I heard a knock at the door downstairs and froze, hoping it wasn't Emma again. Or, even worse, her apparently-vampire-hunting husband... I slowly got up and walked out the room. Riley and Zoe started to follow me.
"Stay here," I whispered to them before continuing down the stairs alone.
I opened the door and the person stood there surprised me. It wasn't a psychotic, vampire-slaying assassin, it was a woman. Her tight red dress hugged her body, putting all her curves on display. The dress was split at the very top of her right thigh. The one-shouldered, constricting dress was designed to be arousing and interest-provoking, that was easy to see.
Her lips displayed a bright red lipstick, drawing the attention away from her grey eyes. Her black hair fell down her back, reaching her waist. There was a thin snake with blue and black bands that could be easily seen in her hair. She looked at me with her very familiar eyes. I stepped aside to let her in. I shut the door behind her and led her into the living room. I shut that door too and sat down on the couch opposite her.
"You've missed the past six councils," she said to me in Russian. I didn't answer. "You'd better be coming this time. Your whole coven, which I'm told has a new addition."
She raised an eyebrow as I thought of how to respond. I spoke to her in Russian, like always.
"Zoe was... a special case. And I have no intentions of coming to council, this time or next," I replied.
She just watched me for a while. Her snake slithered down through her hair and into her lap. It crawled across the table between us and looked at me curiously. I picked it up and looked at it. It was a blue krait, a highly venomous snake from southeast Asia. The Russian woman sat opposite me crossed her right leg over her left, allowing me to see to the top of her thigh.
"Why do you not come to council, Ace?" she asked in her native tongue. "You miss all the festivies. The drink, the women, the games..."
"And these games would happen to be of a sexual nature, yes?" She smiled and bit her lip, knowing fully well I loved it when she did that.
"Ace, you know us so well," she murmured, smiling devilishly.
The door burst open to reveal Zoe. She looked pissed off to say the least. She strode into the middle of the room and put her hands on her hips.
"Who the hell's this?" she demanded. In English, obviously; I didn't even know if she could speak a different language.
"Zo, we're in the middle of a conversation here," I pointed out in a language she would understand. I glanced at the woman. She seemed as calm and collected as she usually was.
"Yeah, in a different language!" she shouted.
"It's only Russian," I mumbled. Zoe glanced between me, the woman and the snake I still had in my hands. I sighed. "Zo, this is Afanasya. She's a vampire too."
Nasya spoke in English, to no one in particular, "She's a half-blood. Nobody told me she was still a half-blood. How interesting." She focused her attention on me. "I do expect to see you at council this year, Ace. All of you please. You know what happens if you miss another one."
She took the snake from my hand and let it slither up into her black hair. She looked at Zoe before vanishing.
"Did she just disappear?" asked Zoe quietly.
"I forget I haven't told you everything yet. Every vampire develops an ability, though there have been cases of multiple gifts, but never more than two. Like I have shapeshifting. Riley and Nasya both have teleportation."
"What about Darran?"
I contemplated telling her. "Ask him. If he wants you to know, he'll tell you."
"What's so bad about it?"
"It's... dangerous. Very dangerous. If he doesn't control it, bad things happen. I'll tell you that much."