Still, he hated that Xavier fought his true nature, and despite the peace within him, his passion against the church intensified. Against his better judgment (he heard Anthony scolding him in his head), he headed for the Seine and the glorious Notre Dame Cathedral. It took no effort to locate the bishop. He scaled a wall, opened a window, and seated himself on the end of a bed. The figure at its head slept soundly so Thomas wiggled the mattress.
The man woke and screamed in terror. With superhuman haste, Thomas covered his mouth and ordered him to stop. “I won’t kill you if you obey,” he said. He let go of the bishop, who cowered under his sheet.
“We need to chat.” Thomas got up and walked around, taking in the room’s opulence: the expensive furniture, the ornate china left from dinner, the silk vestments, all the finery that one would find in the homes of Paris’s elite. He compared it to the sparse conditions of Xavier’s room: the blank walls and broken desk. Thomas ran his hand along the crucifix, mocking its inability to protect the allegedly holy man. After a grand pause, he turned back to the bishop.
“I know I woke you and it’s late, but I didn’t think that you’d accept my request for a visit.”
“What do you want? Take anything.” The bishop’s voice shook.
“Do I look like a common thief?” Thomas waved his hand at his own expensive clothing. “You and I have other business.” He took a seat on the bed next to the quivering man and ran his fingers along the wrinkled cheek, delighting in the bishop’s terror.
“It’s about a mutual friend. But I warn you, our friend has no idea I’m doing this. If you utter one word to him, I’ll break your neck. The same will happen if you speak of this to any other soul or seek retribution. Agreed?”
The man nodded, hands trembling on the sheet.
“I need you to write a letter of retraction regarding the things you’ve said about Abbé Saint-Laurent. You must admit you were incorrect and commend him for his fine work.”
“He defies the laws of the church.”
“That’s not why you harass him,” Thomas said, leaning forward, tone dangerous. “I couldn’t understand it before I saw you. Why would someone insult a priest who serves a parish few others would even enter? You tried to seduce Xavier and he rebuked you.”
The bishop’s pallor faded even more at Thomas’s words. “I don’t know what—”
Thomas nestled up to the man, put his face nearby, and massaged his leg. Though Thomas glared, the bishop refused to look at him. Thomas blew into his ear and then grabbed his genitals.
After a second, he released them and jumped off the bed. “Still want to deny it, Father?”
By now, the bishop was weeping as he shivered. Thomas marched to a desk, snatched a parchment, and thrust it at him. The bishop obeyed every command. He wrote three letters: one for his official files, one to the Vatican, and one to Xavier, apologizing for his mistaken condemnations and instead praising the young priest for exemplary service. Thomas took them when he had finished, sealed them with the bishop’s emblem, and slid them into his coat pocket.
“You have what you want. Leave me,” the bishop said.
“Do you understand what I mean to do if this isn’t the end of it?”
“Go away. You’ve won.”
Unconvinced that the bishop grasped the severity of his threat, Thomas grabbed the foot of the bed and broke it from its hinges. The mattress crashed to the floor and the bishop rolled to Thomas’s feet. He cried and quaked anew. Thomas reached with a swift motion and broke the man’s little finger. As the man howled in pain, Thomas smashed through the window and jumped two stories to the ground.
Now, to celebrate. Time for a kill.
As usual, people crowded the bars and drank, gambled, had public sex, and railed against Louis. The tawdry scene would produce a worthy victim or two. Thomas entered an establishment and took a seat. Nothing unusual caught his eye. No one longed for his fangs to end an unseemly life, until he heard a familiar voice. He turned, slowly, and saw Marcel seated nearby and talking to the likes of whom Thomas never wanted to even touch. They stank of men hired for dirty, illicit, and violent tasks.
There was a group of worthy victims. He could kill all of them, including Marcel, and rid himself of a major problem. Then Thomas remembered those damn ethical guidelines Anthony pronounced: never meddle in human affairs. Killing Marcel, even in a vial setting, violated that principle. And he had already gone too far in violating the ethic with his visit to Notre Dame. But that logic seemed faulty, until he recalled his conversation with Marcel. What if the demon placed some spell on Xavier to protect himself if Thomas came after him? Was such a thing possible? Thomas had no idea what to do.
Frustrated, Thomas listened.
“You’re fine gentlemen, as always,” Marcel was saying. “I hardly believe you dispatched that customer so fast and without a mess. I appreciate your efforts on my behalf—”
“Enough talk, old man, get to the point,” said one of the men. His breath hit Thomas from two tables away, stinking of tobacco, rum, and a gross assortment of decay.
“Don’t take that tone with me. I have a spying assignment, to watch two men. I need to know their patterns, their friends, and their beliefs. Discover any weaknesses, any material for blackmail, anything they conceal. Try to find out where they keep their money and when they sleep. I must know anything and everything about both of them. Monitor the two Saint-Laurents. One of you watch Michel, the other take Xavier.”
“How long do you want us to do this? It’ll cost you,” the other added.
“I’m well aware of your prices, and believe me, this is worth the cost. I’ll expect a weekly report. One more thing. Never go near their sister. When they visit her, walk away.”
Marcel described Michel and told them where to find him and Thomas pictured the route to Xavier’s church as Marcel gave it to the other man, depicting him, as well.
Thomas let Marcel leave, against his better judgment, as the rules haunted him and his magic concerned him. He followed the other two, however. He sensed enough to know that killing them would not violate the ethic, at least not as much as if he had gone after Marcel. These two had never met anyone from the family, so Thomas decided they stood outside the ethic’s prohibitions. They walked a few blocks, singing drunken songs, proud of Marcel’s coins and then entered a salon with rooms for rent. Thomas stayed close behind when they entered their room. He waited a few seconds and then burst in as they counted their money.
In a complete fury, he first grabbed the one intended to spy on Xavier. He almost failed to notice the terror on his face as he crushed the man’s skull between his hands. He paused as the cranium crunched like a seashell and gore exploded all over the room. He dropped the corpse and swore under his breath. He’d waited too long. The second man had escaped the room, and his screaming brought other patrons into the hall to see about the commotion. Thomas kicked the dead body before he swiftly went into the hall and vacated the building. He could not risk going after the remaining man as he stood among all these onlookers. Instead, he went to feed, once again hungry for blood after several nights of depriving himself.
The Vampire’s Witch welcomes readers back to the world of vampires, witches, and magic.
Jaret Bachmann’s life spins out of control after a handsome stranger saves him from an attack along the bike path on Lakeshore Drive. His estranged high school sweetheart stalks him, the enraged ghost of his ancestor destroys his family, and his bike path savior-cum-lover abandons him after learning Jaret is a powerful witch, all of it sending Jaret into deep depression. Struggling to find his way afterward, Jaret searches for comfort in the unlikely friendship of a secret vampire community.
Xavier, Thomas, Anthony, and Catherine return in this, the third book in The Realm of the Vampire Council series and a sequel to The Bachmann Family Secret. Over time, Jaret’s friendship with the vampires strengthens and he forges a new family connection with Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine. But he and Anthony are estranged and though their souls are entwined, there hearts are another matter.