For disclaimer please see chapter 1


Chapter 20

He should have seen it coming all the way, however he was not entirely prepared for this. Sebastien did not deem himself able to feel anything approximating indignity, and yet, with the appearance of Jordana at the threshold of his soul, matters seemed to be alarmingly changing. To continue this sorry metaphor, he was unable to tell what might happen if he let her in. If truth be told, he also found himself completely unable to infer anything from it. He had hardly ever dared look, and the one glimpse he had cast in that fateful night was not essentially encouraging. It would thus be best to wait and see.

He felt Jordana hesitate, and this time he instantly knew that she was holding back for his own benefit. Sebastien appreciated this. One embrace per night was perfectly tolerable, yet one should not overexert matters. Moreover, he needed some local distance to be able to explain at least some of the news to her, even though he did not feel compelled to do anything about the feasible resentments she harboured against his father.

He knew plenty of diplomacy, but presently he recognized that the plain truth would be easiest and best. "It is to be a brothel," he thus said. "Father owns a chain with branches all over the country, and I will have the honour to lead the Miami branch." Sebastien was not entirely aware of the ostensible incongruity between his occupation and his own disposition. He had grown up with the business, and as he did not know anything better than this one, he merely regarded it like any other service industry that needed to be organized, managed and expanded.

ooo

Jordana let her eyes wander around the entry, where she and Sebastien were standing. But her mind's eye saw all the other rooms she'd been in. "Yes, the house fits. I can't say I'm surprised by Juan's type of business. It certainly fits him..." she paused not saying the obvious '...but not you...'

She stopped talking, letting the silence lengthen between them aware that Bastien was not the type to break it with inconsequential chatter. And for a change Jordana was grateful that he was so quiet. In a few minutes she'd managed to put her thoughts together, and spoke, "I know you thought I'd be angry to find out Juan plans on leaving... and for a second I almost was. But he isn't a man to be tethered in one place. I sense his restlessness, and know until he finds what he's looking for he'll never be totally happy. But I'm sure he'll be back."

The blond let her gaze move over her companion, noticing with a faint smile at how stiff he held himself. That was going to take work, but she had plenty of time. "And of course I'll have your company... since you offered." Jordana chuckled, figuring Bastien was already regretting his invitation. A little illicit business wasn't going to put her off...on the contrary it might be interesting to see how Sebastien handled such a carnal trade. Looking over her shoulder at the front door, the girl added, "I suppose I shouldn't keep Juan waiting much longer. I-I just wanted to make sure you weren't in any danger from that creature." It was the closest she was going to get to confessing she cared about his well-being.

ooo

It was almost alarming to discover that this extraordinary woman had such an outstanding insight not only to know his father so well, but also to be wise enough to respect his needs. Sebastien discerned a strange feeling in the area of his guts regarding this discovery. One the one hand, there was something not unlike pleasure that she took the news so well and even cared about Juan, whom Sebastien himself cherished and admired. On the other hand, there was something else, equally new, something he could only call a slight repugnance, for lack of experience and a better word. The better word would doubtlessly have been jealousy, but as Sebastien had never before experienced anything like love, he also lacked the understanding for trivial feelings like this one.

His resentments immediately tumbled when he heard Jordana utter her concern for his own well-being. He even raised his eyebrows in surprise. He would never have imagined that someone would want to care for him, and as a matter of fact, he had always been able to care for himself, in addition also for his father, hence the need had actually never arisen. As he did not know what to answer, he cleared his throat and nodded politely.

"Pray do so," he then said as a reaction to her announcement. "I started to wonder, too, what he…" His voice trailed off, one of the rare occasions it did, for he immediately realized that he knew too well what had kept Juan so long. Anyway, he assumed that the air was clear now, and he watched Jordana stride outside.

ooo

When Juan surfaced again from between the cars, closely followed by Raphael, he knew that he finally and with certainty wanted to take the boy with him. He also knew that he would eventually turn him into one of his childer, even though he had only known him for a couple of nights. They would spend enough nights together to manifest this decision. Right now, the blood bond was established, thus ensuring a life-long connection, and should he change his mind in the end, Rafe would always be useful in business; if anything, Juan was convinced of that now.

They did not need words. They arranged each other's clothes in a kind of dreamy and utterly satisfied unison that was beyond common conversation. True, their hair had reached a tousled condition, but they did not think about it. In fact, it made them look almost alike, now that they both had it hanging loosely, and Juan did not even care to look for the ribbon. Apart from that, when they were in a more or less decent state again, Raphael kissed the back of Juan's hand to show his – admittedly not completely voluntary, yet welcome submission. Just when he did so, they both heard Jordana approaching them, the sound of her shoes making an obscenely loud crunching noise in the formerly otherworldly silence of this fateful night.

ooo

When she stood outside framed by the open doorway, Jordana blew Bastien a kiss. It was a teasing gesture, meant to fluster him a bit, besides she knew only he could see her at the moment. Then she quickly turned before he could react, and with her laugh floating across the hush of the night moved off toward the cars.

Jordana came into view, a smile playing on her lips as she plotted her next move designed to drive Sebastien crazy. The smile grew the closer she got to the pair of men. One eyebrow shot up seeing the tousled hair they both sported, and the new creases their clothing had. "I see you two entertained each other while I was gone..." the blond took Rafe's hand in hers, but leaned over to kiss Juan, "...and didn't even wait for me. But I'll forgive you."

After her affectionate greeting Jordana moved to the passenger door of the car, "So... have you decided what we'll do now?"

ooo

Deeply engrossed, Sebastien gazed after her. When she made this fairly inappropriate gesture of blowing him a kiss, he felt caught in the act of staring. What is more, he even felt inclined to twist the corners of his lips into a curt smile, but he turned away immediately after that. And as he looked back into the hall, he saw the ghost float in the middle of it. On cue, he bowed politely, suppressing his concern. Ah well, the object was there, and he would have to deal with it constantly. Whatever it might do next, it would do no harm to retain at least the basics of chivalry.

As before, Jamie seemed to appreciate Sebastien's courteous manners. As soon as she realized that she had his complete attention, she endeavoured to make her feet touch the floor, or at least appear to do so, then approached him, partly floating, partly moving her legs as if she was walking. "I've been watching you," she said. "You and this… lady." She showed her displeasure, which was actually quite a pretty sight, apart from the fact that the pout was as translucent as the rest of her – and that it could always be the prelude to another wailing concert.

Sebastien felt impelled to bow once more. "My lady," he said. "I can assure you that the relationship between me and my business partners, however it might present itself to you, does not in any way detract from the affiliation you and I hopefully are about to establish. I acknowledge that, although we did acquire this mansion lawfully, you have all rights to regard yourself as the rightful owner, or in the very least a legitimate resident." He finished his small speech with a third bow, then he patiently waited for her response.

The ghost seemed intrigued. Her tiny finger pressed to her lips, she ardently listened to him, blinking several times, and finally she answered. "You are different from your father," she said. "He is not your father. I will have to think about what you said." And thus, she floated away. Sebastien followed her with his eyes, and he was almost taken aback by the unexpected lack of noise. Her petite frame glided up towards one of the old canvases showing a country scene, and there she disappeared. Sebastien refrained from searching for her in the painting, in case he might find her there.

ooo

Once again enlightened by the simplicity of her merriness and straightforwardness, Juan kissed her back. "I know that you like the taste of us both, so I promptly provided it," he said in an equally cheerful manner. "And we had… important things to discuss while you were involved in… talking to my son." He wondered whether Sebastien had told her all about it. In her happy-go-lucky manner, Jordana seemed to be also a master in disguising other sentiments, like contemplation - or maybe even reproach.

But whatever other feelings she might harbour, she would not show them right now, and he would certainly not ask her about it. He took in the charming sight of Raphael and Jordana holding hands like two lovebirds and to his utter satisfaction realized that Raphael was still gazing at him in his newly won and final state of awe. Yes, there would come a night when Rafe was to be the one sitting in the front row, and what a lovely replacement he would be, once Sebastien was – quite literally - off the umbilical cord.

"We will drive to the Gypsies' camp once more," Juan answered. "I require something of them, and I dearly hope that they have not deserted us yet." He inclined his head, and Rafe let go of Jordana's hand and slipped inside the car, onto the back seat. Following on an impulse, Juan caught Jordana's hand, kissed it and pulled her towards him. "Afterwards, my dear, there will be nothing on earth that may keep me from making up for the past few nights. And I am positive that Raphael will surely want to be with us."

ooo

Jordana thoroughly enjoyed the kiss before Juan pulled back, telling her he and Rafe had, had important things to discuss. "I'll just bet you did," she laughed fully aware of what they'd been doing. "Bastien was as always politely patient with my worries over the ghost...and so I left him to what ever it is he's doing." She gave a shrug to the dark haired vampire, but didn't expand on the enlightening conversation she'd shared with his son. Time enough later.

Juan continued answering her question about where they'd head next, wrinkling her nose at the reminder of the gypsy camp. There wasn't much the blond vampiress was afraid of, but they creeped her out, especially the way they'd totally ignored them the last time they visited. Jordana sighed, "If we have to," then turned to follow Rafe. However before she could move Juan had grasped her hand giving it a gallant kiss as he pulled her close. "Afterwards, my dear, there will be nothing on earth that may keep me from making up for the past few nights. And I am positive that Raphael will surely want to be with us."

Looking up through her lashes, the blond gave her companion a sultry smile, "No rest for the wicked, I suppose." She knew eventually they were going to have to discuss the information Bastien had let slip, but she planned on waiting until Juan brought it up.

ooo

Juan playfully touched with his lips the soft skin over her collar bone, then licked his way up and rested his teeth on her neck, thus reminding of the little incident that had happened between her and Sebastien some nights ago. But in contrast to his son, he did not even graze the skin, of course. Instead, he chuckled softly and shook his head, then pulled back until he could look into her eyes. "No rest for the wicked, indeed. And no blood loss this time."

He had noticed the slight change in her when he mentioned the Gypsies, but go there he had to, and Raphael would surely help Jordana pass the time. "We will not stay for long, if you do not want that," he said, somewhat disappointed. He recalled having spent a fabulous first night with her there, after their first intimacies, and with the outcome that they stayed together for the day. He could not possibly grasp the apprehension she had, for he had known those people for too long to think anything bad or strange of their ways. He appreciated, though, that she told him her mind.

Sitting down in his car, Juan looked into the rear mirror and caught Raphael's glance. Both men exchanged a long look, bathing in silence and a mutual understanding that was as close to love as it could get. Then, with a pang, Juan tore himself lose and looked at Jordana. Once more, he realized that he did feel quite the same for her, and the sentimental mood he was in, he even felt close to telling her. In spite of this honourable intention, he merely opened and closed his mouth, then patted her knee and switched on the engine.

What could he possibly tell her? That he felt something not unlike love whenever he set eyes on her? That he would have liked to ask her to accompany him when he left the city, but knew that it was an utterly stupid idea? That he knew she favoured Bastien, and that this knowledge stirred quite complementary feelings inside of him? He backed the TransAm out, switching gears roughly, and rushed out onto the road. When he dared another glance into the mirror, he saw that Raphael was watching him. The boy smiled almost wisely. When Juan nodded slightly, Rafe put his hand on Jordana's shoulder and said, "I'm excited. I want to know all about those Gypsies, I've never met one of them before. Would you tell me while Juan does what he has to do?"

ooo

Juan kept concentrating on the sparse night traffic, looking over his slim white hands into the night, while behind him the conversation between Jordana and his presently favourite underling went on and on. Every now and then, he looked into the mirror in order to catch Raphael's glance, and the gleam in the boy's eyes made him smile. They were so young, both of them, and the liveliness of their exchange would, to the average bystander, not have allowed to draw any conclusions as to either of them being undead or on at least well the way.

He directed his eyes towards the road again. The chatter from the rear seat washed over him like a soft acoustic rain, spiced by the occasional moaning and rustling sounds. He could have intervened, of course, in order to disaccustom Rafe from the girl, but then again, they were so nice to look at, and when they finally had to say good-bye, there would be enough time for Rafe to get used to existing without her. Juan would see to it that there were ways of distraction Rafe could not resist.

Fortunately, the Romani camp was still there. Well, it had been only a couple of nights since they had paid them their first visit, was it not, and the times were changing. Nowadays, so it seemed, the Gypsies had no more reason to move as rapidly and as frequently as back then, in the so-called good old times. The memory of Francine's family brought the familiar pang of guilt, but it passed without lingering.

It came to pass that Juan was the only one to walk to the camp after parking the car. He left the two lovebirds back in the car, and even without the prelude that had been going on for quite some time, he could vividly imagine what they would be doing while he was away. To his utter satisfaction, however, Raphael asked his permission to stay with Jordana, and he even turned to look after Juan until his master had disappeared in the darkness before he allowed the girl to distract him once more.

This time, probably also due to his approaching alone, the exchange between the Chovihany and him was short and easy. Juan paid a ridiculously high price for the essence, but there was no price too high for him to stay in business contact with the tribe, and at the same time make a good deal with the Nosferatu. When he came back to the car, he found both his friends still on the rear seat, happily intertwined, and without further notice, Juan slipped behind the steering wheel, slammed the door shut and drove out of the camp again.

Only shortly afterwards, Jordana's and Raphael's tousled heads appeared in the mirror. "I take it you're enjoying yourselves greatly," Juan commented. "Please do not let me keep you from anything you were just about to complete." He chuckled softly at the expression on their faces, and when his friends complied to his offer, he merely accelerated the car, moving back towards the city.

The situation called back memories: he had been driving them around before, both Jordana and Raphael on the rear seat, and he had enjoyed listening to them just as well. To Juan, it seemed like a decade since he had come to know Jordana, but in fact it had only been a few nights before. In-between, though, so much had happened. Among other things, there had been the Marie incident, which tended to thoroughly blur his concept of time, and then, Jordana had joined the circle of Sebastien's friends, coming off as number one. Juan smiled again, this time slightly cynically, when he recalled how his son was dealing with this new way of existing, and how Jordana had betrayed him with his own childe even before they had been truly madly and whatever else they were supposed to be.

Suddenly, Juan knew what he had to do. Before they hit the road to Miami, he stopped, turned and once more drove to Las Olas. The situation on the rear seat did not afford any explanations, as they were both deeply involved in the usual stuff - and delightfully so, considering the fact that it would be the last time they ever met. They would know where he was taking them as soon as they heard the familiar sound of the gravel.

As he had anticipated, Sebastien was waiting for them at the front door, patiently leaning against a pillar. It seemed to be the most natural thing on earth that Juan would come back to leave Jordana behind with him. The farewell was short, almost formal. For a moment, Juan considered warning his son to take good care of the girl, but then again, there was no need to do so. The way Sebastien looked at her, the way his otherwise adamant features softened, if only for the fraction of a second, told so much more than words.

Raphael stayed by Juan's side, and once Jordana had moved to Sebastien, he seemed not inclined to pay her any further attention. He looked proud and gorgeous, his skin already slightly paler, but maintaining its café-au-lait glow, gleaming in the moonlight, and when Juan looked at him, he shook his curls back and flashed him a smile. "Time for us to go," Juan said.

"Yes, sire," Raphael answered.

Juan took Rafe's hand, and they walked back to the car in unison. Before he entered the TransAm, he felt the strong scent of lavender waft over from the house, but he did not turn to look at Jamie. It was good. She was staying there with Sebastien and Jordana, guarding them, and the business would flourish without him. He had no intention to ever come back to Miami, at least no within the next decades. Miami would probably not cease to exist as long as Sebastien was keeping an eye on it, and the few nights had been much more fun than he had expected it to be; in fact, they had truly been nights of surprises.

ooooo

Epilog

Dear father,

It has been several years since you departed from the city. Your Nosferatu associate was so kind to discover your new address to me, and according to the sparse information I received, corresponding with your lack of contact, I presume you and Raphael are well.

The business has been prospering continuously ever since our inaugural ceremony, and in addition, I can tell, not without pride, that my influence over the city has been growing ever since, allowing me to take a place that up to then did not seem properly occupied. Jordana has proved to be a most dependable and supportive companion, and I would rather prefer her to stay with me for quite some time. As far as I can tell, she is obliged to do so.

Should you intend to set foot on the grounds of this city again, you are herewith invited to do so. But please allow me remind you that I expect visitors of any kind to introduce themselves to me first place, in order to receive my approval. This also includes you, my father, as I do not make any exceptions, and I know about your capriciousness.

Rest assured that I will do everything in my power to merit the education you have given me by my amity and diligence, and thus prove to you my own well-meaning and gratitude.

Yours very truly,

Sebastien de Gers

THE END