice said with a clipped British accent. "You need to be here with Miranda's coffee! She likes it blistering hot, latte, no foam, with an extra shot. To get this wrong will immediately mean your demise. Next you have to stop by Hermes and pick up the scarves. And you need to do this within the hour." The voice hung up before Andy's brain could catch up.

She laid there for a moment, before realizing she had a very limited amount of time before launching herself from bed, dashing wildly to the bathroom. "Shit, shit, shit!"

Andy decided that trying to balance scalding hot latte, with a whole bunch of Hermes scarves, her purse, all the while answering the dozen phone calls with Emily screaming into her ear, was an intensely unpleasant experience. She bolted to the elevators, keeping up her balancing act, desperately trying to not spill more coffee on her. Finally, she arrived at the Runway floor.

She dashed through the double-glass doors only to have Emily immediately in her face, grabbing things out of her arms, "Thank God! Where have you been?! She's almost here, I've been manning the phones and I desperately have to go to the bathroom!"

"Why couldn't you just go and let it go to voicemail?" Andy hurriedly sat down to wait for further instructions after Emily re-appeared from Miranda's office.

"You must NEVER let a call go to voicemail. One time an assistant missed a phone-call from Valentino, when Miranda attempted to call him back he was already on a 23 hour flight to Australia! She's now working at TV Guide. Now man the phones until I get back!" She snapped then walked briskly away.

Andy was happy to have a few minutes of respite before the storm called Miranda appeared. She could feel the tension knotting at the back of her neck. Miranda. She'd had another one of those dreams last night. She knew she needed to get a grip on her emotions regarding Miranda otherwise her employment here would be a lot more difficult than she already suspected. But how did one ignore the way her skin leaps whenever Miranda's eyes tracked over her body?

How was she supposed to ignore the dreams that she'd been having long before they'd formally met? Dreams where they were both naked, where Miranda pinned Andy's hands over her head and marked her even as Andy writhed under Miranda's ravishing tongue. Dreams where their bodies were lathered in sweat, nipples brushing against one another—stoking the heat that rendered them both breathless. Dreams, where Miranda Priestly claimed her. How?

Surely Miranda notices, right? She'll know what to do, Andy confidently thought.

Suddenly, the doors opened signaling the arrival of Miranda in sexy red Prada heels that looked dangerously high, sheer black stocking, a gorgeous black pencil skirt, with matching jacket. Andy could hardly take her eyes off the beautiful egg-plant colored blouse, dangerous framed cleavage and mane of gleaming silver hair. Today, Miranda's signature forelock looked especially delicious dangling attractively over her eye. Before Andy could open her mouth, Miranda threw her jacket and purse on her desk and sauntered into her office, while firing off instructions.

"I need you to call Patrick and tell him that those models from the shoot were deeply disappointing. Also I need 10 scarves from Hermes. Then I want you to call my Ex-husband and tell him, 'No, I will not extend the girls' vacation. I expect them back no later than a week from today exactly.' Then you need to tell Jocelyn that I need competent ideas for the Pony – not ideas that would, no doubt, make a 4th grader's reject pile. Then call the caterer for next week's soiree. I want warm rhubarb compote – is that so hard? Am I asking for the moon? After that you need to collect the mock-up from James Holt. Has Demarchelier called?

"Get me Demarchelier on the phone. Now."

Andy dashed to her desk, trying desperately not to hyperventilate.

Emily came back just in time to see the look of terror on Andy's face. She smirked. "What- "

"Oh, my god, she said something about a – a Pony, then something about a guy named Patrick and James Holt…" Andy was practically wringing her hands.

Miranda stuck her head out of her office, "Why isn't Demarchelier on the phone yet?"

"Look, just go to James Holt and Hermes, I'll take care of everything else. Now hurry!" Emily smugly pointed towards the bank of elevators.

Staring morosely into her beer Andy continued her summarization of her first day at Runway to her Lily and Doug. "It was horrible! She's so… mean and, and, condescending – you can practically feel the flesh peel off your skin after she tears into you!"

"And then, and then, there are these…clackers, who wear these impossible high-heels that make this annoying clacking sound as they walk behind you while making fun of…"

"Andy-girl, take a deep breath… it's just 'us' girls right now. Ain't no one here to talk shit about your wardrobe, or make you fetch steaming hot coffee or tell you how incompetent you are. That's the "Ground Rules." Lily patted her arm, before peering down at her watch, "at least not for 6 hours."

"And guess what? Not only is Queen of Mean, Fashion Empress Extraordinaire, she also the Master of the City!" she watched the twin looks of horrific surprise and awe appear on both her friends' faces.

"Well that figures. I can't imagine that woman being anything less than a major Alpha! Wait she didn't try to slip you some fang did she?" Lily grinned at her own cleverness. "Maybe those skinny-ass models look that way cause home-girl has her own stock of "blood banks?""

"No way. You don't stay HBIC (Head Bitch in Charge) for not being able to put her fangs away…" he snickered at that play on words. "Well Andy, can you tell she's this bad-ass Master Vamp?"

Rolling her eyes, she tried to not think about the icy-disdain Miranda had shown her throughout the day. "If you girls are finished, yes she's completely professional—Except frightening her employees to death does seem to fall into the category of 'scary vampire."

They were hanging out at Andy's apartment, pizza and beers serving as replenishment after a hard day at work. Doug sprawled on one those old-school bean-bag globs plopped in the near the side of Andy's over-stuffed sofa. While Andy and lily curled up in either corner on the sofa with the pizza and beer between them.

"But that's not all," continued Andy. "In fact, the whole office seems to be a total soup of mystical people: Edgy-Emily is a Were-Wolf, Nigel is a Master Vampire too, and this other woman named Serena is a Were-Tiger! Crazy huh?!" The excitement in Andy's voice belied her critical scrutiny of her 1st day at Runway.

The soulful twangs of Otis Reddings' These Arms of Mine echoed around the apartment. Next to Barry White, Otis Redding was Andy's favorite. She became a fan of Motown-ish music via her Dad. Every Sunday morning he'd bake up a storm, while the playing the funky, old-school music of Motown and other "Golden Oldies": Otis, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye – and really were there any women groups more fierce in glittering cocktail dresses than The Supremes singing I Hear a Symphony?

Needless to say after a very personally trying day at her new job, she couldn't think of a better way to wind down. She thought back to all the fascinating people she met at Runway – especially Nigel. The energy he gave off was very powerful, different than Emily's or even Serena's, but definitely not as powerful as Miranda's energy.

She'd never met anyone who could remain so wholly unaffected by chaos, sort of like Forrest Gump's Boat during a hurricane. Whereas Emily seemed edgy and a bit crazed (which could in all likelihood be from hunger), Emily just hoped that things wouldn't come undone – Nigel knew they eventually would. Andy wanted to be just like Nigel when "she grew up."

As for Serena – well let's just say if her self-esteem hadn't taken a serious hit since starting here and her connection to Miranda wasn't so strong, she'd have no problem showing her what she'd learned from her days at Northwestern. Andy may be a 'fashion dud' but she knew her way around a woman's body. Her attraction to Miranda was almost involuntary. Miranda was beautiful, timeless and so deliciously powerfully she almost made Andy's teeth hurt. Serena, on the other hand was a hot-house of sensuality. Warm, inviting and very very uh…Brazilian.

Earlier that day

This gorgeous woman came through the glass doors towards Emily's desk. Later Andy found out her name was Serena. However at that moment, Serena was busy looking Andy up and down, as she strolled into the inner-sanctum. With a smirk and shake of her head, before heading over to an equally smirking Emily, "see I told you. I have no idea where she found that outfit."

Serena just smiled, with an enigmatic look at Andy, "English, perhaps she hasn't had the opportunity to flower, hmmm?"

But Andy had been frantically trying to figure out who Zac Prosen was (wasn't he in High School Musical?) when a beautiful pair of high-heels appeared in front of her face, held aloft on Nigel's finger. "I believe you're a size 8 1/2?"

Looking on in surprise, she replied, "Ahh… you don't have to do that. Miranda hired me. She knows what I look like." Andy responded.

She felt mildly satisfied at her response until Nigel drolly answered, "Do you?" Before insistently holding the shoes in front of her face.

Damn, do I really look that bad? She took a quick perusal over her clothes: blue sweater, plaid skirt, off-white stockings, and flat, comfortable, shoes… ok, maybe she didn't look like most of the people here but still… did he have to totally diss her?

Before she could offer a retort, Miranda called from inside her office, "Emily? Emily?" Andy looked around and realized that Emily hadn't returned from her break.

She was about to inform Miranda of this fact when Nigel chimed in, head bent over a magazine, "She means you."

She quickly grabbed the shoes, shoved her feet into them, before dashing around her desk to present herself to Miranda, "What took you so long? Do I need an Act of Congress to get you to move faster?" she paused before doing a slow perusal down Andy's body and back up into Andy's eyes, judging, finding… wanting.

It didn't mean that her skin didn't feel positively scorched after feeling those wicked eyes on it. Shivering Andy found herself a bit breathless with humiliation and yearning. Her own eyes drawn towards the creamy, decadent, skin of Miranda's throat, down to the cleavage peeking out from the beautifully contrasting eggplant Marc Jacobs blouse. She had the sudden urge to nuzzle her pulse point while wondering what Miranda would look like flushed.

The clearing of a throat reminded Andy that her attention was required elsewhere. She could feel the utter mortification sweep over her, her face burning like a hot plate turned up high in embarrassed humiliation. But those gorgeous blue eyes held her trapped, captivated, she couldn't say a word as Miranda visually eviscerated her outfit. She could even feel her magic wanting to respond, her marks slowly wakening, moving, but somehow she was able to tamp it down.

She suspected Miranda wouldn't tolerate a magical output even if it was involuntary. Gosh, if all these conflicting, intense feelings she'd experienced so far were anything to go by, she would be an alcoholic or moonlighting as a Muy Thai kick-boxer to work out her frustration in short order.

She minutely shook her head as if to clear it. "Umm, my name is Andy. You called me 'Emily' but maybe you meant The Emily—"

Narrowed blue eyes grew progressively colder, snidely smiling full lips respond. "Emily, I need you to re-schedule my lunch with Donatella tomorrow. Then tell Jocelyn that the run-through is this afternoon and that the dismal examples she set forth this morning had better of improved by then. Then call The Palms - I'd like my steak at precisely 12:15 and I want coffee in 10 minutes. That's all." she turned away, utterly dismissing Andy.

What the fuck?! Andy unclenched her hands, her eyes prickling with both unshed tears and magic, before high-tailing it out of the office like her ass was on fire, feeling the icy-heat from impromptu dressing-down she'd just received.

She quickly grabbed her purse, but not before noticing a smirking Emily, "Do try to keep up? While I don't anticipate you lasting here for much longer, I would appreciate it if you could stick around longer than say… a week? I dread having comb over inane resumes all over again," she added a faux sigh as if to indicate how 'put-upon' she'd feel.

Rolling her eyes, quivering in residual anger, and Andy dashed out the doors. Emily appeared to be eternally anxious, never letting an opportunity pass to needle her and while Andy found that supremely annoying, she thought that Emily was mostly harmless. Besides Andy thought it'd be totally satisfying when it turns out that she happened to be good at her job, maybe give Emily a run for her money.

Andy straightened with renewed determination – perhaps she could get Nigel to give her some pointers.


Chapter 11A

Nigel hurried back to his office – she'd been on war-path lately and Nigel was often caught in the line of fire when Miranda was being particularly… difficult. He made a mental note to feed tonight, given Miranda's mood lately he'd need it. He suspected it had something to do with the new Assistant – Andrea (Six). It seemed Miranda held him responsible for her seeming involuntary response toward Six.

He saw the looks Miranda gave Andy when she thought no one was looking. Andrea was less… subtle. The look of hurt or even (dare he say it?) betrayal seemed very real. But so were the looks of attraction and even outright lust. During the run-through at James' studio last week, Nigel actually had to discreetly clear his throat in order to bring Miranda's attention back to something James was saying. Good thing Miranda is a vampire because her embarrassment would have shown beautifully on her creamy skin.

To "color" him surprised would be an understatement – something was clearly going on, something… otherworldly. He thought that Andy was Fey, maybe even Sidhe, Those tri-colored eyes and her moonlit skin gave her away. While it wasn't the first time Miranda was attracted to a woman, it seemed more profound, intense, unlike anything he'd seen. You didn't live as long as either of them had without 'sampling' lots of different experiences. He sincerely hoped that Six would be something special, worthy of Miranda's attention, because with the Council nipping at their heels he wasn't sure how unscathed they'd end up.

As he turned the corner to his office, Nigel halted at the sight of none other than Six. Oy vey! Naturally it wasn't enough that he was doing damage control, he now had to deal with her -– what was she wearing?!

"To what do I owe this dubious pleasure?" He headed towards his drawing table to look over the latest proofs in hopes that if he appeared to be "furiously working," she'd leave.

"Nigel! I need your help--" Andy stood, wringing her hands before she was distracted by the gorgeous bag sitting on his desk. "Ooohh, what's that?"

Snapping his finger to re-direct Andy's attention, Nigel said, "Hello?! Focus Six! What do you want?"

"Oh, well… she's TOTALLY unreasonable! I try so hard –"

"Come on Six! You don't try. I mean, have seen what you're wearing?! Where people would give their life to be here, you only deign to work here. Wake up Six!" Nigel said, tapping Andy softly on the forehead. "This is a multi-billion dollar kingdom and Miranda is the Queen – her opinion is the only one that matters!" He Pointed his pencil at her for emphasis, hoping it'd finally sink in and more importantly, would send her scurrying away so he could concentrate on fixing the latest disaster.

Andy stood near the doorway, eyes looking off into the distance, contemplating, before turning her attention back to Nigel, "Ok, you're right, you're totally right. But I need your help –"

Nigel looked up in consternation, knowing exactly what she'll ask. "Oh no. absolutely not! I don't have –"

"Please Nigel! I want to do better. I need to do better because…" She gulped, looking away, seeming to well up with emotion. "… because I know I'm supposed to be here. I can't explain it… just that there's something here I need to figure out."

Nigel watched her tri-colored eyes begin to glow, a muscle jumping in her jaw, hands clenching, "Please Nigel… work your magic – besides, who loves dressing women more than you?!"

Sighing mightily, Nigel said, "Fine Six! But you owe me big time!" He proceeded to make a few calls to clear up his immediate schedule for the next hour or so, then ushered Andy out towards The Closet.

Like a puppy who found its favorite toy, Andy latched onto Nigel as a confidante following that transformative afternoon. Beautiful brown locks flowing beautifully along her shoulders, perfectly applied make-up that accentuated her tri-colored eyes, full pink lips, lush lashes, and exquisite lingerie cupping her most intimate places. Decadent suits of armor by Michael Kors, or Diesel skirts accentuating her well-toned ass. Juicy Couture jeans showcased her long legs, Stella McCartney, Fendi, Chloe, even Dior caressed her shoulders, flowed or fitted her muscled abdomen, while Christian Lou's, Ferragamo, graced her feet.

In all, the moment she walked through the glass doors towards her desk, interrupting a conversation between Emily and Serena, only to watch their jaws drop in wicked surprise was immensely gratifying. Emily continued to appear stunned. Serena only tilted her head, trailing her eyes slowly down Andy's body, to her sexy Channel boots in appreciation, before smirking in amused approval.

Of course, that feeling was nothing compared to the one that coursed through her body when Miranda noticed, and stopped, and stared. It was as if they were the only two people in the office. Miranda's eyes began to glow, glittering lightening-blue, taking an obvious amount of time scorching a trail down Andy's body and up again. Andy watched as Miranda's fist clenched, knuckling white, a muscle jumping in her jaw. She started to speak, before stopping to clear her throat.. Slowly removing her glasses, Miranda surprised Andy with the barest curl of her lips. It almost sent Andy into paroxysms of happiness, only to her joy subside as she watched those eyes grow cold again, shutting off all warmth.

"I simply cannot understand why it took you so long to arrive. Despite a vast improvement in your fashion sense, and your apparent desire to consistently inconvenience me, I need you to go to Mark Jacobs to pick up the proofs. Then if it's not too much trouble," Miranda's voice took on a sarcastic note. "I'd like you to arrange a meeting with Irv at an impossible time for him. Then I'd like you to pick up Patricia and drop her off at the townhouse. As for my meeting with that new designer, make it a lunch date for next Thursday. As for right now? Coffee. That's all." Waving Andy away in dismissal, Miranda turned back to her email.

Andy, felt as if ice-water had suddenly been dumped down her neck. Her tingling eyes dimmed dramatically, her inky patterns stilled as if stopped in their tracks or to ward off the cold. It was a most unpleasant sensation. She could feel her continued frustration grow, humiliation yet again, but the disappointment was worse. What could Miranda possibly want? What would it take to be seen as… worthy?

Worthy of what she wasn't sure she was ready to decipher. She knew there was attraction there, but she also knew that there was something much deeper. Considering Miranda's treatment of her thus far she wasn't quite ready to pursue this… connection. Instinctually though she wanted some kind of acknowledgement from her that she knew it was there, instead of this "catch and release" game Miranda seemed to enjoy.

But if there was one thing she 'inherited' from her parents, it was her stubbornness. It was what made her editor of her college newspaper, and garnered her awards for her articles. You didn't do well in journalism, move to New York City, and "survive" an interview with Miranda Priestly, without a big dose of stubbornness and perseverance. She was turning over a new leaf. In the end, she was determined to be a kick-ass Assistant, master all things Runway, make Nigel proud, while learning more about who and what she was. And most importantly, she would get the "girl."

"Nigel since when do you take it upon yourself to make-over my Assistants?!" Miranda hissed from inside the Mercedes, glowing blue eyes glaring in his direction, a gleaming white forelock dangled over one eye as she waited for a response.

A perfectly manicured eyebrow crawled its way up his head in mild surprise. "I wasn't aware there would be a problem. I mean you had noticed her dreadful wardrobe malfunction the first few days, no?" was Nigel's droll response.

He was looking to incite a response, to give him some idea of Miranda's awareness about Six. They were on their way to various Miranda's Master of the City holdings. He mused whether he should have invited Six to meet him for drinks. This would have served two goals: one, to access Miranda's reaction and two, to see how Six responded around a majority of preternatural entities. Perhaps next time, he thought.

"Nigel I won't tolerate insubordination." Nigel just looked at her – they'd been through too much for too long for Miranda to pull that card. And she knew it.

She sighed, turning away, watching the scenery passing by, "It's absolutely ridiculous! As long as I've been walking this earth to have… this 'girl' cause such disorder in my life is unacceptable! I find myself in a bit of a… quandary Nigel."

Miranda was frustrated with Andrea, but she found herself also harboring a strange sense of… respect for her 2nd Assistant. She'd hoped to have found an excuse to fire her by now, but Andréa had somehow thwarted all her efforts – not an easy feat. Then of course, there was the utterly confounded connection between them. It hadn't diminished since they'd first laid eyes on each in that hotel lobby.

"Well, unless you actually attempt to convey what it is exactly you're talking about then not even my sharp intellect will be able to assist you." His twinkling eyes gave away his slight amusement over Miranda's situation.

"Nigel I was sure I'd cured you of your tendency of being a bloody wanker long ago, but I see I still have 'work' to do." Nigel chuckled in response, "I'm talking about Andrea and our…, "she sighed again in irritation, shifting to cross her long legs, "My magic is steeped in Death, she is clearly a creature of 'Light.' How can there be such an intense connection between us? Not to mention she clearly has little understanding of who or what she is."

"Well I can tell you that Six is very aware of your connection and is confused about what she should do about it. In fact, she wasn't very clever or discreet about finding out your personal information. And let me be clear: she feels very strongly and she plans to do something about it."

Nigel stilled as only vampires could when Miranda turned intense blue eyes on him. "You know she does have some idea of what she is," said Nigel." She's Fey she hopes given our lovely city's diverse and lively population, she'll be able to find some answers. Perhaps meet other Fey."

"Hmph, well if she thinks that I'm going to allow a… relationship to develop between us she's clearly lost what mental acuity I thought she had."

Settling her chin in an elegant palm, she pulled out her phone, "Serena, present yourself at the Club tonight. I'm not interested in fending off the bottom-dwellers that are surely laying in wait."

Nigel was surprised. He knew that Miranda had been availing herself of Serena's services more than usual – something that surely had to do with her present 'circumstances.' But he knew how much Miranda can avoid self-awareness when it comes to emotional risk. Nigel rolled his eyes. this challenge would surely test his sanity. He just hoped it would all be worth it.


Chapter 11B

In all the years that Miranda had been walking the earth she had never shared Marks, never mated and shared that mystical bond broken only by death. The risk had always been too great to contemplate. A mated Master Vampire would be so closely entwined with the spiritual essence of their mate that if her mate died, Miranda would die as well. Sure she'd been married a few times, even had long-term relationships with women, but she'd never been inclined to take that step.

Nigel thought that the older, more powerful Miranda became, the absence of a Mate makes her vulnerable. He's attempted to explain this to Miranda many times, only to have her scoff at the notion. It is believed in Vampire lore that all preternaturals were Imprinted on a Soulmate when they were Turned. Most never found their true Mates, but those that did underwent some kind of metaphysical transformation. At least that's what the legends say. None of the Council members were Mated – but then he couldn't imagine enough anti-venom in the world to tame that nest of vipers. But he knew that while Miranda had many strengths, her weakness lied in her inability to wholly connect with her emotional and spiritual needs.

It was why this almost involuntary attraction between Miranda and Andrea was… promising. He sighed, as usual he would have to take it upon himself to remain diligent and when necessary prod both parties into action. Then he would have a better assessment of what drew them together. Besides the tension between those two was driving him nuts!

Tonight was the Annual Runway Ball at the Met and Andy felt relieved to be excluded from the festivities. According to a gloating Emily Miranda's Assistants were required to memorize every attendee and their significant others in order to 'whisper' in Miranda's ear as she greeted them. It seemed tedious and more pretentious than usual. Plus Andy had major plans tonight. She was actually going to meet a Fey named Rhys. Apparently Lily met him when he attended one of her events at her art studio. Needless to say, Andy was practically writhing in excitement.

The office was quiet since Miranda already went home for today to prepare for the event tonight. Andy could only imagine how stunning she'd look in whatever gown she selected. Things had… evened out between them – the attraction leveled down to a simmer that was lower in intensity, though no less potent. When Andy wasn't frantically running from one errand to another, fulfilling impossible errands, she somehow managed to overlook how intoxicating Miranda smelled, or how her fingers itched to tousle that dangling curl into place.

However, her magic seemed to have a will of its own when it came to Miranda. She really wouldn't have such a difficult time reining in her magic if Miranda's own magic didn't respond so well to hers. It was downright distracting. Like that time a couple of weeks ago…

Miranda stood near the window, rocketing off a number of instructions that she would, no doubt, expect Andy to finish by the of the day. Unfortunately, Andy was busy being captivated by the way the sun seemed to capture her profile, encasing in almost an unholy glow, and hadn't written down a thing.

Miranda was wearing a baby-blue Carolina Herrara blouse that was a perfect match to her eyes. Unbuttoned just enough to offer a hint of delicious cleavage – Andy found that she was a slave to Miranda's cleavage, her full breasts straining just right. A Nina Ricci sand-colored fitted skirt, with an Ardienne Landau wide black belt, and gorgeous 5 inch black Prada heels showcased her beautiful, shapely, legs.

Andy was unaware of the lustful expression on her face, she hadn't realized that her not only did her eyes have that 'glowy-feel' to them, but her magical tattoos began moving, one even going so far as to form into a tentacle that was currently attempting to curl around Miranda's ankle.

It was only when she suddenly realized that Miranda had halted her speech, than Andy knew that in spite of her best efforts nothing seemed to dim her… connection to Miranda.

"Andréa get control of it! I won't have my employees becoming unhinged while on the clock. Do so at your own time." Miranda was also becoming aware that her own magic was awakening. She knew that her own eyes were glowing and that her gums ached. This would not normally alarm her, but she could also feel her Sabertooth-Tiger awakening for the first time in millennia; pawing at a mystical wall inside her. To say that she was disconcerted would have been an understatement.

She stepped closer to Andrea, her hands came up to grip her arms, not noticing her body pressed against Andrea's. She urgently hissed, "Andréa! Andrea! Concentrate!"

She noticed that more inky tendrils started to dance around her ankles and sliding up her legs. She gripped Andréa a little firmer,. "Andréa,, please! You have to concentrate! Focus on the magic, imagine you sucking in air… that's it. Good girl." Miranda could feel a bit of blood-sweat break out on her upper-lip, because she could feel the Ardeur also wanting to wake. It found Andréa very tempting.

Suddenly, Miranda felt Andréa's magic being sucked out of the air, leaving Andréa shivering. Miranda's legs felt a bit less shaky as well. It was as if she was released from some kind of mystical energy, "Get out! Go get me coffee or something…" her voice was an icy hiss. "And close the door." She turned away to gather her composure.

The click of heels indicated Andréa's departure – that and the feeling of energy being sucked out of the room. She gracefully sat in her chair, only to remove her glasses, and drop her head in her hands.

Andy remembered rushing out the door to the elevator, ignoring Emily's frantic questions and mild magical posturing – the feel of her lycan energy pulsing from her body. But instead of feeling scared Andy felt annoyed.

But mostly she felt… certain. Certain, that the connection between Miranda and her was real and powerful. Certain, that she was meant to be here despite Miranda's attempts to show otherwise. Certain, that she'd do everything in her power to get Miranda to acknowledge them.

It didn't mean that she'd deviate from her goal of gaining more information about her Fey heritage. Hence the reason she was looking forward to tonight's meeting, even though she would have loved to see Miranda all dolled up. Emily was off doing some kind of errand – she didn't really say, which was common. Their relationship is now one of 'barely tolerant,' which was too bad because when she wasn't being snarky or bitchy, Emily could actually be quite entertaining and funny. Plus Andy wanted to see her Change.

She mentioned this once when she, Emily, Nigel, and Serena all went for drinks one evening in between waiting for Emily to pick up the Book. Andy wasn't so insensitive to request Emily or Serena for that matter, to undergo a Change, but only wondered aloud about the experience. Emily, naturally, offered her analysis.

"Well we're not dogs for bloody sakes! We don't "perform" on command! If that was the case I'd do it now so that I could lick my twat!"

She talked about the different Lycanthrope genes, how or why some people get them and others, when bitten, aren't affected. She also talked about Packs and Dens. a little bit about her own background which passed down and that when it was passed down it often meant that that Lycanthrope was fairly powerful. She also talked about Submissives and Alphas – and other things that caused Andy to blushed terrifically. But she also mentioned how Master Vampires like Nigel and Miranda had what's called an Animal to Call. Nigel's was Wolves and Miranda's was Big Cats. It was a very enlightening evening to say the least.

Suddenly the doors whipped open and Nigel came storming through. "Six gather your things. You're going to the Met tonight."

"What? Wait! Nigel I can't, I have an important –," Andy stood from her desk, ready to defend her "position." She'd been waiting a long time to meet someone like Rhys.

"Really Six, haven't you learned by now? That your day or night can turn on a dime when dealing with Miranda. Now quit your whining and your rather unflattering imitation of a fish and grab your things."

"But where's Emily? I thought she was going?" she could feel her annoyance growing in leaps and bounds.

"Put that glow away Six. Christ! Haven't you learned to control that yet? Emily is still attending, but she's been… detained." Nigel began to usher Andy through the doors.

"Detained?! What does that mean? Nigel this was a really important night for me! I was going to meet that guy I told you about!" She was being dragged down the hall towards The Closet.

"It was some Wolf-emergency she had to deal with – much to the aggravation of our 'Fearless Leader' as you can imagine. Don't worry Six, even with your size I think I have the perfect dress," Nigel said as he tugged a reluctant Andy behind, "Oh… and you'll need to start memorizing names – I have the books in my office."

With each word, Andy began to realize the futility of having any 'life' outside of Runway. She was SOOO disappointed. But maybe she could have Lily call Rhys to meet some other time soon.

" Whoa! What a spectacular dress! This is beautiful!" said Andy, suddenly side tracked by the vision before her. "I'm wearing that?"

"With some fishing line and Crisco oil anything is possible," Nigel snarked in amusement.

"Ha – ha. Just give me a moment to call Lily to see if she can re-arrange something." She pushed the button to speed-dial Lily.

"Well hurry love, because time's a wasting." He pulled the dress out and was now hunting for the perfect shoes, and accessories to accompany it. He was setting a 'plan' in motion. He'd felt that not-so-little energy spike a couple weeks ago. He'd felt Miranda's energy because he was a part of her Line/ Kiss, but it was only after questioning Emily and finding out that it was Andy in the room with Miranda, that he finally had the answer to a couple of questions.

Magic steeped in Death, Vampire magic, only awakened in three instances: the Head of a Line called up the magic, a necromancer, and the very rare Fated Mystical Union. Mystical Unions so rarely happened because once mated, only in death could part them – and in the world of preternatural, sometimes not even then.

Nigel was starting to believe that this was the case between Miranda and Andy. Unbelievable really! Miranda had walked this earth since the time of Northern nomads and the opportunity for her to Mate was great. Instead she had settled with very muted imitations, not even opening her Marks to her lovers throughout the centuries.

But now, through some kind of mystical intervention, she had been… blessed for lack of a better word and she either didn't know it or was ignoring all the signs – a more likely scenario. Nigel wasn't about to let her ignore for much longer. He was determined to help Miranda reach her full potential. Starting tonight.

She'd be escorted by her sorry excuse for a potential husband – Stephen. Miranda always did go for the safe choices when it came to her marriages. They were utterly unworthy of Miranda's stature; it was why they always ended up tucking tail and running. Well perhaps this thing with Six would change all that.

The dress for Six was sublime; understated, but hot. Not so hot that it'd outshine Miranda's Valentino but a clear "second" and more importantly, designed to suitably distract Miranda… permanently. The dress was an off-the-shoulder Versace, a dark-eggplant that was so dark it appeared almost black. It cinched at the waist and helped emphasize the bodice, exhibiting a very sexy – yet- tastefully framed cleavage. Though the fabric flowed it the floor, it was snug enough to beautifully cup the shape of her ass very nicely. Elegant Jimmy Choo heels completed the look.

All in all, against that moonlit skin, Andy, was stunning. He could barely restrain himself from letting out a very unbecoming squeal in excitement.


Chapter 12

Andy was able to re-arrange her meeting with Rhys, but not without Lily letting out some of her frustration around Andy's general unavailability lately. "Andy come on, you promised you'd be here."

"I know Lily, but I have to go. You know I had every intention of being there but I was suddenly required to be at the function. Trust me, I've been looking forward to this ever since you mentioned him. Just please, do me this favor and I promise to snag you something really, really, cool from The Closet." Andy felt beyond disappointed about having to reschedule that meeting, but she felt even worse about missing out, on letting Lily down… again.

Sighing mightily, Lily said, "Ok, fine. But this is being added to the long list of I.O.U.s you've tallied since you started working at Runway. If I set this up again, don't let me down, deal?"

With a huge sense of relief, Andy replied, "Deal. I love you and I'll see you tomorrow." Andy hung up.

Now that she had a few moments to collect herself, she carefully laid her head back against the seat in the car. She was on her way to the Benefit, she was nervous, her stomach feeling like a school of butterflies were having a party in there. She pressed her hand against it, before sitting up once again. She couldn't remember a time when she looked… like this. She almost didn't recognize herself. She sincerely hoped that her magic didn't make an appearance. Although with Miranda around 'it' seemed to have a mind of its own.

Finally the car reached its destination. There were lights everywhere, the paparazzi interviewing, waiting for the next famous person to hit the red carpet. She grabbed her clutch and stepped out on the steps leading up the entrance. Straightening her shoulders, she gathered the courage to head up the steps, hoping to see someone from Runway. As she started up the stairs she heard a voice calling her name.

"Andy! Andy, over here – ," Andy turned her head to see Emily, resplendent in a beautiful Marc Jacobs gown. "My, don't you look so chic?"

"Thank you. You look wonderful as well. You look so… flushed – you haven't hit the champagne already? But seriously is everything ok? Nigel mentioned you had to deal with some kind of emergency." They ascended the steps together, Andy was glad that Emily was here – she'd of hated to enter the benefit alone.

"I'm fine. I had to deal with some naughty wolves… one in particular will no longer be howling at the moon. I mean how bloody dare he inconvenience me on such an important night!" Andy could feel Emily's energy prickling along her skin, almost like little fire ants.

"Well we're getting ready to go into the benefit, please tone down the energy you know it'll only irritate Miranda." And me, she thought, shifting uncomfortably.

Emily just smirked, as they stepped inside the beautiful room, filled with New York's elite. "All right, no need to get testy. It just takes me a… few to work off the excess energy."

They both snagged a glass of champagne from a server, "Now we wait for Miranda. I'm dying to see what she's wearing. I understand that Valentino came out of retirement to design her dress." Emily was practically trembling in excitement.

Andy rolled her eyes before continuing her perusal of the "glittering people" around the room. She wondered if she'd get out of here in time to maybe meet up with Lily and D-– Oh my God!

Andy was riveted. She knew that Miranda was attractive but this… vision was unlike anything she'd ever seen. She could feel her respiration increase and she struggled to dampen her magic which automatically flared as it sensed something usual in the air.

Miranda wore a beautiful Valentino that left her shoulders bare, gleaming and delicious. They looked strong – probably from the mysterious workout regimen that had Miranda leaving the office three times a week for an undisclosed location. She always returned with an intoxicatingly flushed look, veins pulsing as if they'd been strained under some unnamed source.

Her creamy, graceful neck was unadorned with jewelry, and her full breasts spilled out like a gentle bounty. Andy ached to nuzzle and lick, her way all over that bare skin. She could feel her eyes begin to glow and concentrated mightily so that her magical marks wouldn't begin acting out. It was her central nervous system, however, that was making itself felt: nipples hardened, the 'butterflies' in her stomach now performed a full "concert," her chest heaved, and her pussy moistened her thong.

Oh boy. This control thing was going to be hard.

"Andréa get a hold of yourself. She's on her way over here, we need to be prepared! Christ that's all I need is a 'magical melt-down at, oh, I don't know, one of the most important social events in New York!" Emily began walking towards Miranda. "Come on and pull yourself together!"

But Miranda had already noticed them, in particular she'd noticed Andy. Her penetrating stare was laser-focused on Andy with an intensity that belied her look of mild shock., Desire replaced the shock, and a beautiful flush crawled up from her breasts, to her throat, to sweep over her face. Andy felt paralyzed by that stare.

Miranda maintained a stillness that only vampires could do – like a predator right before it leaps for its prey. She only moved when she was tapped on the shoulder by a decked out Nigel who could barely contain his pleased amusement.

Andy's visual was interrupted by a patron stopping to talk to Miranda, they finally made it to her side and waited politely for Miranda to finish speaking. However, as soon as they finished, other patrons made their way over. Miranda tilted her head towards Emily to be briefed on who they were, while pointedly ignoring Andy. It didn't lessen her effect on Andy though. Now, instead of contending with her gorgeous eyes, Andy had to deal with the heavenly scent wafting from Miranda's skin.

"Well Six, I have to say, in these bright lights, I've out-done myself. Miranda certainly noticed didn't she?" Andy quickly looked at Nigel in surprise."You have to be deaf, dumb, blind, or Emily, to not of noticed the… connection between you too." Andy was stunned, but then realized that her obsession might not have been nearly as discreet as she thought, and was mortified.

He pulled Andy to side. "Don't worry Six, only those more… attuned to their environment would notice – and that isn't very likely at Runway. But you'll need to learn to control your magic. I'm having a damnable time trying to help Miranda control hers." His look suddenly turned serious. "Listen Six, I like you… unexpected, but true. So you need to really understand what and who it is you're attracted to. Not to mention the ramifications of that attraction because Miranda has powerful enemies looking to exploit any vulnerabilities. But this is something we'll need to chat about sometime soon. Ok?"

Andy nodded, glowing eyes wide in disbelief. "Thank you Nigel. See? I knew we were fated to be buds –"

"Don't get carried away Six. You're like a rambunctious puppy, that I've now been charged with potty training." Andy frowned at the analogy.

"Very funny," she said, rolling her eyes. "Well I have to get back to my duties, let's do drinks soon." She began walking over towards Miranda and Emily. "Oh, and you look quite dashing." She winked at him before continuing on.

"Cheeky girl."

It wasn't until later when Miranda 'released' them of their duties that Andy finally found the need for some air. She noticed some balconies earlier so she headed in that direction. She was in luck. The balcony was empty. She let the tension spill out of her with a sigh, lifting her third glass of champagne to her lips, looking out onto the beautiful lights running along Central Park.

She mulled over Nigel's words. She'd been reading up on vampires since she'd started at Runway, more so since her "transformation". She knew almost nothing about Miranda other than how she liked her coffee, what her favorite restaurants that had that "duck" or "steak that she liked," were, and all the designers she dealt with on a daily basis. She knew Miranda lived on the Upper East Side, she had two twins from her Ex – who happened to be a Were-Leopard, and her preferred shade of lipstick. She knew all these things but she suspected that it was only a thimble of knowledge on such a complicated woman. It was fascinating and Andy couldn't help wanting to know more.

Suddenly the air behind her shifted and her magical marks moved. Only one person could do that: Miranda. Andy almost didn't want to turn around, her breathing picked up again. Her reaction to Miranda was pretty much automatic.

"Well I must say that Versace drapes quite well on you." She stood next to Andy, not looking in her direction, resting a hand on the railing.

"It's obvious that having you attend tonight's soiree was fortuitous since Emily can't be counted on to get a simple name straight."

Andy remembered that moment, leaning over Miranda's shoulder, fighting the urge to lick an earlobe, to whisper the Ambassador and his wife's names. In fact, her tongue pressed hard against her teeth, as if fighting to escape its prison. Miranda's perfume and natural scent almost had Andy swooning. An intriguing combination of vanilla, musk, jasmine, and cinnamon wafted from the woman next to her.

"Oh, so now you're talking to me?" Andy didn't know where she'd gotten this sudden courage, but she also realized that she was more than peeved that Miranda virtually ignored her the entire night.

"I have no idea what you're talking about Andréa. Honestly, I've had enough histrionics from this crowd I certainly don't need it from my Assistant –"

Andy couldn't believe that Miranda would deny their connection yet again! "Please Miranda," said Andy with a weary sigh, "I think you've figured out by now that I'm not a complete idiot, so do me the courtesy of at least acknowledging that."

"Andréa look at me! Whatever you think is between us," Miranda shot Andy severe look. "Will not – cannot happen. This is nothing"

Andy could feel her eyes glowing hotly in response, turning her body fully, stepping closer to Miranda, whispering heatedly, "You can pretend all you want Miranda. But your body gives you away. Even your magic gives you away. You think I don't notice the way your eyes scorch all over my skin when you think no one's looking? You think I don't notice the way your nostrils flare, taking in my scent, whenever I happen to pass you?"

She moved even closer to Miranda, her hand touching Miranda's on the railing, her fingers stroking over Miranda's knuckles. Her breasts brushing against hers – she could feel how rock-hard Miranda's nipples were – her own breasts felt full, aching.. Her skin felt stretched tight. She bent her head, almost nuzzling against Miranda's nose. Miranda's eyes had taken on that icy-glowy shimmer and the smell of roses wafted through the air. Miranda began to pant, sucking in air she no longer needed, her fangs glistening in the moonlight.

"Can you honestly believe that this is nothing?" Andy asked, pressing closer. "I can smell you Miranda. That musky-sweet scent—"

Suddenly Miranda moved, her hands came up clutching Andy's upper-arms. Not an inch separated their bodies. She could feel the heat emanating from Andréa's body, warming her like a hot summer day. The urge to bite that rapidly beating pulse in Andréa's neck was strong… so strong.

The Girl tried her in a way she hadn't encountered before. The smell of her was so intoxicating, rich… delectable. Andrea's own hands came up to her shoulders, and they nuzzled each other, hot breaths caressing full, pouty lips. Miranda's tongue came out to wet suddenly dried lips and Andréa whimpered – shredding the last of Miranda's control.

She reached up to cup the back of Andréa's head and crushed her lips to hers. So soft, so sweet. Slanting their heads to deepen the kiss, Miranda coaxed Andy's lips open to thrust her tongue inside, tangling with Andrea's, chasing, rubbing, causing her to moan.

Andy could feel her magical marks move on her skin, her other magic leaking out. She knew behind her closed eyes that her eyes bright and glowing. The smell of roses and… rain? permeated the air. God, Miranda tastes divine. Andy couldn't get enough. Her knees threatened to give out when Miranda suckled on her tongue, before withdrawing to suckle her bottom lip. Suddenly sharp pain echoed from her lip, a metallic scent wafted in the air. But Miranda only clutched her closer and groaned before sucking even harder.

The smell of rain grew, but if they'd looked they'd have only seen a clear night sky. It was the Ardeur waking, reaching out, wrapping its tendril around Andrea.

Suddenly Andrea was yanked out of her arms, and Miranda looked up to see Nigel standing between them. Her instinctive growl sounded less human and more animal, feral. Her possessiveness caught both Miranda and Andy by surprise.

"Miranda! there's no time for that!" Nigel glared. "Stephen," the name said with disdain, "is stumbling around in a drunken stupor, looking for you while making an ass of himself. Why are you even contemplating marrying that human?!"

Well this certainly answers any questions about a mystical connection between them, he thought before continuing. "Not to mention the magical output you're both leaking out is trickling all over the room, you'll have wolves baying at the moon any minute now!"

Miranda's eyes were almost completely bluish-white, glowing intently. Lips swollen, the blood from Andy's lip infusing her, flushing her skin pink, blood sweat dotted her forehead. Nigel quickly handed her a handkerchief for her to dab at her skin. Her hand was pressed to her stomach trying to calm the raging feelings and magic warring inside her.

Andrea seemed to be having no better luck. In fact she and Nigel would most likely have to help her control it. But Miranda didn't want Nigel or anyone else touching Andréa; physically or magically. "Andréa, concentrate!" said Miranda. "Please I can't hold it much longer, you have to concentrate. Nigel don't touch her!"

Nigel snatched his hand back, as if it was on fire, the movement faster than a blur. Hmmm, maybe things have progressed much further than I thought.

He made a mental note to contact the local Master Witch to gather more information on Vampire lore.. Nigel had a feeling that he might be in over his head. In the meantime, they had to figure out how to help Andy tone down, which seemed a rather dubious prospect anytime soon.

Andy was almost bent over from the sudden removal of the sensual haze and magical… joining. She could still feel her lips on Miranda's. Trembling, she brought her arm up, gently touching her fingers to her swollen, pouty, lips. The cut on her lower lip had already healed. She could feel her magical tattoos moving, caressing, her skin, almost like warm massage oil slithering over her body.

She had to keep her eyes closed because if she looked at Miranda right now, she wasn't sure there was anything on this earth that could stop her from dragging her back into her arms. Her scent painted the inside of her nostrils and her panting only took in more. Hands clenched, Andy tried to bear down, to concentrate. She felt like her skin was about to split in two, like something inside her wanted to get out. She didn't know what it was, but the urge to give in was almost primordial.

So she focused on that first, trying to stroke It, to calm It down. She could feel sweat trickling down her spine and her heart felt like it would beat out of her chest. Suddenly she felt a warm energy enclose her – almost like a mystical hug and a low, calming, voice sounded in her ear. "That's it Andrea… just relax and try to concentrate, focus in on your marks." The beast inside her responded to the warmth, and Andy felt it subside, leaving her surrounded by the comfort and calm of Miranda's magic.

Meanwhile Miranda was fighting a battle of her own – the Ardeur. The last time her succubus power had awakened was that moment in her office and she'd managed to wrestle it down. But for each time she denied It the worse It became the next time 'it' reared its head. A breaking glass nearby, forced her to shift her attention away from the Ardeur and Andrea.

"Miranda – where--, " a hick-up interrupted he slurred speech, "Where have you been? I see you have one of your delec- delectable, worker bees with you."

Leering is not an attractive look for Stephen, Nigel thought. But Stephen blathered on, "Most likely spraying the crowd with your arctic blast?!" Stephen laughed at his own cleverness. Nigel just rolled his eyes.

"Nigel please have Emily call for the Car and have her direct Stephen to it." Stephen attempted to resist, lurching out, reaching for Miranda only to land his hand on Andy. He suddenly felt his wrist captured in a crushing grip, bones threatening to snap.

"You might consider doing what she says Stephen," Andy said his name snidely, before she looked over at Miranda's enigmatic countenance. "I can't promise you that you'll remain unscathed if you don't." Then Andy let go of Stephen's hand .

Stephen immediately clutched the injured hand to his chest and said, "You bitch! You can't--" He was suddenly hoisted off the ground, with Miranda's hand around his throat.

"You'll do well to remember your place Stephen. You are expendable and touching what's mine will most certainly result in my… expending you." Watching Stephen turn an unattractive purplish color was interesting but she had other matters to attend to. She let him her power over him for a second longer before dropping her arm. Miranda looked on impassively as her fiancé fell on his ass, gasping for air. "Nigel please escort Andréa home." She shared a brief look with Andrea before turning away to once again stare out onto Central Park.

"Come on Six! Who knew you were so… butch?!" Silence greeted his attempt at levity and Nigel sighed. He gave Andy an awkward pat on her shoulder and said in a gentle voice, "Everything will work itself out Six. Things may seem… overwhelming but I'll be there to help you – especially since your fashion sense is much improved."

Andy's answering smile was incredibly watery, but at least it was there.


Chapter 13

It wasn't until a few weeks later that Andy realized that not only did Miranda plan to continue to ignore the…connection between them – which in spite of Miranda, had only gotten stronger. But sometimes when Miranda appeared to 'lose' a little of her impressive control, Andy would catch Miranda glancing away, her cheeks stained pink, while she continued to create impossible tasks and making Andy's life as miserable as possible.

But then there were the very rare times when there was no one around. When Emily was off doing whatever Emily did, and the phones offered a brief reprieve from their constant ringing. Those times, Andy would look up and see Miranda staring… at her. But the stare was unlike anything she'd ever experienced. It was like a lion at the zoo. Everyone thought it was domesticated, but looking into its eyes you got a sense that at the right moment, at the right time, you could easily become prey. During those few seconds Andy could feel her own response – most of the time she wanted to fight but sometimes she wanted to purr.

But Andy wasn't anyone's prey. In those moments she could feel her eyes heat, her hands twitch, and her skin almost leap from her body. She never actually moved though. It was like she was frozen in Miranda's stare. Then suddenly normality would resume, and Miranda would turn away or continue whatever task she'd been working on. It was like being submerged in warm water and then suddenly yanked into cold air. While these moments were few and far between, they appeared even more often after the night of the benefit.

The general otherworldly atmosphere at Runway didn't help the situation much or really at all. Though, honestly, it wouldn't have been so disconcerting if Andy felt confident about who and what she was—beginning with her partner-in-misery: Emily. First there was the scent; Emily had an almost… feral scent about her – most likely because of her "wolfiness." It wasn't quite gamey and it wasn't unattractive. It was, in fact, sometimes down-right… stimulating. Particularly when something or someone pissed her off, her scent always became stronger.

Other times, Andy would come across an almost… metallic scent, blood-like, but not the scent of menstrual blood she was familiar with. It wafted from her co-workers and Miranda at the strangest times. Emily would appear as immaculately fashion-forward as ever, even if she seemed to have an unnatural obsession with blue or green eye shadow. Then there were her eyes… which often bled into an intense gold when she was angry, particularly, whenever she felt like Andy had committed some kind of "unthinkable" infraction. It was something Andy learned after what Andy privately referred to as the "disastrous book delivery".

Andy tried to calm her nerves as she got out of the elevator. Her first time delivering the book had been a train wreck and she really just wanted to melt into a pile of Andy-goo and die. Rubbing her face, Andy walked through the familiar glass doors of the office, and was unceremoniously dragged into the bathroom.

"Now you've done it! I specifically told you what to do, but instead you decided to take a 'tour' of her home! Are you insane? Why didn't you just climb into bed with her while you're at it?!" Emily visibly vibrated with agitation, and as she continued to talk, her voice seemed to get unnaturally deep. Her Power leaked out like hot needles, and her grip on Andy's upper arm became stronger. Andy knew she'd have bruises in a couple of hours.

But that wasn't what concerned Andy at the moment, "But the Twins told me to—"

Emily's grip tightened even further, her strength surprising. "The Twins?! Are you daft? That was a rhetorical question. When I tell you to do something, I expect NO deviation from that task! Are you having problems understanding simple instructions?" Emily's voice deepened further into a growl.

But Andy wasn't intimated, she could feel an answering physical response to Emily's posturing. "Take your hands off of me! It was a mistake! No one died, the Book was safely delivered, you—" Andy could feel her eyes burning, her expression rapidly darkening, and her posture straightening with a shift of…something.

The pulse in Emily's neck seemed loud, rapidly pounding away, the artery's blueness emphasized against Emily's pale skin. Andy could almost hear the blood rushing through it. Andy had a sudden urge to tear into that rapidly beating jugular at Emily's neck, to taste Emily's life essence on her tongue.

Emily's eyes widened in surprise, her nostrils flaring as she scented the air before staring steadily into Andy's eyes. "What are you?" She leaned into Andy's personal space even further, sniffing, mouth opening to scent even more.

Andy was rapidly falling into a rage. "Emily! You have ten seconds to take your hands off of me, or else –"

"Power down Andy!" said Emily with a scowl, "For cunt's sake I wasn't going to hurt you, you stupid bint! At least not physically! But you need to control it, now!" Of course, though Emily furiously, Andy couldn't just be a nice little Submissive Fey– she wasn't sure what she was – maybe even a Sidhe, but she knew that a confrontation to find out, when Andy appeared to have little to no control over it wouldn't be wise.

Little did Andy know that yet another Power had come online: precipitated by blood-lust. It came on with a suddenness that was breathtaking. Her magical tattoos came into sharp relief, one of them reaching out towards Emily, like a pool of tar morass.

"Andy! Andy! You need to get a hold on your rage!" said Emily, her voice edged with put-upon hysteria. Damn! Like I have time to be saddled with a powerful untrained… whatever she is! Emily quickly stood back from Andy, watching as Andy panted, trying to get control of the rage, the oily black tentacle paused in the air like a snake about to strike.

Andy could barely speak, the Power almost clogging her throat a she struggled to suppress it. On some conscious level she knew that whatever she was feeling couldn't be allowed to fully manifest itself right now. Plus it just down-right scared her – and she was already feeling anxious over Miranda's response from her "Book Delivery" mistake.

"I'm sorry," Andy said, her hands were clenched, nails digging so strongly into her palms that she left little furrows of blood. "The urge to rip your throat out is really strong. Maybe you should just leave me alone right now."

Emily narrowed, but she nodded once before stumbling toward the door. Miranda was going kill her for this.

Nigel was on his way to the reception area of Miranda's office before he felt it. What idiot is Powering up when Miranda is on her way in?! Well whoever it is….they're bloody fucking powerful! It wasn't Miranda because he'd know her Power signature anywhere. He continued on towards the double doors leading the reception area before the realization hit him… Six?! The lobby fairly reeked with the scent of her power. It smelled like… it smelled like… gingerbread! While he knew she was Fey he had no idea she was this powerful. Christ-on-a-bicycle! He wondered if Miranda knew. He hurried inside, immediately looking around. The door to the bathroom flew open and Emily hurried out.

"What in Hades is going on?!" he asked, looking at the slightly shaken Emily.

With a slightly sheepish expression in her eyes, Emily said, "I might have –"

"What is going on?" The icy tone echoed from near the reception doors.

Nigel and Emily whipped their heads around, staring at Miranda in stunned surprise and not a little fear, before Nigel responded, "I believe that's Six. I think she's having a few… issues. But don't worry I'll handle—"

"No, no. you've both wasted enough of my time with your incompetence. I will handle it. Emily don't you have phones to answer? Coffee to fetch? Nigel no one is to enter this area and have Roy on stand-by. That's all." And with that Miranda turned towards the bathroom, her own Power leaking out, the smell of thunderstorms and rain permeating the air.


Chapter 14

Miranda was hit by Andy's Power as she was heading into the building. She was like an electric tower about to over-load and as she got closer to the Runway floor, the feeling grew and grew. She knew it was Andrea because she recognized the Power signature from their little… encounters. It was all she could do to straighten herself before the elevator doors opened. For some reason her Power responded innately to Andy's.

Breath she no longer needed suddenly filled her lungs and her nipples tightened inside her lacy La Perla bra, scraping deliciously against the material. Wash-board abs tightened against the tornado-like storm gathering inside her. Her legs quivered so much it shook the vampire-like stillness she usually exhibited. Since she had recently fed, Miranda could feel a washing heat flow over her skin, making her usually creamy white skin slightly pink.

Blood-sweat gently beaded her upper-lip and she carefully licked it away. She couldn't do anything about it trickling down her back though. It was no doubt staining the white of her $1000 Escada blouse. She made a mental to get Emily to fetch her another blouse from The Closet. She found that she was almost… unsettled about the prospect of going into the bathroom. There was an internal acknowledgement that her life was about to irrevocably change, entwining with Andrea's. She'd been fighting it for weeks, but she strongly suspected it was about to come to a head. Mentally straightening her shoulders, she pushed the door open.

Immediately she was hit with the intoxicating scent of blood, before some kind of Power-wave flowed over her, instinctively calling on more of Miranda's Power. The smell of rain grew stronger and… cinnamon? Miranda could feel her eyes shifting, seeking prey before they landed on Andrea standing before the vanity mirrors, gripping the sink so hard, she could see that her fingers had cracked the porcelain.

"Andrea, you need to Power down! How many times must I tell you that I will not tolerate a metaphysical crisis while at Runway?" Miranda's voice had lowered to base-filled growl. She watched Andrea body glow like some moonlit essence, her body turned towards the mirror, her hair flowing as if wind was whipping through it.

"Miranda…," she panted. She had been trying to gain control, but it started to immediately unravel again the minute Miranda opened the door. She could feel Miranda getting closer even before she opened the door. What is wrong with me?! Andy suddenly wanted to go back to 'Normal Andy." If she had any questions about the validity of her Fey-ness, this unequivocally answered that. Her eyes widened as that crazy libido of hers reared its inconvenient head. Not now!

Miranda inhaled Andrea's scent, the smell of cinnamon and… roses? growing stronger – like a tray of ginger-bread cookies in a garden. The smell was delicious! She could see Andy's tri-colored eyes glowing like a star about to go nova. In response, Miranda could feel one of her more unpredictable Powers awaken… the Ardeur! Damn! She needed to control this situation – before it went beyond controlling.

Miranda gritted her teeth, trying to contain the Ardeur, but a wave a Power from Andrea made it too late. She tended to have iron-clad control over it but it was being prompted by something almost as powerful, and the Ardeur wanted what it wanted. She had been denying it and her response to Andrea for too long, regardless of her using Serena as a substitute.

The Ardeur wanted to be properly fed. Apparently now would have to do. Miranda quickly closed the door, reaching behind her, fumbling to lock the door before the Ardeur took control. It was difficult with Andrea having little to no control over her own… Miranda tilted her head – not the Ardeur, she thought, but something equally untamed.

Miranda's Ardeur was different than Belle Morte's. Granted she fed it through lust and sex, but she also fed it through power. Every battle she had slowly destroying that toady Irv, every maneuver where Jaqueline attempted (before she Blood Oathed to Miranda) bring her down that failed, every time she enacted discipline to either those in her Line, through her Master of the City duties, even at Runway, it psychically fed the Ardeur.

Of course, feeding through lust was… more delicious. Feeding it through power struggles was sharper – not as warm. And there was nothing like the feeding she got when she battled a Council member and won. It was why she was able to control it so much better than the vampires of Belle Morte's Line – or even Belle Morte herself, much to her severe displeasure. After all, her version of the Ardeur came from Marmee Noir (The Mother of all Darkness) so naturally it would be different because Miranda was her Childe.

Again, Miranda tried to gain control, but she'd never felt such a strong answering surge. The Ardeur could be called many things; uncontrollable desire, predator, succubus, power, lust…but for vampires like Miranda and Belle Morte, you simply could not exist without feeding it. What was astounding was that after two centuries, Miranda's control over It was masterful. It was why her current response was so… disconcerting.

Like an invisible cord reaching out towards Miranda, Andrea's… Fertility? seized her. It smelled… rich and warm, not dark and addictive. She had the sudden urge to revel in it, in Andrea. Miranda felt full, as if warm apple cider was comfortably settled in her stomach. Then Andrea turned around and their eyes locked and everything else became irrelevant, falling away like the world falling off a cliff.


Chapter 15

Andy's world was narrowed on one thing – the woman across from her, moving closer, stalking like the predator she was. Andy could see small beads of red dotting Miranda's forehead, her nostrils flared as the smell of blood and… arousal grew stronger. Suddenly the room grew dark, the smell of roses very strong. She felt sluggish. A sphere of light appeared in front of her, growing very quickly, stretching and unfurling until a… woman appeared, almost floating, before her.

Andy could only stare in amazement. The woman was bathed in a reddish-gold light. She felt her groin clenched and throbbed with tremendous desire.

"I know you are confused right now, but your destiny lies right in front of you. You only have to reach out and grab it." Her voice had a musical lilt, but it was no less powerfully amplified.

"Who are you? What's going on? And where's Miranda?" Andy felt like she was stuck in molasses and her words seemed mumbled, the effort to clearly enunciate too difficult.

"I am the Goddess Badb. I represent the cycle of Life and Death and Wisdom. It is for these qualities that I was selected as the first of your Patron Goddesses to contact you. Your journey began long ago. I am one of 3 goddesses who have designated you as our rightful descendent to carry on our will, an Avatar to the Fey. You are a full-blooded Sidhe and you are something else. For that you will have to ask the right questions from the right people. A quest is awaiting you – it will not be easy but you will not be alone. And you will certainly not be powerless" She tilted her head in contemplation of her charge.

"Wait, I don't understand. If I'm Sidhe then how can my parents be my… parents?" Andy felt mightily overwhelmed – "What quest? I don't have time to go on any quest. Have you seen my boss?!"

She felt more than she heard the chuckle coming from the vision in front of her, "Your will is your own. But know that many things lie in peril if you do not act. Your Life-Mate will assist you – but it will take some convincing from you to get her to see her worth in this journey."

If Andy didn't feel faint before, she was seriously starting to right now, "M, m- m Mate? Like significant other?" a flash of silver and whiff of rain ran through her senses. No, no, no…

"Your attraction to her is steeped in magic older than time; darkness to light; life to death: The Cycle of Life. What better than a vampire to be your consort? To compliment you, a creature steeped in Death? Your journey has just begun, but now you must look for the man with blue hair whom will lead you to answers that you seek. He will be your Guide to the world-between-worlds. Go forth my child, do not fight what you are – your destiny lies in wait. However, I leave you with a parting gift…"

And like falling through a hole in a tornado Andy was immediately transported back to the bathroom with Miranda holding her upper body in her arms while kneeling on the floor. She was looking down at Andy with concern colored by desire. Her beautiful icy-blue eyes lost a little of their glow but they were no less powerful staring into Andy's eyes.

"Well if you're through with your dramatics I think it's time to get back to you work," said Miranda as she started to let Andy go. Andy suddenly inspired, lifted her arm, to slide her hand up Miranda's arm to her shoulder before cupping her behind her head sifting her hand through beautiful white hair that was so soft, like silk.

She watched Miranda's eyes widen in alarm, "What are you—" Andy lurched up to press her lips onto Miranda's and nothing else mattered after that.

She forgot that she was on the floor of the bathroom at Runway, she forgot that Miranda was her boss, she forgot the Goddess, she forgot everything in that instant. Capturing Miranda's bottom lip between her own, she suckled it, whisking her tongue over the plump offering, before releasing it to slant her lips over Miranda's more firmly. As they kissed, the smell of roses, cinnamon, and rain grew strong again. If she had any thought that Miranda would pull away, it was immediately dismissed when Miranda opened her mouth to Andy's persistent tongue, deepening the kiss, teeth clashing.

Andy thrust her tongue inside the warm cavern of Miranda's mouth, before darting out like a tease, to swab at her lips, and then darting back inside again. But Miranda didn't remain passive for very long however– like the predator she was, she trapped and suckled Andy's tongue before releasing it to thrust her own in Andy's mouth--plundering, tasting and leaving Andy breathless. Miranda slanted her mouth more firmly over Andy's, mimicking another action she planned to take very soon, before capturing Andy's full bottom lip to suckle and nibble. Andy suddenly felt sharp twin pains and a metallic taste fill her mouth before Miranda's tongue once again swabbed up the taste, groaning in pleasure. Andrea tasted so… divine.

Andy, feeling the press of Miranda's fangs and still feeling the residual stinging from Miranda's nibble on her bottom lip, became intrigued. She gently explored Miranda's mouth, before settling on a fang, curling her tongue around it. Apparently, it was an erogenous zone because Miranda whimpered, tugging Andy more firmly in her arms, sliding her hands down her back to cup Andy's globes. Andy could feel her chest heaving as she tried to suck in air. The feeling of Miranda's desire was heady, and she felt almost light-headed, her panties soaked with desire.

But for Miranda it wasn't enough, she wanted to feel Andréa's skin next to hers, she wanted see if that scent of Andréa's arousal tantalizing her nostrils, tainting the air, tasted as good as it smelled. Feeling Andréa's nipples stabbing into her swollen, sensitive, nubs – she could feel Andy trying to rub more firmly against her nipples, causing her breasts to feel swollen and achy and her nipples to feel tight and engorged, the muscles in her abdomen jumping, building pressure in her pussy.

Miranda reached up into Andréa's chocolate brown waves, fingers cupping her scalp, pulling her head back to stare into those beautiful Fey eyes. Thick lashes restlessly lying against alabaster cheeks suddenly swept open and glowing tri-color eyes pulsed into her own glowing bluish-white orbs. Miranda's gaze lowered to Andy's swollen, blood-painted lips, open, panting in want. She watched Andréa's tongue come out to swipe at her suddenly dry lips, suckling momentarily on her lower bloodied lip.

The sight caused an even stronger wave of the Ardeur to come roaring back, bathing them both in its Power. Lust pressed in on her and Miranda felt feral. She wanted to tear Andy's beautiful red blouse open, latch her lips and tongue on her neck and bite the succulent pulse point visibly thudding under Andrea's skin. Blue veins suddenly seemed more prominent, teasing her with the sight of Andréa's delicious blood rushing through her body. It was wholly intoxicating.

Christ, and she was wearing a skirt – with Nigel's expert assistance in fashion, Andréa often wore these skirts. The sight often had Miranda visualizing her hand underneath the hem of Andrea's skirt; cupping her between her legs, rubbing and tugging on her nether lips, spreading her wetness over her fingers, on more than one occasion. Today's skirt was no exception. Her fingers twitched, wanting, needing, to feel Andréa more intimately.

Andrea's own answering Power was once again rising– but unlike before when it seemed more… nebulous, now it was sharper, cleaner. The scent of roses grew stronger, and they both lifted their heads to see actual roses suddenly sprouting along the walls of the bathroom, becoming so thick Miranda could no longer see the walls. A vine unraveled from the others, reaching out towards Andréa, leaping towards her ankle, wrapping around her foot. Andrea looked down, gasping in pain as the thorns bit deeply into her skin.

Andrea reached down to tear away the offending vine, but it started moving again, reaching up towards Andréa's leg. It seemed intent on ravaging Andrea's delicate skin, but power of Miranda's Ardeur stopped it. Weaving like a snake, the vine lifted its thorny end and poked mindlessly at the unexpected shield around Andrea as if searching for cracks in the invisible 'wall' of the Ardeur. The smell of roses became cloying, almost 'coloring' the air. Magic rode on its scent, crackling the hair on their arms. Andrea's inky marks firmed on her skin, before moving again. One seemed to split from her skin like taffy, then another, like black ghosts released from a bottle.

One by one, more images spilled off Andrea's skin, leaving her skin pink and bare. Soon thousands shadows were circling Miranda and Andréa, surrounding them until they could no longer see beyond the black cloud. Miranda clutched Andrea protectively close in her deceptively thin arms. She could somehow sense there was magic at work, but it wasn't like anything she'd ever seen. More rose vines, with roses in full-bloom spilled across the floor, punching through the wall of inky clouds. Like aggressive ivy, roses began to bloom the inky blackness, swirling, picking up speed, a black, perfumed, tornado.

Miranda tucked Andrea's head into her shoulder, one hand cupping the back of her head, sifting through glossy brown locks while the other wrapped around Andréa's middle. Andrea's arms clutched around Miranda's body, their legs entwined, hair whipping around their heads. They were an endless tangle of white and brown. Dark and light. Yin and Yang. Where she began Andrea ended, and where Andrea began she gave way.

Instinctively, Miranda let more of her Power leak out. She knew her eyes had bled into her Animal to Call. Her fangs lengthened and her nails elongated into short claws.

Andy looked up into Miranda's eyes and saw cat-like orbs staring down at her. She wasn't scared though. Intuitively she knew that Miranda wouldn't hurt her.


Chapter 16

Suddenly the inky tornado was sucked up and Andy looked down to see her inky marks were now permanent-looking tattoos on her arms. Feeling Miranda give a start, she looked up stunned at their surroundings.

They were no longer in the bathroom. In fact, they were no longer at Runway! They were in some kind of… forest? Lying on the green canopied-floor and… naked? Rose bushes spread out all around them, perfuming the air. Tall trees swayed overhead and a gentle breeze caressed her skin.

"Well it appears we're no longer in Kansas anymore," Andy quipped.

"Your powers of observation are stunning." Miranda drawled, rolling her eyes. She scanned the area for any threats before looking down and realizing her own nudity and Andréa's close proximity. "I'd desperately love if the magical theatrics could desist for the moment." However, that didn't prevent her from taking her time looking over the woman's body in her arms.

Andrea's tattoos looked startling against her pale skin, but somehow they fit. They were almost tribal but not as abstract. If she wasn't mistaken, the one on her left shoulder looked like some kind of bird. There was also a serpent-like animal wrapped around Andrea's ribs, its head pointing towards her thatch of glistening brown hair, and another on her thigh, resembling a horse with wings.

Andrea's full breasts, capped by eraser-like reddish-pink nipples, were tightening before her eyes, making her mouth water. Licking her lips, Miranda took in the firm, muscled stomach decorated by the inky tattoo that laid in stark contrast to her skin and—

Oh, surprise, surprise. "A belly-ring Andrea? How original."

She smirked as she continued on, before the smirk was suddenly wiped from her face as she saw the piercing nestled in pink folds, glistening in the sunlight. Perfectly manicured brown curls cradled the glittering Safire.

Her eyes immediately found Andréa's smirking visage. "Miranda… you should know not to 'judge a book by its cover.'" She winked at Miranda rakishly, before trying to sit up.

Miranda found herself compulsively doing something she hadn't done in… a very long time. She laughed. She laughed for no other reason than to experience the simple joy of the thing.

Andy heard the musical, lusty, laugh, come from the Dragon Lady and she was captivated. Miranda's head was tilted slightly back, that silver forelock falling over her eye, laughing. Looking back, if Andy was asked at what point she fell in love with Miranda – she'd point to this moment.

Surrounded by nature, enfolded by a rose garden, birds chirping a musical chatter, sun rays leaking through the canopy of trees, the breeze caressing their skin with a laughing Miranda was a singular moment for Andy. Like a crucial note in a symphony. Miranda's laugh trickled down to a chuckle and Andy could no longer deny herself. She reached up with both hands, cupping Miranda's s face and stilled her chuckle. Her breath tickled Miranda's lips before she gently pressed her lips to Miranda's mouth. Nuzzling her nose with Miranda's, Andy gently ghosted her lips over Miranda's, once, twice, before slanting her lips to press firmly against Miranda's once again.

And just like before it was wholly intoxicating and wonderful. Andy knew with inexplicable certainty that they would consummate whatever had been happening between them, on this forest oasis floor. She lifted her head for a moment to look into Miranda's eyes, searching for some kind of… sign.

Then, with the same kind of in explicable 'knowing,' Andy summoned the roses. The rose bushes rustled, vines creeping towards them to wind their way up Andy's leg, pressing down, once again dotting her skin with blood, causing her to gasp. Another vine crept up her back to wind around her shoulder and up neck, pressing down again, before retreating, leaving dotted trails of blood behind.

All of this sent Miranda into an internal blood-frenzy. Her nose flared trying to take in the delicious scent. It was at this moment when Miranda realized that Andréa had been blessed by a fertility goddess. She'd heard the ancient stories and vaguely remembered the details. She knew that these roses and being bloodied by the magical vines was considered a blood sacrifice, and in return you were blessed by perhaps the Goddess Danu? But none of that mattered right now, the urge to take Andréa seized Miranda with vicious intensity, mixing with the blood-lust and growing desire. Her hands came up, to gently push Andréa down to the forest floor, pressed down by her own body, settling her hips over Andrea's leg.

She removed her mouth from Andréa's to dip her head down to nibble on Andréa's shoulder, laving her skin, licking up the droplets of blood. Andrea's blood tasted… exquisite. Miranda closed her eyes and moaned, eyes rolling back in reactive pleasure. Andrea's blood was magic, it was roses and cinnamon and it spread through Miranda's body like a thick, hot, toddy. Her 'dead' cells awakened, stirring, her heart beating once again after more than a millennia. Her gums ached, her incisors lengthening again. The Ardeur once again beat at its "prison" inside Miranda's body.

"Let it go Miranda – my Magic wants your Ardeur. It wants you. I want you." Andy was busy mapping out the glorious skin on display, stroking up and down Miranda's back, her strong shoulders, before moving to cup those glorious firm breasts, watching goosebumps erupt in their wake.

Miranda let go.

The smell of rain and electric storms grew tenfold, and power rumbled through the air like rolling thunder. It washed over Andy, bowing her and causing her nails to dig into Miranda's back. Andy lifted one of her legs to wrap around Miranda's thigh, opening herself, offering herself to Miranda's touch, painting Miranda's abdomen with her wetness. The smell of their hot arousal was exhilarating.

Miranda shifted to press her thigh in between Andy's, more wetness smearing along her skin. But Miranda was busy licking the trails of dotted blood up Andréa's throat, before sucking on the mark left earlier on her pulse point, her tongue and mouth hot against her throat, the sounds of Andrea's pleas like music to her ears. Miranda opened her mouth wider, one hand glided down Andréa's stomach, while the other moved around her back to once again cup her bottom, squeezing, nails digging just this side of painful.

It had been so long… so very long since she'd let herself go, let the Ardeur free. It was so achingly sweet, it almost left her breathless. But another need was becoming urgent. The need to Mark, to open, to… merge. Miranda bit down and her fangs slid into her lover's flesh like butter melting on hot-cakes. Andrea cried out from the ecstasy of the icy-hot pin-pricks of pleasure-pain. Andy's back was bowing once again as her breasts pressed into Miranda's. She rubbed her rock-hard nipples roughly against her lover's but the action only seemed to increase the pressure, giving Andy no relief.

As Miranda siphoned the blood from Andréa's body she came to the realization that no other would ever suffice from this moment on. Her hand cupped Andréa's mound, moving up a little to let her fingers slide over Andréa's pink folds, pinching her lips, smearing her arousal. Tickling her folds, glancing over Andréa impossibly hard clit that was jutting up like a quivering pink nub. She worried the pierced hood hiding the sensitive nub underneath. Andrea's cum coated her hand, fingers, making it easier to slide around, to move down to dip inside her just for a moment. Andrea's hips moved, swiveled around, searching for that pleasure-giving finger, her hole wanting to be filled, clenching, feeling empty, needing Miranda to make her cum. She'd never felt this out of control.

Andrea was gushing wet, she could feel it sliding down the crack of her ass, her smell stronger, sharper as she felt an outrageous climax looming. It was almost too much, the feeling of pleasurable pressure, like a balloon filled with endorphins, building. Miranda continued to drink from the font of life that was her Andréa. She'd never tasted anything like it – it was like their essences were mixing, while all the blood she was ingesting seemed to be pooling down between her thighs.

Andrea's own hands were busy, claiming the mounds so tantalizingly rubbing into her hands. Cupping, kneading, squeezing, the pillowy mounds, before moving onto the her areolas. Swirling around her nipples, she heard Miranda give a growlish-purr, ratcheting the tension. "Please, Miranda, I need…" Andy's fingers were now twisting, pulling, and rubbing Miranda's nipples.

Andy's head lifted from the ground to stare into Miranda's only to find Miranda suckling—almost nursing, from her pulse-point. Every pull seemed to cause her groin to clench in need.

Miranda finally slowed, retracting her fangs stained red. Feeling Andréa's eyes on her, she lifted her head. Her eyes held no iris they were a whitish-blue, glittering into Andréa's tri-colored eyes. "Shhh… I've got you," she murmured. "You are delicious, I'm not sure I'll ever get enough of you. Mmmm, you've completely soaked my fingers Andréa, perhaps I'll have you clean them later. Right now though… right now, I'm going to make you cum for me."

She crushed her lips, stained with Andréa's blood, on Andréa's mouth, once again plundering, conquering. Her fingers then slippery began swirling, jerking, rubbing, Andréa's clit, causing Andrea's hips to jerk and her mouth to rip from Miranda's as cries spilled from her throat. Miranda then shoved three fingers into Andréa's grasping hole, while her thumb continued to worry and rub her engorged clit. She lifted her mouth from Andréa's lips to stare down, to watch her fingers rub, tickle, and then plunge into Andréa's grasping channel.

"Is this what you want Andrea? Hmmm? Your arousal smells divine, I can't wait to taste directly from the source." She suddenly pulled her fingers free, despite the gasping protest from Andréa, and painted Andréa's swollen lips with her cum. She then reached down to dip the same fingers into her lover's blood before placing them in her own mouth.

It was all she could do to keep her magic beyond the Ardeur from fully unleashing. With her Marks so open there's no telling the consequences. However, she nearly teared at this taste of ambrosia, before returning her fingers to Andréa's cunt to once again plunge with three, then four, fingers inside Andréa's snug, grasping channel. Thick cum spilling around the fingers, the sound seeming impossibly loud.

Andrea mewled and moaned, her own fingers now tugging insistently on Miranda's nipples. Relentlessly twisting, squeezing, rolling, the stiff peaks, she toyed with them until the dusky peaks were red and tender, before dragging them away to hold onto Miranda's shoulders. Andy began kissing along Miranda's jawline, damp with Miranda's blood-sweat, down along her neck, before stopping to suckle hard, in response to Miranda twisting and corkscrewing her fingers in and out of Andy's cunt. Andy felt stretched, full. Miranda paused for a moment, stilling her fingers and then removing them. Andy protested with a cry, while her hips continued to churn, hoping to bring back those wonderfully long fingers. "Lie still for a moment darling," said Miranda.

Miranda shifted her body to lie fully between Andréa's, she reached down with her hand to open her own glistening lips, her large clit peaking out of the protective hood, before pressing down onto Andy's clit, "Oh- oh, goddess! Miranda!"

The pleasure tore increasingly through Andréa's body, the feel of Miranda's clit rubbing along hers, her blood-cum mixing with hers, seemed to heighten her pleasure even more. Miranda's other hand reached around to cup Andréa's tight, shapely, ass, grinding their groins, their nubs intimately mating, heightening the pleasure. Miranda could feel Andréa's piercing adding another element of pleasure to this position, rocketing her pleasure.

Andy couldn't breath, the sounds coming from her mouth were unrecognizable. She brought her mouth down to the crook in Miranda's neck and shoulder, sucking hard.

Miranda groaned, her movements languid. She wanted to draw this out as much as possible. Her hand moved to cup Andréa's breast, while they slid naughtily slid along Andréa's crack, toying with her smaller hole, tickling the crinkles. "I know you want to come, I can feel how impossibly hard your clit is. But you cannot cum yet Andréa. Don't disappoint me love. You're doing so well."

Like all vampires Miranda could move inhumanly fast, her hips began picking up speed, Andy's head no longer sucking on Miranda's neck, was now whipping back and forth, the pleasure building like a nuclear reactor. If Andréa had been human no doubt the power behind their thrusts would have hurt her, instead this pressure was exquisite, almost not enough. The blood-sweat began dripping down from Miranda's face to Andy's, smearing into Andy's skin. The diverse mixture of scents was driving both women crazy.

Andy could feel her clit pulsating rhythmically against Miranda's rock-hard clit, fluttering in anticipation of an orgasm. Her wet channel, clenching, pulsating. Then Miranda lifted up slightly to slide those long elegant fingers inside Andy's tight, gushing hole and began moving inhumanly fast inside, before hooking, pressing onto that spot that stealing her breath, Andy feeling like she was loosing all sense of reality.

Miranda appeared to have fared no better, she continued to grind her unbelievably hard and throbbing clit along Andréa's, pressing her down onto the forest floor. Her other hand came up to lock behind Andy's head, pulling her forward for another soul-stealing kiss. The Ardeur reaching out, waiting for the right moment to 'feed.'

"From this day forward Andrea, you are mine," she said, her hips churning desperately as they both stared intently into each other's eyes. "No one else can have you, your blood is now my blood… my blood is now your blood. This is my will. Do you accept?"

Andy moved her head closer to Miranda's lips, knowing that she must maintain some equality in this partnership, but also knowing that she belonged with Miranda… just like Miranda belonged with her. "Yes, but you belong to me as well Vampire," she growled, "I will be your partner, your lover, your confidante, your protector… your Mate. Do you accept me as your Mate Miranda?"

Miranda's hips jerked, causing Andy to cry out, at that word Mate. She almost wanted to say no, but she knew that it was too late. She'd already been Imprinted, they were about to share Marks with each other. No matter. She already planned on Andréa never leaving her side. The thought of Andrea experiencing anything like this with anyone else was untenable.

She stared at her marks on Andrea's neck. "Yes I do Andréa. I accept." Miranda knew that these words held significance in way they never had before. A finality.

Andrea's eyes glowed even brighter, before she brought her head down, nuzzling into Miranda's neck. Miranda felt a pin-prick, realizing that Andréa had bitten down, and was now suckling Miranda's blood. It put pressure on her clit, causing her to grind down even harder, the pleasure-pain bringing the orgasm closer.

Her clit pulsated in time with Andréa's suckling… Gods! She's never felt anything like this! This outrageous climax coming like a looming locomotive. "Andréa… now Andrea, cum now!"

Andréa pulled back in time, the orgasm, the Ardeur, Andy's magic, all coalescing into one giant magical orgasm, sending both of them screaming as a huge ray of light came from Andréa's chest, through Miranda's, beaming straight up into the sky. Had they been able to look they'd have seen a huge green dog, the one from Andy's dream appear by their side, as if protecting them.

Cum gushed, and bathed their thighs as the vines curling around both their bodies. The orgasm so intense they could only hold onto each other for the ride. It was like a power grid directly hooked up to them, was now spilling out after being blocked up. It was so powerful that as they looked into each other's eyes, screaming from their pleasure, their magical output overloaded and darkness crept in. The world faded to gray then back.

Then they knew no more.


Chapter 17

What they didn't know yet that the magical output was so powerful that like an earthquake any preternatural creature within a 50 mile radius was impacted. And like ripples in a pond that 50 mile radius was only the epicenter that impact spread way beyond. Those really powerful beings beyond 50 miles felt a mysterious power surge. However within that 50 mile radius, beyond the immediate Runway location, it left the stronger ones wobbly on their feet, dizzy, while the weaker ones were either forced to painfully shift or knocked unconscious.

As for the Fey, they felt the powerful Fey signature, the kind that wakened magic, that most hadn't seen within themselves in centuries. Aside from the stories about Princess Meredith's ability to reawaken power within those close to her like her Consorts and reawaken magic they long thought dead within the Mound, this was a remarkable event. They also said that she'd been blessed by powerful Goddesses and that those that sought her favor would see the return of long-thought dead or dormant Powers. They wondered if she was responsible for the magical surge.

Naturally, on the winds of nature: air, water, fire, among plants and vegetation, and blood, carried the heated discussion and revelation about this mystical power surge to the ears of those who seek to sow seeds of intrigue within the Fey Courts, or those seeking to destroy Princess Meredith, her Consorts, and her sons.

A beautiful doll-like creature with delicate wings, Sidhe features, and a regal bearing – only she stood at 5 inches, was one of the first to hear the 'murmurings.' Queen Niceven the ruler of the Demi-Fey, who also has a somewhat reluctant Alliance with Princess Meredith, sat before a mirror, when she heard the 'whispers' on the wind.

She heard of Demi-Fey falling out of the sky to the ground unconscious, she heard others who'd been carrying on their everyday lives within a land called Central Park, rolling on the ground, blissed out of their minds, eyes rolling in the back of their heads. She'd even heard of those Demi-Fey who'd left the Mound in disillusionment over the loss of their magic, their wings no longer functional but like tattoos on their back, suddenly find paper-mache like wings sprouting from their backs once again.

She suddenly stood from her chair, directing her advisors to find Darius, the Princesses' son. She sincerely hoped that the Queen wouldn't summon her before she had a chance to talk to Prince Darius, because she suspected that she wasn't the only one to hear those 'whispers.'

Barinthius and Rhys had been sitting in a restaurant when it seemed as if something shoved them back' into their chairs, pressing down on their chests, knocking the air right out of them. Tingling followed and the pressure grew so much that they feared they'd loose consciousness. Then suddenly it was gone, but like blood rushing back into a limb that went to sleep, they continued to feel those tingles.

Looking in stunned surprise at each other, "What the Hades was that?!"

Barinthius only looked at Rhys with a grim expression, "I think we better call Princess Merry and Doyle. They may need to be here sooner rather than later."

Rhys was stunned. "Wait! You don't think that it was…Andrea?"

Barinthius only signaled for the check, "What do you think Rhys?! Do you forget who she comes from? We had no idea of Merry's power until it manifested itself much later in her life – almost the same age is Andrea. Think of her genealogy."

Rhys paled before nodding and pulling out his cell phone.

"No not here. And certainly not by phone. We'll need to move fast on this and we'll need to be discreet. Chances are that we weren't the only Sidhe or Fey creatures who felt that blast. Which means it'll be reaching the ears of either Queen Andais or King Taranis very soon." Leaving money on the table for the bill, they stood up, and headed out the door.

"We need to make contact with Andréa tonight. We'll go by her home tonight and wait to speak with her then –"

"You don't think that's creepy? Us waiting in the corridor like some kind of stalker? Why don't we wait for her to leave work and then initiate contact then?"

Barinthius just looked at him. "Perhaps you are right. We'll go wait for her at… Runway?"

They got into the car waiting for them, giving instructions to take them to Runway. Rhys took out a compact mirror to call on Princess Merry and Doyle.

He waved his hand over the mirror and they waited.

A green face appeared in the mirror, "Hey guys, how goes the Big Apple?"

"Greetings Galen. I'm sorry but I don't have time for pleasantries but I must speak with both Doyle and the Princess at once." Barinthius requested urgently.

Galen frowned in concern, "Sure, let me go them. They're in the other room." And he disappeared from the mirror.

After a few moments, an Ebony-colored man appeared and behind him a woman with blood-red hair and moonlit skin, "What's wrong?"

"Are you guys all right?" Princess Merry looked immediately concerned.

"We are fine Princess Merry. But I believe that we have a Story to tell you because events have quickly progressed to a noticeable level." This last part was directed at Doyle.

She frowned, staring between Barinthius and Doyle, "What is it? What's going on? It's not Andais is it? Or Taranis?"

"Please Princess, it will be a great deal to 'take in.' Perhaps Doyle should tell you the first part." She looked at Doyle impatiently.

"We did not inform you of our suspicions until we could confirm it. But we believe that along with your sons, you had born a third child. A girl. And her name is Andrea."

"What?!!!" her moonlit skin somehow managed to pale further as she brought an elegant hand up to her mouth. "I don't understand. I think I'd fucking know if I'd had triplets –" an ebony hand came up to comfort her, while Galen brought a chair for Merry to sit in.

"Merry we all know how the magic of the Mound and those who conspire against us can find a way to make trouble." Doyle then returned his focus to Barinthius and Rhys. "Are you sure? This is no small thing to be… uncertain of because of the implications."

"Of course, Darkness. We've already spoken to the Brownie—"

"Brownie?! Why would a Brownie be involved?" Merry was almost overwhelmed with these revelations.

"The Brownie's name is Morwen. She was charged upon her Death by your Grandmother to look after the child. Apparently she felt strongly that to remain… near you would have endangered her life." It was clear though that Merry needed more information and a few moments to digest everything.

"That's ridiculous! Why would Grannie arrange to steal away my child?! I don't believe it!" Merry was stunned.

"Apparently this girl has something to do with a Prophesy. We should be receiving more information about the Prophesy very soon. In the meantime, let us find Morwen to gain more information. But you should be prepared to fend off any 'fishing' by her Majesty because chances are we are not the only ones to of felt that magic. Tell me did you not feel something?" Barinthius tilted his head in anticipation of the answer.

"Magic?! What are you talking about?" Merry had to consciously close her mouth which had gaped open like a fish at this point.

"If my intuition proves correct, your Daughter participated in a Mystical Joining the kind only told in legend. It was powerful enough to cause Rhys and myself to almost loose consciousness." Doyle and Merry saw Rhys nodding in confirmation behind Barinthius.

Merry was stunned once again, she began rubbing her forehead in weariness; will this constant intrigue never end?! Of course she felt something, but she assumed it came from one of her Consorts or Taranis "feeling out" her thoughts for weaknesses. But a daughter?! She then thought back to all those years ago when she realized she was pregnant – the vision she had following the loss of Frost one the Fathers. Creation magic is some of the most powerful magic on earth, but it is unpredictable. On that night which seemed so long ago, it appeared as if the world had been holding its breath for a long time then suddenly let out a great sigh. Magic older than anything she'd ever known exploded all around them.

On the estate of Maeve Reed an exiled Seelie, the very air became 'colored' with magic, you could practically taste it. In attendance that night was the Demi-Fey looking like a cloud of brilliantly colored butterflies. Followed by various Fey who sought sanctuary from the Queen and her now deceased son Prince Cel were the fearsome 8 foot Red Caps, the half-Goblin-half-Unseelie Twins: Ash and Holly, and other Unseelie men who'd been former members of the Queen's Ravens (personal guard). And of course there were her Consorts. All whom watched as the wild magic whipped around them like a joyous symphony of magical notes.

The magic had manifested itself into Fey Dogs that had long thought be extinct – as goes the magic, so goes the heart of Fey magic. Dogs ranging from the size of small ponies to small terriers such as her twin terriers: Mungo and Minnie, and each dog went to its Master. But the next manifestation was a black, pony-sized, Kelpie. They were hunted to extinction in Europe. They either lurked in water waiting for prey to get close before dragging them down or gallop like a pony on land. The kelpie was one of Doyle's dogs.

As the world exploded around them, disorienting them, it was only the touch of their dogs that kept them grounded. All except for Frost, who had no dog. It was during this phase that he was found laying still. The world really does function around the principle of yin and yang, a balance, and the magic of the Fey was no different.

So as the Creation Magic created it also must have its sacrifice. Frost played that role. But as with all things magic even this too was unpredictable. As Frost's pulse slowed, one of the dogs broke away from Doyle and began to change shape as it headed over towards Frost. By the time it arrived, it was the size of a horse, green sweeping away the black fur, with huge yellow-green eyes. The Cu Sith or "Hound of the Sidhe." It licked across Frost's face and then he was transformed into a Stag. But it was during this phase that she had the vision of her pregnancy.

Ghost-like apparitions of children hovered around her… but Merry's eyes widened as she remembered that vision. There was a very faint outline of a third child, she suddenly remembered it reaching its hand out towards…NO! Holly?! And someone else, but she couldn't remember! How could she have forgotten her child! She could feel the guilt and anguish building inside her like a flowing river.

Merry consciously returned to the present crisis. She turned back towards Barinthius and Rhys. "Doyle, Galen, get everyone ready, we're going to New York! Barinthius and Rhys it is important that you gather as much information as possible and keep me abreast of everything. In the meantime, prepare for our arrival – I'll call you with the flight details."

She turned around to head out towards the garden, she would need to gather all her mental resources … she felt a wave of tenderness and wonder, her daughter!


Chapter 18

Bartolomew walked faster than even the human eye can see along the marble corridors. He had important news coming from an underling in New York. He came to a set of doors, he could hear the ever-present groans coming from the other side. He rolled his eyes in irritation. He certainly hoped that Belle Morte didn't expect him to participate. He preferred to 'feed' the old-fashioned way.

He opened the door, immediately assaulted by blood, sweat, and other odors – not all appealing. He scanned the room, looking for his Master. She sat perched in contentment watching over the orgy, the lust feeding the Ardeur and from the source Belle Morte.

"Bon Soir, Bartolomew! 'ave you come to join us?" her eyes remained closed, their beautiful golden fire hidden.

"Greetings Master. Non, Madamoiselle. I have news. From New York." He bent to kiss her ring, and he felt her hand slide into his hair, teasing the curls.

But he felt her shift into awareness at the mention of New York. "Really? Do tell ma petite."

"It is believed that the Daywalker may have Mated, shared her Marks." The hand stilled in surprise.


"It is believed that the 'Joining" was felt by every vampire within a hundred miles, perhaps more."

He could feel through their link a stunned surprise before she immediately slammed down her shields, shutting him out. "Bring Padma 'ere. We must make arrangements."

As she watched him leave, she wondered, what have you done Daywalker and who is your… love? Because she had felt… something, like a sudden itch along her mystical lines, the Joining must be powerful indeed. This is unacceptable! How does that saying go? If she cannot have her, no one can.

Padma had always been clever or so he thought. Even throughout his life, he had been a man of opportunity and so during his undead life he continued on with this trend. However, Irritants like Jean-Claude or Asher occasionally thwarted his efforts to gain Power. Daywalker was a different story.

While yes, he'd see both Jean-Claude and Asher dead, but not before he made them choke on his cock. He smiled sinisterly at the thought of both men impotent and at his mercy. There was nothing more… delicious than unwilling, suddenly powerless, Master Vampire enemies – well except maybe for that "firecracker" Werewolf Sylvie and her pathetic Ulfric: Richard. But he had 'plans' for them too: one that he intended to change to power dynamics of St. Louis, even the "New World" forever. Obviously, with him as the Master of said domain.

However it was the Daywalker that he reserved a special place of hatred in his cold, dead, heart. She'd made a fool of him one too many times, but her time was coming to an end. He just received information that she has developed a rather… strong interest in someone, possibly a Consort. Sharing Marks with Daywalker's paramour would not only enrage her, but also cause her extreme agony, particularly once he killed this paramour. Although, keeping her around for his own unique… pleasures, while making Daywalker watch, might be even more thrilling. Especially once he disposed of yet another female Werewolf – Emily.

Emily, he thought in disgust. A woman as an Ulfric! Have the Americans no shame! Well since all Animals are his to Call, he also had plans for his little red-headed Werewolf as well. He was still smarting from her attack at the Council meeting. He planned to humiliate her before her Pack as an example, then he would kill her.

Since Padma had never been an inventive or ingenious man, his thoughts of "world domination" and vengeance were rather unoriginal. Killing a loved one of his enemies was about the limit of his abilities against Miranda. Little did he know that several powerful entities were vying for the ability to wreck havoc on Miranda's life, entities that might in fact, put his undead life in jeopardy. But Padma throughout the ages, while fiendishly clever enough to stay "alive" this long and powerful enough to start his own Line/Kiss, he wasn't nearly as smart as he imagined himself to be – which will guarantee him another painful, if not fatal lesson in knowing one's limits.

However, Padma is nothing if not consistent, much to the dismay of his own Lieutenants.

Padma's second; Captain Thomas Carswell stood near his Master's desk, stifling a great sigh of annoyance because he suspects that his Master was about to embark on a journey of madness, yet again. The one bright spot is that he hopes Padma's plan would see his own demise as well.

He's lived long enough and more importantly he lived for a Master he didn't respect, while doing unspeakable things he'd never imagined doing. He despises Padma and worse his Master knows this and this realization provides Padma a constant source of amusement. Thomas believed in honor, dignity, respect, and integrity – everything his Master was not. But he was linked to Padma through the Kiss and even if he wanted to disobey an order, Padma could mentally induce to him carry out whatever heinous act he desired. And so his hatred seethes and his own self-disgust continues wreck havoc on his daily life.

"Thomas, pack a bag, it's time to take a bite out of the Big Apple." Padma cackled at his word choice, a slight hint of his Indian ancestry within his accent hidden by the clipped notes of British imperialism. Thomas merely rolled his eyes.

"Master, are we packing for pleasure or for trouble?" It would be left up to him to make all the preparations, seek answers, because he knew that Padma would offer little in the way of real planning.

Thomas watched warily as Padma smugly smiled, "Oh Thomas, trouble? No, this is about my ascension to my rightful place." His smile widened, "Prepare accordingly."

Well as vagueness goes – that was pretty vague, but the immediate feeling of trepidation grew exponentially.


Chapter 19

Jean-Claude woke from his Sleep - like most undead when the sun rose he fell into a Sleep that turned him corpse-like. It was considerably unsettling for Anita, but she's learned to live with it. Presently, if his heart could beat frantically he imagined that at this moment it would. He ran his hand through his long black hair, before swinging his legs out of his bed. Daywalker! He'll have to ask if Asher felt it. He wondered who or what the other… energy was? His bedroom door opened and none other than Asher walked through. That gleaming, long, golden hair, falling down one side of his face to hide his acid burns, while the rest spilled like a golden waterfall down his back.

"You felt it too, didn't you?" he asked.

"Oui. Which means mon ami, that if we felt it the Council will know about it." He thought that getting Daywalker here sooner rather than the scheduled two weeks from now would be crucial.

Asher nodded, "I felt Mademoiselle Priestly, but there was something else… something powerful" his eyes widened as if he was having a revelation. "I cannot be certain, but I think our Daywalker… shared Marks—mayhap even a Joining."

"We can only hope we have chance to talk with Mademoiselle Priestly before the trouble I sense reaches upon our shores." Jean-Claude ignored the human compulsion to pull his hair in frustration.

"Contact Anita and Richard and have them meet me at the club soon. For now I must go feed." He gracefully and effortlessly stood up, gliding towards the door.

"Coming?" he held out his hand for Asher to take. He sincerely hoped they were all prepared for the inevitable trouble heading their way. Little did he know just how much things were about to change.

Later that day, Anita walked into the club, looking for Jean-Claude but he was already on-stage, "milking" the crowd with his voice. He was 'feeding' his Ardeur, feeding through the emotions of lust wafting through the room. Whipping their lust, awakening Anita's own version of the Ardeur.

Near the far-side of the stage stands Richard, shirtless, in jeans, warm brown curls resting against his forehead and trickling down his back, standing next to his bodyguards; Jamal and Shang-da. She wasn't in the particular mood to deal with Richard's brooding, self-defeating aura, today.

A short, blonde, vampire-version of Jason glided up to Anita, "Greetings toots. JC did mention you'd be dropping by. You wouldn't happen to need a gay stand-in for what ails ya, would you?" he asked cheekily.

"Byron, not only am I not interested, but that one… moment, while pleasant, was just that: a moment. I'd say don't let it go to your head, but I can see that's too late." She shifted her glance towards the stage again, "How long has he been up there?"

"About a half hour or so. He shouldn't be too much longer. So how are you?" He "guided" (because no one really guided Anita anywhere) her over to her table near Jean-Claude's office and the stage.

She settled in her seat, before starting to fidget… she could feel something in the air. Something that started last night, like a… burp in an energy field and she suspects that's why Jean-Claude requested her presence tonight even though it was Micah's night.

She sighed. The problem with balancing multiple lovers is that oftentimes the scheduled-appointments are sacrificed. Given that she had very little time to spare, this often requires her soothing ruffled feathers. Although she knew she wouldn't be nearly as charitable as her lovers.

She watched as Nathaniel glided across the room to chat up Gregory – another of her Were-Leopards, while Claudia her Were-Rat bodyguard (insisted by Jean-Claude and Micah) stood with her huge muscular arms crossed, holding up the wall, at a discreet distance away from Anita.

Anita comfortingly pats her Browning Hi-Power in her custom-made shoulder holster and her Firestar which she tended to do when she was feeling uneasy. She figured when weird stuff was happening sticking to her motto of "shoot first, ask questions later" would do her in good stead. Although she really wished just for a short period of time she could have some semblance of normalcy and contentment.

Suddenly she felt a presence at her side and realized Asher had appeared, "Greetings Anita. Jean-Claude wishes to thank you for coming, he realizes that you had other plans tonight. But it was urgent."

He effortlessly sat in the chair next to Anita, he swept his long blonde hair to side to lean over to kiss Anita's cheek, "How are you ma petite? I see that you've made significant progress on controlling your Ardeur."

"Well there's 'controlling', then there's controlling. As long as I feed it before it feeds on me and barring any mystical mumbo-jumbo, I do ok. So now that we've got that out of the way you gonna tell me what's going on?" Asher was so beautiful regardless of his scars. She was glad to see that he finally felt comfortable enough around her that he no longer did the sullen- bitterness that seemed to pervade his aura.

"I cannot go into detail ma petite, but there was a bit of a… magical release last night. Did you not feel it?" he asked.

Anita thought about the feeling of growing uneasiness that began last night… that itch or almost like a knock on her metaphysical shields. For a moment she thought she was getting a visit from either Marmee Noir or Belle Morte. But then it died down.

"Well, I might have felt something but I thought it was the usual visit from one of my metaphysical "buddies"." She sighed and ran her fingers through her curly dark-brown hair. "So if it wasn't them then do you know who or what it was?"

"We will have to wait for Jean-Claude to provide the details. In the meantime, you should understand that it could impact all of us. It will behoove us to act quickly."

"Well when you say it like that I'm not sure I want to wait for Jean-Claude and shouldn't we be includin' the others – I mean if you say it's another the-world-might-end crap then it seems like just a couple people should know." Anita was growing annoyed because she hated when Jean-Claude decided to share information with her only when he was good n' ready.

While she was aware that it might have more to do with her Type A personality, she was also aware that when he was slow on giving up the info, it usually meant it had something to do with the Council. This often led to someone dying or lots of blood and mayhem which consequently spelled "vampire fun" for the Council. Well her friend and fellow "Monster-Hunter" Edward has some new equipment he wants her to try out, so she might have to give him a call. Although Edward usually can 'scent' the winds of trouble before she even picked up the phone to call him for back-up and as humans go there wasn't anyone more you wanted to have your back in a dangerous situation.

"Ma petite, merci beaucoup for coming to meet me, I'm well aware of your "Date-Night" with Monsieur Micah –," Jean-Claude as usual glidin' in without barely a ripple.

"Hi sweetie," she leaned up to kiss him fully on the mouth, " Now that we've got a couple of the pleasantries out of the way, you mind tellin' me what the hell is goin' on." She impatiently asked – patience was never her strong suit.

"Oui, Anita," Uh-0h, it's never good when he calls her by her name, "I know through our shared Marks, that you felt a bit of a magical surge against your shields. We all did. However what makes it worse is that it appears to have Daywalker's signature. Like a musical not left hanging in the air, you know what kind of genre and the artist – it is the same for a magical build-up."

Anita looked perplexed for a moment before it dawned on her. "Oh, the Council's not gonna like that huh?"

"I'm afraid it is more than that. For us to have felt this kind of… joining whomever she was involved –," Jean-Claude can be so polite, "with had to have been very powerful in her own right. In fact, it is a power that could shake the very foundations of the Council as we know it."

"Shit! That's not good. Talk about bringing the heat, if that Machiavellian-Belle Morte knows – and it seems like she would, then she just might declare all-out war, wouldn't she?"

"More than you realize ma petite, more than you realize." answered Jean-Claude.

Christ! She'll have to call Edward for back-up after all.


Chapter 20

Miranda shifted, rumbling in her throat, something was… teasing her into wakefulness. She started to lift her eyelids but they felt heavy, like she'd been drugged. With this realization came the knowledge that she was lying on something warm. So warm it was heating up her normally cool undead body. Then the 'warmthness' moved and followed by a groan, directly near her ear. Needless to say she was startled because it was at this moment she realized that she was lying on a body. Once again, she tried to peel open her eyes, a bright artificial light pierced her eyes, making her lids blink rapidly, but not before she noticed the tousled brown hair.

She forced her eyes to stay open this time, taking the startling image of Andrea Sachs. She took a quick perusal to gain some understanding of the situation – it was then that she noticed they were both naked. Her eyes involuntarily widened, then closed briefly to trying to remember what the hell was going on. It was clear that they'd just been intimate… she looked down. Very intimate. But how, why, and here on the bathroom floor?! Miranda began to feel appalled.

Hands moving down her lower back towards her ass opened her eyes quickly and then falling right into the beautiful tri-colored, lidded gaze of Andrea. She suddenly became self-aware; one – not only was she was lying naked on Andrea, but two – they smelled (she sniffed the air) like sex, blood, and other fluids, and three – they were in the Runway bathroom.

So caught up in this increasingly mortifying scene that she didn't notice that she was rocking her hips into Andrea's. Hearing a whimper from Andrea, she realized her… movements and immediately stilled, then she attempted to extract herself from the admittedly tantalizing warmth of Andrea. At the same time she was desperately trying to remember what happened.

"And—," she cleared her very dry and sore? throat. "Andréa, what is going on? And you will have to let me up. In case it has escaped your observation we're in the bathroom at Runway. Naked." She lifted her hand to run her fingers through her own tousled silvery mane, while the other hand attempted to push herself from Andrea's body.

Andy noticing her own dry and sore throat – almost as if she'd been screaming for a long time at a sporting event. "Miranda, I don't know if YOU'VE noticed but –" she coughed a little of the dryness away, "but I seem to be in the same predicament as you."

Andy could feel her own mortification stealing over her – she was naked, in a Runway bathroom, on the floor, with… Miranda. Saying boss seemed… weird. Andy watched as Miranda attempted to lift up off of her. The feeling of loss as Miranda's skin peeled from hers was… strong, even aching. She didn't want to let her go, but she understood that not only was it untimely, but it was inappropriate – someone could come in here any moment.

That didn't mean the feel of Miranda's delicious skin didn't stoke her desire or that their nipples momentarily dragging against each other's skin was provoking. She also began to notice her other bodily parts. Her nipples felt sore and swollen – but not nearly as swollen as between her legs. She also noticed a stinging sensation running along her legs and around her hips. Her legs felt swollen as well, she looked at Miranda's and hers were plump and pink. Like they'd been enthusiastically nibbled and sucked on. Aside from the unusual stinging along her legs and hips, Andréa felt... well fucked.

Their sweaty skin seemed merged together, Miranda thought. She continued to run an internal check over her body, noticing the stickiness between her thighs, the stinging of… scratches on her back and… what felt like scratches along the side of her torso and legs?

Miranda pushed up to sit back on her heels, thighs splayed open to accommodate Andréa's body. She looked down at herself before an involuntary gasp left her mouth, pointing at her stomach, "What is that?!!!"

Andrea … wow! She could feel her pulse quickening and she licked her suddenly dry lips – which Miranda zeroed in on with narrowed icy-blue eyes. Miranda was the most enticing person she'd ever met. And she was all hers! She remembers everything that's happened, for some reason… the feeling of contentment and pure decadence she was feeling right now, sat… just fine with her. She wanted to stretch like a lion in the sun after eating. Obviously for Miranda it didn't.

But she had plans to help her along. "Miranda I didn't know you were into tattoos."

Miranda gritted her teeth, her hands clenched around her thighs while she glared at Andréa. "I am not, in fact, as of –-"She looked at the clock on the wall, "as of three hours ago, not a single tattoo adorned this body."

She could feel a growing sense of desire, contentment... and another startling revelation –they weren't just her emotions, they were also Andréa's. She looked down at Andréa, splayed between her own thighs, taking in the gorgeous creamy skin, interspersed with black tribal tattoos that appeared to be in the shape of various animals. However, along her long, shapely. legs, were rose vines similar to the tattoos that decorated her own body.

She looked down at her own newly acquired tattoo that ran along her stomach, disappearing around her back; beautifully detailed, exquisitely crafted with brilliant blood-red colored petals and grass- green rose vines. As for the emotional connection she now shared with Andréa it could only mean one thing. The one thing she spent all her undead life avoiding: they and shared Marks and were Mated!

She turned her eyes back onto Andréa's beautiful tri-colored gaze, they watched each other steadily, as Andréa propped herself up onto her elbows, her beautiful hair spilling along the floor. Miranda felt like she should be feeling… more trepidation or anger, but any hint of those feelings gave way to something else. The feeling filling her up like water being poured into a cup – this feeling of… intense satisfaction.

She closed her eyes again and suddenly remembered something huge happening when they orgasmed together, almost like a magical output. Whatever it was it was powerful enough to knock both Andréa and herself completely out. She remembered some kind of… light coming from Andréa's chest at that moment. She opened her eyes as she felt Andréa's hand caress her thigh.

"Are you all right? Miranda as much as I'd dearly love to stay and curl myself around you," She began to waggle her eyebrows a bit, "perhaps even a continuation of our recent activities. Nothing like getting to know your partner than skin-to-skin contact." Andy sat up even more, putting her closer to Miranda.

"But we're on the bathroom floor at Runway and I can sense Emily, Nigel, and even Serena outside. Strangely I thought there seems to be… little movement." She frowned, sliding her palms up Miranda's smooth thighs, not in a sexual way, more of a soothing method. However, Miranda felt anything but soothed right now.

"Your powers of observation are astounding me yet again Andréa. But unless you can locate our clothes which I am almost positive we were wearing when we began this… journey, then you really are magical." She shifted away to stand up and found that her legs were somewhat rubbery.

Andrea reached up to steady her, discreetly inhaling the scent: sweat, blood, cum, - delicious. "Miranda what are we going to do?" she began to stand up as well, "I mean something happened between us, you can no longer ignore it."

Since she wasn't nearly as graceful as Miranda she almost stumbled standing up, if not for Miranda reaching out to hold her arm she might have fallen on her ass for sure.

"I'm well aware that things have changed Andréa. I am under no illusions that we have a bit of a situation – however right now there are more pressing things to deal with." she turned around to head towards the door.

Andy was watching the tight ass and back muscles shifting as she walked before she realized where she was headed, "You are most certainly aren't going out there dressed like that!"

Miranda stopped with her hand on the door before sending Andy an amused glance, "Can't you sense it? Can't you sense that all is quiet and still outside this door? We need clothes and we need help because if the magical output we exchanged is any indication this may have lasting effects and we need to be prepared." She started opening the door, "and staying in here naked with no phone, will not solve anything."

She opened the door and nearly staggered. The residual magic was floating in the air like a pollen-dusting. Even the smell, almost like the smell of ozone on a hot pollution-free day, with a hint of… roses and rain still lingered. She stuck her head out further, noticing Emily on the floor, while Nigel was slumped against Emily's desk looking almost dead. She continued her perusal of the room before noticing that apparently Serena must have just come through the door because she too was laid out in front of it. And from the looks of both Serena and Emily, something – most likely Andréa, caused them to partially shift before they were knocked unconscious.

Suddenly she felt the warm press of Andréa's body behind her, "What's going on, why is it so quiet?"

"Apparently, our "little" magical light-show was felt quite strongly. Let's hope it didn't extend beyond these doors." Miranda thought about the repercussions of this possibility with the Council making things difficult.

Then Andréa opened the door wider to step around Miranda, "What are you doing?! Get back—"

"While I definitely feel uncomfortable about flashing the Runway staff, we need clothes and I know you have an outfit or two in your office. THEN we can wake them up." As she continued on towards Miranda's office she briefly paused to look coyly over her shoulder at Miranda, "Besides us Fey don't have as many hang-ups around nudity that most others do." She winked before stepping around Emily's prone form to continue on.

Miranda sighed exasperated, following Andréa, "I certainly do not have hang-ups around nudity. In case it's escaped your notice I'm surrounded by nude models all day long. Of course being nude myself is not… an ideal situation" she finished dryly.

Once she reached her office, she paused for a moment to take in Andréa's glorious form while she looked out of the window, "Ah… Miranda, you should come see this." She was pointing out the window.

Miranda grabbed clothes from her closet then headed over towards the window next to Andréa. She sharply inhaled as her eyes widened in stupefication at the sight outside her window, "Bloody hell! Well it appears that our… joining was quite potent." She quickly started to get dressed.

"Pick something quickly, then wake them." she pointed towards the reception area, "I need to call my daughters and make sure they're all right." She turned towards her desk to reach for the phone while rubbing her forehead.

She and Andréa might as well of sent a target beacon to any and all enemies. Of course Miranda was mindful that most of these enemies were hers. Feeling a hand gently grasp her shoulder, she turned towards Andréa, "It's going to be all right Miranda. Clearly whatever happened between us was fated."

She continued on despite the eye-roll from Miranda, "Everything will work out – we'll deal with whatever happens. It may not be pleasant or nice, but I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather take on the world with"

"Well Andréa while I can appreciate your… optimism, there are things in play that will change our lives and those whom you hold close to your heart forever." Miranda experiencing something she hadn't felt in centuries – reticence. Even a faint feeling of… tenderness as she took in the woman staring so intently into her eyes.

"Are you sure this is what you want? Because once you've acquiesce," she stepped closer to Andréa, "I'll never let you go."

Andy just smiled and slid her hands up Miranda's unbuttoned shirt before clasping them around her neck. Damn, she was so sexy! "What if I had plans on never letting you go. Do even know what you put me though these past few weeks, because of what you tried to deny?! I think I've gone through five vibrators alone." She watched Miranda's mouth curl into the tiniest of grins before leaning to press her lips against hers, coaxing her lips open before gently searching inside Miranda's mouth.

She pulled back, softly kissing Miranda's lips and nuzzling her nose against Miranda's, her fingers sliding through silky, white hair, while Miranda's hands caressed Andy's lower back. "While we were… indisposed earlier, a goddess visited me, you were or are a part of my destiny from the moment I laid eyes on you in that hotel lobby." She gently kissed Miranda again, "Maybe even longer than that."

"Very well Andréa. You've sealed your fate to mine, go wake the troops and have them meet me here immediately. And later you will tell me more about this Goddess." Andrea beamed even as Miranda affectionately rolled her eyes. Andy stood back from to finish dressing and then started to head out towards the reception area.

Sure thing love. Um, I'm starving, and since you're in essence my Wife, I'm sure you don't want me to die from hunger." she snickered over that little announcement, while Miranda let out a snort in exasperation. "So can we order something?"


Chapter 21

Emily felt a tickling around her nose. She unconsciously attempted to swat whatever it was away. But it didn't go away. In growing annoyance she began to gain consciousness, her vision remained unusually blurry, and the headache that must have been waiting on stand-by suddenly became incessantly strong. She lifted her hand and almost scratched herself silly when she realized that she'd partially shifted.

She concentrated for a moment, watching the skin sweep away the fur, the nails and hands shorten into their elegant, human length. Blinking furiously the clarity allowed her to notice Andy standing in front of her.

"Bloody hell you stupid bint! What did you do to me?!" she looked around, aghast at seeing both Nigel and Serena on the floor. "What the fuck did you do to them?! Oh my God, where's Miranda?! If you've done anything to harm her –"

"Cool your jets British Knights! Miranda is in her office making calls. As for harming her?" she was amused because Emily rarely allowed herself to look anything less than together even when she was channeling a harpy. But her clothes looked rumpled, one of her heels were broken, and total 'bed-head', weren't exactly a "cute" match to the rest of her outfit.

"Come on, Miranda wants to see everyone in her office so help me wake these other two. If you need to go to the bathroom—," she was cut off from a very anxious Emily.

"Absolutely not! The last time anyone was in there I everyone was knocked unconscious. It is the epicenter of this utter disaster!" Andy desperately tried not to laugh as Emily tried to walk in those broken heels while trying to look indignant – but in that British way.

Andy was kneeling down by Nigel. She'd never seen a vampire sleep even though he wasn't technically asleep. Right? With no respiration or chest moving he appeared almost… dead. But then some would say he is dead. She thought back to Miranda when she was staring down at Andy in the throes of passion. Vampire… biology may be different but she couldn't think of anyone more alive than Miranda.

She focused on Nigel and put her hand on his shoulder. Then she gently fixed his glasses that were sitting askew on his nose. A hand suddenly came up and gripped her wrist tightly. She raised startled eyes to Nigel's – which were suddenly opened.

"What have you done to Miranda?" his voice was a sinister whisper and his grip tightened. Andy knew she'd have bruises later (although little did she know that the extra "juice" blessed upon by the Goddess will more than likely take care of any bruising).

"Nigel really?! Miranda is fine. She's in her office on the phone." Nigel stared at her for a few more moments before finally letting go.

Andy refused to rub her wrist even though it was aching slightly, "A lot has… happened, but she's fine. She needs everyone in her office. And Nigel I'd prefer it if I never get another bruise from you." She stood up and started to head back to office before hearing the reception phone ringing.

She looked over to Emily reviving a groggy Serena, before picking up the phone, "Miranda Priestley's office how I may help you?"

A cultured male voice on the phone answered, "May I speak with Andréa Sachs please?"

"This is Andy Sachs. Who is calling?" Andy frowned, trying to place the voice – she never gets calls at Runway from people she doesn't know.

"My name is Rhys, we were scheduled to meet up sometime this week but I'm hoping you would have a little time today." Andy was pleasantly surprised, but also disappointed because she couldn't think of a worse day to meet Rhys. Maybe she could meet up with him tomorrow.

"Oh Rhys! Yes, I'd love to meet with you but I'm dealing with a bit of an emergency here and I'm not sure when I'll be available. Perhaps—"

"I'm sorry Andy, but it is very urgent that I meet with you." He paused and gave what sounded like a deep inhalation, "It is about your heritage."

Silence met the other end of his phone, "Ok, is there a number where I can reach you? I have to deal with a few things here and I'll call you back when I've got some time to meet." This seemed to be a day of huge revelations. "Can you tell me anything now?"

"I am sorry, but I think it is better to talk in-person. Suffice to say that it's about your lineage, your Sidhe lineage. You do know what that is correct?"

Andy had to take a couple seconds to collect herself, "Y- yes, I know what a Sidhe means. I'll call you back as soon as I can, ok?" She wrote down his phone number and just stood for a moment in shock.

The Fey were a diverse species: from Goblins or Red Caps to Demi-Fey or Brownies, but it was the Sidhe that ruled in either the Unseelie or Seelie Courts.

She had to tell Miranda as soon as possible because it might have something to do with their Joining. She turned around and found Serena standing in front of her, staring at her, and looking a bit worse for wear. The look she was sending Andy was not friendly. Andy felt her hackles rise in response, even though they really couldn't afford any distractions right now.

"Serena, I can see you're fine, a little un-tucked but fine. Is there something I can help you with?" she was about to continue on before she heard a low-base growl erupting from Serena's throat. A wave of… menace and power reached Andy's consciousness causing her magic to waken.

Suddenly she watched as Serena's eyes widen right before she leaned in faster than Andy could stop her, and began sniffing around her neck – actually around Miranda's Mark. Her arms instinctively came up to grip Serena's, effortlessly jerking her away. Andy released a growl of her own, her eyes felt hot and glowing, and the smell of roses began to drift into the air.

However Miranda's voice suddenly interrupted their stand-off. "Am I interrupting something? Please save the posturing for later. Emily I need you to cancel all my appointments today. Also call The Palms and have them deliver food to the house and call the "Bank" to have some blood delivered as well. Now, call for the car. You'll all be joining me at the townhouse. This fall-out will need to be dealt with immediately." With that said, she returned to her phone calls.

Even though Miranda knew that they really couldn't afford for further distractions she was also wise enough to know that if Andréa was to truly be her Mate and Consort she needed to start understanding her place as her Mate, which meant dealing with Miranda's minions on her own. It was all about Power, Andréa will have to understand and manipulate that concept the fullest advantage -- especially since Miranda's plotting enemies were powerful in their own right.

To that end within the privacy of their relationship, outside of Runway, this power dynamic would be interchangeable, between the role of Alpha and Submissive. Andrea would have to learn those rules as well, since Andrea will function as the Dominant to Miranda's Subordinates. This is easier said than done because one cannot 'learn' how to be Dominant it is an innate ability, and she'll when dealing with Dominants like Nigel and will have to dance a fine line on how to… govern. Andréa will have to learn all of this quickly – apparently that starts now.


Chapter 22

Andrea's eyes never left Serena's. She knew that Serena was concerned about Miranda, it was the only thing that prevented her from escalating this moment. Well that, and Miranda. Instinctively, she knew that she needed to show that she was no push-over. With that realization she let a little of her power leak out to wash over Serena's, watching her stumble back a bit, pushing back the heat of Serena's power like an icy-hot wave.

"Let me be very clear Serena. I would never hurt Miranda and what happened today was about something much bigger than you, even bigger than Runway, so whatever's got your panties in a twist, I'm not the person to whose leg you wanna piss on." She let that sink in for a moment before she continued on.

"I know you care about Miranda but… this was fated. I know that doesn't make sense, but nothing in the world will keep me from her side. If you could understand what we experienced together earlier… it—," she swallowed a sudden lump, "it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Miranda will need you Serena, this is not the time for bullshit." She paused again, pulling in her magic. "Cool?"

Serena bowed her head, breathing a bit heavy, "Fine, but all this had better have a good explanation." She started to turn towards Miranda's office, "Andy you're good people and I'm happy that Miranda has Mated. If it had to be anyone, you're not a bad choice."

She continued on into Miranda's office but not before stopping to leisurely look Andy up and down, "And besides, perhaps Miranda will be kind enough to… share occasionally." She disappeared inside before Andy could respond.

The others were already inside, so Andy hurried over – after all she knew how much Miranda hated to be kept waiting.

Later they were all piled into Miranda's car, heading towards her townhouse, she sat next to Miranda, with Emily on the other side of Andy. Nigel and Serena were following behind in another car. The atmosphere was a bit tense as they took in the mounting evidence of their magical explosion. They saw humans helping people off the ground as they drove past. They knew they were humans because they could sense little magic or preternatural energy emanating from them. As opposed to the people they were helping off the ground, whom they could sense were preternatural.

As for Andy she could feel the Fey much stronger now. Before it seemed faint and often confused their auras with Preternaturals – Miranda's "people." Not anymore. Her sensing of Fey energy now acted like a conduit. Like an electrical surge flowing from them, feeding her own energy, replenishing her reserves from her earlier activities. She felt Miranda's eyes on her, and looked over at her. What are you doing? echoed in her head.

Andy started a little before realizing that it was Miranda in her 'head' so she focused and sent a thought back. Wow! How are we communicating? I thought you could only do this with those with other Preternaturals? Can the others hear us? Can you sense the Fey? Like from a distance?

Miranda answered back: Apparently my ability to communicate has expanded to include you. Though I suspect that you are the exception – perhaps because of our Joining. A bit, but I imagine not like you, why? However Miranda was not entirely focused on their mental discussion, she was starting to feel an… itch. Her nether regions were tender but sensitive from their earlier activities, even though one would expect her to feel completely sated after their orgasmic explosion. But their residual connection has only served to heighten her intimate connection to Andréa. Miranda's powerful olfactory senses can still smell the left-over arousal and blood from earlier. Andrea looked lovely in her Channel boots, Juicy Couture dark jeans encased those long legs that not so long ago were wrapped around Miranda's back.

She was still wearing an Escada blouse from Miranda's closet – which Miranda was convinced she purposely left unbuttoned more than usual. So Miranda took advantage of the extra hint of cleavage by taking a leisurely look from Andréa's decadent lips, her delicate chin, that beautiful swan neck – however she stopped at her Mark.

Miranda stared at her Mark with a growing sense of… fierce possessiveness. This Mark would clearly signal to ALL Preternaturals that Andréa belonged to a Master Vampire, to her. A sniff from a preternatural would find Miranda's scent in the Mark. But it also reminded Miranda that she'd need to bring Andréa up-to-speed on vampire etiquette and rules as her Consort and Mate.

However that didn't detract from the growing need to… possess Andréa again. Most likely, because what had happened earlier seemed so… involuntary. Miranda liked to be in control – she was a typical Type A personality, she didn't particularly like to do things in other people's timeframe, even if it was inevitable. So it stands to reason that she'd like to undress Andréa at her leisure, spread her out on her bed, with her gorgeous chocolate-colored waves spilling on her pillows. She remembered the taste of Andréa, but she wanted to taste directly from the source. But before she could continue on with her fantasy Andréa sent another thought.

Well before I could sense them (the Fey) faintly, but now it's almost like an electrical current buzzing energy back and forth between me and them.

Did your little goddess provide additional information about your evolving powers? Miranda mentally drawled.

No she was pretty… vague to tell you the truth. Of course at the time, it didn't seem like a good idea to ha e a full-length chat - if you know what I mean. The indecent waggle of Andy's eyebrows following her explanation, was met with an eye-roll and a shake of her head from Miranda.

I see. Well when we get to the townhouse we'll have a nice long chat about what you did 'chat' about. Miranda's mental drawl now bordered on edgy because she had the sudden urge to pull Andréa over her lap to 'teach' her some… decorum. Cheeky girl.


Chapter 23

As the car pulled up to the door of the townhouse, Andy watched it open immediately as two red-heads peeked out; The Twins. The few interactions she's had with them ended with Andy thinking how remarkably spoiled and… odd they were. But she'd grown fond of them since they cleared the air with a few things. She thought back to that time when she had to pick them up at school. Caroline had called the office complaining about not feeling well, Miranda was in another part of Runway no doubt terrorizing an employee or two. She was about to offer to send of a text message to Miranda, when Caroline interrupted her.

"We'd like to go home now. Mummy probably knows already. So please have Roy pick us up. Thanks." And with that she hung up before Andy could get a word in edgewise.

She was about to send a text to Miranda, when she walked through the doors to stop at Andy's desk, "Call Roy and have him come pick you up immediately. Then you need to go to my daughters' school, pick them up, and then drop them home."

Andy caught totally unawares for the second time in mere minutes attempted to respond, "What – how –"

"No, no. don't talk. Just do. You should already be walking out that door."

Andy stood up, while calling Roy at the same time to meet her downstairs. As she rounded her desk Miranda called from the office once more, "'Oh and Andréa, you need to stop at this address to pick up something. It's for the girls. Make sure they get it as soon as possible. That's all."

Soon Andy found herself in lower Manhattan, near Wall Street, standing before a building with the traditional brickwork of a New York City townhouse. She looked down at the piece of paper making sure she had the right address. She lifted her hand to press the button for entrance when the large dark green door opened and a very tall man with grey hair swept back into a ponytail, answered the door. The guy must of have been close to 7 feet.

Just as Andy was about to open her mouth, a deep, cultured, slightly accented, voice flowed from his mouth, "Mistress Miranda sent you?"

"Ah, yeah. I mean, yes. Miranda sent me. She said –" Andy felt like she was involved in some kind of clandestine mission. Not to mention he was causing her magic to buzz along her spine and her tattoos to 'twitch.'

"I believe you are here for this." He pulled from behind him a red paper bag. "Make sure the Twins drink plenty of water afterwards and then they should be fine. If the Mistress has further need of my services please do not hesitate to contact me. Please let her know I am at her disposal and as always it was an honor serving her." And with that he stepped back and closed the door.

When Andy finally realized that flies were about to use her tongue as a landing pad, she closed her mouth and headed back to the car with the red bag in her hand. When she arrived at the school, she saw the Twins sitting a little forlornly on the steps of the school, both in the same pose. That was one of the odd things about them: they often mimicked each other. Sometimes they'd say exactly the same thing, in the same tone, at the same time. Other times they'd walk in perfect synchronization or they'd tilt their heads in contemplation at you and you weren't sure if they were contemplating if they liked your outfit or if they were going to… eat you. Needless to say Andy found them to be a bit disconcerting at times, but in a weird endearing sort of a way.

After a while she'd gotten used to it. But as she escorted them down the steps of the school she noticed that they did look rather… sick. They were significantly paler than usual, making their freckles stand out like chocolate chips. Their breathing sounded labored as well and they appeared to be shivering. As they descended the stairs Andy gave into the urge to hold their hands.

As she took their small hands into hers, her magic seemed to awaken causing her tattoos to twitch once again. They both lifted bloodshot eyes, heavy-lidded with sickness to stare into Andy's slightly glowing tri-colored eyes.

"You're Fey aren't you?" they both asked.

Andy frowned; she really needed to get them home quickly. "Yes I am or at least I think I am. Why do you ask?" They reached the car door which was being held open by Roy. She ushered them inside.

They languidly settled into the seat before answering. "Well your eyes are clearly Fey. But… we don't know what kind of Fey – definitely one we aren't familiar with." They closed their eyes, the icy-blue so familiar to their mother's.

Andy was about to answer but was interrupted by the Twins. "Did you get the medicine?"

"Um, if you mean a red paper bag, then –"

She was cut off once again. "Yes, that's it. Roy, how long before we get home?"

"About 10 minutes or less." Roy answered.

Before she could finally join in on the conversation her phone rang. It was Miranda.

"Andréa, did you pick up the package I requested? How are the Twins?" rapid-fire questions added to the Andy's continued state of confusion.

"Yes to the package. In fact the Twins were just ask—"

"Andréa please don't babble. The Twins? How are they?"

Andy squashed the need to sigh and answered. "They don't look too good. They look a little pale and their breathing seems to be rather labored."

"Please tell them I'll be home within the hour. They've… experienced this before. They know what to do."

Andy felt her concern build for the Twins. Miranda wasn't prone to dramatics so it stands to reason that whatever's wrong with Cassidy and Caroline concerned Miranda greatly enough to come home in the middle of the day. She looked them over once again, noticing the little drops of… blood-sweat dotting their brow. She pulled a couple tissues from her Michael Kors bag and handed them over to the Twins.

They had their eyes closed and as soon as Andy started to touch Cassidy's shoulder they startled Andy a bit by opening their eyes, once again in synchronization. "I was just going to offer you some tissue. You're beginning to sweat a little. Is there anything I can do right now? "

She felt so bad for them. Since Miranda was a vampire and she knew their father was something Other, what she'd normally try to do to make them feel better might not work on account of their physiology.

They both opened their eyes again, "We'll be fine once we take our 'medicine."

They stared steadily, with their heads tilted in some deep contemplation, at Andy for a moment, their labored breathing seemingly loud in the Mercedes. "We're sorry got you in trouble that one time. We are well aware that we can be… as difficult as our Mum – in a way cooler way of course, but you seem to be different than the usual yodels that 'play' as her Assistant."

Well this seemed to be a day for astounding events – an apology from the creepy, yet normally bratty, kids of Miranda was truly remarkable. And problematic because Andy might start to… like them. Well since they "shared" and extended the proverbial olive branch Andy figured she might as well return the gesture.

"You guys are brats but you're smart, loyal, and you love your Mom – so that's can count for something." Andy smirked to take the sting off the 'brat' part of the sentence.

"Well at least you don't have your 'balls in our Mum's purse' like Emily, plus we've never known a Fey before. What's it like?"

"Charming ladies. But we're here and I need to get you inside so you can take your meds. As for me being Fey – it's sort of a recent realization, I'm still… trying to find myself." She stepped out of the car in front of the house. "Sorry for the cliché but that's as good an answer as I got."

The door opened and their housekeeper Carmen stood in the doorway.

"Hola Andy! Andele mujers! Let's get you inside. Adios mio! Look at you! Ay!" she motioned the girls inside and Andy handed her the ubiquitous red paper bag.

"Gracias Andy. El hefe will be home soon, I'll take it from here."

"No problem. Are you sure? I can wait until Miranda gets here." She stepped just inside the entrance and watched as Carmen started to help the Twins up the stairs. "Oh, Miranda instructed me to tell the girls that they need to make sure they drinks lots of water after they take their medicine."

"Si, I know. It's no problem you go 'head—"she was interrupted by the Twins who both turned their heads towards Andy.

"Thank you Andy. We have a feeling we'll be seeing each other quite often." They continued up the stairs with Carmen following close behind before they stopped once again. "Oh your life is about to get very interesting. We advise you to not 'fight it' and to stay strong." And they continued on leaving Andy with her mouth agape for the 3rd time that day. She heard Carmen chuckling as she followed after them.

And that was the… bonding moment between her and the Twins.


Chapter 24

She wondered what they'd think about her evolving relationship with Miranda. As the car pulled to a stop she noticed two men coming up towards the townhouse, one with wispy white hair and the other with blue hair. She suddenly grew concerned for the Twins as they stood in the doorway.

"Miranda –"

"I see them. Nigel, Serena, deal with it. Emily come along."

As Roy opened the door, she could hear a low-base growl emanating from either Serena or Emily. She watched as Nigel stepped forward, partially blocking the men's vision of Miranda and Andy. However, Andy… felt something from them and as she got closer to them that feeling grew. A feeling of familiarity, a recognition, she could feel her magic wakening, reaching out towards to the two men whom were now completely blocked from her vision by both Serena and Nigel.

She stopped on the steps leading up to the front door, she looked back at the two men. She could feel the slight heat and an almost hum from her eyes – she knew they were glowing.

"Andréa, what –"

"Miranda, I think those two men are here to see me. I think they're… Fey!"

"Wha—," Miranda feeling immensely protective knew how precarious their situation was and didn't want to take any chances but Andréa had already started moving towards the two me.

Andy stepped around Emily, "Serena, Nigel, it's cool. I think they are here to see me." She mentally requested Miranda to instruct Nigel and Serena to let them through. Serena had already partially shifted, her hands slightly furry, her nails turned into claws. They stepped aside and Andy could feel that Miranda had turned to follow her.

"Serena, Nigel, allow them through," said Miranda.

Andy She stared at them, feeling an emotion sweeping over her like nothing she'd ever felt. And considering the day she's had so far this was a remarkable feat. The two men just started back. The one with white hair, had a scar running from his eyebrow through across his eyelid – although his eye appeared whole, ending at his cheekbone. Nevertheless, he was handsome, almost beautiful. The other, his hair was a gorgeous cerulean blue – almost the same color once lectured to her by Miranda long ago.

"Greetings Andy. My name is Rhys. I kn—"

"Rhys! Oh my gawd! What are you doing here? You never told me you were a full-blooded Fey—"

"Actually we're both Sidhe and we have very urgent matters to discuss with you."

The blue-haired man stepped closer while Miranda protectively moved closer to Andy's side.

"My name is Barinthius. We are both liaisons of Princess Meredith Gentry of the Unseelie Court. Perhaps you've heard of her? "

Before Andy could answer, she immediately received a thought from Miranda: perhaps we should move this inside. I don't think it's safe to have this conversation out in the opening. Having a discussion about a royal family member of the Unseelie Court in open would not be ideal.

"Well it sounds like you gentlemen have something substantial to say – or you'd better because I'm not in the habit of wasting my valuable time." Miranda warned.

Rhys stepped towards Miranda, not intimidated, "Actually vampire we're here for Andy—"

Miranda's eyes started to glow, Serena gave a low growl, and Nigel started to close in. "You'd do well to remember that you are on my territory and as such the safety of all my people are my responsibility, particularly my Ma—Andréa's." While she sensed the importance of their visit, she wasn't willing to tell perfect strangers how evolved her relationship with Andréa was. With too many enemies that kind of information could put Andréa in peril.

"That's enough! Both of you! Miranda, love, you're right we need to move this inside. All this posturing is not going to get me answers. And I suspect that a fight on the sidewalk in front of your townhouse or your daughters is not what we can afford." She stepped towards Miranda, capturing her eyes, leaning her head in to nuzzle Miranda's ear and throat.

Please sweetheart – make nice? She sent this thought privately because she suspected Miranda wouldn't want to be perceived as... sappy in any way right now – or ever for that matter.

Miranda caved like a frat boy in a whore house. Fine, but one wrong move and I'll personally see just how allergic to iron they are since the Fey were supposedly deathly allergic to iron.

"Everyone inside. After you, Andréa," and she followed Andréa inside, mentally directing her towards the sitting room. The Twins were there waiting for them. She leaned down to give them a kiss and hug.

"Hello Bobbsie, Mummy has some business to attend to. Why don't you go upstairs, finish your homework and see what level you can reach on Guitar Hero? I'll come up to join you as soon as I can." She ruffled their hair. They looked at their Mother then at Andréa and then at the two Sidhe men.

"Hello Andy." They paused and noticeably look at the marks in Andy's neck. "We see things have started to get interesting. Hi Nigel, Emily, and Serena. As for you two guys, we expect full introductions when your grown-up chat finishes." And with that the Twins kissed their Mum once again and headed out the room to go upstairs.

Nigel drawled, "Miranda I see they have your penchant for dramatics."

Carmen appeared in the doorway, "Can I get anyone anything?"

"Yes Carmen, a couple bottles of that Ahnfeldt Merlot Napa Valley, a pitcher of plasma, and some… hor'dourves for our guests." She looked around the room for any additional suggestions. "Anything else? Don't worry, we'll have something more substantial catered later." She gestured for everyone to sit while mentally requesting Andréa to sit next to her.

Miranda continued "Now that that's settled, perhaps you two would care to explain who you are and your urgency regarding Andréa?"

Barinthius spoke up, looking at Andy, "Andy do you feel your magic? Did it… respond when we approached?"

"Yes, but it's weird. It didn't respond in a defensive way but more like it sensed you were similar, even familiar. I can't explain it." She took a moment to search for the right words. "But it felt comforting – attractive even." She quickly looked at Miranda when she sensed an increase in… tension at those words. "But not like 'attractive' in the I-wanna-sex-you-up-kinda way." Andy ignored the snort coming from Emily and carried on, "More like 'attractive' in like "hey I know… you because we're alike" kind of way."

She watched as a tear formed in one of Rhys' eyes, slowly it made its way down his scarred cheek. "Andy, your magic knew us because you are like us. In fact… you're family."

At this shocking announcement, Andy started to frown fiercely, "What are you talking about – my family never mentioned you –"

"No, not the family you were raised with… your real family." She watched Barinthius take a deep, steadying breath, pausing for a moment, as if gathering himself. Andy watched all of this with a growing sense of trepidation.

Everyone remained silent; she looked at Miranda in consternation. Miranda reached over to lay a hand on her knee while sending a mental message: Whatever happens we'll face it together – I believe those are the words you used? An arched well-manicured eyebrow complimented this statement.

Yes, I believe I did say something along those lines. Anyways, thank you for… being here with me.

Don't be silly Andréa, of course I'd be here with you – where else would I be. You've caused an epic natural event, tying us together for eternity! Really Andréa, don't be absurd. The barest hint of a smile took the sting off of this declaration.

Andy smirked: only Miranda could tell you how much she cares and insult you all in the same sentence.

She refocused her attention on Barinthius and Rhys. "All right guys. Give 'it' to me. I can tell you're building up to a 'big reveal' – not helping my stress levels by the way. So?"

Barinthius sighed, but before he could speak, Rhys beat him to the punch, "You are the daughter of Princess Meredith Gentry, Heir to the throne of the Unseelie Court."

The silence was deafening after that pronouncement. Andy sat there with her mouth agape, even Miranda appeared to be suitably astonished. Emily took this opportunity to chime in, "I thought you were from Ohio?"

"What are you – wait, no! My Mother is from Ohio, she's human, what you talking about?!" she could feel emotional angst building… but deep inside she knew that she was different from her "parents." A hotly intense, emotional sensation crawled up her throat, her stomach knotted, causing her swallow over a lump and her eyes to slightly water. She took a moment to compose herself, Miranda moved closer to slide her arm around her shoulders, hugging her in close.

"You have mere moments to explain yourself – I can assure you that my patience is at an end. Andrea has had a bit of a trying day, your pronouncement—"

"Andy, you were taken at birth, magic was used to hide your presence, and erase our memories of a third child. It was believed that this was done so for your protection –"

"What?! Wait a minute! So you're telling me that my life up until this moment has been a lie?!" She quickly stood up, shaking off Miranda's arm, energy coursing through her veins, emotions heating up her magic. She started to pace but what she really wanted to do was punch something.

She could feel her energy and magic building up along with the intensity of her emotions. Could any of this be true? She always knew she was different – were her parents… not really her parents?

"I don't believe you! My parents are Richard and Aubrey Sachs! Not some princess Meredith…" everything seemed to be happening too quickly: the Mating with Miranda, now this… emotionally it was almost too much. She started breathing heavily to go along with her pacing, her eyes while she could feel them glowing became blurry as tears started to form. Nigel stood up to gently take hold of her shoulders. Andy stopped to look at the compassion emanating from his face, in the background she could hear Miranda demanding more information. At the same time Andy heard the soothing tones of Miranda's voice in her head: come sit down love, drink some wine. We'll get to the bottom of this – I promise we'll deal with this together.

Nigel drew her into his arms, comforting her. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder, she lifted teary-eyes to see Rhys had approached from the side.

"I'm very sorry And, it was not our intention to cause you pain. But we sensed your Joining earlier today." He stopped for a moment to interrupt the argument between Barinthius and Miranda. "Congratulations to you both on your Joining. Whenever someone from Sidhe royalty mates, their Fey subjects can feel the magic from the Joining. Since I am one of Princess Merry's Consorts and Barinthius a member of the royal family we felt the Joining much more intensely. That's why it was urgent that we see you."

Andy pulled away from Nigel and Rhys and started to pace once again. The sudden urge to flee or expend energy she'd since restored from her earlier lovemaking/mating ritual with Miranda was strong. As she turned around to make another line across the room she was startled by the sudden appearance of Miranda in front of her. She slid her arms around Andy's waist and tugged her closer. She brought a hand up to caress the back of Andy's neck, while nuzzling her lips below her ear. Like some kind of switch that's been turned off, Andy calmed. She snuggled into Miranda, sinking into her. The tension dissipating like mist in a storm.


Chapter 25

Miranda nudged her chin to look into her eyes, "I know this is difficult, but we need as much information as possible because if our… Joining was as powerful as I suspect."

They both remembered the visual evidence of their Joining from the drive on the way here from Runway, "Then we need to be prepared. Not only because of my own… enemies, but more importantly if this story is true then you may have powerful enemies as well."

She watched as a tear spilled down Andréa's cheek.

She leaned in to kiss it away, tasting the salty evidence of Andréa's distress. While she managed to minimize her astonishment over Andréa's possible lineage, one didn't live as long as she had and not bore witness to the multitude of ways the world of preternatural and magic can instantly turn one's life upside down. In fact, Power comes not just from innate or magical ability but being able to push through true adversity, and in the preternatural world that meant life or death struggles while emerging victorious. That took cunning, intelligence, luck, and true Power. She'd like to believe that she was becoming an expert on being victorious – the downside was that her cache of enemies were many and powerful.

As she soothingly ran her hand through Andréa's beautiful brown locks, she mentally urged Andréa to get more information, quickly. Meanwhile she beckoned Emily over, "I want everyone here within the hour. Call The Palms and have them deliver food within two hours. Follow up with the Banks and have them deliver extra blood: various Types – my usual for me. Then call my Ex-husband and have him collect the girls – explain that it's for their safety. I know he'll want to be at this meeting but I need him elsewhere in order to protect Caroline and Cassidy – even him. As for our guests--?"

She looked at Barinthius and Rhys, "It's been a while since I've dined with Sidhe, do you have any nourishment requirements?"

"No, the Sidhe eat most things humans do. However had we been Goblin, then our requirements might have been a bit different." Rhys' attempt at levity fell flat as everyone began bustling about to prepare for an emergency meeting. He shook his head, "Boy, tough crowd."

"Andy, please it's important that we fully debrief you of your heritage – because Princess Meredith's enemies will quickly become yours once word gets out of your Joining. And—" Barinthius took a moment to prepare himself, "and Princess Meredith and her Consorts will be arriving tomorrow morning to meet you." Princess Meredith lineage was mixed: Sidhe, Brownie, and Human. As a consequence many didn't find her a worthy heir to the throne of the Unseelie Court; leading to several attempts on her life. This includes the Queen's attempt to drown her as a little girl. Hence the reason Princess Meredith didn't live at Court; it tended to be bad for one's health.

But Queen had three problems: one – her son was a bit of a psychopath and even a sexual sadist such as the Queen cared enough to know that this could spell disastrous for a Court that had already been abandoned by their Goddess. Which leads to her second problem: the magic of the Court was dying, as a result important relics and individual magic was slowly disappearing. This leads to the third problem; she was unable to have any more children. Given Cel's (her son) proclivity towards psychotic craziness, the Goddess forsaking the Fey, she decreed that the first of her closet relatives either her son or her niece to announce a pregnancy would be named the next heir. This in turn led to more attempts on Merry's life.

Andy jerked herself out of Miranda's arms, turning fully to Barinthius and Rhys, "What?! That's impossible! You haven't given me one ounce of proof that you're telling the truth. I have Parents—"

"Andy, as soon as you completed your Joining, brining you into Sidhe powers, the Birthing Spell was broken." He stepped closer to a slightly shaking Andy and laid a soothing hand on her shoulder, "The parents you grew up with… will no longer remember you. Your family will no longer remember you." He grew concerned as the shaking grew stronger, her breathing increased, and her hands clenched. He started to speak again before Andy's hand raised to forestall him.

"I need a moment. You've just told me that my entire life is a LIE?! I need a fucking moment!" she turned on her heel and quickly left the room before anyone could stop her. Hearing the front door open and slam shut sent them into action, Miranda was out the door before anyone could blink. She moved at a vampiric speed, a blur to human eyesight, and even some preternatural.

Miranda paused for a moment on the doorstep outside, sniffing the wind, trying to catch Andréa's scent. She was her… Mate and no matter how foolish her actions were right now, Miranda's protective instinct was in full-force. She shifted her eyes into her Animal-t0-Call: bleeding icy-blue into golden cat-like irises. She sent a mental message to Nigel, telling him to hold down the fort until she returned and to call in reinforcements. The door opened and the two Sidhe men stepped out.

"We figured since we're the cause of this we could assist you."

Miranda continued to ignore them. Reaching out, the astral connective thread between herself and Andréa has grown much stronger since their Joining. This included a ability to scent a 'prey' from over 200 yards away.

Ah, there she is: Central Park. Miranda set off towards the Park, with Barinthius and Rhys following close behind.

Andrea finally stopped running, bent over trying to catch her breath. She slowly sank down on her knees, feeling the tears spill down her cheeks, her head bent with her hair spilling around her. A one humorous thought flitted through her mind: the only thing needed for this moment would be a sudden deluge, so she could lift her head and yell "WHHHYYYY!" she snickered to herself

But since she'll leave the dramatics to Emily, she just sat back on her heels, lifting her head to take in her surroundings – realizing that running out of the house without telling anyone where she was going might not have been the best idea in the world. But she needed air. She needed to escape the… utter insanity of the situation, even if it was for just a few moments. Besides she could 'feel' Miranda coming closer.

Aubrey and Richard Sachs were not her real parents. Suddenly she had an idea: she started patting around her jacket for her phone. She'd prove to everyone that this was all just a misunderstanding or an incredible story. She pulled out her phone, scrolled through the number until she got her "Parents." Her thumb hovered for a few moments over the CALL button, a moment of indecisiveness: butterflies started dancing in her stomach, and her palms started to sweat.

She pressed the button and hesitantly brought the phone to her ear. RING-RING-RING.

A voice answered on the other end… it didn't seem recognizable. "Hello."

Andy hesitantly answered, "H- hello? Is…--" Andy swallowed, "is Aubrey there? Or is my Mom there?"

There was silence, "Who is this? Who are you?" the voice cracked.

"It's Andy!"

A gasp followed by an outraged,"I don't know who this is but whoever you are – my daughter died when she was five years old! This is not funny!"

"What?! Who is this?! What daughter?! This is An –" a knot grew in her stomach, her eyes watered, Andy's fear grew.

"Stop it! How dare you! I don't know what game you're playing but our daughter passed away many years ago. Whatever prank you think you're playing is CERTAINLY not funny. Call here again and we'll call the cops!" and with that she hung up.

Her head hung down once again. Tears fell hot on her face, dripping off her chin. She began to quietly sob. She brought her hands up to wipe away the tears, trying to calm her shuddering. She knew she needed to 'get a grip', it was clear that events were unfolding quickly, but she didn't know who she was anymore. She no longer felt like 'Andy.' Her life, her entire life… did she even have a degree anymore? Lily, Doug, were they real? She thought back to the incredible 'story' of her life told by Rhys and Barinthius. She needed to take stock of everything that was happening, perhaps things would begin to make sense, starting with her Sidhe blood. She'll have to look back at the few things she'd read on the Sidhe. She thought back to her friends, especially Doug, who was a total fairie-phile.

She was almost too scared to call them because… what if she 'lost' them too? Her eyes started watering again. Maybe she could ask Rhy and Barinthius what impact this has had on her friends. That would help prepare herself for… or as much as she could, for potential loss.

So apparently she was a full-blooded Sidhe… royalty even. More importantly, her mother was Princess Meredith Gentry?! Everything she'd ever done, ever believed in, ever known…was a 'lie.' How the fuck was she supposed to just reconcile with that?! She pinched the bridge of her nose fighting off the beginnings of a vicious headache.

Suddenly she felt the air shift, going unnaturally cold, causing goosebumps to erupt all over her skin. She raised her head, realized that the grassy meadow she was in was suddenly empty, sound seemingly sucked away. But… something was here with her.


Chapter 26

She scanned the area intently, wishing Miranda would hurry up, even though she could feel her getting closer. Small, twin, pin-points of lights stared back at her from the darkness, more than one set too. Andy slowly stood as she stared at the pin-points that were getting progressively larger fast, the feeling of danger getting stronger. She reached down to slip off her heels – couldn't really run (or possibly fight) in heels, or at least she couldn't. Maybe she could use them in case she needed to poke an eye out since she didn't have much in the way of weapons. However she did have her magic and more importantly she was close to the entrance of the Park.

She called on her magic, her tattoos moving on her skin, the smell of roses wafting in the air, her eyes humming heat and glowing, while slowly moving towards the entrance. She watched as forms appeared to go with those sets of eyes. Shit! She concentrated, calling her magic to grow stronger, she sent a Hurry! to Miranda. She slid her jacket off, her arms exposed from wearing a short-sleeved shirt. Her tattoos suddenly erupted from her skin like black shadows dancing around her. She looked up seeing that the pin-pricks were now huge creatures, gray scaly skin, hands the size of cement blocks, tentacles flying about their heads, pillar-like legs with claws for toe-nails. But it was the large mace in their hands and their scary-looking fangs that really gave Andy pause. They were huge, there were about seven of them in varying sizes – but all over seven feet, and significantly closer!

Her heart felt like it was going to beat right out of her chest in sheer terror, her body tensed for fight or flight. She didn't know what these things were but the menace emanating off of them was very apparent. Unbeknownst to Andy her inky tattoos had formed. If she looked behind her she would see a huge black dog with wings, a black horse with 3 sets of powerful legs, and 2 huge black flying manatee-like things stood squaring off with the imminent threat to Andy. Thorny rose vines danced around her feet before rearing up like cobras.

"Yoouuttthh are thhee One." The apparent leader lisped at her.

"What?! What the hell are you? And what do you want?"

"We arreettthh SSSttthhpppaanx and yooouuttth mutthh die."

"What did I ever do to you? Wha—"

She was cut off, a grey tentacle suddenly shooting towards her like whip. She managed to duck just in time. But she could hear a click and looked at the end of the tentacle and noticed little knives. It was also at this time she noticed her black shadows had solidified– what the hell?! But she was too busy fighting another tentacle and fear from taking over rendering her immobile in terror.

She started back-peddling, almost falling on her ass, and her magic became unfocused. It was only the sting of the rose vines that helped her refocus a little. Ok, clearly her magic was evolving a little: clearly her inky tattoos were a little more now than… dark tribal tattoos and her rose vines seem pretty intent on protecting her. She just wished she had more of an idea on how to control them. Maybe if she can somehow get them to distract, she could hold these things off until Miranda gets here.

Speaking of Miranda, she sent out an urgent mental plea: Miranda! I'm in a little trouble here, where are you?!

Suddenly the talkative monster (and apparent leader) launched itself towards Andy and like a woman possessed she found herself bending backwards like a yoga expert and a sudden white blur came out of nowhere and tackled the monster. She watched as the two creatures landed on the ground and rolled to a stop. The white blur, which was a huge… Cat?! Was trying to get its huge jaw locked around the tentacled creature's neck, while the tentacles started nipping at its hide, leaving bloody furrows along its muscled flank.

Andy stood for a moment transfixed before she heard: Andréa you must concentrate! Use your powers to fight. I can't help you while fighting these creatures at the same time! Andy's glowing eyes opened wide for a moment with the realization that the huge cat was Miranda!

"Andy look out!" came a voice from behind.

She turned quickly and saw Rhys and Barinthius already in engaged in the fight. She felt a sting on her arm – that bloody nick brought her back into focus. She took a quick peek at her arm, then looked over at the huge cat and saw it was on its back, a tentacle wrapped around its neck. A huge arm lifted itself to prepare for a huge strike. Feeling a terrified-rage for Miranda, Andy moved like a woman possessed, whirled away from the creature that was trying to impale her on a tentacle, focused on one of her rose vines. She watched it whip up to the creature's face and spear it through its eye. It burst with icky purple-colored blood.

While the beast screeched in pain, Andy quickly returned her focus to Miranda-cat. She concentrated on one of her magical tattoos – the huge dog with wings. She watched as it launched itself at the beast on Miranda. It clamped its jaws with razor-sharp teeth on the creature's moving arm. As the dog whipped its mouth back and forth, tearing the arm from the creature's body, Miranda-cat whipped her head up to clamp her huge teeth into where the shoulder meets neck.

Suddenly Andy felt another nick on her arm and realized that her beast had re-grouped a bit and was even more enraged. Taking one last look in Miranda-cat's direction she focused on another vine and sent it flying towards the creature's neck. Since the vine moved very fast and the creature while huge was slow and lumbering. Consequently, it couldn't stop the vine from wrapping its thorny self around the creature's neck, digging in painfully. The purple blood starting to run in rivulets down its torso. The creature wailed in pain, Andy urged her vine to tighten –she wanted its head. But not before the creature managed to swipe one huge paw at Andy's body. The painful crunch was the only clue of how much it was going to hurt before she was hurtled through the air to land on her back, snapping its hold on the rose vine.

She heard a roar and painfully lifted her head to see that Miranda-cat had finished off her opponent. Andy's dog was still tearing into its still hide and Miranda starting loping towards her. But Andy saw another one of the creatures head towards Miranda-cat so she focused on another of her inky-tattoo-now-entity: the manatee. She sent it flying towards the creature that was about to intercept Miranda. She watched its twin join it, they both landed on either side of the creature halting it in its tracks. The creature snarled, but the manatees wrapped themselves on either shoulder down towards its arms. Then they enfolded the creature almost entirely. Whatever they were doing to it seemed to hurt a lot if the screams were anything to go by. But her attention was immediately snapped up by another creature landing on Miranda-cat's back, before it even landed Andy was already moving.

She heard one of the Sidhe men shout, "Here, Andy catch!" and without breaking stride her hand somehow reached up and snatched a long knife, similar to a Japanese Tanto, out of the air. She watched as the creature swiped a huge paw along the already bloodied flank of Miranda-cat. Andy focused down and sent a vine ahead to snag on one of the creature's paws. And again without even realizing it she launched herself the last few feet, hooked her arm around the creature pining Miranda-cat down, but before she could bring the arm holding the Tanto to stab it, one its tentacles wrapped around her hand, the tiny knife digging into her wrist. She stifled a scream of her own.

The creature's other paw made a swipe at Miranda-cat, leaving another huge bloody furrow. Andy was suddenly filled with a white-hot rage, the heat in her eyes increasing. This heat seemed to travel throughout her head, coursing down her neck, over and down to coalesce into her left hand. The heat grew in her palm and had she been able to look into a mirror she'd see that her eyes glowed like the sun and that glow encased her shoulders, down to that hand. However what was now sitting in her hand was ball of glowing heat edged by white rays similar to the ray that rocketed out of her chest during her orgasm with Miranda. The sensation if Andy had a moment to register in the midst of her rage would be a like an icy-hot sensation much like the sensation of a limb waking when its circulation was completely cut off. This sensation dimmed the pain of her other hand clutched by a tentacle.

Andy was holding off the creature. She watched as the creature brought its razor sharp teeth - similar to a set of giant piranha teeth, closer to Miranda-cat's sluggishly moving body. It was going in for the kill. Instinctively like some kind of newly awakened dormant DNA, Andy brought the hand with the glowing ball of icy-fire to the creature's mouth, shoving it in, cutting her fingers on its razor sharp teeth. But the creature immediately brought its hand back, screeching. The tentacle that was wrapped around her arm immediately let go, Andy brought the Tanto towards its neck, and slashed through muscle and tissue. The screeching diminished into a gurgle, while Andy and Miranda-cat watched the creature's head glow as if a light was penetrating every orifice. The light continued to grow a bright-orange and suddenly the head exploded, spraying unpleasant tissue matter all over them.

But Andy didn't spare a moment looking on in astonishment; she refocused her gaze on Miranda-cat. Aside from the blood and specks of the creature's purplish blood, Andy subconsciously registered the white fur with gold stripes – she was as beautiful in cat-form as she was in 'human' form. However none of that mattered right now, Miranda was very hurt.

"Miranda sweetheart, how can I help you?" it seemed as if Miranda-cat was losing a lot of blood. With her chest heaving in exertion Andy gently placed her hands over Miranda's wound, trying to stem the blood. Miranda-cat laid whimpering in pain, her huge head lifted up and licked at Andy's hand.

Andy could feel tears start to form, "Baby, please shift back. I heard that helps… just hang on sweetie. I'll see if I can get some help."

She looked up trying to locate Rhys and Barinthius. Suddenly inky shapes formed around Miranda and her – no longer the magical inky forms, just wraith-like entities that started swirling around them. They began to pick up speed, creating a funnel, encasing them. She could feel her hair wildly dancing around her head and she could practically 'smell' the magic in the air. She leaned over Miranda-cat protectively even though she believed that whatever this was meant them no harm.

Nuzzling her face in Miranda-cat's fur, eyes closed to keep out any possible debris, she missed the entities whipping through Miranda-cat's body before one-by-one they danced along Andy's skin. Her ears felt pressure similar to the when a plane gains altitude, she yawned to relieve it. However, it still felt like cotton was stuffed in her ears, because all sounds outside of the funnel were blocked out. One stopped along Andy's shoulder, forming like an inky gelatinous blob, and then sinking into her skin to form back into a tattoo. For Andy the sensation was tickling along her limbs, caused her to open her eyes. Surprised she caught the last inky wraith dash from a wound along Miranda-cat's side and right before her eyes the wound started to close.

Even more astonished she frantically looked at the rest of Miranda-cat's body to access the damage – damage that was no longer there. Mouth hanging open she finally registered the frantic voices of Rhys and Barinthius.

"Andy! Andy! Thank the Gods! Are you all right?" they reached her side, a sword dripping with purple goo in Rhys' hand and a pair of Sais clutched in both of Barinthius' hands also dripping with the creature's blood.

"Guys are you ok? Can you help me with Miranda? She's hu--," a growly voice interrupted her.

"Stories of my demise are greatly exaggerated, darling." Miranda, no longer a cat, was attempting to sit up.

Andy quickly looked down, "Oh my god, Miranda!" she immediately stopped short when she realized that Miranda was not only whole and human, but she was also very… naked.

Miranda seemed totally unselfconscious about her nudity, covered with blood and a little gore – and the new rose vine tattoo, she was still gorgeous. With a couple tears escaping her relieved eyes, Andy immediately leaned over Miranda, her hand coming up to cup her face, she leaned her face in their foreheads touching.

"Miranda baby, I thought… I was so worried. Don't ever do that to me again!"

She carefully helped Miranda sit – she knew that Miranda didn't want to look more vulnerable than she already appeared to be. However she was able to hug her into her body, while her other arm tried to wipe away some of the blood and gore. Miranda tilted her head a little and brushed her lips over Andy's.

"I felt your fear right before we entered the park… needless to say I'd appreciate it if YOU never scare me like that again. Not to mention, as my Mate you can no longer go off gallivanting by yourself." She touched her lips to Andy's, gently nibbling for a moment more, before pulling back to whisper. "It appears as if you have some powers that are truly remarkable. When were you going to tell me about them? And here I thought I was saving your life?" she smirked, even though internally she was concerned as she looked over Andréa's cuts and bruises.

Miranda knew they needed to get out of the park and return to the townhouse before something else… unpleasant happened. Plus she needed blood, very soon, even though Andréa had some kind of healing ability she was unaware of.

"I – I didn't – I mean I wasn't even aware I had these powers Miranda. It almost felt like someone else was inhabiting my body. I just saw that thing hurt you and it was like something… was called up inside me. I can't explain it." Andrea attempted to take off her slightly torn button-up shirt to help cover some of Miranda's nakedness.

She looked up and saw Rhys' grinning countenance, with roving eyes. She frowned.

"Wow Andy! That's some woman you got there." Before he could continue Andy interrupted him. She could feel a growl welling up in her throat at Rhys' lecherous looks in Miranda's direction.

"Rhys, eyes forward! Barinthius can we borrow your jacket? Obviously Miranda can't go waltzing through New York without clothes on. Even for New York that's a bit much." She watched as Miranda momentarily disdainfully looked at the jacket before putting it on. Andy shook her head in amusement –at least that will never change.

A drawl came from Miranda, "Rhys while I'm practically quivering at your approval we have more immediate concerns to address. Do either of you have a cell? We need one of you to contact the townhouse for a ride and reinforcements." She ran a soothing hand along Andréa's thigh. A tiny smile appeared on her lips at hearing the sub-vocal growl from Andrea as a possessive warning to Rhys.

Barinthius stood with his back to everyone, choosing to remain vigilant against additional threats. "Those creatures were Fey. I must contact Doyle to get reinforcements. Someone knows about you Andy and with Princess Meredith arriving soon, the threats against you could increase."

Before they could respond they heard a swoosh and they tensed for another fight. But it was Nigel and Roy appearing at the edge of the meadow, along with a few additional subordinates. They rushed over to them, with the subordinates formed a protective circle around them.

Miranda motioned her hand towards Nigel and Roy. "As you can see my people are a little more diligent in protecting their own."

Nigel handed over some clothes for Miranda. She pulled on loose yoga-pants and a v-neck shirt, with a quarter-length grey jacket. Loose clothing in the event she needed to shift again. Although, if she didn't get some blood soon she wouldn't be able to fully shift into her cat form, only partially shift.

"Well I see I can't leave you two (Miranda and Andy) alone for a moment." He looked around at all the carnage.

"As humorous as this may be we need to get to the townhouse. Barinthius and Rhys call whoever you need to, find out who did this!"

"Wait what do you mean these… things are Fey? Not any Fey I've ever heard or seen –" Andy stammered.

"And just how many Fey have you've seen Andréa? As these two gentlemen will tell you, the Fey are a varied species." She raised a questioning eyebrow in response. They were all hurrying towards the car.

Irritably Andy responded. "I know that Miranda. But what kind of Fey are they and why do they want to kill us?" her irritation had more to do with fear for Miranda than herself. She kept remembering how that beast almost gutted Miranda.

Running her hand through her hair, trying to tame the locks, "Andréa let's just get back to the townhouse and I'm sure these nice men will explain it all to you." She leveled an unflinching gaze on Rhys and Barinthius. "Won't you?"

It was unacceptable and suspicious that with the arrival of these two men coincided with an attempt on Andréa's life, and her own, for that matter. Although she felt more than with a little relief that Andréa could hold her own in a fight. But it was apparent that she was untrained and unaware of just how deep her power ran. The cramping of her stomach and the sudden onslaught of light-headedness reminded her of her need for blood.

A subordinate opened a car door for them. Miranda entered first followed by Andy. Miranda settled back into the soft leather seat, finally allowing her sore muscles to relax. Her stomach cramped again, she brought her hand over to rub away the pain. The longer she went without the blood the worse the cramping became, particularly after she shifted.

Are you ok? Andréa's concerned voice sounded in her head.

I'm fine. I just need some blood sooner rather than later. Miranda shifted in the leather seat, trying to get comfortable.

Sweetheart if you need blood then take it from me, responded Andréa.

As tantalizing as that proposition may be, I think you've expended more than enough sacrifices today. She eyed the various oozing cuts and bruises dotting Andréa's creamy skin. You cert—Andréa gently interrupted her response.

I'd rather you take from me Miranda. You don't need to go to… somewhere else for it. Andrea knew about Miranda's blood donors. She also knew from personal experience that Miranda's bite was… a bit sexual. So the thought of Miranda sharing that with someone else bothered her… greatly. But she knew that Miranda was the Master of the City so perhaps she was unaware of certain Vampire politics regarding 'blood donation.' All this went through Andy's mind as she stared into the now gorgeous icy-blue eyes of her lover.

Even with traces of smeared blood and a little gore on her face and neck she was still the most beautiful woman Andy had ever known. Now that the adrenaline was wearing down Andy was registering other sensations on her body: soreness around her wrist, the sting of a few scratches, tenderness from her various bruises, and the shakiness from the huge expenditure of magic. Not to mention the terror she felt from watching Miranda being mauled. She moved closer to Miranda, practically sitting in her lap.

Miranda please… I almost lost you. I… she gulped down the lump. I just want to feel close to you again. I'm sorry if I'm acting all needy but… I just need this… I need you.

Ignoring everyone else in the car, Miranda slid her arms around Andy's waist; she tugged her even closer so that she was sitting in her lap. Miranda felt an inexplicable need to be closer to Andréa too. Plus, that rapidly beating pulse with her Mark was 'calling' to her. She remembered how Andréa's blood tasted; she closed her eyes in remembered pleasure. Although, she'd be so ever thankful if this time around the exchange of body fluids didn't cause a catastrophic event. She nuzzled her head into Andréa's neck, blocking everything, everyone for the moment – the world would come crashing in soon enough.

Andrea's hand was caressing her hair, while the other curled over her heart. She turned her head to find Miranda's lips again. Miranda brought up her hand to help deepen the kiss, her tongue re-mapping the inside of Andréa's mouth: thrusting, searching out Andréa's tongue. Miranda's other hand dipped underneath the back of Andréa's shirt, caressing soft skin, re-connecting on a physical level. Andrea's tattoos were gently moving on her skin, reacting to Miranda's touch, one even reached out like taffy and caressed Miranda's hand.

Like some kind of post-battle lust. Arousal coursed through their veins and with Miranda needing to Feed, it made her arousal much sharper. Luckily they were in a limo with Rhys, Barinthius, and Nigel. Roy drove as usual. While all were experienced public sex voyeurs – this was Miranda Priestly and Andrea Sachs – the daughter of Princess Meredith Gentry, heir to the Unseelie throne. In fact, the two Sidhe men were feeling more than uncomfortable because Andréa was practically… their niece and in Rhys' case: possible daughter.


Chapter 27

Luckily they pulled up to the townhouse with both Emily and Serena waiting outside and phalanx of guards standing along the front. Nigel loudly cleared his throat, "Ladies, we've ar—,"

"Everyone step out of the car. I believe I've given all of you instructions that need to be followed sooner rather than later. That's all." Icy-blue eyes stared down the two Sidhe men, everyone else knew better than to ignore Miranda's "request." She could feel Andréa nibbling her ear, ratcheting her arousal and hunger.

Rhys stared at her before a tiny smirk appeared, "I guess we'll see you two in a jiffy. Don't take too long." With that he nodded in slight approval – Andy's Mate was strong indeed. She'd need to be if those Fey bottom-feeders they fought today are any indication of what's coming. He stepped out of the car, followed by Barinthius and Nigel.

While Nigel dealt with a frantic Emily and Serena, he turned to Barinthius, "We must contact Doyle and Merry immediately. Doyle can get here quicker – which he'll appreciate because he hates being trapped in a plane."

Meanwhile, inside the car discussions around future plans were stalled. Miranda began unbuttoning the slightly torn shirt, raking her nails against Andréa's firm stomach, leaving slightly pink furrows behind. However, Andy shifted until she was straddling Miranda's lap. She then swept her tousled hair to the opposite side of her Miranda's Mark.

"Are you sure?" Miranda was busy nibbling down Andréa's slender neck, tasting sweat and blood.

Andrea licked a trail around Miranda's ear and hotly whispered, "Yes, I've never been surer in my life."

She dipped her tongue into Miranda's ear, eliciting a moan from her. Her lightly scratching Miranda's scalp, she brought her mouth around to Miranda's lips again, swirling her tongue inside her mouth. Both of their aching, turgid, nipples scraped against the other's chest, and at times rubbed against each other, driving their desire for each other higher. Miranda pushed Andréa's shirt off and then reached up to push her bra-straps down her arms. She licked a path back up to her Mark. She could hear the blood rushing to through Andréa's veins tantalizing her. Andrea began grinding her hips into Miranda's, whimpering, moaning, through her lust.

Miranda could feel her own eyes begin to tingle, her mouth start to water, and her fangs ache with the need to bite. One hand crawled up Andréa's thighs, a thumb making maddening circles near her inner-thigh, driving Andréa a lil' insane. That bit of skin felt increasingly sensitive and so close to her pussy made her that much wetter. She could feel her panties become wetter as she leaked more juice.

The smell wafting up into both of their noses, filling the air in the limo. The "Old Andy" might have felt some embarrassment over how turned-on she was, but this "New Andy" wanted to… purr. She felt wanton especially as she felt Miranda's fangs scrape against her very sensitive Mark. Andy gave a little cry. It felt like the Mark was pulsating, becoming swollen with blood, as if preparing for Miranda's bite. It felt similar to another pulsating, swollen part of Andy.

"Mmmm, you're ready aren't you?" another scrape of her fangs against Andréa's neck followed by a similar reaction illustrated this point. Miranda moved the hand on Andréa's thigh to the button on her slacks. She brought her other hand to help lower the zipper and Andréa lifted her hips to help shove the slacks down her thighs.

"I had every plan to taste you much more intimately but time constraints have led me to improvise. I hope you find my… ability to adapt adequate." She was now sucking on her Mark, preparing it/Andréa even more for her Bite.

"Oh god, yes! Whatever Miranda… please just do something!" as Miranda's fingers plucked at Andy's now soaked panties, the need for relief was becoming imperative. Those wicked fingers slid past Andy's panty-line, worrying her pubic hair, avoided her throbbing clit, then lightly pinched her labia. She could feel her hole gushing even more juice, she'd be surprised if she didn't leave a wet stain on her pants.

Her hips shifted closer to those wicked fingers, trying to get them to move to where they were desperately needed. Her hands clutched at Miranda's shoulders , the pressure built in her nether regions, her stomach felt cramped from her abdominal work in trying to grind her way to an orgasm. Andy's breath sounded loud in the interior of the limo – thank the Goddess that Miranda dismissed everyone including Roy from the limo. Not that she might have been able to stop anyways if he could – Miranda had that effect on her.

The sudden scent of rain and earth, mixed with roses grew strong in the air. It was if their Powers were readying for the Marking and sex. Andy lifted her head to stare into Miranda's lidded glowing icy-blue gaze. Just as was about to lean in once more and capture those lips, the merest grins curled those beloved lips, eyes narrowed to a hint of wickedness.

"Hold steady darling, let's change perspective." And with that Miranda's hand that was teasing her pussy was quickly removed, while the other reached down and whipped Andréa's panties off, then those same hands lifted her off her lap eliciting a yelp of surprise from her, and quickly turned her around to straddle Miranda's lap in the opposite direction.

"Miranda, wh—" a hand sliding into her hair, sweeping up the locks on the side of the Mark, while the other hand slid back through her moist curls, worrying her labial lips, and the brush of the Vampire's scorching lips settled on the Mark.

The surprise was quickly swept away into the all-consuming desire that they'd been working themselves into. Andy's juices staining Miranda's pants, sweat dampening her shirt.

"Ready darling?" Miranda's voice was guttural and growly sending hot shivers down Andy's spine.

"Look how wonderfully slutty you look; sitting there with your shirt half hanging off, your breasts spilling out of your bra, nipples rock-hard, grinding wantonly on my lap. You love it don't you?" she continued firmly stroking that spot inside Andréa's body.

"You love my fingers inside you – I want you to soak my fingers so I can taste more of your deliciousness."

But Andy was too busy panting through the love-lust that seemed to have imprisoned her voice to respond to Miranda's dirty talk. Her head fell back onto Miranda's shoulder, a keening moan spilling from her throat, the weight suddenly too heavy, her hips grinded copious amount of lubrication coating those wicked fingers. She could only nod in acquiescence and hoped that Miranda understood.

She slid into her weeping hole, impaled her two then three fingers, and the fangs sliding like liquid into the Mark unleashed a sob from Andy's throat. Each pull of her blood coincided with the deep thrust and press against her the little ball of flesh inside her cunt, wringing a cry from Andy's lips. Andy lifted her hips impaling herself even more on those long, wicked fingers that erringly had no problem finding her g-spot.

The amount of girl-cum leaking out of her grasping channel was making a 'squish' sound every time Miranda penetrated, wiggled, swirled, pressed, and then retreated before repeating all over again. The pressure continued to build; the rhythmic pull of blood seemed to pulsate her quivering clit at the same time. The angle of the position made Andy 'feel' the bump against her g-spot even more. Like their earlier love-making, it was almost too much. The pleasure seemed to be tearing her apart and making her over.

Her cries and whimpers increased in volume –but that didn't matter because she could "see" the orgasm like a big freight train from a distance, her hole wildly clenching around Miranda's fingers.

"Miranda! I'm going to cum!" she cried.

Miranda with her fangs firmly entrenched inside Andréa's neck, her tongue siphoning the blood, laving the wounds, causing Andy's hips to jerk in reactive pleasure-pain. She was synched into Andréa on a level she had never experienced before. The events leading up to this moment reinforced this idea, so without interrupting her Feeding she responded to Andréa's desperate pronouncement

Touch your clit mi'amour.

Even before Miranda finished that sentence Andréa's hand that had been digging into Miranda's thigh started combing through her wet folds. She collected the abundant moisture, almost tangling with Miranda's plunging fingers, and dragged those fingers to her swollen clit. She began circling, spreading, her cum along the hood, worrying it until the pinkish-red, ultra-sensitive, head peaked out.

Like a pressurized cooker, the orgasm built along with those wicked fingers that were now curled and pressing hard on the g-spot in Andy. The pressure kept building, her clit impossibly hard, her nipples tight and straining in the air, and she could hear her wetness spilling onto the floor of the limo. Miranda brought the hand holding onto her waist to sweep up her tensed abdomen to her cup her full breast.

Those fingers cupped and gently kneaded before circling the areola and then clasping the nipple. When Miranda pinched and rolled those fingers that set off a domino effect that ended in a powerful, mind-numbing, orgasm. As the orgasm rolled through Andy, her tattoos slithered along Miranda's and her skin, gleamed the dim light. Unbeknownst to either of them Andy's magical tattoos were healing torn and scraped skin.

Andy's head snapped back onto Miranda's shoulder, her mouth fell open in a wail, while Miranda moaned through their connection. Andy's clit rhythmically pulsated in time with her wildly spasming hole that tightened around Miranda's thrusting fingers, as 'girl juice' gushed out. The air was thick with the smell of blood, sweat, cum, and magic. Miranda slowed her fingers while retracting her fangs, laving the blood weeping from the wounds. Little cries spilled from Andy's throat as the orgasm worked its way through her body, little quakes continuing to contract her gushing walls around Miranda's fingers.

Miranda peppered and suckled her way up to Andréa's jaw, a tousled white forelock spilled onto her forehead, tickling against Andréa's ear.

"I think it goes without saying that I'm thrilled that your orgasm does not coincide with a natural emergency." She nuzzled into Andréa's neck, while gently pulling her fingers free from their wet, velvet prison. "That was divine darling. I dearly wish we had more time."

Andy swallowed to get rid of some of the dryness in her mouth. "Geezus Miranda, I have to say that making love with you is truly remarkable." She turned her head to capture Miranda's lips. She pulled her head back to look into the gorgeous blue eyes. "But surely we're not finished… don't you n—"

"As much as I'd love to have those succulent lips of yours wrapped around a rather… "tortured" part of my body, we have an urgent audience waiting for us." She dipped her head in for another kiss and she brought up the hand that had been busy between Andréa's thighs and saw the glistening juice on her fingers. She brought those same fingers to her lips so her tongue could give them a rather thorough cleaning. She hummed while she "cleaned" and Andréa just stared in renewed lust.

"I have to say that as post-battles go, this is by far the best experience."

"And what do you know about post-battle experiences?" sniffed Miranda.

"I played volleyball in college; sporting events can feel like post-battles. Granted back then that meant dancing and one too many drinks, so you'll understand that I'm finding this method a lot more my… speed." The last part ended on a purr while Andy turned sideways in Miranda's lap to loop her arms around her neck.

"Be that as it may we need to get inside to start the meeting. Straighten enough to walk inside somewhat appropriately.

They shared one last kiss and prepared to meet the world.


Chapter 28

The scene that met them inside the townhouse would have been quite comical if it wasn't so serious. Andrea, go upstairs and grab us both something to wear. I need to deal with this first.

With a discrete pat on her Miranda's ass, Andy headed up the stairs.

An overturned lamp lay on the floor near the doorway and a broken vase lay scattered near the love-seat; two Werewolves were growling and snarling at the two Sidhe men. Nigel had a Were-Rat in a head-lock, while Serena who'd partially shifted had a clawed hand raised to strike at a partially shifted Were-Hyena. Other various Weres and Vampires were scuffling, knocking over books, and nick-knacks.

"Have you all lost your senses?! In my house?! You are fighting in my house." Even though Miranda's voice didn't increase, one of her abilities as a Master Vampire allowed her voice to 'echo' through their skulls as if she was shouting in their ears. Then Miranda allowed some of her Power to wash over them; like a open, burning, oven-like heat, with a dash of ozone-like smell of magic spilled through the room. Causing most of them to cower in fear, while others fought to not painfully shift (being forced to shift was very painful and those that weren't Alphas it took many hours to shift back to their human forms). For the vamps in the room it felt similar to a heavy dark weight was pressing down on them, coalescing pressure inside them until those with weaker powers started to bleed via their ears and nose.

Once everyone was either bent or kneeled before her in agony she relented. She watched for a moment as they tried to collect themselves. Nigel shook his head as if clearing cobwebs, Emily moaned and gasped while rolling to her feet. But one Were-Hyena didn't seem to take the hint; letting out a roar charged Miranda.

Miranda only smiled, baring her teeth – she did love a good bloodshed. Nigel and her other Lieutenants attempted to straighten in case she needed assistance. Although, this was unlikely especially as they watched Miranda flow smoothly like water to land in front of the approaching Were-Hyena. Seemingly all in one flowing movement, a clawed hand ferociously and inhumanly fast swiped upside the creature's head. Immediately blood sprayed everywhere, furrows deep enough to show bone appeared on his cheek up into his hairline, gleaming bright red. The Were reached up to clutched at its injured head, then fell back on its haunches to land fully on its back from the force of the hit, more blood droplets spraying down around him.

The Were rolled over, his hands trying to staunch more of its blood from leaving his head, the pain not yet fully registering. His other hand tried to lift his torso up off the ground to relieve the excruciating pain that was building from what would be be almost fatal injuries to humans. But Miranda wasn't done – she certainly wasn't going to watch him continue to bleed all over her expensive rug. The pitiful Were suddenly felt Power, like an open oven flow over him. He opened his mouth to scream from the bones shifting, breaking, shifting more, organs adjusting themselves and everyone watched as tan, specked with darker spots fur, flowed over his body, followed by a gelatinous substance that sprayed the immediate area, and a huge Were-Hyena stood in its place.

On all four it cried and whimpered like a cowered beast in the face of a powerful Alpha that painfully caused him to shift.

"Emily have this mess cleaned up, we will all retire to my Office. I'm sure that I don't have to remind any of you to be on your best behavior. I assure you what happened to Mr. Eldridge will pale in comparison to the next individual who feels the need to… act out." She didn't have to raise her voice, the icy-deadliness behind her words was unmistakable. She stared the room down one last time, finding sufficient submissiveness, and then turned on her heel and left the room.


Chapter 29

Andy nervously straightened her top in front of the huge floor-length mirror for what felt like the thousandth time. Today felt like the 'first day of her life.' She was meeting Her in an hour; Princess Merry should be arriving at JFK Airport within 15 minutes. She was feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland right now, the craziness of the last two days caught up with her last night. As she slid down in the beautifully appointed shower in Miranda's bedroom, crying silent tears, she promised herself that she'd do everything possible to not allow her life to be manipulated again. Tall order when dealing with otherworldly things and magic, but if it is within her power to not be a 'victim' then she'd make sure she wouldn't be.

For now her "score-card" was crazy: as of two days ago, she was formally Mated and Joined with Miranda, found out she was blessed by 3 different goddesses, her parents and family weren't really her family, and her real mother was none other than Princess Meredith Gentry of the Unseelie Court. And to top it all off an assassination attempt was made on her and Miranda's life.

At first she balked at staying with Miranda long-term but Miranda reminded her that with such an "involuntary announcement" of their Joining to all mystical and preternatural beings –including Miranda's enemies, plus an attempt on their lives, temporarily moving in with Miranda would be the safest strategy for everyone.

As Master of the City of New York City, Andy was also formally introduced as Miranda's Life-Mate to a subdued group of Pack Alphas from around the City. One was Shifted in full Were-Hyena form. She'd come to find out that that was part of his punishment for showing disrespect towards Miranda while Andy was upstairs changing. Nevertheless, while Miranda ruled over everyone, Andy was in essence her Queen. Heady, yet daunting, because some of those Alphas were… intimidating, to say the least.

But all that paled in comparison to the feeling of anxiousness and uncertainty she was feeling right now. Suddenly she felt arms slide around her waist, tugging her against a body, and Miranda nuzzling into her neck. "Are you ready?"

Andy ran her hands down Miranda's forearms before tangling her fingers with Miranda's. "As ready as I'll ever be." She paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "What if they… don't like me?"

"Don't be ridiculous Andréa. How could anyone not like you? In fact, if they don't fall in love with you at the first opportunity I'll be very surprised – which doesn't happen often."

"Miranda you're notoriously protective and non-objective when it concerns anyone you care about – and rightly so. But… what if I'm too… human or something? What if don't mea—"

"Andréa, Andréa, look at Me." she tugged Andréa around to face her and encased her face with her hands.

"Anyone who doesn't see the wonderful person you've become is not worthy of your respect, much less your love. And they will make me VERY disappointed. You know how much I hate being disappointed." She gently pressed her lips to Andréa's.

"She's first and foremost a mother, who will know her own child anywhere, particularly because of her Sidhe blood. Your connection is mystical, I'll be surprised if she doesn't feel that almost immediately." She ran a comforting hand through Andréa's curls, her other arm hugging her close.

"It'll be fine Andréa. The girls and I are here for you. Then we'll have what I'm sure will be fabulous time in St. Louis the day after tomorrow." The sarcasm was hard to miss.

Andrea lifted glowing tri-colored eyes to Miranda's, pressing her lips against Miranda's for a longer kiss. "Thank you… for everything. I'm not sure I could have dealt with this alone. I'm not even sure if Doug or Lily… even knows I exist anymore." She could feel tears welling up in her eyes.

"Shhhh. We'll deal with that when we cross that bridge. For now dry your eyes, Roy will have picked them up by now." They pulled apart and Andréa went into the bathroom to straighten out her make-up that started to run. Miranda stood before her armoire putting the finishing touches on her outfit: she wore a pair of Albert Nippon pin-stripe pants, an icy-green silk blouse by Zac Posen, unbuttoned to show a bit of décolleté. Her trademark Hermes scarf and Prada black heels completed the look.

Andrea's outfit accentuated her gentle voluptuousness; hip-hugging Diesel jeans, a snug D & G v-neck shirt, with a short True Religion jacket, and a pair of Chloe heels. It was worth more than anything Andy had in her closet at her apartment.

Miranda stood in the middle of the Master bedroom when Andy came out of the bathroom. She gave her customary visual inspection, motioning with her hand to turn around, before giving a nod. "You look good enough to eat. However, we should get downstairs they'll be here any minute."

They reached the bedroom door and before Miranda opened it, Andy cupped her hands around Miranda's face and gently pressed her lips to her one last time, trying to not smear their lipstick.

"I'm ready as I'll ever be."


Chapter 30

Andy sat on the couch sipping wine for some "liquid courage" while nervously glancing at the clock on the wall. Roy had recently called alerting Miranda that their guests consisted of a little more than what they'd expected. In addition, the paparazzi got wind of Princess Meredith's arrival, so she and her entourage were mobbed by flashing lights and shouted questions. Miranda had been on the phone calling for additional security and another call into her publicist Leslie. It was imperative that they tried to withhold Princess Meredith's connection to Miranda and Andrea as much as possible, mostly for security reasons. The Twins sat on either of Andy, seemingly giving her strength, a small hand clutched in both of Andy's hands.

Nigel was on the other side of the room, looking over the Book, while Miranda was on her cell pacing back and forth, firing off instructions. Emily was in the kitchen, making sure everything was prepared, and Serena stood near the door scrolling through her i-Phone. Other Enforcers stood outside the room in the hallway, two on the backdoor, and more outside the front door.

Suddenly, the sound of cars pulling up, halting the various conversations throughout the room while automatically increasing the tension.

"That's all." Miranda abruptly ended her conversation with Leslie while nodding to Serena to confirm that their guests had arrived. She turned towards Andréa.

"Are you ready darling?"

Taking a deep, fortifying breath, she responded, "As ready as I'll ever be." Miranda nodded and looked up to a returned Serena who affirmed that it was indeed their expected guests.

Andy turned towards the Twins. "How do I look?"

They consecutively smiled at her, patting her hands, "Andy you'll be fine. Besides we've got your 'back.'"

Andy just lifted an eyebrow, "Oh you do, do you?" she stood up, wiping her suddenly sweaty palms off her jeans, and ran a hand through her hair, while taking another fortifying breath.

"All right. Let's do this." She looked around the room to the looks of approval and support from Miranda's people, Emily came in with a tray of food, while Maria followed behind with bottles of wine and water.

A knock at the door propelled Serena forward with Nigel following behind as instructed by Miranda to let in their guests.

Andy laced her fingers with Miranda who stood next to her awaiting their guests. She felt like butterflies were tearing up her stomach. She couldn't remember another time when she felt this nervous or anxious.

Steady there. It'll be fine, you'll see, came a thought from Miranda.

Suddenly Andy felt a tugging on her magic. Like It knew something was coming, something It recognized and liked. She smelled a hint of roses, but it didn't come from her. They heard several footsteps and unrecognizable voices getting closer. Andy felt like she couldn't breathe the anticipation was… intense. A knock on the Sitting Room door, showed Nigel stepping through the door to announce their guests like some kind of weird formal setting, and a woman stepped forward. She was small, but she had gorgeous long, blood-red hair, glowing white skin, and beautiful green, gold, gray eyes. She also emanated Power. Power that seemed to be calling Andy's Power. She could feel the tingling-heat of her glowing eyes, her tattoos started to move under her clothes as if wanting to leap out in recognition of Princess Merry's Power.

They both stood staring at each other. Andy didn't even register the others that came into the room. She didn't even feel Miranda leave her side to greet the others, giving Mother and Daughter a moment to themselves. The moment was powerful, there was not a person in the room couldn't feel the emotional force of this meeting.

Princess Merry desperately tried to swallow the lump in throat. She gasped , her hand briefly touched her lips to stifle it. Her eyes felt the sting of tears. She could feel Her! The minute she stepped through the front door her magic responded, wanting to reach out towards the unknown Sidhe in the townhouse – and it only does that when dealing with either her Consorts or her children. Instinctively, her strong maternal sense instinctively knew that this was her Child – her Daughter!

The tears began coursing down her cheeks. "Goddess!" her eyes briefly closed. "All these years—"

She stepped forward. Andy followed suit until the stood only a few inches apart. The smell of roses grew, the Power rising – but not in a threatening manner. Andy's tattoos began drifting from under the cuffs of her jacket sleeves and out the v-neck of her shirt.

Some of Miranda's and Princess Merry's enforcers began making a move towards them, but hand from both Miranda and Doyle; the Princesses Primary Consort and one of the Fathers of her sons, stalled all movement. Besides, the scene between Princess Merry and Andy was emotionally-loaded enough without Enforcers mucking things up. Not to mention, there was enough Power in this room to cause a natural disaster. But most of all, all eyes remained captivated by what was taking place in the center of the room.

Merry tentatively lifted a trembling hand as if she couldn't believe Andy was real. She closed her eyes again because she could see her, see the cord that connected them. A warm hand touching her arm opened her eyes. She stared up into Andy's tri-colored, Sidhe, eyes. She could see the Power seething under her skin and definitely noticed the inky tattoos flowing off of Andy's skin, one was even gently wrapping around her ankle. She knew those inky tattoos, they were similar to one man. Doyle. The ebony-colored man, who would one day be King of the Unseelie Court, standing behind her.

She gently cupped her Daughter's face and another of Andy's tattoos flowed from her neckline to gently wrap around Merry's wrist. A sob leaked from Merry's lips. "My Daughter."

One hand tenderly wiped Andy's tears away while the other are came up and pulled Andy into a hug. That sense of incompleteness suddenly disappeared, leaving her feeling whole the minute she felt her Daughter's arms around her.


Chapter 31

The emotions tearing through Andy were intense the minute she laid eyes on Princess Merry. But her magic knew. It knew that this woman, this powerful woman was her Mother. She could barely remember what the Sachs looked like anymore. Barinthius had explained that that was the result of the Birth Spell diminishing. The minute she touched Andy's face and one of her tattoos swept around Merry's ankle was intensely fulfilling, and the most important moment of her life next to becoming Miranda's Life-Mate.

Her Mother, after all these years, she'd found her family. Her scent filled her nostrils, comforting her and she knew that for the rest of her life the smell of roses, sunshine, ginger, will always remind her of this moment, of her Mother. Being pulled into her Mother's arms was like 'coming home.' The tears continued to spill from both of their eyes.

"Mother." She whispered.

The hug became tighter; everyone and everything around them disappeared. And then literally that happened. They both gasped as they suddenly realized they were no longer in Miranda's sitting room. Each keeping an arm around each other they pulled apart and took in the completely white room. A woman suddenly appeared in front of them. Merry attempted to place herself protectively in front of Andy.

"I am so happy you have finally found each other. Like a song where the words were on the tip of your tongue, you both knew something important had been missing from your life. You lacked completeness, even though you've both found your Life-Mates."

The woman smiled and it was like the sun leaking through a cloudy sky.

"I mean you no harm. My name is Gaia and it was time for me to make myself known. Your Mother's lineage has proven itself worthy of being blessed, but it is you Andrea, who embodies the spiritual strength and integrity to be considered worthy of a Daughter of Gaia. A warrior for the Earth, for Life, the ultimate balance to your Life-Mate who is considered a Child of Death, of the Underworld. But she too is no ordinary Child of Death. But that is a journey of awareness is just beginning for her – you were the catalyst.

However, it was important that your Mother, from this moment on be an integral part of your journey Andrea. A Darkness is coming that threatens all magic and by the Circle of Life. You will need all the considerable Power available to you: both innate and external. Your Life-Mate , Your Mother, your Family and Clan, and your Allies, will provide substantial 'hands' of Power. But it is their Love that will provide the important sustenance needed for this coming battle. Merry it has been wonderful watching you grow into your own. I know that you mourn the loss of your Frost, but know that he is always with you. As all things magic and Sidhe, that is a Story that unfinished.

She stepped forward and briefly touched both of their foreheads. "Go now. Andrea I leave you with a parting gift - I believe are the words my colleague used. Listen to the Earth to begin learning how to use them. But learn quickly because the time of Darkness is growing close." And with that they both found themselves in Miranda's sitting room surrounded by frantic family and friends.

Miranda hauled Andy into her arms, looking her over for any injuries, while Doyle, Galen, and Rhys, and others, rushed to Merry's side. Mother and Daughter shared a 'look' before Merry lifted her hand to hopefully silence everyone.

"We are fine. We just had an impromptu visit with a Goddess."

Merry reached for Andy's hand. "It's been confirmed by the Goddess Gaia that Andy is my Daughter."

Miranda gently turned Andy's face around to hers, "Are you really all right? You just suddenly disappeared."

Andy covered Miranda's hand, "I'm fine sweetheart. But once everyone settles down we can talk about what the Goddess said." She leaned forward and briefly kissed her, needing to reconnect with her, until she felt a hand on her shoulder.

They pulled apart and Andy looked up at two tall men, one with long almost Christmas tinsel colored hair, and tri-colored eyes: silver, dark grey, and black. Next to him stood a man with green-colored skin but with inky black hair that hung down his back. His tri-colored gaze consisted of a grassy-green, gold, and dark grey.

"Hello. My name is Darius and this Aiden. We are your brothers." Andy could feel her magic responding to them too, reaching out like a baby to its mother, again not threatening, but more to reaffirm that they were also… Andy's.

Miranda let her go, while Andy stepped forward and was engulfed in strong arms, then lifted and spun around. A watery grin appeared on her face before she was engulfed in another set of strong arms again, however without the "spin cycle." All three grinned at each other, sudden cohorts in whatever mischief they might plan in the future.

They were suddenly pushed aside to be replaced by a totally green man, like the Hulk without the muscles. He was various shades of green all over. "Greetings lass. Welcome to the crazy family. Are ye sure you want to join? The name is Galen." He briefly held her hand in both of his.

"Well Galen, Aiden, and Darius – this is my Life-Mate; Miranda Priestly." They engaged in a staring contest until Darius leapt forward and engulfed Miranda in a hug. Her face clearly said: what the hell?! Andy laughed.

When they let Miranda go, she immediately stood back and leveled a glare at the rambunctious, laughing, men. "That's so sweet Miranda. Look you're already getting along with my Family."

Before Miranda could deliver a scathing response, the men quieted and parted to allow the ebony-colored man, who just stood before Andy and Miranda. Miranda sensed that this man was a leader, the Alpha of this group. She also sensed his Power… some of it familiar. But how? Her eyes suddenly widen before she recognized that particular power signature: it was similar to her Andréa! Which could only mean one thing: he was Andréa's Father!

She slid her hand into Andrea's, while she stared him down and shared a look of understanding before she turned her body into Andréa's, her arm coming up around her waist.

"My name is Doyle. Consort to Princess Merry and Father to her son Darius." He stepped closer, his stare softening. "I believe I am something more to you as well Andrea." When Andy looked at him questioningly, he responded. "Look with your magic."

Not noticing that the room had been silenced Andy focused on her magic. It responded instantly, the tattoos once again moving, reaching out towards… her eyes widen as she saw dark shadow leaking out from Doyle's skin; reaching, almost invisible because they blended into his skin.

The gaseous tattoos met between them swirling together, creating little gold sparks. An instinctive knowing grew from the pit of her stomach, glowing, growing more pervasive by the second, along with the scent of roses.

Andy raised wide, glowing, eyes to Doyle. "You're… my Dad!"

Suddenly it was all too much, feeling light-headed, swaying slightly, Andy brought a hand up to her brow, while the other flailed behind her hoping to find something sturdy to keep her upright. As she watched Doyle quickly reach out towards her, immediately a set of arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her against a body – Miranda. A hand gently touched her arm, Merry looking on in concern, while Miranda began to walk her over to the settee.

"I think that's enough excitement for today." suggested Princess Merry.

Miranda just glared at her guests in response – Andréa wasn't the only feeling as if things were spinning out of control. "I agree. In the meantime, food is arriving, and we need to make arrangements for your lodging needs." She tenderly leaned down and kissed Andréa's forehead before standing up.

"Emily, make arrangements for our guests. The rest of you," looking at the various Enforcers and heads of other Were-Clans, "can see your way out. You have your orders – Nigel will assist you in whatever capacity you need." She paused, still addressing her Enforcers. "But remember- do not take advantage of my… generosity – I assure you I'm much scarier than you can imagine."

Princess Merry spoke up before she continued, "I'd like to stay as close as possible for Andy."

Miranda sighed; she really wanted these people out of her home. "Very well. Carmen will prepare the guest rooms for you." She looked over and saw the Twins and Andrea's new brothers chatting, while also looking upon Andréa with concern.

Doyle also had something to add to the conversation. "I apologize but I never leave the Princess' side. I am her chief enforcer, plus I'd like to get to know Andy a little more as well."

Staving off a growing headache, "I assume you can share a bed?" she glanced at Andréa, whose eyes were closed however, a small smile clued Miranda that she remained aware of developing situation – cheeky girl. "Since I assume you'd like enforcers of your own, you may select 2 additional people permitted they do not disturb this household."

She stood up. "In the meantime there are some matters I need to attend to and I'm sure Andréa needs food and rest. Carmen will show you to your rooms and any other requirements you may have."

She leaned down and gently kissed Andréa , murmuring against her lips, "I'll be upstairs later to properly tuck you in. Just try to get some rest, darling, I'll be getting the girls ready to go to their Father's, after I've seen to our guests."

Merry moved closer to Andy to gently holding her hands. "I wonder if we might spend some time alone sometime tomorrow?"

Andy sat up, giving Merry a soft measuring look, "Of course." She looked down as if gathering her courage for something. "I - - I want you to know that… even if the world seems kinda upside-down right now and confusing, but I… knew you were…Family before you even walked through that door." Feeling emotion engulf her once again, a lump settling in her throat, eyes glowing and watering, she wanted to impress upon her Mother how important this was to her.

"Oh sweetie, you're a Sidhe and a Gentry. How could I not recognize that?!" Merry squeezed her hand one last time releasing them to leave Andy to rest. "I just hope you'll forgive me after meeting the rest of your family." With a wink and a chuckle she followed her entourage out the room.


Chapter 32

Miranda ran a hand through the silky brown hair spread across her chest and shoulder. Andréa's head was dozing on her chest, her leg thrown over Miranda's thigh, in fact, a good portion of her body was snuggled up – practically on top of Miranda's. That was fine with her; naked warm skin pressed against Miranda's slightly cool skin, was a delicious sensation. And one she could definitely get used to. But more importantly, the unexpected contentment she felt with Andréa here in her bed was… akin to a sensation she only felt twice in her 'lifespan'; once when she'd held Cassidy and Caroline in her arms for the first time.

The other was closer to a time during her humble beginnings.

Cappadocia Province, Annatolia (Turkey) 5 Century B.C.

Miranda stood before the funeral pyre; the smell of burning flesh and incense wafting unpleasantly to her nose, but her countenance was without a hint of grief or any of the other emotions which only lent to her already 'unnatural airs' designated to her by the various wives and other villagers. After all she was not showing proper grieving as a widow. Her husband was being laid to rest after a group of bandits caught him unawares outside their caravanserai (roadside inn).

These caravanserais were dotted along the famous 7000 mile Silk Road and were crucial in the long trek for travelers and their animals. Connecting the East to the lands in the West, Cappadocia (now Turkey) was the mid-point of a long and perilous journey. Between the desert and mountainous terrains, and warring Empires, or bandits, conditions often proved treacherous and these inns were life-savers. As a result owners of these caravanserais were often prosperous, particularly those that offered a measure of safety for travelers. Meryem was very good at managing her establishment – she'd been doing it before she was betrothed to now-deceased husband.

Her parents were murdered a few years ago from a marauding band of thieves, and most recently her husband. But such was the life here in Cappadocia. Living outside the 2 larger cities: Tyana and Caesarea made them especially vulnerable. These conditions made the people of Cappadocia somewhat hardy, perhaps brave, or a little foolish, and very cautious. However, they were also ingenious. Like dogs warring over a juicy bone, the region of Cappadocia was always being raided or set upon from competing interests so the Cappadocians went underground.

They built vast underground holdings in the company of the above-ground villages with convenient (and secret) underground entry points. At a moment's notice a threat of impending bandits or armies would send the villagers underground. Large rooms with winding passageways, hidden traps laid in wait for pursuers who meant harm: indefinitely trapped in a room or tunnel, a hole for hot oil to be poured through from above, deadly holes for spears, all made for an impossible situation for a pursuing army.

Meryem's family ran one of these underground caravanserai (or hotel) for anyone willing to abide by the strict no-violence rules and part with coin. They were safe-havens in a land where life was tenuous and survival-of-the-fittest ruled. In return a patronage would receive food and lodging for them and their camel, vet or medical services, drink, and paid sex. It was one of the few safe havens along this part of the Silk Road; as such it was a necessity and very profitable. With both her parents and the death of her husband, made Meryem a prized widow and a target for jealousy, and ambitious, unprincipled, men looking to take over her establishment and her bed. Most "proper" women avoided her because of her "unnatural airs", but then Meryem has always been different from most women.

She was the result of her Persian mother and persecuted Egyptian-Jew and traveling scholar father who, in a desperate attempt to escape a group of Greek soldiers, stumbled upon Cappadocia. Her mother was unusual in that she could read and write, while seeming to have a gift for languages. Not to mention she married a Jew. A good portion of her mother's uniqueness was kept hidden and passed onto Meryem. This was a world where men ruled and "proper" women deferred to their husbands and fathers.

However, in Meryem's family; knowledge was power. Her father had always been a practical man, when his nose wasn't in a book or scroll, he'd be found maintaining the ledger of the caravanserai. He knew that life was tenuous at best and on the chance that he wouldn't be around to protect Meryem or her mother, he believed that they both should have the skills necessary to survive.

So it was with this belief-system that made Meryem into an unusual and mysterious, but successful business woman. She kept to herself, didn't make friends lightly, and ignored the looks of disapproval from the other villagers. However, one man didn't mind her… 'uniqueness'; he came through her village at least twice a month, and oftentimes he brought with him a rather mysterious looking woman.

Her dark skin, high cheekbones, short-cropped hair, gleaming white teeth and full lips indicated that she came from the lands of Nubia or Egypt. He was a tall, broad-shouldered, and swarthy, figure, with piercing dark eyes. They requested the same room, sat at the same table while the man with an unreadable expression would often watch Meryem. If the woman was there she'd whisper in his ear, while sending amused glances towards Meryem. She'd tried to ignore them but after several months following the death of her husband, she decided would approach the strange couple.

She was in the kitchens, listening to the gossipy cooks about the latest Greek incursion. It seems as though this Alexander was making quite a name for himself. Minoo one of her 'Ladies' was sitting on a stool, eating, replenishing, after a long night with a Macedonian trader. While Meryem busied herself counting how much wine to barter for their next order, she overheard Minoo mention the couple. Apparently they never ate, only preferred red wine, and didn't seem to heed any warning about the dangers of traveling with mercenaries. Minoo hoped that the male would seek out her services – although she was not adverse to the female.

Meryem rarely engaged in gossip, but she always kept her 'ears to the ground' because information was often invaluable – especially to a widow like her. She turned to a serving girl that just appeared in the kitchens for drink.

"Is that wine for the table near the back?"

Quivering under the imposing attention of Meryem, the girl responded shyly. "A – ah yes, Meryem."

"No worries, I will take it myself. Take care of the tables near the door and inform Ranajit that he double-check the guards at the entrance – last time they had too much drink and proved lax in checking for weapons."

"Yes, Meryem. Right away, Meryem." she quickly gathered her tray to head out of the kitchen before she was stopped by Meryem's voice again.

"Please do not to break your fast; I would prefer if you didn't succumb to light-headedness like last time." She finished dryly. She fondly watched the girl scurry away before turning to the cooks.

"Make sure she eats and that Ranajit keeps an 'eye' on her." The cooks nodded their heads – they all had a soft spot for the girl – Mithra, her Mother was ailing and her Father was unknown, so they'd all taken it upon themselves to look out for her. They suspected that he might have been a Spartan soldier (or so they romantically believed.)

As Meryem arrived at the mysterious couple's table, she watched as once again the woman with glittering amused eyes leaned over and whispered something in the man's ear. It was clear that they were talking about her. Mildly annoyed Meryem set the new bottle of wine on their table with a bit of a bang. But neither jumped or appeared defensive, if anything they appeared even more amused. Meryem had had enough.

Staring down the male she fumed. "Is there something about me you find amusing?!"

Then it seemed as if the very air around them went still. While still looking mildly amused there appeared an odd stillness to them. Like animals caught in sights of hunter's arrow that had gone still. Meryem found she couldn't move either and the sound around her seemed muffled. She began to feel the same light-headedness she accused Mithra of earlier, her breathing seemingly harsh in her ears. The male's eyes seemed infinite, like falling down a dark well so black neither shadow or a hint of light remained.

He did a slow blink seeming to release Meryem from whatever… magic he had enthralled her with which caused her to stumble. He voice rumbled, deep and rich. "Many apologies madam. In our travels we have few occasions to find such interesting… subjects as you." He took a sip of his wine before continuing.

"Please allow me to introduce ourselves: my name is Khalid and this is Senura." He gestured to an additional chair. "Would you care to sit and share a drink with us?"

Even though Meryem knew she had work waiting for her she found herself sitting down. "Since we are doing introductions my n—," she was interrupted by the woman's silky voice.

"We know who you are Meryem." she reached out to finger a locke of Meryem's hair. "With someone so lovely and so… unique, we were inspired to know as much about you as possible."

Meryem frowned, watching with some bemusement as the woman wound a locke of Meryem's hair around her finger. "Unique? There's nothing unique about me."

The woman leaned closer to Meryem, "Ah, but there is. Not many women would own and run a prosperous caravanserai without succumbing to the… competing interests." Leaning closer still, her lips practically touching Meryem's ear, "We know that you can read and write – more than one language. We know many things about you Meryem."

Meryem felt shivers run down her spine as the woman's lips practically brush her sensitive earlobe. Her heart seemed to race, causing the vein in her neck to throb. Meryem turned her eyes away from Khalid's amused, hooded ones, to look at Senura's face which was closer than ever.

She found herself whispering. "Wh- what… who are you? What do you want?" she felt as if she was on the precipice of something or starring in the face of a weaving cobra. But another sense was making itself known; while neither Senura or Khalid exhibited any outright aggression the sense of… danger or menace seemed to crawl up her neck.

The woman laughed, lilting notes that danced on the air. "Perhaps we are your destiny."

"Please forgive Senura, she can be amused easily. Life is full of transgressions and harshness – she takes her amusement wherever and whenever she can." Before Meryem could respond to what she suspected was an insult Khalid continued. "Her laughter was not at your expense I assure you. Mayhap, her laughter was at her own sense of irony."

Meryem could feel a headache growing feeling the sudden need to escape these two individuals. "Well, as much as I would like to continue to share in your revelry there are things I must attend to." She stood up, brushing her hands down her skirts, gathering her wits. "Please continue to enjoy your evening." Meryem walked away as if the "fires of the underworld" were on her heels.

However, before she disappeared into the sanctuary that the kitchens provided she glanced one last time at Khalid and Senura only to be startled when she saw an empty table. She quickly looked around her establishment and saw no sign that they'd ever been there.

A sense of foreboding came over her; she clutched the only piece of jewelry she had that her Father had given her; the Star of David. The action was almost involuntary and her only connection to her Father's religion even though she'd be considered an 'expert' comparatively to most other Jews. She was very knowledgeable about the Torah and could read and write in Hebrew but never really practiced and was suspicious to many of the beliefs – particularly as it pertained to women. But in times of uncertainty or vulnerability her Star of David gave her sense of… strength.

For the rest of the evening she never saw the couple, nor for the next few days. Meryem believed she wouldn't see them until their somewhat 'scheduled' time next month. But life had a way of surprising even the most self-possessed individuals. It was late, way past twilight, most of her clients were well into 'their cups', her men had broken up more than few drunken fights, vets had already conducted all animal check-ups, and most of her Ladies were busy with clientele. Miranda was lugging a vat of olive oil to dump above-ground.

It was a silent night, every manner of insect could be heard, the neighing of horses and grunts of camels occasionally broke the silence. After depositing the oil, Meryem took a moment to take in the fresh air and quiet. She tiredly found a large stump to sit for a few moments. Tilting her head back, she looked at the brilliant night sky and for a moment it reminded her of the brilliant darkness found in Khalid's eyes. Sighing to release left-0ver tension, she rubbed the back of her neck, allowing the gentle breeze to cool any lingering sweat. She reached up with both hands to release the tie that held up her long blonde hair, before an unusual sound broke the silence, causing her hands to pause.

With narrowed eyes she looked around, trying to figure out what the sound was, before she heard the bushes rustling near her. Tensing she looked over her shoulder and saw nothing until another sound, louder, making her stand slowly. Peering into the darkness around her, seeing no one, Meryem felt her tension returning but this time not from unruly customers but from… trepidation.

Standing she looked around, while gauging to see how far away she was from the entrance to the caravanserai. A rock skipping along the ground near her propelled her towards the entrance, while reaching down with hand for her ever-present dagger. Right before she grabbed the door something tackled her to the ground, causing the breath to leave her body. The pressure on top of her suddenly went away. Chest heaving in fright, she turned over, dreading what she'd see; bandits or soldiers looking to rape or pillage, jealous villagers wanting to "cure" her of her unnatural airs.

Turning over slowly, not hearing anything again, she saw nothing! She looked again towards the entrance, gauging it from her position and saw that it was a little further than before. Meryem thought that if she launched herself from the ground she could make a run for it. She slowly stood once again, mindful of the aches that appeared from the last attack. Looking around frantically trying to see what it was that attacked her and the same darkness mocked her in return and did nothing to alleviate her tension and fright. In fact, it was ratcheting it. Her breath rushing to and from her lungs sounded loud, almost cancelling out the other sounds in the area.

Cautiously standing and looking around, she gathered herself before dashing for the entrance only to be knocked high off her feet, hitting the ground hard, scraping her knees, her head banging the ground hard, causing 'lights' to appear in her vision. She groaned as she attempted to move onto her back; her knee protested fiercely, burning, aching. She felt a warm trickle fall around her ear and wondered if she'd hit her head hard enough to draw blood. Whimpering and in pain she turned over and saw… Senura! She stood, straddling Meryem. She stared down at Meryem, her ever-present grin on her face, except… there was something else.

Meryem momentarily closed her eyes, clearing her vision and when she opened them she let out a squeak because now Senura was kneeling over her! Meryem's heart felt like it would explode out of her chest in fright – she desperately hoped that one of her people would come to her rescue. Perhaps if she screamed mayhap someone will come running.

But a cool hand gripped her chin, holding her mouth immobile. "Now, now, Meryem. You do not want to ruin the 'surprise' we have for you." Senura leaned down, "We have so many wonderful things to show you. But first, you must prove yourself worthy."

Meryem attempted to swallow the desert that seemed to of grown inside her mouth before speaking. "Wh—what do you want? I have no coin on me, only inside m—"

Another deep voice sounded from the darkness. "Coin is not what we want, my dear Meryem. We want to give you a 'gift.'" Khalid said.

"What are you talking about?! Gift?! What kind of gift is this?! You mean me ha—"

Laughter interrupted her. "Oh yes, my kitten; we do mean you harm. But that is the only way to see if you are worthy." Senura purred, before gently licking along Meryem's jawline.

Khalid stooped down near Meryem's head, gently stroking her sweat and blood-stained hair. "Do not worry Meryem, if you prove worthy you will understand how invaluable this 'gift' is and that only very few are given this from our Great Mother."

Meryem could feel her fright increasing, she somehow felt as if Death itself was at hand; these two meant her harm. Sacrifice? A virgin ritual mayhap? But nothing could have prepared her for what she saw when she really looked at Khalid and Senura. Her eyes darted back and forth in terror: gleaming fangs, the same inky-dark eyes only they seemed lit up like the night sky she'd just been admiring moments ago. Her eyes were caught by Khalid's; she seemed unable to pull her gaze from them. She felt as if she was sinking, all sound seemed muffled, as if her ears were being smothered by a rug, completely ignoring the woman kneeling on her.

Suddenly, hot, very sharp, twin piercings tore into her throat, stealing her breath away. The light-headedness she felt from before was even more severe, Khalid's eyes seeming to grow bigger, taking up all color and sound. She could feel lips and teeth suckling her blood from her neck and it was at that moment that she knew she'd be joining her Parents and husband in the after-life. However, her "life" was just beginning.

That was Miranda's humble beginnings. She lived through the very painful transformation process and was given personal 'tutoring' from the Mother's First Guard – which was Senura and Khalid. Khalid had been a warrior in early Egyptian monarchies, while Senura had been a child of an Ethiopian tribe so old that present scientists believed that human DNA as we know it today derived from her people. Being transformed was not the end of her 'tests', she still had to be worthy of the Mother of Darkness; a Vampire and Were-Animal, believed to be the first of either kind. Apparently every few centuries the Mother allowed her Children to make a worthy emissary that would carry on her line and able to navigate the modern world.

The Transformation wasn't complete until the Mother herself shared her 'Kiss." If one lived through that then they were accepted. If not they were killed. Her blood was ancient and potent, but addictive. When Miranda bent her head over Mother's wrist, her new fangs tearing through marble-like skin, suckling that potent blood which felt like potent scotch pouring into her skin, her blood felt icy-hot as it raced through deadened veins, the air around her seemingly sucked away, pressure building around her. Shadows and darkness so intense swirled around her body, then darted throughout her body leaving icy tendrils in their wake. Afterwards as she 'slept' her bones and muscles felt like they were breaking and tearing themselves apart only to immediately heal. It was excruciatingly painful. It felt like she was dying all over again. Her nails scrabbled against the coffin she'd been in, breaking them, her back bowed, screams leaked out of her mouth. The pressure became so intense before she lost consciousness.

When she woke everything was a thousand times more brilliant; smell, sight, hearing, and hunger. After futilely fighting Khalid for causing her pain, which he handedly beat her for; he taught her how to fight, how to track, and how to hunt while leaving no bodies behind. But it was Senura that clued her in to her other… 'gifts.' Her Animal: a Were-Saber-Tooth. She also was an occasional lover. All in all, their "lessons" stood her in good stead throughout the ages, they went their separate ways. Eventually, Khalid was killed from a German Vampire Executioner, who'd been hunting Preternaturals to study and hopefully transfer some of their "gifts" to Nazi officers. Miranda and Senura personally attended to their deaths.

Since then she knew that Senura was in a Sleep near Mother's body. This was the tale she regaled to Andrea in bed following the exhausting day with Andrea's new family. In two days they were heading to St. Louis and hopefully deal with all threats to her Clan.


Chapter 33

Miranda and Andy were in the kitchen waiting for their guests to arrive downstairs. Miranda was pouring both of them a cup of coffee, Andy was busy on the phone rescheduling appointments, arranging deliveries, and conveying orders to various Runway staff. Miranda was naturally dressed-to-kill. Starting with those gorgeous, shapely legs, which were encased in plum-colored silk stockings and a cream-colored, pencil skirt by Bianca Nero that gently accentuated the curve of her hips and those legs. Her beautiful cleavage was enhanced by a fitted Marc Jacobs, dark-plum colored, blouse --unbuttoned just enough to show a tantalizing décolleté. In addition a matching, cream-colored, fitted vest that seemed to 'cup and lift' those full breasts, had Andy drooling just a little. A requisite cream-colored, Hermes scarf, added to the look along the standard black 4-inch Prada heels, completed a stunning picture. However, Andy was currently finding it hard to not feel… languid, after an early morning love-making session that had her biting into a pillow to stifle a scream. In fact, she couldn't remember ever feeling this supremely content.

Miranda smirked at the look on Andrea's face. "Really Andrea, I hope that you'll find a way to dismiss that 'freshly-fucked' look before you see your mother."

Andy chuckled. "Ah, Miranda I doubt my Mother is expecting me to be a blushing… virgin. A) She travels around with an entourage of paramours and b) she been personally blessed by one THE Sidhe Fertility Goddess –Danu."

Miranda smiled but before she could respond, they were interrupted by multiple feet storming down the stairs complete with two red-headed little girls walking into the kitchen. Miranda shook her head.

"I see that my wish to refrain from stomping down the stairs like a pack of bulky Steve Madden platform shoes has gone unanswered."

The Twins walked over to kiss their Mother on the cheek. "Morning Mom. Morning, Andy."

"Hiya, Caroline and Cassidy. Did you Ladies sleep okay?" Andy snatched a pastry off the tray that Carmen was preparing.

As usual they eerily replied at the same time, "Yes, Andy."

However, Cassidy tended to be the more outgoing of the two Andy noticed and peppered her with questions. "So Andy, what are you going to do now that you're a Princess? Are you going to go visit the Mound? Is our Mom going with you? Are there any blood sacrifices involved? W--"

Andy held up a hand to stave off further questions. "Whoa, my little blood-thirsty, Tiger! I'm just wrapping my head around everything and all I can tell you is that I hope to get to know my… Mother a little more."

Miranda saved her from more interrogation. "Girls, have you finished packing? As soon as you're done eating breakfast you'll be leaving for your Father's." She paused for a moment to make sure she had their undivided attention. "It is very important that you listen to your Father. I dearly wish that you would never have to worry… about matters of 'life and death'. But that is not the world we live in. That is not who I am. Your Father and his Clan will protect while we are gone – as always. And I'm only a phone-call away." She gently caressed their cheeks. "I love you both very much; we will be back as soon as possible. Now go get ready, your Father will be here soon."

Caroline smiled and restrained herself from rolling her eyes – sometimes their Mother can be so over-the-top; they can take care of themselves. They wrapped their arms around Miranda's waist. "We know Mom. We're very happy that Andy found you. We'd worry even more if you hadn't had Andy as your Mate. She'll protect you, you know."

Andy smiled into her coffee.

More steps down the stairs heralded the arrival of Galen – the greenest man they'd ever seen.

With a grin on his face, he waved to the occupants in the room. "Good morning everyone! Something smells good and if you happened to have more coffee I'd love a cup." He leaned down to fakely whisper conspiratorially to Andy. "Since living with Merry in Los Angeles I've become addicted to the stuff."

Other footsteps showed the arrival of Merry, Doyle, Kitto (whom the Twins and Andy found very fascinating), Andy's brothers: Darius and Aiden, and Rhys.

In the meantime, Carmen had finished laying out the spread for breakfast.

Andy got up from her stool to shyly kiss Merry's cheek. "Good morning, everyone. I hope you slept well. Hi… Mom." She blushed.

Darius, Aiden, Rhys, and Galen were digging into their plates piled high with pastries, eggs, and fruit while setting in to watch the playful sparring. Kitto just slid under the table near Merry (apparently he's got anxiety problems) while nibbling on a pastry and Doyle stood leaning against breakfast nook, sipping tea and amusedly watching the proceedings.

"Thanks sweetie. I'm starved," she smirked before continuing, "and I imagine you've worked up quite an appetite yourself if the noise coming from your room this morning was anything to go by."

"Oh Goddess, is this going to be a 'regular thing' – you teasing me about my sex life?" Andy whined, blushing furiously.

Galen chimed in, grinning. "Well if you're anything like your Mother I suspect you'll keep your Mate quite busy." Andy rolled her eyes while desperately wishing her blush wasn't 'burning her skin.'

"That's quite enough. Andrea's sexual prowess is not in question I assure you. If you'll excuse me; I have matters to attend to. Andréa will fill you in on our upcoming trip to St. Louis that you're insisting on joining. We can discuss this evening all concerns around security – including any additional concerns we need to be aware of from your world."

Doyle finally spoke, halting Miranda's progress from the room. "I spoke to Queen Andais earlier this morning. You'll both need to be briefed as soon as possible. She is not someone you'd care to meet without knowing where you stand." He paused to let that sink in. "She is insisting that we present Andy to the Court. I have been able to delay this until we finish matters in St. Louis."

Andy looked at her Mother and felt the tension and anxiousness emanating from her. Her glance caught Miranda's look of concern. "Go ahead love, I'll call you later with the details."

"If you're sure. I'll expect a call no later than 2 and not a minute later." she walked over to lean down to gently kiss Andy, "Take care of yourself." before she nodded 'good-bye' to her guests and left.

Rhys watched as she left the room. "Wow! Andy if she is one fine dame." Rhys had a fondness for old films and tended to adopt some their old-world colloquialisms.

Andy playfully narrowed her eyes at him and playfully growled. "Listen Rhys you and my Mother may have a fairly… unique and loving arrangement, but I don't share so keep your hands to yourself and we won't have any problems." She smirked. "However, you're right, Miranda is one hot dame." Rhys slapped her back like a bad frat-boy moment and laughed, causing Andy to roll her eyes in exasperated amusement.

A chuckling Merry chimed in. "Well as much as it gives me the shudders to hear my daughter talk about my love life with one of my Consorts, I think we should tackle the issue of Queen Andais, St. Louis, and your impending visit to Court." She took a bite of her fruit. "After all that we can go shopping." She finished excitedly, ignoring the concerted groans from her Consorts.

Andy, of course, had something better than just regular ole' shopping; she had Miranda and the Closet. "Actually, I might have something better. Do you read Runway magazine?"


Chapter 34

It was decided that a private jet would suffice for the trip to St. Louis with such a large entourage: Even if it was the larger jet from Donatella. Miranda's ears were still ringing from their last conversation.

"Mia cara! Who is the delizioso bon-bon you are with?" Miranda pulled the phone away from her ear as she heard a squeal following that question-statement. "You MUST bring her to my villa in Positano. It is a place of romance, si?" Miranda wanted to unleash a verbal lashing as Donatella babbled on but somehow managed to restrain herself. Anyone looking in her office right at that moment would've seen a painful grimace and glowing blue eyes.

Miranda minutely shook her head and did her best to forget that painful moment. They were about to land at the St. Louis International Airport. Her cool skin felt almost hot with two hours of Andréa curled up against her side. Presently, Let the Music Play blared from her earbuds, apparently, Andréa loved his music. Recently, Miranda was re-introduced to the "magic" of Barry White thanks to Andréa's influence (she begged so prettily). Miranda secretly found her enthusiasm delightful so she didn't have the heart to tell that she knew quite a bit about Mr. White due to her and Nigel's days of prowling the dance floor of Studio 54 in the late 1970's. Mentally, turning her focus back to their impending arrival, she was thankful that they wouldn't be bombarded with Mid-West "fashion sense" and Bible-thumping harpies since they'll deplane directly onto the tarmac and into their waiting limos which avoids the walk through the airport.

She gently tousled Andréa's hair and kissed her brow to wake her from her restful slumber. Miranda managed to stop herself from looking smug while thinking about the thorough… ravishment they engaged in last night. They'd used toys once again, it was clear that Andréa knew her way around a strap-on. Shifting a little in her seat, Miranda could feel herself moistening and her nipples hardening as she remembered the buggery she received from her Mate while she was on her hands and knees. There were some definite advantages to having a Mate that's been blessed by a fertility goddess – it makes Andréa practically insatiable.

Suddenly, soft lips glanced her ear, whispering. "I can 'smell' you love." Those lips nibbled before suckling her earlobe. "You're remembering last night aren't you?" Andréa's hand resting warm on her thigh, squeezed and rubbed. "I wish we were in this plane all by our lonesome because then I could sit on your lap while you do wonderful, nasty, things to me." Miranda swallowed her suddenly dry mouth, before turning her heading and capturing those wicked lips, gently pressing her tongue out into her Andréa's mouth, to tangle and swirl around Andréa's tongue.

When Andréa quietly moaned, Miranda slowly lifted her mouth from Andréa's swollen lips whisper. "Then isn't it lucky for you that tonight is a new night."

The plane finally landed on the tarmac and they were about to deplane. It was their understanding that Jean-Claude would be sending a representative to greet them and help them get settled in. Miranda and Andy, along with the rest of their entourage descended down the stairs to where a tall, swarthy, dark-haired, man, with perhaps Latino features, awaited them. But he wasn't alone.

A short, blonde-haired, grinning, with tight latex pants and a sheer shirt, waved to them as they drew closer. Standing next to them was a short woman, with pale skin, hard, dark eyes, long, dark wavy hair, wearing red v-neck t-shirt, jeans, cute Nike sneakers, and a jean-jacket that seemed bulging most likely with weapons, completed a somewhat dangerous looking. Two other men stood near them; one who was almost as short as the blonde-haired man and woman, but had long dark, wavy, hair, almost effeminate features, broad shoulders, wearing a suit and sun-glasses. The male was tall and lithe, with a braid that seemed to almost reach the ground. There were other people who seemed to 'scream' muscle more than a greeting party.

All in all, when Miranda and Andy got closer to the woman, Latino male, and the long dark-haired male, they could 'feel' their Power leaking out. Andy struggled not to look too closely at the woman – her Power felt… darker, but more intense. In fact, her Power seemed almost as strong as her Mother's or Miranda's. Andy sneaked a look at Miranda only to see her staring down the woman; almost challenging her. Miranda stepped closer to the woman causing both Andy and Merry to hesitantly reach out in case… well, just in case.

Miranda looked her most… intimidating. Standing tall and straight, Miranda, stared her imposing nose down at the woman - who didn't seem impressed. In fact, the woman stared right back. It didn't seem to help matters that her Mother joined Miranda in some sort of "Mexican stand-off."

But then the woman smirked and like an oven baking the sun that's just been opened Power exploded out from her, stealing their breaths, making them gasp. Her eyes were like swirling pools of gold and darkness. It was when her hands moved that Andy started to move only to be held back by Doyle.

"Let them work this out. Have a little 'faith' in your Mate."

Miranda was now smiling a little sinisterly, showing some fang, her eyes glowing an icy-bluish-white swirl. And then she let out her own little Power show; the smell of magnolias wafting the air, unnatural shadows and darkness dancing along the edges of their feet. The air thickened around them, making it hard to breathe, until finally one of them males intervened.

"Anita! That's enough!" the man with the long-dark, wavy hair and sun-glasses spoke.

Andy's eyes had started glowing brown-gold-green, her tattoos moving gently along her skin. Not feeling threatened per se, but not wanting to be unprepared. Andy lifted her hand to Miranda's shoulder. "Miranda sweetie, why don't we get into the car?"

Andy also noticed that her Mother's eyes were glowing; her skin seemed to glow as well, before turning her gaze back on the Anita. "Look obviously I thought that 'who's-got-the-biggest' was only a guy thing, clearly I was wrong. Is this the kind of… reception you give all your guests?"

"Only the special ones –"Anita responded.

"Anita! I apologize; we've been a little… defensive because so many of our past… visitors have brought nothing but trouble." The tall, swarthy, male interrupted her. "Allow me to make introductions: my name is Rafael; I am the Rodere of the Were-Rats and often provide Protection to various Preternaturals around St. Louis. I'll be extending that same service to you during your stay." He paused gesturing towards the short long-haired male. "This is Micah –the Nimar-Raj of our local Were-Leopard group and Co-Founder of the Local Furry Coalition –as we fondly like to call it."

Pointing towards the shorter blonde and the taller, long-haired male, "Jason is a Were-Wolf and Pomme de Sang to Jean-Claude and Nathaniel is a Wereleopard and Anita's Pomme de Sang." He paused walking up behind the woman before resting his hands on her shoulders. "And this is Anita: Executioner-Extraordinaire, Jean-Claude's Human-to-Call, Nimir-Ra of the Local Were-Leopard Group, Master Necromancer, and so much more… Isn't that right Anita?"

She shrugged his hands off of her before releasing a great big sigh. "Fine." She held out her hand to Miranda. "Truce?"

Miranda only lifted a well-manicured brow before leveling a withering look that have shriveled many ovaries in the past, ignoring the outstretch hand for a moment, before smiling again – which alarmed Andy. "Very well."

She shook Anita's hand, squeezing just enough to send a message, but she was a little surprised when Anita squeezed back almost as hard. However, neither women would refuse to shake their hands out in order to 'save face,' but they found themselves feeling a smidgen of respect for the other. If Andy had known this she'd of rolled her eyes in exasperation for sure.

However, Miranda had to have the last word. "Well now that we've cleared the proverbial air let me make one thing clear: I do not stomach games very well, so my tolerance is zero for such ridiculousness." She moved closer to both Anita and Rafael. "And if any of my people are hurt in any way because of your silliness I can assure you that you'll find out how very unforgiving I can be."

Anita only fondled her various hidden weapons without taking her eyes from Miranda and responded dryly. "Well now that that's settled," she briefly grinned, "why don't we get everyone in the limos? Jean-Claude is looking forward to meeting you."

Chuckling from the other side of Miranda had everyone turning their attention to Princess Merry. "Well as 'greetings' go, this is one of the less painful one's I've experienced. Although the day is still young." She shook hands with Anita. "Princes Mererdith Gentry of the Unseelie Court, Heir to the Throne, Princess of Flesh and Blood, and bunch of other things. She then shook hands with Rafael. "I'm aware that that's a 'mouthful' so feel free to call me Merry in private, Princess Merry in more formal settings." Gesturing to Andy, "Andy is my Daughter and Miranda's Life-Mate." Taking in the wide eyes, she started towards the limo, ignoring the stunned looks on their hosts' faces. "We can finish the rest of the introductions on the way to our lodgings, I'm in desperate need of the bathroom."

Andy and a few others started laughing while following her Mother. The chuckling shorter blonde-haired male spoke. "I can tell this is gonna be an interesting few days. Thank the Gods that our little stand-off is the only thing we had to worry about so far."

Of course he spoke too soon, startled everyone watched as a glimmering purplish blob appeared behind the cars, that continued to expand and grow until it formed a large swirling circle.

Anita spoke, taking out her Firestar in one hand, while sliding out one of her knives in the other. "Jason you just had to say that didn't you?!"


Chapter 35

Everyone either shifted or unleashed a weapon and settled into battle-readiness as they saw the first furry gray foot step from what appears to now be a portal. The huge, ugly, body that followed that foot was the same creature that attacked Andy and Miranda in the park. It was quickly followed by several more creatures – more than what attacked them in the park.

Anita spoke. "Damn, they're ugly! Any idea on what they are and more importantly how to kill 'em?"

Miranda had already partially shifted her hands into furry claws, her fangs lengthening, cursing herself for wearing a skirt."I've found that severing their head or tearing their throats out work."

Anita drawled a rejoinder, "It usually does."

Princess Merry who unleashed a Beretta Tomcat .32 was immediately joined by Doyle who'd already unleashed his famous daggers: Snick and Snack, while the rest of them unleashed other mystical weapons. The first creature launched itself at Princess Merry only be immediately beheaded by Rhys' sword, Doyle had to duck when the resulting spray of blood arched out towards his vicinity.

Gun-shots exploded from Merry, Anita, and Rafael's weapons, almost deafening Andy's ears. But she was busy watching as Miranda wade into the fight, immediately engaging an creature slashing upwards with her claws. She concentrated, feeling her 'tattoos' gliding along her skin before dancing down her arms and legs to swirl around her feet. She watched as they formed, various shadow animals – as she's dubbed them, darted towards the creatures pouring out of the portal. Her own Tanto given to her by Rhys found its way into one hand, while with a bit more concentration saw a glowing orange orb in the other.

As one creature tried to sneak up behind a fighting Merry, unleashing one of its nasty tentacles, Andy launched her orb at it, watching as it was engulfed in a magical fire. Merry turned her head towards the wailing creature, then towards Andy, grinning and nodding in approval, before turning her attention to the next creature.

Andy saw that one of Anita's men – Nathaniel was having a hard time fighting off one of the creatures, he'd dropped a gun, and was already sporting a few bloody slashes. She quickly ran over, ducked under a tentacle, and then slashed upwards with her Tanto causing it to unleash a screech. She looked at Nathaniel again and saw that he was attempting to Shift. So she tried to divert the creature's entire attention on her. Ducking and dodging, while slashing and cutting, she concentrated to unleash another fiery-orb. A cut on her shoulder from the creature's tentacle, quickened her need to dispatch these thing as quickly as possible. She stabbed it in the stomach or what appeared to be the stomach, the creature roared in pain and anger, giving Andy an opportunity to shove her orb into its mouth.

It unleashed another high-pitched screech. But it was immediately cut off when a vicious set of claws swiped through its neck almost severing its head. Breathing heavily, Andy looked at her co-conspirator and saw a huge, upright, her eyes almost involuntarily shifted downwards --- whoa! … Wereleopard.

Panting, she flashed a grin at him. "Thanks for the assist."

She turned towards the rest of her family only to see Nigel, Serena, and Emily fully shifted, tearing into the creatures. Although Emily, like Miranda was partially shifted, with huge claws, and dangerous-looking canines that were currently tearing into an arm/limb of a creature. Serena fully-shifted was huge, well over 6ft, with beautiful orange and black stripes indicative of her Weretiger heritage. Of course, only Nigel and Miranda could pull off a fight wearing haute couture. Her Mother was quite impressive as well, her glowing luminescent skin and an (ouch!) upper-cut that would do any daughter proud, it was becoming clear that her Mother was experienced in – ewww! fighting. Somehow she just caused one of the creatures to explode – unfortunately it ended up all over Emily.

She heard her Mother yell, "Sorry!" and then the din of fighting grew quieter because almost all of the creatures has been killed. However, the stench of their blood and guts, plus a good dose of lycanthrope shifting goo (it sprays everywhere when a Lycanthrope shifts, but miraculously their fur stays dry). Needless to say most of Andy's entourage was looking a bit worse for wear: a good portion of said blood, guts, and goo, had found its way on hair, fur, and torn clothing. Andy had quite of bit of the creatures' blood on her too, with a grimace she attempted to dab at a smear on her cheek. She looked around for Miranda before spotting her; her Connection to her helped her keep mental/emotional tabs on how she was faring throughout the fight.

Locking eyes with her lover, chest heaving from exertion, fangs glistening in sunlight, hair sexily tousled, her skirt delightfully torn up both sides; Andy read the look of sheer joy on her face. Andy mentally smirked; of course Miranda secretly loves to a good fight. However if she was lucky Andy suspected that when they got to their hotel she would reap the benefits of Miranda in Post-Battle lust.

"Is everyone ok?" asked Anita.

"Anyone know what the hell were those things?!" came Rafael's growly inquiry.

Andy noticed the quick looks between her Mother and Doyle before responding. "Well we encountered them for the first time pretty recently." She stopped when she saw the warning look from Miranda.

Rafael interjected, "I've a feeling that Jean-Claude would have liked to have been apprised of your run-in."

Andy watched as Miranda nonchalantly wiped her hands off on her skirt as if she was totally unconcerned of the slight criticism coming from Rafael. "Let's get one thing clear. I am not, nor am I here" she sneered this last part, "to 'braid hair or share ghost stories.' I do not answer to Jean-Claude and I certainly do not answer to you." She stared down Rafael, allowing a little of her Power to leak out.

Everyone but Anita – who still didn't seem impressed watched the proceedings with consternation. Rafael finally held up his hands in supplication, while his eyes dropped in submission. "I apologize. It was not my intention to question your authority in this matter. I simply want to be prepared for any situation."

Miranda nodded slightly before responding. "Now that we've had all the excitement we can stand for one day, we'd like to be shown to our lodgings."

"All right everyone, let's load up. Miranda, just so you know; I feel a certain… responsibility to the community here. So if something endangers them I tend to take that personally. Now you may not feel like you have to answer to Rafael, but I'm an entirely diff—"

Andy felt the need to interrupt mostly because Anita rubbed her the wrong way. "Umm, I know whatever warning you're about to give is important, but I'm dirty and hungry and I imagine that whatever 'polite warning' you're about to deliver can wait until the official meeting tonight."

Following that statement, Anita was feeling more than slightly annoyed, in addition, she could feel her Ardeur awakening a little in response to the slight insult and the buzz of post-battle. Like a 'whoosh' of hot, sizzling, air, everyone felt it, including Miranda's own version of the Ardeur.

"Oh for bloody sake, control it or feed it, I don't care but I'd like to leave! " Following that statement Miranda glided towards the door ignoring Anita's rapidly increasing anger and blood-lust. So with that everyone was rushed into the appropriate vehicles.

As the entourage headed left the airport, Emily exasperatedly thought, this trip was going be a HUGE imposition!


Chapter 36

Andy was letting the hot water dance along her tense shoulders, working out the tension. She reached up running her hands through her wet locks, taking stock of any strained muscle or tissue from the fight. Suddenly, cool hands appeared along her naked torso, languorously dancing up and down her abdomen, then up to cup her breasts with rapidly hardening nipples.

Miranda brought her body snug against Andy's, her own nipples dragging along Andréa's toned back, and more importantly, the artificial lump of flesh snuggled in between Andréa's bottom. Listening to the gasp elicited from her Mate's lips, she brought her lips along Andréa's sensitive neck, pushing the hair to side with her chin, and Miranda peppered suckling kisses along her shoulder, until she reached her Mark.

Minutely moving her hips to brush and rub her double-headed dildo along Andréa's bottom, nudging the smaller piece inside of her, greedily listening to moans and whimpers leaking from her lover's lips. Miranda's hands were busy fondling, squeezing, her palms brushing teasingly along Andréa's nipples, before bringing her fingers to pinch, roll, and pull, the reddened tips.

"Miranda." Andréa cried out.

She brought one hand to gently grasp the wet strands of her lover's hair, tugging them to the side so that Miranda could have unfettered access to Andréa's skin. Nibbling her way up to Andréa's ear, suckling the lobe, darting her tongue inside Andréa's ear, prompting a moan from her, the smell of roses and magnolias, the heat of the Ardeur awakening, and rainy thunderstorms began to permeate the steamy air around them.

"Ar--, aren't you… feeling frisky." Panting through her arousal before she shifted to give Miranda more access; widening her stance she desperately wanted Miranda's fingers to touch her wet, swollen, heat.

Miranda brought her other hand back down to sweep along Andréa's torso, before sliding over her naked, bare, rapidly swelling, center. Twisting and pinching the lips together Miranda decided that she wanted Andréa begging before she plunged into her steaming cunt while studiously avoiding her throbbing clit – even if Andréa was trying her patience by grinding harder against the dildo which deliciously rotated, inciting the sensitive nerve endings inside her.

"I think I might make you work for it. We know how slutty you get when you're begging me to make you cum. Don't we Andréa?"

Miranda could feel through their mental link Andréa's arousal rocketing from the nasty words she whispered on the air. But she knew the Ardeur wouldn't allow her to wait too long, It needed to be fed and Miranda needed to cum She could feel her own wetness leak out around the smaller end of the double-headed dildo inside her, making it slide in and out even smoother and wetter. The urge to take her Mate was growing but she wanted to 'play' on the edge a bit. She decided that she wanted a little taste of Andréa while she fed, so she gently grasped her around the waist, turned Andréa around, lifted her thigh to hook around the Miranda's waist, and then slid her hand down Andréa's stomach, over her mons, glancing over swollen nub, and into Andréa's quivering hole. Miranda played in Andréa's juices before plunging her fingers inside, teasing Andréa's opening, gathering even more of her Mate's delicious sap, before bringing her wet fingers up to her Mark and smearing the juices.

"Miranda… wh-w—what are you doing?" Andy was too busy trying to not to cum too quickly but she's discovering that soon after a fight Miranda's post-battle lustiness is contagious. Plus Miranda looked fiercely delicious when her gorgeous icy-blue eyes were brightened even more, almost like a swirling bluish-white ice storm, slitted, with a predatorily-possessive gleam in them. It made Andréa want to mewl and bare her neck to Miranda… she felt like a bitch in heat she thought with some lustful amusement. That's all right; Miranda can more than handle it.

Andrea was gorgeous in this moment thought Miranda; head thrown back, her thick chocolate mane lushly wet, her skin marked beautifully with her tattoos, her creamy skin stained pink in a full-bloomed flush. She loved to greedily watch her when she was like this, teeth digging into her bottom lip as the pleasure streaked through her. Miranda immediately sought out those lips, her tongue deeply pressing into the heated cavern, teeth clashing as they their tongues tangled.

Lowly growling because Andréa's scent was painting the inside of her nose, quickening her blood-thirst and heightening her lust, almost sending her senses into a frenzy, Miranda finally answered her. "Hmmm, you smell divine Andréa and I plan to revel in you before we leave this room."

Andrea's hands were clasped around Miranda's shoulders, her nails digging into her skin as Miranda peppered kisses down her neck, until she reached her shoulder. She then swiped her tongue along her Mark and suckling the scar.

"Are you ready?" She listened as Andréa continued to whimper and release little cries, her hips pressing into the dildo. "Of course you are. Delicious! And you want so badly for me to be inside you. But you're going to have to work for it." Her fangs which had grown progressively more sensitive teased her Mark, scrapping against the skin setting off little 'explosions, letting Andréa know that the moment drew closer.

"Yesss Miranda. Please!" Andy pleaded.

Her cunt felt achingly empty yet swollen making her feel practically delirious with arousal, she needed Miranda to fuck her, fill her, make her cum. She knew the double-headed dildo Miranda was wearing; they'd used it a couple of times since they became lovers. As soon as Andy realized it her juices leaked out even quicker, while her sugar walls contracted faster in anticipation, her clit felt hot and throbbing, quivering and taut. She brought her other leg up to twine around Miranda's waist to join its twin, dragging Miranda's full cunt even closer to her own, brushing, rubbing her swollen nub and gleaming, swollen netherlips against Miranda's own swollen node and cock . Her sensitive nipples were still searing and deliciously sore from being worked over by Miranda's hand switching back and forth, pinching, rolling, pulling them taut, but were now brushing along Miranda's nipples, exacerbating the exquisitely tender nodes. Her Mark throbbed in time to the blood pulsing through her veins and the teasing scrap of Miranda's fangs, the skin feeling full to bursting.

What Andy didn't realize was that her upgraded Powers; compliments of her most recent visit with a Goddess (the Goddess Gaia), activated at this precise time. She didn't notice that the still room suddenly danced with a flowery-scented wind, or that water seemed to be sprinkling down from more than just the showerhead, or that the roses that tended to sprout at inopportune times became mixed in with other rapidly growing plants. In all, the bathroom began to resemble a tropical rainforest.

The only reason Miranda had yet to realize this was because she was busy smoothly sliding her fangs into Andréa's flesh, while at the same time she'd parted Andréa's moist netherlips to finger her grasping hole. Widening, stretching her open with her seemingly thick fingers before firmly, slowly, pressing her 'cock' into her Mate; filling, stuffing, her tight cunt, a slight burn mixed in with an pleasurable sensation cause Andréa to loudly groan in bliss.

"Yes!" cried Andy.

Miranda whimpered in response to the heady taste of blood mixed with Andréa's juices painted one her skin, complete with finally bottoming her cock inside Andréa, and her wonderful responsiveness.

The sounds leaking from her Mate's lips were decadent and sent her lust spiraling upwards, her hips began to beat a steady tattoo; back and forth, rolling, circling, as if there was some magical reggae beat thumping along her spine, hitting all those wonderful nerve-endings inside Andréa. She could almost feel how tightly and snugly Andréa gripped around the dildo, the smell of Andréa's juices and blood, along with other tantalizing scents, were setting off a chain of reactions and small explosions inside of Miranda.

Miranda's own walls began contracting down on her section of the double-headed dildo, rubbing against the quivering knot inside her, setting off the beginnings of a magnificent climax. She renewed her efforts for Andréa, wanting her to cum soon; bringing one hand down, finally acquiescing to Andréa's pleas, to first lightly circle the throbbing reddened flesh at the apex of Andréa's labial lips, ignoring the cries for a firmer touch for a moment. But it was Andréa's firmly rotating ass, circling the dildo inside Miranda, quickening the explosions inside her, hastening the massive impending orgasm. Her other hand moved from Andréa's now deliciously sore nipples to sweep down Andréa's tensed and heaving torso, to wrap around her waist, anchoring her to give Miranda the leverage to properly thrust and circle even deeper inside Andréa.

Andrea feeling her limbs weaken even more, with both legs clenched around Miranda's back, she didn't worry that she would drop her. Andrea reached a hand that'd been digging bloody furrows into Miranda's shoulder, up and back into Miranda's hair to drag into the damp strands as the pleasure tore through her body. Miranda had finally lifted her head, her tongue lapping at the weeping wound, licking up the remnants of her feast, before Andréa tugged her chin towards her mouth and crashed with her lips with Miranda's. Andrea's tongue pressed into Miranda's mouth, caressing, twining with Miranda's tongue, before seeking all the places that made Miranda purr, tasting the traces of blood and her pre-cum, while Miranda swallowed her cries of pleasure.

Like a growing ball of light, Andy's orgasm grew bigger and grew closer. Miranda couldn't go deeper or harder, but her efforts were still spectacular, hitting the slightly roughened spot inside her cunt like a boxer working a bag, along with a firmer pinching and circling of her quivering, now purplish-red, bundle of nerves. She could feel the magic building inside the shower; her fertility magic, Miranda's Ardeur, was like a huge tsunami growing inside them, inside the shower.

Suddenly she felt Miranda tremble violently, a cry echoed in Andy's mouth, while her hips seemed to jerk and spasm, snapping harder into Andy's groin, signaling her orgasm but also setting off Andy's own orgasm.

Tearing her mouth from Miranda's, "Miranda, I'm cumming… I'm cummi—," Andy almost screamed, because her clit and sugar walls spasmed hard, before contracting quickly, her cum seemed to spray out around the dildo. Miranda involuntarily bit down on her Mark again, setting of another orgasm for Andy which then recycled into Miranda through her Mark, a second orgasm spilling through her shuddering body, and causing a scream to burst from Andréa's throat.

Miranda's hands which were now clenched tightly around Andréa's bottom, easily holding her in the palms of her hands, involuntarily dug her nails near the moist cleft separating the firm globes, leaving their own bloody furrows. While blood and cum leaked from their bodies, minor orgasms continued to explode through both women, the exquisite pleasure-pain was so fierce that Andy felt blackened edges of unconsciousness creeping in, before the loud cries and gasps were instantly silenced. Miranda easily held Andréa close to her shuddering body, she slipped her fangs free, swiping up the weeping blood with her tongue, before snuggling into her lover's neck.

"Goddess, Andréa!" Miranda murmured against Andréa's skin.

Miranda quickly and shakily lifted her head, suddenly noticing up the deadened weight of her lover, her eyes checked over her Mate, worried that she'd taken too much blood or accidentally hurt her. But stretching her senses, staring at the slack, contented expression on Andréa's face, she realized with no little amount of smugness that Andréa simply passed out from the pleasure. Quickly reaching over to shut off the shower, was when she noticed the huge tub lined with greenery—are those lily pads?! Frowning in confusion, she opened the shower door and cautiously peered out, only to gasp out in surprise.

The entire bathroom was wet, floors flooded, but exotic flowers and roses dotted and swayed in the p0ols of water. Vines curved along the walls, with more flowers sprouting from the intermittent buds dotted along the vines. It was if a tropical greenhouse exploded in the bathroom. Miranda looked down at her blissfully unaware lover, and shook her head – the bill will be astronomical.


Chapter 37

Miranda stood in front of the mirror making the final adjustments with her perfect outfit: from the ever-present black Prada heels were followed by a stunning dark-blue pin-stripe, pant-suit by Domenico Vacca, complimented by a silky, baby-blue, Givenchy blouse unbuttoned dangerously low. The only accessory was a rare, black-diamond, tear-drop pendant on a delicate, white-gold necklace cradled alluringly within Miranda's glorious décolleté. With her perfectly coiffed silver mane and understated but sexily appointed make-up made Andy want to go Round 2. However, the… accidental greenhouse in the bathroom (which still had Andy frowning in bewilderment) and the fact that they had an important meeting was what kept her from initiating… things.

As for Andy, she felt… decadent in her ensemble… and a little exposed. But Miranda and Nigel insisted that it was necessary – vampire politics and all that, thought Andy with a mental eye roll. The BCBGMAXAZRIA gold-metallic colored jersey dress, with utterly striking draped sleeves, curved seaming and a cinched neckline created a subtle keyhole that accentuated Andy's svelte figure beautifully. The material fit in such a way that her full breasts pressed enticingly against the deceptively fitted dress and her nipples stood out as tantalizing "buttons"; tight and lusciously sore from their earlier activities scrapped deliciously under the material. Her remained bare back, along with her sleekly-muscled legs which were capped off with a pair of gold-mirrored Jimmy Choo shoes; the effect brought a retro-uber-sexy disco look, that Miranda was sure would cause even the Pope to "fall of the wagon" (she internally shivered in repulsion at that mental picture). Carefully scrutinizing Andrea's finished look; the glorious hair fell like a gleaming, chocolate waterfall and her eye make-up done with a 'smoky effect', all together presented a gorgeously-contrasted picture to Miranda's power-suit.

Andy finished applying her smoky-red lipstick to her full and slightly swollen lips when she felt her lover's arms slide around her waist. "You look scrumptious. I think my work here is done."

Leaning back into the strong arms, wanting to purr like a kitten in contentment she responded. "Well, that's what happens when you fuck me 10-ways from Sunday AND put me in haute couture."

"Does the Amazon Rain forest you brought into our bathroom also count?" Miranda drawled.

"Ha, ha. Well, the Goddess did say she was imparting a few 'gifts.' I just wish they were a little less… intrusive."

Miranda leaned down, nuzzled her Mark before gently kissing the freshly-bitten area. "Well, regardless, it's time to leave. I do hope that the suit I sent over to that… man in your Mother's entourage; Kitto, fits." (Kitto is a nervous half-Snake Goblin, half-Sidhe background and stood around 4ft), She walked over to grab the cape that Andréa would wear, while grabbing a case to place on the bed. Andy walked over to see what was in it because Miranda packed it somewhat secretively.

When she opened it Andy's eyes widened in surprise and a little trepidation she worriedly inquired about the various weapons in the case. "Ah, Miranda? Are we expecting trouble?"

"We are walking into unknown territory that includes a powerful Master Vampire, a Triumvirate, and a Master Necromancer, I think it's essential to be prepared for any scenario, Andréa." She turned towards Andréa with a wicked looking dagger and a leather sheath. "Sit." she pointed at the chair behind Andy.

When Andy sat, Miranda kneeled down with the items, tapping Andy's thighs until they opened wide, She placed herself in between them, and slid her hand up Andy thigh, possessively caressing the skin until she reached the edge of the short jersey-dress. Pushing that up until her hand almost reached the juncture of her groin. She then fastened the leather holder securely around Andy's thigh, tickling her curls behind the barely-there thong, brushing her still-swollen labia, tickling Andy's lust, and the placed the wicked-looking dagger in the holder. Miranda leaned down and possessively brushed her lips against small triangle of expensive fabric, making Andy's clit jump.

"Geezus, Miranda! Do you want people to be sniffing after me in heat?!? She asked with some breathless amusement.

Miranda gracefully stood up and held out her hand for Andréa to chivalrously help her to her feet. "They can try. But they wouldn't fare well I promise you. Now, come along darling, its time." She snuggled her into her body. "Besides you do smell divine; they can discretely sniff, even look – to some extent, but no touch."

After Miranda finished placing weapons –mostly knives in discreet places along her body, she once again clasped Andréa's hand, leaned over and kissed her sweetly, and they went to meet their new… friends.


Chapter 38

The group of cars finally pulled up into a club-like building named the Circus of the Damned. Charming Miranda thought with some sarcasm. Jason, Rafael, Claudia, and another male vampire with gorgeous, blood-red hair, stood forming a protective line on either side of the door. Jason, like an excited puppy approached them first. Miranda raised an eyebrow at his interesting choice of clothes: a chain-linked shirt, with dark-maroon, tight, latex, pants – all of which left nothing to the imagination. While he wore a collar, it didn't mask the Mark indicating his status as a Jean-Claude's Pomme de Sang (main blood source).

The red-headed vampire wore a 3-quarter length, green velvet jacket, with a ruffled black dress shirt, and black dress slacks, making a stark contrast to his gleaming marble-like skin. His beautiful, blood-red hair draped long down his back to his ass. The black and green offered a stark contrast to his ghostly-white skin and his eyes were a gorgeous jade green. Nigel was busy leering at him, even as he tried to ignore his… interesting choice of clothing scheme. Naturally he was the first to glide up to him for introductions, grinning even more when he saw that the vampire became uncomfortable.

"Well my giant Leprechaun, aren't you a dish? The name's Nigel." Had the man been human Andy was pretty certain his face would be beet red. Nigel's smiled widening as he watched a muscle jump in the vampire's cheek and his eyes narrow into slits in annoyance. "Don't worry; I don't want to bite… unless you ask nicely."

Andy stifled a laugh, while sliding her arm through Nigel's. "Nigel, leave him alone. I'm almost certain they'll be plenty of other willing 'victims' to choose from."

She gently directed his attention elsewhere, while holding out her own hand to the vampire. "Hello! The name's Andy, sorry about that. We've had long flight and the 'natives' can get restless."

He bowed his head over, his lips barely touching Andy's knuckles in an old-world greeting before he responded. "No apologies necessary. My name is Damien."

He turned his attention away from Nigel, despite knowing he was a Master Vampire with considerably more power than him. He found Andy very attractive and was about to gently prod her mind for more information before a wave of Power exploded from beside her, almost scorching his skin. Quickly, he snatched his hand away. Noticing the Mark on her neck, he turned towards the source of the Power. He would have blanched if he could; the Master Vampire was… perhaps as Powerful as Jean-Claude, and Andy clearly belonged to her, if the possessive glare directed at him was any indication.

The pat on his shoulder shifted his attention from the glowing frost peering out of icy-blue eyes back to Nigel, "Looks like your slight internal homophobia might not save you now." He walked over to talk to Emily who was busy glaring at him too.

"What is this amateur hour?! Clearly anyone –even a bloody human could tell she's," Emily swallowed down her distaste over how Andy has completely infused herself in her life, "spoken for by someone significant!"

"All right everyone, that's enough fun. We have a schedule to keep. Jason?" Andy interrupted the mild bickering while struggling to hold in her laughter. She walked over to Miranda and gently pecked her on the lips distracting her from menacing Damien further. "You can… punish me later if you play nice." She reached up to gently swipe the little bit of smeared lipstick.

"I'm not sure how much of that will be punishment for you." Miranda drawled. "And do not think I don't know that you're trying to distract me, but I'll allow it for now. There's always later – someone else will try again and then I can have a little fun."

Jason joined in on the conversation. "Wow, you guys clean up well. Love the dress Andy." He grinned as Andy rolled her eyes in amusement. "Everyone is ready and waiting." He turned towards the door, while the remaining three watched the proceedings. "Right this way."

Miranda straightened her shoulders, once again letting loose a little of her Power; not much just enough to cause Jason to lower his eyes in submission. Andrea slid her arm through Miranda's and proceeded into the building. Princess Merry and Doyle, followed by Nigel, Emily, Serena, Rhys, and Kitto, brought up the rear. Miranda sensed some powerful vampires nearby, as well as a few Shapeshifters. She delicately sniffed the air—wolf, leopard, rat, hyena, and lion, she thought with some surprise; a verifiable zoo. This should be a very interesting evening.

They headed down a series of hallways lined with stone and heavy drapes, until they came to a set of double doors draped with more of the heavy fabric. Jason led them inside a room that could be kindly described as monochromatic. Italian marble liberally used and a fireplace that would put similar ones in castles to shame. Miranda heaved an internal sigh of exasperation; Vampires were so over-the-top, as her daughters would say.


Chapter 39A

Miranda tried not to purse her lips at the awful interior decorative scheme. Some Master Vampires simply allowed their centuries-old, over-sized egos to imbue a horrific sense of style. This monochromatic room was an excellent example of this abysmal defective character trait.

Louis XIII furniture, with a dash of Baroque, along with onyx and cream Italian marble splashed generously throughout the room.

Naturally the owner of this room completed the picture. Jean-Claude's outfit of a flowing, ruffled pirate's shirt (it was all Miranda could do to not roll her eyes), tight black breeches, and thigh-high leather boots seemed fitting. Along with his long, blue-black, curly, hair, made him seem almost otherworldly – a bit gay or bodice-ripping, but ethereal nevertheless.

"Greetings Jean-Claude, I see your penchant for all things Louis XIII and Liberace hasn't diminished in the least." She watched as he glided towards her, meeting her in the middle of the room. Taking in his outfit once again, she added, "I gather this 'upgraded goth-look' is indicative that you do not read Men's Runway or have picked up a fashion magazine in some time. You must come to New York for Fashion Week. You might be 'surprised' at the more… contemporary ideas."

"Mademoiselle Miranda. It has been a very long time." They clasped hands in greeting before he bent to brush his lips over her knuckles. "I must admit; I was not sure if my increased anxiousness had more to do with impending Council business or your critique on my fashion sense." He chuckled, using his considerable Vampire Power by making the sound of his voice compellingly sexy, it purred over Miranda's skin. "I am happy that you do not disappoint."

However this Power was interrupted when a 'wall' of icy-like coldness crept up over his spine and into his chest, tightening his nipples unpleasantly. He locked eyes with the woman standing a little behind Miranda, whose tri-colored eyes were glowing and glaring in his direction. Such Power, but nothing Vampire-like. He returned his attention to Miranda. The pleased smile on her face was unnerving.

"Allow me to introduce my Mate, Andréa Sachs. We've shared Marks so I urge you to tread lightly with testing your Ardeur magic." She then gestured towards the rest of her entourage, starting with Andréa's Mother. "This is Princess Meredith Gentry, Daughter of Prince Essus, Hand of Flesh, Hand of Blood, Niece of Queen Andais, and Andrea's Mother." Secretly she became pleased at the immediate heightened tension in the room at that announcement. She continued on with the introductions, stifling her amusement over the sudden fear from introducing Doyle. How delightful!

Jean-Claude turned his full attention toward the beautiful woman, bowing over her hand. "Please accept my apologies. It has been long time since Miranda and I have crossed paths and there are but few Vampires whom I consider… not foe – she is one of them."

Andrea stared him down for a few moments trying to calm the surprisingly vicious feelings of jealousy and possessiveness coursing through her veins even as Jean-Claude emptied his eyes of any thoughts or emotions. "Well I can't wait to hear that story. In the meantime, keep your paws both actual and metaphysical, to yourself."

Jean-Claude frowned in confusion. "Paws?"

"I believe she means hands Jean-Claude." Another heavily French-accented voice spoke from another part of the room. The Vampire the voice belonged to glided up next to Jean-Claude. He had the requisite long, blonde hair, which hung down hiding one side of his face. And from what she could see was that he was just as bodice-ripping as Jean-Claude.

Miranda did a quick scan of the room and its occupants. On the other side of Jean-Claude's abandoned chair, sat a smirking Anita. Next to her stood a muscular man, rippling arms crossed over his bulging chest. Sun-kissed skin, lush wavy, brown hair, wore more contemporary clothing similar to Anita – jeans and nothing else. She discretely sniffed – Werewolf, powerful Werewolf; Ulfric. Nigel is probably having a field day and she could hear Emily grinding her teeth.

She saw Andréa exchange waves with Nathaniel who stood near Anita. Feeling someone attempting to sneak past her 'shields', scoping out her thoughts, she narrowed her eyes at Jean-Claude.

"So not only do you rouse my Mate's ire but… do you always greet your guests by attempting to sneak pass their shields to take a peek at their thoughts?" Miranda smoothly glided over to the chair Jason was standing by that she guessed was her designated seat.

"Forgive me, Mademoiselle. I am simply attempting to discern if you mean me and my own harm."

Nigel stood over her shoulder on one side, while Emily and Rhys stood next to him. Andréa sat next to her. Miranda slid a possessive hand onto her bare thigh. Serena chose a lush cushion between Miranda and her Mate. Princess Merry took the seat on the other side of Andrea, Doyle standing behind her.

"Do try to remember that I am not a subordinate and I will not be treated as such." Miranda finished with a bored, menacing tone.

A man with an exquisitely horrible taste in clothing brought her a glass of blood-wine and inquired if anyone else cared for some refreshments. "Now that we've gotten that little pissing contest out of the way why don't you introduce your Triumvirate, or should I say both of them."

She watched the brief look of surprise in the otherwise stoic Jean-Claude's eyes before it disappeared.

Suddenly another deep voice echoed from the muscular Werewolf. "I don't think that's any of your business." Miranda sighed before standing up, ignoring the Andréa's attempt to forestall her.

Miranda what are you doing? Exclaimed a suddenly worried Andréa.

Don't worry darling. I'm simply testing the waters. I just want to have… a little fun. Naturally this only escalated Andy's anxiety.


Chapter 39B

Miranda slowly glided around the table, stopping to look at one monstrosity of a knick-knack after another, letting the silent tension build, before she stopped near the Wolf. Two taller men stood in front of her blocking her impeding her approach to the muscular man.

She smirked. "Tell your Ulfric that I mean him no harm – for now."

Miranda continued to display a pretense of boredom as she casually pretended to examine her nails, as she responded. "The fact that we are here to negotiate a possible alliance between our two factions does not negate your disrespect or the lack of etiquette you have displayed."

With disinterest she watched as the muscular man pushed his way in front of his guards. Her dislike increased. "While you have to make decisions that will impact hundreds of your little wolves parading around your 'fair city' with little to no expense spared on your," she disdainfully ran her gaze from his sneakers, up his worn Levis, up his bare chest, to his now glowing brown eyes, "clothing selection, I do not have the same luxury."

She dismissively turned her back on him, while ignoring the growl from behind her.. Running her hand over the gleaming marble table, barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes again at the decorative disaster (Jean-Claude should take to heart the old adage; sometimes less is more).

"You see, as the Master of the City of New York, the decisions I make impact hundreds of thousands of Vampires, Weres - even Wolfies such as yourself, and a myriad of other creatures. In addition, the decisions I make while dabbling in the more… human world of the fashion industry, impact millions of jobs and billions of dollars –worldwide." Turning back towards a slightly more hostile audience, leveling a chillier gaze on Jean-Claude this time, she continued. "That's not the kind of Power you can buy. Ulfric."

Suddenly she felt Power prickling out from the Ulfric, almost like fire ants dancing along skin. Chairs skidded as people quickly left their seats. Submissive Weres began to curl in on themselves, while a growl echoed out from behind Miranda indicating that Emily had come to join her. "Really Ulfric! Surely it's possible for even a back-water, Neanderthal, like yourself, to keep it in your pants. Christ, this really is amateur hour!" Emily was leaking out her own Power, before Miranda sent her a wave of calming energy.

Meanwhile Miranda was using her other Vampiric powers to discern why this Ulfric was so weak, yet was able to keep his position in his Pack. Pushing out like an invisible liquid that seeped into his consciousness, tearing down psychic barriers, only to stop at the sight of the Ulfric in wolf form. His fur was a honey-coated color, his size was huge, his Power immense. But… it wasn't innate. Like a computer pulling up images and then rapidly discarding useless information, Miranda was able to retrieve quite a bit of intel before another Power – not the Ulfric's - was able to interfere. Like being jerked out of a warm, honey bath, Miranda was pulled back into full consciousness. The Ulfric was bent at the waist and sweating, held up by his Enforcers.

But Anita, looking supremely annoyed, joined into the fray. "Richard, not helping! Yes, she's bitch," ignoring Miranda's amusing look of surprise and the outraged gasp-growl from Emily, "but this is not the time to suddenly get ballsy." Anita turned her ire towards Miranda. "As for you, stay out of places you weren't invited! In fact, unless we hear an apology I'll assume that was an attack on our people."

Anita stood up. Miranda disdainfully took in the short, black cocktail dress and heels, and she sighed in irritation. "Very well, I was simply trying to assess the situation. No harm done. Although, you might want to do some better shielding before someone or something less… honorable discerns your Ulfric's weakness." She stepped closer towards Anita. "Because his weakness becomes our weakness and that is simply unacceptable."

Miranda watched as Anita let loose some of her Power again, the signature "smelled" faintly familiar.

"Look, it's clear that while we don't want you here it's more than likely too late to 'kindly' ask you to leave. Knowing the Council, they already know you're here, and they're either already here or enroute to cause havoc once again. I'd say that makes you responsible. That, along with attacking our Ulfric, you're building up quite a tab. Which means: you're on very thin ice and I shall be underneath you when it cracks." Miranda considered teaching this little upstart a lesson but she was finding her little "monologue" amusing. Well there's always time for lessons later. Miranda narrowed her eyes; she'll be the first one on her List. She half-tuned in as Anita continued her incessant rambling.

"In the meantime the Council just 'loves' to spread the 'joy' around so while they may target you and yours, they won't miss an opportu—" Anita suddenly stopped.

Miranda tensed because something was in the room, targeting Anita.


Chapter 40

Miranda noticed the smell of rain and jasmine growing thick in the air. She frowned, because she only knew of one Vampire that scented the air in such a way. Turning her attention back on Anita, she watched as Anita's eyes swirled from their usual dark brown color, into a glowing honey-color. Now Miranda was confused because only Belle-Morte's line had glowing eyes that color. Hair rising on the back of her neck, Miranda unleashed more of her own not inconsiderable Power, her eyes glowing white-blue. But her eyes widened with alarm as she watched an unnatural shadow, spread along the back wall, directly behind Anita, coursing towards the woman.

The air grew thick and heavy and oppressive as if an invisible weight was bearing down on the room, and it wasn't coming from Miranda. Only a few choices remained and she knew Senura was in a Great Sleep, while the few others with this ability were guarding Mother's Rest. Of course Marmee Noir certainly wouldn't be interested in the goings-on in St. Louis. Right? But the Darkness spread all around, she could feel her Clan and others weakening, gasping for breath or grabbing their chests as if it were being crushed. She could taste the fear on the air growing in leaps and bounds. The Darkness was more concentrated than her own version of it; as if all inkiest places in the universe were coalesced in one area, like a darkened well you can't get out of, instead you keep falling deeper, swallowing you whole.

She quickly linked into Nigel, Serena, and Andréa. She punched a hole in the Darkness that surrounded them, letting light in, allowing them to breathe. lifting the heaviness of the Darkness from swallowing them all. She turned her attention towards Anita, searching with her 'psychic eye', and was surprised to see that Anita's metaphysical body had shifted into a giant white Werewolf. She also noticed that the Ulfric had shifted as well. However what alarmed her greatly was that the Darkness which had shifted down, focusing on Anita. It began to take shape, forming into a dark mass with the general shape of a body, with a cape.

Was it… Marmee Noir?! She wasn't scheduled to Wake for many decades.

Miranda's alarm grew into a little fear of her own. There was only one person who had that ability. Miranda closed her eyes, widening her senses, reaching up the Line. With relief she noticed that Mother was still in her Great Sleep. However, her relief was short-lived when she noticed a strange, faded, glowing brown thread leading towards her resting place. In addition, Mother was restless, as if she were trying to… wake and the reason appeared to be because of her interest in Anita.

It was rare that Miranda gave into feelings of impotent rage but she felt it sweeping her emotions like a tidal wave. What the… fuck have these idiots been involved with?! Yes, Marmee Noir was her Master, her Queen. But like a Black Mamba, it was beautiful yet deadly, the only way you survived her was by steering CLEAR of her as much as possible. Knowing that these fools had somehow gained her interest was infuriating!

She watched with some angered disinterest as Anita and her Ulfric attempted to pacify Mother while staving off any attacks that might incapacitate them indefinitely.

Miranda! Are you all right? Andy had waited long enough, her concern for Miranda growing by leaps and bounds. She could feel through their metaphysical cord Miranda's quickly evolving emotions; from rage to alarm and to one she'd never known Miranda to feel… fear.

What's going on? Andy drew closer to Miranda. Miranda seemed to be in a trance, her eyes glowing, reaching out, accessing. But trying to move through this Darkness was like wading through very thick, cold molasses.

Suddenly a voice echoed in her head that wasn't Miranda's. Andy, what's going on? Is Miranda ok? Maybe we can help a little bit. Andy gripped a chair as she made slow progress towards Miranda. Somehow Miranda was able to keep the Darkness from spilling onto her even when she moved.

Mom, I'm trying to figure out what's going on. But yeah, if you can help it'd be appreciated. I just wish I knew what the hell was going on too. Is Nigel near you? Maybe he has some answers. Andy stumbled over a body if the grunt was any indication, but a set of cool hands were able to prevent her from falling.

"I got you Six. Miranda would kill me if I let anything happen to you."

"Nigel what the hell is going on?!"

"Marmee Noir. She's—"

"I know Miranda gave me a brief run-down. But something is majorly wrong. Like why is Miranda suddenly projecting fear? I thought Marmee Noir was her Queen or Uber-Master or something?"

Nigel sighed unneeded breath. "Well she is. But like Joan Crawford, she's not a Mother you exactly want, darling."

At that moment the smell of roses and earth tangled with the prevailing scents. Magic: ancient and powerful, like opening an ancient tome with dust motes dancing on the air. Mother?!

Miranda, I'm coming over to help.

Not yet. Give me a few moments. Help your Mother.

Are you sure?



Chapter 40B

But Andy desperately wanted to help Miranda, to touch her, to physically verify that she was ok. She realized in their world, the physical was often the least of their problems, but it was as 'real' as she needed at the moment. She realized though that Vampire politics were messy enough; the fact that Marmee Noir was involved meant even more craziness of the dangerous kind could ensue.

Her Mother interrupted her thoughts. Andy I need you. Your Power is steeped in old earth magic, similar to mine. We can use that to channel it in to fight back the Darkness. Light, Andy. Darkness cannot survive in the Light. Trite I know – but Doyle and Rhys seem to think it'll work. It'll have to be carefully executed because we are also dealing with the Dead, which is where we're hoping Rhys will be able to help too.

What about Miranda? Will this affect her? Came Andy's worried response.

Hopefully not. But as with all things magic and death, one must take a 'leap of faith.' We'll do everything we can to protect your Mate. Now I need you to let down your shields so we can link up our Fey magic. After a moment of indecision Andy lowered her shields.

Earth: foliage, oceanic water; cleansing and briny. Mother Nature's scents swirled around the room. Andy's tattoos were jumping and swirling, her eyes tingling and glowing. The smell of old blood was wafting around her nostrils. Suddenly, through the Darkness, she could see her Mother; blood-red hair and moon-white skin glowing like a beacon. Andy closed her eyes as her Power burst from her, reaching out a nebulous strand towards her Mother. Their power was twining, coalescing into an orb, growing and pushing back the Darkness. Andy's tattoos shifted off her skin, snarling, snapping at the Darkness, standing protectively over falling bodies

Andy kept moving towards Miranda, moving becoming easier as the Light danced around her skin. She shifted some of her concentration back onto Miranda.

Sweetie? You ok? She grew increasingly scared when she received no response.

Chapt. 41 A

Miranda was busy trying to save these fools from themselves. She was linked into mediating a psychic battle occurring between Jean-Claude, Anita, and Marmee Noir. When Marmee realized that a Vampire of her Kiss/Line was here Miranda was metaphysically jerked into the chamber where Marmee Noir was resting. The scents of rain, jasmine, and ancient earth, swirled around her metaphysical nostrils. Meanwhile her physical body was reacting purely on instinct. Since her Animal-to-Call was cats Miranda's body Shifted into the form of a cat that no longer walked the earth, one of Marmee Noir's favorites: a Saber-tooth Tiger. Once she was on all-fours she ambled over to the growling Weres: Werewolves, Leopards, Lions, and Rats.

Touch me. She cannot hurt you if you touch me. So each Were-Animal that was close enough, cautiously crept forward sniffling, growling, before rubbing up against her fur. They then sat on either side leaning against her body.

My Daughter, Senura felt your absence most keenly. Marmee shifted and if a shadow could frown she somehow managed it. You align with the Necromancer and the Wolf?

No Mother, my eternal devotion lies with you. These… insignificant creatures do not warrant attention that those of your Line merit. As always we willingly submit to you as your enemies tremble in your wake. It was all Miranda could do to not roll her eyes at the god-like behavior her Mistress continued to exhibit, and that Miranda had to stoke. Because it was also what made her scary. She was hoping she could re-direct her attention away from Anita and the Ulfric so that they could "walk" out of here alive.

But this Necromancer's Power has wakened my interest. Her Master has left the final Mark open and I do not need to waken in order to claim it for my own. If Miranda's heart could pound it would at that moment. What kind of Master was Jean-Claude that he would leave a Mark open in a Triumvirate?! She felt like she was at a photo shoot gone bad multiplied by a thousand from the sheer incompetence of these St. Louis people.

Then she remembered the mysterious glowing brown thread leading from Marmee Noir's resting place. Perhaps, Mother, we should be more concerned about an unwanted visitor in your chambers. I do not recognize the psychic signature and it is most certainly not of your Line.

No one would be so foolish as to attempt such a thing.

It was all Miranda could do to not roll her eyes in exasperation and irritation. Then how do you explain this? She briefly showed the 'signature' to Marmee and watched as the Darkness pulsed and intensified with growing rage. It was if imagining all her nightmares coalesced into this inky hell, icy tendrils creeping down your spine, and cold sweat seeping from your pores.

Who dares?! You will find them. You will find them and you will bring them to me! But first, let us see who dares step on a sleeping Tiger. You may go for now my Necromancer. We will speak again and there will be no one there to save you this time. And like a vacuum that suddenly sucked all the air out of a room the Darkness was lifted, leaving Anita and the Ulfric on their knees, gasping for air. The cross on her necklace glowing so bright that Anita was just registering that it was burning her.

As for Miranda in 'real time' her eyes were glowing, the Power dancing off her skin, seemingly in a trance. Andy finally reached her side and before Miranda could warn her to not touch her, Andy's hand grasped her arm and she was immediately 'transported' out of her body to join Miranda in Marmee Noir's chambers.

Looks like she was about to be introduced to Miranda's Mother.


Chapter 41B

Like a living nightmare, Andy felt all kinds of badness emanating from the… woman-shaped darkness lying on the bed. What was weird was that while it appeared she was… sleeping, there was a sense that the Darkness around her was 'living' or projected a kind of physicality. This epitomized the Boogieman- or the monster-under-the-bed that'd been terrorizing children throughout the ages. This was all her most terrifying fears coalesced into this chamber, stealing Andy's breath, making her heart pumping furiously, her palms sweat, and her spine tensed like a rock, in terror.

Andrea! Do not take your hand from my arm, stay close at all costs!

Ah, Miranda I'm too terrified to even move, much less leave your side.

Good, because your life and mine may be dependent on it.

That only ratcheted up Andy's fear even more, making her almost whimper in fear, Miranda what's going on?

A voice echoed out in melodious tones from the Darkness, although Andy suspected it came from the form on the bed, even if it didn't move an inch. Meryem, what have you brought me? The Queen purred.

Suddenly an inky hand appeared in front Andréa, fingers growing creepily long, reaching towards her. Darkness began to pulse and grow towards Andy and Miranda's feet; dancing along the ground, like an ink stain growing on a napkin. Miranda squeezed down on her hand as her own terror – not for her, but for her Mate, reached new heights.

Unexpectedly a new scent wafted through the air, making the Queen pause at yet another intrusion. Ancient smells of the sandalwood, frankincense, and desert; a whoosh heralded the arrival of another powerful presence. Miranda only knew of one Vampire who embodied those scents – Senura!

Greetings my Queen! I come bearing information. A beautiful woman, with skin like the finest, silkiest chocolate glided into the chamber. She was tall and lithe with Ethiopian features and hair cropped very short glided into the chamber. Senura nodded her head in Miranda's direction before fixing her glowing amber eyes on the Queen.

Hello Miranda. I could feel your fear through our Link. I came as soon as I could. I had to deal with some… adversaries, which I will share with you later. Once we escape unscathed from a visit with our Queen. Senura, being older and more powerful than Miranda, was able 'communicate' with Miranda without the Queen's knowledge.

As for Miranda, to say it was a relief that Senura arrived would be an understatement. However, they were far from safe just yet.

My Lioness! It has been some time since I have had so many wonderful visitors.

Miranda, Andy, and Senura, all tensed as the Queen's Eternal Guards awakened and moved towards them. The Queen did nothing but watch with dispassionate amusement as the scene played out. A huge hulking, dark, male with a vicious countenance on his face moved to protect his Queen from possible interlopers. He ignored Miranda and Senura as his glowing, icy-blue eyes froze on Andy, and a growl erupted from his throat.

But before he could reach out with his huge paw-like hands, Miranda's hands moved, swiping down the side of his face, blood welling instantly from the deep furrows left behind. He quickly shifted his attention to Miranda/Meryem.

"Meryem. It ha—"

"Know your place! " Miranda refused to let some lower-level-glorified-bodyguard disrespect her as an Alpha.

Meanwhile, Marmee Noir turned her attention to the Fey in her chamber. She scented the air around the girl: Power, untested, undiscovered. To have such a creature belong to her, along with the Necromancer, would ensure that her rather weakened forces, due to Belle Morte's ambitions, would become strengthened again. She pushed against the girl's magic, her connection to her Childe Miranda/Meryem… strong, very strong. No matter, she can give the girl her own Mark, binding her to her Line/Kiss.

Andy felt Darkness like an ocean tide leaping towards her, creeping along her toes, receding, and then sweeping along her ankles. Her terror increasing exponentially, she looked towards Miranda only to see that while she was dealing with one of Marmee's guards, Miranda seemed to be 'pushed out' of the Darkness. She noticed that she was frantically trying to get around Marmee. Senura seemed to be in a trance, shuddering as some kind of force moved through her, holding her in place.

Andy's own magic activated; her flight or fight mechanism had been kicked in and since she couldn't run, she had to fight. She certainly wasn't leaving Miranda in here with this psycho. Andy ignored the cold sweat trickling down her spine, her decorative ink patterns swirled and pulsed. Her eyes were tingly and glowing, the Darkness became more brilliant and 'alive' as her eyesight became sharper than human range. She could vaguely see the Queen's figure amongst the Darkness, like a barely discernable shift in color: changing depth and tone. The smell of roses and thunderstorms mingled with the potent cocktail of jasmine and rain, and an animal scent.

Your magic is Powerful. You have diverted my attention from the Necromancer for a moment. Meryem has selected well in a Mate. The Darkness shifted closer like silt dancing up her nostrils, almost choking her.

As much as I appreciate the off-hand blessing of our Joining, I…, she swallowed trying to get some moisture in her excessively dry mouth, we need to leave.

Your Joining is only possible because I allow it. I could decide to take over her Mark and make you a part of my Kiss.

Andy was starting to get angry. She was getting very tired of people, Vampires (not her Vampire of course), the Fey, and Goddesses, tinkering with her life. Look, as 'charming' as that offer might be, I'm not interested.


Chapter 41C

Suddenly the Darkness engulfed her whole body, muffling the shout of anger and fright coming from Miranda. She and Senura tried to fight their way pass more Guards, blood and gore flying everywhere. However, when Andy saw a Weretiger bite into Miranda's leg, it unleashed a powerful fiercely protective force inside her. Since she wasn't exactly helpless, she tapped into her lineage directly tied to Divinity. So as the Darkness tried to engulf her entirely, Andy's hands began to glow a whitish-green color. The glow began to pulse bigger, pushing back the Darkness. Screams of the Unknown resonating as the Light touched the Darkness.

How dare you? Do you really think you can stop me from claiming you?! Marmee Noir was not used to having her Powers thwarted.

She could do little more, however, without gaining physical form, and although feeding on both the Necromancer and this Faerie would gain her the powers necessary to awaken she was being denied at every turn. And as most ego-manic-psychotic-powerful-vampires, she shifted her full attention on Andy so that it would allow her to vent her Powerful-Vampire-Queen-sized-tantrum.

Andy felt something like glass-shards hitting her astral walls. The pain resonating inside her from Marmee's attack left her unfocused, interrupting her magic. Every nightmare she'd ever had swirled through her head, increasing her terror, suffocating her. Almost as if Marmee was holding her head under a metaphysical pool of dark water.

Feeling a leak of pain and fear coming down her link to Miranda, Andy renewed her struggles. All of sudden it was if a puppeteer was controlling her. Andy's hands reached up and clasped around own neck, squeezing down. A deadly chuckle echoed in her head and she could hear psychic cries of pain from her fully formed ink tattoos as Marmee continued to shred her psychic walls that tapped into her magic. Another dark laugh echoed in head followed by a sneering tone.

Did you really think your petty magic was a match for a god?! Another wall shredded causing Andy to leak out a little scream. She could feel a warm liquid beginning to dribble from her nose and left ear.

You can end this. Join my line, be my disciple, kneel before me as your Queen. You and my 3rd can be a fully blessed union as part of my Line. Another shred, another scream. Because if you do not accept this gift I will take it from you.

Andrea! Came a psychic shout from Miranda. Andy could hear the pain in her voice. Instead of it increasing Andy's fear it only awakened her anger. Suddenly she remembered she wasn't a Child of the Darkness she was a Child of Light, with a Mother who had a few 'gifts' of her own.

Concentrating, trying to tune out the taunts from Marmee and the pain she was inflicting, she sent out a mental S.O.S. to her Mother. She might have some 'wiggle room' to help since Miranda was otherwise occupied.


Andy! Where are you? I can feel something's wrong!

It's this crazy bitch Marmee Noir. Maybe Jean-Claude can help, but hurry because I don't know how much longer I can last.

Hold on sweetie. Just hold on! I just found you for Goddess' sakes. Until I get there; call to your Goddess, tap into her energy Andy.

Bearing down, closing her eyes, trying to block out the psycho-bitch-from-hell. Trying to breathe, Andy focused on the Goddess Gaia and the Goddess Badb. She could see their psychic threads; one green, the other orange. Both were becoming wispier due to the Queen's attack, weakening Andy's connection. She reached out with her diminishing energy, grabbing onto each thread and with some relief watched their color grow deep and brilliant. Andy dropped her shields, strengthening her resolve she called out to her Goddesses.


Chapter 42

We have been waiting for you. Goddess Gaia sent soothing waves of energy, while healing Andy. The Goddess Badb appeared to be pacing as if trying to work off energy. This Vampire is no god! She will be dealt with in time. For now you must save your Mate. Remember Andrea, you are the Daughter of the Earth and all its elements. More importantly, you are descended from a line Blessed by three Goddesses. This creature of the Dark will destroy all that we or you hold dear; she threatens the balance. You are an Elemental Andy; use these Gifts to help you extract your Mate, and allies, then leave, or kill her before it is too late. But know that if you do NOT kill her it will change everything, bringing about a period of great peril, particularly for your Mate and Champion.

Suddenly Andy was filled with a bolt of energy. The smell of thunderstorms and roses grew strong. Her eyes felt as if someone poured warm seltzer in her sockets; sizzling and balmy. Then for a few moments there was silence, like cotton was stuffed into her consciousness, blocking out all sensation and sound. It was at this moment that Andy reached, reached deep, tapping into those green and red threads, pulsing them, allowing that energy to fill her, strengthening her psychic walls. It allowed her to 'see' from the space they were trapped in; Senura was launched into a wall, a sword plunged into her stomach, while a hand with wicked looking dagger-like nails moved towards her neck. With her heart in her throat she saw Miranda, laying on her back in a growing pool of blood, holding up a protective hand in front of her face - she hadn't had time to fully shift.

The resulting rage and energy pulsed and grew. The red bled out and the green grew more brilliant. With that growing rage she pushed out a shrieking Marmee, the sudden psychic break causing pain to the Queen. But Andy wasn't finished with her, not by a long shot. But first she had to save Miranda and Senura.

The Queen grew puzzled as she watched the creature in front of her. She watched as a greenish glow was edging around Andy's skin, until finally, a greenish-orb surrounded the girl, shutting out Marmee's psychic attacks, no longer allowing her to roll the impertinent creature. Liberated from Marmee's control, Andy lifted one hand in Miranda's direction. Green energy arced from her fingers and bolted across the Darkness, landing with a splat near Miranda's body, halting a surprise attack from one of the Queen's guards. Green energy arced from her fingers and bolted across the Darkness, landing with a splash near Miranda's body. Everyone watched the Queen's hopeless attempts to use the Darkness to fight back against the green fire, but the light pulsed and grew, pushing back the Darkness.

In its wake green shoots of plant-life begin to instantly unfurl. Grass, lush and green dusted along the floor, and one plant in particular began to grow and grow, filling the room with an exotic scent; a grassy knoll on humid summer night. Roots and vines of all sizes slithered, thickened, and grew, causing the ground to shift and become uneven. One vine began wrapping around the Queen's guards. Thorns appeared along the vine, squeezing, digging into the skin, eliciting screams from its victims. Another greenish glow began to surround Miranda, her back bowing from the energy zipping through her body. The sound of African drums, rhythmic, deep, the base rattled along Andy's spine, signifying ancient, Earth, soulful, magic.

No! How dare you?! Suddenly more Vampires and Weretigers, Werelions, spilled into the room. Andy could feel the Queen attempting to push back against her newly awakened shields, like a finger pressing against a bubble, the pressure shifting around the Queen's deadly power. However, Andy was more worried about her Mate and Senura, she just saved them. She hoped her Mother would get here soon because she didn't know how long she could hold up. A shift in the air and suddenly a lukewarm hand touched her shoulder and her fear receded as she realized it was Miranda, healed and whole, standing next to her to lend Andy strength.

We have to kill her Andréa. If not she will not only kill us, but she'll kill everyone of my Line.

Ok. No pressure, right? Andy thought. But if we kill her won't that kill all Vampires and Weres? Won't that kill you??

It might. I just don't know. But perhaps my time has… arrived.

No! I don't agree with that! There has to be another way!

The choice was suddenly taken from her, however, as a heavier dark mass, leaking great power crashed into her protective green aura, almost bringing Andy to her knees. Marmee Noir. Her power coalesced striking against the green shield, weakening it so that she could destroy the insolent creature. But before she could strike again the air shifted, swirling… moving as one great dark mass. A warmer energy crashed into the room, scenting the air with roses.


But she wasn't alone; along with the Princess, was Doyle who was fully shifted into a Kelpie (a horse-like creature), Rhys spilled a dull brightness into the room; his power was steeped in Death—he was Cromm Cruach, and he communes with the Dead. Galen stepped into the room, shivering at the already present Elemental power Andy was emitting. Known as the Green Man, Galen's power was directly connected to earth fertility or plants. The resulting earth magic already present in the room from Andy pulsed his own magic. But it was her Mother who brought both life and death, the ultimate Circle of Life, Hand of Flesh and Blood, and something else. It was the last part that should've concerned the Queen—but she'd always been a bit clueless.

The ground rumbled beneath their feet, the air shifted even more, the scent of some wild and powerful magic like the smell of ozone and hot sand dusted the air. Andy and Miranda watched as a swirling grayish-black circle of energy swirled in front of the their eyes, making the Queen pause in confusion and alarm. It grew and grew until a set of huge hooves were the first things to break through. Large muscles and the corded strength of a horse that … had 8 hooves, with giant wings along its haunches, dark as night, with red eyes, and huge. One would almost miss if it as it almost blended into the Darkness of the room if it wasn't for the glowing moon bright, half-Sidhe Princess, with blood-red, hair spilling down her back riding it.

But they weren't alone. Other things… more nightmarish, some similar to Andy's magical tattoos except bigger with more legs or arms or wings. Kelpies, 3-headed hounds the size of ponies, goat-like creatures more vicious-looking than their earth-bound counter-parts, or mantises-like creatures bounded into the room. They were the ultimate 'monsters-under-the-bed' attacking anything that appeared to have the Queen's signature.

It was feral, uncontrollable, and powerful, magic.


Chapter 42B

Known to the Fey as the Wild Hunt, only those blessed by the Goddess Danu herself had the power to call it. But beware because It didn't end until it had expended itself, was the warning 'sent' to her via her familial link with her Mother. She watched as one of the giant mantis, similar to the twin set from Andy's tattoo, but much larger and with what appeared to be red eyes, land on the face of a Weretiger. The shriek and bellow of pain that followed were as terrible as the other sounds of pain and fear from echoing around the chamber as the nightmarish entities attacked.

Some say the Wild Hunt collected the souls of those who belonged in the netherworld. It is also believed that It collected soldiers for the devil. But Andy was filled with knowing that this Wild Hunt was here to cleanse and balance the line between good and evil. Tipping the Scales as it were, ridding those who had no regard for life in all its forms; human, Faerie, Preternaturals, even Vampires.

Since both Miranda and Senura were glowing with Andy's Fey signature they remained safe, they redirected their attention on the Queen. The fight raged on, even beyond these walls. Back in St. Louis Belle Morte's clan was attacking Jean-Claude and Anita's people at the Circus. Nigel, Emily, and Serena, were caught in the crossfire while attempting to join Miranda and Andy.

Inside the Queen's chamber the fight escalated. Arms shaped by the Darkness suddenly shoved themselves into Andy's chest, like molten tar shoved into one's body the resulting feeling was like fire; equally hot and almost as painful. The Queen believed that if she couldn't psychically destroy this whelp than she'd tear her insides out and when she finished she would shred her entrails as her Mate watched. She had intended to bring her into her Kiss/Line but she was not worthy of her consideration. As an added boon the physical damage would more than likely debilitate her Faerie energy. In the meantime she was trying to 'roll' Miranda, so that she would hold the Faerie creature in place.

Screaming from the pain of the Queen's attack, Andy tried to pulse her shields to fight her off. But the cold, deadly, legendary, power of Marmee Noir, was like a dark virus traversing magical veins, rushing over the green magical signature, crippling it, counteracting it, and weakening Andy. She could feel her Life-force, the 'thing' that connected her to this earth, connected her to Mother and her Faerie heritage, and connected her to Miranda, dimming, and the edges of unconsciousness – sure death crept closer.

As if from far away she could see Miranda trying to break the psychic connection from Marmee Noir, she could hear her begging Andy to Hold on!, she could see her Mother hacking her way through bodies to get to her. Once again she could feel warm liquid dribbling out of her ears, muffling sound to a cottony noise, but this time it started to pour out of her nose, coppery, thick, and hot. It didn't take a genius to guess that it was her blood, her life, that was draining from her body, splattering along the floor. She could also feel Miranda's anguish as Marmee Noir psychically imprisoned her, not allowing her to move or assist Andy in any way. It was at that moment that Andy fervently wished that she had told Miranda her Secret.

The Secret that had been growing each time they shared a tender moment, engaged in incredibly hot, sensual, inventive, slightly kinky lovemaking. Or as Andy watched Miranda's face softening with love for her Twins. All of these moments along with the surety that Andy was explicitly made for Miranda, confirmed her Secret: that she'd been in love with Miranda from the moment Andy's eyes met those icy-blues in a hotel lobby in Chicago. The intense sadness that filled her; knowing that she would never get a chance to tell Miranda, mixing with the intense colors of pain, made the intensity of emotions sharper, almost like physical wounds.

But as if coming from far away the sound of drums tha-tha-thump echoed and the smell of sandalwood, earth, honey, and something ancient. From the edges of her fading consciousness over the increasingly distant connection to Miranda was something else. As the drums grew louder, making Marmee Noir pause in confusion at this latest intrusion before she was utterly frozen from her attempts to hasten Andy's demise. The entity grew stronger, gaining form, bringing with it the smell of fertile lands and rolling sands.


Chapter 42C

Damn girl you've gotten yourself in a bit of a pickle, huh?? She appeared to snicker to herself delighted over all the colorful colloquialisms from this time period.

Li-Lilly? Wha-wh-what, who, what's going on? What are you doing?

With a look of consternation Lily seemed to… grow, or no it wasn't that. But something seemed to fill her, changing her spirit –Andy could almost see it. Shoulders broadened out, her eyes seem to darken and become more almond-shaped, she become wholly self-possessed. The modern clothes seemed to melt off of her and new ones replaced them, her hair grew long to past her shoulders, similar to Senura's. Gold jewelry in the shape of serpents wrapped around her upper-arms, a thickly- beaded neck jewelry, and some kind of white shift stood out starkly against her milk chocolate skin and beaded necklace.

With a great sigh Andy watched as her aura became a greenish-gold, pushing back the Darkness that was starting to 'eat' into Andy's soul. I wish I had more time to explain but I'm your third and final Goddess—a Celestial Triumvirate. While I go by your friend Lily, you may know my more famous name: Isis.

She smirked as she watched as the shock resonated through Andy's metaphysical frame.

Similar to the physical plane, your Mate has completely merged her Link with you because you've fully shared Marks. In the mystical plane the same can happen. Those that have been blessed or cursed can be Marked. However, as with the physical world once you've begun this process you must complete the transformation; otherwise it leaves you open to attacks such as the one you're currently dealing with. Thus far, you've been marked by the Goddesses Danu and Badb.

Her visage turned serious and hard. But first, let's see what we can do about this crazy bitch, hmm?

Like being filled with a warm cup of hot cider, tangy and hot, Isis' poured energy and magic into Andy's body, resulting in a short scream coming from Marmee Noir who was once again violently thrust from Andy's metaphysical body. Andy's psyche, now like a solid mass sieved with psychic slashes from the Vampire Queen, was being plugged with the purplish-gold glow of Lily/Isis' gift.

Wounds being healed, albeit still tender, allowed Andy to focus on the next phase. Energy stores now replenished, her magic which had been fraying, ripping into her Lifeforce. Like a single silk thread being quickly woven into deceptively strong cocoon, it had renewed itself. Her tattoos gave an almost 'magical purr' as they were fortified

Wait! I can't kill her because it could kill Miranda! Plus it'd kill everyone else!

Andy you've been blessed by two Goddesses who embody Life and Rebirth [Danu and Lily/Isis] and a Shape-Shifting Warrior Goddess[Badb]; use that knowledge to your advantage. We have faith in you, now you must have faith in yourself.

And like pressure suddenly sucked out of the room Lily/Isis disappeared from Andy's metaphysical world, leaving Andy to momentarily bask in the purplish-gold energy that now thrummed through her body. Focusing again on the veins of magical energies, as if 'seeing' from a distance she could sense her additional threads of magic colored a brilliant greens representing Danu, purples signifying Lily/Isis, and the reddish-gold hues indicating the Goddess Badb. Reaching, straining, trying to grab onto these threads was proving to be some effort.

It was Miranda's metaphysical hands reaching in, caressing her shields that provided Andy the strength to grab hold of those threads in time enough for the Queen's renewed attack. Holding up her hands, energy arced out of palms, stopping the Queen in her tracks. Miranda left her side to attempt a physical attack on the Queen's body that lay still upon the huge bed guarded ferociously by the Queen's personal guards. But not before imparting some crucial information.

Andrea, this body is just vessel for Marmee Noir. Once I destroy it 'she' can leave the husk and find another. The key will be your ability to either destroy her or trap her in the mystical plane outside of her resting place. I have the utmost faith in you Andréa. There was a pause as she smoothly partially Shifted.

If I do not make it back… know that other than my Daughters, there has never been a greater joy than being with you. I love you my Andréa. Leaving Andy reeling with that revelation and before Andy could respond Miranda turned towards the business of saving.

Sending out a mental message to Nigel, Serena, and Emily – whom finally made it into the chamber, fully shifted. It was always a bit disconcerting to see nearly 7ft, upright, Tiger, Lion, and Wolf. Princess Merry and Doyle were working their way over towards Andy. Andy was busy preparing to launch her own offensive against the Queen, emotionally reeling from Miranda's revelation. Narrowing down on all her threads of power and magic, sensing the approach of the Queen, she began coalescing the power into an orb, centering it through her life-force; 'watching' it zip through her metaphysical veins, her body beginning to hum as the magic filled every cell, every pore, her hair began to feel like electricity zinging through each individual strand, causing her hair to gently weave and sway as if an unseen wind began stirring the air in the chamber.

Her tattoos regained form and substance but instead of their usual inky substance they were outlined with swirling colors of green, purplish-gold, and red. Knowing; ancient knowledge, filled her consciousness, letting her know what she needed to do and how. Cupping her hands a sphere formed growing the size of a basketball, as Marmee Noir tried to break through Andy's defenses; darkness slashing at the metaphysical wall erected by Andy. Marmee Noir's bewildered rage grew along with a tingling of fear; she'd only been psychically "thrown out" only once before by the Necromancer, but that was when she barely awakening and much weaker; but this insolent creature managed to do it twice and she could feel that she great, powerful magic building beyond the shield.

However the eyes of Marmee's shadow suddenly widened in surprise as Andy with the orb of magic in her hands thrusted into the Queen's chest. It seemed as though Andy and the Queen were jerked out of the chamber and onto another metaphysical plane. Immediately Andy found herself facing off with a very small woman; dark, swarthy, skin the color of dark leather, dark hair tangled, and wild, almost dreadlocked. But it was the feral, animal-like eyes, staring intently at her under a slightly pronounced brow-ridge, filled with an intelligence belying her somewhat savage appearance. Andy knew that this was the actual queen. Ancient; which seemed to be the 'word' of the day, the 'woman' seemed barely passed the Neanderthal evolution period.

They stood staring at each other on what appeared to be an icy-snow landscape. Icy wind whipped microscopic pellets of ice and snow around them. She watched as the Queen's nails grew into claws, the sound of crackling and breaking could be heard as the Vampire's body shifted and grew, fur spilling along her body, and her fangs grew to an impressive, albeit scary length.

Andy widened her position into a fighting stance, her eyes glowing, and called up all the rage and magic that continued to brew inside her body. Her nails suddenly felt tender. She felt them drag against her skin as they lengthened into dark claws of her own. The same tenderness in her gums made its presence felt as her teeth lengthened into an impressive fangs of her own. The cartilage in her ears broke and re-knitted, and grew pointy. Eyesight and smell heightened allowing her to take in the metaphysical landscape and her feral-looking adversary. Andy guessed that this was the 'Shapeshifting" part that Isis/Lily mentioned.


Chapter 43

Meanwhile Miranda was slashing and tearing a trail of bodies en route to the form on the bed. She hoped that if Andréa could keep Marmee Noir in her body long enough, she could destroy the body on the bed. She hoped that Andréa could provide a little divine intervention, because none of them knew what would happen if they actually killed Marmee Noir. She received a deep slash on the shoulder from a hulking half Were-Lion, half-Vampire due to her momentary lapse in attention to the fight. She watched in morbid satisfaction as Its head rolled to the ground after she severed Its neck from the body. Moving, always, moving forward.

She watched with a deep growl as Nigel was pinned to the wall by one of the Queen's guards, 'Its' teeth snapping down on Nigel's forearm, shaking Its head, tearing skin and bone. However Nigel wasn't her Second just for his looks; with glowing eyes and a hiss he bit deep into the side of Its head, blood pouring out, while his dagger-like nails from his free hand tore deep furrows into Its back and side. Nigel's other hand came up to grip Its hair in a strong grip and tore Its head from his mangled arm. Suddenly It stilled as Rhys came up behind and stabbed deep and twisted with his deadly sword. Holding his arm close to his chest, Nigel nodded his thanks to Rhys.

Miranda returned her attention back towards the figure on the bed. Her time was drawing near; she could 'feel' Andréa as she fought Marmee Noir on the metaphysical netherworld. Centering herself as she snapped the neck of a Were-Leopard she sent thoughts of love and support to her Mate. But as she touched the bed, an invisible weight suddenly encased her body, every movement was like moving in quicksand.

Ducking under a vicious looking paw, Andy rolled into a crouch ready to launch an offensive of her own. Another orb formed in her palms, throwing her hands forward she 'threw' the orb in Marmee's direction, hitting her on her hind leg. In addition, she mentally sent one of her fighting tattoos, the twin manatees flying towards the Queen. The Queen dropped onto all-fours and positioned itself to launch its body at Andy, but the Queen/Were was having a hard time sending instructions to the hind leg hit by Andy's magic. The leg appeared to be dragging a bit, as if it had gone to 'sleep.'

But Andy was already moving as well; letting all the rage, fear, uncertainty, and ferocious desire for survival grow. Giving It life in the form of Faerie magic; green shoots exploded from the ground, startling the Vampire. They quickly grew thick and long, with dangerous thorns curved like tiny knives along its trunk. They swept along the icy ground reaching towards the Queen, wrapping around her ankles, the thorns digging into her marble-like skin. The more she strained from being taken to the ground the more blood poured out of her wounds, causing a roar of pain from the Were-Vampire. But these were no ordinary thorns; these were thorns blessed with Fey magic, blessed from the Goddess Gaia herself. Life negating Death, wakening long-dead cells, weakening the Queen's power, Marmee Noir felt the tendrils of fear gain strength.

Feeling as if acid was being poured into her wounds the Queen began to weaken. You cannot destroy me because it would kill your Mate and all the others you hold dear.

It was at that statement that gave Andy pause giving the Were- Vampire enough time to strike back. Spraying blood and skin, the Were-Vampire tore one of Its leg from the deadly vines, and moved with preternatural speed, lifting the uninjured leg and slammed her foot into Andy's chest. It sent her flying several feet to land painfully on her back. Gasping, trying to inhale desperately needed air, feeling as if her chest had caved in, eyes watering from the intense pain, Andy tried to get up before the Vampire reached her. Andy watched, her hand clutching her chest, as the Queen glided towards her, leaving trails of blood behind.


Chapter 44

Miranda, feeling as if she'd run the Boston and New York marathon combined, made the progress across the expanse of the huge bed arduous and slow. Princess Merry and Doyle were simultaneously fighting at the foot of the bed and protecting her back. Meanwhile Serena and Emily worked their way towards her. Reaching out towards the 'body' her hand felt as if she were reaching through a hole filled with nettles. Gritting her teeth, her canines digging into her bottom lip, caused her mouth to well with blood. She could almost 'see' the deep scratches etched into her skin as she reached for the motionless body. At this point her arm felt like it was burning, but she refused to give into the groan of pain creeping up her throat.

Briefly closing her eyes, trying to shut out the pain, exhaustion, and the Thirst (blood), she attempted to 'center' herself, coalescing her Power, checking her metaphysical shields only to be surprised to find… someone waiting for her. Was that… Andréa's friend Lily? Although she seemed to of found a sudden fascination with all things Egyptian – apparently she didn't get the memo that it was so 1990s.

Smirking, Lily/Isis regarded Miranda almost fondly. I bet you're surprised to see me.

Well, I must say it looks like you've upgraded. Perhaps not your sense of fashion, but you've definitely upgraded in other areas.

Lily/Isis chuckled, Miranda always had a fantastic wit. There's that infamous wit. However, we got things to discuss and quickly because time is ticking. While I was… concerned to learn that my Andy was destined to be Mated with you, a Master Vampire no less, it was clear at the moment of your Joining, that you too were blessed. She paused as she thought with exasperated affection that her Family was always meddling; even now when there were so few followers.

Osiris sends his regards; the Dead or Undead as the case may be, are his people. You have proven more worthy than most. Even if your human family did not show the proper respect to the Gods instead of bestowing their faith with the Hebrew God. Now, you may know me as the human named Lily, my real name is the Goddess Isis.

Stunned into silence, coupled with all her present ailments Miranda was unable to provide a sufficient response. Periodically, I might amuse myself by retaining a human visage. However in this case, Andy was prophesized to be special long ago. It was enough to peak my interest to interact with this time period; befriend Andy, perhaps guide her, keep watch without being impeding her growth – both intrinsically and magically. The result has been more than I had ever hoped, even if she is Mated to a Vampire.

Do you mean to tell me that you've befriend Andréa for your amusement because you read about it in some prophesy? I can assure you that Andréa will be as unappreciative of a god's interference in her life as I am. And I will do everything in my power to stop you from hurting Andréa any further with your meddling.

With a serious look Lily/Isis regarded Miranda for a few moments before responding. Then she smiled. One of the most important traits of being the Mate of a Chosen is the certainty that you would lay down your life for her – even in the face of tremendous odds. That ferocious bravery of yours has served you and the will of the Gods well throughout the centuries. It is now time for you to be sufficiently rewarded.

And with that Lily/Isis suddenly cupped Miranda's face and pressed her lips onto Miranda's; Power like a cold whoosh burned its way through her body, startling dead cells, sizzling borrowed blood, her skin leapt to attention. Miranda felt renewed energy like water breaking through a dam. When Lily/Isis lifted her mouth, Miranda was transported back into her physical body on the Queen's bed, armed with knowledge more ancient than religion, maybe even humans. Feeling as though she'd ingested a gallon of Andréa's blood, Miranda prepared herself for the final assault on the Queen's body.

Her will was strong and failure was not an option; too much, too many people, depended on her success. Simultaneously, she knew that whatever happened would have unintended consequences for all of them. The moment was fraught with tension and expectations; as if she was deactivating a bomb; cut this wire or cut that wire-- possibly go boom or save everyone. Life was about choices and if there was one thing about Miranda it was that she never shied away from making the hard choices. Granted this was a bit too apocalyptic for her tastes, but she was more than woman enough to do it.

Her canines lengthening in preparation for the biggest… bite of her life Miranda started to lean over the body. She just hoped this worked.


Chapter 45

Gasping weakly, Andy tried to gather her scattered energy and disrupted Power to fend off an approaching Queen, while trying to ignore the rattled-bone sensation in her chest. Suddenly her back bowed as if a dam was broken, icy-cold Power flushed through her body, leaving muscles and tendons tingling in their wake. Luckily this startled the Queen, making her pause in her tracks. She watched with rising worry as some kind of energy colored with greens, reds, purples, and a warm golden color darted through the creature's body, mixing with Andy's tattoos. Lifting her nose the Queen gave a delicate sniff of the air, scenting very powerful earth magic from the creature.

And as suddenly as it began, it stopped. Realizing that this would not bode well for her the Queen shifted back into her 'human form.' Moving with Preternatural speed, she quickly leaned over Andy's body with a powerful furry hand, wrapping it around her throat, choking off her air, crushing her windpipe. It was also at this moment that the Queen had been preparing to use one of her legendary Powers that was passed on to the Traveler's Line. She sensed that her 3rd Childe was about to commit to ultimate betrayal by destroying the 'husk' of flesh she left in her Chambers.

Once she's killed Meryem's Mate she'll leave that 'human husk' behind and find another body. She'll be greatly weakened, but it will give her the time she needs to properly waken and then seek vengeance against any and all who rose against her. Her Children have grown lax and vain; it was time to remind them whom they serve. But for now she had to destroy her biggest threat.

Renewing her focus, she brought free hand up, lengthening her claws, preparing to stab this creature in Its heart, snuffing the life from her and by extension Meryem. But before she could Andy brought her hands up, in her hands was a glowing orb of energy mixed with the colors that were darting through her body a moment ago. Painfully smiling a bloody smile, Andy wanted to give this bitch a proper send-off and since she couldn't flip her the "bird" she attempted a dose of wit.

"Has anyone ever told you what a grumpy bitch you've been since you've woken?!" she then pressed the orb of Power into the Queen's chest causing an immediate scream of pain and surprise.

With fear crawling up her throat the Queen attempted to back away from the Power, but it had already disappeared inside her chest. It filled her with Life energy, counteracting the Power steeped in Death and Destruction. The feeling like shards of agony spread throughout her body. Her Power to 'disappear' or 'travel', finding another host, was stopped in its tracks. Her hand loosened from around Andy's neck as she stumbled back, trying to escape, her hands came up clutching her chest. As if a tall tree had been felled by an ax, Andy watched the Queen falling backwards, her body freezing up. Quickly, Andy scrabbled onto her feet and ignoring her injuries, she pounced onto the Queen's body. Her newly acquired canines, while not as impressive as either Miranda's or the Queen's, were still deadly enough to sink or tear into flesh. Andy brought her head back for the strike.


Chapter 45B

Miranda watched as the Queen's body suddenly jumped and jerked. Its hands came up clutching her chest, while appearing to be 'lit up' with some kind of energy. All the while the host body's eyes never opened. Quickly moving before the opportunity slipped away, Miranda moved the Queen's head to side while bringing her own head back for the strike.

Perhaps it was prophesized, or maybe it was a certain planetary alignment, possibly it was some kind of unknown mystical force at work, or maybe all the Goddesses, Gods that agreed that this was the moment. No one knows for certain. But when both Miranda and Andy's fangs slid home into the Queen's flesh; both in the metaphysical and physical bodies, the power structure within the Preternatural world began to change. Blood and Power, old, slightly bitter, rushed through their veins.

Releasing ancient Faerie magic into the Queen's veins, Andy lifted her mouth from the Queen's "body." She watched as the "body" became frozen, almost marble-like, giving a sense of life stilling, but not dying completely. The jewel she found so long ago in the backyard of her fake parents' home appeared, hanging around her neck. So filled a certainty from having ancient knowledge "down-loaded" into her brain, she lifted the necklace, and laid it on the Queen's chest. It glowed brilliantly for a moment causing Andy to bring her hand up to momentarily shield her eyes. When the glow finally dimmed, Andy saw that the jewel had slightly sunken into the Queen's chest. Like some kind of marble statue, Andy knew that the Queen wouldn't waken in a very, very, long time.

Wearily closing her eyes, she desperately wanted to be back in her body, but even more so she wanted to be by Miranda's side. Centering herself Andy began to make the metaphysical more conscious in order to reconnect with her 'body' in the chamber. The sensation of feeling as if she were having an out-of-body experience or 'seeing' her body from an outside lens, she began to redirect her body back inside the Chamber. She was surprised and alarmed at what she saw.


Chapter 45C

All Preternatural creatures appeared to be sleeping, the powerful ones like Nigel and Emily looked as if they were drowning. However, blood was pouring from Nigel's nose. It made Andy wonder if the effects from what they did were being felt beyond these walls… she suspected they did. Finally Andy frantically began to look towards the huge bed that held Miranda and the Queen's husk/body. Startling both her Mother and Doyle who'd been standing guard over her body her concern for Miranda taking precedence, she gave a half-hearted response to the rush of inquiries from Princess Merry and Doyle.

"Andy! Are you ok? What's going on? We both felt enough Fey magic to power the entire state!"

"Hold on, I need to check on Miranda. We're trying to…" but she was already moving towards her Mate.

She could feel through their link that something was happening. Moving towards the bed, she saw the same swirling colors that made up the orb of energy she used to disarm the Queen swirling around Miranda's form. Miranda's mouth was still locked onto the Queen's "body."

Andy tentatively touched her leg, needing a more physical connection.

Andrea, you're all right?

Yes, are you ok? What's going on?

Do you feel it? Our Link is stronger than ever… I can almost hear your heartbeat my love. But I need to finish this, keep your hand on me. I might need to borrow some Power.

Feel free… and Miranda? I love you.

Andy watched as the same symptoms that infected the Queen's metaphysical body preventing her from escaping to another 'host' were repeated in this body. She also noticed Miranda's skin becoming more translucent, her veins brought closer to the surface. Power crackled like a live electrical cord along Miranda' body. She finally lifted her mouth from the Queen's neck, blood dripped from Miranda's fangs and down her chin. Miranda turned her head towards Andy and reached out her hand towards her, almost frantically needing a physical connection with Andy too.

Sliding her hand into Andrea's, Miranda gently tugged Andy close, quickly running glowing… golden eyes over Andy's body, checking for injuries. Andy smoothed her hands up Miranda's arms as she pressed into her body, before sliding one hand into Miranda's battle-tousled hair, while Miranda encased Andy's body in her arms. Without speaking or sharing thoughts, Miranda brought their mouths together, smearing blood along Andréa's face, a fang nipping Andy's pouty bottom lip. A slight sting indicated that Miranda made a slice, blood began to well between their lips. Miranda darted her tongue inside mouth and then slicked the muscle along the cut lip, sipping the blood, tasting Andréa.

Andy briefly lifted her mouth to breathily whisper, "Now, Miranda."

Once again she tugged Miranda's head close, crushing their kips together. Miranda made a deeper slice onto Andy's tongue; blood began to pour from the wound; The Queen's blood, Andy's blood. The failing population of Preternaturals, Vampires, began to feel the invisible weight that was snuffing out their lives, dimming their Power lift. Limbs became reanimated again, magic, Power, awakened once again. But with a new … 'taste.'

Life. Even Undead Life was reborn. A new Queen was "born."


Chapter 46

1 Week Later

Andy and Miranda stood before the stunningly gorgeous Queen Andais.

Tall, well over 6ft, with long, gorgeous, gleaming blue-black hair, gleaming tri-colored eyes, broad shoulders, breasts that somehow defied gravity throughout the ages, and legs for days, made for an imposing, yet majestic presentation. However, it didn't diminish the instinctual feelings of menace emanating from her. Of course, the slightly serial-killer-like smile didn't help. You weren't sure if she was going 'welcome' you or kill you. A year ago, if you had told Miranda that she'd essentially be the new Queen of Vampires she would have sneered in response and maybe requisitioned a little blood donation as payment for such a bad joke. The fall-out was still being felt by all of them.


Marmee Noir was locked inside an eternal prison of stone and magic; her Powers siphoned into Miranda, similar to some kind of Christmas tree whose lights represented every Preternatural and Vampire soul. This Power weaved, dipped, dispersed this or dispersed that, and suddenly everyone was just as they were… with tad bit different 'flavoring.' To say such "esteemed" killers as the Council members like the Dragon or the soul-sucking bitch Belle Morte were unhappy to be… tenuously linked to Fey magic was an understatement.

However Belle Morte was somewhat soothed after she was designated as Council Regent; Miranda was the Queen—which made Belle Morte more than a little uncomfortable. In addition, she appointed Senura as her Hand-of-Goddess and will head up a new Harlequin (Vampire police/boogie-man). This made Belle Morte downright fearful. Especially since one of Miranda's first acts, was destroy the scheming, yet incompetent, Padma. He'd been preparing to kill Emily to get to Miranda, but little did he know that Miranda already knew about his ridiculous plans.

As part of Miranda's new "upgrade" Marmee Noir's Power began to fill Miranda; like a fast-moving film; the 'lives' of the Council member's flashed through her head, weakening her knees. So much history, plotting, cruelty, violence, and blood; it was breathtaking. Emily, along with her new friend Sylvia, paid Padma a visit. He'd been holed up in a swank hotel in St. Louis. However, recalcitrant Emily, who was not allowed to kill Padma, was somewhat mollified with the end results. By the time Senura and the newly appointed Harlequin arrived--Padma was more than a little worse for wear when he dumped, minus a few body parts, at her feet. It was somewhat made up for when she was allowed to kill his Lieutenants—whom surprisingly seemed… relieved.

Miranda already feeling the effects of unfiltered Ardeur and Post-Battle lust was nearly driven into a frenzy for Andréa. Quickly and decisively she dragged them to another set of gaudily appointed rooms within the Circus to sensually sate their need. Afterwards it was languid Andréa who dealt with the rather unpleasant Anita. As a Necromancer she would no longer have sway over Master Vampires because of the stronger current of Fey magic running through their veins. Fey magic was 'Living magic' and it ran very strong within Miranda's veins weakening the Powers of a Necromancer, making Anita very unhappy. Apparently she was rather adverse to major change in St. Louis when she wasn't directly consulted.

Before Miranda or Jean-Claude could correct her, Andréa still feeling a bit of the Post-Battle lust herself, along with her growing dislike of Anita Blake, verbally lit into her. When it looked as if Anita was widening her stance in preparation for a physical altercation and a thinly veiled threat to Miranda (which Miranda secretly found amusing), quicker than anyone anticipated Andréa's fist bloodied Anita's mouth. After being helped from the ground, Anita began to pull one of her knives from her wrist-sheath, but before either Miranda or Andréa could respond, Jean-Claude and Micah intervened. With a fierce glare from Micah, along with some help from Nathaniel, Jean-Claude made appropriate apologies to Miranda, as Anita was led away.

Holding up a hand to prevent Jean-Claude's apologetic groveling; Miranda indicated that they needed to speak discreetly. Soon they were in more private settings, with Nigel standing behind her, while Andréa sat with a casual air of indifference nearby. However, Miranda knew she was keenly listening and watching everything that occurred. Miranda renewed Jean-Claude's allegiance through a Blood Oath; indefinitely tying him to her, in exchange he would never disclose that Miranda was the new Queen. They would perpetuate the current "story" that Miranda caused Marmee Noir to fall into another Great Sleep. Subsequently, it didn't explain the new… Power running through the Preternatural world's veins; but it was the belief of many that the fight involving Miranda and her Sidhe might have had something to do with it.

She also explained to Jean-Claude that Nigel would be the new Council representative for the U.S., as such, should Jean-Claude need additional assistance, Nigel would be the person to contact. It was only in the instance that it involved the Fey or nothing short of the world-ending should he beg for an audience with her. As for the rest of the Master Vampires: perpetuating the status quo would suffice: Belle Morte as the Council Chair, while "Mother" slept." Belle Morte of course, will be answering to Miranda—but not too often and certainly not anytime soon.

Miranda had to dispense with some Vampire Justice upon learning that Belle Morte had been gearing up for an attack on Marmee Noir. It was her plan to destroy Jean-Claude to replace herself as Anita Blake's Mistress (she thought with some disdain) and become the new Queen. Her pathetic scheming could not go unpunished. Her screams were still ringing in her ears, she thought with no little… delight. In her earlier years, she would have reveled in them, but now, she realized that her love for her Daughters and Andréa have given her a slightly different perspective these days.

Once business was taken care of Miranda needed considerable sleep to recover, the ancient and potent blood running through her veins were causing discernable differences in her body. However, there was nothing more satisfying than a few hours spent slaking the Post-Battle lust and then curling around her Mate for a rather fortifying sleep. She awakened later to discover that Andréa was no longer next to her. After placing a call to her Daughters with reassuring phrases regarding their welfare, she hunted down her beloved in the bathroom, dressed and putting the finishing touches on her make-up.

Andy paused before applying her mascara, "Hey sweetie! Did you get enough rest?"

Sliding her arms around Andréa from behind, Miranda nuzzled her lips against her Mark. "And where, pray tell, do you think you're going in this stunning outfit?"

Turning around, laughing, bringing her still-swollen lips against Miranda's, she replied. "I see you forgot my plans for a night out with Nathaniel, Jason, Rhys, and Nigel. But no worries – since I'm madly in love with you I can forgive you for almost anything."

Miranda gave her trademark look that sent one silvery-brow towards her hairline. "Is that right? Where are they taking you?" since Nigel was a part of the group, her worries for Andréa's welfare diminished. To fail her, Nigel knew would have rather unpleasant consequences. "Are you sure you're all right? You took quite a beating."

"I'm fine sweetheart. Since coming into my Powers I heal pretty fast. Besides we won't stay out too long because we're going to the Sithen (Mound) tomorrow." She leaned in for another kiss, deepening it, their tongues gently battling against each other, Andy wanted to take Miranda's taste with her. But she knew if she didn't stop soon, they'd end up going another few rounds – which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, even if she did have a 'posse' waiting for her.

"They're taking me to a place called Dance Macabre; I get to wiggle my ass for a couple of hours. Too bad you can't join us."

With a hmph Miranda rolled her eyes and fondly slapped and squeezed Andréa's ass. "As long as you remember who this ass belongs to, there shouldn't be any issues. Besides I have entirely too many things to attend to here regardless of how much I'd dearly love to join you." she stepped back to once again run her eyes over Andréa, nodding her head at the Jimmy Choo strappy heels, her long legs encased in a pair of dark-denim Diesel jeans, and a glittering Betsy Johnson halter, completed a very sexy picture indeed, thought Miranda.

She might have to re-think about joining her later. "In any event you look splendid. However, I'm going request some additional security to accompany you," holding up a hand to stall any protests she explained. "Along with Caroline and Cassidy, your well-being is not something I am willing to compromise on."

Pouting her delectably full lips Andy replied. "Fine. But only because you've explained so sweetly."

After that Miranda watched the pre-party proceedings with exasperated amusement as "Andréa's Boys" examined her from head to toe, whistling at the very attractive picture she made. After a few drinks and extracting promises upon death over Andréa's safety Miranda was left to a silent suite. Naturally this didn't last long. She could feel Senura approaching. Miranda sighed because she knew why; she was going to request that she be formally based in America because of her budding relationship with Emily. While Miranda needed Senura to be her 'eyes and ears' throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, the thought of having her close was appealing. They were in essence, "Siblings" and her absence particularly after the True Death of Khalid was felt keenly by Miranda.

In addition, with her new status it might be advantageous to have as much… firepower nearby as possible. She also felt Emily and thought back with savage delight, to the thrashing Emily gave the incompetent and weak-minded local Ulfric.


Chapter 47

The handsome, yet imposing man stood with fists clenched and veins standing out in stark relief, over the smaller, though unaffected woman. Looking bored but resolute Emily continued.

"If you do not settle things in your 'house' than I will find someone who will. Your indecision costs lives and your pathetic self-hatred issues are at best, tiresome and at worst, weaken your Triumvirate. In fact, your bullshit endangers it and those whom you are charged to protect. So in short; get the bloody hell over it and grow some stones! " As she was speaking she allowed her Power to leak out, meeting up with the oven-like Power pouring from Richard.

While Richard, as Ulfric, was powerful in his own right, his bond with Anita and Jean-Claude enhanced that power. Emily was Blood Oathed to Miranda, whom was now the new Queen, making Emily significantly more powerful than most Ulfrics. Nevertheless, since she was one of the few female Ulfrics in the world and diminutive in comparison to the muscularly tall Richard, plus he had no knowledge about her Power 'upgrade,' naturally he like so many before him underestimated her. She'll have to ensure that he'll never make that mistake again.

She slowly smiled, immediately disconcerting the male Ulfric, Emily slowly turned her back towards him, motioning everyone to leave the room – including Richard's enforcers. Like beetles stinging along her back she could feel Richard's 'heat' and the sub-human growl from behind her. She knew that no matter what kind of ridiculousness he's allowed to influence his leadership he was still a formidable opponent. But that was just fine by her; she loved a good fight. The slight sound of displaced air was the clue that Richard was about to attack; she turned and partially shifted smoothly, while kicking off her pair of Dior heels, as her legs and feet grew significantly bigger and more muscular. A huge partially-shifted honey-colored male was leaping towards her, claws outstretched to do some serious damage. The fight was on!

After that Andy only rolled her eyes as both combatants sat being fussed over while sharing cocktails. Albeit, Richard seemed a little more worse for wear; dislocated shoulder, large bloody trenches in chaotic pattern all over his upper body, and an ice-pack on way-past-swollen-set-of-balls, to name a few. Emily was being tended to by Senura --- tended to meaning being licked and kissed within an inch of her life. Andy thought she more than ready to leave St. Louis.

She had just gotten off the phone with her Mother; it seemed that she and Miranda were required to present themselves at the Unseelie Court in three days (that was all the time her Mother could get them). Miranda was currently meeting with Jean-Claude to iron out some details before they headed back to hotel for some much needed rest and recovery. All this did nothing to stem the tide of nervousness about the impending Unseelie Court visit. But she knew this needed to be dealt with before they returned Home to begin a new chapter in their lives.


Chapter 48

Hours before the Meeting in the Sithen

From all the stories and pictures they've seen, on the sheer scariness scale, Queen Andais gave Marmee Noir a run for her money. Apparently she was once considered some type of 'warrior demi-goddess' in her previous life before the Fey fell out of favor with the Gods. It was all very strange and mythical. In fact, the entire journey to the Unseelie Court was strange and otherworldly. The Sithen, is the home of both the Unseelie and Seelie Courts. From the outside it appeared to be a huge earthen mound of dirt and grass. But it was much, much, more. As with all things related to the Fey, appearances were deceptive. It began the moment they left the lobby of their hotel; a long black, sleek, silent, limousine awaited them. However instead of the usual metal and gears, a strange yet powerful vibe echoed from the vehicle. Andy looked at Miranda and watched as her eyes narrowed in focus, as if she was trying to figure something out. The windows were tinted so dark that they couldn't see inside, not even the driver; which should have alarmed them. But Andy knew this power because it was Fey magic.

Rhys came up behind them. Her Mother's entourage had already left for the Mound, he remained behind as their guide to the Mound.

"Whoa! I see Queen Andais sent the 'big guns.'"

Seeing the confused looks from Andy and Miranda he explained. "This, my ladies is the Black Coach, the Queen's personal car." He grinned at seeing the surprise on Andy's face – Miranda seemed unfazed by this pronouncement.

"Considering that Andréa is her descendent of course she should send her personal car. However, I fail to understand what is so special about this car given the obvious moniker." But Rhys just laughed and shook his head in amusement.

"You'll see in just a moment." With twinkling eyes, he dashingly motioned them towards the car.

Miranda protectively approached the car before Andy, wondering with mild irritation when the driver was going to collect their luggage or open their door. But as she was about to address Rhys once again, the door suddenly opened with a quiet hiss. Andy and Miranda looked at each and then at a smirking Rhys.

"Well, after you." Miranda rolled her eyes in exasperation. Damn Fey! As if she hasn't had enough mystery and magic to last a lifetime.

As Miranda and Andy slid onto the black interior, the car seemed to give a 'sigh' as they sunk into the seats. Everything was black, the windows so dark it was if you were staring into night. The darkness was broken up by some kind of mysterious greenish vapor along the ceiling and floor.

"Oh my gawd! I remember! The legendary Black Coach; a magical object among the Fey. It's like thousands of years old or something and obviously this is the latest variation – can't have a horse and carriage picking us up. It also appears only when It wants to."

Many Fey objects, steeped in ancient magic, relics to a time when the Fey were looked upon with fond affection by the Gods, had vanished throughout the years; taking the soul of the Fey with them. It was Andy's mother, upon coming into her Power; the Hand of Flesh and Blood, and Fertility, that many of the items began reappearing. The Black Coach was one of these items.

"Very good, Andy. We may just make you into a proper Unseelie yet! I'm glad to see you've been reading up on the literature that Princess Merry left for you."

Miranda appeared relaxed and unconcerned as she laid her silvery head back, with her eyes closed. However, all her senses were sharply in tuned with her surroundings; gauging, connecting with the Fey vehicle, as Rhys and Andréa chatted on. When she first slid in this powerful Fey object seemed reluctant to let her in – the leather seats seemed harsh and cold, uninviting. But the minute Andréa slid in next to her and snuggled herself into Miranda's side; it sensed her bond to Andréa, to the Unseelie, and the sigh was released.

Nigel, Serena, and Emily, followed them into the vehicle. Amusingly, as they settled into their seats the car seemed to let out a grumble – they weren't Fey, but it did recognize them as 'important' to the Unseelie in the car.

"Well, Andy, I see your penchant for the dramatic hasn't diminished. I mean really? Do we really ha—" Emily was interrupted before her snark got them into trouble.

"Ah, I'd stop that train of thought if I were you; as with all things Fey, this car isn't what it appears. In fact, it's sort of… alive. So if I were you I'd be careful what your next words are. It might just turn into a pick-up truck." Andy had a thought that comparing this esteemed object of the Fey to the Adaams' Family's car would not go over well.

Turning her attention to Senura, Andy thought they made an interesting pairing. "Senura, I can't tell you how psyched I am that you're joining 'the crew.' Miranda seems determined to take on the world, so I'm happy that Em, Serena, and Nigel, have some serious back-up."

Not to mention having to deal with Vampire politics and other Preternaturals was already hard, add the Fey to the mix, and life was sure to remain very interesting. They'd need all the loyal help they could get. But as they drew closer to their destination Andy could feel the Fey magic miles before they arrived. Huge and green, breaking up the low mountainous range, in Cahokia, IL, was the home of the Sithen or Mound. It called to Andy's magic in a way similar to when she met her Mother or Doyle. The butterflies dancing a tango in her belly were not helping… Queen Andais; apparently was as scary and intimidating as Marmee Noir, it didn't help that she tried to kill her Mother several times. Apparently having 'mixed heritage' still got the same crap deal here as it did among humans. So she wasn't looking forward to what Queen Andais thought about Andy's rather… interesting heritage—which to be honest was still a little dicey.

However, Andy had in her opinion, a pretty, scary Queen of her own; Miranda.


Chapter 49


Andy's Mother sat next to the standing Queen as the official royal heir. According to her Mother, Andais probably loved that about as much as she would love a visit to Chuck-E Cheese with five birthday parties in progress. Yet, aside from Doyle and her brothers: Aiden and Darius, were two unfamiliar men. Andy guessed that they may be the mystical Fathers of her brothers: Mistral and Sholto. Apparently, Sholto was King of the Sluagh (the "bogeyman" of the Fey). Mistral was once known as the Master of Winds, the Bringer of Storms and was also part of the Queen's guard. The remaining people were as colorful as a birthday cake. Hair and skin colors not found in human evolution standing on either side of the Royal Family; the Queen's personal Guard, the Raven; on one side were her original guard which were all male and on the other side stood those of her deceased son Cel's all-female guards.

The Sidhe were extraordinarily beautiful. However, the 'beauty' of the Unseelie Court was broken up by the more 'terrible beauty' of the Nightflyers, the Sluagh, or the Goblins—all the… throw-aways, the unwanted, of the Fey were given refuge in the Unseelie Court. This made for a truly fascinating array of species.

But it was the Queen who held everyone's attention. Once worshipped as War Goddess, blood and pain was her stock and trade. Her only saving grace (and that of the Court) was her ultimate belief in ensuring the well-being of the Unseelie at all costs… and the fact that her Consort didn't mind sacrificing himself in the bedroom. Standing tall and proud Andy remained emotionless, as the Queen descended from the dais.

Miranda stood protectively close to Andy, her hands loose and ready at her sides. Her eyes were sharp, missing nothing, glowing with Power were pinned on the approaching Queen. She'd know her type anywhere. Although very few have the level of cruelty emanating from their psyche. From a professional stand-point, Andais could grace the cover of several high-end fashion magazines – even Runway. But looking among the people around the Court she wouldn't be the only one. The most fascinating thing about Andais was her clothes; it was unlike anything Miranda had ever seen. It almost looked as if she were cloaked in… spiderwebs and areas so dark and… nebulous that they looked more like shadows than actual clothing. Dark make-up perfectly applied contrasted with her pale face and starkly painted red lips. Her eyes were the traditional tri-colored eyes of varying greys: charcoal grey, storm-cloud grey, to light grey closer to white. All in all, she embodied her full title: Queen Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness, and Lover of Flesh.

A squeeze from Andréa's hand to hers, signaled that they were required to provide a 'proper greeting' --- it was STRONGLY conveyed that the Queen's temper was trigger-fast and it was uncertain how quickly she'd shed someone's blood as result. But Miranda had a problem. She was in essence a Queen in her own right; Vampires were equal adversaries, to bow down to another sovereign would be not be judicious. So as Andréa, Nigel, Serena, Emily, and Rhys, all kneeled down and bowing their heads, Miranda had no choice but to stand, respectfully bowing her head, while keeping a cautious stare on Queen Andais. As advised by Rhys and Princess Merry, aside from Miranda, they continued kneeling until she allowed them to stand.

"I must say Merry you do bring me the most delightful guests. I am trying to determine if this woman is being purposefully insolent and disrespectful or if she has a death wish."

Miranda remained cool. "Forgive me Queen Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness, Lover of Flesh, and Sister of Essus. But surely even you are aware that one leader of sovereign race cannot bow down to another leader of a sovereign group." This statement was met with gasps and murmurings from the audience.

Stepping closer to Miranda, the Unseelie Queen attempted to use her size as intimidation, but Miranda was used to people attempting to intimidate her. Power didn't come from some tiresome scare tactics. It came from knowing you have the ability to do whatever it took to outsmart or take down an adversary that threatened you and yours, and then ruthlessly using that ability to destroy them. Most people were afraid to "pull the trigger" or they if they did they were forever changed by remorse; Miranda was not. She ran her Vampire politics with the same ruthlessness that she ran Runway. Both worlds were imbued with a 'sink or swim' environment and Miranda had tremendous stamina.

Without breaking her stare with Miranda, Queen Andais called over her human Public Relations liaison as a long knife suddenly appeared in her hand, which she then quickly used it to lift Rhys' chin until his throat was stretched long and pale. The knife only slightly pierced his skin… for now.

"Can someone tell me why I was failed to be notified that I would be meeting a sovereign leader?"

Miranda wanted to roll her eyes in irritation, but she'd been warned, coached, and warned again, that the Queen tends to… let loose with her anger at the mildest provocation. But Miranda would bring down 'unholy hell' if that anger touched Andréa. "If you can curb your bloodlust for just a moment, I can provide a sufficient explanation. It was at my request that you were not told. If we could have a moment in private to discuss the possibility of a future partnership between our two species, preferably in a room that does not 'scream' dungeon, I would be most appreciative."

"You do not fear me do you?" she seemed surprised. Miranda couldn't blame her – being a former War Goddess doesn't exactly inspire warm and fuzzy feelings.

Suddenly Miranda pulled her Power, ignoring the Queen, building it, seeming taller without any actual physical change. She gently helped Andréa from the floor, ignoring the immediate rising tension from their audience. "I can assure you, that my lack of fear does not mitigate my belief of how equally impressive an adversary you would make. But you should know that I would not be an insignificant adversary as well. I would rather be a strong ally." Clasping Andréa's hand Miranda continued.

"It is my understanding that you rarely interact with humans. Surely an alliance between our two groups: Fey and Vampires would prove to our advantage?" Miranda finished with her trademark look of one silvery eyebrow raised to her hairline as if to say: well?! with a dash of: get over it already.

"Hmmm, perhaps. But first, let me welcome my first granddaughter." Turning her attention towards Andy she formally welcomed her into the Unseelie Court. "Princess Andrea Gentry, Daughter of Princess Meredith Gentry, Heir to the Unseelie Throne, and Daughter of Earth, Bringer of Life, and Warrior Magic."

"Greetings Queen Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness—"

Andais held up a hand to stop another echoing of her full title, her tri-colored eyes shifting from Miranda to her, while finally removing the knife from Rhys' neck. "I must say that your" her nose delicately turned up as if she smelled something bad, "mixed heritage has both Courts atwitter and King Taranis enraged with jealousy, which by itself gives me great pleasure. He's already made two attempts on your life. It was him that sent the Erikings."

They'd already been alerted from Doyle and Barinthius about King Taranis' attempt; those ugly, creatures that attacked them in Central Park and at the airport in St. Louis. It was a pact made between King Taranis and a goblin-type species that have already been liquidated by Kurag (Goblin King) for their transgressions. Andy could feel her magic awakening, reaching out towards Andais. Then her magic seemed to 'hit a wall' because even as it vibrated with knowledge of such a powerful Sidhe, one whose blood ran through Andy's veins, It didn't… like Andais. Considering all the stories told by either her Mother or the rest of her Sidhe family, for the sake of self-preservation, it was probably a good idea to notcommunicate the that fact to Andais. However, the Queen's attention soon shifted back to Miranda and the anxiety she'd been holding at bay, shimmered back to life.

"Mistral. Please arrange my rooms to receive guests. In the meantime…," she looked down at Miranda's beautiful 4-inch heels, "are those Louboutins?"


Chapter 50

The Queen had arranged for a set of rooms for them before they finally leave for New York tomorrow. To say they were looking forward to going Home, see the Twins, and return to their lives, was a huge understatement. Yes, some things were significantly changed, but luckily the more important changes were known only by a trusted few aside from Andy's family and Miranda's clan. Lord Sholto (whom Andy extracted a promise to visit them– the Twins would absolutely LOVE him!). He was a mutt like Andy; half Sidhe, half Nightflyer. The half-Sidhe, half-Goblin brothers: Ash and Holly, whom rarely liked anyone, seemed to of formed a great affection for Andy and an appreciation for Miranda's… caustic side. They too will be visiting them. Andy wasn't sure New York will ever be the same afterwards.

Another person that'd be visiting soon was one of the Queen's female Guards who'd suddenly became just as fascinated with Serena as Serena did with her. Well over 6'2, long, gleaming pink, cotton-candy-colored hair, her skin a darker, deeper, pink , was sleek and muscular. She gave you a sense that if she didn't want to be caught she'd somehow be able to 'slip through your fingers.' It also turned out that Eolande loved fashion and was devout fan of Runway (Andy cautioned her from exclaiming how much she also loved Vogue around either Miranda or Emily). But according to Serena; Eolande was worth her indulgence for the lesser fashion magazines. That, and her tongue was supposedly as long as her fingers.

However, all of this didn't matter right now because she really wanted to get naked with Miranda. The need to reaffirm their love, strengthen the intimacy they shared, was becoming paramount, especially after dealing with an Unseelie Court and Queen Andais. For a moment the tension increased ten-fold when it appeared that Miranda was unwilling bend on a point during the negotiations with Andais. After her Mother, and some of the Queen's more favored Guards, helped divert a Queen-sized tantrum, they were able to resume negotiations for a fruitful alliance. Andy suspected that the Preternatural and Vampire world wouldn't know what 'hit' them.

The huge bed shifted as Miranda slid onto the silky sheets, she quickly snuggled her body into Andy's. She slid an arm underneath Andy's waist, while bringing her hand up to cup her breast. She brought her other hand from around her waist, to stroke along her stomach, as Miranda's lips nuzzled into Andy's neck, letting loose a deep purr. "I've thought of nothing all day except having your skin against mine.'

Andy moaned in contentment and awakening arousal; her reaction to Miranda was so instantaneous. Reaching up to tangle her fingers in the soft, silvery, mane, Andy responded. "I cannot WAIT to be home again. But I think as long as I'm with you, everything is entirely bearable. After all, there's nothing I love more than having your hands and lips on me and you can do that anywhere."

Turning her head, Andy brought her lips to Miranda's; gently caressing them, nibbling her fuller lower lip, before seeking entrance into Miranda's mouth, tangling her tongue with Miranda's, reacquainting herself with Miranda's taste, moaning as Miranda suckled on her tongue. Her hips began grinding and jerking as their mouths dueled. She pressed her breasts into Miranda's palm and her long fingers teased, rolled, and pinched Andy's aching nipples. The other hand teased and stroked along her thighs – not touching the rapidly growing slick wetness between her legs.

What they did not realize was that Sithen was 'alive' and it graced those worthy of Its blessing. It found the Vampire Queen and Daughter of the Essus Line, blessed by the Goddess Gaia, Baeb, and Isis, as interesting as the Princess Meredith. So as the moans and wordless pleas echoed around the chamber, It decided to officially welcome Its latest Child into the fold. The marble walls suddenly fell away, giving way to a lush rose garden. Vines rippled and crept along the floor until it reached the bed. A group of winged-creatures followed; they were about the size of a Barbie, with skin-tone and butterfly-like wings of every color in the rainbow. One in particular had wings larger than all the rest, along with a tiny tiara perched on her blonde curls. Queen Niceven, ruler of the Pixies, along with her Guards and ladies-in-waiting, watched the couple on the bed, for a moment. They flew closer to the bed, secure in the knowledge that the couple would be too 'busy' to sense them. After all they had a… message to deliver; a gift from the Sithen and from the Goddess Danu herself.

However unbeknownst to them, Andy's sense of all things Fey naturally became stronger since being in the Sithen, mentally alerted Miranda to a presence in their room. Their mouths were busy doing other things than talking at the moment, which explains their growing mutual annoyance over their interrupted 'play'.

They don't seem like they want to do us harm though.

Well let's see what it is they want, shall we? Quicker than the human eye can see Miranda reached out and grabbed Queen Niceven in her hand. Needless to say, Niceven wasn't too pleased with the handling and quickly demanded she be let go.

"Let me go this instant! Do you know who I am?! How dare you!!" hissed Queen Niceven.

Andy intervened before Miranda verbally flayed this creature. "I'm sorry but we were under the impression that we'd have a few PRIVATE hours before we left. I'm guessing from the tiara on your head; that you're the Queen of the demi-fey?"Andy placed a calming hand on Miranda's shoulder, unconcerned about their nakedness as the sheet fell away from their upper bodies when they sat up.

Letting the small monarch go, she watched as Niceven fluffed her wings in irritation, before focusing her glare on them. "I was asked to deliver a gift. But I'm not sure if you should receive it now since you almost damaged one of my wings!"

"I sincerely apologize Queen Niceven," she immediately mentally quieted the indignant protest from Miranda from turning into verbal disapproval. It turns out that Andy had the spirit of a diplomat inside her, something that proved useful during Miranda's negotiations with Queen Andais. "However, living among humans we have yet to learn all the… cultural customs of the Unseelie Court." But then Andy narrowed her eyes—social niceties were over. "But you can imagine how uncomfortable you'd be if someone you didn't trust or know entered your chambers during a very intimate moment with their Mate."

She hovered in front of them like luna-moth, crossing her tiny arms over her chest, her wings causing a small current of air against their skin as they furiously flapped. "Under normal circumstances I would demand payment in royal blood and flesh," her wings started flapping more furiously at the warning growl from Miranda, "but this has been mandated from the Goddess Danu herself, I cannot refuse you this gift." She smiled, her even tinier sharp teeth, gleaming in the darkened room. "Besides, along with this gift, magic that had long left the demi-fey has been returned. For this reason alone, you have an ally with the demi-fey."

"Well, surely this gift can be produced before the next millennium?" Miranda decided she waited long enough for this… creature to get the hell out of their room. She should be knuckles-deep inside her Andréa and her scent smeared all over her skin… she was growing more annoyed as this ridiculous discussion continued.

Flapping her wings, dust-like material fell unnoticed from Niceven's wings onto their skin only to be instantly absorbed, disappearing from sight, her attention brought back to the Vampire—a Sidhe, even a mixed-Sidhe Joining with a Vampire!!! What is the world coming to? Although, she'd be lying if she said she wasn't intrigued by the thought of tasting a Vampire whose blood had been blended with royal Sidhe blood. "I can see that we have over-stayed our welcome."

She was quickly interrupted by Miranda with the rejoinder, "You were never 'welcomed' in the first place."

"Nevertheless, our work here is done and we'll leave you to attend to important matters." She bowed to both of them. "I look forward to solidifying our relationship and I wish even you Vampire, many blessings. You are going to need it." Laughing she turned around and like a colorful cloud of butterflies they quickly exited the room.

Staring at the area where the demi-fey disappeared before shaking their heads or in Miranda's case, rolling her eyes in exasperation and irritation, they also took in the veritable rose garden that seemed to of exploded in their room. Her attention was diverted by Andréa's body once again pressing into her side, her breasts brushing against her ribs, as Andréa's lips kissed and suckled along Miranda's shoulder. Purring, Miranda laid onto her back, sliding her arm around Andréa's waist, brought her down onto her body. Breasts and nipples sensually pressed together, wet curls tangled, and legs slid smoothly into place, the need instantly returned as if they'd never been interrupted. Miranda, caressed the silky skin poured over a firmly muscled back, before coming to her delectable bottom. Her hand cupped Andréa's ass, while the other reached up to tangle into her luscious, brown locks, and tugged her head close to delve into her beloved's mouth.

"Now where were we?"



2 Months Later

To say the Twins were happy to see Miranda and even Andy was to put it mildly. As they came tearing out of their Father's house to throw themselves into their Mother's arms, Andy realized how much she missed them, and how very glad they remained here safe and sound. Predictably, they had dozens of questions and they even sensed that their Mother was… different, more powerful. But some of the Power was unrecognizable. Andy's Fey heritage seemed stronger, as if she'd just bathed in some kind of Faerie-laced bath.

For the most part, life settled down after a week or so. Miranda returned to her duties as Editor-in-Chief of Runway, Nigel, Emily (as the new Art Director), and Serena, all returned to producing the best fashion magazine in the world. Of course, both Emily and Serena were also busy becoming more intimately involved with their respective love interests. For Emily any problems she might have had with her Pack due to her absence was quickly and ruthlessly put down, especially when she introduced Senura as her potential Bond Mate. Serena grew a little more content with the powerful former Sidhe royal Guard Eolande. Emily frequently complained to Nigel and Andy (whom she reluctantly grew to… like and respect) of the strong scent of sex, blood, and Fey, that often emanated from Serena.

As for Nigel, with all the estrogen and magic constantly dancing in the air, he'd never been so happy to revel in his gayness. So at the soonest opportunity he made Andy join him and a visiting trio of Nathaniel, Jason and Rhys for some club-hopping. Apparently it took an "act of congress" to arrange the folks from St. Louis – they were both in essence 'food' for either Jean-Claude or Anita. As such, temporary replacements had to be found before they were allowed to visit. As for Andy, it was a truly entertaining night; she couldn't remember laughing so hard or getting that drunk – who knew Sidecars were so potent?!

Andy obviously couldn't continue to work for Miranda but she was able to get a grunt-reporter job at Mother Jones magazine. She loved it and would often lovingly silence Miranda with kisses whenever she started muttering about "bleeding heart liberals" under her breath. Although, Andy secretly knew Miranda was closeted-liberal if the invites from various organizations like the: Humane Society, OxFam, or the Ali Forney Center, and Planned Parenthood, to name a few, were any indication. So until Andy saw something from the Heritage Foundation, she knew Miranda was full of it.

Presently, none of that mattered because they were too busy slowly freaking out.

Miranda stood with her mouth uncharacteristically open, fangs gleaming and long.

Andréa exclaimed, "Oh my gawd!!! I'm pregnant!"

She then stared at Miranda accusingly, before a snicker sneaked passed her lips, followed by a stunned laugh, and then a belly-deep laughter. She tackled Miranda, smothering her with kisses and laughter. Reaching over she grabbed the remote for the Bang and Olufsen stereo. With a very amusing, yet lecherous look, she pressed a button.

Suddenly a deep, baritone, voice echoed out from the speakers: Take it off…

Miranda responded in the only way she knew how. A tiny grin appeared to match the loving, glowing, sparkle in her icy-blue eyes. "Really Andréa, Love Serenade?!"

Miranda gently pressed her forehead onto Andréa's, chuckling, thinking only her Mate would play Barry White at a moment like this.

The End

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