Clara looked out over the restaurant from the comfort of her booth. Once she was satisfied there was no immediate threat, she looked down at a newspaper to pass the time. She was in awe of the number of ads, colour, and scores of anorexic articles that had a sensationalist bent. It appeared that not everything improved with age, and newspapers were a prime example.
Clara heard the waiter approach, his footsteps muffled by the carpet, and without a glance, knew who this was. As expected, the man left a drink at her table, all without being prompted.
“Compliments of the lady at the bar,” the waiter said before walking away.
Clara looked at the drink, then up at the woman and was astounded by what she saw. There she sat in a form fitting black dress that hugged her body and left little to the imagination. Her left leg was bare, exposed by a slit, and even in this dull light, her silky gams glimmered.
Clara smirked, since this was playing out exactly as it had the first time they met. The venue may have been different, but all of the key details were present.
Sensing her part in this affair, Clara raised her glass in the air so they might toast one another in silence. While each sipped her drink, they kept their eyes locked on one another. Evelyn loved to be the centre of attention, and for now, it suited Clara to play along.
Just like before, she felt a breeze, and with that, Evelyn appeared on the bench across from her. That woman knew how to wield smiles like a scalpel. She could chill the mood at an orgy to show her displeasure or hint at the lifetime of passion only she could offer. All that was needed was to give oneself willingly to her, and Clara was pretty sure people frequently made that choice.
“You’re in a good mood,” Clara said while catching a glimpse of the woman’s soul.
The last time Clara had seen Evelyn, her soul had been in an advanced state of decay, torn asunder through centuries of abuse, the soul one associated with a mass murder, a paedophile, or a tyrannical dictator. Now, it was clear that something had changed. While there was still decay, the soul was whole. This was Clara’s first glimpse at how pivotal a singular act of redemption could be.
Evelyn sidestepped the comment and said, “I wanted to thank you.”
“You did?” Clara questioned.
Evelyn nodded, as plates of food arrived at the table. Clara noticed that Evelyn’s companion was pretty relaxed considering he had been run over by her truck a couple of nights ago.
Evelyn looked at the plethora of food options and selected something that looked like baked camembert. She dipped some toasted bread into the cheese and brought it to her mouth. As a matter of course, she seductively licked the cheese from her piece before taking a bite.
“Relax,” Evelyn said. “Marc holds no ill will towards you. That would require emotions which may cloud his judgement, and I’ve never known him to have any.”
She looked up and smiled at Marc who did not return the gesture. Instead he bowed away and headed towards the kitchen.
“Nevertheless,” Evelyn added. “He is here to make sure you play nice.”
Clara mulled over those words. Their kind could not easily engage her now. Her speed and strength equalled their own. Besides, coming into direct contact with her was the equivalent of sunbathing at high noon. The only way Clara could be reined in is if they took extraordinary precautions.
“Explosives?” Clara asked.
Evelyn giggled and nodded, “Great minds, non? Marc tells me it’s a shaped charge focused on you. I may get caught up in the blast, but I’ll heal.”
“Fair enough,” Clara said. “I’d have done the same.”
Evelyn picked up another piece of bread and dipped it into the cheese. Clara looked around and settled on a bowl of French onion soup. She moved it towards herself, grabbed the oversized spoon, and broke through the baked cheese crust to reach the broth. The smell alone was enough to make her stomach growl.
“There were three,” Evelyn said after another bite.
Clara looked up, swallowed a spoonful of broth, and asked, “Georgians? In the city?”
Evelyn nodded. The slight droop in her smile hinted there had been complications. Clara did not want to delve into the matter unless it was brought up. However, the use of past tense meant those three were dead, which was good news.
“You were right. They were responsible for this mess,” Evelyn said while spreading pâté on a piece of fresh bread.
“Did you find out why?” Clara asked before she scooped up a chunk of cheese and bread.
“Playing the odds,” Evelyn said. “They wanted to trigger a war which would bring about the end of our kind, all in some attempt to alter the balance of power in their favour and simplify colonisation.”
“The Tower never really knew what they were,” Clara said.
“You know,” Evelyn said. “I haven’t heard that name since Drusilla had a party to celebrate the attack on their gate network…”
Clara’s heart sank, but kept her emotions hidden by eating a few more bites. That was exactly what she feared: that the Tower was cut off and remained as such to this day.
“Sounds like you miss them?” Clara asked to deflect.
“Oh?” Evelyn said. “I suppose. They were most helpful to rid us of any undesirables and could be counted on to follow a strict set of rules.”
“Unlike this new group?” Clara asked.
Evelyn nodded and said, “You get around, don’t you?”
Both took a few more bites in an effort to collect their thoughts. Clara was beginning to suspect that Evelyn was not aligned with those currently in power.
“That ghoul interrogator was an interesting development,” Clara said. “I encountered that before the Great—”
“The First World War,” Evelyn interrupted. “One of Drusilla’s great plans that you put on ice for a couple of decades.”
So her hunch had been dead on. Drusilla must have spent centuries aligning the darker elements into a loose coalition. All in an effort to oppress humanity, but to what end?
“Is that why I encountered werewolves in the city?” Clara asked.
Evelyn’s eyes temporarily widened and she soon realised her faux pas. She smiled shyly and giggled.
“You’ve really been around the block,” Evelyn said.
Clara grinned and helped herself to some of that molten cheese dish that Evelyn had been sampling. To put it mildly, it was simply divine.
“I feel like a one gal wrecking crew,” Clara said.
“I’ve seen natural disasters that left behind less destruction,” Evelyn said with a giggle-snort. That clearly caught her off guard. She grinned and covered her mouth before saying, “Excusez-moi.”
Clara smiled. It was great to see someone lower their guard. Especially when centuries of practice were used to keep up the pretence of being cultured.
Evelyn’s face grew sombre. It seemed that the idle chit chat was over. Clara had been expecting this, but had no idea where this conversation would lead.
“Whatever you have in mind,” Evelyn whispered. “We want in.”
It was fortunate that Clara had enhanced hearing, since Evelyn’s whisper was exceptionally soft, practically background noise. Why all the theatrics? Clara was unsure, but knew for certain that this was not a game.
“We?” Clara whispered.
Evelyn nodded, “That’s why Marc and I destroyed the Georgian laboratory.”
This was all beginning to make sense. Evelyn was no longer aligned with those in power and completely isolated. The more power her opponents gained, the tighter the noose around her neck became.
“I want to revive the Tower,” Clara said.
Evelyn giggled in surprise before replying, “Go on.”
“Too much?” Clara asked before she cringed.
“Ma chère,” Evelyn said while she prepared another slice of bread with pâté.
She then brought it over to Clara’s lips and held it there so the other could taste it. Clara bit into the cracker, tasting the pepper and meat mix, which brought a smile to her face.
“You are about to set sail onto unfamiliar seas. Sure. Water is water. There are common elements between all oceans. It may even seem inviting from ashore, but you can only see so far. You have no understanding of the dangers that lurk beyond the horizon,” Evelyn said.
Clara swallowed and bit off more pâté while avoiding contact. She was really enjoying this food. To think that the last time they met like this she had been so nervous, so much so that the only dish she sampled was the devilled eggs.
“So get situated first?” Clara confirmed.
“Exactement, ma chère,” Evelyn said. “We have resources that we can offer you. Money, weapons, intelligence…”
“Why?” Clara asked.
“We believe that the flock is better off knowing that wolves are nothing more than a figment of their imagination. We have no desire to rule over them,” Evelyn said.
“Where would be the fun in that?” Clara said.
“Exactement! Quel drame!” Evelyn said with a smirk.
Indeed, such a tragedy, a bunch of immortals, bored and morally corrupt with power to run the world. They would treat humanity no better than livestock, so no art or new advances in technology. Soon enough, a war would break out between the more powerful players in an effort to gain a sliver of power. If hell was real, it might be preferable to that outcome.
“On one condition,” Clara said.
“Name it,” Evelyn said.
“Elizabeth and her family stay out of this,” Clara said while narrowing her eyes.
“Marc and I will make sure that she is looked after,” Evelyn said. “Does that satisfy your needs?”
With a smile, Clara said, “Now. You were saying something about weapons…”
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!