“Belle,” he repeated; his steps measured and deliberate.

Whatever positives she’d first detected in his voice had faded out, leaving surprise. No, surprise wasn’t the right word for it. Annoyance, maybe. Or irritation. She took a deep breath and straightened her spine. She wouldn’t be cowed.

She just hoped her bladder would hold out. Why did she start on that third bottle of water again? A glance at the clock told her she’d been kept waiting almost two hours. Right. The wait had been agonizing.

She stood up and offered her hand to the vampire. “Sarah Jane,” she said. “And you’re Bill Compton.”

The irritation melted away slightly as he shook her hand. Not much. His voice was still near icy levels.

“I’m pretty sure that it goes against the Master’s rules to contact other members in this kind of manner. Sit.”

She did. And she started playing with the bottle again. “But you are not a member,” she said confidently. “No one on the Facebook group knew who you were.”

“And is everyone that participates in the parties a member of the group?”

She thought he might be teasing her. It was hard to tell.

“Well…” Damn. He did have a point. The people on Facebook were the ones who knew each other in real life. That still made up less than fifty percent of the total group though. She hadn’t thought that argument through. Stupid bladder. She did then think of one he couldn’t counter. “The Master would never willingly invite a Vampire to join,” she said triumphantly. “I think he might be a member of the Fellowship of The Sun.”

Bill – it was weird calling him that name in her head – seemed to be amused by that point.

“How did you find me?”

She was rather proud of herself for this, though she tried to keep her smile to herself. She cleared her voice and began, “I was making lunch and had the news on in the background. They were replaying your interview from the night before and I thought I heard your voice. I replayed it a few times, and my conviction grew stronger, but I still wasn’t sure. So I went onto YouTube and watched some other clips and then I was certain it was you. Between your accent and the formality of your speech…” she shrugged and blushed slightly. “It’s different. I like it. Anyway, after figuring out who matched the voice finding where you lived was the easy part.” And it didn’t even cost her that much money either.

“And if you had been wrong? Had it not been me? Had I denied you entry, what then? Why not just call?”

She shrugged. “I wanted a chance to plead my case in person. You can’t hang up on me if I’m sitting here.”

He sighed. “I could still glamour you.”

“You could,” she said. “But you won’t. You could have done that at the party and you didn’t.”

“Technically, I did,” he said. “I fed on you and glamoured you so you wouldn’t give me away.”

Oh. Huh. She should be upset about that, shouldn’t she? But he was a vampire so…

“Is that why you were there?”

He nodded.

“And I was just dinner?”

He nodded again.

She slumped in her seat. She wondered if she could find a way to hide under the couch and escape.

He seemed to take pity on her and smiled. “For what it is worth, I enjoyed more than I expected. You were a pleasant surprise.”

She looked up at him and smiled shyly. “Thanks.” She sighed. “But I’m guessing this all means you aren’t actually a Dominant are you?”

He shook his head. “Not really, no. I don’t mind enjoying myself now and then but I have plenty else to keep me busy.”

She stood up, almost crushing the bottle as she did so. “Then I suppose that there is no reason for me to be here. I’m sorry to have bothered you, Sir.” As she opened the door, she heard his voice.

“Wait.”

She stopped and turned.

“Why did you come? Why did you want more?”

She shrugged. “I want something for me. I’ve never had that. Never had someone look at me the way you did that night.” She offered a weak smile. “It felt good.” She looked down. “I should have known I was being naïve. Mom always said I was.” She flashed a smile again. “Have a good evening, Sir.”

A sigh.

“Sit back down,” he said. “Perhaps we can work something out.”

She almost didn’t dare to be optimistic, but quickly and eagerly sat back down before he could change his mind.

There was a knock on the door.

“Enter.”

“Majesty, Alabama is on the line.”

He rose and addressed her in a businesslike manner. “I have business to attend to.” He turned to the guard. “Get the girl a pad of paper, a pen and an envelope.” The guard nodded and left.

“While I am gone you will write me an essay on exactly what you are looking to get out of this. You will put it in the envelope, seal it and hand it to the guard. Put your phone number on the outside. I will read it and if I deem it worthy I will call you. Otherwise we will have no further contact, understood?” He paused, eying her. “And you will not leave this room until that is finished. If you do so, it will be as if this offer was never made.

She nodded. She could do that. Maybe. She eyed the bottle wearily. She should have started pacing or something instead.

He looked into her eyes “And one final thing…”

***

Forty five minutes later she knocked on the door, handed the guard the sealed envelope and ran out to the bathroom so fast she didn’t wonder if she could have rivaled a vampire. As she sighed in relief she wondered what kind of man would make such a rule. She was washing her hands as it came to her.

Oh.

She smiled and whispered a quick prayer asking for her essay to be accepted.

Now presentable looking, she returned to the foyer, said farewell to the guards and headed out back to the night humming to herself as she started her journey home. She no longer felt naive, she felt optimistic. It was a good feeling to have.

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