The Last Lady of Lună (S2, E1)
Last Lady of Lună (S1, Season Finale)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood, sexual content, violence
Whatever Karen had expected — and she tried not to expect things — it wasn’t for the drone’s departure to be followed by a beefed-up SUV. She signaled Victor, who moved quickly to the master bedroom. The room had a big picture window that was a security nightmare, but it gave the sharpshooter a line of sight on the driveway and the front yard. Benj was still in the kitchen, and Karen left him there to cover the back door.
The front door with its cut-glass windows opened onto the landing of the split-level staircase. Karen set herself up at the top of the stairs. If their intruders were going to pretend to be friendly to get in the house, it would be knife work. She caressed the hilt of the old kitchen knife, now sitting at the small of her back. It was a good knife. Well balanced. So many people underestimated the value of a solid paring knife. Karen hadn’t had time to check the edge, but that was okay. It would still stab just fine.
While she waited, Karen ticked over the setup. Experience let her lay out several possible timelines depending on what the intruders did. Marcus was still downstairs, and Leyla would be with him as close support and medic. They’d watch the garage door and be ready to throw Nastasia in the van and run if they had to. Emil, Nastasia’s ‘grandfather’ was out for the day, and Ozanna was downstairs where Marcus could worry about her. With Victor and Benj in place, they had the house, and it’s too-many-doors, as covered as possible.
They waited, and Karen allowed herself to reach back and “Two exiting the car,” Victor said in her ear. “No visible weapons. Might be others in the back.”
Karen frowned and tapped her comm. “They are weapons.”
“Fuck,” Benj muttered from the kitchen.
“Looks like they’re headed for the front door.”
Okay, Karen was up.
She waited until she saw them on the walk. Two, like Victor said. There was something about the way one of them moved… “Hey, boss-lady?” she asked as she started down the stairs, “Should I be able to recognize another vampire?”
Nastasia answered just as one of their visitors knocked on the door. “I think so?… Yes. Ozanna says yes.”
“We got one vamp then.” She waved through the cut-glass window in the door. “They’re being polite. What’s the play?”
“Think you can get Leyla some tea?”
“On it.” Karen pasted a smile on her face and opened the door. “Hi, can I help you?”
Two people, one with boobs, one without. Both dark and pale like Nastasia and her ‘grandparents.’ The taller one (boobs) smiled back. “We’re sorry to show up without warning like this. I’m Tamarra Sudworth.” She offered Karen a business card. Karen gave it a quick glance before stuffing it in a pocket.
“Private eye. Do private eyes do door-to-door sales now? Thanks, but we’re good.”
Even Karen knew no one did door-to-door sales anymore, but she’d long ago learned that sometimes her best weapon was just being herself.
‘Tamarra’ reached out to keep Karen from closing the door. “No. No, I’m not. That’s not…” Her friend, the one Karen thought was a vampire, smiled and offered his hand. (Karen was assuming his. More people needed to start wearing those pronoun necklaces.)
In Karen’s ear, Victor started cursing, “Two more SUVs coming up the street.”
Karen smiled back at the vampire but didn’t take his hand. They were out of time for tea. Thank God… or should she be thinking ‘thank Lună’ now?
“I don’t think you’re a PI, and I’m afraid I’m not good at the social thing. So I’m going to cut to the chase. How about you tell me what clan you’re with and why you’re here, so my team and I know just how dead we need to make you, okay?”
As she spoke, she darted left, out of reach of the pair. Behind her, Benj would be at the top of the stairs, gun drawn. Karen knew they’d seen him when they froze.
“Moving,” Karen murmured, barely loud enough for the com to pick up. Then she was. With the visitors distracted, Karen grabbed the woman’s wrist and yanked, making her stumble over the short step into the house. She heard Benj yelling “Don’t move!” at the vamp. Another yank turned the stumble into a fall, and then Karen was straddling the woman, knife at her throat. The woman was smart enough to go very, very still and keep her hands where Karen could see them.
The vamp snarled, fangs on show. Yup, she’d called it.
“Sorry, man,” Benj said, “We were willing to keep things nice and shoo you on your way if it was just the two of you. But your friends just upped the ante.”
Karen heard car doors slamming, and the vamp looked to the driveway, then paled.
“Those are not our friends.”
“Fuck,” the woman whispered. “Where is Lady Sandra?”
“My mother is dead,” Nastasia said from the bottom of the stairs. “I am the Lady of Lună clan now.”
I looked up the half flight of stairs at the first strange vampire I could remember seeing. This close, I could taste Lună’s power on them. These, whoever they were, where ever they had come from, were my clanmates.
I had so many questions, so many feelings, but there was no time.
“Come in, child of Lună,” I said. The stranger stepped inside and shut the door, keeping an eye on the top of the stairs the whole time.
“Your mother had good taste,” she said. “These are friends?”
Friends? I didn’t know how to answer that. I didn’t know them. They had come looking for my mother, thought she was still alive.
“Let her up,” I said instead of answering.
I felt Marcus and Leyla at my back, Ozanna standing to the side. She said nothing: either she didn’t recognize these people or didn’t trust them.
One step at a time, I climbed the stairs. Karen moved as I did, shifting to the other side of the foyer where she could cover me. Our bond sang between us. Marcus stayed at my shoulder, but Leyla waited below with Ozanna. She spoke quietly into the comm, keeping Victor filled in. I heard him reply, but my focus was here. Now.
The one on the ground — human, my senses told me, sotii — had rolled out of the way but stayed down. I took the last step onto the marble of the foyer and stopped. “I am Nastasia, Sandra’s daughter. These are my sotii and my advisor.
The vampire said nothing, just looked at me.
We didn’t have time for this!
Victor over the comm, “I don’t know what they’re waiting for, but we’ve got 10 bunched up around two cars, armed.”
“You are?” I repeated.
“Vasile,” he said finally. “I don’t know who is outside.”
Victor, “Looks like they’re going around back.”
Marcus, “Stay on them as best you can. Benj, get on the backdoor.”
I struggled to focus, to remember the clan etiquette Mama and Emil had taught me. He should have acknowledged me as clan leader. Why hadn’t he? Was I doing something wrong?
Marcus’ hand was on my shoulder, steadying me. He had no idea what was going on. None of them did. Maybe not even Ozanna. But I was Lună’s lady, and I had promised Marcus I wouldn’t fail them again.
“Vasile.” I stepped forward, catching his eye. I reached for Lună, letting her power fill me, even though she was far from the sky. “I suppose I should welcome you to my home.”
I didn’t do anything with the power, just held it in me and let him taste it.
His eyes widened. “Lady.”
He didn’t bow or anything. That, Mama had told me, drew too much attention around humans. But he didn’t need to.
Not with that look in his eyes.
“I’ve got a lot of questions, and I’m sure you do too. But we have some other business to deal with first. Would you both like to help me greet my other guests?”
They looked at each other, Vasile and the woman whose name I still hadn’t heard. Then they smiled. “Lady, we would be honored.”
Once they reached the top floor, Karen switched places with Marcus. Leyla stepped in close, letting Marcus step back and focus on the overall situation rather than Nastasia’s immediate safety.
They moved smoothly, and Nastasia moved with them, even without the training they should have given her. Leyla didn’t understand all the magic vampire stuff, but she knew people. Whatever awkwardness or problems there had been between Marcus and Nastasia, Karen and Nastasia, they were gone now. Those three had started building something solid together.
Leyla knew that she wasn’t part of that yet. Like Benj and Victor, she was connected to Nastasia only by magic (and some mutual lust).
But that was okay. Marcus was the head of the team and (though she’d never realized it) Karen was the heart of it. The one who tied them all together. They had needed to connect with Nastasia first — to build the foundation Leyla and the others could rely on.
Leyla was looking forward to doing just that. After kicking some vampire ass.
That’s it for Nastasia and co — for now anyway. They’ll be back next year. And Karen will finally get to see the knives. (As you might guess, she’s rather impatient about that.)
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1 E11
First Came Trust S1 E1
Last Lady of Lună (S1, E10)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood, sexual content
For once, Leyla didn’t want tea. She wanted a cold drink and an hour with her battery-operated boyfriend (his name was Steven). Watching Karen and Nastasia try to devour each other was the hottest thing she’d seen in years.
Which was odd because Leyla wasn’t a voyeur, and Karen had never turned Leyla’s gears, but she wanted to join them. Put Nastasia in the middle, rub against her, bite her neck. Lick Karen’s blood from Nastasia’s lips.
Later, that part might disturb Leyla. But now, the faint scent of that blood ratcheted her up — it smelled like sex, but better.
Next to her, Marcus tried to discreetly adjust himself, and Victor was half out of his seat. Benj groaned, and the sound broke the moment. Nastasia and Karen broke apart, and Nastasia giggled.
Fucking hell, that giggle. It was like a shot of espresso straight to Leyla’s sex. She’d convinced herself that she’d imagined it. That it wasn’t that sexy. Nothing could be that sexy.
It was, and Leyla was off her seat and halfway around the kitchen island before she caught herself.
Clearing her throat, she redirected herself, offering Karen a hug and a (chaste!) kiss on the cheek. “I think this is where we say congratulations?”
“Wow…” Benj said under his breath. Then grunted. Victor must have kicked him.
“That sounds about right,” Victor said. Then he grinned at Nastasia. “No offense Ma’am, and I’m not her brother, but I think this is also the part where if I was, I’d be supposed to point out that I know where you sleep.”
Nastasia giggled again and said, “I am appropriately threatened.”
“What–?” Karen started to ask, and Leyla patted her shoulder.
“Nothing to worry about. Macho posturing. I’ll explain later.”
“Oh, thanks Leyla,” Karen smiled at her.
At that moment, Leyla understood — really understood — that the confusion she felt over this whole sotii thing was Tuesday for Karen. Because she lived in a world that never made sense. If Karen could deal with that shit every. Damn. Day. For years… then Leyla and the rest of them could deal with this sotii stuff. “I’ll try and do a better job of explaining things from now on.”
“Okay. I’d like that.”
Marcus started to get up, and Nastasia glared at him. “Sit.”
He sat back and raised his hands in surrender. “Karen, I can’t say I’m not worried, but if you are happy, then I’m happy.”
“What he said,” Benj added roughly. Leyla didn’t think it was tears he held off just them. Not that she was one to talk — her panties were soaked through.
Still, they had a problem or two to deal with. Leyla squeezed Karen’s hand, then stepped back to lean against the counter. “I don’t want to take away from the moment — but I think the rest of us need to get a better handle on where we’re at.
“So, Nastasia — what did you expect when you asked us to be sotii?” Leyla tried to make the question gentle, but Nastasia still flinched slightly and reached for Karen’s hand.
Then she squared her shoulders and looked Leyla dead in the eyes. “I expected to become part of a team. I expected my sotii — you — to work with me, support me, advise me.” She paused, looking around the room. “After that night… after I had a chance to meet you… I expected that we might be friends.”
“And then we went professional on you.”
“Is that what you call it?” Nastasia snorted. “You became distant. Silent. You went on duty, and everything stopped. Karen even stopped asking to see my knives.”
Karen meeped and jumped on Nastasia. “I forgot about the sharps! Damn it, I forgot about the sharps.” She buried her face in Nastasia’s neck, and Leyla would have said something, but Nastasia pulled her close. “I’m sorry. Work messes with my brain.”
Leyla sighed. “I’m starting to think it messes with all our brains.”
Victor was listening, but he was also watching. Two doors, a window, and one skylight. His back to one door because sitting at the island counter didn’t leave him much choice. At first, he didn’t really notice the black shape circling overhead. Turkey vultures weren’t common, but you still saw them. But it kept circling. Coming around again and again.
And its movement was wrong. Victor couldn’t say how he knew. How he saw it so clearly when it was so far away. Bit by bit, he stopped listening. Karen would fill him in later. Her timeline for something she saw and heard herself would be sharp as her knives. Marcus and Leyla between them would sort things out with Nastasia. Sounded like a failure to communicate anyway. But that spot. It was bigger now, and the shape was wrong for a bird. It reappeared in the skylight a bit too regularly, its circle too exact.
Understanding came like ice in his veins. “Eyes in the sky. Get Nastasia out of here.”
He rolled onto the countertop, Glock out, and tucked by his side. He didn’t see Leyla and Karen hustle Nastasia out and down the stairs, but he heard them.
“Threat level?” Marcus asked — through Victor’s comm, he must have gone down with them.
“Unknown. Looks like a high-end drone.” Now that he had a clearer view of it, Victor realized that he saw the thing with an impossible amount of detail. That vamp virus thing taking effect, maybe? It looked like one of the newest spy drones he’d seen in the trade mags. “Might be some kid with a new birthday present, but I don’t think so.”
“Acknowledged.” Marcus was quiet for a moment. “You’re sighting, your call.”
Victor said nothing for a moment. “I might be able to take it out, but they’ll know we caught them. With the privacy screen on the skylight, it can’t have seen anything yet.
“Watch it for now, and prepare for all hell to break loose.”
“Concur,” Marcus replied. “We’re suiting up; Karen and Leyla will relieve you and Benj as soon as they’re ready.”
“Sure, boss,” Benj said across the room. He was tucked in the corner furthest from the island, where he could keep an eye on the window and both kitchen doors. “Here’s hoping for another round of ‘hurry up and wait’.”
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1, E9
Last Lady of Lună S1, E11
Last Lady of Lună (S1, E9)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood, sexual content
I looked around the kitchen, at my five sotii, and sighed. Benj was right. The bonds were hurting. All of them. The bond with Marcus, my first, most of all, but he may not have noticed, think it was just part of his magical ‘flu’.
“Look, I’m not handling things well. I’ll try to do better so it doesn’t spill on all of you. I’m just… I guess I’m a bit overwhelmed right now. I knew I’d never have normal sotii — not when anyone I bonded with wouldn’t have grown up with the clan. I’m lucky one of you even knew that the vampire clans existed.”
I nodded to Leyla, who’d convinced the others to believe me. She smiled back, and I let myself feel the pull of that smile. The urge to hop down off the counter and go to her. Did she feel it too?
I looked away.
“And I knew tracking down whatever’s left of our clan wouldn’t be easy, but it’s still frustrating to do nothing but fail hour after hour. So I guess I’m acting out a bit.” I tried to smile. “I’m surprised Emil hasn’t pulled me up short yet, actually.”
Vincent started to say something, then stopped. He, Leyla, and Benj looked to Marcus. Karen was still digging through the fridge.
“Nastasia,” Marcus said after a moment, “we’ve been running blind for a week. I should have sat down with you the first day. We all should have known a lot more about what is going on here. So I’d rather not see anything pull you up short.”
I blinked. “Running blind? I don’t understand.
“When I brought you here, you said we would talk the next morning, but we never did. I waited, and when I did go to you, needing to feed if nothing else, you were curt, distant. No more laughing, no more teasing.
“Professional, you said.
“I told you to tell me what you needed, and I would see to it, but you never did. None of you did. You just… started shadowing me, standing watch. Being bodyguards.” I blinked once and widened my eyes, holding back tears I would not let them see. It wasn’t their fault I had let myself hope for more.
“I thought you wanted distance. I’ve been trying to respect that.”
Next to Marcus, I saw Benj rub his chest, and I winced, remembering what he’d said about feeling the bond. I didn’t know much about how the bond worked, not nearly as much as I should. But he was feeling something, so I needed to find some calm.
It was harder to call on Lună during the day, so instead I focused on breathing, finding my center, the core everything ephemeral orbited around.
Karen came out of the fridge juggling a bunch of fruit and a pitcher of iced tea. I’m not sure how she carried it all to the island without dropping anything, but I guess someone who catches knives for fun can do stuff like that. I hopped off the counter and turned around to pull some cups from the cabinets.
“What does sotii mean, ma’am?” Benj asked.
I nearly dropped the last cup. “I…” Fuck.
“You didn’t look it up?” Karen asked, pouring tea for everyone. “It took me a bit, but you have to spell it with ‘i’, not ‘e’. I think.
“I could be completely wrong, though. The Romanian is pronounced differently and… well, I get stuff wrong a lot.” I was staring at her, shocked, terrified even, and she smiled at me. “I wouldn’t mind being right, though. If, you know, that isn’t out of line or anything. No offense.”
Butterflies. Those were honest to Lună butterflies in my stomach now. I ducked my head but couldn’t help smiling back at her. “I couldn’t ask,” I told her. “I had no right to even think… I needed bodyguards and blood. Anything else is…”
“It’s okay,” she said, “I never know when it’s okay to ask stuff either.”
I have no idea what would have happened then if Marcus hadn’t cleared his throat. “No, Karen, it didn’t occur to me to look it up. I didn’t think Google translate had a setting for ‘vampire'”
“Oh! Sorry, Marcus. I should have said something, huh?” She paused. “Oh. This is going to be one of those awkward social things, isn’t it.”
I covered my face and nodded. “Yup. Really awkward.”
She patted me on the shoulder and turned to give Marcus his tea. “It’s Romanian. I think. Nastasia hasn’t actually said if I’m right.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re right,” I muttered. “If not, this is going to be even more awkward.”
I did not see Benj and Leyla giggling. I heard them. I’d have been pissed, but I’m pretty sure if I was them, I’d have been laughing too. I did see Marcus trying hard not to smile. I doubted any of them would be amused in a moment.
“It’s Romanian, well, a Romanian dialect,” I said, “there isn’t any ‘vampire’ language. Though most of the surviving clans came from Romania before it was Romania. The way we speak, it doesn’t exactly line up with the modern language.
“Sotii still means basically the same thing, though.” I took a deep breath and made myself look at them. “It means spouses.”
Stunned silence, of course. Well, except for Karen, who smiled at me delightedly.
I didn’t understand Karen. I don’t think I ever will. But no matter what weirdness I’ve thrown at her, she just… accepts it, and I guess that’s all I really need to know. Having Karen there made me strong enough to weather what came next.
“Spouses,” Marcus finally growled. “Spouses. You expect–”
“No!” I cut him off. They had reason to be angry with me, and I knew it, but I would not be blamed for what I had never done. “I expect nothing,” I spat, embarrassing myself. I couldn’t look at him, at any of them. “I hoped… maybe.”
The pain and hopelessness of those three words broke through the dam, and words came spilling out of me.
“If we survive, we are bound together for centuries,” I said, “and yes, I hoped that maybe someday you might… wish that. Want more.” I swore. “I’m not human, but I do have feelings, and there is no one else for me. I told you that.” Unable to stay still, I started pacing the kitchen. “And you felt what it was like to share blood. That’s why you’ve been bleeding into cups for me. Isn’t it? Because you don’t want to share that.
“Have I complained? Have I even said anything? No. You set your limits, and I accepted them.
“I needed — desperately — help to keep my clan alive. I didn’t — don’t — expect anything else. No more than what I told you, what I asked for. What you agreed to give.
I stopped and glared at them. “I will never ask for what you don’t wish to give.”
Tipping my head back, I looked up through the skylights. Marcus hated those skylights Mama had put in all over. ‘Weak points.’ I just wished it was night so I could see Luna.
“I’m not even supposed to have sotii yet,” I murmured. “I’m supposed to be flirting with the humans of my clan, learning what it means to be clan leader, getting drunk with my friends…
“Well, I got to do that, at least.”
I looked at them again. Everyone but Karen had their faces locked down, showing nothing. “You’ve got a lot of reasons to be pissed with me, and I won’t apologize for doing the best I can to survive. But I sure as hell never wanted to trick you or force you into…
“I didn’t tell you that ‘sotii’ means ‘spouses’ because I was afraid you would think I expected it. And I knew better.”
Karen made a sound of protest, and I smiled at her, afraid to believe, afraid of how the others would react, but not willing to refuse her. “I thought I knew better.”
“Karen–” Marcus started, but this time Leyla interrupted.
“What did you expect?”
Before I could get my thoughts in order, Karen replied. “I’ve never even had a girlfriend, you know that? You are my family. You gave me a place to belong, but I’m lucky to find someone cool with my weirdness for casual sex, never mind a relationship. I expected to be alone. Especially since we all knew higher would likely break the team up as soon as they forced Marcus to retire.” I was staring at her open-mouthed when she reached for me, her hand shaking a bit. I took her hand immediately and gripped it tight.
“I’m sure there are all kinds of reasons why Nastasia did something wrong and I should be upset. Or at least, you all are upset, and she says there are.” Karen shrugged, “You know I’ve never understood all of that. Why is this wrong, but assuming I’d want to join a team was okay?”
Marcus went pale and said, “Karen…” again, but in a completely different voice.
She shook her head, “It’s okay, Marcus. I’m glad you brought me onto the team. It’s just…” she trailed off and looked at me.
Somehow — maybe Lună was whispering in my ear — I knew what to do. I let go of her hand, went over to the knife block, and pulled out a well-used carving knife.
“I don’t have a ring,” I said, offering the knife to Karen, “and it isn’t K-bar. But this was my mother’s favorite.”
Karen didn’t even look at the knife. She just took it, put it carefully on the counter, and kissed me.
Yes, of course I bit her lip.
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1, E8
Last Lady of Lună S1, E10
Last Lady of Lună (S1, E8)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood, sexual content
Benj’s head was still stuffed with cotton. Talking was… not fun. But even if professionalism hadn’t required him to be here, he would have been drawn to Nastasia. He felt the bond, felt her. It felt like something was wrong. Like it was sick, too.
He hadn’t thought anything of it, that first morning, when Marcus had insisted on being the one to feed her and bled into a cup. He’d been a bit disappointed when Nastasia accepted but for all Karen’s quips, this wasn’t really a romance novel, and… whatever they’d all felt when they exchanged blood the night before, it wasn’t real. They were here to be Nastasia’s guards, not her harem.
And then the fever had hit, and he hadn’t been able to think of anything.
He didn’t feel much different. A little lighter on his feet maybe, but not likehe could go fifteen rounds with a pro fighter or anything like that. Marcus though… Benj had seen his wrinkles smooth out. The grey that had threaded his blond hair was gone, too. And whatever that.. magical virus?… was doing, it wasn’t done.
But something was wrong. If Benj had been the only one feeling weird, he might have ignored it. But when Karen started muttering about the timeline being off…
Benj didn’t understand Karen. The one time he’d said anything, Vincent had said something about ‘probably neurodivergent’ and ‘not our business as long as she’s a team player.’ One thing Benj had learned: she had an uncanny way of putting together odd bits of information. She’d make a picture no one else could see, but was usually pretty accurate. When her timelines got screwy — when she couldn’t put that picture together — there was an elephant in the room somewhere getting ready to smash them.
So when whatever was going on pushed Karen out of her guard routine, Benj backed her. Because she was his teammate, because he trusted her. But also because the bond told him Nastasia needed them. Needed him to step up.
“Ma’am,” he rasped, “You need to tell us what we’re doing wrong.”
Nastasia scowled at him, then looked away. “You are doing nothing wrong. You are good bodyguards.”
“Then why are Karen’s timeline’s not lining up?” He rubbed his sternum. “Why is this bond hurting?”
But Karen cocked her head, getting that distant look that meant the pieces were falling into place. “We are good bodyguards. Are we good sotii?”
For the second time in an hour, I wanted to run. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t be the leader my clan needed. I couldn’t even form a proper bond with my sotii! Instead, I stepped away, putting my back to the wall.
Benj came closer, and, for a moment, I thought I would freak out completely, but he just leaned against the wall next to me. Close, but no longer between me and the doors. Karen was murmuring in the bluetooth, saying something about my panic to the rest of the team.
I wrapped my arms around myself and looked at the floor.
I jumped when Benj touched my shoulder. “That’s it, isn’t it? We’re being bodyguards, but you need more than that.”
For a moment, I let myself lean into that touch, but Benj… Benj had made it clear that he became sotii for Marcus’ sake, not because of any draw he felt towards me. I pulled back, and he dropped his hand. “I need bodyguards. And I won’t ask for what you don’t want to give.”
“What if we want you to ask?” I looked up in surprise. Leyla was standing in the door. Victor was behind her, and even Marcus, leaning on the wall.
As soon as I saw Marcus, I forgot everything else. Even as weak as our bond was, I felt how he — my first — suffered. I stepped away from the wall and stormed across the small room. “What by Luna are you doing out of bed?” Up close, I could see his eyes were still glassy from fever. His skin was too dark to show a flush, but I knew if I put my hand next to his cheeks, I’d feel the heat pouring off him. “Bad enough Benj insists on following me around; you need to rest.
“Told you he needed to come,” Victor murmured to Leyla.
I glared at him. “I’ll deal with you later.” Then I pushed through them and grabbed Marcus’ arm. “Come on.”
He tried to pull away, but their blood, even taken from a cup, had strengthed Luna’s blessings. I was strong enough to hold on unless he made it a real fight. Well, and he was still weak from the fever.
“I’m well enough,” he protested. “Karen said there’s a problem we need to talk about.”
“No,” I said, trying not to hunch, to cringe away from the reminder. “I’m just stressed.”
I could feel them looking at each other, trying to decide how to handle me. I had no interest in being handled, but I knew them well enough by now to know that Karen, at least, would not let it go.
“Fine. We’ll go to the kitchen. If we’re going to talk, then we’ll do it with you and Benj sitting down.”
Still holding Marcus’ arm, I headed down the hall, then up the stairs to the kitchen. The others followed, and I waited, arms crossed, while Marcus and Benj sat at the granite-topped island. Mama had loved that counter. She said the black granite with white speckles reminded her of the night sky.
She would have been so disappointed in me.
I hopped onto the white counter next to the sink, pulled my legs up and hugged my knees. Leyla and Victor sat down with Marcus and Benj while Karen went digging in the fridge.
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1, E7
Last Lady of Lună S1, E9
Last Lady of Lună (S1, E6)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood, sexual content
The first thing my mother had done after the destruction of our clan was to empty as many financial accounts as she could access. It wasn’t nearly all the clan had, but it was enough for her to take me, Ozanna, and Emil, and disappear into human society, with new identities. She then did her best to blend in with the human world.
Like so many up-and-coming yuppies, ‘Sandra Marques’ bought and remodelled a large home in an expensive neighborhood, moved in with her daughter and retired parents, joined the PTA, and in a few years was just one of the community. Her ‘cancer’ diagnosis when I was in highschool saddened her neighbors and brought in an outpouring of support for our small family. When she died, after a long and difficult battle, she left me her home, a secure place in a community suspicious of outsiders, and the perfect camoflauge.
At 18, with Ozanna and Emil’s full support, I set about destroying my reputation. I had lost my mother, had full responsibility for somehow saving our lost clan, was all but alone in the world — Ozanna said that if I hadn’t buckled under the stress she would have been worried. She was right, and if they hadn’t helped me find a ‘permitted’ outlet, Lună only knows what I would have done. Emil said that if I was going to be foolish, I should at least be smart about it.
So as soon as I was legally an adult, I tore up my college acceptance letters, dropped out of high school (and, at my “grandparents’ ” insistence quietly got my GED several towns over). I cancelled the neighborhood Christmas party Mama had hosted every year (which made sure that all the neighborhood knew what I was doing), and set about blowing ‘all’ the money Mama had left me on cars, clothes, and clubbing. I came home drunk a few times, Ozanna insisted on keeping up my combat lessons and if you think a hangover is bad, try fighting with one. But enough drinks spilled on my clothes that the neighbors who paid attention still smelled alcohol on me from time to time.
Honestly, after a year of being the bad girl, I’d run through the worst of my anger and petulance, and was bored of the clubbing every night. But I loved the clothes and cars, and by then my reputation was so destroyed in town that I could sign up for a few evening and night courses at a nearby community college, and as long as I was getting in way too late, the neighbors just assumed I was still partying it up.
In the mean time, Ozanna and Emil poured their woes into a few sympathetic ears. They tried to so hard, they really did. How sad their Sandra would be to see what I was turning into. They prayed every day that I would come to my senses. What would happen to us when my trust fund ran out… At least, the neighbors comiserated, I never got into drugs.
It was a different, brighter camoflague from Mama’s, but built on the foundation she had created. And the whole reason for it was in the back of the plain white cargo van I was parking next to my vintage Mustang.
Because with the reputation I had, it was just possible that I could move in five hot strangers — one of them old enough to be my father — and still ‘blend in’ as the town’s resident bad girl.
As soon as I started looking for the remnants of my clan, the clock would start ticking. Sooner of later, the enemies my mother had hid us from would find me. My mother’s ‘purloined letter’ method had kept us safe so far. I just hoped it would hold out long enough for my new sotii to figure out how to keep all of us alive.
With a nervous smile, I put the van in park and looked back over my shoulder to see Karen blinking awake. “Welcome home.”
No one said a word on the drive from Nastasia’s hideaway to her home. If Karen had been awake, she would have been asking a million questions about Nastasia’s knives. But she wasn’t awake.
Karen wasn’t awake.
Marcus’ brain kept hiccupping on that. Karen wasn’t awake. Nastasia had told her to sleep, and she just… slept.
Nastasia had apparently done that to all five of them and knocked them out hard enough that she’d been able to get them out of the bar, into a vehicle, out of the vehicle, and tied up to a bunch of lawn chairs without waking any of them up.
This vampire shit was real. Really real. And he’d just thrown himself straight into it.
His conscious tried to say that he’d just thrown his team straight into it, but Marcus knew damn well he had an over developed sense of responsibility and the rest of the team were fucking adults capable of making their own (bad) decisions.
But who ever was responsible, they were here.
Literally as well as figuratively, as Nastasia turned the van into a driveway and pulled into a large two car garage.
Karen was waking up and Marcus caught her eye. “Okay?” he mouthed.
She grinned sleepily. “I need to see the sharps.”
Marcus chucjked. She was fine. He also figured she’d forget about the sharps in 3… 2… 1…
Nastasia parked the car. “Welcome home,” she said.
And Marcus watched Karen’s face blank out as she switched gears like a the pro she was.
Marcus felt it as well. As soon as they stepped out of the van, they were in business. His pants squished uncomfortably as he stood and signaled for Benj to get the door. He was pretty sure he wasn’t the only one and that would a subject for epic teasing within the team later.
Now? They done their job covered in mud, blood, piss, and sometimes shit before. After all that, semen was barely an annoyance.
Benj popped the door and hopped out, on point until they’d cleared the residence. “Room’s clear,” he said. From the little Nastasia had said, her enemies hadn’t found her yet, but they weren’t taking any chances. Marcus and Leyla followed Benj, then Karen, with Victor standing up on the tailgate to scope the room. Not that he had a scope.
Marcus opened Nastasia’s door, reflexively using his body to block anyone around them from getting a clear view of her.
“Alright, ma’am. You wanted bodyguards, you got us. One of us, usually Leyla or Karen, are with you at all times, starting now. We need a tour of the premises, then we’ll set up a temporary watch and who ever isn’t on duty will crash for the night. Tomorrow we’ll need to retrieve our equipment, review and reinforce the defenses here, and discuss your schedule.”
For the first time since waking up in that basement, Marcus was in control. His team operated around him like the well oiled machine they were. It wouldn’t last. He expected Nastasia would prove an expert at throwing him off balance. But he’d take what he could get.
“Alright,” she said, slipping out of the van to stand in front of him.
He’d seen her before, of course. Seen her when she cam back in for their ‘negotiation’. Seen her before she took his blood. But this time he really looked at her.
Early on, she’d said the Benj wouldn’t be interested in her if he could see her, and Marcus could see why. She wasn’t what he’d call pretty. Her face too round, her nose to large. She’s plucked and shaped her eyebrows, but it just made her eyes seem naked. It was a face face. But her hair was a silk curtain draping over her, all the way down to her hips. Large hips. And her voice… “Alright, Marcus. We have some equipment for you, and we’ll get whatever you need.”
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1, E5
Last Lady of Lună S1, E7
The Last Lady of Lună (S1, E5)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood, sexual content
Marcus’ blood was sweet and rich and hit my system like the Ozanna’s 30-year-old Scotch — but better. It sang through me, and I could feel my body awaken, my cells changing.
Have you ever been dehydrated? Really dehydrated? That moment when you first drink water, and it feels like your whole body opens up? It was like that, but a thousand times better.
I released him and gave him a drop of my blood. Enough to seel the bond, no more.
Marcus was the team leader, and so would be my first. But he came to me reluctantly, and I would take — or give — no more than I must until I knew he wanted as much as I did. I tried not to notice the effect my blood had on him. He had not offered that part of himself.
Karen had been first to offer her blood, and it was her I turned to next. She held up her arm to me, and rather than bend, I knelt down next to her. “Shouldn’t I be the one kneeling, sexy lady?” she asked, and I was still drunk on Marcus, so I giggled and told her, “We can take turns. Do you prefer to lick or suck?”
Benj groaned, and Leyla muttered something under her breath, but Karen grinned and said, “I knew I like you. Please tell me you have K-bar.”
“Only a few, but you can get me the whole catalog.
She said the pledge, and I drank her down, letting her pull me into the deep dark until I could look up and see moonlight dancing high above me.
I surfaced slowly, letting her moonlight wrap around me, and let go to offer her the same drop I had given Marcus, but she said, “Let me show you how I suck.” And I laughed and bit my arm again and let her take what she wanted. Her mouth on me was nothing I’d ever felt, and my core tightened as my other hand gripped her hair, holding her head to me, demanding more. She gave it, pulling me deep into her until she let go with a cry, and shudders swept through her body.
When she finished, I stood up on shaky feet and moved to Benj.
He blushed and wouldn’t look at me but held out his arm and muttered the pledge. I cradled his arm and spoke quietly so no one else would hear, “I’ll go easy. I know it’s your first time.”
That made him laugh, and he relaxed enough to look at me.
“They were right — vampires are wicked,” he said.
“Only to my friends.”
His blood was warm and as salt-sweet as his scent promised. It filled me with heat and made me feel like I could fly away.
Like Marcus, he took only a drop, but he opened his mouth and swirled his tongue around my finger before he leaned back with a groan and gripped the arms of his chair.
I gave him space, moving to Leyla.
Leyla had cut the back of her hand, and she offered it to me like I was a man she expected to kiss it. She said the pledge, and I kissed her hand, then ran my tongue across the already clotting cut. Her fleeting taste teased me, but I didn’t push for more. It was enough.
I released her hand, and she cupped my head, pulling me towards her. I let her guide me, still high, and floaty, and needy, and wanting more from this beautiful woman who teased and tempted me. She pressed her lips to mine, and I returned the kiss, opening my lips when her tongue teased at me, pulling her into me in a different way. Her tongue teased mine, then pulled back, and her teeth sank into my lip. Blood filled my mouth, and her tongue was back, caressing me, tasting my blood on my lips as I tasted my blood on her. My breath came hard and fast as we slowly separated, and I saw her eyes, as wide as my own, still locked on my mouth.
A line of blood trailed down my face as I turned to Victor. The silent watcher in the corner: his own blood trailing down his cheek from the cut he had made there.
That blood drew me like a lodestone now, the only blood in the room I hadn’t tasted. Hadn’t made mine.
I stopped just out of reach and waited. He watched me, eyes blown wide and breathing hard. I don’t know how long we would have stood there, but after a few moments, Benj said, “Victor, you have to use your outside voice this time.”
We both laughed then, and he offered me his hand. I took it, and he pledge himself to me, the words husky and confident. His blood was thick as cream when I licked it from his face, but he wouldn’t lick my face. He waited for me to catch up the blood from my chin with my fingers and offer it to him before he took it with careful swipes of his tongue. Before he had it all, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he leaned back against the wall, hips pumping. I allowed myself one moment to press myself against him, to feel his length and the promise of it.
Then I stepped back, pushing aside my own arousal, my own need. My mother warned me that the taking of sotii could turn into an orgy. But they had not agreed to that. Not yet.
Karen wasn’t completely oblivious to social stuff. People thought she was, and they were mostly right. It came in handy sometimes.
Yes, she was obsessed with sharps — why wasn’t everyone? — and yes, she could be a bull in a china shop. But she also did read romance novels, and she spent a lot of her time watching people, trying to understand them.
All the biting and blood stuff had been ridiculously sexy. Way beyond anything that made sense. She was pretty sure she’d seen Marcus’ O-face. Don’t ask how she knew what Marcus’ O-face looked like. If he hadn’t wanted her picking his lock, he shouldn’t have taken her knives.
And she had seen the lost expression on Nastasia’s face. Like with the sexy blood magic letting them go, she hadn’t been sure what to do.
Karen had to do something to pull Dracu-lady from the sad ‘I’m not getting sex’ thoughts she was pretty sure Nastasia was having. Luckily, she knew exactly what to do — be herself.
Yeah, Marcus glared at her, and Benj groaned (not the sexy kind). But Nastasia had looked at her and smiled. So that was okay. (Karen realized her thoughts were a bit weird. Almost manic? That was okay too. Sexy vampire magic stuff had been happening. Vampire blood tasted like chocolate.)
“Sure, Karen,” Nastasia said. “Let’s get you all cleaned up, and I’ll take you home to see my knives.”
It didn’t take them long to get cleaned up, and the van was in the garage just as Nastasia had promised. Cargo van, but that was okay. They all piled in, and Nastasia took the wheel.
The moon was high in the sky, so it really was late. At least by human standards. Karen started putting together a timeline for the night and smacked herself in the head.
“Hey, vamp-lady? You never did tell us how you managed to drug us.”
Nastasia caught Karen’s eyes in the mirror and grinned. “I never said I drugged you. Sleep, Karen.”
Karen was about to say that there was no way she was falling asleep when the world started going dark.
Vampire mind powers. Awesome.
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1, E4
Last Lady of Lună S1, E6
The Last Lady of Lună (S1 E3)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood
The moment the door closed behind Nastasia, Karen started slicing herself loose. It took her a minute — the knife was shit, but the ropes weren’t.
Around her, the rest of the team was talking, but she barely noticed. Knives always focused her. Knives and timelines.
Right now, her timeline was about 10 minutes to get everyone loose. Ten minutes was longer than she liked, but they’d agreed to keep the blindfolds on, and that would slow her down.
The rope parted under her knife, fiber by fiber. With a last tug, the rope holding her upper body to the chair dropped away. She bent over to work on the ties around her ankles. Wrenched her right shoulder a bit, but that was okay.
It was damn good, actually.
This Nastasia was an amateur. But she’d done a better job tying them up than most professionals. And that was after taking them down without anyone noticing.
Karen liked that. She liked testing herself, pushing her limits. She really liked the rare person who could push her past her limits and put her in her place.
She didn’t know about this vampire business. Didn’t seem possible. But if they did stick around… well, that might be fun.
Her ankles went faster, better leverage. Then she was out of the chair and working on the last rope that still held her right wrist in place. Damn good ties.
Victor was to her right. She felt around for his wrist a moment, then started cutting him loose.
Marcus’ voice reached through her focus. Without her earpiece, she’d tuned them out so hard she hadn’t heard them calling her.
“Sorry, Marcus. I need my comms.”
“I know, Karen, but try to stick with us. You still have the blindfold on?”
“Affirmative.” Victor’s hand was loose. He tapped her arm and, reluctantly, she gave him the knife. She didn’t like giving anyone her knives, but it wasn’t her knife. Not really. “I’m back.”
Benj would take longer to cut everyone loose, but they had time.
“Alright. We’re going to sit tight a bit and get everyone free. Then we’ll assess. Keep the blinds on for now. We can manage well enough for a bit, and we don’t want to back Nastasia into a corner if we can avoid it.”
They all agreed, and Karen felt her way back to the chair she had been in.
“So, Leyla,” she said as she sat down. “Vampires?”
Victor had his blindfold off the moment Nastasia closed the door behind her. He hadn’t been going to screw the deal for his team, but he was a marksman, damnit. He needed to see.
By the time Karen had him loose, he had a good sense of the room they were in. It was a half-finished basement. One doorway, but a couple of small windows near the ceiling, dark outside. Not big enough for most people to fit through, but someone with bad intentions could chuck a grenade in. Victor would be damned if the lights in the ceiling weren’t fluorescents, but they didn’t make that buzzing noise everyone hates so much. Maybe a new kind of LED? The chairs they were tied to were the cushioned metal things rich people used around a pool. The table was old battered wood. More battered now that Karen had carved it up a bit.
He listened to the discussion with half an ear.
“It was that job in Germany I never talk about,” Leyla was saying, “The job went weird, and I ended up with a couple of vampires, of all things, helping me cover the principal. They didn’t say much, but I picked up a few things. They called themselves Clan Tunet. Good folks in a fight; they said if I ever made it back Germany to look them up.”
“So, you think she’s the real deal?” Marcus asked.
“Easy enough for her to prove it,” Benj put in. “You like it rough, boss?”
Victor yanked a bit harder than he needed to on the ropes holding Benj. “The lady’s a lady.”
Benj laughed. “The lady got to you too, huh? Come on, Vic, tell me you wouldn’t mind hearing what that voice sounds like when she’s writhing in bed.”
“Enough,” Marcus said.
Victor moved on from Benj to get Leyla loose.
“Save your sex fantasies until we get out of here, Benj,” Marcus continued.
“Are we getting out of here?” Karen asked.
No one said anything for a moment.
“Assess first,” Leyla said. “Status?”
“Good,” Victor replied.
“Sore, but okay.”
“Give me my knife back.”
“Ready to rumble.”
“Sitrep,” that was Marcus.
“Everyone’s loose. No known hostiles,” Victor said. “We’ve got one exit and a couple of threat points visible.”
Marcus’ head swiveled like a gun coming to bear. Victor could feel his glare through the blindfold Marcus wore. Since Marcus couldn’t see him anyway, Victor let himself smile.
“You took the blindfold off. What the hell, Victor?”
Victor took a deep breath.
“I’m staying.” That lady was in trouble, and he’d never been able to refuse a woman in need. It had gotten him in trouble more than once, but that was okay.
The vampire thing, though. That was what had really tipped the scales.
The last rope fell off Leyla, and Victor passed the knife back to Karen. Rather than sitting down again, he moved to the corner of the room furthest from the door. From there, he had a good view of the table, the door, and the windows. Not that it did him much good without a gun, but at least he wouldn’t be taken by surprise.
“Oh, come on, does anyone really want to leave?” Leyla looked at all of them. “I know we feel like we should. We’ve got lives, right? And a contract. But do we want to?”
The little minx had balls, setting out to seduce Marcus like that.
Karen flipped the knife, and it whirled, flashing in the air, to land with a solid ‘thunk’ back in her palm. Victor looked away and thought of cold showers. He’d had a lot of practice at it. You don’t tell your teammate that the way she handles sharps gets you all hot and bothered. “I want to get her better knives. The balance on this…” she shook her head.
Benj sighed and leaned back in the chair, slumping a bit. The damn joker was about to get real.
“Marcus, I know you’ll die before you take a desk job. But that’s just it — You. Will. Die. Yeah, I have the hots for that lady and don’t try to tell me you don’t. But we all know upstairs wanted you to retire from the field three years ago.
“If Ms Nastasia really has some kind of vampire fountain of youth — I want that for you. You looked out for me from the moment I joined the team.
“My turn now.”
And that was why Victor liked having Benj on the team.
I hadn’t expected them to be there when I returned, but I could hear their voices through the door. They weren’t loud. Tense, but not arguing or angry. Someone laughed. It was deep and rough and went right through me. I wanted to hear that laugh again. I wanted to make them laugh.
I didn’t even know who it was.
As soon as I pushed open the door open, the talk quieted. Four of the team had stayed where I’d left them — but they were all loose, and none were wearing blindfolds. And one of the chairs was empty.
Victor was missing.
I stepped back, but Marcus held up a hand. “You wanted to negotiate a contract? This is how we do it.”
I nearly snarled.
I looked around the room — Victor was in the corner, watching. All of them met my eyes and smiled or nodded.
I should have been ecstatic — they were staying. I had them.
But I wanted sotii, not… employees.
Instead, I took a deep breath, strode to the table, and sat down.
They didn’t understand, but that was alright. We would have years to work everything out.
“I don’t, actually. Want to negotiate a contract. I want you to accept a position in my clan.” I leaned back in my chair and tried to remember everything my mother taught me about negotiating. Most important right now: understand what the other folks want and what you are willing to sacrifice. “But if you want a contract, I can work with that.”
Marcus nodded. “Leyla has apparently worked with… ah… vampires before.”
I stiffened and turned to Leyla. “Who?” I cut off whatever Marcus was about to say.
Leyla smiled, her eyes soft. “I should have thought, you have enemies. Of course, you’d worry. It was in Germany, Clan Tunet, I think. The celebrity I was guarding had some connection with their clan. I still have a phone number, but it was purely professional. I haven’t spoken with anyone since.”
Tunet. “I don’t know Tunet.” I shook my head. Ozanna might know something. “My clan’s enemies were all on this continent.”
Leyla’s smile brightened, and my heart flip-flopped. “See, we’re all good.”
Marcus cleared his throat. “Like I said, Leyla has had contact before, but the rest of us haven’t. Before we get into actual negotiations, I’d like to ah… that is…”
I giggled. I’d been expecting the question. Hadn’t expected to be so amused by serious, sober Marcus tripping over his tongue. “You want proof that I’m not crazy, right?”
With a thought — well, actually with a flexing of some special muscles — my canines extended. Marcus tensed, and Benj swore. Karen stopped tossing the knife for a moment. If Victor reacted, I didn’t notice.
I didn’t say anything — talking with teeth so long you can’t close your lips is awkward at best. I just gave them all a few moments to get a good look, then bit the meat of my forearm. It was awkward. In Hollywood, they show vampires biting down near the wrist, which, yeah, veins. But also tendons and bones. Trust me, you’re less likely to really hurt someone biting closer to the middle. But it’s not an easy spot to reach on yourself.
I let go immediately — drinking my own blood wouldn’t do anything for me, and I had a point to make. My blood dripped onto the table.
Raising my eyebrows, I looked at Marcus. Who was too busy staring at the blood to notice.
Hollywood also says that we have something in our saliva to make wounds stop bleeding. Sounds nice, right? Wrong. If our saliva stopped bleeding, we’d never get any blood. Our saliva actually does the opposite — as long as my mouth is on a wound, it won’t stop.
Or so I’ve been told. I wasn’t old enough when the dads’ died to see them with mom, and Ozanna fed Elin in private.
What we do have is some fast healing. So my bite scabs over pretty quickly.
“No, I am not crazy.”
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1, E2
Last Lady of Lună S1, E4
The Last Lady of Lună (S1, E2)
Season Content Notes: abduction, blood
“I am a vampire.
“And I can make you — or keep you — young.”
The room was silent. So silent, I could hear their heartbeats. I looked around the table, and my heart clenched. Their faces, even hidden by blindfolds, were familiar to me.
Karen’s heart-shaped face was pine dark, and I was probably lucky I couldn’t see her eyes just now. They glinted like sunlight through the pine boughs and were just as entrancing.
Victor was lanky and thin, his nose as sharp as a falcon’s beak. Fitting since he was the sharpshooter of the team. Noses shouldn’t be sexy.
Marcus, skin as dark as my hair and lean, with that incongruous blond hair cut so short it looked like feathers. Would it feel like feathers too?
Leyla’s face was round as Lună and tanned like a surfer, her black curls tamed into tight braids.
Benj was pale with dark brown hair and eyes, much like my own people. But it was his mouth I loved: a sensual bow always quirked with humor. Almost always. I’d managed to wipe the humor away.
I felt like I already knew them, and Luna’s approval sang in my blood. But they weren’t mine yet, and they might never be.
“You’re right, Nastasia, that is a… very interesting benefits package,” Marcus said, his light tenor calm and just the slightest bit patronizing. “But we’re happy with our current employer.”
I slumped. I couldn’t help it. “You don’t believe me. You think I’m crazy.”
“No one said that, Nastasia–”
Snorting, I pushed my chair back and stood up. “I don’t like being patronized. I like being treated like a fool even less.”
“I think we’ve been real patient, Nastasia.” Marcus wasn’t sounding so calm anymore, and I knew I was losing them. Maybe had already lost them. “But we want to go home now.”
My breath caught, but I’d known it was coming.
If they had given me a time I could have shown them proof, convinced them to hear me out… but sotii could not be forced. If I didn’t release them, they would be prisoners. Not sotii, and never mine.
I took the knife off my belt and placed it in front of Victor. “It shouldn’t take you long to get yourselves loose. I’ll be gone before you do. There’s a rental van in the garage with your things in it.”
I turned for the door. I had been so sure these were the ones, but there would be others. I still had time…
“Why are you looking to hire security?”
Leyla’s voice was light and sweet, and I could have drowned in it.
“Like I said, I have enemies. And I am alone.”
“I thought all vampires had clans for protection.”
This time it was my own heartbeat I heard hammering in my ears. Leyla knew about my people?
Leyla hadn’t really expected this Nastasia to let them go. Not until she heard the grief in the woman’s voice and her footsteps — no longer silent — heading away from the table. But it seemed this was the real deal. Giggle and all.
She should have let the vamp keep walking, but she told herself she was curious. And how often do you get offered a chance at immortality?
Marcus was to her right, so it was probably his hand that gripped her shoulder so tightly. It was definitely him quietly demanding “What the hell are you doing?”
“Getting some tea. Come on, Nastasia, Marcus may be in a hurry to get home, but it’s been too long since I had some real girl talk.
“Karen’s awesome, but she doesn’t gossip, you know?”
“I…” the vamp’s voice wavered, then firmed up, “My clan was bound to Luna, but our enemies tore us apart when I was a child.”
To most people, that would be the cue to change the subject. People getting torn apart — literally or figuratively — wasn’t really girl talk. Unless you were the mean girls.
Leyla wasn’t a mean girl. When she tore you to pieces, it wasn’t with words, and it was for a better reason than shits and giggles. Around her, the rest of the team shifted in their chairs. If they had comms on, they’d have been bombarding her with questions. But they knew better than to interrupt when she was getting tea.
“That sucks. When you were a kid? How did you survive?”
“My Mama got me out. She and Ozanna and Emil raised me, kept me safe. But Mama died last year.”
This called for a physical gesture. Offer a hug, lean closer, something. But Leyla couldn’t do any of that. Couldn’t even offer a hand to hold with the vamp who-knew-how-far across the room. So she tried to put it all into her voice. “Wow. I’m sorry.”
“Thank you,” Nastasia’s voice was closer. “We knew. Her sotii died in the fighting, and without them… she died a little every day.”
“Her sotii? I don’t know that word. They defended her?”
“Yes,” the word wasn’t more than a whisper. Very close, then. Leyla tapped twice on the table, letting the team know they could join the convo.
“Is that what you were looking for from us, Ma’am?” Benj asked. His drawl was deeper than usual. Leyla thought he did that on purpose when they seduced someone together, his drawl playing off her fry. “You need… what was it, sotey of your own?”
“Yes.” Her chair scraped on the floor again. It hurt Leyla’s ears but she’d learned to work through that kind of annoyance long ago. “I’m coming into my powers but still weak. Without sotii I am… honestly, I’m walking around with a target on my back.”
Marcus squeezed Leyla’s shoulder again, a warning that he’d have words for her later. But Leyla didn’t care because he was willing to work with her now.
“I still don’t understand why us,” he said. “No, I’m even more confused why us. Wouldn’t you want vampires for that?”
Nastasia giggled again, and Leyla shivered. She would never admit it, but if she hadn’t heard the vamp giggle earlier, Leyla would have let her walk away. But she had needed to hear it again.
Now that she had, she was pretty sure she was hooked. Addicted to vamp giggles, sight unseen. Yeah, she was in trouble.
That Leyla had taken me by surprise was understatement of the year. That was okay, though; it gave me another chance.
“Sotii are always human. That’s… Mama’s sotii came from human families who had been part of our clan for centuries.”
“You can’t do that.” Leyla’s voice was warm and understanding, and I leaned into it. I was telling them too much, far too much for humans who weren’t bound to a clan. But I didn’t care.
“No. Even if I could find anyone… I can’t take a normal human as sot. I’d just be putting that target on their back too. Oh, people in the clan were trained to fight. But martial arts or self-defense or even time in the military isn’t really…” I swallowed.
“No need to explain, ma’am. We have a bit of a… specialized skill set.”
“Mama never recovered after they died. I want to know that anyone who becomes mine will survive.”
No one said anything for a moment, then Karen barked a laugh. “That is some tea. So we’d be what… bodyguards?”
“Bodyguards, advisors… ah… food?” I couldn’t help wincing a little at some of their expressions. “It’s… it’s another way sotii protect us. I’ve never fed — that’s why my powers are weak. When I take sotii, I’ll never feed on anyone else. Who else can I trust like that?”
Victor was spinning the knife on the table. Karen cocked her head, following the sound of it. Like a snake, her free hand shot out and grabbed the knife. She weighed it in her hand a moment, then started carving the table.
“This is a shit knife.”
I shrugged, knowing she couldn’t see it, not knowing what it meant. “I only have a few good knives. I wasn’t going to leave one of them behind.”
Karen raised the knife to her cheek — as if she was going to shave with it. “We’ll have to get you more.”
My breath caught again, hope this time. Marcus sighed.
“Nastasia, would you step out of the room and let us talk? I promise we’ll be here when you come back.”
“Of course!” I jumped to my feet, knocking the chair over. Smooth, real smooth. At least they couldn’t see my blush. Shaking my head, I righted the chair and walked away. But I stopped in the doorway.
“I’ll be back in an hour. It’s alright if you aren’t here.”
Last Lady of Lună S1, E1
Last Lady of Lună S1, E3