A weight landed on her chest with a dull thud and as she tried to regain her breath the refrains of “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” filled the air.

“Morning sweetie,” she said sleepily as she gave Tristan a kiss on the top of his head. She glanced over at the alarm clock. Six thirty. She’d be willing to wager he’d been up longer than that, but somehow Rosa had managed to keep him contained until now. Luckily, Rosa was a better morning person than she was.

“I’m a hero today!”

She tickled him. “You’re always my hero, silly!”

He began to giggle and squirm his way out of her arms. “But a official hero!” he proclaimed.

Ah Superhero Day at day care. It may as well have been Christmas as excited as Tristan was. It was the only thing he’d spoken of the past week. One of the many things they were doing was making their own “costume” by painting shirts and “capes”(pillowcases) today. She knew that he’d come covered in paint, extremely happy and completely exhausted, which would be perfect because it’d make it easier to put him down tonight. Her mom could take her notion that daycare is only for “those too poor to hire a nanny” and shove it.

“Well, Mr. Hero,” she said. “Go ask Rosa for some breakfast, okay? Mommy needs to get dressed.”

“Okay!” he chirped as he ran down the stairs. She idly noted that somehow his pajama top was on backwards. She would have sworn that it’d been put on the right way last night, but pushed the whole train out of thought of mind. At least he was wearing it.

Once he’d heard the morning debate about the merits of fruity pebbles versus corn flakes with actual fruit began, she set about her routine – a quick shower and just enough makeup to make her look presentable to the world at large. As she studied her closet for something to wear, she remembered the admonition from last night to wear “business attire.” That was unexpected, and certainly not sexy, but it was his call. Maybe she could dig out her lingerie to wear under it.

Fishing through her closet, she pulled out the one suit she owned and frowned at it. She’d only worn it a handful of times, when her mother had roped her into attending a few board meetings for some of her favorite charities. She’d smiled, nodded and otherwise offered her input only when asked. Her mom had all but patted her on the head after the last one, but had at least mercifully stopped insisting she attend after she’d gotten pregnant with Tristan.

She glanced at the label. Eight. She wrinkled her nose and tossed it on the bed. She’d need to go shopping. She’d lost most of the weight after he’d been born, but saw no point in fighting to get those last few pounds off. She liked her body as it was, and the extra weight gave her what little curves she had. Besides, by that point, her husband had already seen fit to dump her for some vixen who apparently spent more times trying to find new ways to simulate fellatio than actually speaking and the large settlement he was giving her to make their marriage go away had been in the process of clearing. So fuck him. And her mom who had insisted that he’d be perfect for her. And herself for falling in love with him even though she should have known she’d never really be what he wanted from a spouse, no matter how hard she tried.

No. No more pity party. Today was her day. Night. Whatever. And she would own it.

“So let me get this straight,” Alyssa said as she daintly sat on the excuse of a stool better suited for handbags than people. “You have a date tonight.”

“Yep.”

“With a guy.”

A nod as she shimmied into the non-nonsense A-line skirt.

“And you’re shopping for a suit?!”

“It does sound absurd when you put it that way, but yep.” The slipper glided up her thigh like butter. She turned in the mirror. Not bad.

“Does he have a suit fetish?” Alyssa teased.

She paused. That was a good question. She shrugged. “Maybe. It was what he asked me to wear.” Seconds later she could feel her friends eyes burning into her back. She turned around. “I can explain!”

“You’d better. Either he’s a control freak or he’s planning a really boring first date, neither of which sounds promising.”

“I will. Over lunch. Now which looks better the navy or the black?”

***

A grueling ninety minutes later she was digging into a delicious Chinese chicken salad. So pleased she was by the morning’s success that she even indulged herself and put on enough dressing to truly taste it and extra of those crispy wanton faux-crouton things. She was in heaven.

“All right, missy. Explain.”

She’d known Alyssa since elementary school. Third grade to be exact, when she’d transferred in. With the last name of “Garrison” she’d bumped Andrew Grimley out of his usual spot behind her. Her eight year-old self had been inordinately pleased by the development that she’d immediately welcomed her warmly and they’d been fast friends ever since.

“So you remember the party last month?”

Alyssa had been the one to introduce her to The Master and nominate her for membership.

“How could I forget?”

She’d also been the one that had helped her settle in with that mint bath the next morning when she’d woken up an achey mess. It was an awesome ache, but it’d been a distracting one and she didn’t know exactly what Mistress had meant by that. Alyssa, in the scene – the actual scene, not just the party scene – had and had hooked her up. It was the best bath ever.

“I found him.”

Silence. She made Alyssa speechless twice in one day. That had to be a new record.

“You did?!” she squeaked, surprise now over. “How? Wait. Forget that. WHO?!”

She held a finger up to her mouth and pulled out her phone, and pulled up google and quickly pulled up his image before sliding it across the table.

Eyes went wide and her mouth formed a perfect little “o.” She wished she could take a picture, but her friend was still staring at the screen.

“No way,” she said in hushed tones. “Is he really a…” her voice trailed off.

She nodded. “An important vampire.” There was something else that she wanted to tell her about Bill Compton, but she couldn’t remember what it was. It was on the tip of her tongue, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember what it was. Oh well. She could tell her later. “You’d been on your knees in like the first thirty seconds had he let you.” She recounted every last detail that she could remember and Alyssa grilled her thoroughly. It almost felt like she was back in that room.

Alyssa whistled and pushed the phone back towards her, which she put back into her purse before she did something stupid like forget it at the restaurant.

“Sounds intense,” her friend finally said, concern obvious in her voice. “Are you up for it? I mean, you’ve never really done anything like this before.”

She appreciated that. And her friend was right to be worried. She’d played at the two parties, but she knew now that the Master was really only that in name. Alyssa had hinted towards that before, but this was the first time she’d really understood it. Bill Compton had a presence that the Master could never have, even at his most intimidating. If the Master had demanded half of what Bill Compton had, she probably would have left. But the vampire though…she did everything without hesitation, if not even eagerly. She knew she was probably in over her head, but it still felt like the right place to be. “I know,” she said. “but it just feels…”

Alyssa cut her off with a simple hand over her own and smiled at her. “You’re lucky to get that feeling. Just be careful. I don’t want him to break your heart like the Asshole did.” According to Alyssa, he wasn’t worthy of a name anymore. She’d taken up that habit if it weren’t for the fact that she knew that Tristan would be all too likely to start calling his dad that at the worst possible time. “And you will leave me a voice mail when you get home safe and we will have brunch tomorrow and discuss everything. And neither of those things is negotiable.”

She smiled broadly. “Deal.” She checked her watch and swore. She’d have to get going soon or else she’d be late to the super hero parade at daycare.

She flagged down her waiter.

“Check please.”

***

It was only when she walked out to the car that she remembered that she’d wanted to ask her friend if she’d ever heard of vampire kings before. Oh well. There was always next time.

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