Author's Note: I'm so excited about this story, I just wanted to say before we begin. I really want to do this right, so chapters might not come out regularly. I thank you in advance for your patience.
Most of all I want to hear from you guys! I want this book to get the MOST reviews out of all of them. There's so much new ground to break in this book and I want to know if it's working, or if it just doesn't feel right. You guys are my mirror and I love all of you.
Chapter 1 - Shopping Trip
"So when are you going to tell me why we're here?" Angie asked, frowning at the rack of clothes she was going through.
"Angie, you own five pairs of pants and two of them are made of white vinyl. Your question should be 'Why didn't we do this sooner'?" Callie pulled a shimmering silver top off the rack and held it against Angie's chest. "Nah." she put it back.
"But why Hot Topic?" Angie sifted through the various accessories piled up on top of the clothing rack. She held a cheap necklace up to the dim light. It was silver with a large red stone hanging from it. The stone was teardrop-shaped and probably made of plastic.
"Sybil likes it here and it's dimly-lit so she can try on clothes." Callie told her. Sybil was going through the clearance section, stocking up on ironic t-shirts.
Callie peered at the necklace. "It's cute."
"I think it's a promotional tie in." Angie commented, reading the label. "Heartdrinker?"
Sybil's head snapped up. "That's the new vampire movie in theaters." she said excitedly. "Callie said we could go see it."
"We will, sweetie, but not opening week."
Angie's frown deepened. "Isn't that, like, the fifth movie in that series? How many are they gonna do? Hasn't it gotten stale yet?"
"But it's soooo good!" Sybil moaned. "Everyone's waiting for the two main characters to hook up. They have so much chemistry on screen."
"Four whole movies have passed and they haven't gotten together?" Angie raised an eyebrow. "That sounds tedious."
"All those romances you read have eroded your patience." Callie told her. "I think it's kinda sweet." She pulled another top off the rack and added it to the small pile hung over her arm. "It's a slow burn, but it allows you to treasure each agonizing moment."
"I think I'll pass." Angie said. "A little teasing is okay, but after a while you know the writers are just messing with the audience."
Sybil looked at her aghast. "You shut your mouth! They would never do that to us!"
"Whoa, someone's invested."
"You have no idea…" Callie remarked, pulling one last top off the rack. "Okay, time to go to the changing room." She put her hands on Angie's shoulders and herded her into the back.
"But I haven't picked out anything…" Angie protested.
Callie thrust her pile of clothes into her hands and shut the door of the changing room. "Make sure you come out so I can see."
Angie dumped the pile on the bench and sorted through it. "Callie, half this stuff isn't going to fit me." she complained.
"Yes it will, just try."
She picked up a black corset edged with lace. About two dozen hooks kept it closed in the front. "I can't wear this."
"Yes you can, it zips in the back."
Angie turned it over, discovering the zipper. "Oh. Well then." she unzipped it and pulled her t-shirt over her head. "My bra straps will show, though."
"You're not wearing your black one?"
"No, it's laundry day."
"Then just take it off, the top should support you."
Angie managed to get herself into it, but was not flexible enough to zip it more than halfway. "Grrrr."
Sybil knocked on the door. "Lemme help." she offered. Angie unlocked the door and opened it. Sybil stepped in with her, moving to her back. "Can you lift your arms?"
"Like this?" Angie lifted her arms up to her head, elbows bent.
"Perfect. Hold still." Sybil zipped her up carefully.
There was a click and Angie looked at Callie, who had her phone out. "Hey!" she reached for the phone and Callie pulled it out of her reach. "What are you planning on doing with that?"
"Planning?" Callie arched a brow innocently. "I was just going to keep this for myself." She tapped her cheek with one finger, turning her eyes skyward. "Though I guess I COULD send it to Gabriel…"
"Don't be stupid." Angie tried again to snatch the phone. "He doesn't want to see," She tried once more. "something like that."
Callie laughed. "Be careful, you'll make my finger slip." She pressed her thumb on the screen deliberately. "Oops."
Sybil hugged Angie from behind. "Don't worry. It looks good on you."
Her cheeks reddened. "You can see my scar though." she said softly.
Sybil peered over her shoulder and looked down. There was a pale pink scar on her chest between her breasts. "You can't really notice it unless you're looking for it." she assured her.
"Yeah, but he knows it's there."
"Then let's find a different one that covers it." Sybil smiled encouragingly.
"All right..." Angie let Sybil help her go through the rest of the tops. They tried on a bunch together till Angie found a few she approved of.
Callie watched them, smiling warmly. Sybil was developing well as a new vampire. Angie was certainly helping her with social interactions. There were times when Sybil didn't realize her own strength, she needed to be around someone like Angie so she could learn gentleness.
They left the store each carrying bags. Sybil pulled her hood up, keeping the light off her skin. It would still be a little while more till her skin toughened up and she could bear bright manufactured light.
"I love Angie so much." Sybil whispered to Callie. They slowed and let Angie walk ahead. "Did I love her before?"
"You got along pretty well." Callie told her. "Though you were more fascinated by Gabriel."
Sybil's expression was confused. "Angie has a roommate?"
"Yes, she does. You've seen him in her apartment." Her confused expression deepened. "Who did you think he was?"
She shrugged. "I don't know, her boyfriend maybe?" Her expression cleared. "Oh, I see now. She lives with her boyfriend. Wow, it must be serious."
"Trust me, you have no idea. You have absolutely zero chance with Angie." Callie laughed.
Sybil's expression quickly changed. "I love Angie, but she's just a kitten. She's my friend." She grabbed Callie's arms, stopping her in place. "The only one I want is you, Callie."
Callie had a height advantage of a few inches over Sybil, but that didn't make the new vampire's gaze any less intimidating. Callie felt her heartbeat quicken just a bit. "Sweetie…"
"Hey you lovebirds!" Angie called, at least a dozen feet ahead of them. "Get your heads out of the clouds! I wanna hit the food court!"
"I'm going to remember this the next time she's having a moment with her boyfriend." Sybil said firmly.
"I hope I'm around to see that in person." Callie commented.
When Angie got back to the apartment, Gabriel was awake and sitting in the living room. The TV was muted and he was staring at his phone. His expression was not amused.
"What's the matter?" She tried to keep her voice casual, but it just went to a higher pitch.
"I've received a disturbing text message." he answered, not looking up.
She dropped her shopping bags on the floor by the counter. "If it bothers you, just delete it." she said irritably.
"I do delete them, but she just sends more. When I block her number, she just changes it."
This news made Angie pause. "Wait, who's texting you?"
He looked over and gave her an incredibly pained expression. "Desyre. She won't let me have any peace unless I go to one of her shows."
Desyre was a vampire Gabriel had turned when he was much younger, back before he fully understood that when someone was turned into a vampire it killed the person they were before. They had run into each other by pure chance in a Police Station at the beginning of summer, and Gabriel had been desperately avoiding her since.
"Is she back in New York?" Angie gathered up the dishes and bottles from yesterday. Butcher gave her a discount when she rinsed out the blood bottles and brought them back to his shop.
"Worse," Gabriel said with a groan. "She's heading to Paris. We'll have to put off our trip."
She dropped the dishes into the sink loudly. "But I already bought the tickets." she protested.
"You'll have to return them."
"No way! Those are non-refundable, first-class tickets. I am NOT eating that cost." she jabbed a finger on the countertop to make her point.
"I'll pay you back." he said dismissively.
She started panicking. "No, no we have to go." She hurried around the counter and knelt down next to the sofa chair so she was at eye level with him. "Nora's school is doing Sleeping Beauty and she's got the lead and I promised her we would come see it." She put both hands on the arm of the chair and gave him a pleading look.
He laid his phone face down on his chest and sighed. "I'm sure there will be other plays." He gave her a serious look. "Besides it will be in French, how will you understand what's going on?"
"It's Sleeping Beauty, I'm sure I can manage." Angie's eyes widened dramatically. "Nora got the LEAD PART. She's playing the prince."
"Isn't the titular character the lead?" he asked in confusion.
She rolled her eyes. "Please. She spends three quarters of the play asleep. They put a doll on the stage for most of it. Nora's gonna fight the evil witch."
"I suppose that does sound interesting…" he hedged.
She leaned her face close to his. "Doesn't it though? We definitely can't miss it."
His eyes narrowed. "And how do you expect me to avoid Desyre long enough to actually enjoy it?"
"I'll do whatever I can to make sure she doesn't mess with you." Angie promised solemnly.
His expression turned shrewd. "No matter what?"
"No. Matter. What." She closed her eyes and drew a cross over her heart.
"What if she decides to sneak into my room while I'm sleeping? Are you willing to stay with me to make sure?" He injected a note of teasing into his voice. He knew from past experience that Angie was shy of these types of situations.
This time she wasn't fazed, however. "I highly doubt she's as desperate for you as you seem to think." she told him reasonably. She stood up and headed back to the kitchen. "It sounds to me like she just wants to get a rise out of you."
"Probably that too." he muttered, looking back at his phone.
He began clearing out his text messages. There was one from Calypso that he almost deleted in his haste. Most likely he hadn't noticed it when it first arrived due to the deluge of texts from Desyre.
He considered it for a second, debating whether or not to open the picture file. It was probably another candid photo of Evangeline eating something bad for her health. For some reason, Calypso found her human friend's eating habits strangely fascinating.
Evangeline was busy washing the dishes at that moment. He decided taking a look couldn't hurt.
As soon as he saw the image he regretted opening it. It had obviously been taken without her knowledge. Why did Calypso feel the need to do these unnecessary things?
He deleted the picture, but he wouldn't be able to erase it from his memory. Already his mind was lingering on the details. The pleasing shape of her waist, the stark contrast between the black lace and her pale skin...
'The line between cute and creepy behavior is not a fine one.' He texted to Calypso. 'You should know better.'
'I jst do the bad stuf so u dont have 2 ~_^' she texted back. 'sum1 neds to rock this boat'.
He pocketed his phone and stood up. If the Paris trip was definitely on, then he had some preparations of his own to make.
"Going out?" Evangeline asked over the running water.
"Just a quick trip to Nelson's." There was a tailor on the Lower East Side that Gabriel had grown fond of using.
"Kay, I'm gonna start getting everything together that we'll need."
"We have two weeks." he reminded her.
"And if we put everything off, those two weeks are going to disappear out from under us."
He gave her a suspicious look while he pulled on his scarf and long coat. "That sounds awfully sensible coming from the woman who eats breakfast cereal out of the box at eleven PM."
"That's me. A living enigma."
"I see, I'll have to remember that." He opened the door, putting on his hat before stepping out. "I won't be gone long."
"Take care of yourself." she called back cheerfully.
He paused in the doorway and looked back at her. Was this the first time she'd said that to him? He couldn't recall. It was just four words, but they made him feel... warm. "I will." he promised, and left.
Gabriel stopped at Dolce & Dolce before going to the tailor. This is where he would pick up what he needed fitted. While he browsed he talked to Calypso on his cellphone. "You're definitely seeing a party in Paris?" he asked, making certain.
"Oh yeah, super fancy, definitely not at the school." she confirmed. "I really wish I could go with you, it's not fair that I miss out BOTH times."
"There's no way Sybil will be able to make that trip." he reminded her. "It would end in a bloodbath."
"I know that," Calypso whined in his ear. "but I'm still allowed to be upset and jealous. Why are you asking about the party anyway? Aren't there more pressing concerns I could be putting my amazing future predicting abilities towards?"
She was of course talking about the Smythe brothers, two vampire doctors that were most likely conducting shady experiments using both vampires and humans. Franz Smythe was currently in Paris, nestled in the safety of The Black Rose, Paris' all-vampire crime syndicate.
"No, I don't trust your abilities for something so important." Gabriel told her.
"That hurts me. Deeply."
"The Devil's in the details, and those are what slips past you every time. It's better to be operating without assumptions." He frowned at the rack of suit jackets he was going through. "Just tell me you're certain about the event."
"Well, it's definitely black tie. Why are you so interested anyway?"
Gabriel flagged down a salesman. "Do you have this in pinstripe?" he asked, holding up a vest. The salesman gestured for Gabriel to follow him.
"You're shopping, aren't you? You're using this as an excuse to buy yourself a new suit."
"I don't need an excuse to buy a suit, Calypso." Using a series of gestures Gabriel and the salesman went through his options.
"Is this because Angie's already seen all the suits you own? Are you perhaps hoping to impress her with fancy dress?" Calypso's voice took on a teasing tone.
"Why would I feel the need to impress Evangeline?"
Calypso gasped loudly. "I'm right aren't I? You always ask intentionally vague questions when you're trying to hide something. Hold on, I think I need to lay down. Everything's happening so fast…"
Gabriel pulled the phone away from his ear and rolled his eyes. The salesman gave him a sympathetic look. "This, and this." Gabriel indicated his choices. "Ties, next." He put the phone back to his ear.
"...all my babies are growing up right before my eyes."
"You're delirious, Calypso."
"Deliriously happy, you mean!"
"I don't understand."
"Look, it's true that I may have been against you and Angie getting together in the past, but recent and future events have made me a supporter."
"How generous of you." he said blandly. "I'm pleased to disappoint you, though. There is no grand romance occurring on the floor above you."
"That must frustrate you to no end." Calypso purred.
"If you think that, then you haven't been paying attention."
"Or maybe, and this is a wild thought, I've been paying closer attention than you realize."
"I'm going to hang up now."
"Hold on, just one more thing. I know how much you hate spoilers, so just take this as solid advice. You can make all the special efforts you want, but in the end they won't affect the outcome. That doesn't mean they won't go unnoticed, though, so be careful."
"That was the least helpful advice you've ever given me." He hung up and pocketed his phone. He focused his attention back to the task at hand. "What do you have in red?"