All the characters in the following story are owned by Spelling Television Inc. [A subsidiary of
Spelling Entertainment Group Inc.].  Vampire: The Masquerade is owned by Mark
Rein*Hagan/White Wolf Publishing.  My use is in no way a challenge to their copyrights.

The story and events are mine.

--------------------------------------------THE HUNT---------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------By Kelly Schweighauser-------------------------------------------

     "Lorraina," Cash snapped.  "Stop struggling."
     The smaller Gangrel writhed away from him again and continued tofight with the necktie that
wouldn't knot properly around her throat.  When he tried to help her again she elbowed him the
stomach.   
     "I've had an easier time subduing Brujah," he frowned at her.  "Than getting you into that
uniform."
     "Bite me," Lorraina snarled.  "Stupid get-up. Don't see why I have to wear it.  He doesn't
make you wear a suit."
     "Lorraina," Cash said.  "You're doing it backwards....don't turn it that way...put it
around....Would you please let me do that for you?  You are driving me crazy with that stupid
thing."
     Lorraina tore the necktie off and handed it to Cash.  "You do it.  You wear it.  I agreed to
drive his car, I don't see why that requires me to have a stupid piece of cloth around my neck."
     "It's the tie or the skirt," Cash shook the twisted necktie in her face.  "You wear one or the
other if you're going to be the chauffeur for the Prince."
     "You wear the skirt, Cash," Lorraina suggested.  "You've got the legs for it."
     "Whelp," he tried to cuff her across her head, but she seized his wrist and attempted to throw
him.  He changed his balance at the last second and they both tumbled to the floor.
     "Leech," she snarled.  "Corpse."  She wrapped her arms around him, trying for a head-lock. 
He jerked free and elbowed her in her side. 
     "Anarch," he countered, going for a scissor-lock around her waist.  She tried to bite him and
got a mouthful of his leather jacket.  He pressed his advantage, rolling on top of her.  She tried to
continue the roll to throw him off and ran against one of the elegantly paneled walls of the
Luna Mansion.
     "Had enough?" Cash grinned down at his Brood-Sister.  "Say 'necktie'."
     Lorraina convulsed, still determined to throw him off, but he had her pretty well pinned. 
Then her gaze went past him and her face went from play-anger to genuine dislike.  Cash turned
his head, but it was only Sasha coming down the stairs.  Sasha looked at the two of them
entangled on the floor, her face expressionless.  Then she retrieved her cloak from the closet and
stepped outside.
     Cash got to his feet to follow her, disregarding Lorraina's angry hiss for him to stay and
continue the fight.  "Brujah-loving coward," she muttered to his back.  Cash ignored her.

     The Haven made Frank nervous.  It wasn't just that it was a vampire hang-out, and that he
couldn't tell the Kindred from the humans.  It was that The Haven was a hell of a lot nicer than
most places he went drinking in.  He had the uncomfortable feeling that he stuck out like a
sore thumb.  It wasn't going to be easy learning about Kindred society when he couldn't go
undercover.
     Frank sat at the bar and ordered a domestic beer.  He hadn't really considered what his next
move should be.  Obviously he couldn't just ask people about vampires.  Perhaps if he just stayed
quiet and listened he'd overhear something, anything, that might point him in the right direction.
     "Oh, no," a voice behind him whispered.  "It's the police."  Frank flinched as Lillie's light
hand brushed his shoulder.
     "Jesus, Lillie," he gasped, turning towards The Haven's elegant owner.  "Don't sneak up on me
like that."
     Lillie settled on the stool next to him.  She kept her hand on his arm.  "Your heart is beating
awfully fast, Frank.  I didn't mean to frighten you."
     Great, she could hear his heart banging its way out of his chest.  So could every other Kindred
in the room, probably.  His grin was lopsided.  "You have that effect on men, Lillie."
     "Flattery will get you everywhere," she laughed.  "What brings you in tonight?  If you're
looking for Julian, he's not here."
     "No, I came  cause I knew he was busy.  I didn't particularly want to see him tonight."
     Lillie's eyebrows rose.  "Why, Frank,"  she said suggestively.  "That sounds as if you came to
see me."
     Frank looked away quickly.  God, she unsettled him.  She was so beautiful and so deadly. 
"Umm, actually," he stammered.  He had no idea what he could say to her.
     She laughed again, musically.  Her cool hand trailed up his neck and under his chin.  Gently
she turned his head to face her.  "I know you didn't come to hear the band, Frank."  Her eyes
teased him gently.  "So what kind of trouble are you looking for?"
     "The Kindred kind," he confessed.  "What else?"
     She moved closer, so that her thigh touched his.  "I'd say you found it."
     She had that right.  He tried to look away from her sea-green eyes and couldn't.  He could
drown in those eyes.  She's a predator, Frank reminded himself.  Lillie could rip out your throat
out without even blinking.  She's dangerous, she's Julian's, she's....
     Lillie leaned over and kissed him,  a gentle brush of her lips against his.  It was sweet and
innocent and filled with promise of so much more.  She took his breath away.  "Why don't we go
somewhere ... quieter ...so we can talk?"  He followed her upstairs without a protest.

     Cash caught up to Sasha just inside the mansion's gates.  "Hey, what's with the sad face?"
     "Nothing," Sasha paused.  "I'm just... bored.  I thought I'd go looking around the
neighborhood.  I'm allowed to do that, right?"
     "Sure," Cash smiled.  "I'll go with you.  It's a nice night for a walk."
     "I'd rather go alone, Cash," Sasha answered stiffly.  She bit her lip and looked away, looking
guilty as hell.  As far as Cash knew she hadn't done anything.  "I'm feeling kind of boxed in. 
Like everybody is always looking at me, waiting for the Brujah freak to start trouble.  I just need
to be alone for a while."
     Cash caught her arm though the soft folds of her cloak.  "No one thinks of you that way,
Sasha," he told her urgently.
     "Lorraina does," Sasha shrugged off his arm.  "All the Gangrel do, and almost everyone else,
besides.  No sweat, I can handle it."
     Cash swallowed.  Sasha was right, the Gangrel didn't like her.  They couldn't see that she
should have been one of them.  "If you want to be with your own Clan for a while," he
volunteered.  It broke his heart to think of her with the Brujah.
     "Hell no!"  Sasha exclaimed.  "I hate those bastards almost as much as you do, Cash.  And I
don't fit in there, either.  All they talk about is guns and hurting people and how I should break
up with you.  It gets old real fast."
     That was a relief to hear.  The further she stayed away from her own Clan, the better.  The
Brujah were no where near good enough for her.  But she must be lonely cut off from her own
kind.  Ever since he'd been Embraced Cash had been surrounded by the Gangrel pack.  He
couldn't imagine an existence without the company of his Clan-mates.
     Sasha shifted her weight uncomfortably from foot to foot.  "I'll be back in a couple of hours,"
she muttered.
     "Okay," Cash replied.  He didn't want to leave her alone, his every instinct said for him to stay
by her side.  But she wasn't in his Clan, she was Brujah, and her needs were different.  She said
she wanted to be alone so he suppressed his intuition and turned back toward the mansion. 
"Don't get into any trouble," he called over his shoulder.
     "I won't," Sasha assured him.  When he turned around at the top of the steps she had
disappeared into the night.  He let himself back in the house wishing he had convinced her to let
him walk with her.  Maybe she'd be back before Julian wanted to go to out.
     Julian was working in the library; Cash decided to join him.  He sat on the leather sofa and
thought about Sasha and the Brujah, Sasha and Lorraina, Sasha in her soft velvet cape with her
wild hair spilling out of the hood.  Lorraina had Embraced two more Gangrel since Stevie Ray
made her, but Cash had never wanted to bring someone into the Clan until he met Sasha Luna.
     Cash was so worried about her that he couldn't even work up his old familiar anger at Martin
for stealing her when the Prince had given Sasha to him.
     "Do you want to talk about it?"  Julian asked him.
     Cash looked up, startled. 
     "Something is bothering you, Cash," Julian informed him.  "It's obvious that you are upset. 
Do you want to talk to me about it?"
     "It's Sasha," Cash told the Prince.  Julian nodded his understanding.  "She's been so unhappy
recently.  I'm worried about her."
     "I've noticed how morose she has been," Julian confirmed.  "Can you think of anything I
could do to help her?"
     Cash shook his head.  "I can't think of anything anyone could do.  But I hate to see her so
miserable."
     "Have you considered Blood Bonding her?"  Julian asked.
     Cash thought he had heard wrong.  "Blood Bond her? That's the cruelest, most heartless, most
awful..." he couldn't find words sufficient to express his revulsion at the idea.
     "Her Sire is dead," Julian continued as if it were an entirely reasonable suggestion.  "Martin's
Sire is dead.  She belongs to no one.  She should have belonged to you; you had my permission to
Embrace her, Martin did not.  If you wish to be Regnant over her, I will protect you in the
Conclave."
     "I love her, Julian," Cash protested.  "I don't want her as a Thrall."
     "But if she were your Thrall, she wouldn't be unhappy," Julian argued gently.  "I trust you,
Cash.  You would treat her well.  And she loves you already.  A Blood Bond between you would
only deepen that love and crowd out the unhappiness she feels."
     "She's unhappy because she's Brujah," Cash insisted. 
     "There is nothing either one of us can do about that now," Julian replied.  "I've considered
making the Blood Bond myself.  She's my great-great-granddaughter and I love her as if she were
my own Childe.  But she's too wild to be tamed by any Ventrue; I'd just be trading one misery
for another.  You wouldn't cage her, Cash.  You'd be wild and free and together."
     "But she wouldn't be free, Julian," Cash answered, agonized.  "She'd never be free.  Not as
long as the Bond existed.  I can't do that to her.  I'm sorry."
    "We all do what we can, Cash,"  Julian nodded in sympathy.  "And then we pray it's enough."

     Necking with Lillie had a whole different meaning, Frank reflected.  Not that she ever made a
move to bite him.  She did like kissing his throat, just below the curve of his jaw, though.  The
sensation sent shivers down his spine.  Better to kiss her cool lips, feel her tongue darting
playfully into his mouth.
     She had his jacket off and his shirt unbuttoned.  Somehow Lillie had managed to block him
from undressing her.  The furthest Frank had gotten was pushing her skirt up around her hips as
she sat in his lap.  He was getting about as far with Lillie as he was with his investigation into
the Kindred: just enough to get frustrated.
     Frank wanted to get up out of her office chair and push Lillie over the desk.  Rip her clothes
off  and make  passionate love to her.  But every time he moved she pushed him back and, damn,
she was strong. Maybe stronger than he was.  That was almost as exciting as her soft mouth
nibbling on his ear.
     He tangled his hand into her luxurious hair and pulled Lillie back to his lips again.  He ran his
tongue along her teeth, searching for her fangs.  Nothing.  As if reading his mind she bit at his
lower lip.  That made him quiver.  He felt like jell-o, or putty in her hands.  He wasn't sure he
disliked the sensation.
     "Lillie," he husked.  She couldn't keep teasing him like this.  She covered his mouth again,
silencing him, pinning him back into the chair.  One perfectly manicured hand scratched at the
back of his neck.  It was so exciting to have a woman in control of the whole seduction.
     The phone rang.  He thought she might ignore it, but after the fifth shrill peal of the bell she
pulled away, cursing softly.  "Lillie," she said into the receiver.  Frank let his head fall back and
attempted to catch his breath.  "All right," she said.  "No, you do it."  A pause.  "That's fine."  A
longer pause.  "I'm busy.  That's what I pay you for.  Good-bye, Maurice, I'm hanging up now." 
She slammed down the phone.  "Idiot."
     She drew in a deep breath and sighed.  "Now where were we?"  Her eyes sparkled with
delight as she examined Frank.  He tried to raise his head, but she pushed him back with gentle
fingers.  "Delectable," she murmured, licking her lips.
     "Go ahead," Frank offered.  A frisson of fear shook him, or maybe it was desire.  He tried to
relax, but felt extremely vulnerable with his throat exposed.  He wondered if it would hurt.
    "Oh, Frank," Lillie sighed.  "That's so sweet."
     Now he was really confused.  "I thought that's what you wanted," he ventured.
     "I do!"  Lillie protested, looking deep in his eyes.  "You don't know how much, darling.  It's
just that,"  she started to look embarrassed.  "Usually people don't offer me their blood like that."
     "Turn off?"  Frank ventured.  As usual, he found a really great woman, and then totally blew
it.
     "No!" Lillie exclaimed.  She stroked his hair with one trembling hand.  "It's so nice that you
trust me.  Even knowing what I am.  You don't treat me like a monster, and how could that
possibly turn me off?  And to actually offer me your throat like that.   Do you know how hard I
have to work at someone to get close enough to Feed?  Not that I think of you like that."
     Frank shook his head.  Lillie actually looked as if she were going to start to cry.  He pulled
her head down to his chest and kissed her hair. 
     "You make me feel so tender and protective," Lillie whispered against his chest.  He made
HER feel protective?  "I don't want to hurt you," she continued.  "I want to protect you from the
Beast."
     "I don't think you're a monster, Lillie," Frank soothed.  "You can't help being what you are. 
And what you are is a beautiful, sexy, intelligent, powerful woman who happens to need to drink
blood to survive."  And that is fine with me as long as I'm sure that you aren't hurting anyone to
get it, he added silently.
     Lillie laughed against his chest.  "Frank, I think that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me
in the last century."
     "You deserve to have nice things said to you," Frank replied.  "Lillie, if it's not too personal,
how do you get close enough to drink someone's blood?"
     "Oh, there are lots of ways," she smiled at him.  "I could just do it and then make the Vessel
forget all about it with a glance in their eyes."
     "Vessel?"  Frank raised his eyebrows.
     "That's one of the things we call you," Lillie looked slightly abashed.  "Vessel, mortal, Donor,
Kine.  Like we call ourselves Kindred.  There are other words, but they aren't so nice."
     "Well, at least I know the slang,"  He gave Lillie a squeeze.  "You were telling me how you
got the blood."
     "Satisfied the Thirst," she corrected.  "I don't like just taking it.  I like hot blood.  You see,
when the person being Drained feels strong emotions, a Kindred can taste it in their blood.  Lust
is the easiest to evoke, even if the Vessel is sleeping."  She ran one hand over his chest
suggestively.  Frank had first hand experience at how she could inspire lust, that was for certain.
     "So you can drink from someone who is sleeping or make them forget if they are awake."
That would certainly explain why there were no reports of vampire attacks in the police records.
     "Yes, a Kindred who prefers to drink from sleeping Vessels is called a succubus," Lillie
informed him.  "For obvious reasons."
     "What obvious reasons?" Frank asked.
     "The Kiss is very pleasurable, Frank," she smiled provocatively.  "When a Kindred drains a
sleeping mortal they inevitably have erotic dreams."
     "And there isn't any evidence?"
     "Well, just the kind you would expect to find after a sexual dream," Lillie stroked one hand
down his throat.  "And a little, tiny healed-over cut where the blood was taken.  Most mortals
think it's a scratch."
     Then she started to kiss him again, and he didn't want to ask any more questions.

     Marc pulled himself up to Karen's balcony and tested the latch on her sliding glass door.  As
expected, she had left it open.  He let himself into the darkened apartment and closed the door
behind him.
     The moonlight streaming in through the curtains was sufficient for him to see everything in
the little apartment she shared with her two room-mates.  He always visited her when the moon
was full so that he could appreciate their latest projects.  Lynda's most recent painting was
propped on her easel.  She was working in oils this time, but her technique was still showing the
same basic flaws.  Marc was more interested in Karen's photographs.
     He found her latest set of contact prints and perched on the sofa to peruse them.  Even in the
cramped format he could appreciate her style.  Most of this set were pictures of her other
room-mate, Jackie, pensively posed among the sunlit meadows of Angel Island.  She was
definitely improving.  He understood that as an art student she was limited in her choice of
models, but she had done a great deal with the setting and the mood.  He wished he could get
prints of some of the better photos.
     He set the prints back where he had found them and made his way into Karen's bedroom. 
Thankfully she had the apartment's smallest bedroom to herself, so he didn't have to worry about
waking her companions.  The Tom Cruise poster was still pinned over her bed.  Well, she
couldn't be completely perfect, could she?  Marc shifted  carefully through her desk until he
found the latest letter from her  mother.  It annoyed him that she used her computer for most of
her  correspondence.  He didn't dare turn it on, it would certainly wake someone if he did.
     But the letters from Mom came at least twice a month, and were filled with little details of
Karen's family life.  Photos too, sometimes, of various family members poorly posed and mostly
out of focus.  Not that Marc cared about a bunch of Warms, but it gave him insight into Karen. 
Lovely Karen of the truly beautiful photographs.
     Mom was harping about Karen's brother Charles again.  She thought Karen should spend
more time with him and less time partying.  The only reason Mom had let Karen go to school at
Berkeley was because Charles was working in Oakland.  Blah, blah, blah, same stuff as last
month.  Poor Karen, to have so much talent surrounded by a life of such banality.
     Finished with exploring the secrets of her life, Marc turned to the bed.  Karen had fallen
asleep reading, her glasses had slid off her head and onto her pillow.  Marc retrieved them and
placed them tenderly on her bedside table.  Her turned her head gently toward him, exposing the
vein in her throat, then sat next to her on the bed so he could Feed.
     The camera's flash startled him into immobility.  He didn't turn to face it until it flashed a
second time, and by then Karen had woken.  "You're real!" Karen exclaimed, clutching at him. 
"I knew I didn't just dream you."
     She had photographed him, Marc realized.  Karen had set a trap for him.  Panicked he
stumbled back from her bed, his hand covering his mouth.  She might know what he was.  He
mustn't let her see his fangs.
     "Wait," Karen called.  "Don't go!  I need to talk to you."
     As fast as he could, much faster than she could perceive, he fled her bedroom, darted out
through the sliding door and over the railing to the soft grass below.  He didn't even bother to
close the glass behind him.  As he raced across the open lawn he could hear her on the balcony,
crying for him to come back.
     It wasn't until he reached Telegraph Avenue that he remembered that he should have taken
the camera she'd used with him when he left.  Instead he'd left the photographs behind.

     Well, Frank reflected, he hadn't gotten lucky and he hadn't gotten bitten.  Things sort of
balanced out if you looked at them that way.  Unfortunately that did nothing to soothe the ache
in his loins.  He finished buttoning his shirt, tucked his tie in his pocket and figured he should
leave The Haven while leaving was still possible.
     He certainly hadn't meant to spend four hours making out with The Haven's undead owner. 
Especially since it never advanced beyond the kind of groping he used to do in High School. 
Not that the evening had been a total waste of time.  Frank was completely and utterly frustrated
now, but he'd been enjoying himself while writhing around with Lillie.  Lillie could do things
with her hands and her mouth that amazed him.  And she hadn't even gone below his waist.
     Frank shook his head when he realized that he was thinking about the next time he was with
Lillie.  There wasn't going to be a next time, he told himself.  He had gotten involved with one of
Julian Luna's girlfriends before and it had turned out very badly.  Very badly for him, and far
worse for poor Alexandra.  God only knew what Julian would do if he caught Frank with Lillie.
     Not to mention that Lillie didn't seem to have Alex's restraint.  Frank examined his neck in
the mirror.  There were no cuts or scratches.  Lillie really hadn't put the bite on him; that was
somehow surprising.  Almost as surprising as him offering his throat to her.  What had he been
thinking?
     He walked back downstairs trying to think cool thoughts.  Icebergs, snow, cold showers. 
Lillie's cool hands, cold lips and chilly kisses.  Well, that trick wasn't going to work.  He figured
he was okay to get past the mortals in the club, but he'd bet dollars to donuts that every Kindred
in the place knew what he'd been doing.  If they couldn't smell it on him, they could certainly
hear his heart banging away as if he had just run a marathon.  Which, in a manner of speaking,
he had.
     Lillie was closing down the bar; there really weren't that many patrons left.  He tried to act
casual, just wave at her and leave, but Lillie intercepted him on the stair.  "I had a wonderful
evening, Frank," she breathed, pressing against him.  "We'll have to do it again, real soon."
     "Yeah, sure," Frank answered.  "I'll call you."  Like hell he would.  He wasn't that crazy.
     "I'll walk you to your car," Lillie wrapped his arm around her and led him up the stairs.  She
was soft in all the right places, and conformed to his body as if she'd been carved to fit.  Her
auburn hair was fragrant and her skin made silk feel coarse by comparison.  With difficulty
Frank steered his thoughts to something else.  He also tried to move his hand from her buttocks,
but only managed to get it back to her waist.
     "Are you still working nights?"  Lillie asked.
     "No, swing shift," Frank answered.  "I start at four and get off at midnight."
     "When do you sleep!"  Lillie exclaimed.
     "Day time," he told her.  "When I'm safe from little Kindred visitors."
     "Don't be so sure," Lillie teased.  "No time is really safe.  Although if any Kindred dared to
harm you," she grabbed his lapels and looked up at him though her long lashes.  "I'd make them
pay."
     "Lillie," Frank blushed.
     "I'm serious Frank," Lillie began.  Frank never did learn what Lillie was serious about because
a young man slammed through the doors of the club and plowed  into Lillie's back.
     "Excuse me," the young man snapped, then his face drained of the little color it had.  "Lillie! 
I'm sorry!  I wasn't looking!  I mean," he stammered, backing away down the stairs and bowing. 
"I beg your forgiveness," he whimpered before he turned and fled.
     "Was he?"  Frank wondered, turning back to Lillie.
     "Kindred?  Oh, yes," she confirmed.  "That was Marc."  She steered him toward the door and
stepped out into the cool night air. 
     "What was his problem?"  Frank asked, following her.  His arm felt a little empty without her
on it.
     "Oh," Lillie blushed.  "He's probably in love."  She gazed at him sideways through her lashes
again.  "It's the Toreador Curse, the way we fall in love with mortals."
     She turned towards him suddenly and planted an impulsive kiss on his lips.  "Good night,
Frank," she whispered.  Then she was gone.

      Julian smiled approvingly at Lorraina.  She was in her uniform, and managed to look
halfway respectable.  Making her his chauffeur was a temporary arrangement, but if she did
well, he could easily make it a more permanent solution.  It might even be worth the effort to get
Cash to wear a real shirt, instead of the same torn tee-shirt every night.
     "We'll be going to The Haven this evening," Julian informed the Gangrel woman.  He held his
arm out and Sasha took it.  Julian was proud of the way his 'niece' looked this evening, she'd
traded her leather jeans for a mini-skirt and wore pumps instead of boots.  The casual observer
might not be able to tell she was Brujah.
     "Another one of the neighbor's dogs died last night, Sasha." Lorraina smiled venomously.  
Sasha smile melted and she went noticeably paler.  She stared at Lorraina with large frightened
eyes.
     "That's the fourth pet so far this month," Lorraina continued.  "Fifth, if you count Wilkenson's
poodle 'disappearing'."
     "Sasha?" Julian asked gently.  He wondered what Lorraina was implying.  "What have you
been doing?"
     Sasha swivelled toward him in a near panic.  "Nothing!" She insisted.  "Leave me alone!"
     "You've been drinking from animals?" Cash pushed himself away from the limousine.  "What
for?"
     "Sasha," Julian chided.  "You mustn't do that.  Animal blood is not good for you."
     "I hate you,"  Sasha swore passionately at Lorraina.  The Gangrel woman just smiled at her,
showing lots of teeth.
     Julian stroked her on the arm but Sasha shrugged him off.  "Leave me alone," she repeated. 
She looked about ready to cry.  "Just leave me alone."
     "Sasha," Cash approached his lover cautiously.  "What's the matter?"  He took a step towards
her, but she backed away from him.  Julian could see the white all the way around her eyes.  She
was truly frightened.  Why?  He reached out and put one hand on her shoulder but Sasha gave
a startled squeak and pulled away from him.
     "What do you care?" She screeched.  "What do you care what I Feed on?  What do you care
what I do?"  She knocked Julian's arm away from her and fled back into the house with a
strangled wail.
     Cash darted after her, Julian following at a more sedate pace.  She hadn't gone far.  She was
huddled in the garden next to the fountain, sobbing as if her heart would break.  Cash sat on the
stones next to her but Sasha moved away from his comforting hand.
     "I used to like animals," she whimpered.  Despite her wracking sobs her cheeks were dry. 
Julain wondered when she had last fed.  "I always had pets when I was growing up. All those
poor things, they were so scared; I didn't mean to kill them."
     "Of course you didn't," Cash answered.  "But dogs are small, Sasha, and animal blood is thin. 
You have to drink more of it just to survive."
     "It's not just the dogs,"  Sasha told him.  "I kill everything I touch.  I've tried bigger animals,
Cash.  I've tried a horse, but I killed it too."
     Julian stepped out onto the plaza.  He crossed to sit on the fountain's rim on the other side of
Sasha from his bodyguard.  "Sasha, did any of the Brujah ever show you how to Feed?" he asked
softly.
     Cash was obviously shocked at what the question implied.  If Sasha hadn't been shown what
to do when Martin first made her, if she had nothing but instinct to go on....
     Sasha shook her head.  No, the Brujah filth had made her and then abandoned her with no
teaching.  Julian reached down and patted her head.  "It's all right," he soothed. "It's not your
fault."
     "Yes, it is," Sasha insisted, her body shaking with unwept tears.  "I hate killing things.  I hate
being Kindred.  I wish Martin had killed me instead of making me into a monster."
     Julian looked significantly at Cash.  The Gangrel refused to meet his eyes.  With a soft sigh,
Julian unknotted his tie and loosened the collar of his shirt.  "I can't let you survive on animal
blood," he told Sasha, lifting her into his lap.  She wrapped her arms around him and huddled
against his chest.
     "Oh, Uncle Julian," she moaned.  "What am I going to do?"
     Julian moved her head to his neck and made the first cut with his thumbnail.  "Here.  It will
make you feel better."
     Sasha tried to push away, but he held her firmly.  She hesitated another moment, but the
smell of his blood overwhelmed her will. He felt her delicate fangs sink into his flesh on either
side of the wound.  Julian stroked her hair gently as she drank his blood.  Cash watched him with
betrayed eyes and Julian stared the young Gangrel down.  When he didn't have the luxury of
being able to do the right thing, Julian had always been content to chose the lesser of two evils.
     Sasha fed greedily, without finesse, sinking her fangs in repeatedly even after she had
enlarged the wound.  Julian could feel his Vitae, his life, pouring into her; feel her hunger as if it
was his own.  He felt her anguish, too, and her remorse.  Julian concentrated on the love he felt
for her, the pleasure he took in giving her his blood, knowing that she could feel his emotions
just as clearly.  He was distantly aware that Cash was stroking her thigh, trying to comfort her.
     Beyond all other pleasures was the thrill of being Drained.  Even the ecstasy of taking blood
was eclipsed by the sensation of giving it.  And with the euphoria came the Communion, the
mingling of his soul with hers, an intimacy no mortal would ever know.  It was the first step
in the Blood Bond that would tie her to him.
     How Cash could deny himself this pleasure was beyond Julian.  Sasha's soul was like fragile
glass, beautiful, delicate, with unexpectedly sharp edges capable of cutting those close to her to
ribbons.  Julian could feel her untapped strength, her almost limitless potential.  And through
her he could percieve his own soul, like deceptively curved and polished steel.  He kept her
attention away from the depths of himself that he wanted to keep hidden, and used his spirit to
mirror hers.  Leading Sasha's mind to concentrate on her own loveliness, her spiritual
strengths.
     Julian's extremities sang with pain as the small blood vessels began to collapse.  He held
Sasha tighter, forcing her to continue drinking.  Exultation and agony were one and the same.
     Sasha jerked back from him suddenly, stumbling to her feet.  One hand covered her mouth,
her eyes wide.  "I'm hurting you," she exclaimed.
     "You can't hurt me, Sasha," Julian caught her hand in his.  "Even if you drained me dry, you
couldn't kill me."  He smiled and drew her close again.  "I'll have to Hunt anyway, before we go
to The Haven.  I just want you to be satiated for a few days.  The Thirst can be torture for
the young, I know."
     Sasha smiled tremulously back at him.  "Thank you, Uncle Julian."
     "Julian," Cash warned, glowering.  This time the young Gangrel endured Julian's angry stare
longer before looking away.  Julian would have to speak to him about his timing, the last thing
he needed was a challenge for dominance when his Thirst was clawing away at his sanity.
     "Why don't you take Sasha on to The Haven," Julian suggested, handing Sasha back to her
lover.  "I'll Hunt and join you there later."
     He ignored their replies and glanced automatically at the moon.  It was just past full.  If he
fed Sasha twice more before it became full again he would hold her as his Thrall.  More than his
lover, and yet less than his slave.  He wouldn't force the Blood Bond on her if he could find
another alternative.

     "Opal," Marc whispered.  "I need your help."  He motioned the oriental Kindred backstage
with him.  The Haven was a warren back there and the Toreador had a thousand places to hide.
     "Marc," Opal followed him to an alcove beneath the stairs.  "What is wrong with you?"
     "I'm in trouble, Opal," Marc answered.  "I think I've broken the Masquerade and I don't know
what to do."
     "Broken the Masquerade!"  Opal repeated incredulously.  "How?  What happened?"  She
glanced around quickly to make sure they weren't being overheard, then lowered her voice. 
"That's very serious.  You'd better tell me everything."
     "There is this girl," Marc began miserably.  "She's a film student at Berkeley.  I've been
visiting her," he wrung his hands.  "I've been feeding off of her.  She's my favorite Vessel, Opal. 
She has so much talent!"
     "Get to the point," Opal hissed.
     "She took my picture," Marc whispered.  "She set a trap for me, so that when I sat on her bed
her camera went off.  I panicked and left the camera behind."
     "If the Prince finds out," Opal left the thought unfinished.  There was no telling what Julian
would do if he found out.  It wouldn't be pleasant, what ever it was.
     "He can't find out!"  Marc cried.  "Opal, you have to help me fix it.  At the very least he'll
banish me."  Marc shuddered.
     "You'll be lucky if that's all he does," Opal agreed.
     "I know," Marc moaned.  "What can I do?"
     "You said the camera went off when you sat on her bed, right?"  Opal said thoughtfully. 
"You'd hadn't actually started to Kiss her."
     "That's right," Marc confirmed.  "It went off as I sat down."
     "Then the photo probably doesn't break the Masquerade," Opal reflected.  "Unless you were
acting like Bela Lugosi and flashing your fangs around."
     Marc giggled at the picture it made.  "Definitely not."
     "Well," Opal replied certainly.  "You were just some weird guy who broke into her room. 
Whatever you do DON'T go back for the picture.  If she catches you there again, you'll be in
deep trouble.  In fact, you have to give her up."
     "Opal," Marc complained.  "You should see her photographs!  They are so beautiful.  She has
the soul of a poet..."
     "If you go back, you are going to get caught," Opal grabbed his arm with one hand and
squeezed, hard.  "And then Julian will punish you.  Think about it.  Then decide if seeing her
again is worth the cost."
     Marc shuddered at the thought of being at Julian's mercy.  "Okay," he said, defeated.  "I'll
give her up."
     Opal nodded at his wisdom.  "Good.  She's a college student.  She won't have any idea of how
to find you.  Let's just hope she goes to the campus police instead of the real cops."
     Marc's eyes widened in panic at the thought.  Julian had his Ventrue in every police
department, they would bring any unusual investigations to him.  He prayed that Karen wouldn't
take it any further than the security on campus.  If she did...  He couldn't bear to contemplate
what the Prince would do to him.

     Frank found Lillie waiting for him when he got home.  She was leaning seductively against
the wall outside his apartment door, but he was certain that she could have gotten inside if she'd
wanted to.  He just stood on the stairs and gaped at her.
     "Hello, Frank," she cooed.  "Take me out to dinner?"
     "Sure," Frank answered.  And do I get to be the main course, he wondered.
     Lillie bounded away from the wall, transformed in a second from a mature seductress to a girl
on a date.  "Where are we going?" She asked, her eyes glowing.  "Take me somewhere I haven't
been before."
     "There is a diner around the corner," Frank gestured for her to proceed him down the stairs. 
"You really want to get something to *eat*?"
     "I'd love to watch you eat, Frank," Lillie smiled up at him.  "I've always felt that you can learn
a lot about a person from the way he eats."
     "Okay, whatever," Frank shook his head.  They walked in companionable silence down the
street and across the parking lot to The Nighthawk Cafe.  Frank couldn't figure out why Lillie
really was there.  Surely she hadn't meant anything when she said that Toreador fell in love
with mortals.
     "So, why were you at The Haven, Frank?"  Lillie asked as they entered the little diner. 
"Really."
     "Just wanted to learn a little bit about Kindred," Frank confessed.
     "Not to see me?"
     "Aw, jeez, Lillie," Frank rolled his eyes.  How was it possible that a woman could set a guy
up so easily?  Lillie laughed softly to herself, taking the sting out of her question.
     "You can ask me anything you want to know about us," Lillie informed him when the
waitress had seated them and handed them their menus.  "I like talking to you.  It's so nice to
have someone I can confide in who knows what's going on, but doesn't take part in all the petty
little power struggles."
     "Power struggles?"  Frank asked.  Did she really mean it?  It was almost too good to be true. 
If she would really tell him the things he needed to know....
     "Oh, the Gangrel against the Brujah, Cameron against Julian," Lillie sighed.  "No one really
trusts anyone else.  Everyone always thinks everyone is out to manipulate them or take away
their power or prestige.  It gets very lonely."
     "Well, I know the Brujah are the Bad Guys," Frank started.
     "That's what Julian wants you to think," Lillie corrected.  "Archon hated the Brujah, and I
think he passed that on to Julian.  Really, the Brujah are no better or worse than any of the other
Clans."
     "But they run the crime in this city," Frank protested.
     "And who do you think arranged that?"  Lillie leaned forward over the table.  "Archon gave
control of the unions and the docks to the Brujah when he was Prince of the City, and told them
to keep the Tongs and gangs in line.  Just like during Prohibition he was the one who set up
the speakeasies and gave them to me to run.  And the profits flowed into his coffers.  That's the
way things are done."
     "Who is Archon?"  Frank asked.
     "Oh, he was Julian's Sire," Lillie replied.  "He was the Prince before Julian.  But the Brujah
destroyed him because he was trying to wipe them out.  He hated them irrationally, completely
irrationally."
     "Don't get me wrong, Frank," she continued.  "Eddie was a power-hungry jerk.  He only
wanted to be Prince because his Sire, Cyrus, told him that's what he wanted.  But not all Brujah
are like that, believe me."
     The waitress came, interupting them and Frank gave his order.  Lillie asked for a glass of
water with a slice of lime.  She's eaten earlier, she explained.
     "Do Kindred eat?"  Frank wondered.  He'd seen Alexandra eat, when they went on dates, but
he thought that Kindred lived off of blood.
     "We can eat food," Lillie smiled.  "But we don't digest it."
     He thought about that for a second.  "Not a pretty picture," he commented.
     "No," Lillie laughed shaking her head.  "It's not." 
     "Do you like being Kindred, Lillie?"  Frank wondered.
     "It's much better than the alternative," Lillie replied.  "I would have died nearly seventy years
ago if I hadn't been Embraced.  But that's not what you're asking, is it?"
     Frank shook his head.  He wasn't sure what he was asking.  He just wanted to know
everything.
     "My senses are much finer than a mortal's," Lillie confided.  "I can read a page of newsprint
across a room.  My vision will only grow better with age.  The same with my sense of hearing
and my sense of smell.  Time makes us stronger.  I'll never grow old or become ill.  Any injury
will heal in minutes, or at most, hours.  I feel pain much less and pleasure more keenly.  How
couldn't I like being what I am?"
     She shook her head.  "The problem is seeing everything around you change.  Everyone else
grow old and die.  Everyone except other Kindred, so you stick close to them, until your circle of
friends starts to feel like a noose.  There's boredom and infighting and jockeying for power," she
smiled ruefully.  "But I guess every silver lining has it's cloud."
     Lillie glanced almost shyly at Frank.  "I've spent too much time with my own kind in the last
few decades.  I've forgotten just how good it is to be around living people.  Especially living
men."

     "Charles?"  Karen called through her brother's apartment door.  "Are you home?"  She
knocked again, wondering if he was at work.  He had such odd shifts.
     The door opened and Charles stood there bleary eyed in his pajamas and robe.  "Karen? 
What's up?  You okay?"
     Karen clutched her portfolio to her chest protectively and blinked at her brother.  "I'm sorry, I
didn't know you were asleep," she apologized.  It was the middle of the afternoon after all.  "I
didn't mean to wake you up."
     " 'S'okay," Charles yawned.  "C'mon in.  I had to get up to go to work in an hour anyway."
     Charles' apartment was neat and tidy, with no hint of the chaos that dominated her place. 
Only his uniform, hanging in a dry cleaning bag on the bedroom door marred the perfection.  It
didn't even look as if anyone lived here, Karen thought.
     "You want a drink?"  Charles offered her.  She shook her head.  He disappeared into the
kitchen and emerged a moment later with an orange juice.  That was so like him, no coffee for
Charles.  What a Boy Scout, she thought disgustedly.
     Karen perched on the sofa.  "I need your help," she began anxiously.  She had practiced a
speech a dozen times in the car on the way over, and that was all she remembered.  "I really need
your help."
     Charles looked concerned.  "You're not in any kind of trouble, are you?  I know Mom's been
worried about you."
     "No, no," Karen rushed.  "I'm not in any kind of trouble at all.  I need you to help me find
somebody.  A guy."
     "Your boyfriend skipped out on you?"  Comprehension crossed Charles face.  "Karen you're
not... pregnant, are you?"
     "God, no!"  Karen snapped.  "That is so like you Chuck!  You always think the worst possible
thing of me.  I can take care of myself, you know.  I'm not a little girl any more."
     "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Charles insisted.  "I just... Okay... Who is this guy you're looking for?"
     "I don't know his name," Karen confessed.
     "Where did you meet him?"  Charles asked.
     In my bedroom, Karen thought.  "I don't remember," is what she said.
     "You don't know his name, and you don't remember where you met him," Charles tugged at
his ear.  "You're not giving me a lot to work with here, Kar.  Does he go to Berkeley?"
     "I don't think so," Karen answered.
     "I don't think I'm going to be able to find him for you Karen," Charles said.  "What do you
know about him?"
     Karen grimaced and washed her hands in her lap.  "He likes my photographs," she whispered.
     Charles shrugged and turned away.  "I like your pictures, Mom likes your pictures, your
professors like your pictures," he threw his hands up in the air.  "What is so special about this
guy?  Why do you want to find him?"
     "I'm in love with him," Karen confessed.  "I don't even know who he is, but I know that I love
him.  And I think he loves me too."
     "Karen," Charles moaned.  "Oh, Karen, don't do this."
     "It's not some school-girl fantasy," Karen insisted.  "He's real.  And he loves me, I know it.  I
do!"
     "I've seen him," she continued, trying to calm herself.  "At a couple of the school art
exhibitions.  And a couple of times when Jackie and Lynda and I went out clubbing, I think.  I
think he's been watching me, but he's too shy to actually talk to me."
     "He's been stalking you," Charles corrected.  "Some guy has been stalking you, and you want
to meet him."
     "It's not like that," Karen retorted.
     "Okay," Charles threw up his hands for peace.  "Next time you go where you think he is, I'll
go with you.  You can point him out, and I'll talk to him."
     That was the absolutely last thing Karen wanted.  "No!"  She cried, before thinking.
     "Karen," Charles began.  He had that older brother lecturing tone in his voice.  She hated
when he talked to her like that.
     "I have his picture," Karen blurted.  She hadn't actually meant to give Charles the photograph,
except as a last resort.  He'd probably misunderstand.  She hesitated, then handed her brother a
copy of the picture she'd taken.
     "This is the guy?"  Charles asked, examining it.
     "Yeah," Karen nodded.  "His hair is actually darker than that.  And I think the flash startled
him, that's why his eyes look yellow."
     Charles looked closer at the picture.  "Karen, this is a bedroom!  Are you telling me this freak
broke in to your room?"
     "Well," she stammered.  She'd been afraid he'd notice that.
     He snatched the picture away from her and stood up.  "I'll get this guy, Kar.  I'm going to put
him in jail for hassling you.  As soon as I get into the precinct this afternoon..."
     "I don't want you to arrest him," Karen wailed.  "It's not like that at all!  He loves me, Chuck. 
He's like a secret admirer...."
     "Karen," Charles said in that awful older brother tone of voice.  "I am doing this for your own
good."
     "I should have known you wouldn't understand.  I hate you!"   Karen leapt up from the couch
and ran out of the apartment door. 

     After diner Frank and Lillie walked down to the Embarcadero and looked out across the bay
at the lights from Oakland and Berkeley.  Lillie slid her hand into his, and Frank was surprised at
it's warmth.
     "You have somebody before you came over?" he asked, stroking the back of her fingers.
     Lillie looked at him from the corner of her eye as if wondering how to answer.  "I did say that
I'd eaten, Frank," she responded quietly. 
     "Maybe I'm jealous," Frank smiled, and was pleased when she smiled back.
     "How often do you have to, uh," he asked. "You know."
     "Can't we talk about something else?" Lillie sighed.  "Just for a little while?"
     "Yeah, sure," Frank agreed.  She'd already explained so much to him.  He shouldn't be
resentful that she wouldn't tell him any more secrets of the Kindred society.
     "You're probably going think I'm being silly," Lillie ducked her head a little.  "But I'd like to
pretend, just for tonight, that I'm not Kindred.  That I am a living, breathing woman out with a
living, breathing man."
     Frank pulled her closer and wrapped his arm around her waist.  "I'd like that, too," he told her.
     "It's such a beautiful night," Lillie rested her head against his shoulder.  "Can you smell the
salt in the air?"
     "Yeah, I like living around here," Frank told her.  "It gets a little loud, and there are tourists
everywhere, but there is no where else like North Beach."
     "Tell me about yourself, Frank," Lillie demanded.  "All I know about you is that you are a
police officer and where you live.  What do you do, what do you want, what do you dream?  I
want to know everything."
     So Frank told her about his ambitions with the Department and how he went to school nights
to get his degree so he could make Detective.  And how he never thought he could make it past
the Sergeant's Exam.  He told her how he found his apartment while investigating a missing
person case, and how he liked living within walking distance of everything.  He told her about
how he loved Chinatown and the Marina, and about Perry Rapallo who'd taken him out on his
speedboat and how they'd nearly capsized when they got too close to a freighter.
     Lillie talked about trying to book a rock group named "White Chocolate" into one of her
clubs and the trouble she had with their agent.  She told him how her chef at Dockside was
always threatening to quit and how the last day manager of the Blue Moon Saloon turned out to
be a drug addict.  He laughed at her stories of dealing with drunken customers until his sides
ached.
     They didn't get back to his apartment until the bells of Saints Peter and Paul began to chime
Three A.M..
     "Do you want to come up?" Frank asked her, when they reached his building. 
     "I don't think I should," Lillie shook her head.  "Can I see you again?"
     "I think I'd like that," Frank told her and was surprised to find he meant it.  "Can I come by
the club tomorrow?" 
     "I'd like that very much," Lillie leaned forward and kissed him briefly.  Her lips were cold. 
"Good night, Frank.  Sweet dreams."
     "Good night, Lillie," Frank answered.  He had the feeling that all his dreams would be of her.

     "Cameron," Julian said quietly as the Conclave disbanded.  "May I speak to you privately?"
     Lillie and Daedalus eyed the Brujah Primogen speculatively.  Julian's dislike for the Clan as a
whole and Cameron in particular was well known.  It was apparent that both wanted to stay and
watch the proceedings.  It was equally obvious that Cameron wanted to leave.  The idea of being
alone with the Prince plainly wasn't Brujah's idea of a pleasant pastime.
     But one didn't refuse an invitation from the Prince, so Cameron bowed his head and waited
while the others filed out of Julian's office.  Julian waited for Cash to close the door behind him
before he began. 
     "I want to talk about Sasha," Julian said coolly.  "I am concerned about her well-being."
     "She is Brujah," Cameron countered.  "We take care of our own.  I realize that she is your
descendant, but surely you do not intend to interfere with the way I run my Clan?"
     "Are you aware that Sasha does not know how to Hunt?" Julian asked.
     Surprise showed plainly on Cameron's face.  "That's not possible," he stammered.  "How has
she...?"
     "In months since her Embrace," Julian worked hard to keep his voice level.  It took some
effort.  "She has subsisted on the blood of animals.  House pets, vermin, farm animals.  And she
hasn't been feeding regularly, either, only when the Thirst drives her."
     "I...I didn't know," Cameron replied.  "I am sorry.  I just assumed that Martin or Eddie had
shown her what to do."
     "Unfortunately," Julian admitted.  "I made the same assumption."  How he hated to agree
with this man, especially about Sasha.  "But now that we know differently, what do you intend to
do?"
     "I'll teach her, of course," Cameron assured him.  "She's my responsibility."  He paused and
examined his hands.  "I truly didn't know," he repeated.  The regret in his voice sounded genuine. 
"I wouldn't have allowed her to exist like that if I had known.  I'll make sure she knows
everything.  I'll treat her as if she were my own Fledgling."
     Julian stood, signaling an end to their conference.  "I'll hold you to that," he replied.
     "I'll take her out tomorrow," Cameron decided.  "We'll start right away."
     Julian nodded and Cameron rose to leave.  Before he reached the door Julian stopped him. 
"There is no reason for anyone else to learn about Sasha's...lack of education," Julian informed
the Brujah carefully.  "Yet."
     Cameron nodded slowly.  "I understand," he answered.  Julian certainly hoped he did.  Sasha
had given Julian enough excuse to forbid the Brujah from making any new Fledglings for two
decades.  And after the recent power struggles within the Clan, their numbers were down. 
Julian was certain that Cameron was actively recruiting, looking for mortals worthy of the
Brujah's Embrace.
     "If this problem doesn't resolve itself," Julian warned.  "I will solve it.  The Third Tradition
gives me the right to adopt her as my own Childe, or give her to another Clan.  Don't make me
invoke the Law."
     "That won't be necessary," Cameron answered stiffly.  "I'll teach Sasha everything she has to
know to be the prefect Brujah."

     "Frank, are you listening to me?"  Sonny's question cut through the fog in Frank's mind.
     "Yeah, yeah, Sonny," Frank answered, then grinned at his partner.  "Actually, no.  What did
you say?"
     Sonny laughed.  "What is with you, today?  Every time I ask you a question you're off in la-la
land and have got a big smile on your face."
     "I met a girl," Frank confessed.  "I think she's kinda special."  If you think that the fact that
she's a vampire makes her 'special' he added to himself.  The words 'unusual' and 'bizarre' might
have been more appropriate.
     "She must be," Sonny shook his head.  "Do I know her?"
     "No," Frank lied.  Sonny probably did know Lillie.  How many vampires were there in San
Francisco, anyway?  Lillie had implied that they all knew each other, so there couldn't be that
many.
     That raised a disturbing thought, if they all knew each other then it was just a matter of time
before Julian Luna found out.  Frank wasn't going to brag to his partner about Lillie in the first
place, but he thought that if Sonny found out, so would Julian.  The last thing Frank wanted
was a repeat of what happened with Alexandra.  He'd have to talk to Lillie about keeping things
between them quiet.  Surely she knew what Julian had done to Alexandra, and why.
     "Earth to Frank," Sonny said.  "Come in, Frank."
     "Sorry Sonny," Frank turned back to his partner.  "I just remembered something."
     "What?"  Sonny asked.
     Sonny didn't know that Frank knew that Sonny was one of the Kindred.  Frank had to keep
that a secret.  He had to keep Lillie a secret.  Life sure got complicated sometimes.  "What did I
just remember?"  Frank stalled.  "I'm out of condoms.  I gotta pick some up tonight."
     "Pretty confident, aren't we?"  Sonny laughed.
     "Better safe than sorry," Frank grinned.
     "Hey, Kohanek, quit jerking off and get over here," Lt. Kwan yelled across the squad room. 
"Give this guy a hand.  Toussaint, have you gotten those lab reports for me yet?"
     The lieutenant gestured Frank toward a square-faced young man in a Oakland Police uniform
while Sonny called the police lab for the seventh time that afternoon.  Frank rolled his eyes at his
boss and shook the young cop's outstretched hand.
     "I'm Charles Matthews, Oakland P.D.," he introduced himself.
     "Frank Kohanek," Frank responded.  "What can I help you with?"
     "I was wondering if I could use your data base," Charles asked.  "It not exactly official
business.  This guy is stalking my sister, but she won't press charges.  So I'm kinda on my own."
     "Sure," Frank shrugged.  "No problem.  Whatcha got?"
     "Not much," Charles replied as he followed Frank towards the computer center.  "No name,
just a description and a M.O.."
     "Well, let's see what Loretta can find for you.  This is our resident computer goddess, Loretta
Taconelli.  Loretta, this is Officer Matthews of the Oakland P.D..  He wants to check the data
base for known stalkers."
     "Pleased to meet you Officer," Loretta beamed her motherly smile at the young man.  Her
hands flickered over the keyboard.  "What kind of parameters can you give me to narrow the
search?"
     Charles pulled a photograph from a manila envelope and handed it to Loretta.  "Well, my
sister took this picture of him," he told her.
     "Let me see that," Frank lifted the photograph from Charles' fingers, his heart suddenly cold. 
Oh, Jesus, it was Marc.  He was one of Lillie's.
     "Think he's a vampire, Frank?"  Loretta laughed.
     "Huh?"  Frank started.  "Well, the yellow eyes could give you that impression, couldn't they?" 
He handed the photograph back to Loretta.  "You can handle this without me, right?  I gotta get
back to work."
     "Yeah, sure, Frank," Loretta smiled.  She patted his hand reassuringly.  "It was only a joke."
     "I know," he smiled at her.  He liked Loretta, he knew she didn't mean anything.  "No offense
taken."  Charles Matthews was staring at him.
     "Would you say this young man had brown hair, Officer?" Loretta asked Charles as Frank left
the room.  "Oh, don't worry about Frank, he gets a little flaky from time to time.  He's a very
good officer, though," Frank heard Loretta say before the door closed completely.
     There was a pay phone right outside the computer room.  Frank dropped in his quarter and
dialed Julian's number.  "Luna Mansion," a voice answered after two rings.
     "It's me.  Tell him I'll be at the Nighthawk, midnight."  He didn't wait for a reply before
hanging up.

     "I should have known better than to go to Chuck," Karen told Lynda.  "I should have known
he wouldn't understand.  He is so anal.  He probably doesn't believe in true love."
     Lynda turned to photograph over in her hands.  "Y'know, Kar," she said.  "I think I've seen
this guy."
     Karen nodded.  "I thought so too, but I can't be sure.  I've dreamed about him so much that
I'm afraid I'm remembering wrong."
     Lynda closed her eyes.  "His eyes were brown, not yellow," she whispered to herself.  "I
remember music..." her eyes snapped open.  "I remember!  He was in a dance club!  Do you
remember how we went clubbing after that exhibition we had in February?  That's where I saw
him!  I'm sure of it." 
     "Which club was it?"  Karen's eyes shined with excitement.
     "I don't remember," Lynda confessed.  "Why don't we just hit all of the ones we did that
night?  Maybe he'll be at one of them."
    "Oh, Lynda, you're wonderful,"  Karen threw her arms around her friend.  "I can't wait to see
him again.  It'll be just like a fairy tale."

      Sasha was surprised that Cameron picked her up at the mansion.  She was more surprised
that Uncle Julian received him respectfully.  And the way Cameron treated her, politely,
courteously, that was the biggest surprise of all.
     She expected Cameron's demeanor to change once she was in his car.  She was certain that he
would revert to his normal patronizing tone, but he didn't.  He was pleasant and well-bred as he
drove her downtown.  It almost felt as if she were going out on a first date with a boy who was
trying to impress her.
     "What's up, Cameron?" She demanded finally.  "What's with the attitude?"
     "Sasha, baby."  Cameron laughed.   "Baby Sasha.  Julian told me you didn't know how to
Hunt, little girl.  Don't worry, I'm going to teach you tonight.  We'll have a good time."
     "Hunt?" Sasha glared at her Primogen suspiciously.
     "I never liked Eddie Fiori," Cameron glanced at her.  In the illumination from the dashboard
she could see that he was smiling.  "But I thought he had more brains than to just abandon you. 
Sorrel, my sire, used to tell me that Cyrus had one motto:  'Never make a Fledgling smarter than
yourself.'  He kept to that in spades with Eddie."
     "Well, you're my little Fledgling now," he continued.  "And I'll take better care of you, I
promise.  Letting you wander around drinking animal blood, that's shameful.  Only Nosferatu
and Gangrel sink that low;  Brujah have more pride.  No more animals for you.  I'll show you
how to get the good stuff.  A couple weeks with me and you'll be hunting on your own."
     He turned down Broadway  and the glare from the strip clubs painted his BMW in garish
neon colors.  "There's Marta," he pointed at a group of prostitutes on the street corner.  Sasha
recognized the beefy Brujah female from Clan gatherings.  "We'll let her do the hunting tonight."
     He drove forward another block before he found an open parking space.  "Now listen,"
Cameron said as he switched off the engine.  "This is a great hunting ground, but you have to
take precautions.  First, never take from anyone who is obviously drunk or stoned.  The
chemicals in their blood can effect you.  Not much, and not for long, but some of that stuff is
addicting, even to us.  I don't want you turning into a Head."
     Sasha nodded.
     "And the same goes with sick people," he emphasized.  "You can't get sick from any diseases,
but you can get infected.  And then you risk passing the sickness on to your next meal.  When
you're older, you'll be able to smell sickness when they get close.  But that's something to learn
another day."  He smiled at her, genuine and warm.  He seemed to enjoy his role as her mentor. 
"The best thing about turning tricks is that most of the Vessels don't even notice the Kiss.  It just
adds to their pleasure, and they go away satisfied.  So you don't have to worry about breaking
the Masquerade."
     "So you want me to be a prostitute," Sasha said.  She had known there would be a catch
somewhere.  All Brujah were alike, Sasha thought.  Cameron was just as rotten as Martin had
been.
     "You can pretend to be a prostitute, if you want,"  Cameron patted her hand.  "That's the way
Marta does it.  Or you can pick up someone in a bar, that works too.  That's what I usually do. 
Either way, using sex to get blood is easy.  We'll work on the more advanced Hunting skills next
week."
     "Now, some of them enjoy it a little too much," Cameron continued. "If you find some guy
keeps coming back to you, night after night, then he might have gotten hooked on being Drained. 
It happens.  Try to avoid people like that.  There are a lot of mortals in this city, so you have
a big menu to choose from.  There is no reason to limit your diet. If you find one you like, you
can snack on him as often as once a week, but do it more often and you'll make him sick - or
worse.  If some mortal starts coming around asking for too much, you just tell me, I'll take care
of him, okay?"
     "Okay,"  Sasha agreed uncertainly.
     "I'm going to take good care of you, Sasha," he informed her. "I'm going to make you into the
perfect Brujah.  Eddie never gave a thought beyond the tip of his nose, but I'll show you that all
Brujah aren't like that.  I'm gonna stick to you like glue until you are the most vicious little
predator in the city."
     "Marta's probably found us something to munch on by now," Cameron opened the car door. 
"Let's go get it."

     Julian was waiting for him when Frank arrived at the Nighthawk Cafe.  "You've got trouble,"
he told the Prince as he slid into the booth.
     "I ordered you a coffee, Frank," Julian responded.  Nothing ever disturbed that preternatural
calm.
     "Are you listening to me?" Frank demanded.  "An Oakland cop walked into the precinct today
with a photograph of a Kindred in the act of Feeding.  If he hit the San Francisco police, you can
bet he's contacted Berkeley and Marin County and his own police force as well."
     "The policeman knew it was a Kindred?"  Julian lifted one eyebrow.
     "Luckily, no," Frank replied.  "He thinks it's a stalker.  The Kindred was putting the moves on
the cop's sister, though, so I don't think it's going to go away."
     "You knew it was a Kindred," Julian stated.
     "Yeah, I'm certain," Frank nodded.  "I've seen him at The Haven.  His name is Marc.  He's a
Toreador."
     "Thank you," Julian inclined his head graciously.  "I'll take care of it."
     "How?"
     "I don't think you need to know that, Frank," Julian replied.
     "The guy is a cop, Julian!  You don't touch him," Frank glared across the Formica table at the
elegant ruler of the San Francisco Kindred.  Julian seemed unimpressed.
     "If the Masquerade has been broken," Julian said quietly.  "I will do whatever is necessary to
repair it.  No matter who gets hurt.  The alternative is much worse than the potential harm to a
single police officer or his sister."  His tone suggested that he was explaining the obvious to an
idiot.
     "Even I even think that you've touched that cop," Frank sputtered.
     Julian raised a placating hand.  "I seriously doubt if it will be necessary to hurt the officer or
his sister.  We will merely focus their attention elsewhere," he told Frank.  "Violence is a last
resort."
     The waitress arrived with Frank's coffee and Julian's tomato juice, preventing Frank from
retorting.  When she left, Frank just glowered into his cup, wondering just what he could do if
Julian decided to resort to violence.  He said that Kindred didn't kill unless it was necessary.  But
Frank didn't know how Julian defined  'necessary'.
     "Have you seen Lillie tonight?"  Julian asked and Frank nearly choked.
     "How do you know about that?"  Frank demanded.
     "I doubt if there is a Kindred in the city who doesn't know, Frank," Julian replied calmly.  "I
was just curious if you told her about Marc before you told me."
     "Why?"  Frank demanded suspiciously.
     "Lillie likes Marc," Julian sipped at his juice.  "If she was warned about his behavior she
might try to get him out of the city to keep him safe from me.  And if she'd thought that he'd
broken the Masquerade and I might call a Blood Hunt, he'd be in Los Angeles before I could
convene the Conclave."
     "How would that help him?"  Frank asked.  "You don't have extradition treaties with other
Princes?"
     Julian smiled as if he'd made a joke.  "Not with L.A., Frank.  That's Brujah territory.  Lillie
has substantial holdings there, though, so I'm sure that Cyrus would be willing to protect Marc
from me."
     "Oh," Frank said.  He remembered what Lillie had said about Brujah and wondered if her 
'substantial holdings' had anything to do with her opinion.  "I didn't tell her because I didn't think
of it.  I came to you first."  She liked Marc, that was trouble.  How was he going to explain that
he hadn't warned her before he'd told Julian?
     "Thank you, Frank," Julian pushed his juice aside and stood.  "That makes my duty
considerably easier."  
     Julian reached for his wallet and Frank snapped, "I'll pick up the check.  I don't even want to
see your money Julian.  Ever.  I don't work for you, and I am barely willing to work with you."
     Julian nodded graciously.  "Thank you.  Have a good evening."
     "Yeah, right.  You too," Frank replied.  A good evening, God, was that still possible?  What
was he going to tell Lillie about Marc?
     He finished his coffee, paid the bill and walked back to his car still wondering how he was
going to explain this mess to Lillie.  He was so consumed with worrying about her reaction to his
news about Marc that he never noticed the brown sedan that followed him all the way from
the Nighthawk to The Haven.

          Cameron led Sasha to a dilapidated building with an old sign that read 'Rooms for Rent' in
blue neon letters.  The 'RE' in rent flickered on and off at uncertain intervals.  Cameron held her
hand as he pushed open the door and led her into the aging elevator.  The clerk eyed her
speculatively and she felt herself stiffen.
     "Watch your step,"  Cameron cautioned her quietly at the third floor.   The elevator had not
stopped evenly at that level and she had to step down nearly three inches.  Cameron gallantly
held her arm.
     Cameron produced a hotel key and inserted it in the lock of one of the rooms.  He put a finger
to his lips.  Sasha could hear soft moans and the squeak of bedsprings from beyond the door. 
There was an unpleasant smell as well, like spoiled clothing in an old gym locker.
     "I can't do this," Sasha whispered.  "Cameron, I can't.  Look."  She showed him her teeth, all
flat and pearly white.  She was too nervous to salivate, let alone have her fangs come.
     "Don't worry," Cameron pushed the door open and gestured for her to enter the dingy little
room.  She stepped in gingerly.  A middle-aged man lay on top of Marta on the narrow bed with
it's soiled sheets.  He  looked fat and ridiculous with his bare buttocks heaving between her
knees.  Marta already had her teeth in his throat.  She opened her eyes at Cameron's soft footfall
and motioned the pair of them to come closer.
     Sasha was aware that she was blushing.  She really didn't want to be here, but the smell of the
man's blood reached her, even through the building's rotten stink.  She licked her lips.  In her
belly her Thirst gnawed at her like a caged animal.
     Cameron crossed to the bed and gently lifted the man back by his shoulders.  Marta let her
fangs slide out of his neck.
     "Hey, what?" The poor man looked dazed.  "Who are you?" He demanded from Cameron. 
Cameron simply placed his mouth over the wound Marta had made and drank.
     Marta slid out from under her client as he moaned in Cameron's arms.  The victim made
vague gestures with his hands as if he couldn't decide to push Cameron away or hug him closer. 
He was obviously afraid and yet was enjoying Cameron's Kiss too much to want it to end. 
Cameron stroked the man's hair and the victim relaxed with a little sigh.
     Marta flashed a fang-filled grin at Sasha as she slid back into her underpants and skirt - she
hadn't bothered removing the rest of her clothing, not even her shoes.  "First time, huh?" She
asked.  "Don't worry," she gestured to the man on the bed.  "He's pretty good.  Rich and tasty." 
She smacked her lips with appreciation.
     "Your turn, precious," Cameron said, easing the large man back down onto the bed.  The man
reached feebly for Marta and whispered "More."
     "Here's more, lover," Marta laughed, thrusting Sasha forward.  Blood trickled down the man's
neck and stained the thin pillow. The room stank with it, even over the smell of sex and
perspiration.
     Sasha moved forward and sat on the edge of the bed.  Cameron stroked her back gently.  The
man reached for her, his eyes glazed with desire.  His penis was flaccid now, his whole body
seemed somehow deflated.  He was the most enticing thing Sasha had ever seen.  Slowly
she lowered her mouth to the wound on his throat.
     The blood was so sweet it made her mind reel.  It filled her mouth, rich, thick, finer than any
other drink.  It was warm, when the blood she had taken from Uncle Julian had been cold.  It
was lush and abundant where the animal blood she'd been subsisting on was thin and paltry.  She
gulped it down helplessly.  The man's broad back was sweaty beneath her palms as she lifted
him into a sitting position.  He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and grunted thickly, his
head flopping backwards.
     Sasha closed her eyes and continued to drink, blocking out the dingy room with it's shabby
furniture.  Blocking out the smell, Cameron, Marta, everything but the wonderful anonymous
man with his intoxicating scent.  Her fangs had erupted, and she couldn't help gnawing at the
wound a little.  Her whole body tingled as the new blood flowed through it.  She could feel it
circulate through her fingers and toes, she could feel her heart start to beat again in her chest. 
She felt deliciously warm and almost alive.
     Suddenly she realized that there was no more blood.  The man in her arms was already
beginning to chill.  His blank eyes were fixed on a point past the ceiling, a half-smile was frozen
on his face.  Sasha dropped the corpse back on the bed in dismay.
     "You were thirsty, weren't you, honey?" Marta laughed.  "You want another?"
     "I killed him,"  Sasha whispered.  She looked to Cameron for guidance, but he just shrugged.
     "It happens," he assured her.  "Don't worry about it.  How are you feeling?  Still got the
Thirst?"
     Sasha backed away from the bed.  She wanted as much room between her and the body as
possible.  "No. I didn't mean to." Her back hit the door, forcing her to stop.  "I have to get out of
here."  She turned to claw at the doorknob.  The door wouldn't open.
     Cameron unlocked it for her.  "It's okay, sweetheart,"  He smiled at her.  "You go wait with
the car.  Marta and I will get rid of the remains.  Okay?"
     She nodded stiffly, then fled down the hall.  She tripped over the lip of the elevator and
landed wrong in the car, twisting her ankle.  Her heart was beating too fast in her chest, she had
grown used to it being silent.  Surely the desk clerk could hear it.  That must be why he stared at
her with such an odd expression.
     She burst through the front door of the little motel into the garish dark.  She had no intention
of riding back to the Mansion with Cameron, so she turned away from the direction of his car
and started to walk home.  Her ankle hurt, but the pain in her heart was worse.

     "I'm sorry," Frank concluded.  "If I had thought about it, I guess I would have come to you
first about Marc.  But I'm just used to dealing with Julian whenever there is Kindred trouble in
the city."  He peered anxiously at Lillie's face, trying to gage her reaction.  She looked
concerned, not upset.  That was good.  They were sitting at one end of The Haven's bar.  It was
reasonably quiet this close to the kitchen.  The rest of the place was jammed.  Lillie must be
raking in the money tonight, Frank thought.
     "Julian can't possibly blame Marc for this," Lillie said.  "The girl laid a trap for him.  Any one
of us could have tripped it." 
     Frank felt himself relax.  At least she wasn't mad at him.  "I'm more afraid of what he's going
to do to the cop and his sister," he told her.  "I don't mind warning Julian about a potential breach
of the Masquerade, but he does anything to a mortal cop I don't know what I'll do.  But I'll have
to do something, Lillie."
     "Killing a cop draws attention, Frank," Lillie patted his hand gently.  "The kind of attention
we don't want.  Julian's much too subtle for that.  More likely he'll make them think that Marc is
dead.  I just hope Julian doesn't actually decide to kill him to make it look authentic."
     Frank shook his head.  "Kindred justice," he sneered.  "To think that I actually worried that
Julian wouldn't be harsh enough on Goth and Zane.  You people would kill each other over the
equivalent of a traffic ticket!"
     Lillie chuckled.  "We're not that savage, darling.  It's just that breaking the Masquerade is a
very serious crime.  It could lead to the destruction of every Kindred in the city.  The punishment
has to be harsh, even for poor Marc, who didn't do anything wrong."
     "So what do you think Julian will do?"
     "Force Marc into seclusion by faking his death," Lillie speculated.  "Or confine him
somewhere and prevent him from Hunting, or banish him.  Remember what I said about Kindred
power struggles?  If Julian just publicly denounced him, Marc wouldn't have a single friend in
the city.  No one would want to be near him because everyone is always currying the Prince's
favor.  Trying living as a social pariah for a couple of decades, never daring to get close a mortal
and shunned by your own kind," Lillie shuddered.  "Julian doesn't have to destroy Marc.  He
could just make him miserable for the next half-century."
     "Prevent him from Hunting?"  Frank wondered.  "What do you mean by that?  Wouldn't that
kill him?"
     "It's a very serious punishment," Lillie confided.  "But Marc wouldn't starve.  Julian would
make him drink from a cup.  You see the pleasure in feeding doesn't come from the drinking, it's
the taking.  The Kiss is as pleasant for us as it is for the Vessel, but drinking from a cup," she
played with her wine glass.  "You don't feel anything."
     "It's an absolutely suitable punishment for Marc's 'crime'," Lillie continued.  "It would be a
public announcement that Julian doesn't trust Marc around mortals.  It would be horribly
humiliating, but not painful.  Everyone would laugh at poor Marc, but not actively shun him.  It
wouldn't even have to last long, maybe a year, but no one would ever forget.  But Julian can't do
it because he doesn't keep a Herd, so he has no ready supply of blood."
     "A Herd?" Frank prompted.
     "Oh, Frank," Lillie laughed.  "Sometimes I forget that you hardly know anything!  A Herd is a
group of mortal Vessels who are kept to supply blood to the Kindred."
     "And they know what you are?" Frank asked.  "Doesn't that break the Masquerade?"
     "No, no," Lillie assured him.  "The members of the Herd are usually trusted friends, allies, or
lovers.  Some will eventually be Embraced.  Some just enjoy being Drained.  They occupy a
middle ground in the Masquerade; mortals who can be trusted to know about us."
     "Like me," Frank stated.
     "Oh, no!"  Lillie looked surprised.  "Julian doesn't keep you as a Blood Donor, Frank.  Julian
disapproves of the whole Herd concept."
     "Why?"  Frank asked.  Odd to think of Julian Luna actually doing something moral.
     "You have to understand that in Europe, where I was Embraced, almost every Kindred keeps
their own individual Herd," Lillie explained.  "But here in America a Herd is kept communally. 
When this continent was first colonized, the Elders thought that it would be a better way to
protect the Masquerade to have one large Herd instead of many small ones.  There would less
chance that information about us would escape.  But there is a problem with a communal Herd:
Kindred are naturally territorial and jealous.  Duels would be fought over favorite Vessels,
occasionally a Kindred would try to establish exclusive access to one member of the Herd, that
sort of thing."
     "So when Julian became Prince, he decreed that no new members would be added to the
Herd.  San Francisco never had a large one anyway, so gradually it just shrank to nothing.  The
last member was Embraced three years ago."
     "There's our boy, Lillie," Frank pointed over her shoulder.  Marc was just coming down the
stairs.
     Lillie sighed.  "You take him upstairs.  I'll go get Julian."
     Frank nodded and started towards the dance floor.  "And Frank," Lillie called.  "Don't look in
his eyes".

     Frank Kohanek was certainly busy tonight, Charles Matthews told himself.  First the guy in
the diner, and now this woman.  Frank had recognized the stalker in Karen's picture, Charles
would bet a year's salary on that.  And that meeting at the Nighthawk Cafe was totally
suspicious.  Frank had told that other man something, and Charles just bet it had to do with the
freak in Karen's bedroom.
     What Charles couldn't figure out was why Frank was protecting the freak.  What was he,
Frank's friend, a relative?  It didn't make any sense.
     Charles had another sip of his beer and watched Frank and the woman.  First Frank had done
most of the talking, now the woman was monopolizing the conversation.  Their body language
had changed too.  The woman had seemed defensive and upset at first, now she was flirtatious. 
Whatever her relation to the guy in Karen's picture, Charles would bet that she was Frank
Kohanek's girlfriend.
     He wished that he could get close enough to overhear their conversation, but they had picked
a good spot.  He'd have to be really close to hear anything over the noise of the crowd, and if he
got that close Frank was bound to recognize him.  They were sitting at the end of the bar near an
entrance to the kitchen, if he could get in there and stand behind the door, he might be able to
hear something.
     He looked around to see if there were any other service entrances and spotted Karen and her
friends weaving their way through the crowd.  It was too much of a coincidence for her to be
here tonight.  She was looking for the freak too.  With an exasperated sigh he got up from his
table and worked his way toward her.
     She jumped when he touched her shoulder.  "You shouldn't be here, Kar," he told her.
     She instantly got that stupid-stubborn look on her face that said she wouldn't do anything she
was told.  That look had caused Mom a lot of heartache over the years.  "It's none of your
business Chuck," she answered.  "You're not my Father.  You can't tell me what to do!"
     "Go home, Karen," he insisted.  "I'm serious.  This guy is dangerous...."
     "No, he's not!"  Karen cried.  "You are so wrong.  He loves me, and I love him.  And I'm not
going to let you hurt him, Chuck."
     "I'm not going to hurt him," Charles replied.  "I'm just not going to let him hurt you."  Behind
Karen her friend Lynda was watching their argument as if it were a spectator sport.  Suddenly
her eyes flickered and widened.
     Charles spun around.  At the foot of the staircase was the guy from Karen's photograph, and
holding onto his arm was Frank Kohanek.  Dammit, Charles thought.  I knew it!  He cursed
Karen for distracting him and letting Frank get to the freak first.
     Karen saw the freak too, and predictably she tried to duck past Charles to get to him.  Charles
grabbed her by the arm.  "Let me go!"  Karen cried out.  "I'll scream, I swear I will!"
     "You're underage, Karen," Charles hissed in her ear.  "And I'm a cop.  Now go home before I
arrest you for being in this club."  Frank was leading the freak towards the stage area; there were
doors to the back there.
     Never taking his eyes from Kohanek and the freak, Charles pushed Karen into Lynda's arms. 
"Take her home, right now.  I swear if I see you in this club in two minutes I'll arrest you both." 
He didn't wait for an answer before following Frank backstage.

     Marc knew better to make a commotion in the club, but once Frank had led him to the
backstage area he'd try to make a break for it, Frank was certain.  He wished he knew the layout
back there a little better.  He kept a firm grip on Marc's upper arm as they left the noise of
the club for the much quieter bustle backstage.
     "What do you want?"  Marc demanded.  He was scared, and in Frank's experience, scared
people were often dangerous.
     "I just heard you were in a little trouble, Marc,"  Frank patted him on the back and tried to
sound reassuring.  "We're going to go upstairs and get it straightened out."
     "What trouble?"  Marc demanded.  "I'm not in any trouble."
     "That's right," Frank told him.  "Lillie and Julian are going to take care of that photograph and
everything is going to be fine."
     Marc tried to elbow him in the pit of the stomach, but Frank was ready for him.  He slammed
to Kindred into the wall.  "Stop that!"  He snapped.  Marc didn't listen.
     Strengthened by fear, Marc pushed back from the wall and threw a clumsy punch at Frank. 
Frank dodged it easily and struck back, connecting squarely with Marc's jaw.  The fight went out
of him and Marc turned to run.
     Frank tackled him, throwing his arms around the Kindred's shoulders and bearing him to the
floor.  This wasn't what he wanted.  In a second their fight was going to attract attention.  He'd
have to knock Marc out.
     Marc struggled to get out from beneath Frank, then sank his teeth into Frank's forearm.  It felt
really good.  Frank fought back the wave of pleasure and tried to wrench his arm free, but Marc
held him fast.  It was hard to concentrate past the erotic sensation, Frank just wanted to lay there
and let Marc continue.  Instead he clawed at the Kindred's eyes.
     Marc let go.  Frank slid his bleeding arm under the Kindred's chin and braced his other hand
in his hair.  "How long do you think it will take you to heal a broken neck?"
     "Don't hurt me," Marc whined.
     "I'm not going to hurt you," Frank said, dragging Marc to his feet.  "I'm going to let the Prince
do that."

     Of all the people he had to be caught by, Marc thought, why did it have to be Frank Kohanek? 
The guy was Lillie's new lover and the Prince's pet mortal.  And Marc had treated him as if he
were just any mortal man meddling in Kindred business.
     The wound on Frank's arm was still leaking blood, and the smell was driving Marc crazy. 
Why did Frank have to keep it so tight under his chin?  It was if the cop was deliberately
tormenting him.  Not for the first time Marc regretted sinking his fangs into the man.
     Frank pushed open the door to Lillie's office, and Marc's heart turned over.  The Prince was
already there, and not looking too happy.  If it had just been Lillie, Marc was certain he could
have explained, but Julian was notorious for not listening. 
     "Frank, you're bleeding," Lillie exclaimed.  Even Julian looked concerned when he scented
the cop's blood.  Frank gave Marc a shove that sent him stumbling half-way across the office.
     "Bastard *bit* me," Frank snarled.  "You want to do me a favor Julian?  Kill this guy!"
     "Oh, sweetheart!"  Lillie cooed.  "I'll take care of that."  She bent over Frank's arm to lick the
wound closed and glared daggers at Marc.  There would be no help for him from her, obviously.
     More interesting was the swift jealous look that crossed Julian's face.  What was he jealous
of, Marc wondered.  The fact that Lillie had a new man, or that the Toreador Primogen was
putting the moves on his pet?  Maybe a little of both.  Marc wouldn't put it past Lillie to have
deliberately manipulated Frank to upset Julian.
     Julian turned his attention towards Marc, and the Toreador felt himself cringe.  "Marc, why
didn't you come to me when this first happened?  It would have saved everyone a great deal of
trouble," the Prince said.
     Marc opened his mouth, but nothing came out.  No explanation, no plea for mercy, nothing. 
He glanced over at Lillie, but her attention was consumed by Frank.  Marc closed his mouth and
swallowed.
     "Now you've let things get worse," Julian continued.  His voice was level, reasonable, and
hard enough to crack rocks.  "The girl has gone to her brother, a policeman.  The policeman has
alerted his colleagues.  People are looking for you."
     "I know," Marc moaned.
     "Do you?"  Julian sounded coolly disbelieving.
     "I saw Karen downstairs," Marc answered.  "With her brother.  She must have brought him
here."
     Marc shrank back from the rage that glittered in the Prince's eyes.  "Marc," Julian shook his
head.  "I pity you."
     Help came from an unexpected quarter.  "Julian," Frank interrupted.  "You leave that cop
alone."
     Marc gave a sigh of relief as the Prince shifted his attention to Frank.  "I won't make you a
promise I can't keep," Julian told the mortal softly.
     How could the mortal dare to be so defiant, Marc marvelled  Didn't he see how angry Julian
was?  But Frank met Julian stare for stare, as if trying to challenge the Prince to a duel.  "You
mess with Charles Matthews, Julian, and we'll both regret it," Frank vowed.
     "This is Kindred business," Julian reminded him, and the mortal turned away with a curse. 
Lillie hurried to follow him out the door and down the stairs.
     "Lillie!"  Marc cried after her.  "Wait!  Don't leave me."
     Lillie looked back at him totally exasperated.  "You're lucky I didn't have a chance to deal
with you first, Marc."  Her eyes went back to Julian.  "Don't expect any complaints from me on
your decision," she told the Prince.  "You can do anything you want to him."

     Charles saw the end of the fight between Frank and the nameless freak as he slipped through
the backstage door.  "Don't hurt me," the freak whined at Frank.  So maybe they aren't friends,
Charles considered.  Things just got weirder and stranger.
          "I'm not going to hurt you," Frank replied, dragging the freak to his feet.  "I'm going to let
the Prince do that."  He kept one arm around the freak's neck and forced him up the stairs. 
Charles followed at a respectable distance.
     A tiny oriental girl stopped him just as he put a foot on the bottom step.  "May I help you?"
she asked in a tone that definitely implied that he shouldn't be here.
     Charles grimaced.  "Uh, sorry," he grinned.  "I guess I'm a little lost."
     "We don't allow customers in the backstage area," the oriental girl explained.  "Let me show
you the way back to the club."
     Charles smiled and thanked her, then pushed his way through the crowd and out the front
door.  He may have lost sight of the freak, but he still knew where Frank Kohanek's car was
parked.  He was heading for the alley when his sister accosted him.
     "That was totally immature, Charles!"  Karen raged at him.  "You'll do anything to keep me
from being happy, won't you?"
     "I thought I told you to go home, Karen," Charles yelled back at her.  He instantly regretted it. 
It was a sign of how upset he was that he raised his voice.
     Karen didn't care.  She thrived in a high drama environment.  "You told me to leave the
club," she retorted.  "And I did.  Now I'll probably never meet the man of my dreams.  I'll be
miserable and alone my whole life just like you!  Does that make you happy?"
     Frank's car was still parked in the alley, next to the exit.  So Frank hadn't helped the freak
escape.  They were probably still talking to the "Prince", whoever that was.  Weirder and
stranger. 
     Karen pushed him.  "Are you paying attention to me?" she screeched.
     "Lower your voice," Charles told her.  "Stop making a scene."  That was like telling the sun
not to rise, but he had to try to calm her.
     Behind her the back door opened and Frank Kohanek slammed out.  Charles grabbed his
sister, put a hand over her mouth and dragged her into the shadow of the dumpster.  "Be quiet,"
he hissed when she kicked him in the shin.  For a wonder she was.
     Frank kicked the side of his car several times, cursing creatively.  Charles was a little
embarrassed that Karen could hear that kind of language.  But what really bothered him was that
the freak wasn't with Frank.
     The door opened a second time, but it wasn't the freak.  It was the woman Frank had been
with earlier.  "Now Frank," she said soothingly.  "Don't do anything stupid.  He'd tear you apart,
and you know it."  She caressed his back.  "And I don't want to lose you so soon."
     Frank turned around and leaned against his car.  "You know who I'm really mad at, Lillie?" 
He demanded.  "That stupid son-of-a-bitch Marc.  He blows the Masquerade and some innocent
people are going to get hurt.  Personally I hope Julian runs a stake through his heart and leaves
him out in the sun.  I'd like to be there and watch him fry."
     "How extroverted of you," the woman laughed, sliding her arms around Frank.  "Forget about
Marc.  Julian will take care of him.  Why don't we go back to your place and have some fun? I'll
let you drink my blood," she added archly.
     "Yeah," Frank sighed.  "Not too much I'm going to be able to do around here."  He opened the
car door and the woman slid in. 
     "Vampires," Karen sighed behind Charles hand.  "They're vampires."  She sounded absolutely
thrilled at the idea.

     Cash slipped out of the library and closed the doors on Julian and Cameron's argument. 
They'd been yelling at each other ever since Julian had returned from the club and found
Cameron waiting with the news that Sasha had disappeared.  If he stayed another minute, he was
going to start screaming at the Brujah too, or maybe attack him.  What did Cameron mean he
didn't know where Sasha was?  How could he just lose someone downtown?  No, Julian was
right, Sasha had run away from Cameron for some reason.  If the Brujah had hurt her....
     Cash drifted down the back corridor towards the Garden.  He always felt better outdoors,
under the stars.  He was just about to step out onto the plaza when he heard a noise in the
kitchen.  He stiffened.  It was probably nothing, but there was no reason for anyone to be in
there.  It was the least used room of the house, only occupied when Julian entertained.  He
peeked in through the swinging door.
     His shoulders relaxed, it was Sasha.  He stepped into the room, but she was so intent on
searching through the drawers that she didn't hear him.  "Cameron nearly had a stroke when you
disappeared on him," he told her drily.
     She literally jumped into the air, she was so startled.  He wanted to laugh, but before he could
she turned to face him and he saw the knife in her hand and the wild look in her eyes.  Fear
clutched at him with icy fingers.  "Sasha?  Put that down," It sounded more like a plea than an
order to his ears.
     "Go away, Cash,"  Sasha told him firmly.  She dropped the knife to her side, though.
     Cash ignored the order and smiled at her.  He hoped it didn't look as sickly as it felt.  "So why
did you cut out on the Brujah?  They're scouring the city for you.  Even Julian is worried."
     "I killed a man tonight, Cash,"  she told him, her voice flat.  "Just like I killed all those
animals.  I drank and drank until he died."
     "I'm sorry,"  Cash whispered.  No wonder she was upset.  No wondered she'd left Cameron.
     "I'm not,"  Sasha grimaced.  "At least I know what to do now.  The last couple of months it's
been like I've been walking around in a fog.  Well, my mind is real clear now."
     Cash looked at her and looked at the knife.  He looked back into her eyes, they were wild
with determination.  "Sasha, please don't."  He wasn't even sure what he didn't want her to do,
but he was cold inside and out now.
     "I've made up my mind,"  Sasha shook her head.  "You can't talk me out of it.  It's better this
way.  I wasn't meant to be Kindred, you know that."
     Cash took a step toward her and she raised the knife again.  He stopped, not because he was
afraid she'd hurt him, but because he was afraid he'd hurt HER.  He made small placating
gestures with his hands.
     "You weren't meant to be Brujah, you mean,"  Cash looked into her eyes, willing her to
believe him.  "Martin had no right to Embrace you.  That night Julian gave you to me, to the
Gangrel.  I was coming to tell you that I was going to make you a Gangrel, like me.  What
Martin did, he did to hurt you, and to hurt Julian."
     "Well, he did a good job,"  Sasha's smile was savage.
     "You can't kill yourself with that little knife, Sasha,"  he reasoned with her.  "All it'll do is
hurt for a bit and then heal."
     "I'm going to let all the blood I stole out,"  Sasha informed him calmly.  Too calmly.  "And
then I'm going to go for a walk in the sunlight.  If I don't have any blood in my system it should
be over pretty quick.  I don't want it to hurt too much.  I deserve to suffer, but I don't want to."
     "No!"  Cash cried, shocked to his very core.  "Sasha!  Sasha, don't.  That's what Martin and
Eddie wanted.  If you destroy yourself they'll have won."
     "That's fine with me, Cash,"  Sasha said.  "I don't care anymore."
     "If you destroy yourself,  I'll do them same,"  Cash told her.
     "A suicide pact?"  Sasha sneered.  "Give me a break."
     "No,"  Cash said.  "I don't want to exist without you.  If you are extinguished there is no
reason for me to go on.  I love you Sasha.  I want to spend the rest of eternity with you.  All the
endless nights of the world.  Nothing is going to keep us apart.  So if you go, I want to go
with you."
     "Don't be stupid,"  Sasha whispered.  "You haven't done anything wrong."  The knife point
wavered in her hand.
     "I'm not stupid," Cash pressed.  "I'm in love with you.  I'd give up anything for you."  He
realized that it was true.  He'd jettison his principals if it made her stay with him.  He held out
his arms to her.  "You don't ever have to Hunt again, if you don't want to.  I'll do it for the both of
us.  You can drink from me, whenever you Thirst."  Tears stung his eyes and he blinked them
back.  If he was going to be faced with not having her at all or keeping her as a Thrall, he knew
there was only one thing he could do.
     "You mean it?"  Sasha asked.  The knife had dropped to her side again.  Cash could see the
tears standing her eyes too.
     "Come here and I'll prove it,"  Cash whispered.
     Cash guided Sasha's head to his throat.  She knew enough now to open the vein herself.  A
gentle kiss first, then her canines sinking into his flesh, the sharp sting overwhelmed by a
body-wracking rush of bliss.  "Slowly," he whispered.  "Gently.  Lets take our time."
     It took time to establish the Bond.  The blood-sharing had to be done carefully so that the
souls merged.  And he hadn't satisfied his own Thirst yet this evening; he didn't have that much
to give her.  If she drained him completely before they'd established a rapport....
     A thought occurred to him, and he didn't take the time to consider the consequences.  He
hadn't Hunted this evening, but Sasha had.  He moved Sasha's flowing hair away from her neck
and sank his teeth into her jugular.
     He felt Sasha's surprise and her pleasure as the Communion sprang up instantly between
them.  Her knees weakened as euphoria washed over them both like a wave. He had to support
her before she fell to the floor, taking him with her.  She hadn't felt this pleasure since the first
time Martin had taken her.  The ecstasy frightened her, but he kept his arms around her and
concentrated on how much he loved her, adored her, wanted her.  Slowly he felt her relax and
accept the joy of being Drained.
     The knife clattered onto the floor as Sasha wrapped her arms around him.  Cash lifted her up
onto the counter top, never taking his lips from the wound on her throat.  She tried to pull him up
beside her, but he resisted.  As if from a great distance he felt her fumbling with the buckle on
his belt.  He could feel his blood circulating through her veins much more clearly.
     He slid his hands under Sasha's blouse and across the silky fabric of her brassiere.  Her flesh
seemed to glow with an internal light under his fingers.  The feel of her, the smell of her, the
taste of her filled his universe.  Her spirit lay against his, her beautiful soul filling his skull, or
maybe it was his soul filling hers.
     Sasha was tugging at his tee-shirt, trying to remove it.  He felt her claws extend as she
shredded it off his back.  Her bra unfastened, freeing her breasts to his caress.  Did he cupped
them in his palms, or did she move his hands?  She slid his jeans down, then tried to unfasten her
own.  Cash didn't want to wait; the denim tore like tissue paper.
     Sasha slid off the counter top and impaled herself on him with one sinuous motion.  Cash was
lost inside of her, and she in him; their bodies merging as easily as their minds had.  They were
one Blood, one person.  Pleasure mounted on pleasure until the whole world exploded.

     Dawn was peeking through the kitchen window when Cash lifted himself from the kitchen
floor.  Sasha grinned up at him, her eyes sparkling, her misery forgotten.  "Wow," she sighed. 
"Why haven't we ever done that before?"
     He smiled back at her, then leaned down and kissed her swiftly on her lips.  They still had the
tang of his blood on them.  "I love you, Sasha," he told her.  "And I swear, I'll never do anything
to hurt you.  By my Blood and Clan, I swear it."
     "I love you too, Cash," she smiled back.  "And I know you never would.  And I promise I'll
never leave you."
     Cash looked at the ruins of his tee-shirt.  It was suddenly very difficult to look in her eyes. 
"You'd better go to your rest.  It's late."
     "Aren't you coming with me?"  Sasha asked.
     "I'll be up in a minute," Cash replied.  "I have to talk to the Prince.  Tell him you're home."
     "Okay," Sasha clambered to her feet and belted the remains of her jeans around her.  "I'll see
you tonight.  I'd better awaken beside you.  You don't want me to have to come looking for you." 
She poked him playfully with one finger as she passed him.
     She paused in the doorway and favored him with one of her mischievous vixen looks.  "Rest
in peace, Cash," she laughed.
     He had to chuckle.  "I'll be up in a minute, Sasha."
     But he didn't leave the kitchen until he'd heard her tread on the steps leading to her room. 
Then he sighed and prepared himself to explain his decision to Julian.

     Cameron had left; Julian was in the library alone, straightening up his paperwork for the day. 
Cash didn't think that the Prince had gotten as much done as he might have wished; it had been
an eventful evening.  "Sasha's home," Cash said without preamble.  "She's in her room."
     Julian looked up and smiled.  "That probably explains your state of undress."
     Cash ducked his head.  He really didn't want to explain that Sasha had ripped the clothing off
of him, at least not to her uncle.  Julian seemed pretty accepting of their relationship, but it was
best not to push things too far.  "She ran away from Cameron  'cause she killed a guy while
Feeding," Cash explained.
     "So I eventually learned from Cameron," Julian confirmed.  "He couldn't understand why that
would have upset her."
     "He's Brujah," Cash grimaced.  "And an idiot."
     "You're repeating yourself," Julian said drily.  "We spent the evening discussing the Third
Tradition, and whether or not it allows me to adopt Sasha as my Childe and keep her from the
Brujah."
     "Does it?"  Cash asked hopefully.
     "It's a very old interpretation of the Tradition," Julian answered.  "I doubt if it has been
invoked a dozen times on this continent, and never in this city, but yes, it does.  He will
challenge me, of course, and I'll need a vote of the Primogens to seal my interpretation as law."
     "You'll have my vote," Cash assured him.
     "I assumed as much," Julian smiled.  "But be careful of what you agree to.  Lillie will no
doubt vote against as it gives me the option, in the future, of  adopting any Fledgling from any
Clan not made with my prior express permission."
     "What about Daedalus?"  Cash wondered.  "How will he vote?"
     "He is a traditionalist," Julian nodded.  "He'll vote for my interpretation.  Besides, the
Nosferatu never Embrace without following the letter of the Traditions, so they have nothing to
lose."
     "Well," Cash said.  "That will make what I've just done a little easier."  He swallowed hard
and looked steadily at Julian.  "I've started to Bond Sasha.  And she's started to Bond me.  We've
shared blood once tonight, in two more nights we'll be both Thrall and Regnant to each other."
     "Cash," Julian said softly.
     "You were right," Cash plowed on.  "I'm sorry that I didn't see it before.  She was so
unhappy....  Well, she won't be unhappy anymore.  I'll make sure of that."
     "Cash," Julian repeated.  "That isn't necessary."
     "Yes, it was," Cash insisted.  "But I couldn't just Bond her, Julian.  I don't know if you can
understand that.  I couldn't have that much power over her, without giving her some power over
me.  I couldn't have done that and still been able to say I loved her.  I couldn't have done it
without hating myself."
     "So this is the best I could think of," he continued, not letting the Prince interrupt.  "We'll be
Blood Bound to each other.  That kind of Bond never dies.  I know that the Gangrel won't accept
me being Bound to a Brujah, so I'll have to step down from the Conclave.  Lorraina's good, you'll
like working with her.  I'm sure she'll become Primogen in my place.  She'll support you."
     "Cash," Julian said gently.  "You don't have to do any of that."
     "Yeah, I do," Cash disagreed.  "But Sasha's worth it."
     "I've made other arrangements for Sasha," Julian told him.  "I've had a supply of stored blood
made available; it will appear as an accounting error if the hospital is ever audited."
     Cash just stared at Julian, numb with surprise.  Julian frowned.  "I don't like the idea of Sasha
drinking from a cup like a criminal or an invalid.  But better that then she subsist on animals. 
And perhaps she will gradually overcome this...reluctance...to obtaining her own nourishment."
     "That's very generous of you Julian," Cash said.  Generous wasn't the word; Julian was risking
the Masquerade to get Sasha that blood.  He must have agonized over that decision.  "I'm very
grateful.  I'm sure Sasha will be as well."
     "If you wish to Bond her," Julian replied.  "I told you I'll support you in the Conclave.  But I
thought you would want to know that she has another option."
     "I'll ask her," Cash decided.  "I'll ask her what she wants to do.  It should be her decision
whether she becomes a Thrall, or drinks stored blood instead."
     "Very well," Julian nodded.  "Good day, Cash."
     Cash bowed formally, one hand over his heart.  "Good day, my Prince.  Rest well."

     Sonny always arrived at work early, even when the sun was high.  Today was no exception. 
He supposed that it was his Ventrue blood that made him so conscientious; he didn't remember
taking so much pride in his attendance or appearance before his Embrace, but that had been a
long time ago.
     He parked his car in the underground parking lot and walked into the precinct building trying
to look cheerful.  He always felt lethargic this early in his day, perhaps he should try to switch
back to the midnight shift.  But that might split him up from Frank, and Julian had taken some
pains to get Sonny assigned as Kohanek's partner when Frank first started seeing Alexandra on a
regular basis.  And now that Frank knew so much about the Kindred Julian wanted him watched
very closely.
     Sonny sighed, maybe he could talk Frank into asking for the midnight shift.  A few subtle
suggestions, a little mind control...
     He got to his desk and started his paperwork.  He had about a dozen calls to make, and an
hour before most people went home for the day.  He picked up the phone.
     "If you want to know about Frank Kohanek then this is the guy to talk to," Peter Marlowe said
behind him.  Sonny put down the phone.  "Hey, Sonny," Peter continued.  "This is Charles
Matthews, he has some questions about your partner."
     Charles Matthews looked a little embarrassed as he held out his hand.  "I'm pleased to meet
you, Detective..."
     "Sonny Tousaint," Sonny shook Matthews' hand.  "What can I help you with?"
     "Just a couple of questions about Frank Kohanek," Matthews answered.  "He was acting a
little odd when I spoke to him the other day, and I was just wondering if he normally worked
nights."
     "Yeah," Sonny nodded.  "Four to Midnight.  He'll be in in a couple of minutes."
     "Oh," Matthews looked a little nonplused.  "Do you ever see him after work?  Do you hang
out together?"
     "No," Sonny answered.  "Not too often.  Maybe once a week."
     "He belong to any social clubs?  Religious organizations?"
     Sonny shook his head, mystified.  "Why do you want to know all this stuff?"
     "I think we have a mutual acquaintance," Matthews answered.  "A guy named Marc.  Marc is,
uh, dating my sister."
     It was all Sonny could do to not react.  This was the cop Julian was worried about, the one
who was tracking down Marc and had the photograph his sister had taken.  "I don't know that
many of Frank's friends," Sonny stalled.  "He doesn't hang around much with the other cops."
     "But he's never talked about belonging to any odd organizations, fraternities, cults?" 
Matthews pressed.
     "No," Sonny told him.  "Not that I know of."
     "He ever talk to you about vampires?"
     Sonny forced himself to laugh.  "Look," he said, leaning in to touch Matthews on the arm. 
"Some guys believe in UFOs.  Some guys believe in reincarnation.  I never leave the house until
I've checked my horoscope.  Frank believes in vampires.  He thinks they're everywhere.  He's
harmless, believe me."
     "He ever say that he might be one?"
     "Frank?"  Sonny clapped a hand over his mouth to stop his guffaw.  "Frank is a vampire? 
Definitely not."  I can swear to that, Sonny added to himself.
     "Not a real vampire," Matthews frowned.  "Of course not.  But could he think he was, or
maybe found some sort of weird cult that thought they were...."
     "No, no," Sonny chuckled.  "As far as I know, Frank is afraid of vampires.  He would never
socialize with them."  Although, now that he thought about it, Sonny had heard rumors about
Frank and Lillie.  This might not be as funny as he first thought.
     "Oh," Matthews said, looking pensive.  Behind him, Frank wandered into the squad room.
     "Here he is now," Sonny pointed.  "Why don't you ask him?"
     "Uh," Matthews said.  "I don't think that would be a good idea. Thank you for your help."
     "Hey," Frank said, noticing the young cop.  "You ever find that stalker?"
     "Not yet," Matthews eyed Frank significantly.  "But I'm working on it."  He nodded his
good-byes and strode towards the exit.
     "What's his problem?" Frank wondered.
     "Nothing," Sonny sighed.  It was going to be a long shift before he could talk to Julian about
this.  He looked at Frank and shook his head at the thought that his mortal partner had been
mistaken for a Kindred.  "Nothing at all."

     Frank was just finishing his dinner when he saw Julian's limousine pull into the Nighthawk's
parking lot.  He signaled the waitress.  "Miss, may I have another cup of coffee and a glass of
tomato juice, please?"  He watched as a uniformed woman open the door and Julian stepped out
into the night.  So Julian had a new driver.  He was still being followed around by his
scruffy-looking bodyguard, though.
     The waitress brought his coffee and the tomato juice as Julian joined him in the booth.  Frank
pushed the juice across the table.
     "Thank you, Frank," Julian smiled.
     "And to what do I owe this dubious honor?"  Frank asked.
     "I wanted to let you know that Marc has been dealt with," Julian replied.  "I've banished him. 
He'll be gone from the city by tomorrow's sunrise."
     "Do you mean San Francisco," Frank asked.  "Or the area?"
     "From my Domain," Julian told him.  "Which stretches from San Jose to Napa Valley and
half-way to Sacramento."
     "Good," Frank nodded.  That would keep Marc away from Karen in Berkeley, at least.  "What
about the other problem?"
     "Officer Matthews seems to have realized that Marc is Kindred," Julian answered.  "He has
been asking questions about your relationship to Marc.  I would appreciate it if you avoided
contact with any of the Kindred until this dies down."
     Frank nodded sagely.  "Smooth move, Julian.  I could almost believe that this is about Marc
and not about Lillie."
     "This isn't about Lillie," Julian snapped.  "But now that you mention it, it might be wise of
you to stay away from her especially."
     "You're jealous, aren't you?"  Frank demanded.  "You are so God-damned possessive..."
     "I'm thinking of your continued good health, Frank," Julian retorted.  "I promised Alexandra
I'd protect you, and I can't do that if you insist on bedding a predator."
     "I don't believe you," Frank countered, glaring at Julian.  "You didn't give a damn about
Alexandra, and you..."
     "I loved Alexandra more than you will ever know!"
     "Is that why you had her killed?"  Frank snarled.  "You didn't care about her and you don't
care about Lillie.  All that matters is that they were your women, and they left you.  Well, I care
about Lillie and she cares about me.  Chew on that, Julian!"
     "You are deluding yourself if you think Lillie is capable of loving you," Julian stated, his eyes
flat.
     "Oh, she does," Frank assured him.  "You can bet on it."
     "Lillie likes you Frank," Julian replied.  "In the same exact way that you like the food in this
diner."
     Frank stumbled to his feet overcome with rage.  If he'd had his gun he would have gladly
emptied it into Julian Luna's cold, dead heart.  Not that it would have done any good.  "Go to hell
Julian," was all he could manage to say before stalking out.

     Marc waited until Charles' car drove away before stepping out of the shadows into Karen's
path.  He had heard her arguing with her brother, now he saw that she was crying.  When she
saw him she stumbled to a stop and whispered, "Oh my God."
     "Karen," Marc held out his hands to her.  "Please don't be frightened."
     She threw herself into his arms.  "Frightened?  I'm not frightened anymore.  I thought they'd
killed you."
     "No," Marc held her close.  Smelling her scent, feeling her heart beat and her breath.  "But I
have to go.  I've been banished.  If they find me in the city tomorrow, they will destroy me."
     "I'll go with you," Karen vowed.  "I have some money..."
     "No!"  Marc exclaimed.  "You must stay here.  To finish your education, to nurture your
talent."
     "I don't care about photography," Karen cried.  "Not if I have to lose you!"
     "I'll write you," Marc told her.  "When I've found a safe place.  Stay here, stay right here, and
I'll contact you.  Then, when you've graduated, you can come to me.  But you must continue with
your art!  Your photographs are your soul, Karen.  Ignore them and your soul will wither and die. 
It's your beautiful talent that makes you so special, that raises you above all the other Kine.  Lose
your talent and your family will have won."
     "I don't even know your name," Karen wept.
     "It's Marc, my darling," he held her very close.  "Marc Tyler."
     "I love you, Marc."
     "And I love you too," He kissed her hair.  "I promise, someday we will be together for all
eternity."
     She tilted her head so that he was kissing her warm fragrant lips.  Marc slid her glasses off
and tucked them into her coat pocket, then ran his fingers through her hair.  She sighed against
him as he kissed her eyes and cheeks.  Karen clutched at him so that he was forced back to her
lips again.  Her lips parted and tentatively she ran her tongue over his mouth.
     Charles cold voice drove them apart.  "Get away from her, you bastard!"

     Karen positioned herself between Marc and the gun in her brother's hand.  "Charles," she said
firmly.  "Don't you dare!"  She felt strangely calm, as if she'd found a strength in herself she
hadn't expected.
     Charles' gun never waived, his eyes didn't blink.  "Good thing you left your sweater in the car,
Karen," he said.  He had the garment draped over his arm.  "Your guardian angel must be
looking after you tonight."
     Marc laid a compassionate hand on Karen's shoulder.  "It's all right, Darling," he told her. 
"Step out of the way."
     Charles nodded.  "Do what he says, Karen."  He motioned her to the side with his revolver.
     "Marc, no," Karen turned to him in confusion.  His face was serene, his golden eyes tender.
     "Remember what I told you," he whispered.  "Go stand by your brother."
     She smiled bravely and stepped away from him.  One, two, three, four steps backwards, until
she was next to Charles.  She could feel her brother relax now that she and Marc were separated.
     "You are under arrest," Charles began.  "You have the right to remain silent..."
     "Remember that I love you," Marc told her, and vanished.  One second he was standing five
feet in front of them, the next he was simply gone.  Karen gasped in delighted wonder, but
Charles swivelled, his gun pointing ahead of him like a tracking device.  He turned, then sighted
on a shadow and fired.  Karen screamed and covered her ears as the gunshots echoed among the
buildings.
     "Got him," Charles whispered in satisfaction.  He trotted towards the shadow a hundred yards
away.  Karen followed him, her hands over her mouth, her ears still ringing from the noise of the
gun.  Lights were coming on in the apartments all around them.
     The shadow resolved itself into Marc, laying face-down on the soft lawn.  There were holes
in the back of his jacket.  Karen started to run to him, to cradle him in her arms, but Charles
grabbed her around the waist and held her back.
     "You shot him!"  Karen cried.  "In the back, Chuck!  You shot him in the back!"
     "I was just trying to stop him," Charles answered.  He sounded surprised at what he had done. 
"Before he hurt you.  I didn't mean....I didn't mean to kill him."
     "He wasn't going to hurt me!" she retorted, twisting to face him.  "He just came to say
good-bye.  He was leaving, you drove him away!  But that wasn't enough for you, was it?  You
had to kill him!"
     "Karen, I..." Charles' face was tortured.  "I'm sorry.  I...Christ!"
     Karen swiveled as Charles brought his gun up again.  Marc was getting up.  She threw her
weight against her brother and when the gun went off chunks of turf sprayed into the air.  Marc
hissed, fangs gleaming in the lights from the parking lot.  Charles kept pulling the trigger and
was rewarded with a series of empty clicks.
     "Run!"  Karen screamed.
     Marc ran, leaving them alone in the dark.
     "That isn't possible," Charles whispered.  "That can't be possible."

     Frank's alarm had gone off every seven minutes since One o'clock.  Now the clock read
One-Forty-Nine, and Frank hit the snooze alarm one more time and pulled his pillow over his
head.
     The pillow smelled like Lillie.
     She hadn't left until nearly Six A.M., and by then Frank had been too exhausted to fall asleep. 
His whole body ached rather pleasantly from their after-midnight activities.  She hadn't been in a
mood to talk, so he never got a chance to tell her about Julian.  She was much too interested in
making love to him in a hundred different ways.  She had been insatiable.
     Even if he nearly had ruined everything by tasting her blood.  Lillie had been so insistent,
claiming it was the greatest aphrodisiac of all time, so he had tried, just to please her .  And she'd
obviously enjoyed it, until his stomach had rebelled and he'd gotten sick.  It had been completely
humiliating, but her tender nursing soon evolved into a quick seduction.
     Frank wondered where she learned all that stuff.  He wouldn't be surprised if she told him
she'd memorized the Kama Sutra.  Hell, after last night he wouldn't be surprised if she told him
she'd written the Kama Sutra.
     The alarm went off again, and he forced himself to get out of bed.  After his shower he
examined his whole body on the mirror.  Not that he didn't trust her, but... he didn't trust her.  No
suspicious cuts, healed over scratches, or unexplained punctures anywhere.  He got dressed
feeling like an idiot for checking.
     Lillie had said she didn't think of him as a food source, why couldn't he just believe her?  He
wanted to.  He thought he was beginning to fall in love with her, and suspected that she was
falling for him.  She was everything he wanted and more.  She was wildly uninhibited in bed,
and a lady to her fingertips everywhere else.  She probably couldn't cook, but then she didn't
need to.
     Which brought him back to thinking about what she did need.  Every time he thought of her,
he thought of the Kindred.  And what Julian had said about her not wanting him, only his blood. 
Something in Julian's voice had the ring of honesty.  Julian's eyes said that he was telling the
truth.
     "The truth as you know it, Julian," Frank told his reflection while he shaved.  "Maybe Lillie's
a little embarrassed to be attracted to a mortal man."  Yeah, that was probably the problem.  And
Julian was just jealous.  Now if Frank could only make himself believe that.
     He was just about ready to leave for work when there was a knock at his apartment door.  He
opened it to find a nervous looking girl standing on his doorstep.  She looked as if she had been
crying, but it was hard to tell behind her thick glasses.
     "I'm Karen Matthews," she introduced herself.  When Frank didn't respond she added, "I'm a
friend of Marc's."
     "Oh, Jesus," Frank winced.  "Go away, little girl."
     "No," Karen insisted.  "I need your help."
     "My help?"  Frank asked.  "How did you find me?"
     Karen produced a piece of paper.  "My brother had this in his notebook."  It had his address
written on it, and a list of times and locations.  Frank's heart sank when he saw the Nighthawk
and The Haven written there too.  The simple son-of-a-bitch had been following him, and Frank
had led them right to the Kindred.  Things just kept getting worse.
     "I want Marc back," Karen told him, stepping through the open door into his living room. 
"He said he'd been banished.  I want you to fix that.  Un-banish him, whatever you call it."
     "Why would I want to help him get back?"  Frank demanded.  He closed the door behind her.
     "I'll do anything," Karen offered.  "Anything at all.  I really love him, and I know that he loves
me."
     Frank smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand.  Was this how he had sounded to
Julian last night?  "You are a food source!"  He snarled, but he didn't know if he was talking to
Karen or to himself.
     "No!"  Karen protested.  "It's more than that."  Tears trickled down her cheeks.  "Besides, I
don't care.  If he needs my blood, he can have it.  And if my blood will make you change your
mind about letting him come back to me, you can have it, too."
     Frank stared at her, completely confused.  Then Karen turned her head slightly, exposing her
throat, and Frank buried his head in his hands.  He didn't know whether to laugh or sob.
     He took a few slow, deep breaths to control his shaking, then grabbed Karen by the shoulder. 
"Don't you ever do that, for anyone, ever again," Frank scolded her.  "Kindred are predators,
Karen.  They're dangerous.  They are not for little girls to play with."
     "I'm not a little girl!"  Karen cried out, striking him.
     Frank shook the fight out of her.  "Go home, Karen!  Forget about Marc.  Forget about
Kindred.  I swear, if you want to live, pretend that none of this ever happened.  Because if they
find out that you know, they will hunt you down and they will kill you."
     "No, I..." Karen declared.
     "There is no judge, no jury, no appeal," Frank stated flatly.  "Just a city full of executioners
who will drain you dry and throw away the husk.  If you don't care about yourself, then think
about your family, because they won't stop with just you.  They'll get your brother, at least.  And
maybe your friends, if you've told them anything."
     "They kill anyone who gets in their way," Frank continued.  "That's what they are.  That's
what they do.  So don't go looking for trouble."
     "Marc wasn't like that," Karen protested weakly.  At least she looked frightened.
     "Marc was Toreador," Frank told her roughly.  "You don't want to meet a Brujah, trust me."
     "Which are you?"  Karen asked.
     Frank flung the door open and pushed her out.  "And don't come back!"  He shouted,
slamming it shut on her.  Idiot, idiot, idiot, he berated himself.  He still didn't know if he meant
Karen or himself.

     Lillie was waiting for him at his apartment when Frank got off his shift.  Her lips were warm
when he kissed her.  Frank wasn't sure if he liked that.
     "Lillie, can I ask you a question?" Frank asked.  "A Kindred question?"
     "I'm not really in the mood to talk," Lillie smiled.
     "I'm having a little trouble here," he confessed.  "I've got something I think I might want to
tell Julian, but I don't actually want to talk to Julian."  And he wasn't sure he even wanted to let
Julian know about Karen's visit.  If he could be certain that Julian wouldn't do anything to her, or
to her brother...
     "Why don't you want to talk to Julian?"  Lillie asked.  "I thought you two had gotten over
your differences."
     "Nah," Frank frowned.  "He knows about us, and he said I shouldn't see you."
     The change in Lillie was remarkable.  In the short time he'd known her, he'd never seen her
angry.  Not like this.  "He said that you shouldn't see me?"  She repeated.  "How dare he!  How
dare he interfere!"
     Frank reached for her.  "It's not like I'm going to listen to him," he assured her.
     "Did he give a reason?"  Lillie demanded.
     "He said he was looking out for me," Frank told her.  "But I think he's just jealous."
     "Looking out for you," Lillie scoffed.  "If he can restrain himself around Caitlin, then I can
restrain myself around you.  That pious, blue blood, Ventrue..."
     "Caitlin?"  Frank asked.  "Caitlin Byrne?"
     "You've met Julian's new leman, have you?"  Lillie asked, icily.  "She's just what he likes in
mortal women, pale as dishwater and half as interesting."
     Frank grinned at her.  "You're jealous!  You are sleeping with me to get back at Julian for
finding someone new."
     "I am not!"  Lillie sounded alarmed.  "That's ridiculous.  I wouldn't lower myself to competing
with a mortal woman."
     "I don't believe you," Frank bantered.  It was almost a relief to think that Lillie was toying
with him.  He couldn't be falling in love again so soon after Julian had put Alexandra in her
grave, could he?
     Lillie turned her beautiful eyes to him and stared directly in his face.  "I've given up on Julian
Luna," she said firmly.  "He's arrogant, vain, self-important, Ventrue...  There aren't enough
words to describe all his faults."
     "And he's tossed you over for a mortal girl," Frank marveled.
     "I don't want him!"  Lillie insisted.  "I've always been there, always been loyal, but he's always
ignored me.  I'm sick of the other women in his life!  I want a man of my own, a real man.  I
want you, Frank."
     Oh, that was scary.  Frank felt his heart pounding in his chest.  She wanted him, and, dammit,
he did want her, so bad he could taste it.  "Julian is an idiot," he commented without meaning to. 
"He must be blind to pass you over for a girl like Caitlin."
     Lillie relaxed visibly.  "Now, why would I want a man whose judgment is that poor?" she
smiled.
     "You wouldn't," Frank replied.  She let him put his arms around her.  "You're infinitely more
beautiful, more cultured, more talented, sexier, wittier...  In fact, I think you have it over Caitlin
in every single way."
     Lillie smiled and molded herself to him.  Her hair smelt wonderful.  "Thank you, Frank," she
whispered.
     "In fact, I can only think of one thing that Caitlin has that you don't," Frank continued.  "So
it's probably that."
     "What thing?"  Lillie demanded.  The anger was back in her face and voice.  "What does she
have that I don't?"
     "A pulse," Frank told her.  Then he burst out laughing at the confounded look on her face.
     "That's not funny, Frank," Lillie informed him stiffly.
     "Yes, it is," Frank corrected her, laughing harder.  "A pulse, get it?  It's a dead joke, Honey. 
What's the matter?  Did you leave your sense of humor in your other coffin?"
     "I mean it, Frank," Lillie was trying to look threatening, but the corners of her mouth were
twitching.  Frank put his hand over his mouth and tried to stop laughing.  The stress was
beginning to get to him, he supposed.  Lillie took a step toward him and he laughed harder. 
After another second Lillie joined him.
     "I'll make laugh," she pushed him backwards towards the bedroom.  Frank backed away from
her, hands up defensively.
     "Now, Lillie," Frank chuckled, trying to dodge her.  She pushed him again, and his knees hit
the edge of his bed.  He sat down abruptly.
     Lillie shoved him prone and climbed on top of him, her knees squeezing his chest.  "You
want to laugh?" she grinned, ripping his shirt open.  His buttons bounced across the bed and
pinged against the wall.
     "Don't tickle!"  Frank gasped.  "No tickling."  He crawled backwards on his elbows to get
away from her.
     "I don't need to tickle you, Frank," Lillie smiled.  "I have other ways of ensuring your...
cooperation."  Her hands fumbled with his belt.  She produced his handcuffs with a flourish.
     "Wait..."
     Quick as a striking snake, Lillie fastened the cuff  around his wrist.  She leaned forward to
attach the other end to the headboard.
     "Lillie, stop!"  Frank wasn't laughing any longer.  "No kinky stuff."
     Lillie arched one perfect eyebrow at him.  "Bondage is kinky, but necrophilia isn't, Frank?"
     Frank's mouth dropped open.  "Was that a joke?  Was that a dead joke?"  He grabbed Lillie
around the waist and tossed her onto the bed beside him.
     "Well, you do seem to like dead girls, Frank," Lillie smiled.  Her arms twined around his neck
as she pushed herself against him.
     "Okay," Frank agreed.  "I like dead girls.  But no bondage."  He kissed her and began
worrying at the buttons down the back of her dress.  "And no bestiality either," he added.  "No
changing into anything else while we're making love."
     "All right," she laughed into his mouth.  "But you are taking the fun out of it."

     Charles came home to find his sister curled up on his couch, crying her heart out.  He knew
she was angry at him for driving Marc away; he only hoped that one day she see that he was only
trying to protect her.  She was so much younger than he was, in so many ways.  She didn't
understand what a bad place the world could be.
     He wasn't sure if he hadn't underestimated the world's danger, too.  He had shot Marc three
times, and the freak had gotten up.  The freak's fangs had to be fake.  Marc must have been
wearing body armor, somehow, even if it would have shown through his light suit coat.  There
were no such things as vampires, were there?
     "I hope you're happy!"  Karen had finally noticed him.  She picked up one of the sofa pillows
and threw it at him, then looked for something more substantial.
     "Karen..."  Charles started, but there wasn't anything to say.
     "I hate you," Karen shouted.  "You've ruined everything!  Even Marc's friends won't talk to
me because of you!"
     "Marc's friends?"  Charles asked.  "Where did you meet a friend of Marc's?"
     "I went to see that Frank whatshisname," Karen sobbed.  "To see if he'd help me get Marc
back.  But he wouldn't!  He said if I didn't forget about Marc, he'd kill me!  He said he'd drink me
dry and throw away the husk!"
     Charles felt his blood run cold.  A cop, a vampire cop, could conceivably get away with
anything.  "Don't worry, Karen," he assured his sister.  "I won't let him hurt you.  I won't let him
hurt anybody, ever again."

     Lillie slid out of Frank's bed before six o'clock and started to dress.  Frank reached for her. 
"Where are you going?"
     "It's almost dawn, Frank," Lillie told him.  "I have to get home."
     "Why not stay here?" he asked.  She hesitated, so he added, "You can trust me."
     She gave a tiny laugh.  "It's not that, Frank.  I know I can trust you.  But, I'm afraid my
appearance during the day might disgust you."
     Frank frowned.  "What do you look like?  You don't... rot or anything, do you?"
     "Gracious, no!"  Lillie exclaimed.  "But I do appear dead, Frank.  No breathing, no pulse, no
temperature.  You don't want that in your bed, certainly."
     Frank patted her pillow.  "Get back into bed."
     "Frank, I really could fall in love with you," Lillie sighed.  She sat back down on the bed and
removed her shoes.  "If I do disturb you during the day, you can just push me under the bed.  I'm
very hard to rouse in the daylight, and I've woken in stranger places."
     "Deal," Frank yawned.  "The alarm is set for two.  I have to be at work by four.  Just let
yourself out and I'll meet you at your club after my shift, okay?"
     Lillie settled herself in bed and pulled the sheet up under her chin.  "Oh, this is so exciting.  I
haven't spent the whole day with a man since I was Embraced.  I feel like a real living woman."
     "Good," Frank muttered, already half asleep..  "And you'll talk to Julian?  Ask him to get off
my back?"
     "Yes, sweetheart," Lillie ran a cool hand through his hair.  "I'll just assure him that our
relationship is entirely sexual.  I have no desire to feed from you, or to Embrace you."
     "Embrace me?"  Frank asked opening his eyes.
     "Well, it really wouldn't work," Lillie soothed.  "My blood would drive you insane.  I'm
Toreador, and if you don't share a passion for art or a love of beauty, my Clan's blood will ravage
your mind until you destroyed yourself.  If I thought you had some talent locked up in your soul
that you couldn't express, I'd Embrace you in a second, but you don't."
     "That's okay," Frank sighed.  He didn't want to be Embraced.
     "All the bloodlines are like that," Lillie continued.  "You take on the characteristics of your
clan, but if they weren't there already, the new emotions would drive you mad.  It's not very
pretty." 
     "Sometimes," she continued after a pause.  Her eyelids were beginning to droop.  "A Kindred
will Embrace someone who isn't worthy; who won't fit in with the Clan.  It's a terrible
punishment.  I think that is what Eddie planned to do with Sasha - but she was pretty wild even
before the Brujah got her."
     She smiled at him, and settled back on her pillow, ready to sleep.  "Besides, I think you'd
make a good Ventrue, Frank."
     "Ventrue!"  Frank exclaimed.
     "Umm," Lillie barely stirred.  "I know Julian has his eye on you.  And he hasn't made a single
Childe since he became Prince..."  Her voice trailed off to nothing.
     Frank sat up and shook Lillie, but she didn't continue.  He pressed his hand over her heart, she
was cold and still.  Dead as a mackerel, Frank thought.  She wouldn't be able to answer his
questions until after sunset.
     Julian, Frank thought.  Embraced by the Ventrue.  Everything fell into place; Sonny being
Kindred, Julian being so friendly, everyone just accepting that Frank knew about Kindred when
they went so ballistic when any other mortal found out.  That bastard Julian Luna was going to
Embrace him.
     Frank didn't want to live forever.  He didn't want to be Kindred.  God, he thought, I thought
Julian was jealous of Lillie taking a lover!  He's jealous because he thought Lillie was going to
take me away from him!  That was disgusting.
     He was exhausted, but his heart was pounding so hard with panic that he couldn't fall asleep
for a very long time.

     Charles reviewed his plan one more time as he descended the steps of the Church of Saints
Peter and Paul.  He shifted the paper sack into the crook of his left arm and glanced at his watch. 
It was just before one in the afternoon.  He had plenty of time before dark.
     Oddly it wasn't the murder that he hoped to commit that worried him; it was breaking and
entering into Kohanek's apartment.  He hated the idea of violating the law.  He was a police
officer, not a criminal.  Even the thought of breaking the law made him feel dirty all over.
     And killing Frank Kohanek wasn't exactly murder - if he really was a vampire then Charles
was just destroying something that was already dead.  Charles hoped that vampires really did
disintegrate into dust the way they did in all those old horror movies.  If Frank left any remains,
Charles could have trouble.  He knew how hard it was to dispose of a body so that no one ever
found it.
     Charles walked the few blocks to Frank's apartment.  He had decided to leave his car in the
church parking lot.  It would attract less attention there.
     It was a beautiful day.  The sun had burned off the fog early, leaving the sky a cloudless blue. 
That would make Charles' job easier, he supposed.  He walked on, enjoying the bright, warm sun
and the gentle breeze off of the bay.  It was just cool enough that Charles didn't look out of place
wearing his jacket.
     The vestibule door was unlocked.  Charles walked in trying to look casual, as if he belonged
there.  Just an ordinary guy with an ordinary brown paper bag.
     He climbed the stairs towards Frank's apartment and became more nervous with each step. 
But it was a good kind of anxiety, the kind that would keep him alert and sharpen his reactions.
     Charles set the bag down when he reached Frank's door.  There was no one else in the hall or
in the stairwell.  He rooted around in the paper sack for the burglary tools he'd purchased that
morning.  They were at the bottom, beneath the vials of holy water, the crucifix and the garlic. 
He opened the euphemistically named "Locksmith's Helper" and followed the directions pasted
on the yellow plastic lid.
     The lock opened on his first try, despite his shaking hands.  He eased the door open slowly.
     Kohanek had the chain on.  Charles had anticipated that.  He let the door stand open an inch
while he repacked the burglary tools in their case and replaced them in the sack.  In their place
he removed a small bolt cutter.  One snick and he was in.
     The sun streamed through the living room's front windows, bathing everything in a soft
golden glow.  The apartment was fairly spartan, if not very neat.  Kohanek's sports coat was
thrown casually over a mission-style chair, a pair of running shoes lay by the bookcase.  Frank's
gun lay on the small dining room table.
     Charles crossed to the table and set his paper bag down.  He extracted a pair of driving gloves
from his pocket and slipped them on before picking up the gun.  He carefully emptied the
cylinder then replaced the gun back where he had found it.  He tucked the bullets into his pocket.
     He opened the sack and extracted the things he'd need.  He had no idea if any of them would
work, but wanted every advantage he could get.  After all, he had seen Frank up in the daylight,
and supposedly vampires couldn't do that.  Surely one of the items he'd brought would keep
Frank away from him.
     Carefully, he tucked the two vials of holy water in his right-hand coat pocket with the bullets,
and put the crucifix in the other pocket.  Charles fastened a single clove of garlic to a chain with
an alligator clip.  The chain also had a small cross and a St. Joseph's medal on it.  He let
them dangle outside of his shirt.
     He had the rest of the bulb of garlic which he tucked in with the crucifix, and a jar of crushed
garlic in oil.  He opened it and winced at the smell.  If garlic repelled vampires, and Charles had
no way of knowing if that was true, he wasn't sure which form would be most effective.  But
better safe than sorry was his motto, so he had all three.
     Charles tucked the stake under one arm and picked up the mallet.  Still carrying the open jar
of crushed garlic he walked cautiously towards the bedroom.
     After the brightness of the living room, it looked as dark as a cave.  Charles placed the jar of
garlic in the doorway where it would hopefully prevent Frank from escaping, then stepped into
the gloom.
     He paused while his eyes adjusted and heard a soft respiration.  Doubt assailed him.  Surely
the undead didn't breathe.  Charles tried to remember if Marc had been breathing, but he
couldn't.  He gnawed at his lip in frustration.
     Gradually his eyes adjusted to the dimness.  Blankets had been hung over the windows to shut
out the sun.  Clothing lay scattered across the floor.  A pair of women's high-heels were set
neatly by the nightstand.  Charles peered at the shadowy bed.  There were two forms in it.  Frank
Kohanek on the far side, and his girlfriend on the side closest to Charles.
     Charles listened carefully, holding his breath until his heart pounded.  No matter how hard he
strained he could still hear only one person breathing.  He grinned to himself in satisfaction.
     The girlfriend was an unexpected complication.  She was certain to awaken when Charles
drove the stake through Frank's heart.  And then she'd scream.  Charles wished he had something
to use as a gag, then discarded the idea.  He'd deal with her after he'd destroyed the vampire.
     He'd probably have to hit her, and Charles hated striking women.  But she was in a
relationship with a vampire, for crying-out-loud.  Frank probably had some weird hold on her
like Marc had on Karen.  Maybe it would wear off once the vampire was dead.  For Karen's sake,
he certainly hoped so.
     Charles crossed the room carefully, cautiously making sure that he didn't step wrong in the
dim half-light.  He held the stake a bare inch over Frank's chest, right where the heart should be. 
He raised the mallet and took a deep breath.
     His hand was shaking.  He couldn't hold the stake in position.  If he struck wrong, and hit a
rib....
     Praying, he touched the tip of the stake to Kohanek's chest, steadied it and swung the mallet
down.

     Frank woke when something sharp touched his chest.  His first thought was that it was Lillie
and he nonchalantly brought his arm across his chest to brush her away.  
     Then a tearing agony brought him to full awareness with a hoarse cry.  He rolled to his left,
towards the source of the pain and brought his hands up to his heart.  His fingers wrapped around
a stout piece of wood imbedded in his chest.  It was sticky with blood.
     His assailant was still standing by the edge of the bed, reaching for him.  Frank balled up his
right hand and punched the bastard right in the crotch.  Frank hoped that his attacker would be
incapacitated for a few precious seconds.
     The assailant made a choking noise and took a step backwards.  Frank managed to sit up.  He
kept his left hand wrapped around the spear in his chest.  If it moved it could do even more
damage to him.  Even now he could feel bubbles forming in the blood around the base.  That
meant it had pierced his lung.  He needed a doctor, real soon. 
     The bastard that had impaled him reached into his pocket for something.  Frank didn't wait to
see if it was a gun.  He grabbed the phone off of the nightstand and swung it with all the strength
he could muster.  It slammed into his assailant's shoulder and he went staggering into the wall.
     There was a tearing sensation in his chest as he stood, and Frank felt a moment of panicky
disorientation.  Warm liquid stained his pajama bottoms and rained on his left foot.  He was
losing a lot of blood.  He had to finish this guy off quickly.
     He swung the phone again, aiming for the bastard's head, but the assailant shielded himself
with his arm.  Frank looked around the bedroom, searching for a better weapon.  His eyes
stopped on Lillie, still stretched out on his bed, oblivious.  The nightmare began to make sense;
Lillie, the stake, Karen Matthews offering Frank her throat.  Frank realized who his attacker was.
     "God Dammit, Matthews," he snarled.  "I was trying to protect you!"  He swung the phone
again, but his arm was getting feeble.  Matthews blocked it easily, and the phone fell from
Frank's nerveless fingers.
     "I don't want your cursed help," Charles Matthews retorted.  "You are evil.  You prey on
helpless women.  And I'm going to stop you."
     Cut me a friggin' break, Frank thought.  You try to do some people a favor, and look what you
got for it.  Frank took a breath, braced himself, then punched Charles right in the face. 
     The younger cop staggered backwards, hands cradling his nose.  Frank though he might have
broken it.  That would slow Charles down some, but hardly put them on an even footing.  Still
protecting the stake embedded in his left lung, Frank circled the bed and began backing towards
the living room.
     Charles ripped the blankets from the window, and Frank blinked in the sudden light.  The
young cop pulled down the blinds and sunlight filled the bedroom.  Frank shielded his eyes against
the sudden glare.  The light was blinding.
     The light fell over the bed, Frank realized in sudden panic.  It covered Lillie like a blanket. 
"No!"  He shouted reaching for her.  If she didn't wake she'd eventually ignite, the way that
Alexandra had.  He couldn't bear to see her destroyed like that.
     Lillie awoke with a scream.  She scrambled back against the headboard, looking at the pool
of sunlight with sick revulsion.  When she raised her head Frank could see the golden madness
in her eyes.  Her lips drew back, exposing her fangs.  Her nostrils flared as she scented his blood. 
She swung her head from Frank to Charles.  The young cop's mouth dropped open.
     Frank saw her tense and tried to cry out a warning.  He barely managed a croak. "Lillie,
don't!"
     Before he could touch her she sprang.  She was on Charles Matthews faster than Frank could
blink.  The young man gave one anguished cry and then there was only the sound of  Lillie
feeding.
     Frank tried to reach her, but he was out of breath and the room kept spinning.  He barely
managed three steps before he collapsed backwards towards the bed.
     "Lillie, don't kill him," he whispered.  He was sitting upright, leaning against the mattress. 
Vaguely he remembered basic first aid; he should lie down.  Try to seal the wound.  Something. 
It was so hard to breathe, and the rest of the room seemed to be at the bottom of a long well.
     Frank tried to ease himself onto the floor, but his arm wouldn't support his weight.  His cheek
lay against the dress Lillie had discarded last night.  "Honey," Frank tried to tell her.  "I need
some help here."  But his voice was too weak to reach even his own ears.
     He drowned in the darkness.


     Frank was floating in a vast dark ocean.  Friendly dolphins nudged him and he stroked his
fingers across their broad, cool sides.  Everything was serene, timeless, peaceful.  Frank was
grateful for the rest; he had never felt so tired.
     The vagrant breeze brought snatches of conversation from the distant shore.  Three voices,
two men and a woman.  Frank did his best to ignore them.  All he wanted to do was float in the
soothing twilight.
     "... Stable...."
     "... When will he wake...."
     "... Watch him...."
     "... Take care of it...."
     The voices wouldn't leave him alone.  He recognized two of them now, Lillie's warm timbre
and the clipped English accent of Julian Luna.  Why didn't they just leave him the hell alone?
     Frank submerged himself in the warm waters.  A dolphin swam beside him, then transformed
itself into Alexandra.  She smiled and pulled him down into the crimson depths.
     "... He'll be thirsty...."
     Water filled his mouth and nose when he tried to take a breath.  No, not water, the liquid
filling his lungs had a salty, metallic taste.  Alex kept pulling him into the abyss.  He pulled
away from her and reached for the surface.  He was drowning in a sea of blood.  
     He only became aware that he was dreaming as he struggled toward consciousness.  He
opened his eyes in terror.  He was lying in his own bed, in his own room.  It was full dark.  He
could see the crescent moon through the window with no blinds.  His bedside lamp was on,
washing everything in gold, like a pale imitation of the sun.
     "You're awake," Lillie smiled down at him.  She was sitting on the bed next to him, hold his
hand in her cool fingers.
     "No," Frank clutched at her.  "Don't."
     "What is the matter, Frank," Julian asked from his other side.
     "I don't want to be Embraced," Frank whispered.  Lillie's brows contracted in a knot.
     Julian smiled as he took Frank's other hand.  The Prince guided Frank's fingers until they
touched his throat.  "Feel the pulse, Frank," Julian invited.  "You are still alive.  Still breathing."
     Frank felt the beat in his carotid gratefully.  Still alive, yes.  Good.  "I don't want to be
Embraced," he repeated.
     "It was close," Lillie confessed.  "We though we had lost you."
     "I thought I lost me, too," Frank smiled.  His voice cracked, and he coughed to clear his
throat.  He wished he hadn't, coughing made him dizzy.
     Julian lifted his head while Lillie held a glass of juice for him to sip.  Orange juice, it tasted
wonderful.  After a moment he took the glass from Lillie.  If he was careful he could keep his
hand steady enough not to spill it.
     "You've been unconscious for over twelve hours," a strange man informed him.  "You've lost
a great deal of blood.  But if you get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids you should feel much
better in a few days."
     Frank handed the half-empty juice glass back to Lillie, and felt at his chest.  There was a
bandage over his heart, where Matthews tried to drive the stake through him.  "I want to see,"
Frank insisted.
     Lillie piled up the pillows and Julian helped him sit up.  The stranger batted his hands away
from the bandage and removed it.  There was an angry red indentation about the size of a quarter
on his chest.  Frank touched it.  The skin was smooth and shiny with a little depression beneath. 
It was tender, but not painful.
     He looked up at the stranger in confusion.  "We healed it the same way Kindred can heal the
wounds we make to feed," the stranger told him.  "You're worst problem was a collapsed lung,
but I think that's taken care of, now."
     "You're Kindred," Frank observed.
     "Yes," the stranger bowed.  "Alec Farrell, at your service."
     "I thought you were a doctor."
     "I am that too," Farrell replied.  He extracted a business card from his jacket and laid it on the
bedside table.  "When you are able to walk, I want you to come and see me.  I need to x-ray your
chest to make certain that everything is all right in there.  I don't want you dying of pneumonia or
pleurisy after I've worked so hard to keep you alive."
     "Sure," Frank nodded.  He was getting sleepy again.  He had to fight to keep his eyes open.
     "Don't forget to come to my office," Farrell scolded.  "Or I will come to you."  He finished
packing up his bag and nodded to Julian and Lillie.  "Good evening, Lillie, Prince."
     "What happened to Matthews?" Frank asked after the doctor had left.  The deluded young
officer had tried to kill him and Julian had saved his life, but the urge to protect a another cop
was strong.
     "He's in a hospital," Julian informed him.  "A mental hospital."
     "Of course he's crazy," Frank nodded.  "He believes in vampires.  How nice for you, Julian." 
At least Lillie hadn't killed him.
     "No," Lillie corrected gently.  "His mind broke when I... when I attacked him.  The fear and
the pleasure were too much for him to handle."  She looked abashed.  "I'm sorry you saw me like
that."
     "Well, I didn't actually wake up in a good mood myself this morning, either," Frank patted her
knee reassuringly.  She beamed at him in gratitude.
     "And his sister?"  Frank yawned.
     "We've contacted her," Julian replied.  "She suggested that she... work... for Lillie at The
Haven while she completes her education.  She wants to be near Kindred.  It will allow us to
keep our eyes on her."
     Frank nodded.  He was exhausted.
     "Dr. Farrell called you in sick at work," Julian continued.  "So there won't be any questions
concerning your absence.  Lillie and I must leave now.  Will you be all right?  I can have someone
sit with you."
     "A strange Kindred?"  Frank smiled.  "No offense, but no thanks."
     "I'll be back before dawn to check on you," Lillie offered.
     " Kay,"  Frank was distracted by the IV-line dripping plasma into his arm.  The bag hung from
his headboard.  "I thought you didn't have any of the bottled stuff," he said.
     "It's possible to get anything if you are willing to pay the price," Lillie informed him.
     He was asleep before they left.

     "I don't care," Sasha sulked, following her Uncle Julian up the back stairs to Lillie's office. 
"I'm willing to let Cash Blood Bond me.  I love him already.  If this dumb mortal wants to be a
LickStick, let her find some other Leech."
     Julian turned on her, his eyes shocked.  "Sasha Luna!  Where did you learn language like
that?"
     "The Brujah," she muttered, pouting defiantly. 
     Julian sighed.  "I will thank you not to use those words in the future.  They are quite vulgar."
     He turned around, and Sasha made a face at his back.  "I'm still not going to drink her blood!"
     Julian held the door at the top of the stairs open, and ushered Sasha into Lillie's office.  "You
don't have to do anything you don't want to do, Sasha," he assured her.  "But if Cash Blood
Bonds you, he'll have to step down as Gangrel Primogen."
     "He didn't tell me that," Sasha answered.
     "Well, of course he wouldn't," Julian replied.
     Sasha frowned at him, uncertain of how to respond.  She knew he wouldn't lie to her, but she
didn't want it to be true.  Cash liked being the Primogen of his clan.
     Before she could find a suitable response Lillie stepped out of her bedroom and gestured
them to join her.  A plain girl stood by the triple mirror in the corner.  She was barely Sasha's
age, and The Haven's standard uniform that she wore didn't suit her.  The white sleeveless
mandarin jacket hid her small bosom, and the black miniskirt made her legs look thick.  Sasha
scowled at her and was pleased to see her shrink back.
     "Where is Cash?"  Lillie asked.
     "Parking the limousine," Julian smiled.  "He'll be up in a moment."  He walked over to the
girl, leaving Sasha feeling stranded by the door.  "You must be Karen," he said to her warmly. 
"I'm Julian, and this is my niece, Sasha."
     Predictably Karen softened under Julian's charm.  She was almost pretty when she smiled. 
Sasha sneered, throughly annoyed.  "I said, I am not going to drink her blood!"  She folded her
arms across her chest for emphasis.
     "Why not?"  Cash said, coming up the stairs behind her.  "Sorry I'm late, Julian.  Traffic was
horrendous."
     "Because I don't want her, Cash," Sasha grabbed her lover by the arm.  "I want you.  You
promised I'd never have to Hunt."
     "Okay," Cash folded his arms around her.  "I thought you might want to give it another try,
that's all.  You don't have to."
     "Uncle Julian says you can't be Primogen if you Blood Bond me," Sasha whispered, resting
her head on Cash's jacket.
     Cash kissed her on the top of the head.  "Don't worry about it,"  he whispered in her ear. 
"What good is being Primogen if it means losing you?"
     "I love you, Cash."  Sasha squeezed him around the ribs.
     "I love you, Sasha," Cash gave her an answering squeeze, then turn to Julian.  "She doesn't
want to," he smiled.
     "I'm sorry to have wasted your time, Lillie," Julian apologized.  "Karen, it was a pleasure to
meet you."
     "Of course that doesn't mean that I'm not Thirsty," Sasha grinned, nuzzling Cash's neck.
     "I haven't gone Hunting yet," Cash told her contritely.  "I can't right now."
     "Well," Lillie suggested.  "You don't have to go far."  She gestured towards Karen.  "We have
a volunteer."
     "I'll be right back," Cash told Sasha.  "This will only take a minute."  He kissed her on her
cheek and crossed to Karen.
     "If you'd prefer privacy," Julian offered.
     "Oh," Cash smiled.  "I don't mind an audience."  He turned towards his victim.  "Hello,
Karen."
     "Hello, Cash," Karen blushed an appalling shade of scarlet.  She tugged at the collar of her
jacket, trying to unfasten it.
     Cash sat on Lillie's big four-poster bed and patted the comforter.  "Why don't we get more
comfortable, first?"
     Sasha took a step towards them and Julian took her arm.  "We can sit over here," he told her
and guided her to the overstuffed armchair.  She sat resentfully on the arm.
     "Since we barely know each other," Cash explained.  "I thought that we should start with
something a little less... intimate... than the throat."  He lifted Karen's hand to his lips, then
turned it over and planted a kiss on the inside of her wrist.  Sasha thought that Karen was going
to swoon.
     "There are all the little veins of the wrist," Cash informed Karen.  "And then there is the
crook of the elbow."  He ran his lips up Karen's arm and kissed her there too.  "Or the brachial
vein, right near the shoulder.  And the Femoral in the thigh."  Cash slid one hand under Karen's
short skirt and squeezed.
     "You aren't going to bite me on the thigh, are you?"  Karen's eyes were wide and excited.  Her
breath was quick and shallow, too.
     "No, he's not," Sasha answered, standing up.  She could imagine Cash's blonde head between
Karen's thighs much too clearly.  Uncle Julian grabbed her around her waist and pulled her into
his lap.
     "Before he can satisfy your needs, Sasha," Julian told her.  "He has to satisfy his own.  Now
let him Hunt."  Sasha glared at him and bit her lower lip, hard.
     "Marc always bit me on my neck," Karen informed him.  "I think."
     "Too fast," Cash shook his head.  "The longer you want it to last, the further you have to go
from the heart."
     Karen shyly offered her wrist.  "Good choice," Cash confirmed.  He smiled, showing his
fangs and bent over the girl's arm a second time.  She gasped as Cash bit her, then swayed and
clutched at Cash's head.
     Sasha forced herself to look away.  It was unreasonable to feel jealous, wasn't it?  Still, it
wasn't fair for Karen to enjoy being Drained so very much.  Not when it was Cash who was
doing the Draining.  Uncle Julian stroked her cheek, trying to soothe her, but Sasha just frowned
at him fiercely until he stopped.
     Karen groaned and Sasha looked back inadvertently.  The stupid girl had fainted.  Cash lifted
her onto the bed and then stretched out next to her and resumed drinking.  Karen's eyes fluttered
open and she pulled Cash closer.  Cash had one arm wrapped around Karen's waist, but her hips
kept moving.  She was writhing in passion, like an animal in heat.  The perfume of Karen's blood
wafted over to where Sasha was sitting.
     "Cash!"  Sasha cried, fighting her way out of Uncle Julian's lap.  "Stop that!  Right now."  She
strode over to the bed and glowered down at Karen.  The stupid girl just smiled up at her and
offered Sasha her other arm.
     Cash looked up from the wound on Karen's arm and grinned at Sasha with crimson lips. 
"C'mon, Sasha," he whispered.  He reached out and tugged on her belt sharply, pulling her across
the bed and Karen.
     Then Cash kissed her with his bloody lips.  Sasha kissed back, prying his mouth open with
her tongue, lapping all the blood off of his face, licking at his fangs.  It was a wonderful kiss,
even if Sasha had to ignore the girl sprawled between them.  Cash's skin was warm and flushed
and Karen's blood scent surrounded them.  Sasha pulled away from her lover's lips with a sigh,
then began to nuzzle his throat.  She was ready for her own meal now.
     Cash pushed her away.  "Just a minute," he explained.  "I'm almost done."  He turned his
attention back to Karen's arm. 
     Furious, Sasha pushed him off of the bed.  She was going to go after him, maybe bang his
head against the dresser a few times for good measure.  But Karen caught at her.  Blood trickled
down Karen's arm.  "This is all your fault," Sasha snarled at the girl.  Karen just smiled back at
her.
     Sasha lifted Karen and sank her teeth into the girl's shoulder, right where Cash had pointed
out the Brachial vein.  Sasha hoped she'd hurt Karen, wanted to hurt her, maybe even kill her for
forcing herself on Cash.  Seducing him into drinking her blood.  Mortal slut.
     But Karen just moaned with pleasure and wrapped her arms around Sasha's shoulders.  She
ran her fingers through Sasha's hair and pressed her body hard against Sasha's.  And the more of
Karen's blood Sasha took the more she could feel what Karen felt.  The pleasure, the passion, the
love. 
     Karen liked her, Sasha realized.  Karen thought that she was beautiful.  She wanted to
photograph her, immortalize her amongst the tigers at the zoo, a predator among the predators,
or silhouetted against the moon, like a goddess of the night.  Karen loved her.
     Sasha opened her eyes and peered at Karen's face.  How could she have thought the girl
plain?  She wasn't a conventional beauty, but her skin was luminescent.  Her eyes, seen without
her heavy glasses, were cornflower blue.  Sasha ran a thumb over Karen's lips, they were like
silk.  Her voice was like the sighs of angels.  Her beauty bubbled up from inside of her soul, and
Sasha couldn't hate that.
     "That's enough, Sasha," Cash tugged at Sasha's arm.  Reluctantly, she withdrew her fangs and
licked the wounds closed.  She cleaned the blood off of Karen's arm and licked the punctures
Cash had made until they closed too.
     "Nice," Karen sighed.  She caressed Sasha's cheek.
     Sasha kissed the palm of Karen's hand.  "Yeah, real nice."  Her gaze drifted to Uncle Julian. 
Lillie was sitting on the arm of his chair, and they were smiling at each other like proud parents
whose child had just learned to walk.
     Suddenly furious, Sasha picked up a pillow and threw it at them.  It hit Uncle Julian square in
the chest.  "No smiling," she exclaimed.  "Stop smiling this instant."  She grabbed another
pillow, but Cash seized a corner before she could throw it.
     "I think this is our cue to leave," Julian said.  He stood up and offered Karen his arm.  "Miss
Matthews?"
     "Give me that!"  Sasha demanded, slapping at Cash with her free hand and pulling on the
pillow.  Karen slid out of the bed and stood up gingerly.
     "Dizzy," she told Julian.
     "You had this all planned, didn't you?"  Sasha pulled the pillow away from her lover and
began beating him with it.  "You and Julian and Lillie!  And that little mortal Donor, too.  Of all
the nasty tricks!"
     Behind her she heard the door close after Julian, Karen and Lillie.  Cash grabbed the pillow
again and tried to pull it from her grip.  Sasha held on and the pillow tore in half, spilling
feathers everywhere.  "Now look at what you've done, you stupid Gangrel," Sasha growled.
"You're history, Cash.  Manipulate me, will you?  I'll show you how a Brujah...."
     Cash pushed her back on to Lillie's bed.  "You are so warm," he smiled.  "I like that."
     Sasha punched him on the shoulder.  Cash snared her wrist so that she couldn't take another
swing.  She tried to get free and couldn't  "You're warm too, Outlander," she frowned.  "Don't
change the subject.  I'm going to make you pay for tricking me...."
     Cash threw his weight on top of her.  "There are better things to do when we're both warm,"
he grinned.  "Things that are much more fun than fighting."  Then he began to demonstrate, and
after a few minutes, she had to agree with him.
     She'd find a way to get even with him later.  After all, she had all eternity to ahead of her.