Taking a break from editing to post here. Again my round has snuck up on me. Where does the time go??
Part XVIII is here.
He turned as a stunned smile spread across his face. “Blake?” It was a trick. Samuel knew it was a trick, but oh how he wanted it to be real.
Green eyes sparkled with sly delight. “Who else, baby?” Blake sat on the couch beside him, so close that his thigh pressed against Samuel’s, but no warmth, no pulse of life came with the touch. He reached out a hand and trailed cool, lifeless fingers along Samuel’s cheek.
Samuel’s expression darkened. He wanted to pull away, forced himself to remain where he was. This was his ground, his home for fuck’s sake. He wasn’t going to let some game-playing, undead shape-shifter take command here. “Blake is dead,” he said with a chill that would have weakened any living soul. The faux-Blake didn’t flinch, but his hand ceased its caress. “You’re not even a good fake. Blake hates—” He caught himself, made the painful correction though grinding teeth. “—hated pet names. Whoever the hell you are, you are not winning any points with me this way. Drop the act.”
The image before him shifted into another face, this one less familiar yet recognizable still. Dark eyes in the face of an angel. Blake’s large form shrank in on itself to become small and lithe.
“Demosteles of Corinth,” said Samuel with contempt. “Of course. Come to do your master’s bidding, have you? He’s too busy, naturally. Too important to come here himself, so he sent his tool instead.” The dig struck home. The ancient one removed his hand from Samuel’s cheek. Samuel allowed himself a tiny smile of satisfaction. It flickered across his lips and was gone. “I don’t recall inviting you into my home.” It was a stalling technique. The elder vampire, while still subject to many rules, had outlived that particular barrier’s restraint where those like himself were concerned.
“Don’t let’s play that game. It’s an insult to us both,” snapped Demosteles. His tone was almost petulant, still stinging from Samuel’s insult. Good. Samuel was glad to have found what could be the only chink in Demosteles ancient armor. “You know why I’m here.” The elder vampire leaned in to him, licked full lips, making them wet, tantalizing, inviting. “I thought we could make this a pleasant transaction. You give me the sword and I give you something in return. You’ll not be disappointed.” One hand massaged Samuel’s leg, moving up towards more dangerous territory, and he felt himself weakening, drawn into the other man’s seductive web.
Only Demosteles’ smirk and soft “Shhh” clued Samuel into the fact that he’d shouted the word. Samuel swallowed hard against rising desire that he knew wasn’t real, was merely a manipulation. He met Demosteles’ dark gaze with his own. “Get off of my couch and out of my house. You can’t do anything here without my consent and I do not consent.”
With a snarl worthy of any werewolf, the ancient one rose fluidly to his feet. “Watch your step, youngling. He won’t take kindly to your poor treatment of me.”
Samuel stood up slowly and took a deliberate step towards his unwelcome guest. His voice was calm and low, his diction precise, driving home each word with its simple clarity. “I don’t give a good god damn what he will and what he won’t.” This creature, this underling, this pawn was not going to get to him. Samuel would not allow it. He needed more time to think and plan. There were still rules of engagement and if Absolom thought he could work around them by sending this one to do his dirty work, he had another think coming. Samuel knew better.
He took another menacing step towards Demosteles, who didn’t move but whose demeanor grew wary. Samuel wasn’t overly tall, but he was certainly taller than the form the other man preferred to take and he used that height difference for all it was worth. He loomed. “This is my place,” he said, his tone as dark as his expression, as dark as his eyes. “My domain. Get the fuck out of my home.” Samuel followed the curse with the ancient spell of command that not even this elder vampire could defy. “Demosteles of Corinth, I banish you from this place for as long as I possess it.”
Demosteles’ expression was one of stunned disbelief mixed with fury. Before he could voice the protest he was so obviously preparing, he vanished, forced out of his spot in time and space by the power of Samuel’s invocation.
Samuel stood still in the middle of his living room for several seconds, waiting. A tiny part of him hadn’t expected the spell to work. He was relieved to find that part mistaken. He smiled grimly. “Tell me there’s no power in knowing someone’s name…” he muttered to the empty room. Then it struck him. An idea of how he might defeat Absolom Shedim. His smile grew predatory.