At the end of the day, with my meetings over, I sent Ellis home and returned to my office to make a couple of phone calls and take care of some paperwork. I didn’t need either a bodyguard whilst I was at the office, or the distraction of Ellis. Besides, my assistant dislikes vampires. Poor Roz, she tries to tolerate them for my sake, but every time Ellis or Voshki or any other vampire is around the office, she gets tense and twitchy and I feel bad for her.
I was at my desk, signing a batch of contracts, when I heard a commotion from the outer office; Roz protesting loudly to someone that they couldn’t see me without an appointment, and that someone apparently not listening since Roz’s voice got louder, her tone more strident as it came closer to my closed door. Frowning, I started to stand, intending to sort out whatever the fracas was, but I only got halfway out of my seat before the door crashed open and a woman I’d never seen before strode into my office. Roz trailed her, continuing to protest at the invasion. Whoever the unannounced visitor was she ignored the strenuous objections of my assistant with no less ease than you would ignore the distant buzzing of a small, pesky fly.
“Dante Sonnier,” she inquired imperiously. Well, maybe it was not so much an inquiry as an announcement of a fact already known.
I hovered half-in half-out of my chair, nodding wordlessly, uncertain what to say. Not that it mattered, because I had abruptly lost the power of speech anyway. I’m not one for having extreme reactions to the women that I meet—okay, vampire women sometimes produce a reaction, but you try not to react to those women, I dare you—but I just could not seem to help the reaction I had to this woman.
She was tall, at least five-ten in flat-heeled shoes—Gucci, I noted—statuesque with broad shoulders and generous hips, everything nicely accentuated by tight blue jeans and a man’s style pink shirt worn under a brown leather jacket, also Gucci. Everything else was Armani. Long limbs, swinging loose and easy, and slim hands with strong fingers. She had emerald green eyes of a slightly darker shade than those of Robin Shepherd, a long aquiline nose, a wide mouth and flaming red hair which set against her skin (so pale it was almost like marble), stood out like a beacon.
She was, in a word, stunning. She strode straight up to my desk and thrust a hand toward me, introducing herself as “Jude Kevorkian. Pleasure to meet you” as she let her emerald green eyes zero in on me with a gaze sharp enough to cut diamonds. A shaft of sunlight falling through the window behind my desk cut across her face, accentuating the strong planes and angles of her features, picking out the red-gold highlights in her hair. Her voice was low pitched, dark and husky. A Lauren Bacall voice. Its effect on me was like a long, low oily note blown on a saxophone in a dark speakeasy smelling of cheap booze and rich perfume. My head spun a little.
There was very little to suggest that she was related to either Voshki or Amelia, except perhaps a touch off familiarity around the mouth and nose, and in the firm bone structure. But she was still stunning…I did mention that, didn’t I?
“N-nice to meet you…” Damned if I wasn’t stuttering! I hitched in a breath and started again. “Nice to meet you, Jude. I wasn’t expecting you so soon.”
Roz had come to a halt behind the visitor and was shuttling a narrow gaze between Jude Kevorkian and me, still trying to work out what she ought to be doing about this unforeseen situation. I turned a reassuring smile to her, my own outstretched hand still hovering across the desk just short of clasping that of my visitor. “It’s okay, Roz. I can handle this.” Apparently neither my smile nor my words were convincing because my assistant bored a look into me, one eyebrow tilting upwards.
“It’s fine,” I insisted. “Take the rest of the day, Roz. I’ll close up the office.”
“Are you sure?” My assistant glared at my unexpected visitor, who smirked back at her in a way which was so instantly and familiarly infuriating that I realized of course this woman could be none other than a relation of Voshki.
I nodded. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Roz.”
As my assistant left the office—not quite slamming the door on her way out but certainly closing it hard enough to let my visitor and me know that she was displeased with us—I finally took Jude Kevorkian’s hand in mine to shake. She had a firm grip but not too tight, her skin smooth and slightly warmer than I would have expected of a vampire…I just assumed that she was a vampire, because she was a Kevorkian…but as soon as I made physical contact with her, I realized this was a mistaken assumption. She was supernatural, but just not a vampire. Or at least, not like any vampire I had ever encountered: She was something more than that.
The contact between us could only have lasted two or three seconds at most, and yet time seemed to slow down, almost to stand still. The flesh of my hand and arm tingled as though some mild electrical current had passed from her to me. My thinking became momentarily foggy. A hot rush of desire erupted through me and I felt my heart start to beat faster and my legs shake, just a little, but enough to make me lean forward, my thighs pressed against the desk edge for support.
What the fuck is happening? I thought hazily.
Whatever it was, it was more than just simple lust for an—admittedly exceptionally—attractive supernatural woman: I felt as though I was connected to Jude Kevorkian in some way. Believe me when I say that I am even less inclined to find weird and wacky psychic connections with the people whom I meet than I am to take extreme lustful reactions to those people, but I could no more deny feeling that way about Jude than I could deny being thrown off my game by her beauty.
What was even more baffling and unnerving was that she felt it too. Her head made a barely perceptible tilt and her brows furrowed slightly. Her green eyes abruptly began to glow, a bright golden glow starting at the center of the pupils and spreading outwards through the irises until it consumed the green color there except for a few random flecks interspersed through the gold.
“What the hell—?” she muttered and abruptly let go of my hand. She took a step backward as I slumped and leaned with both palms onto the desktop to prevent myself from simply falling down. The iridescent glow faded quickly from her eyes.
“What was that?” I gasped. I shook my head. “And what the hell are you?”