The Master of the City was actually the Mistress. As soon as she stepped from the dark and onto the stage I no longer thought the vampire to the throne's right was beautiful. That word would forever be reserved for the Mistress. She was at least five foot ten and maybe over six foot tall, it was hard to tell with her on the stage and only the other vampire standing. She wore a black formal dress with swirls of color that clung to every curve like it was painted on, her right leg shown through a slit that went clear to her hip. She had very nice legs and they ended in knee high black boots. I would have expected heels, but the boots still looked good to my redneck eyes. Her long blonde hair was drawn back tight and braided. The braid fell over her left shoulder and down to her waist. A simple band of leather wound around it to keep it from coming undone. The skin of her face was flawless and her eyebrows were arched, probably because the way her hair was pulled back. Her eyes scanned across the room and then met mine. I was a little surprised when she arched an eyebrow. I didn't think she could move them the way her face was drawn. I doubt she was expecting anyone to meet her gaze, let alone a pack member, not even the leader.
"John Early, rise." Her voice rang out clear as a bell and had just a hint of an accent, but what accent it was, I had no clue.
When she spoke all of the vampires rose and raised their heads. Mr. Early held out his right hand to indicate he wanted us to stay where we were. The others lifted their eyes in time to see the signal but many dropped their heads back down under the gaze of the Mistress. I watched her like a moth would watch a candle, just before it burned itself alive.
The Mistress continued, "John Early, I have left your pack alone since I took this position a decade ago. As you know, wolves are mine to call." I didn't like the way she emphasized the word "mine". "Recent events have made the call necessary. At this time, you are to choose one from your pack, to be my wolf. Should a time ever occur where their service was no longer needed, I will return them. Also, in return for the wolf, I will leave you and your pack alone to rule your lands the way you have in the past."
I watched as Mr. Early's shoulders sagged. It was as if a log was set upon them and he was having trouble holding himself upright. I did not envy him in the least, especially if the choice he made was as serious as I thought.
"John Early, I have my decision already, I hope yours is the same. If it isn't, it soon will be, however, I would like to at least give you the opportunity to make your Mistress pleased."
I really didn't like the sounds of that. Why didn't she just make the choice and be done with it? Why was she staring at me?
Mr. Early stood and began walking among the pack. One by one, he knelt by pack members. He would touch a shoulder and whisper something and then the pack member would get up and leave, sometimes running. I felt my heart sink as the last of us, Gary James, got up and ran from the ballroom.
Somewhere behind me, John Early stood and sighed. I turned my head slightly, but still held the gaze of the Mistress. "Mr. Early?" Nothing. "John?"
I heard him kneel behind me and could feel the heat of his breath on my neck. "Ben, I am so sorry. Everyone else has family. None of them would be able to handle a fight if they had to, at least not when vampires are involved. I will tend to your home and make this up to you somehow. I love you Ben. You have been like a son to me and this hurts, but we both know that she would have chosen you if I didn't. This maintains the peace." He hurried the words like he was out of time. I think he was.
The tears started down my face and a knot formed in my throat so tight that I couldn't speak. A jolt, like electricity shot down my spine and made me quiver. My eyes finally fell from the Mistress and I watched as my tears fell to the floor. John Early left me without another word. I was alone, again.