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“You going to eat that?” Milo asked. “Or are you just going to push the poor cherry pie into submission?”
“What?” Madeleine looked down at the piece of pie she had
unconsciously disassembled into bites small enough for the entire fairy
mound hidden in the Saguaro National Park. “Oh, that…” She laid the
fork down and turned away with a shy smile. “Yeah, I just, well, I kind
of just got lost in our conversation, I guess.”
He chuckled, and he pushed his own empty plate away. “It’s good to
know I’m still a good storyteller.” He glanced at his wrist. “It’s
really late. Do I need to let you go?”
She shook her head. “No, I am a night owl. I’m good for at least
another three hours.” Milo stifled a yawn. “Though maybe I should let
It was his turn to look away. “I apologize. It’s been a really long
day, and work was hell. I probably should go, but can I call you
“Yeah, I would like that. Just…” Oh, how to explain? “don’t call
between five in the morning and seven at night. I’m, um, usually asleep
then, or working and I can’t really field calls. Night’s always better
for me, anyway.” She threw her hands up in the air. “Like I said,
night owl.” She gave him her biggest, most dazzling smile and another
little push, a little vampire charisma.
Maybe she had been wrong about him. Maybe it really was too late and
all his shielding was down out of sheer exhaustion. But this time he
did not act as if he had felt it. His eyes glazed just a tiny bit, as
to be expected with her charisma, but nothing else happened. “You look
tired. Let me get this.”
He rubbed his eyes with one hand. “No, no, my treat. A girl should
not have to buy her own pie.” He waved down their waitress who had been
unnervingly attentive tonight and got the check. “Definitely my
treat.” He stood up and grabbed his trench coat. “Well, until we meet
again?” Milo reached out toward her with one hand.
Madeleine slid her hand into his and her breath caught, sudden and
tight, in her throat. She looked down at their entangled palms, and
another burst of surprise washed over her. There was magic afoot; she
could feel it run from his skin to hers. Part of her wanted to be angry,
but when she saw the same surprise on his face, the anger died. He had
felt it, too.
She wanted to kiss him, to rip him from his clothing and have her way
with him right there, and the suddenness of that want, the need of him
without the secondary need to sate her hunger, left her stunned and more
than a little confused. She needed to be anywhere but here right now.
She needed to escape.
“Good night, Milo,” she whispered, slowly pulling her hand from his grasp.
He swallowed, hard, and nodded. “Good night, Madeleine.”
She grabbed her purse and walked past him, wings unfurling once she
was outside. Into the night skies she leapt and stole away to her
Madeleine loved flying. While typified Hollywood vampire lore
demanded a bat form or at least leathery bat wings, she found comfort in
the dark feathers. It made her feel special, since not all vampires
could fly like she did, only her line and a handful of others passed on
this dark gift. She loved the way the air whipped the hair from her
face, pressed her purse tight against the line of her body (though she
had long learned to make sure her purse was zipped closed, the contents
safely secured within…nothing like raining cosmetics on the poor drunk
gangsta wannabes). She loved the power in her shoulders with every
But most of all, she loved the Zen of it. Her body knew the way
home, and way up here, sliding through the slip streams, she could clear
her thoughts and gain a newer, cleaner perspective she did not have
when her feet touched the ground.
She liked Milo. Yes, the sheer chemistry was a bit unnerving, but
she had to admit that it excited her more than it scared her. The crazy
little voices in her head whispered furiously about the possibilities,
the probability of it all going down the shitter again, how she should
just forget about it, save them both the pain of it, but she pushed them
She wanted to hear from him again and hoped that he really did intend
to call her. Would he have asked if he had planned not to? She was
not sure. The modern human male tended, at his age, to lay out an
elaborate game, though if it was a conscious thought or hardwired
necessity, she was not certain.
Milo, despite his age, and perhaps the added burden of his
magic, seemed to not be like the others, though that might just be
wistful thinking on her part. But she was not thinking forever with
him, which half-surprised her (and caused a sudden, unnecessary dip in
altitude), but she was thinking of him in a way that could beget such
follow on thoughts.
That made her smile, and she was still smiling once her shoes touched down in her backyard.
“Madeleine,” a deep voice thrummed from the darkness.
She froze, her wings a tight feathered shield around her. “You should not be here.”
“Oh, but I am, mon ami.”
She turned toward the familiar voice, and while in her head, she whispered her denial – not there, not there, not there--from
out of ivy-covered gazebo in the far corner of her yard rose a giant,
black shadow. Two massive horns broke across the starlit sky above what
she knew would be a bull face and human upper body that would morph in a
forest of hair and giant bull hind quarters and cloven feet. He even
had a tail somewhere back there.
The minotaur snorted and pawed at the ground. “It is nice to be remembered.”
“It’s hard to forget, considering who employs you. One hundred years
around you leaves quite the impression.” Coy was good, disinterest was
better. She folded her wings back and faced him with one hand on her
hip. “How is your master these days?”
“Our master fares well, mon cher, but I fear he misses you too much for his own good.”
Madeleine grimaced. No sense in arguing the ‘our’. While minotaur’s
tended not to care about the subtleties of pronouns, Tamus, smarter
than most of his kin, knew exactly what swapping said pronouns would do,
if she let it. And if there was one thing he liked, it was watching
her squirm. She was not about to give him the satisfaction.
As for the rest, well… “Lies do no become you, Tamus. Patrick does
not miss me. If anything, if we must play that he misses anything to do
with me, he misses my misery beneath his feet.”
He waved her off with one large hand. “Who are we to know the intent
of our master? We are but minions, sworn to fealty, obedience.”
She shook her head. “Maybe you, perhaps, but me no longer. I gave
that up a quarter of a century ago, and severed my bond with your master
in the process. I want nothing to do with you, with Patrick, with that
world and that life. I have my own now. Why must we continue to
repeat this conversation every time he ‘misses’ me?”
Tamus snorted. “You cannot tell me you do not miss the court,
Madeleine. There are ways to exist there, to be free there,” it was her
turn to snort in derision, but he chose to ignore it, “where our master
can see you and mayhap be less inclined to interfere.”
“He is not my master, you big ignorant oaf!” She stomped her
foot on the ground. “And I will not be bullied at his whim! He does
not want me! He has not wanted me for the past twenty-five years! Nor
the last twenty-five when I held court with him! He cannot interrupt my
life whenever he feels I have gotten too much of one on my own! I will
not allow it! I will not stand for it! And I will no longer stand for
The minotaur’s eyes glowed red. “I would not say such thing, if I
were you, little vampire.” He stepped closer, and she bit back the urge
He was a massive creature, but his anger inflated his size until he
towered over her like a small building. She was strong and fast for a
supernatural creature, even harder to kill than most in the middle of
the night, but Tamus was stronger, faster, and she was pretty sure he
could break her in two over his knee with little effort.
“You owe your life to our master!” he roared in a wave of hot breath
and spittle. “He picked you up from the nothingness your Maker left for
you and gave you a home! A life! He showered you with gifts and
freedoms! And you dared to demand more! Who gave you the right?
Anyone would be grateful for what our Master had bestowed on you, yet
here you remain, out of his graces, though he looks out for you still, a
spoiled brat of a vampire pretending she is somehow still human.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but he grabbed her by the jaw with
one hand and lifted her off the ground and closer to his face. “You are
vampire. Not human. Never human again. You do not deserve
that life, that idle happiness, and it is unfair that you pretend so.
This new one, this mage, how long until you grow weary of his humanity,
of his foibles, flaws? How long before he too burns atop some pyre
because you feel you have been wronged again?”
She pushed against his grasp with her hands, and he let go. Her
wings caught the air and saved her a messy descent, leaving her on her
feet beneath the massive beast. “There were circumstances…”
Tamus shook his head. “There always are with you. Leave the mage
be, and I will do my best to keep my master at bay. Continue on this
path, and I will take the necessary steps to stave your course. And you
know me well enough to know how far I’ll go.”
Madeleine hung her head and her wings in defeat. “But I like him, Tamus. I really like him. It’s different this time.”
He shrank down until he was just a head taller than she was. “I cannot let you do this.”
A sudden burst of anger ate the fear away inside her. How dare
he tell her what to do? How dare he threaten her? She was Madeleine
du Court, by the gods, not some child. “You cannot stop me,” she
whispered in the space between them.
He opened his mouth, and she raised a hand to stop him, “There are
ways, Tamus, ways to keep you in the dark, to keep Patrick in a fog.
The two of you cannot decide amongst yourselves with whom I can and
cannot spend my time. If he has an issue with that, Patrick can come to
me himself and beg me to return to him, something we both know he will
“So if you are done being all nasty and scary, if your message from Patrick is thoroughly delivered, then I bid you adieu. The sun is coming, and I have better places to be than arguing with you in my backyard.”
The minotaur looked surprised. “Bold, very bold, and I will take my
leave of you now, but I cannot be held responsible for what may happen
next, should you continue with this impending disaster.”
“Then so be it.” She turned on her heels and walked as calmly as she
could manage to her back door without a backward glance at Tamus. The
air shook with magick, and she felt a portal open behind her. And in an
instant, it was over. He was gone. She slammed the backdoor shut and
leaned against it, sinking to the floor on the verge of tears.
She buried her face in her hands. What had she done? Would Tamus
tell Patrick everything that had transpired? Would he come out here to
stop her? Or had she signed her own death warrant, finally crossing
that line with him? Her cell phone rang amidst the torrent of thought,
and she quickly snagged it from her purse. The screen flashed.
It was Milo.