Â© Copyright 2005 A. Fraser and J. Hontz. All rights reserved.Some background before our story begins:
Adele Blakesley is the daughter of the Earl of Avery. She was born in 1863, in a northern county of England, her mother dying not long after her birth. She was raised in near isolation. Her father, a ceremonial magician, was afraid she would be harmed by his enemies. Her father left her in the country in the care of a tutor as he attempted to learn of his own past, which was lost to him through a head injury. In London he worked to discover his past and became the head of a magical society, the Rose and Cross.
Secretly at first, but more openly as she grew up, Adele received visits from a mysterious mage named Julian Vyse. Julian brought her happiness and silliness, things mostly alien to her. Her father's relationship with Julian Vyse was problematic, but as Vyse had information Adrian Blakesley wanted they coexisted.
Adele was introduced to London society when she turned 16. Her father (now posing as her brother since he did not age - for reasons he's yet to discover) taught her to protect his secret of longevity by any means necessary. Adele used her brains and her femininity, not to mention a rather undisciplined and wild ability at magic, to do just that.
When she turned 21 (she is currently 23), as a birthday present, Julian Vyse provided her the means to come forward in time to our present. She is now relucant to return to her own time, where her father has been agitating for her to marry and produce the requisite magical heirs. She's found the freedom of the current age far more to her liking. Not to mention the ease of having relationships with handsome and intriguing men - of all species.
Julian Vyse/Vaurien/etc admits to having been born late in the 4th century, Common Era, in the hills above the Black Sea. He's Greek, as he's quick to point out, altho that area is now Turkey. He had been left to die of exposure when only hours old. Three old wise women who collected unwanted and injured creatures found him and raised him pretty much as they raised baby rabbits and foxes and tarantulas. He was magical from the first, which might explain why his parents did not want to keep him. Julian, who'd once shared a body with another consciousness, had since parted ways with his doppleganger
He sometimes describes himself as a "shamanistic mage" whatever that means. He has a somewhat elastic view of time, truth, justice, dignity and common propriety. Needless to say he can be hard to befriend. Since he has a lot of trust issues, this is fine with him.
Julian is bisexual, an unabashed flirt, horny as hell; he can kill in a moment. But if he thinks of you as a friend (whether or not you know this) he will risk his life for you without a second's thought.
Gideon Redoak, aka the Baron, is a vampire. Short, dark-haired, with gorgeous dark eyes, Gideon isn't quite conventionally handsome. He's homosexual, but quite firmly monagamous to his partner, Joshua (see below. Er, below this entry, that is. What they do in private is their business.) Gideon had a brutal upbringing in a cheerless Puritan home, and an even more brutal turning and first half century as a vampire. As a result, he comes across as stuffy, a bit of a prude, and rather humourless. Watch him closely. He does have a sense of humour, but it's very British and very very dry.
Joshua Trevallion is Gideon's partner. They are married, in a manner of speaking; at least they consider themselves so. Josh is tall and thin, good- looking rather than outrageously handsome, with sandy hair and butterscotch coloured eyes. He became a vampire fairly recently, within the last ten years, because his alternative was dying of AIDS. Josh is an easy-going, very likeable fellow whom nearly everyone adores.
Mitch Pritchard is a werewolf. He lives with the above two as Gideon's assistant/secretary/dogsbody--uh, gofer. Somebody has to send the e-mails and answer the phones during the day. The word most used to describe Mitch is shaggy. Gangly, shaggy, goofy. His abundance of hair is brown, his eyes either blue or amber depending on the lunar cycle. When were, he is fully a large silver wolf with some control, learned the hard way, over his behaviour.
He can change back and forth at will most times; he has no choice come full moon. Despite what seems a perpetual adolescence, Mitch is actually quite intelligent and loyal to his employer (whom he once tried to rob) and the rest of the household. Which includes one Evan Jones, a muscular bodyguard and all-around handyman, for further details see CL.
Genevieve de Monet is a master vampire, and Prince of France. (Note to my long- term fans: Yes, I just made this fact up for this story and Complicated Lives, it's never been mentioned before. That's why it's called _fiction_. Yes, I stole the term Prince from Vampire: The Masquerade or Kindred: the Embraced or Forever Knight: the Musical, or one of those silly things. So what?) Tall for a woman of her times (she's over 500 years old), blonde, blue-eyed, drop-dead gorgeous (yes, there are blonde French women), Gen lives in a real genuine castle and runs her own winery. Don't ask for the specialite de maison. She is very close to the Brotherhood (see intro to Complicated Lives), having rescued Gideon from his turnsire and turned Joshua, as well as having been in on that original fight that formed the Brotherhood. She is the head of a very similar organization of vampires in France that fights for truth, justice and good brioche. She is often consulted on points of vampire law (yes, okay, I invented that concept, too.) She's had a long-running, on-again, off-again relationship with a dangerous, temperamental male vampire (whom she turned) named Jean de la Mare. Bet you didn't know Walter had a vampire relative.
Jean de la Mare is, to nobody's surprise, yet another vampire. He was a captain in the French military when he was badly wounded and found by Gen. Rather than watch him die a slow, agonizing death, she turned him. He is a rogue, a philanderer, a drinker, a gambler--in other words, pretty much just like Julian, which is why they don't like each other much. Jean is around average height and weight, a bit on the slim and muscular side, and has brown hair and hazel eyes--which are usually roving, like his hands.
This story came about because Julian invited Gideon and Joshua to come visit him in Paris and redecorate a home of his there. That came about because Julian, along with Adrian Talbot (not Blakesley, see: Centre Stage), Nimue (see: Complicated Lives), and Francis (a carefree young biker vampire, who briefly dated Adele, see CL) all conspired to drop some recreational pharmaceuticals into a beverage being consumed by one stuffy Baron at a St Paddy's Day party, and this is Julian's way of apologizing. Don't say sorry, take the man on an all-expenses paid trip to Paris and then put his life in danger. Yup, that's Julian.
A follow on adventure featuring Adele is to be found at : Complicated Lives
For info on Adrian Talbot: Centre Stage
For the story of the debacle at the casino, see Henry VI, Part 2, act ii, scene i
For further exploits of the Brotherhood of Darkness, scroll to the top of this page and hit the link for "Go back to Fraser's Fractured Fiction"
For really badly executed anime-type portraits of an extremely rough, not accurate idea of what they look like, go to Portrait Gallery
For more information on Julian: Laura Place
And now our story:
The sleek Mercedes limousine was creeping along in Paris traffic. Regardless of how nice your car, Paris was Paris.
The blond fellow, M Vaurien, was frowning out the window. Gabrielle doubted it was the traffic that was making him gloomy.
"Oh, do stop complaining!" the woman with him replied crossly.
"Darling, don't take your sexual frustrations out on me," M Vaurien replied, not bothering to look her way. If he had he'd have seen visual daggers aimed squarely at his heart. Gabrielle was a bit worried one might accidentally find her.
"I am not sexual frustrated. I merely.."
"Oh, you merely," he mimicked.
Gabrielle, feeling discretion the safer port in a storm (who says you can't mix metaphors), ran up the dividing glass so she could better concentrate on traffic rather than listen bemused to the two handsome people currently occupying her back seat. She had worked for Julian Vaurien a few weeks ago. She knew he was strange. Well, she could hardly not notice. But she'd not lost her cool and not commented on the events of the evening, so when he'd called to hire a car again, he'd asked for her by name. She was surprised he'd asked for a limo. He preferred a Jaguar S type, she knew. She knew because he'd asked her if she'd like a job as his chauffeur. She was giving it serious thought.
The lady with M Vaurien was lovely. She had thick dark hair which fell in curls to her shoulders. Her eyes, cobalt blue, were set widely under slightly thick eyebrows and were enhanced with lush dark eyelashes. A sprinkle of freckles adorned her slightly upturned nose. She was wearing designer jeans which fit her like a glove and a dark crimson silk blouse. The colour flattered her creamy skin tone in a way that was rather unexpected.
M Vaurien wore jeans as well, with a silk sweater the colour of his blue yes. Gabrielle wondered if they were related. She thought not, although M Vaurien treated the woman as if she were his younger sister. She looked to be in her 20s, he in his early 30s.
Finally they were weaving their way through the traffic at Orly. Her employer had already instructed her to go to the area where private planes landed. She'd driven him there before to meet someone else, so she well knew where he meant. She wondered if they were picking up the same man as before. Perhaps not.
She pulled the limousine to a smooth halt at the main entry to the building that served the area and turned to find M Vaurien's eyes on her. She hit the button to lower the glass between them.
"Thank you Mlle Deville. We are awaiting at least two fellows no doubt with mounds of luggage."
"Shall I check for them?" she asked in French.
"Non. Wait here. We'll find them." His French was Parisian, nearly perfect which made it a bit odd. Most Parisians didn't know their own language that well. But, then he was English.
Gabrielle moved to get out of the car to get his door but he was too quick for her.
"No need," he explained as he shut his door. He walked around the car to open the woman's door.
The young woman, wearing quite high heels with her jeans, faltered as she tried to stand. The surface was rough and no doubt a heel had found a recess. M Vaurien caught her easily and laughed.
Gabrielle listened to them as they made their way into the terminal. They were speaking English with a very British accent.
"See. Silly girl. Those heels will kill you."
The woman laughed aloud and leaned against him. "Julian, you hardly have room to talk."
Aghast, "I am NOT wearing spikes."
"Oh, but I'll bet you have in the past."
"I shan't answer that impertinent question. How is your brother?"
Their voices faded as the doors closed behind them and Gabrielle pulled the limo off to the parking area where she could get out and stretch. Not to mention gossip a bit with other drivers gathered there awaiting their patrons.
They had risked letting Mitch fly them into Paris in Gideon's private jet, although Gideon was worried about the French authorities looking for the plane and pilot both after Alex's casino debacle. Mitch had been the only one to show up on the security footage of that unfortunate incident. But apparently the French police were pretending the casino sabotage had never happened, for nobody questioned Mitch, Gideon or Joshua. Taking a regular commercial flight was far too risky. Crumbling into dust if the plane was delayed was hard to explain.
Joshua blinked a bit in the harsh lights of the terminal, still not quite used to travelling as a vampire. Gideon wore sunglasses, which made him look... well, kind of cool and mysterious. He would have been horrified to know this, of course. Mitch tagged along behind them, grinning to himself. He'd actually gotten away with it! He'd been worried that he'd be nabbed on sight. They made it through baggage claim, Customs, security, and the other assorted tribulations of the international traveller to the area where passengers were met.
"Think he'll be here?" Josh asked, juggling his bags.
"I hope so," Gideon replied. "I would hate to have to call Jean to come and get us, we would never hear the end of it."
"You _are_ prepared to meet Julian halfway, aren't you?" Josh asked. He wasn't referring to the upcoming physical meeting.
"I've said so," Gideon replied with dignity. "As I told Adrian, we must put the events of the past behind us and be willing to work together against the threat of the Bureau."
"And?" Josh prompted.
"And it's juvenile to hold a grudge," Gideon sighed. "All right, all right, I do understand."
Josh grinned at him. "You can be a stubborn so and so sometimes, you know," he said.
Mitch snickered. They ignored him.
"Yes, well..." Gideon shrugged. He looked around the airport, trying to spot Julian. "I don't see him."
Joshua was taller. "There he is." He waved.
Julian spotted Josh and waved back. He and Adele came forward through the crowd.
"Gideon!" Adele gushed as she gave Gideon a hug, a squeeze and a kiss on each cheek. She was grinning wickedly when she turned to Josh and repeated the ritual. "Josh! Welcome to Paris!" Sotto voice for Josh alone she added, "Poor Gideon. I couldn't quite help greeting him enthusiastically. I hope he'll survive." She kept hold of Josh's arm as she turned toward Mitch. She wasn't quite so familiar with the younger man. She smiled a little shyly at him. "Hullo, Mitch. Welcome to Paris. Will you be staying too?"
"No, I'll be leaving in the morning and coming back to pick them up when they're done here," Mitch replied. "Evan can't look after Oakwoods all by himself, after all."
Julian had held back a bit to let Adele do all the hugging and kissing. Finally when she'd seemed to settle down for a moment and turned her attention to Mitch, Julian stepped closer.
"Thank you both for coming." He held out a hand in a far more solemn welcome. Josh took it with alacrity but Gideon, as was his wont, a bit more formally. Finally Julian turned to Mitch and smiled at him a bit shyly. Which everyone found a bit odd. "Good to see you, Mitch."
Gideon was looking slightly stunned by Adele's reception. He murmured something that was probably polite, but his expression, behind the shades, was that of someone mildly embarrassed.
"I've made reservations for a suite for you at RÃ©sidence Des Arts. It isn't far from the apartment and sits amidst in all those intriguing little back streets I thought Josh would like exploring. If you'd prefer to be on des Champs Elysses I'll see to it."
"It doesn't matter," Gideon managed to reply. "Is the place safe for vampires?"
"Hmmm. Rather ask is the place safe from vampires. I don't see where it will be a problem for you. They're very discrete. I've explained that you prefer to be undisturbed during the day and that maid service will be appreciated during the dinner hour. That ought to keep them out of your rooms. Just put out the don't disturb sign. If you like, I can have a couple of friends keep an eye out on the two of you during the day. They'll be delighted to do so." The twinkle in Julian's eye was quite clear. And Adele snickering also indicated that she was up on what Julian had planned.
"Anyone we know?" Josh thought he'd best ask.
"Uhm... I don't think so. But I'll send them round if you'd like to get to know them before you commit your safety to them."
"Yes, I would like that," Gideon said.
"So would I, just so I can tell Evan to relax," Mitch put in.
"I'll arrange it." As they walked toward the limousine Julian continued, "I've also arranged a car for you and a driver. Gabrielle is at your disposal. She's driven for me so she is aware of some of my, uhm, eccentricities. I've told her you both are nocturnal so she won't be surprised at being needed late into the night. She's a normal, however, so give her a bit of a break if she reacts a touch too much to anything."
"I could stay and be your driver," Mitch offered.
"In Paris?" Joshua replied. "Not a chance. Besides, Pumpkin needs you at home."
"Adele has agreed to run errands for you, Josh, if you want things picked up or purchased or whatever. She's quite excited about helping you out." Julian didn't look all that pleased at that, especially as Adele batted her baby blues innocently at Josh. Adele was many things, innocent not being one of them.
"How was your flight?" Julian asked Gideon apparently doing his best to ignore Adele's worrisome delight at being included in the fun.
Glad to switch to a normal conversation, feeling a bit bewildered by the amount of information Julian had just imparted, Gideon replied, "Oh, fine. We had an excellent pilot."
Mitch grinned. "Natch," he said.
"The in-flight service lacked a little something, though," Josh teased.
"I'm flying the plane," Mitch replied, grin not wavering. "If you want a flight attendant, hire one."
"Hmmm," Julian was muttering. Josh wondered if he ought to worry when Julian looked so intent on considering something.
Ignoring this exchange, Gideon turned to Julian. He was making an effort to keep things friendly. "How have you been?" he asked.
"Well, Gideon. Quite well. I believe I'm over the initial discomfort of losing a part of myself. I confess it was a bit traumatic. But I do believe I've weathered the worst of it."
They'd exited the building by then and Julian led them over to the limo. The driver, a very well endowed young lady as tall as Julian, stood lithe and upright awaiting them. She wore a shy smile along with her uniform. The uniform could barely be called one in reality. She could, if anyone had seen her apart from the vehicle, have been easily mistaken for someone's stock broker.
"Ah, Gabrielle," Julian commented. "These gentleman are the fellows you'll be driving for. Gideon Redoak," he added with a slight bow toward Gideon, "and Joshua Tevallion. The young scamp is Mitch who will, alas, be leaving in the morning."
Gabrielle smiled and managed a slight bow to each of the men. "I am delighted to be at your disposal," Gabrielle said slowly, carefully ennunciating each word. "My English is only fair, so please forgive."
She opened the door and would have held it for her passengers but Julian waved her off so she could join Mitch at the boot to help load the suitcases.
"'Allo," she said to Mitch. "I am sorry you will not be staying to enjoy my city. Do let me help," she added as he easily hefted the luggage into the boot.
"No, I'm fine," he grinned at her. "I'm sorry, too." He gave a dramatic sigh, or at least made the attempt, but he'd never equal Adrian Talbot at it. "But duty calls me back to Maine."
"I would like to visit New England some time, I 'ear it is very nice."
"Oh, yes, very nice."
The others had gotten into the car by this time, Adele insisting on sitting beside Gideon. "Are those Ray Bans?" she asked, snatching off the sunglasses he'd completely forgotten about.
"Yes," he replied. "I find the lights in airports are very harsh."
She swept her eyes over him. "And you're wearing a _sweater_, aren't you?" It was hard to resist teasing Gideon, he made such a good target. "No tie? Aren't you practically undressed?"
"Oh leave him alone, Adele," Josh said, laughing. "You have no idea how long it took me to talk him into not wearing a tie."
Mitch snorted, but made no comment.
Something that might have been a mischievous smile on anyone else crossed Gideon's face for a moment. "You're not wearing Francis," he said to Adele. "Aren't you practically undressed?"
Adele's giggle of delight made that tiny smile last a bit longer on Gideon's face. "Oh, you naughty fellow!" She winked. "How is Francis? He's such a dear boy, but, you know, there are other handsome blond fellows available."
Julian noticeably slunk down into his seat a bit deeper.
"Oh, silly," she said to him. "Your ego is already so bloated. Do you think you're the only handsome blond fellow I know?"
"Well, I am the handsomest," Julian replied with a grin.
"I'm seriously working on proving you wrong!"
Adele kept the conversation full of bubbly comments until Gabrielle pulled the limousine to the curb at the front of the RÃ©sidence Des Arts. The hotel was located in the centre of Paris, Le Grand Louvre, La cathÃ©drale NÃ´tre-Dame, les Invalides, and la Tour Eiffel all within easy walking distance. There were many people on the streets, and little wine bars and brasseries had tables on the sidewalks, most filled with happy people enjoying the beautiful fall weather. The Latin Quarter was living up to its hype.
A liveried man hurried forward to get the door, helping Adele to exit the limo first. He signalled fellows forward to take the luggage and whisk it off efficiently. There was no plebeian necessity to sign in. Obviously Julian was known here and the manager himself greeted him.
"These are my friends, Andre. Gideon Redoak and Joshua Trevallion."
"Ah, so pleased to meet you and so happy to welcome you!" Andre offered with a bow. "Please to come this way. Your suite is of course ready. We understand your needs and have advised the staff to respect your privacy during the day."
"Merci beaucoup," Gideon replied, with a slight bow.
"Yes, thank you," Josh said with a smile.
"Mr Vaurien, your staff has arrived. They are upstairs." He added, very softly, "I hope."
Andre showed them to the elevators, gorgeous things in themselves, all mahogany and brass, in keeping with the beauty and the history of the building itself. Julian waved him off assuring him they'd find their way just fine.
When they stepped off the elevator at the proper floor, next to highest, they barely caught a glimpse of staff hurrying off down the hallway, having, apparently, already delivered the luggage.
A young man was standing at an open doorway. He was slight, and earnest looking, dark curls fell over his forehead. He wore round glasses that made his dark eyes seem large and wide. He looked near to panic. It became apparent quickly just who panicked him.
"Spencer!" Adele gushed rushing forward to wrap her arms around one of his. "Huu Uh... Hello, Ms Blakesley."
"Oh, Spencer, do I need to have Julian beat you to make you call me Adele?"
"Adele, do stop badgering Spencer. He's at such a disadvantage. Shame on you."
Adele did not look in the least ashamed of herself.
"Gideon, Josh, Mitch, meet my, ah, my assistant, Spencer Smythe."
"Hello," Spencer replied with a shy smile. He looked to be in his early 20s. He wore jeans but they were dressed up with a very worn tweed jacket. He was clutching, for dear life, a scuffed leather briefcase. He held it up against his chest much like a shield.
"Mrs Barnard is...." Spencer said to his boss, but Julian interrupted before he'd gotten much further, "Don't tell me. She's inspecting the kitchen and having a chat with the maids."
"Between Spencer and my housekeeper, I doubt any creature would be foolish enough to give you grief, Gideon. I do hope they will relieve your mind and you and Josh will feel safe."
About that time the said, and it had to be her, Mrs Barnard came round the corner. She was dressed sensibly. Sensibly shod, with a sensible haircut and sensible clothing, and an entirely too sensible looking handbag hanging over her arm. She was towing what must be one of the hotel maids. Her rapid-fire French was said low and, uhm, sensibly. The men could only catch a few words - something about the fact that Mrs Barnard would be here and would make quite certain nothing whatever would be allowed to go wrong for the master's friends' stay. The maid shivered. Julian's quick smile and wink went some way to ease her terror. Even so, seeing the gaggle of people in the hallway made her hurry off the moment Mrs Barnard let go of her.
Mrs Barnard watched the young maid hare off, most disapprovingly.
"Ah, your body guard," Julian said with a twinkle in his eye. "Mrs Barnard."
Mrs Barnard, shorter than even Gideon, walked up to the men and looked all three of them up and down. Her eyes locked on Josh's, "I gather you're the decorator? I have a thing or two to say to you about the kitchen. A cook has certain basic needs, you see."
Julian was trying very hard not to laugh. So was Mitch.
Josh's mouth twitched. "I am an antiques broker," he said quietly, "but Julian said that he trusts my tastes more than those of a professional decorator. And I know my way around a kitchen, so I'm sure I'll make you happy."
She took a sheaf of papers from the pocket book that hung over her arm, "I've a few suggestions," she commented.
Julian threw up his hands. "Mrs Barnard, give the men a few moments at least to get acclimated, and, more importantly, to examine their surroundings."
She looked over and up (she was probably 4'5' at most) at her employer. Her pale face coloured. "Yes, of course, M Vaurien. You are exactly right." She put her exhaustive list of kitchen requirements away in her pocketbook.
She began to shoo Mitch, Josh and Gideon before her. "That way. I've had the king size bed moved into that room. There are no windows and only the doors to the private bath and out into this sitting room. You can have this other room here right beside them," she said to Mitch. "Myself, Gabrielle and Spencer will take turns remaining here during the days. No one will live long enough
to open the door into that room."
Spencer opened his mouth, to protest no doubt, that he hadn't taken the job as Julian's assistant with the intent to murder anyone. "I have no intention of inflicting bodily injury on anyone," Spencer did say stiffly.
"Nor should you. Just use the coins I've given each of you to summon me. I shall be delighted to conduct any and all mayhem required." Julian was struggling to keep a straight face. "Although, alas, I doubt I'll have the excuse to do much of it. I'm sadly out of shape on the berserker front. But old habits do die hard."
Gideon, Josh and Mitch wandered through the elegantly appointed suite and found that it would indeed do. It did have the ubiquitous floor to ceiling windows in the main rooms, but the bedroom that had been arranged for them was safely free of any places to allow sun to enter.
Once everyone had returned to the main sitting room, Julian, who had been standing at the windows looking out at the nightlife, turned. Adele had been stalking Spencer, who looked terrified enough to jump out said open windows.
"So, Gideon, Josh, Mitch would you like us to leave you to your own devices this evening?" Julian offered. "Or would you like just the four, or the five of us if you wish to include Adele, to hit the streets and see the sights? If you two would prefer a romantic evening by yourselves we would certainly understand. We could always kidnap Mitch and take him out with us. I believe you are familiar with Paris in this day and age."
"I'd love to go tour Paris with you," Mitch said to Julian, but he was looking at Adele.
Josh nudged Gideon, who appeared deep in thought. "Oh, sorry," said the Baron, with a little bow. "Let us look over the accommodations here a bit more, freshen up a bit; and then, yes, we would love a tour."
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