Please be easy. Please be easy. I had no idea why I thought using that mantra would work, but a fool can hope. I was a big fool. We made our slow way upstairs, and I almost didn’t have to feign the stumbling. It’d been some time since I’d taken a woman’s form.
They were so top heavy!
“Would you care for your usual, madam?” sked the butler, or whoever he was, when he stopped outside a set of thick, double doors at the end of a hall.
“Oh. Yes. Please.” I licked my lips. What the hell was my usual? Her usual, I meant. I couldn’t ask, and if I said no, that might make him suspicious.
“Very good.” He dropped his arm, and I had a moment of panic not knowing what to do with mine. I’m sure I looked awkward as a human—a definite no no for a vampire—but fortunately his back was turned as he opened the doors. “We anticipated your needs.”
Reclining on the bed in a simple loincloth, his bare chest oiled, was a man. His eyes were half-lidded, his arms stretched and tied with silken cords. Red. Matching the bedding.
For all the saints and sinners. I licked my lips, and my servant smiled. “We have pleased you.” He bowed. “Enjoy your night, madam.”
Oh, his madam would not be pleased, not when I left here. But maybe the morsel would help. He seemed willing enough, and a sated vampire female wasn’t looking for more food when she returned. Oh no. She’d have something else in mind.
“You want this?” I ran my hands down my ribs to my hips, the flare strange but growing more familiar as I wore the body.
“Yes, madam.” His husky voice was deep, strained, nearly as strained as the fabric covering the clearly impressive cock between his bent legs. “Whatever you wish from me, I am yours.”
“Close your eyes,” I whispered as I drew close.
He shuddered, the bed creaking, but the sacrifice did as I said. He never saw me draw back one arm, take careful aim, or the fist that flew at his face and cracked into his jaw. He stiffened, grunting, and then went limp in his bonds.
Well, most of him. They must have dosed him because a certain part of him didn’t flag as I checked to ensure he was out but not in danger. I rushed to the window, eyeing the wards. Thankfully, they were simple. A quick swipe with the knife I’d hidden in my breasts, and poof, no more wards. I unlatched the shutters, then the window, then the outer shutters. Waving, I waited for Grif.
“Ooh, what do we have here?” she crooned.
“Ignore him,” I ordered. “Find the diamonds!”
The room was richly appointed, but jewels? None in sight. Yet Grif’s information said they were here. She’d sniff them out; it was what she did.
“Fine. But he is pretty too, and finding pretties is what I do.” She tapped her talons together and spun while eyeing every wall and corner. “Ahhh, thought you were smart. Nope, not that smart.”
She went to a mirror that was embedded into the stone wall. “What are you doing?” I hissed. “Find the gems, don’t go staring at yourself.”
Grif cast a glare over her shoulder. “Don’t be an ass. Come here.” She stood in front of one spot and I stood behind her. “What do you see?”
“You. Me. The room.” What was she getting at? “We don’t have much time!” My stomach churned, and I was having a hard time breathing. “Quit asking me questions and just find the damn jewels.”
“I did. Look there.” She touched what looked to be a smudge in the mirror, and a whole panel of it clicked open.
“There wasn’t even a seam!” How had they done that? It was amazing craftsmanship.
“Stop thinking about the how and find the jewels.” Grif was pawing through the things on the lower end, and I started higher. There were many bags of different things, but I needed just one. Just the red diamonds. Hopefully they wouldn’t be missed for a while, if we could get them and get out before the vampire arrived home…
The clatter of wheels and an exclamation drifted in through the open window.
Oh shit. “Time’s up.” There were at least ten bags I hadn’t checked. I pulled open the front of my dress and swept all of them in, trusting the panel to hold them in place until later. “Grif, let’s go.”
No telling what she was up to, stuffing things left and right, but she finally clicked the mirror shut.
Already shifting my features, I hooked one hand over the windowsill. Swinging my legs over, I used the increased strength in my fingers and forearms to hold me as I swung myself to one side, then down. My dark cloak would hopefully blend with the exterior and help hide me from casual view if anyone looked up.
Huffing and puffing, glad I was lighter than my blacksmith form, I made my way down the side of the building as fast as I could.
“Hey, you there!” Something whizzed through the air and struck the stone with a sharp clang just spans from my ear. A bow twanged, and another strike hit closer. I yelped, my higher voice breaking the night.
“Jump,” someone said. I knew that voice. Londe had come. I breathed a sigh of relief, glanced down quickly, then pushed off the building and vaulted down and onto his back. He took off, brandishing his horn and hooves to deadly effect.
We were still fighting when Grif dropped something.
Coins! They spilled out on the courtyard and into the road, and even with the late hour, the poor city rats, human and Being, who skulked through the night saw the windfall and came racing.
We made our escape in the mayhem.
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