Well I’ll Be Damned, S2 Ep1

Season 2, Episode 1

Rebecca

While this may not have been the first time I walked out of an abattoir with a case of pig’s blood, I had never imagined doing so for my dearest, most favourite person in the world. I never should have taken him to that club. To be fair, it was ge1ing harder to find good venues that London’s supernatural population didn’t also frequent. Reaching my cute little bubble of a car, I felt my phone buzz in my back pocket. I released the latch on the hatchback’s boot with a mere thought and loaded the crate into the cargo hold. Opening the text message from Hayden, I let the foulest of curses rush from my mouth like a flood of sewage

{Hayden} Hey Bex, don’t get mad, but I need to rescue Sheena, and I can’t wait for you to get back. Rochelle summoned me to some warehouse along the Thames where the Duke’s men are holding her captive.

Damnit! Seraphina will chew my ear off for this. I should have made the anti-vampire ward work in both directions. Slumping into the driver’s seat, I punched out a reply: You’re an idiot Hayden, go back to the safehouse, and we’ll come up with a plan to gather.

{Haydan} There’s no time; I can’t bear the thought of my sweet little punk suffering at the Duke’s hands because of my crimes. 

Argh! I took a few deep breaths before responding: Where are you going? I’ll meet you there. The blood would just have to go to waste because I didn’t have time to fridge it before saving his sorry excuse for a vampire arse. As soon as he sent the coordinates, I floored it out of the carpark with squealing tyres.

Hayden’s directions led me to a grimy old warehouse district outside of my regular stomping grounds. The unfamiliarity didn’t sit

well with me. I preferred scoping out a place before charging in half-cocked. Yet there I was, ignoring everything my family had taught me along with my own instincts all for a man I shouldn’t be in love with. Heaving out a sigh, I focussed my witch senses on the surrounding buildings. Most of them were empty, but I detected a strong heat signature from one large warehouse to my right. Drawing closer, I halted as dread cast a long prickly net over me. Of the twenty-five people I sensed in the building, only two of them were vampires and the rest were… human? Oh fuck! That’s not the duke’s men. If they’ve trapped Hayden and Sheena that could only mean one thing. Moving out of sight and earshot of the warehouse, I dialled Seraphina.

She picked up after three rings. ‘What is it, witch?’ ‘We’ve got a serious problem.’

‘You mean other than my arsehole father and his Raumian witch of a wife?’

‘Ah yeh, those are shi y situations and all, but there’s a more immediate threat.’ She tried to conjure some words that would soften the blow, but she’d never been good at diplomacy. ‘It would seem that Hayden has wandered into a hunter’s trap.’

‘Dammit! That stupid man is nothing but trouble! How many hunters?’ Seraphina asked in a weary voice.

I wished I could have disagreed, but ever since Hayden fell into this world, trouble had followed him and vice versa. ‘I can’t be sure they are all hunters, but worst-case scenario, we’re looking at twenty-three.’

Seraphina whistled her surprise. ‘That is quite a threat. Unfortunately, I am going to need to petition the duke to help me run these guys out of town.’

‘What‽’ I screamed down the phone line. ‘No way! If you do that, they’ll take Hayden back into custody.’

She sighed. ‘That is still be‘er than the alternative. If we leave him there, the hunters will kill him. Honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t already.’

‘Maybe they’re laying a trap for you. They must figure him a fledgling and they want to catch a bigger fish. They should buy us some time. Surely you can mobilise your own army to take these guys down?’

‘If this is a trap for me, that is all the more reason to enlist the duke’s men. My own troops are far from ready for ba1le, plus deploying them now risks exposing their identities. My father is already suspicious of my charity cases.’

‘Then I’ll summon my coven members,’ I suggested, desperate to avoid any situation that lands Hayden back in the duke’s prison.

‘And the moment they realise you are protecting one of the cursed, they will disown you. Is that a risk you are willing to take?’

Damn. She makes a good point. ‘I could pretend not to know him.’ My voice wavered with doubt.

‘You know that won’t work, Rebecca. The moment your witches realise the only hostages are undead, they’ll magically nuke the place. They won’t care if Hayden is collateral damage. Be¢er that than risk any hunters hurting your own kind. Ambrosius may be cruel, but he will abide by the laws of the cursed.’

‘Fine. We’ll do it your way. I’ll text you the location.’ After hanging up, I sent her the GPS coordinates. Feeling defeated and useless, I called a cab and headed home.

As the door to my terrace home slammed shut behind me, I threw my keys in the bowl on the credenza in my hallway and retrieved a vial from my coat pocket before hanging it on a hook. I had stolen the tube from the duke’s trophy case. It contained Hayden’s extracted fangs and enough of his blood to magically analyse. It’s time to work out exactly who you are, Hayden.

Seraphina

Ambrosius glared at me as I entered his throne room. ‘You are beginning to make a habit of visiting me, Seraphina. Perhaps I should arrange for my maids to make up a permanent room for you here, to save you the trouble of driving across town.’

‘No thank you. I would rather endure a hundred trips a week across London than spend one night under your roof.’

He sighed. ‘I grow tired of your insults, daughter dearest. What do you want?’

‘I bring news of a new party of hunters in town. I beseech you to eradicate them before they become a problem for us.’

‘Why have you not dealt with them yourself? Surely you can handle a few hunters?’ he replied in a weary tone.

‘Because there are too many of them for me to take on. My spy clocked about twenty of them.’

His eyes widened as he sat upright. ‘That is practically an army, not a mere party. How did they manage to sneak into my town undetected?’

I shrugged. ‘They are ge ing more cunning while we rest on our laurels. Their lair is in an old warehouse district along the river that used to belong to the Avici clan before you ran them out of Britain.’

‘Smart,’ he conceded. ‘Claiming neutral territory to hide right under our noses. Not even the witches cared for such unhallowed ground when those vile creatures vacated it.’ He was not even exaggerating, which spoke volumes for the cruelty of the Avici clan if my father thought them so wicked. Feasting on the blood of virgins was one thing but turning them into vampires and devouring their flesh while raping them was next level perversion and most definitely in violation of cursed law. ‘I’ll dispatch a crew to deal with them. In the meantime, I demand that you return my prisoner.’ When I began to protest, he raised a hand to hush me. ‘Do not insult my intelligence by feigning ignorance. I know you played

some part in aiding his escape and I’d bet half my treasury you know exactly where he is.’

‘While that may be true, I’m not in a position to return him to you.’

His eyes narrowed on me. ‘You know the consequences for aiding and abe ing. Why are you defying me?’

With a sigh, I helped myself to the crystal decanter of blood beside his throne. He would have enacted a harsh punishment on anyone else who dared to touch his stuff, but somewhere deep down in his withered old heart, he had a soft spot for his only daughter. ‘Firstly, I had nothing to do with releasing him from your prison, that was your beloved wife. I merely freed him from her clutches. Secondly, the hunters have him.’

A deep laugh infused with malice erupted from the pit of his stomach. ‘That is very careless of you, daughter dearest. I ought to teach you a thing or two about keeping your fledglings safe and in check.’

‘No thanks. I have no desire to enslave the minds of my kindred.’

His eyes turned cold, the humour fleeing his countenance. ‘I will deal with these hunters, but do not expect me to return Hayden to you when I get my hands on him. He will complete his sentence in my dungeon, after which I will employ him myself, since you’ve been so careless with him.’

‘No! Father, please, I beg you….’ The thought of Hayden submitting to my father’s brand of cruelty sent shivers down my spine.

‘What’s so special about this fledgling? Why do you care what I do with him?’

‘I… I’m in love with him.’ The truth tasted bi er as it trickled from my tongue. I stiffened, hating myself for showing such weakness to a man who prided himself in exploiting people’s vulnerabilities.

‘Well, well.’ A vicious smirk tugged at his lips. ‘Here I thought you had outgrown such human emotions. You are full of surprises, Seraphina, I’ll grant you that. Your love for this man explains why you were desperate to free him from Amaryllis and her harpies.

Noone has willingly pried themselves away from their pleasure trap. I am intrigued by my wife’s interest in your fledgling, however. Tell me what you know about Hayden, and I will return him to you straight away.’

It was a gamble, revealing my cards this early, but he left me few options. ‘Make it a blood oath, and I will concede.’

Flashing his fangs, he bit into his palm and held it out to me. I followed suit, shaking his hand and sealing our deal. ‘Now tell me, why would Amaryllis go to the trouble of freeing a fangless fledgling from my prison and risk angering me in the process?’

I winced at the reference to the torture Hayden suffered before his incarceration. ‘I recently learned that prior to my cursing him, Hayden was an unawakened mage. Amaryllis sought to awaken his powers and use them to her advantage.’

Ambrosius huffed. ‘That foolish woman. Do you know what sort of mage he is?’

I swallowed past the lump in my throat. ‘I know that his magic is in part, if not wholly, infernal.’

He nodded. ‘Makes sense. Amaryllis is a witch, after all. She must be recruiting an army of hybrids.’ He straightened in his throne. ‘This conversation must not leave these four walls, understood?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘In exchange for your fledgling’s ongoing freedom, I want you to learn everything you can about my wife’s interest in hybrids. I expect regular intel on the ma er. Understood?’

‘Yes, sir.’ As soon as we entered into negotiations, I figured we would end up here. Considering I had already planted several spies on Amaryllis, this deal would not stretch my resources any thinner.

At least this way, I could drip feed him information at a pace that suited me. Still, something did not add up. ‘I am curious though. Why go to the trouble of enlisting my network when you live with the woman?’

‘She already knows everyone here. If she hasn’t yet, she’s unlikely to reveal her secrets to the members of my household anytime soon.’

That told me more than he knew. I had wondered for years if any of the duchess’ ladies were my father’s spies. Apparently not. Sloppy work if you ask me. All I need to do is get one of them on my side….

‘If that is all, you are dismissed.’ His booming voice returned me to the present situation.

‘Yes, sir.’ After leaving the throne room, rather than heading straight for the exit, I took a left turn towards the duchess’ private quarters. Time to set a plan in motion.

What ’s  Next?

Stay tuned for Season 2, Episode 2, coming 15th February 2024.

Season 1 is now available on Kindle: Well I’ll Be Damned Season 1

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