Author’s Note: Time to peek in on some of our other players for this installment. I enjoy Pam as a character, but she has been a bit of an ‘also ran’ in my related stories. She will have a more central role this time around. She is the big sister/favored child in so many ways. And what’s not to love?
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Pam Ravenscroft stood at the large, light-tight window. Technology continued to improve. She could admire the neon pageantry of the Las Vegas strip with very little distortion. She was already dressed for the evening. Angie and Felipe de Castro would be calling to collect her soon. She had to hand it to the Narayana Clan Chief; the accommodations in his new hotel/casino were first-rate. He might be an oily snake-charmer, but he could also stumble into sophisticated from time to time.
Pam had been in Las Vegas for over a week. Her original purpose in coming was to oversee the retooling of the local Fangtasia nightclub.
When Pam took over as Sheriff of Area 5 and Eric Northman headed to Oklahoma to be married to Freyda, one of the things Pam inherited was the Fangtasia franchise. At the time, that had consisted of exactly one club and a name. Pam was sure there was a wider audience for the kind of experience the club provided. She partnered with Maxwell Lee and together they approached their then king, Felipe de Castro.
Looking back, Pam realized in some ways it was those years when she was Sheriff that were among her best personally. She had a reputation as both a fighter and effective Sheriff. Her intuition and business savvy were paying off. She was standing on her own two feet and not behind her Maker’s equally impressive shoulder.
Pam had returned to Eric Northman when he was Sheriff in Area 5 and serving Queen Sophie-Anne LeClerq. Together they built a decent living and enjoyed the benefits that came with being big fish in a small pond. No one had to say it, Eric was the de facto ruler of northern Louisiana, but he wasn’t burdened by any of the responsibilities of rule. What’s more, he and the Queen were friends. It was a comfortable existence. Things changed when Felipe de Castro staged a takeover, killing the Queen and becoming King himself.
Life under Felipe, or more specifically under Felipe’s minion, Victor Madden, was not good. Victor was a greedy, cruel bully who enjoyed making those who intimidated him squirm, and that meant everyone. It was a given he would hate Eric Northman. The Viking was successful and admired, everything Victor Madden was not. Looking back, Pam was surprised it took as long as it did for her and Eric to manufacture Victor’s assassination.
Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with the King. It wasn’t that Felipe minded. Pam and Eric knew that their eliminating Madden was doing De Castro a favor, but no King could allow his Regent to be killed and do nothing without risking other vampires thinking him vulnerable.
Within months, Eric Northman was bound up in a marriage contract his Maker, Appius Livius Ocella, drafted with Freyda, the Oklahoma Queen. As Eric’s King, Felipe might have freed the Viking from the contract, but there was that punishment to mete out. Eric negotiated as well as he could. He made sure Pam was named Sheriff and he traded away an extra hundred years of indentured marriage to make sure that Sookie Stackhouse, his ex-wife, was protected from any further interference by vampires. That’s how things should have stayed, but no one figured on Freyda being so jealous and Sam Merlotte, the man Sookie married after Eric left, being such a bastard.
Five years later, Felipe de Castro was King of Oklahoma too. His influence stretched across three Clan territories and fortune favored him. Eric was his Regent, Pam was making money, and then things changed. Fortune’s wheel turned and it was Eric who was King in Louisiana and Arkansas. Sandy Seacrest became Queen of Oklahoma and Felipe de Castro was back to being King of Nevada, disgraced, and teetering on the brink of financial ruin. But there’s a saying, ‘You can’t keep a bastard down.’
Years passed and Felipe was flying high again. In a series of moves that were still shrouded in mystery, suspicious deaths led to his becoming King of California and Nevada. His stooge ruled in Oregon and the ruler of the only other state in Narayana Clan, Washington, had withdrawn from public life. Felipe de Castro was Narayana Clan Chief and powerful once more. He also took the bold step of making peace with Eric Northman, requesting an alliance.
It was during the years of Eric’s marriage in Oklahoma that Pam and her partner, Maxwell Lee took Fangtasia forward. At the time, Felipe’s support had been limited to approving their plan to expand and demanding that the first new club open in his home base of Las Vegas. It had taken every cent Pam and Maxwell could scrape together, but Fangtasia on the Strip became a reality within the year. It wasn’t in the best location, all the way at the top of the strip, but it became an immediate success. Tourists and supernaturals alike flocked to the chic surroundings that carried that hint of danger. The lines became legend and the celebrity passes were a hot commodity.
For six years the club provided revenues that rivalled and often exceeded its Shreveport namesake. As the years went by and other Fangtasia clubs were opened in other top destination cities, Fangtasia on the Strip became less important. The past two years had seen profits slipping, but then again, the club was overdue for a major renovation and retooling. Had the club been located in any other city, the upgrade would have happened already, but this was Las Vegas. Until recently, this was technically enemy territory.
Even with their supposed partnership, Pam hadn’t known what to expect when she called her former King five months ago, requesting permission to enter his territory and conduct the work. Felipe surprised her. He offered to send his private jet to pick her up when the time rolled around. He insisted on housing her in the best suite in his newest hotel. Pam was given open access to contractors at Felipe’s own preferred terms, and the monarch asked whether she would be interested in allowing him to become a limited partner in the refurbished club in return for his investment. He hinted that as each of the west coast clubs in Narayana came due for rehab, that he would be willing to invest capital in return for a modest stake in future profits.
Then, Felipe sweetened the deal. He told Pam he knew she was getting into the events planning business and he wanted her to handle his future events. Pam was sure there was a catch; after all, she was squeezing out a competitor that was likely co-owned by De Castro.
Extremely (E)legant Events had held a virtual monopoly on Supernatural event planning, including Summits and ceremonies for as long as Pam could remember. John Quinn, the former CEO, had personally been many things to Felipe de Castro. At one point, John owed the King, working off his mother’s debts by fighting in De Castro’s pits. Other times, Quinn functioned as a spy and handled other dirty work for the King. Pam didn’t know it for a fact, but she believed Fangtasia Events Ltd. was taking money from De Castro’s pocket. It was inconceivable that E(E)E’s demise was painless for the King, but within days of the call, Pam was provided specifics on an upcoming event and asked to send her contract.
Were it anyone else, Pam would have taken the offer at face value, but this was Felipe. It was hard not to see the pleasant words and enthusiastic support as not-so-subtle strong-arming. Pam kept expecting the fangs to descend, but so far, there had been no sign.
Pam was so keyed up as she put the event together, she thought she would give herself a stroke. De Castro wanted something to reward his whales, those gamblers who spent obscene amounts of money at his tables. These men and women were a combination of human and Supernatural so their tastes were complex. The King also wished to showcase some new fighters so Pam was asked to incorporate this activity into the evening.
Pam and her team transformed one of the upper floors in De Castro’s casino into a Victorian men’s club. There was staff in period clothing and real gas lights. Furniture was vintage and the music and instruments authentic. The fight was set up down the corridor, the seating intimate and the action close enough to feed the adrenaline of all who watched. At the other end of the floor was a green door that led to a bordello catering to every taste. In other words, there was something for everyone. It was a surprising success. Since the event three nights ago, De Castro had received commitments from most of the attendees to return and some inquiries from big spenders known to frequent other casinos on the Strip. Angie, De Castro’s second, told Pam she was sure her Maker would be looking for several more events in the future, and then Angie offered sex. Pam declined. It wasn’t that Pam didn’t have an itch that needed scratching, in fact she had several, but she couldn’t imagine getting naked and vulnerable with this woman. She simply couldn’t trust her.
The first thing Pam did this evening, as she did every time she returned to her suite was sweep for bugs. Unless Felipe’s technology was far superior to her own, which Pam doubted, the room was clean, but Pam hadn’t survived this long by being less than meticulous about these things.
When the call came, Pam went downstairs to meet Felipe and Angie near the Registration Desk. Together they headed out for an exclusive blood club just off the Strip. “I wanted to thank you again,” Felipe purred, settling back against the soft leather seat in his limo. “My reservations concierge tells me that the compliments continue. We had another inquiry from a potential client who plays almost exclusively overseas. If she does come stateside, it will be quite the coup. You were one of my best Sheriffs, and it is clear that your talents have only improved. I look forward to continuing our relationship as friends,” and Felipe tipped his glass in Pam’s direction.
“Brainy and beautiful,” Angie purred, and Pam smiled as was expected.
“I have to say, Pamela,” Felipe continued, “As much as I appreciate your Maker, it occurs to me that it is during these times when you are more independent that you shine,” and the King flashed her his even-toothed smile from beneath his thin mustache.
Pam had been waiting for this conversation. It was only natural that Felipe would be curious about her supposed break with Eric Northman. She and Eric had worked out the logistics, staging their heated argument in front of witnesses at an Assizes Court. Eric publically removed her as Regent of Arkansas, and they left enough unsaid to fuel speculation. Everyone knew that vampires were inveterate gossips, and within hours, the story lit up the Internet lines. Pam made a point of publicizing her move to Minnesota by sending out change of address notices to all her business associates and personal acquaintances.
The real reason Pam was appearing to be footloose was Eric’s plan. He wanted her to have the freedom to poke into the changes that were happening all around them. There were incursions by strange vampires, moving across state lines, leaving havoc in their wake. There was the Silent Witness movement. Felipe de Castro had told them he was nervous about Mikhail, the King of New York, nervous enough to seek alliances with former enemies. De Castro wasn’t the only one. Nabila, the Moshup Clan Chief and Queen of the Carolinas also appealed for assistance in containing the New York King. Eric was certain there was something at work, something that they needed to understand. With Pam’s connections coupled with her ability to move freely in service of her business, he was sure Pam was in the best position to ferret out the truth.
Still, it had been a wrench. Pam understood Eric’s reasoning. It was flawless, as usual, but it still stung. She was his child, and he was her Maker. It was a relationship that even now, after Eric freed her, commanded a level of respect and subservience. Eric didn’t demand her obedience. Eric’s own Maker had not been so generous, and frankly, Eric would have been within his rights to demand her obedience if he wished. It was one of the things Pam loved most about him, that the Viking treated her fairly. It was what lay at the root of her unsettled feelings now. Eric had treated her like a pawn. He hadn’t discussed this decision with her in advance as he might have in the past. He didn’t include her in his planning. Instead, he announced it and simply expected her to go along.
So, Pam smiled her best, carefree grin at the King, and replied, “I’m glad you noticed. I was just thinking the same thing myself.”
They pulled up to the long, low building. A few photographers were outside and cameras snapped as they posed on the carpet. After a few minutes of turning this way and that, Felipe gestured and they walked through the door that opened as they approached. The restaurant lighting was subdued and clean, filtered air was piped in. This was a space that catered exclusively to vampires. Blood here was fresh and expertly mixed to provide the diner with a subtle variety of taste and texture. The environment was carefully monitored to suppress any distraction from the experience and soon Pam was sipping from one glass after another, enjoying the pleasure that came from what was really a simple concept.
“It’s marvelous, isn’t it?” Felipe asked, “So freeing being in a place that truly appreciates us for what we are.”
“There’s even free range in the back,” Angie laughed.
Pam glanced at a door Angie pointed out. It reminded her of the green door in the fantasy she had created for the gamblers. “Complete with all the amenities?” Pam asked, keeping her voice teasing.
“Interested?” Angie asked, her eyebrow arching in a way that told Pam the offer of sex was still on the table.
“Perhaps… later,” Pam shrugged noncommittally.
“I missed you, Pamela,” Felipe laughed, his face a mask of delight. “Subtle, expressive. You were, without a doubt, my most able Sheriff. Of all the regrets I have of that time, you are certainly the greatest. I should have found a way to seduce you away from Northman years ago.”
Pam smiled, “You are most kind.” She noticed a narrowing in Angie’s eyes, almost a wince. Pam recognized it immediately. It was rumored that although she was his second, and his child, Felipe did not reward Angie in the way he rewarded others. Pam found herself feeling sympathetic toward this woman and then scolded herself for being foolish. She knew Eric valued her, but she couldn’t stop the small stab of jealousy she felt when she thought of Thalia and Sookie Stackhouse.
Felipe was on a roll, “If the strictures were different, I would have offered a marriage contract. A monarch would be most fortunate to have you standing beside him.”
“As I recall, you were anxious to marry me off to Sibyl,” Pam smiled. The threat had come at a low point in the relations between Eric, Pam, and Felipe. It would have been a hellish arrangement. Sibyl, the Alabama Queen was waspish and bitter. Had it come to pass, Pam figured she would have found her final death because she certainly would have killed the Queen.
Felipe threw his head back and roared. “Oh, yes! At the time I was most unhappy with your Maker. I couldn’t think of anything that would have punished him more than seeing you so unhappy!” and then the monarch wiped the traces of blood tears from his eyes. “You realize; it was nothing personal. If you were not so valuable, so talented, it would not have been an effective punishment. It is only when one plays with the best that the stakes are high enough.”
Pam had to hand it to him, Felipe was smooth and she found she was genuinely charmed. “Why do I have the feeling you didn’t bring me here just to exchange compliments?” Pam asked.
“Talented and perceptive,” the King saluted her, “I do have another purpose.” Pam tensed. She was glad she was in a booth with her back to a solid wall. It would make an assassination attempt difficult. She had a clear range of vision into the rest of the room. No one looked too interested in them, and there were few other diners. It didn’t feel like an ambush, but stranger things had happened. Felipe’s expression turned knowing, “Relax, Pamela! I would like to propose a new venture, something we could co-own. I like your style and you’re lucky. You are not like Northman; you don’t find your luck only to have others wish to take it from you.” He gestured to Angie and she pulled a couple of papers from her jacket. Felipe spread them out on the table. They were crudely sketched and the numbers were hand-written. Pam was surprised. She hadn’t taken Felipe for someone who got his own hands dirty, even for something like this.
“I believe there is a market for a chain of sex clubs,” the Ruler stated. Pam’s mouth turned down. This did not sound promising at all. “Hear me out,” Felipe continued.
The King spent the next hour talking through his idea. He had done his market research, although when Pam pressed him for his sources, there were several she found less than credible. Felipe’s hotel had recently hosted an adult entertainment convention, and he was adamant that the information he collected through interviews with attendees was something that should be considered. What struck Felipe was the change in attendees. While in the past the people who attended these functions had a type and age range, this most recent convention had been different. Felipe was convinced the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey and similar stories signaled a shift in mainstream sensibilities. “It is no longer taboo for humans to explore less conventional sex,” he stated.
De Castro then went on to describe the current swingers and sex clubs available in Las Vegas. “It is a little different in some countries in Europe and Asia, but for the most part, the current venues fail to cater to this new clientele.” When Pam looked skeptical, Felipe pressed, saying, “I will be happy to take you on a tour of the best Las Vegas has to offer. We are, after all, the City of Sin. There are many to choose from and they are successful at what they do, however, they will not appeal to our new voyagers.”
“And why don’t you think these newcomers will patronize the places available?” Pam found she was becoming intrigued in spite of her own misgivings.
“These are people new to the lifestyle. They are curious, but shy. This requires a product that titillates and tempts, but without offending tender sensibilities. If they run screaming from their first encounter, they won’t come back.”
“I’m not interested in creating another Vampire’s Kiss,” Pam said flatly. Vampire’s Kiss had been the nightclub Victor Madden opened to hurt Fangtasia’s business.
Felipe nodded, “Nor am I. I am curious though. What exactly was it about the Kiss that you found offensive?”
Pam settled back, “It was all so blatant. It was selling sex with vampires, and living on the edge with vampires. Everything was loud and confrontational. Mainstream wants to feel naughty, not shocked. It’s a fine line.”
“You sound as if you have ideas,” Felipe was grinning and Angie leaned forward as well. As she heard the words, Pam realized she did have ideas. She still thought the concept would never be as popular as Fangtasia, but it could serve a particular niche.
“I see a club where the initial impression is modeled something along the lines of the new Fangtasia,” Pam started, “A calm bar, relaxed. The lighting and colors muted, like here,” and she gestured at their sophisticated surroundings.” No red and black, more greys and blues, like the sea. Oh, and no buffet! People are there to be doing things with their hands. Why would anyone eat food that’s available for anyone else to touch? I’m thinking a jazz quartet and several concierges trained in talking novices through what’s available and making introductions.”
“I can see it!” Angie nodded, leaning forward, “What about a light menu served a la carte that changes frequently? Chocolate dipped fruit and sugary desserts?”
“That would work,” Pam agreed. “Top line blood for supernatural guests and a careful policy about co-mingling. Once a novice works up to it, there could be two paths. One takes you to an area that features romantic music, private rooms and more intimate play for you and your friends.”
“And the other?” Felipe smiled, his fangs on display.
“The other is rock music, a dance floor, and access to a dungeon. Again, nothing too intense. Feather whips and soft leather. This is about initiating, not scaring.”
“A place that draws you in and allows you to tip yourself down the rabbit hole,” Angie smiled.
“Then there could be separate venues that cater to a particular taste. The larger club becomes the marketing arm for the more specialized clubs,” Felipe was warming to the task.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Pam cautioned. “There is a lot of liability here, and it’s not just the capital investment. We would need to figure out all kinds of logistics. For example, what would be the training program for our concierge role? I can see an advantage to having both male and female. It would need someone helpful and wholesome looking with just the right amount of enthusiasm.”
“When can you start designing?” Felipe laughed.
“When can you come up with money and location?” Pam shot back.
“Done and done,” and Felipe then said a little more soberly, “But, of course you are right. Let’s get past the planning stages first.”
Together they headed over to Fangtasia on the Strip. It was prime time, the hours before midnight, but the club was not filled to capacity and the bouncer at the door was sitting. Pam flicked an annoyed look his way. Even though there wasn’t a line tonight, there was no reason to not look as if one were anticipated. Once inside Pam greeted the manager and then took all of them on a walk through the club, talking through the planned renovation. The space here was good and the Strip was looking to expand There was no need to move a re-tooled Fangtasia back to the action if the action was coming to Fangtasia. The entire place would be stripped to the studs. Multi-level seating would be installed along with a more sophisticated sound system. There had been improvements that would allow the music to permeate without requiring that the volume be deafening. Colors and surfaces would become sleek and metallic. Maxwell Lee had spent extra time and energy on the design and Pam felt it was one of his best, modernist, spare, but enticing. It smoldered sin, and what else could be wished for in Las Vegas?
Pam took a few minutes to confirm plans. The club would shut down in three weeks. The renovation would take a few months and the grand opening was scheduled to coincide with the premiere of ‘A Viking’s Bond,’ the vampire-human romance movie loosely based on Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse. The trailers were everywhere and advance reviews were calling it the perfect date movie with an edge.
“Will you keep the staff on payroll?” her manager was asking.
Pam thought of the lazy bouncer. “You can offer half pay to no more than five,” she said sharply, “Make sure you pick your best. Two weeks before we open, I’ll come back to help screen potential staff. New look, new vibe.” Her manager looked shocked and Pam thought, ‘That’s right, buddy. You could be part of the out with the old.’
When they arrived back at the hotel, Angie stroked the back of Pam’s arm, “Are you sure I can’t interest you in a late night snack?”
“It’s tempting,” and Pam allowed her eyes to warm, “but I am traveling tomorrow. There are preparations to be made.”
“Back to Minnesota?” Angie sighed.
Pam one-arm shrugged, “It suits for now.”
“You must look like a tiger among the kittens,” Felipe teased.
“Maude has her own style,” Pam smirked, and then said in a sly way, “just not mine!” and then Pam laughed to lead the others.
“Will you be coming to Moshup?” Angie asked. Pam had to hand it to her, Felipe’s child was doing her best to be pleasant.
“I will,” and Pam leaned forward just a bit. “There are a number of events for the movie in addition to the Summit. Boston is a wonderful town and my Fangtasia there has done very well. Always a good idea to check in.”
“So you have your permission from the de facto Clan Chief?” Felipe watched her closely.
“Nabila? I cleared things with her almost a year ago,” Pam kept her voice neutral.
“I meant Misha, the real Chief in the East,” Felipe persisted.
“I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” Pam worked to look puzzled, “he didn’t say anything to me one way or another. Of course, I have two clubs in the City and he’s already invited me to stay at his home while I’m in town.”
Felipe actually looked angry, then regained his composure, “You’d do well to keep your eyes open,” he said smoothly, then turning to Angie said, “Come, it’s time to go.”
Pam waited until they were out the door before she walked to the elevator that took her to the top floors. Pam was happy to strip off the jacket she had purchased for this trip. While it was eye-catching, it was also not entirely comfortable. Pam had learned long ago the importance of dressing for the company and business you anticipated. ‘Setting the stage,’ was what Eric called it. No sooner had she deposited the black leather with its chains and pearls on the bed than her phone rang. She could see from the caller ID it was Maude.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Pam asked.
“Are you appreciating your quiet?” Maude responded. It was their code asking whether they could talk freely or if Pam needed to move to a more secure location. When Pam gave the ‘all clear’ response, Maude told her friend about Eric.
Pam felt her heart clench as she read between the lines. She knew Maude would never have called her if it wasn’t serious. “I have to come back!” she exclaimed, flipping through the flights that regularly ran between Las Vegas to New Orleans in her mental rolodex.
“Don’t be crazy!” Maude scolded her. Minnesota asked Pam for the name of someone who could check out Eric’s condition, and Pam gave her Amy Ludwig’s private emergency number.
Amy Ludwig, Doctor Ludwig, was a cranky, cantankerous part-Fae gnome of a woman, but she was brilliant when it came to supernatural medicine. What was more, she was convenient to New Orleans and had a soft spot for Eric Northman. Pam trusted Amy. If the doctor concluded the problem was nothing, Pam’s breaking cover and running to her Maker’s side would be wasted time and resource. If it was something, it would be better to find out exactly what was happening, and then make appropriate plans with a level head and all the facts at hand.
Pam finished her packing and dressed carefully. She would sleep in her travel coffin tonight. Tomorrow, during the day, the Anubis crew would use her special code to gain access to her room and she would wake in Minnesota in the home of Queen Maude.
“I’ve only met Angie once,” Deirdre gave Pam a sidelong glance, “and I kept wondering where’s the woman? Looking at her was like looking at a shadow, she was so thin!”
“I can’t imagine what you say about Twy,” Pam rolled her eyes. Twy was Pam’s sometimes lover. Twy was in Boston working on the Moshup Summit event.
“You sure like them skeletal,” Deirdre huffed. “Why not just freeze some blood on the end of a stick and call it a day?”
Pam laughed out loud. Deirdre was not Maude’s second, she wasn’t even a vampire. She was Maude’s business manager, but like her boss, she called things like she saw them. Deirdre frequently stayed in the Palace, particularly when she worked on a new product, and that was what she was doing now. Maude’s money came from agriculture. She developed plants and vegetables through careful cross-breeding aiming to improve taste and hardiness. While many of her competitors were embracing genetic engineering, Maude resisted. ‘I don’t want stray genes screwing up my food supply!’ Maude would say.
The other part of the Queen’s operation involved prepared foods. Everything from canned to frozen, simple ingredients to full meals, the Minnesota Queen’s labels were a by-word for those who wanted interesting flavors and healthier choices. ‘If it tastes like dirt, who’s going to eat it?’ Maude would challenge her team.
Deirdre’s background was chemical engineering. She used her science to anticipate how combining certain foods would hit the human palate. She combined that knowledge with a healthy curiosity about ethnic food and ancient recipes. The results were making Maude a wealthy vampire.
Unlike virtually every other vampire Pam knew, Maude actually enjoyed the smells of food and cooking. Although she couldn’t eat, the Minnesota monarch maintained that smell was as strong a sense as taste. She claimed she didn’t have to eat something to tell if it would be pleasing.
The experiments today were featuring combinations reflecting traditional Thai food and Pam couldn’t imagine they would meet with Maude’s approval.
When the Queen swept into the kitchen, her nose wrinkled, “What is that?” she challenged.
“It will be the combination of lime leaves, fish sauce, and mint,” Deirdre replied. “It is a unique scent signature. Give it a minute.”
Pam hoped the monarch would demand the strong-scented sauce be dumped, but instead she sat down and asked, “So, how’d it go? You and Felipe all chummy now?”
“He wants to go partners on a sex club venture,” Pam kept her voice level, not wanting to commit herself either way.
“Of course he does!” Maude snorted. “Wonder if he stops thinking about his dick long enough to consider other deals?” The Queen lifted shrewd eyes to her friend, “You going to do it?”
Pam shrugged, “I need to explore it further. It could work.” She grimaced as Deirdre added garlic to the pan on the stove, “Besides, it could prove a fertile place to collect information.”
“So is Fangtasia!” Maude replied. “What’s your gut telling you?”
“My gut is telling me that the sex club thing could make money,” and when Maude rolled her eyes, making it clear she was asking about the other issue on the table, Pam smiled and added, “The nomads are part of a plan. I can’t imagine what the point is, but it’s too strange not to be something. The Silent Witnesses are not connected, at least not directly. I think they are a natural outcome of the trouble the nomads are causing. The nomads make the orphans, the orphans emerge hungry and undisciplined, humans are hurt, and humans jump to the conclusion that vampires have always hurt humans. With the Internet, it doesn’t have to be that big an incident to get a lot of attention.”
“It’s been a number of years since we’ve been out of hiding,” Maude looked doubtful. “Why would humans think this has been going on so long?”
Deirdre spoke from beside the stove, “Because it has.” When the two vampires turned her way, the redhead continued, “I’ll grant you there are more incidences now, but stories of vampires killing humans have been around forever. Just because vampires came out of hiding, it didn’t mean the stories went away. And let’s face it, even after The Reveal, there have been plenty of incidents.”
“But it’s different now,” Maude shook her head.
“Maybe from your perspective,” Deirdre lifted the pot from the burner and carried it to the metal counter. “For most humans it just means that all their worst fears were true. You know we used to dress up like vampires and Werewolves on Hallowe’en? You were the stuff of legends; the scary stuff. Romantic, dangerous men and terrifying, blood-soaked women. I grew up with spook stories and some of them involved vampires. Now, every time there’s a death it reignites that primal fear.” Deirdre glanced at the two vampires sitting at the table, “I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t say too much. I hope you don’t think…”
“Thank you for speaking up,” Pam assured her, “Sometimes we need a different perspective. I hadn’t thought about it that way.”
“Eric Northman thinks we should push our way onto human police forces. He thinks that vampires stepping into conventional law enforcement roles will make breathers see us as being interested in their well-being.” Pam was surprised by Maude’s words. It was just like Eric to come up with a plan like this one.
“You don’t think it will make humans more wary?” Pam asked. “They don’t trust us as it is, and what makes anyone think they would welcome us as enforcers of their laws? I know some of us have found places with their police, but not many.”
“He believes we should be prepared to push it as a civil rights issue,” Maude replied. “I think the bigger question is whose law would we be enforcing, ours or theirs?”
“Smart,” Deirdre nodded, “Vampires fighting to protect humans and others could help change perceptions,” and then the day manager’s eyes became thoughtful, “but isn’t the law the law? Why would they be different?”
“Human rules are made for living people,” Maude sat back. “Humans think nothing of putting people in jails. They think that after some period of time, punishment is done. Prisons and vampires rarely make sense. Sitting in some place for a vampire is nothing. We can go into downtime indefinitely. Prison without physical distress has little meaning for us. We will never die in prison without some intervening event. Torture is the only way to truly discipline vampires. We feel pain but we regenerate. And life in prison? No country could support the cost of that! We are immortal. We would outlive the prisons themselves!”
“Do we have to talk politics?” Pam rolled her eyes. Once Maude was on a roll, the conversation could go on for nights.
“With your willingness to participate in business, I would think you would be interested in this debate,” Maude looked disappointed.
“I prefer those points of law where we all already agree, contracts and money,” and Pam shrugged before asking, “Any words of advice about New York? You mentioned you met him.”
Maude nodded. Less than a year ago Maude’s great friend, Lydia, the Lady of Sanctum, had passed. During the funeral, Mikhail, the King of New York and now the rest of New England, had attended. It wasn’t the first time the two monarchs met but the first in many, many years.
Maude was now responsible for the retreat in Connecticut. Lydia left it to Minnesota in her will. The work of the sanctuary continued. It was a place that welcomed those select few Supes who were lucky enough to be sponsored and accepted for treatment. It was the human, Barbara, who sat with guests now, offering therapy and a road to recovery. The harsh reality of the Supernatural world was that few survived bad fortune. Even fewer were fortunate enough to be considered worthy of saving once severely damaged. Sookie Stackhouse was one of those few. When she survived her abusive marriage, she was given a place in Sanctum to recover. Pam knew Sookie credited her with saving her life, but Sanctum with saving her soul.
Pam could see the shadow pass over Maude’s face. She doubted the Minnesota Queen would ever truly get over Lydia’s death and thinking about New York had served as a reminder. Never being one to dwell on unhappiness long though, the monarch shook her head, smiled, and said, “Oh Pammie! You better be on your best pointy shoe toes with that one! He is a slick customer!”
“Care to elaborate?” Pam asked.
“Well, he thinks a lot of himself,” Maude settled back in her ‘storytelling’ posture. “He is shaped like a barrel, all chest and arms. He’s short, but so are you. He’ll probably top you by his fancy-pants hair.” Pam raised her eyebrow and Maude chuckled. “You know, that New York snobby hair, kind of long around the back to make the most of his ‘king of all I survey’ expression.”
“Don’t hold back!” Pam chuckled, “Tell me what you really think!”
“I’ve seen pictures of him,” Deirdre volunteered. “He’d fit right in at some book signing or opera night.”
“Until you see his crooked nose,” Maude sniffed. “He started life as a gutter rat and he has the scars to prove it.”
“Is he really as bad as all that?” Pam wondered if she should back out of staying with the King. It would be tricky, making the appropriate excuse. Maude wasn’t saying she didn’t like him, but she clearly wasn’t fond of him either and Pam trusted her mentor’s intuition about these things. “I have to check in. I have too much business in his territory, but maybe…”
Maude shook her head, “You are bright, capable, and smart as they come. Mikhail hasn’t survived and prospered this long by being a thug. Remember, I’ve known him for over a hundred years. Vampires do change. You aren’t the same person you were when you were made.”
Pam grinned, “Oh, don’t I know it! I still shimmy down drainpipes from time to time,” but then she said “But I have improved,” and it was decided.
Pam pulled up her itinerary on her phone, but was interrupted when the phone on the wall rang. Maude was one of the only vampires Pam knew who maintained a landline in her residence. Deirdre answered, then turned to the Minnesota Queen, “It’s for you, Majesty. A Doctor Ludwig.”