“How do you envision it working?” I asked.
“More like the one that Jean-Claude has with you and Richard Zeeman, our local werewolf king.”
“And that would mean what, exactly?”
“Don’t be coy, Anita.”
“I’m not being coy. I’m not good enough at it to try. I genuinely don’t know what you’re getting at, because Jean-Claude and I don’t see Richard much at all anymore. He’s dating other people, off trying to find someone to marry and do the white-picket-fence thing.”
“You see him at least once a month.”
“For sex and bondage, yes. Wait. Are you wanting to have sex with Nathaniel and me?”
“The look on your face, Anita. Is the thought of us being lovers again such a bad one?”
This was the guy version of the girl trap: a question where there either is no winning answer or one where you have only one answer that won’t start a fight. This was one of those questions, but luckily I could answer truthfully and not hurt his feelings.
“No, it’s not a bad thought. You’re beautiful and you’re good in bed; it’s not that.”
“Then what is it?”
“If you sleep with me, let alone with me and Nathaniel, it will cost you Cardinale, because she won’t stand for it.”
He nodded one more time. “I know, but I need to figure out what’s happening to me, Anita, and for that I need you and Nathaniel to be closer to me. I need our triumvirate of power to work more like you, Jean-Claude, and Richard do.”
“We don’t always work that well,” I said.
“Your triumvirate with them works better than the one you have with Nathaniel and me,” he said.
I couldn’t really argue with that, so I didn’t try. “Okay, but before we do anything that would piss Cardinale off, we are going to talk to her first. If we can do this without it costing your relationship, then we will.”
“Why do you care so much about my relationship with her?”
“I caught enough of your emotions to know you were in love with her; that’s important, and I don’t want to screw that up because the metaphysics between us has gotten weird.”
“You really do want everyone around you to be happy, don’t you?”
“Yeah, doesn’t everyone want that for their friends?”
He smiled then, and shook his head. “No, Anita. No, they don’t.”
“If you really care for people, you want them to be happy, Damian; otherwise you don’t actually care for them.”
“You don’t think like any other woman I’ve ever met.”
“Oh, come on, in centuries of life you’ve never met another woman who thinks like I do?”
“I swear to you, Anita, you are unique in a lot of ways.”
“Unique is usually a polite way of saying weird.”
He grinned, gave a little laugh. “Well, that, too, but weird isn’t always bad.”
I smiled. “No. No, it’s not; in fact, sometimes weird is exactly what you need.”
“I’m a vampire and you’re a necromancer. I think weird is where we start.”
I laughed then, and debated how much of the case in Ireland I could share with him. One of the side effects he had from being my vampire servant was that if I told him not to tell anyone else what I told him, he couldn’t. He couldn’t seem to disobey a direct order from me, which wasn’t typical for human servants. It certainly wasn’t how I was with Jean-Claude.
“You’re thinking something that’s made you very serious.”
“If I told you that there were vampires in Ireland that were taking victims and making no effort to hide them, what would you say?”
“I’d say it’s not the work of the vampire that made me. She would never be so careless hiding bodies.”
“I’m not sure how many we have dead so far; the others just wander the streets or take themselves to a hospital with complete amnesia about how they got hurt.”
It was his turn to look serious. “She would never let people wander around like that. It would attract far too much attention. How many victims so far?”
“At least half a dozen.”
“She would kill a vampire of her kiss that was so careless.”
“So you’re saying it’s not your old group?”
He shook his head. “No, Anita, She-Who-Made-Me would never risk the humans knowing about us.”
“Even in modern times when more countries are making you legal?”
“She’s one of the old ones who don’t believe the new attitudes will last. She said that staying hidden was the only true safety from the plague of humanity.”
“She called us a plague, really?”
He nodded. “She didn’t seem to like humans much. If she could have fed off something else and stayed alive as a vampire, I think she would have done so.”
“A vampire that tries to feed on animals starts to rot,” I said.
“I remember what Sabine looked like,” Damian said, and shuddered. It had been worth a shudder or two.
“Yeah, and once a vampire gets damaged like that there’s no healing it, so you guys have to feed on humans.”
“She enjoyed tormenting humans and having sex with us if it suited her, but she didn’t seem to actually like us, or maybe she didn’t truly like anyone.”
The timer on my phone sounded. I turned off the alarm and stood up. “Jean-Claude made me promise not to be late tonight, but is there anything you can tell me about vampires in Ireland that might help explain what’s happening?”