Cathrin was woken up by the sound of a door slamming. She had gone to sleep on the couch. She opened her eyes to see Quin glaring at the door. He was slightly stooped, nursing his right arm to his side and had a dribble of blood extending from a corner of his mouth.
"What happened to you?" she asked as she sat up. His attention snapped to her. She hazarded a glance at his eyes. They were black with anger. Recognition flooded his features and he wiped his mouth with the sleave of his jacket.
"Business meeting." he replied sharply. She could see that his arm was bent at an impossible angle. That had to hurt.
"Iíd hate to think of what kind of business." she muttered.
"Andrews came away second best anyway." he added bitterly but with the slightest curve to his lips, the smallest hint of a smile. He took hold of his right arm just above the crook of his elbow and twisted. There was a loud snapping sound and he gasped, a sharp intake of breath, a bitter expression on his face.
Cathrin cringed. That really had to hurt.
"Why are you here?" he asked as he flexed his arm. She watched him for a moment and shrugged.
"Apparently, Iím too good at what I do and need a change of profession. Andrews wants to pass me off as a servant. He would have me, but heís got one of his own." she replied. The vampire pursed his lips, his face darkening, but said nothing as he sat down in one of the chairs.
"That woman in the suit, is she the servant?" he asked quickly.
"Did she go willingly to him?" he asked.
"You really are helpful." he told her. She couldnít help but smile.
"I do try." she said. "Whyíd you want to know if she went willingly to the bastard?"
It was Quinís turn to shrug, though there were a few crunching noises coming from his injured arm. "There was a vote and servants had to be willing to serve, not forced. There was a time when servants were killing their Masters to be free. Now whoever forces a human to serve is killed to free the mortal. If he forced that woman to be his servant, he can die under our rules too." he explained.
Cathrin vaguely knew what he was talking about. The vampire watched her for a few moments, then stood and began to pace the length of the room, along in front of the window. She watched him, fascinated by his inhuman grace. In twenty years, she had never seen a clumsy vampire, and hoped never to see one. Quin looked like a caged panther, prowling up and down the room, deadly and beautiful. He stopped once, raked his fingers through his hair, opened his mouth to say something, but thought better of it and returned to pacing. The only thing she didnít like about watching him was that every now and then he glanced at her, a distinctly vicious and hungry expression a his face. She was beginning to feel like a fat, juicy lump of steak when he finally stopped pacing and sat back down in the chair. He remained silent as he began to examine his right arm.
"What are you thinking, Quin?" she asked, breaking the almost deafening silence. He straightened his arm, flexing his fingers, and looked up at her, focusing his dark-eyed gaze upon her.
"This and that, none of your concern." he replied curtly and relaxed his arm.
"It is my concern when you keep looking at me like Iím your last meal. Forget it, I donít donate blood, to any cause." she told him. A small smile came to his lips.
"Who says anything about donating?" he said as his smile grew to a grin. He looked every inch the monster he was reputed to be right then. His teeth flashed very white under the fluorescent lights. She tried not to look at his elongated upper canines. They looked very sharp and the thought of those teeth piercing flesh made her skin crawl.
"If you really must know, I have been thinking of a way out of here." he said as his grin faded into a serious expression. Unlike most other vampires, this one was the most expressive she had ever encountered. Most of the others were like walking statues, utterly still, unemotional, unreadable. Quin had those elements, but they werenít prevailing qualities. They seemed to be crushed under an air of indifference and emptiness. But the fact he let emotions flicker over his features and enter his voice gave him a few extra points in her opinion.
"Well? Arenít you going to share this thought with your fellow inmate?" she asked. He shrugged.
"The door." he said. He looked absolutely serious. He sounded like he honestly believed that.
"Itís a solid oak door. I canít kick it down, I canít pick locks. I donít even have one of my guns to blow the lock. You can probably knock the thing down. Why didnít you do that earlier?" she said, sarcasm entering her voice.
"Well if you are going to be like that, I will not tell you any more, however, you look like you are as unhappy as I am to be stuck here." he said.
"Actually, I couldnít be happier. Nice, comfortable surroundings, friendly psychotic down the hall and you, Mr Cheerful, as company. The longer I stay here, the more Andrews seems like a warm and fuzzy kinda guy. Things couldnít be better." she said in an off-hand way. Quin frowned.
"Well, if you wan to stay, donít let me stop you. Only I donít think Andrews is such aÖ warm and fuzzy person." he said as confusion crossed his features.
"It was a joke." she explained. His ebony eyebrows lifted.
"Oh." he murmured, clearly confused.
"Never mind." she told him. He blinked and became serious again.
"The door would probably splinter. Iíd say it was designed to, knowing Andrews. I didnít break it down earlier because IímÖallergicÖto wood." he continued, as if nothing had happened. He stood and casually made his way over to stand directly in front of her. If she looked straight ahead, she had the distracting view of the flat expanse of his stomach. So she looked up at the towering vampire, focusing on his chin. It was hard to take someone seriously if she couldnít look them in the eyes. His chin turned out to be just as distracting as his stomach. Cathrin noticed he had a dimple when he spoke. It added a human quality to his incredibly handsome face. If she had looked further up, she would have seen him raise an eyebrow, questioning her, and smiling faintly.
"So?í she asked quietly. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a Swiss army knife.
"I avoid wood as best I can. The door fortuitously swings inward. Thereís a screwdriver in there somewhereÖ" he left it hanging and handed her the knife. Cathrin sighed and stood, not bothering to argue. Arguing would only prolong her ordeal of the vampireís company. She wanted to get out of that office and if it meant getting along with Quin the vampire, even temporarily, sheíd do it. It didnít necessarily mean she had to like it.
Cathrin worked at undoing the door. Quin watched, a small smile on his lips. For the world famous and feared Hunter, he found her to be quite pleasant company. She was wilful, argumentative and stubborn. A strongly independent person. That lifted his like for her a notch or two. She had already undone the top two hinges and was now working on the bottom two.
"Tell me something, Quin," she said as a hinge fell to the floor. "Have you ever had a servant?"
"No. I have never had one. I never wanted one. I prefer to be alone. Why?" he replied.
"Just wondering. In that case, if youíve never had a servant, how come you know so much about them?" she said as she let one hinge fall to the carpet.
He sighed. "I do turn up to the occasional Court meeting, but then again, I have no interest in what goes on." the vampire told her as she let the last hinge fall to the floor. That much was the truth. Politics always put him to sleep and the Court was always full of politics. She snorted and choked back a laugh.
"Are you allergic to work? If not, take the door away. Itís too heavy for me and I undid the hinges. Itís only fair." she said and handed him back his knife. He pocketed it and removed the door. He ignored the sharp, burning sting he felt as he touched the varnished wood. Cathrin smiled, almost sweetly though a little mockingly, as she walked passed him, through the open doorway.
That left Quin standing in a room, awkwardly holding a door. That had to be one of the more stranger things he had ended up doing. He propped the door up against a wall and strode out of the office. He saw Cathrin jab the elevator button at the end of the hall.
"Are you sure that is wise?" he asked as he approached her. She shrugged.
"Canít be any worse than being stuck in a room with you and doing nothing." she replied.
It was clear that she didnít like him. Fair enough. She was a vampire killer and he was a vampire after all, they didnít have to get along.
The doors the lift slid open. The woman in the three piece suit stared in shock at them, her dark hair like a curtain over half of her face.
"YÖyouíre nÖnot sÖsupÖposed tÖto be here!" she stammered and reached for the button panel. Cathrin grabbed her wrist and the thin woman gasped, wrenching her hand free, rubbing her wrist. He caught a glimpse of a bracelet of purplish bruises.
"What happened to you?" he asked softly. The woman stared at him from behind her glasses.
"Nothing. You shouldnít be here. Mr Andrews will punish me!" she said quickly. Her face was too pale with fear and pain. He glanced at Cathrin. She was staring at the woman, an expression of anger and disgust making her face look flinty. They seemed to share the same anger against Edward Andrews for doing this to the poor woman.
The other woman retreated to one of the back corners of the lift and squeezed her visible eye shut. He couldnít help but feel a little sorry for her. She had obviously been tormented in some way to be this terrified. Cathrin glanced at him and momentarily raised a questioning eyebrow as they entered the lift.
"Devon, do you know how to get to the club from here?" she asked quietly, her voice soft and gentle, but under that lay anger, pure and seething. The other woman, Devon, sank to the floor and nodded slightly.
"Go to the ground floor, thereís a car outside." she murmured, a tear rolling down her pale cheek.
The silence to the ground floor was agonising. Devon stayed in her corner of the elevator, curled in the foetal position, rocking back and forth and trembling. Cathrin stared neutrally ahead at the doors and fidgeted with her suit. Quin watched Devon, anger beginning to well inside him, throbbing through his veins. Andrews had no right to do this to someone! If he though he could get away with it, he had another thing coming! Quin was going to interfere. Once the lift had ground to a halt, he helped the terrified Devon to her feet and walked with her to the car. She pushed her glasses up her nose and fumbled with a set of keys that she pulled out from one of her pockets.
"I shouldnít be doing this! If Mr Andrews finds out Iím helping either of youÖ" she mumbled and trailed off. Her hands were shaking so violently, she dropped the keys. She made no attempt to pick them up.
"Can one of you drive? I donít know how." she murmured and stooped her shoulders, like she was expecting a physical blow. Cathrin bent down and picked up the keys, unlocked the car and yanked open the drivers side door.
Quin refused to sit in the front passenger seat, so he sat in the back with Devon. She quickly gave some directions and huddled in her seat, as far from him as she could. They pulled away from the curb and sped off.
"What did he do to you?" the vampire asked. The woman whimpered and tried to scramble further away.
"Iím not going to hurt you, Devon, Iím not like him." he tried again. Cathrin made a choking noise but said nothing.
"IÖIÖIíve heard about you, Mr Quin, Mr Andrews often rants about what youíve done." Devon whispered fearfully. He sighed. In nine or so centuries, had done some pretty horrendous things, as far as his sire was concerned anyway.
"I wonít lie, most of it is probably true, but I will not hurt you." he told her. She seemed to relax a little.
"I want to be free of him!" she sobbed.
"I donít blame you." he told her a little too sharply. She tensed again, curling into a tight ball. The vampire sighed and shook his head before trying again to be nice.
"How long have you been his servant?" he asked gently.
"Since I was a child. If he finds out Iíve been talking to you, helping you, heíll punish me or worse!" Devon sobbed.
"What did he do to you tonight?" he insisted. He had to know before he went after his sire. She squeezed her eye shut wept quietly. Quin leaned over and brushed her hair away from her face. Her face looked livid. Large, black bruises were beginning to form, she had a black eye and she was lucky her jaw wasnít broken. She opened her eyes and looked wildly at him.
"Did he punish you tonight?" he asked. She shook her head, her hair falling to cover her face once more.
"This was my reward." she whimpered.
"Were you a willing servant?" he sighed. She shook her head furiously.
"He made me take the last oneís place. He said heíd kill my twin if I didnít. I donít want to know what heíll do to me when he finds out about this!" she said quickly, fearfully. He looked sorrowfully at her and let his upper lip curl back in a silent snarl. What happened to Devon shouldnít happen to anyone.
"What did he do to you tonight?" he asked again, this tone as gently as his anger would allow. She wept quietly, rocking back and forth rhythmically.
"Devon, if you want to be free, tell me what he did to you." he said, firmer this time.
"This was my reward for being his favourite, most obedient, most loyal servant." she sobbed.
"Did he beat you?" Quin asked.
She nodded and continued to weep.
"Did he rape you?" the vampire knew it was an invasive question, but Andrews had done it before and he was bound to do it again. Quin could never stand to see a woman abused like Devon. He had seen too many not to care a little.
Devon nodded. She sank down and sobbed uncontrollably.
"Donít let him punish me! Please donít let him punish me!" she wailed. He slid over in the back seat, trying to think a way to comfort the near hysterical woman.
"I wonít let him hurt you." he promised.
"But heís my Master! Heíll find me! Heíll punish me! Thereís nothing to stop him!" she sobbed, a defeated expression mixing with the sorrow and pain on her face.
"Not if heís no longer you Master." he told her. She looked up at him with wide, pained eyes. She blinked in disbelief.
"Heís my Master, only death can free me." she gasped.
"Or you make a bond with a stronger power." he finished for her. Her amber eyes widened.
"You mean if I agree to be your servant!" she gasped and shook her head. "No! I wonít! I wonít be your servant! I know what youíve done! I wonít do it!"
"Do you want him to find you, to punish you?" he threatened. She trembled and sank further down in the seat.
"If I agree, he wonít hurt me? You will protect me?" she asked, a thin thread of strength creeping into her soft voice.
"Thatís right." he told her. She sighed and wiped her face before rolling up her right sleave. Her pale skin was covered with welts and bruises.
"I know what to do, so letís get this over with." she muttered.
Cathrin pulled up in a side street near the Dark World nightclub. Quin and Devon had been silent for the last few blocks and she couldnít see them because they were behind her seat.
"All right, everybody out." she announced and turned off the engine and got out of the car. Devon leaned forward between the two front seats and reached for the glove box. Quin got out of the car, looking a bit weary. She caught a glimpse of his eyes. They glistened fiercely, making his beautiful face seem more than a little predatory. Devon opened the glove box and took out a black bowler hat and took the keys from the ignition. Cathrin had noticed some bruises on the willowy woman before, back in the elevator. The bruises were now gone, like they had never been there. Cathrin glanced at the vampire. He was watching Devon. She studied him as he watched Devon put on the hat, get out of the car and stride off toward the club.
"If I didnít know any better, Iíd swear you had a streak of humanity in you." Cathrin told him. He sighed.
"Think whatever you like. That has just pitched the both of us into battle." he murmured, not looking at her.
"Is that offer still open?" she asked. He blinked and turned to face her.
"What offer?" he asked, clearly bewildered by the question.
"To wipe out Andrews." she replied.
A small and incredibly handsome smile came to his lips.
"Are you accepting?" he asked, a mischievous tone entering his voice. She glanced toward the nightclub.
"I guess I am. Devon is a friend of a friend and Iíd hate to see what happens if that vampire gets his hands on her again." she spat out the word vampire in disgust.
Quin laughed. It was a pleasant sound to hear, rich and carefree. "Are you forgetting, Madam Hunter, that I am also a vampire?" he said, teasing her.
Then he was gone, his laughter echoing through the side street.
"I hate it when they do that." Cathrin muttered. This was going down on record as one of her bad days.