His fingers drummed noisily and impatiently on the mahogany desk top. He was growing tired of the waiting game. The next time she was late, it didn’t matter the circumstances behind it, if she was late one more time… Oh, she would regret ever being born. He could, would make sure of that.

“Relax, would you? I’m here now,” a seductive voice said from behind him. He did not jumped, as he might have before… well, that was a topic reserved for later.

“Where have you been?” he barked at her.

“Are you talking to me in that tone? Watch yourself big boy. You don’t want to do anything you might regret. You may be big and bad, one of the tough boys, but I’m still stronger than you. Or have you forgotten the last time you lost your temper with me? I don’t believe it ended very well; as I recall, you were left crying for your mother on the corner, your throat almost torn out, drenched in your own fear-filled blood. And no one seemed to give a damn, did they; they stared at you as if you were a joke, or no… they looked at you with pity and fear, fear for themselves. They thought you were a curse, a poison bringing hell upon them. Do you remember that, Mike? I remember it. You were lucky I showed you mercy that day,” She said. Her lips were dangerously close to his throat, he could feel her breath, warm and sweet, at the side of his face.

“Why have you kept me waiting for so long?” He asked her again, a more calm tone in his voice now.

“I got caught up in something. You know… business,” was all she told him.

“Novella, dear, have you got it?” Mike asked.

“Have I ever failed you? You know, you really should trust me more,” she chided.

Novella was now standing before Mike in the dimly lighted office. She took out of her bag a small white box. Her hand was a pale ivory color, radiant in even dark places. With the smallest motion, she flicked the box at him. He caught it, if only barely, his clumsy hands played with the lid. Slowly, he peered inside, as if afraid. When he saw the contents, though, he seemed satisfied.

“Forgive me if your kind has made their selves a species known to be unreliable. I am not putting you specifically in the spotlight here, but vampires are scarcely dependable. They care of nothing other than themselves,” he said nonchalantly. He knew he was getting deeper into territories he should not be, but he couldn’t help himself.

Novella’s black eyes narrowed, and in a whirl of papers flying everywhere, she had him cornered and breathing hard. “And werewolves are any better? Tell me. Since when have you done anything for anyone else? When was the last time you were kind and generous, if only for a short moment?” Her voice was hard like steel, and her Italian accent could be distinctly heard now. Usually, the accent only came out when she was in distress or upset over something, or just merely bored.

Mike swallowed hard, and his mind reeled, thinking of different ways to fight her off.

“You haven’t,” she spat.

“Lei non mi spaventa. Lei non può nuocermi, per io ha tuttavia che lei cerca,” he lied. He was absolutely terrified of her.

“Sono sicuro. Lei sa, lei non è il solo un che può prendere me il squillo. Ho molte altre risorse, e sono sicuro che potrei prenderlo per un prezzo più basso. Sono disposto a compromettere con lei ora, ma solo se lei coopera. Dovrei avvertirla, nonostante. Il momento i miei cambiamenti di mente, lei è fatto per. Lei vuole rischiare ciò realmente?” She asked him huskily. Michelangelo’s eyes were wide with disbelief.

He was shocked at how dispensable he was to her. No… he did not want to risk it. He shook his head vigorously.

“Good. How long will it take to get the ring?” Novella asked calmly, standing as if nothing had happened. This girl did not play around when it came to business.

“A month at the latest,” he answered her quickly.

“A month? Un mese? You cannot be serious! I need that damn ring by Sunday! If I do not have it by Friday night, you are over. Do you hear me? Done for,” she hissed in his face again. “You have until Friday, midnight. Meet me on the roof of your apartment building. I will be waiting, and do not forget, watching. I will be watching you all the time, so do not mess up. You won’t see me, though. I’ll be lurking in the shadows,” she smiled to herself. “Amo le ombre,” she purred quietly.

She whirled around again, and then Novella was gone. Mike sat up and allowed himself to exhale graciously. He thought for sure that she would kill him a moment ago. He pulled his cellular out of its case in his pocket. He dialed the five on the keyboard hard, and held the phone to his ear.

“It’s time. Sam, you have got to get me that ring, now. She wants it by Friday, midnight. You got to put everything else on hold, and get it made, or everything is doomed. She’ll be watching me, and probably you, too. Start working on it tonight. Don’t let me down, man. Ho bisogno di lei,” Mike pleaded.

“Mike, I’ve told you to stop getting yourself into these kinds of messes. Do you not remember what happened with David? He’s dead because of her kind. No more messing around with them. I mean it. Lei deve fermare quest'ora,” Sam said.

“Sam, no. She will kill all of us if she doesn’t get that ring. Think of Roxanne. Do you want to see her hurt? Because she will be if you don’t make that ring,” Mike threatened.

“Dimmit, Mike! Why do you do this? You know it’s dangerous, and you know you could get everyone killed. But you don’t seem to care about anyone else, do you. Just so long as you get your precious items from India, or Egypt, or wherever the hell you get them. You shouldn’t be a part of the pack if you can’t act and work like a team member. It isn’t fair to us. Come here right now, and we will talk this out rationally,” Sam demanded.

“Okay. But, just start on the damn ring,” Mike said and hung up. He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

He should have listened to Sam that first time. He should have walked away from this business, but he couldn’t. He loved the thrill and rush of doing the forbidden… the bad. And he loved how he was stronger and in control of his clientele. Well, most of his clients, anyway. Novella was different though. She was in control of him, and she knew that. He hasn’t ever worked with a vampire before, and at first, he thought it would be a simple and easy job. But he was wrong. Oh, how he was so very wrong.

Novella was not a fool, nor could she be played for one. She was very strong, very old, and had a fire that burned in her, making her stubborn and determined. He wished he’d ignored her then. But she was not a force that was easily ignored. It was her lips, he thought sullenly.

Novella had flawless pink lips, positively perfect in every way. Hell, it wasn’t just her lips. She had dark, shoulder length brown hair, always worn down and in ringlets. Her eyes, usually a crisp blue, were black tonight, though. She had been feeding, then, he surmised. He supposed that that was a good thing, considering the alternative; she could have come here hungry, and she for sure would have killed him then. Or maybe not… Vampires and werewolves usually steered clear of each other, rarely even acknowledging the other’s existence.

He wondered what the ring was for. He pondered this until he reached the edge of the forest. There, still thinking of Novella and the ring she so direly needed, he transformed into the cruel and unnatural beast he really was. Werewolves did not need a full moon to change, but it certainly helped. All the moon really did was increase his powers. Presently, no moon appeared in the light grayish, almost a pale purple sky. The cloud cover was too dense.

Mike stretched his muscles, his wolf body arching its back. He then took off at a mind-boggling speed through the dark forest, narrowly missing trees and bushes in his path; but he was, by far, no means faster than the beautiful vampire Novella. The older a vampire is, the stronger it is.

The End

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