Adira ‘Adi’ Connor is a bosom companion to the wealthy, a laugh for the rich and famous. So what if her wealthy clients happen to be witches, vampires, and the occasional ghoul? The pay was good, and as a companion she was safe from the chomps of the other paranormal monsters.
That is, until her current employer takes her to Avalon Island for an exclusive, once-in-several-lifetimes party with the ultra-rich of the supernatural elite. She catches the eye of one of the more powerful alpha males, Eric Haldor. He’s a seductive young man with a mysterious past, which was saying something when all the guests happened to be centuries old.
Everything is going well until sunrise approaches and the monsters come out for one final chance at play. One of them plays a little too rough with her, and Adi finds herself knocking on death’s door. Eric gives her a choice: accept the ‘gift’ he has to offer her, or die as she is. Not a tough choice, all things considered, but Adi is soon reminded that every choice has its consequences. Some of them bad, and others downright naughty.
You could say I lived in two worlds. One of them was normal, and the other one not so much. I thought I knew everything about both worlds. It turned out I knew nothing.
I was what you would call a companion. No, not that kind of companion, at least not for my first few jobs. I was a friend to a bunch of lonely rich women, and they paid me really well for my services. I could make them laugh. Sometimes they laughed with me, and sometimes they laughed at me, but the pay was always the same. Damn good, and no complaints.
Not a bad gig, right? Well, not exactly. You see, these rich women weren’t the usual old folks. They were mid-thirties, without husbands, if they ever had any, and-well, they were usually werewolves. Or vampires. And there was that witch that one time. She was bad enough that I wanted to replace the ‘w’ with another letter earlier in the alphabet. That gig didn’t last long.READ MORE
So yeah, I was a companion to a bunch of women who represented the cream-of-the-crop in the paranormal world. I was the token human, if you will. A novelty in their weird world to be shown off and talked about.
Did I mention the pay was good? Oh, and the rest of my time when I wasn’t entertaining people with my presence? I hung around my apartment reading or playing video games. Sometimes I went for walks. Then there’d be the call from my client and off we’d go to Bermuda, or Florida, or that one time I got a free trip to Germany where I ate too many sausage brats. There was always some far-away place to eat, drink and be merry. Not a bad life, huh?
My current gig was with a woman of thirty. At least, that’s what she looked like, but vampires were really good at hiding their age. She was probably closer to three hundred. All her husbands were dead, permanently, that is, victims of their own mortality or a stake through the heart.
Miss Leilah Succo, one of her many aliases, had her quirks, and those were besides the usual vampire hours and blood-drinking habits. She abhorred classical music because it reminded her of a composer who jilted her two hundred years before, and she had a weakness for Scotch. It turns out alcohol still effects vampires, and her thin frame was very much affected. That was one of the reasons she had me around. I could drag her back to her coffin when she was too drunk to see the tips of her fangs. Another reason to have me was because she liked to hear herself talk, and was fond of others hearing it, too.
That made me the designated driver and resident psychiatrist to her affluent personage. Not bad considering I only had schooling and a license for one of those practices.
Still, there could be problems. One of my biggest came that fateful dreary early-summer day. The dark skies outside my apartment windows told me it would be raining for most of the day. Come nightfall the world would be a wet place littered with floating trash and bedraggled humans.
I sat on my couch snuggled beneath a quilt and the TV blaring a horror movie with werewolves, a mummy, and a midget hypnotist. What can I say? I’m a glutton for the weird.
That’s when the phone rang. Not the cell phone on the end table beside me. This was the cell phone on the cushion beside me. Within easy reach. That was my work phone. The other one was for my alternate, normal life, not that it rang much except for the occasional telemarketer.
I picked up the phone and put it to my ear without bothering to look at the screen. “Yes, Miss Leilah?”
I was unprepared for when Miss Leilah’s squealing voice shouted into my eardrums. “Darling, a most extraordinary thing has happened!”
I winced and pulled the receiver away. “What’s that?”
“I’ve just been invited to the Avalon party! After all these years they’ve finally come to their senses and let me in!” Another high-pitched squeal emanated from the phone.
I lifted an eyebrow. “The Avalon party?”
She sighed, and I could imagine her rolling her reddish-colored eyes. “It’s only the preeminent party for the wealthy and well-bred, and people like me who fit both those descriptions.” She laughed at her own joke, and I snickered along with her to keep my job. “Anyway, darling, the creme de la creme will be there to wile away the hours talking, drinking, and negotiating business deals, though perhaps not in that order.” She laughed again. The woman was on fire tonight.
“That sounds great. Did you need me make some reservations and pack your bags?” I asked her.
She clucked her tongue. “You silly little thing. The Avalon party takes place in this city on Avalon Island in Lot Bay.”
I leaned back and raised an eyebrow. “You mean on that hunk of rock?”
Leilah gasped. “Hunk of rock? That’s the best real estate in the world! There’s no better place in the world to commune with spirits, cast a spell, or change a human into a vampire or werewolf than Avalon Island!”
I arched an eyebrow. “All that on that-um, that island?”
“It’s quite surprising, isn’t it? But anyway, I expect you to have your overnight bag packed for the trip this Friday. The boat leaves at seven pm sharp, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” Click.
I pulled the phone away from my ear and sighed. For a woman who was so old, she certainly didn’t act a year over one hundred.
That Friday night at six-thirty I had my small bag packed and grasped it tightly in one hand as I stood on the curb outside my apartment building. The sun had set twenty minutes earlier and the dark shadows were scared away only by the lampposts spaced evenly down the road. I wasn’t afraid of the dark, my occupation wouldn’t let me be, but I wasn’t fond of it, either. Knowing what I knew, the probability of being attacked by a rogue vampire or hungry werewolf went from mythical to a slim chance.
Miss Leilah’s long black limo drove up the road and parked beside me. The driver, a pale man by the name of Zombie, opened the door for me. His name wasn’t a nickname. He was the real thing. Miss Leilah made up in riches what she lacked in imagination.
I slipped into the dark interior and found my patroness a bundle of nerves in the rear seat. She clutched her Armani bag between her long, manicured fingers and checked her watch every few seconds.
She leaned forward and peeked out the door. “Hurry, Zombie, or we’ll be late!”
He bowed his head and shut the door. In a moment the car pulled forward and sped down the road.
I glanced out the window and watched the world fly by at a speed that made a mockery of the limits. “I’m sure we’ll get there on time.”
Miss Leilah pursed her lips and checked her watch. “I’m not so sure. Lord Basileus is very strict with his vessel, and won’t wait for anyone.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Lord Basileus?”
She looked up from her watch and lidded her eyes. “Darling, did none of the others before me teach you who’s-who in our world?”
“They didn’t have the connections you do,” I told her.
The compliment was like petting a needy cat. Succo straightened and smiled. And stopped looking at her watch. “Then I’ll tell you that Lord Basileus is only one of the oldest and richest vampires in the world. He’s the one who owns Avalon Island, and it is he who personally invites the guests to the Avalon Party.” She rapped on the dividing window. “Faster, Zombie!”
The car jerked forward and I dared not look out the window. We made record time reaching the docks and Miss Leilah dragged me out of the car. The docks were quiet and deserted except where a party was occurring. We made our way to the far end where the large vessels held port.
The largest of them was a white, shimmering vessel with a name that fitted the nature of its owner: The Bloody Mary. A wide plank had been set out and a few other extravagantly-dressed guests sauntered their way up to the deck.
A tall, pale man with red eyes stood at the bottom with the white-suited captain. He greeted everyone with a toothy smile and a slightly mischievous glint in his eyes. The suit he wore looked like it cost more than my apartment. The building, not the flat.
As we came up to him his eyes positively flashed with glee. He took Miss Leilah’s offered hand and pressed a kiss on the top. “This is an unexpected pleasure to see you again, Miss Leilah.”
Leilah waved the invitation in his face. “Not so unexpected, but certainly you took long enough to invite me.”
The man took the invitation and perused the contents before he tucked the invite inside his vest. “My sincerest apologies for keeping you waiting, Miss Leilah. It’s been quite a long time, has it not?”
She nodded. “A century ago, at Venice. I was enjoying the canals when you came up with a mob of hunters after you-”
“And leapt into your boat,” he finished for her with a chuckle. “I was glad your gondolier was such a fast rower.”
She frowned at him. “I almost killed you myself on the spot. How rude to bring along such riffraff when I was enjoying my vacation!”
His bemusement didn’t falter as he swept his arm toward the elegant ship. “And now?”
“And now I’ll take my payment for that ‘free’ ride.” Miss Leilah leaned forward and pecked a kiss on his cheek.
Basileus burst into laughter as she gave him a wicked smile, and he grasped her hands in a friendly shake. “I am glad your name landed on my list! Dearest Leilah!” His eyes settled on me and his eyebrows shot up. “And who have you brought with you? Fresh blood or a spare supply?”
I was used to the jokes about rations, and held out my hand to him with a smile. “I’m Adi Connor, Miss Leilah’s companion.”
He wrapped both his cold hands around mine and gave it a hearty shake. “A pleasure to finally meet you, Miss Connor! I have heard many compliments about your willingness to put up with our. . .shall we say eccentricities?”
I grinned. “The money helps.”
Miss Leilah playfully slapped my arm. “Hush, you naughty girl!”
Basileus threw back his head and laughed. “Excellent! I can see this promises to be an exciting weekend! Now then-” He swept his arm toward the plank. “Shall we go? You two are the last to arrive, and the ship is ready to sail.”
Leilah led the way and the captain was the last to follow. The gangplank was raised, and Miss Leilah and I stood at the railing. The whistle blew and the ship pulled away from the berth. We were on our way.COLLAPSE