“Jesus Christ!” Caroline’s chest heaved up and down from the workout. “Did you just get out of prison or something?”
“Something like that.” Gerry smiled as he stepped backwards into the warm water.
The shower was spacious and tiled in an expensive off-white marble. There was a raised portion at the end opposite the showerhead that Caroline was using as a seat while she used a washcloth to wipe herself off.
He looked around and smiled. The fogged up glass door still had smudges where her perky nipples had been pressed up against it during their ruckus morning sex. Several times last night had not been enough for the newly freed Dux , but judging by the young whore’s wincing she’d reached her limit.
He felt his appetite rising again, but he calmed himself with a few deep breaths. The feeling of satisfaction after release was something he hadn’t felt in two hundred years. It was all he wanted to feel right now, but he had work to do. Prince Seere had entrusted him with an important mission, and all missions started with reconnaissance.
“Thanks for stopping by, Caroline.” He took her hand and gently brushed his lips against it. “Please see yourself out when you are finished.”
“Yeah…ok.” She hesitated.
“Don’t worry about the bill. It has already been taken care of. I have an arrangement with Vicky.”
“Yeah…sure. Well, it was nice to meet you Gerry. Let me know if you want to hang out again.”
It was a weak sales pitch, but he’d fucked her so long and hard she had to be exhausted. They hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep. The last thing on her mind was convincing a client to have even more sex with her.
He stepped out of the shower while she continued to clean herself. He’d made a mess all over her. The fluffy towel felt wonderfully soft as he toweled off and went to look at himself in the mirror. A ruler, strong and powerful looked back at him. He could feel the power collecting in him from the demesne. It had been leeched from the city all night long and was just waiting to be used.
He was nowhere near as strong as when he was an Infernal Knight. At least not yet, but he was more than powerful enough to deal with a few measly humans.
<Now what should I wear?>
The demesne conjured up clothing that came to mind, but he guessed most of it was centuries out of date. The only modern pieces of clothing he’d seen were what his lieutenants had been wearing and the black track suit he’d been given.
Those were either too fancy or too casual for what he had planned. He needed something in the middle.
“Yeah?” She poked her towel-wrapped head out of the bathroom.
“What would I look good in?”
If things were the same as when he was human the best fashion advice came from women.
“Are you asking for fashion tips?”
He could see her decision making process in her eyes as she decided if this was chargeable time for her.
“Yes, please.” His words were polite but his tone had a bite to it.
“Honestly, if you had a beard you’d have the sexy lumberjack look down.” She smiled coyly.
<Maybe she’s up for round six after all.> He beat down the idea before it could fully form.
“And how would such a lumberjack dress.” Despite his mindset, he couldn’t stop his own smile from being suggestive.
“Jeans, plaid shirt, boots, and a light jacket for this weather.” The demesne read her thoughts as she imagined him in her mind.
“Like this?” He pulled the exact faded dark blue jeans, red, white, and blue long-sleeve plaid shirt, dark brown work boots, and dark brown leather coat she’d been imagining.
“Holy shit…” her jaw dropped.
“Thank you, Caroline. I am leaving soon so please make sure you’re ready to go in the next few minutes.” He turned his back on her and shrugged into the clothing, ignoring the frown on her face.
He didn’t have the beard, but he could grow it out a little bit over the next few days.
The elevator bell dinged in the other room and he felt Jeb’s presence lingering just outside his demesne. “Come on in, Jeb. I’ve got a few questions.”
“Yes, my Dux.” The demon of greed entered and waited patiently until Gerry exited his room. Then his face soured. “That outfit is rather casual.”
“Relax, Jeb, I need to blend.”
“Blend where, Sir?”
“That’s the question I need answered.” The living map of the city denoting the various factions rose from the formal dining room table. “Where does the Salvatore family spend their days?”
“Sir, I don’t think…”
“I’m not asking for your thoughts, Jeb.” Gerry cut him off with a snap. “I’m asking you for the Salvatore’s location.”
“Taking them on at this point would be unwise, my Dux.” Jeb corrected himself.
“I don’t plan on taking on anyone. I’m just going to gather a little information. Have you ever heard the saying information is power?” Gerry asked.
“It’s true to an extent.” He pointed at the table and gestured for Jeb to do what he was told. “Information is the gateway to power. Information alone is nothing, but action taken because of information not only exercises power, but accumulates it.”
He had seen Generals make the mistake of having good intelligence but not acting on it during his centuries with the legions. When they didn’t act people died. When they did act, less people died.
“Here, my Dux.” Jeb pointed at a section of high-end retail stores about two miles from where they were standing. “The Salvatore’s have several business fronts throughout the city, but they are peddlers of fine tailoring. I would suggest you start there.”
“Then I will.” Gerry smiled, and gave Jeb a pat on the back. The smaller man practically cringed from the contact. “Caroline!”
“Geez, I’m coming.” The whore stepped out of the bedroom with her hair still wet and looking frazzled. “You could at least let me use your blow dryer.”
He knew what the contraption was, but he’d never seen one and was pretty sure there wasn’t one here. He wasn’t about to use power to manifest something the woman had at her own home.
“Goodbye, Caroline.” He gestured for her to enter the elevator, and the operator took her away.
“Be careful with Victoria’s minions, my Dux. She’ll do anything to get her fangs into you.” He scowled at the closed elevator door.
“Play nice, Jeb.” Gerry lightly reprimanded him. “She has considerable assets right now. More than you.”
Jeb’s face flashed pure hatred before he got it back under control. “That is not true.” He fiddled with his already perfectly straight tie to try and pull attention from his reaction.
Gerry sensed that was the truth, and waited for him to continue.
Jeb pulled out a manila envelop from the confines of his jacket. “Here are your documents, my Dux. You have a birth certificate, driver’s license, US Passport, a Social Security Card, tax documentation dating back seven years, and the deeds to all the property.”
Gerry pulled open the folder and pulled out the top document. “Gerald Fuller.” He smiled at seeing his human name for the first time in centuries.
“Of Boston, Massachusets, my Dux.”
“You’ve done your research.” Gerry pocketed the driver’s license and tossed the rest of the documentation on the table.
“And then some.” Now Jeb was smiling. “Here is a debit card and some cash.” He handed over a sleek piece of plastic and a roll of hundred dollar bills. “There is three million dollars in the account. It was all I was able to get without drawing human suspicion. I can assure you, my Dux, our resources are far vaster than that.”
Gerry only knew the abstract value of that much money so he simply nodded.
“I also have information on your backstory.” Jeb continued, still eager to please. “We based your identity off your own mortal family.”
“That’s impossible. I was an only child and I died without children.”
“Not entirely true.”
Gerry barely contained the shock.
“You had one illegitimate son from a woman who worked in a marketplace.”
Gerry vaguely remembered the woman. It had been one night of passion before marching off to war. He’d never seen or heard from the woman again.
“She also had magical blood, and she passed that onto her son. The boy, who proved he was your bastard son, inherited what little was left of your family’s estate after the Revolutionary War. He is considered the progenitor of the Fuller Clan of martial magicians.”
“Martial magicians?” Gerry hated not knowing what his subordinates were talking about.
<I need to spend less time fucking and more time doing research.>
“The Salvatore’s are enchanters by blood. Their magic gives specific properties to objects. The Fullers, your descendants, use martial magic. They channel power within themselves to grant them superior strength, speed, and durability. Most martial clans train their offspring from birth to be warriors, and that is true of the Fullers. They are a small but well known family.”
“Which means the Salvatore’s are more likely to grant me access to information they would normally keep hidden from outsiders.” Gerry followed the thought to conclusion.
“Yes, Sir. Also, if they engage some sort of truth spell you will not be caught in a lie. You are a Fuller.”
Gerry couldn’t help but be impressed. “Good work, Jeb. You might be more useful that Vicky after all.”
The elevator chime ended their conversation, and they both boarded it for the ride down to the lobby. Gerry considered his options and formulated a basic plan.
“Let me call you a car, Sir.” Jeb pulled out a thin cell phone when they reached the lobby.
“Do I have a car?”
“Several, Sir, and a driver on standby twenty-four-seven.”
“No need for the driver today. I want to drive myself.”
Jeb, despite his Infernal nature, stumbled at the comment. “Have you ever driven before?”
“No, but it’s only a couple mile, and I’ve got vivid instruction about how to do it.” Gerry tapped his head and smiled. “But make the car inconspicuous. I don’t want to draw too much attention.”
The car that pulled up in front of the valet station two minutes later didn’t seem to fit his request. “I said inconspicuous.” He growled under his breath to avoid attention from the passing humans.
It was a pleasant fall day and everyone was out enjoying the first break from the summer heat.
“This is the least attention-grabbing car the last Dux owned.” Jeb stated as the vehicle rumbled like a stampede of elephants.
“Fine.” Gerry sighed as he grabbed the keys from the valet and walked around to the driver’s seat. “No.” He snapped when Jeb tried to open the passenger door. “I’m going alone.”
The greed demon looked like he wanted to argue, but he’d already tested Gerry’s patience enough this morning. Jeb backed off as he hopped into the latest version of the traditional American muscle car and adjusted the seat.
He could feel the power of the mechanical creature vibrating through the smooth leather seats. It was a different type of power that he was feeling. This wasn’t Infernal power, or mortal magic, this was technology, mechanical ingenuity, and the power of mankind’s imagination.
<Ok, nice and easy.> He looked in the mirror to make sure traffic was clear, shifted into drive, and hit the gas.
The car roared like a charging lion and nearly leapt into the air as it surged forward. People screamed and jumped out of the way as he hurtled down the semi-busy street. If it wasn’t for his lightening quick reflexes he would have plowed into the back of a car or run over an innocent pedestrian. That was attention he didn’t want, so after avoiding a few near fatal collisions he let his foot off the gas and coasted into a comfortable cruise with the flow of traffic.
<I wonder if Caroline would like to take a ride sometime.> There were several thing he wanted to do to the woman in this car, but before he could think about them he’d arrived at his destination.
The small lot next to the set of stores was full except for the handicap parking spot. He pulled right into it without hesitation, turned off the purring beast, and stepped out of the car. There was a slight smell of burned rubber in the air, but everything still smelled fresh and alive. It was nothing like Hell.
The Salvatore’s tailor shop was small. Only one room lined with suits, pants, vest, belts, and shoes. It would have looked like any other tailor shop if not for the men pretending to browse the selection. Gerry could sense their attention was on him and not the fine Armani suits. Plus, there was a slight bulge in several waistbands that didn’t look like years of eating too much lasagna.
“May I help you?” An older man wearing an exquisite three-piece suit and measuring tape around his neck greeted Gerry a few seconds after the bell above the door jingled his arrival.
“I’m just passing through,” he gave the armed goons a sideways glance. “I was told to look up the Salvatore Family if I was in town and in need of some enchantments.”
“I’m sorry,” the man looked convincingly confused. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
Gerry could taste the lie in the air the second it left the man’s lips, and he just smiled.
“You’re enchanters and the big magical players in town.” He ignored the old man’s denial. “My name’s Gerald, Gerald Fuller.”
The men around the room tensed and a few hands drifter toward weapons.
<Did Jeb forget to mention some type of family feud?> Gerry kept the smile on his face while planning the quickest path to ripping out the goon’s spines.
“Of the Boston Fullers?”
“Yeah, I’m from Boston.”
<And that’s technically true.> It took some effort to keep his smile from widening further.
“Well.” The man motioned for his associates to relax. “I am honored to have a Fuller in my modest little shop. What can I do for you?”
“What do you have?”
“What mission are you on?”
<Hmmm.> Gerry had to choose his words carefully in case there was some sort of enchantment to detect lies.
“I know there are vampires in town.” He used the pop culture term for the Soulless. “What do you have that is effective against them?”
“Surely your family’s prowess is more than a match for one of the undead.”
“Surely.” Gerry was beginning to grow annoyed with this old man. “But only a fool goes into a fight expecting to win. A real warrior stacks the odds in their favor.”
It was true. Only an idiot went into a fight sure they would win. The moment you lowered your guard was when your enemy took your head.
“Of course.” The Salvatore’s tone was only mildly apologetic. “We have dealt with some of these undead, and while we don’t have your skill we have our own tricks.” He inclined his head toward the side of the shop where the biggest goon stood guard.
He pushed on the edge of a display case, and the wall sprung outward with a click. The man pulled it open and led the way into a second room just as big as the entire tailor shop. Gerry stepped up to the entrance and felt resistance.
The air seemed to harden in front of him. It wasn’t hostile, but it clearly was warry of him.
<His demesne.> It wasn’t too hard to figure out.
Gerry had two options. He could barrel in, tear through the weak defenses, and reveal he was something more than he appeared. Or he could play nice and get more information.
“Do you mind?” He stood their patiently.
“Yes I do.” The Salvatore’s smile made Gerry want to check the guard to make sure he didn’t have his pistol out and pointed at the base of his skull. Getting shot would still hurt. “I’ve got a few options for you.” He opened containers next to the door. “Exploding stakes. They’ll take out a chuck of undead flesh and stop it from regrowing for several hours. Bottled sunlight. It makes them just as vulnerable as if they took a walk in the park at noon. Those are our two biggest sellers.”
“You must sell a lot.” Gerry inquired while peering around the room.
“Enough.” The man replied noncommittally.
“If you’re looking for something defensive we can always get you a coat.” The old man pointed at a pair of leather dusters and a sheepskin coat in the corner. I can make the fabric as hard as steel and as light as a feather.”
“I like it. How much?”
“For all of it?”
If there was some type of truth enchantment then the man knew Gerry wasn’t lying.
“A hundred a stake, five hundred a bottle, and ten grand for a coat.” The man couldn’t hide his wide eyes from Gerry.
“Give me all of it. Do you take debit?”
The man nodded and barked an order in Italian to his goons. One guy went to the cash register and rang up the total while another went to help the old man with all the supplies. It came to eighteen grand when it was all tallied up, and they waited to bring it out of the room in a big trunk until after Gerry had paid.
“I’ll take the sheepskin.” He informed when the man grabbed one of the two dusters.
The man smiled. “Your business is greatly appreciated, Mr. Fuller.”
Apparently, the way to get the guy to let down his guard was to spend a shit ton of money on his products.
“Thank you for the supplies, Sir.” He easily hoisted the trunk up and brought it out to the car.
There was an orange slip underneath the windshield that he crumpled up and threw into the back seat.
“Mr. Fuller.” The elder Salvatore stepped out after his goons made a human shield down either side of the street. “If you are interested a few concerned members of our community are gathering this evening to discuss certain threats. Since your purchase indicated we might have mutual interests I would like to extend an invitation to you.”
“That’s very kind.” Gerry smiled.
He couldn’t help but think about the irony of the man whose arms he was eventually going to tear out of their sockets inviting him to his secret anti-vampire meeting.
“Just let me know the time and the place.”
The old man slipped him a business card with a time and address written on the back before heading back inside with his minions in tow.
<Looks like I have dinner plans.> He considered his recon mission a complete success.