Warren’s Office, 9 pm, an hour after opening at sunset.
I sat behind my office desk musing. Jack, Thomas, and Robert were three vampires, brothers, all turned by the same sire, and then either abandoned by that sire or their sire was killed. Either way, it left them alone in a world teeming with prey. Without guidance. Without means to earn their way.
They seemed like decent boys. They were eager to work and just as eager to avoid trouble. Those were good signs. But, as they gained confidence they were sure to run into trouble. Without a sire to guide them, who would be there head off trouble or to help them when trouble couldn’t be avoided? Who would stand with them and vouch for them when some older vampire decided they made good scapegoats for their own misdeeds?
The answer was that no one would. Unless I decided to do something about it. I heaved a sigh and shoved back from the desk, then headed downstairs to round up the kids.
They were going to be teens for eternity. I chuckled to myself. I was really asking for it. But you know what? I’ve been looking for some way to give back to the world for my evil ways. Sex, drink — and not simply blood — and did I mention sex out of wedlock? Yeah, I’m going to hell. I’m sorry as I can be, but I know I won’t change. Not anymore.
And why not help those boys out? I’m in a good position to do it. If it wasn’t me, then it might be someone else who stepped in and then they wouldn’t have it so good. Maybe forever. See I’m willing to bet my left fang they are Daeva, every one of them. If they even survive on their own, they are likely to either left adrift to wither and die without a covenant, get absorbed as bottom-feeder minions among the Invictus sharks, or snapped up as sacrificial lambs for the Circle of the Crone. If I’m any judge, they have no aptitude to demonstrate for entry to the Ordo Dracul and let’s not even discuss the Lancea Sanctum.
Carthians were the only people they’d find room to explore their own destiny.
I stuck my head out the front door and spotted Jack standing next to Odin. I got his attention and crooked my finger. He left his post and followed me back inside, where I grabbed Robert from behind the bar and we went downstairs to Ashes. Thomas was working the bar down there and after I got his attention, the four of us went to have a little discussion back up in my office.
Jack asked, “So what’s up, boss? We do something wrong?”
By their expressions, I realized they all thought they were in trouble when I rounded them up. I tried to give them a smile that put them at ease. “Naw. You boys have been working out here. I figured we could make this a permanent gig for you if you are interested.”
They all three broke into grins. They each looked very different but that smile made them look like the brothers they were.
“I’ve been thinking about your situation. Your sire?”
“Yeah,” Jack said. “She got flamed by some jerk with fireballs.”
“He was like, some kind of wizard or something. He was real pissed at her.”
Thomas broke in to explain a little. “We don’t know what it was about. We were supposed to help her once we learned enough, but we never got the chance. Before he got her, she told us to run, that he didn’t know about us yet and that we should keep it that way. So we left New York and ran as far as we could. Our cash ran out here. We ran into Frank, one of the Duke’s nicer Hounds, who directed us to the Duke for introductions. He told us what part of the city to stay in, so we found an abandoned apartment building out there and moved in. A couple days ago we found your club and you know the rest.”
The boys had gotten lucky. I grunted at them to cover my surprise at the string of good fortune they’d had so far. Luck always runs out sometime anyway.
“It seems to me you boys are at a bit of a disadvantage here. No real allies, no one to teach you the ropes, or even tell you what the rules are. And no one to teach you vampire powers.” I paused while they looked at each other a little greedily.
“I’m not highly ranked among the Kindred, but I have a lot of powerful friends. And I’m no slouch when it comes to power, myself. But aside from some schooling, what you really need is someone to stick up for you when push comes to shove. On your own as neonates and outsiders with no sire, you’re easy marks as scapegoats or fresh meat upon whom the real monsters like to sharpen their teeth.
“But if people knew I had your backs, they might think twice. And when they realize whose got my back, they’ll back off. If I vouch for you, you have an ally at court and someone you can count on, assuming you don’t go around looking for trouble. I can teach you the ropes; what to do, who to talk to and how to handle any social situation with our kind or any other kind for that matter. I can teach you how to use your Sire-given powers, too.”
“What’s in it for you?” Jack asked.
“Lots. When you need help from me I’ll ask things from you, too. The bigger the favor you need, the bigger the task I’ll ask you. It’s pay as you go, learn what you can handle at your own pace that way. You’ll find I don’t ask for much because part of the benefit I get out of this are a trio of — eventually — highly trained Kindred that know how to handle themselves and anything that happens in this club. Together, we’re going to go far in this town.”
They thought that over a while and discussed it among themselves. Ultimately they decided they could trust me since I trusted them from the moment they walked in the door asking for jobs. They say you reap what you sow and I was glad I’d sown a little good will.
Jack spoke for himself and his brothers. “Okay. Sounds like a win-win deal. We’re in.”
I grinned at them. “Great! Okay, who wants a first lesson in how to wow the clients and get them to spill their deepest, darkest secrets?”
They all grinned wolfishly and raised their hands. Jack wisely asked what it was going to cost them. I told them it was simple. All those deep dark secrets they learned? They were going to share the best ones with me.