Hell begins on the day when we have a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do. –Gian Carlo Menotti
The air is chilled, not that I would notice with me being what I am, but I can sense it around me. The fact that it is particularly cool for the time of night just after sunset in Las Vegas, gives an eerie sense of impeding problems. The spikes of my stilettos should be falling noisily in the brisk pace I walk down the strip, however I am seemingly moving with silent elegance. Perhaps some notice it, perhaps some do not. Perhaps it is better if those around me don’t. My eyes gaze around me almost as if I’m bored, the light reflecting in the emerald hues I was born with. Nevada was never where I had intended to be, but I guess life has a funny way of working out like that doesn’t it?
I feel the footfalls of someone approaching behind me, not completely unimaginable as it is Vegas, it is a Friday, and there are a ton of people walking the same path as I, but this is different. Someone is stalking me, I can hear it in their steps, the sound of them playing like a concerto that only another true musician can understand and fully appreciate. But who would really dare? Did this person not know who they were following? I would have grinned slightly, had my consciousness not been working in overtime at the questions this follower was bringing forth in my mind.
It is not fear that I feel.
It is death.
Not death in a cheesy-horror flick sort of way. Not like the grim reaper himself was following me, but it had an air to it. Like the smell of finality. That was death, and I could smell the stench a mile away. Through the years, through the life I’ve led, one might have expected me to become familiar with such a stench, being what I am and all, but even one such as myself, can never fully know everything. And while I may know the signs, I couldn’t quite figure out the reasons. What door was about to be closed to me forever?
I rounded the corner from Flamingo Road onto Las Vegas Boulevard, walking past the entrance to the Bellagio, one of the more upstanding resorts. My, oh my how they hated having my casino across the street from theirs. I couldn’t help where the casino had come to be built, that had been done before the keys to the kingdom had ever touched my delicate palms.
I walked up the circular drive, around the large fountain that was lit up, breathing in deeply, hoping to lead my stalker in front of surveillance cameras so I might be able to get a closer look at whom it was.
“Good evening Miss Kaine.” I was greeted with a smile from Sergei, second in command over security, and I nodded back. All of the staff knew who I was but it was a very select few who knew what I was. I preferred it that way.
I walked through the main floor, watching people fork over their money into the slot machines, the arcade of sorts for rich retirees with nothing better to do. This place was a playground for the morally corrupt. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I was much better, but life has a funny way of changing the already damaged.
I nodded a small smile to those who dared to meet my gaze as I made my way through the main floor of Rapture. This was my haven, my opus if you will, and there were most days that I loved every moment of it. I pressed the button on the elevator and it opened and I walked in turning my back to the wall as my eyes scanned anyone who may have been trailing me and I saw no one that stood out amongst the tourists.
The doors closed and I pushed the button for the control room, entering my code on the keypad that appeared on the touch screen and the elevator lifted effortlessly. The doors opened to a bustle of controlled activity, all of the security staff dressed in leisure clothes. My feelings were that if they were sent down on the floor to investigate, I wanted them looking like tourists, they blended in better. Placing my hand, palm flat, on the reader to my office, it scanned the imprinting of my hand and the lock clicked free. I breathed a sigh of relief, not really sure why, once the door had closed. Walking behind the large mahogany desk I sat in the high backed leather chair and picked up the remote, pointing at the wood case that took up the wall next to my desk. The panels slid into the walls revealing screens that as soon as I started pushing buttons on the remote, all came to life. Every angle of the casino was at my fingertips.
As I started to play back through the recordings that followed me up the drive and into the casino, there was a knock at the door.
“Come in.” I said absently, my dark green hues still trained on the surveillance videos.
“The figures you wanted, as well as the other chefs comparable to Demetri.” The tall, dark haired man said as he laid two files on my desk top, his eyes looking up to the screens that I was glued to. Michael Dottson was an old hire of the former owner and there had been a time in my life he’d been my handler of sorts, but he had come to be a very valuable asset when it came to security.
“What are you looking for?” he asked curiously, obviously sensing that I was keen on something. I paused three angles of footage on a man that had entered behind me clutching a shoulder bag, one that looked like something you’d carry a laptop in, tight to his body, almost as if he let it go it would vanish. He had seemed nervous and skittish and had pulled back out of my sight as I’d entered the elevator, but not out of sight of three of the seven camera’s trained on the spot he chose to hide in.
I zoomed in on his face, running a scan of hotel guests, knowing it wouldn’t come up with anything.
“Him. I want to know anything you can find about that man, specifically if he is still here.” I said firmly as I shifted to look at the files Michael had brought. He nodded and stood as my phone buzzed.
“Miss Kaine?” Dannica’s voice asked.
“There is a Mr. Cassella here and he is demanding a meeting with you.” Her voice was hushed, strained and I locked eyes with Michael for a moment as he grabbed the remote zooming in on live feed from the Guest Services desk. There was Dannica holding the phone tight to her face, and our mystery man.
“Michael will be right there.” I clicked the phone off and looked to Michael.
“Search him before you bring him up here, and then I want to know everything about him.” I said and Michael nodded as he left.
I waited, perhaps less than patiently, for Michael to return with our guest and I stood as he entered, Mr. Cassella quivering slightly, the smell of sweat permeating the room the moment the door opened. I could hear his heart, pumping blood furiously through his veins, he was scared. I flashed a wide welcoming smile as he nervously shuffled past Michael. I nodded to Michael and he left, still having to finish the last task of his assignment revolving around our visitor.
“Mr. Cassella? I’m Devrynne Kaine.” I said, still smiling as I stretched out my hand to him. He walked close enough to grab the arm of the chair and pull it several feet back from the desk before he sat. I didn’t let my features show the amusement I was finding at this peculiar little man.
“What do I owe the pleasure? Would you like something to drink?” I asked courteously to which he furiously shook his head and wiped his brow with the back of his hand. He had dark beady eyes that darted around my office frantically.
“Mr. Cassella?” He swallowed hard a few times before opening the case that was now resting in his lap and pulled out a few files.
“I-I was s-sent h-here.” He stammered and I had to fight back the chuckle. I already knew that. Any man this nervous to be around me wouldn’t have come of his own accord.
“By who?” I asked, finally taking my seat as he gingerly set a file on the desk.
“I c-can’t tell y-you that.”
“Okay then. For what reason?” I asked, trying a different approach. He didn’t answer, he simply nodded at the file I had yet to open. I opened it and there was a single photograph, a dark haired man, with a slight scar on his lip, a cocky air of entitlement written in his dark eyes staring back at me, and for the first time in many, many years I felt in desperate need for air.
“He was a Regnant and we know you murdered him.” Mr. Cassella’s voice was suddenly calm, apparently seeing the change of my demeanor was enough to calm him. Icy green eyes lifted from the photo as I tucked a dark red curl behind my ear and closed the file, my jaw set. His nervous approach was to get attention, to get me off guard as he played a weaker being.
A game, he was toying with me.
“I assure you I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I said flatly, to which he flopped a thicker file on my desk and nodded to it. This one was filled with more photos, more of the man in the earlier one, littered with pictures of myself as well, the last one bringing a dead stop to any fighting on the subject.
The photo was taken without my knowledge, as I hadn’t even known anyone was there at the time it was taken. But there I was, my dark red curls visible with my head tilted back as I was bellowing in laughter. The man from the photos lay in pieces at my feet, motionless, and the moonlight captured the sparkling hint of fangs beneath my ruby-red lips.
I sat back against the chair, my green eyes watching the man before me with bridled animosity, and only slight curiosity as he stood, a sneer twisting on his lips.
“By royal command, from the Order of Ancients, you, Miss Devrynne Kaine, will be charged with the murder of a supreme Ancient, a Regnant within the Royal Dynasty, Sir Zarek Rosseau. You will also be charged with two counts of degradation within the Royal Dynasty for the Detachment of Bloodlines by murdering your Sire, a crime punishable by death after a hundred years torture.” He sneered to me and I knew that I was in deeper trouble than if I was staring down Lucifer himself.
“But like everything else in your life Miss Kaine, this too can simply go away. We’ll be in touch.” He left a plain white card that in bold black lettering said The Guardsmen on my desk before heading to the door. He left and I felt like my whole world was spun on its axis.
So someone knew, after all these years, the uphill battles to keep the semblance of happiness, to get the perfect life I’d achieved, someone had found me out.
Found out that I, Devrynne Kaine, Regnant of the Southwest Empire, Vampire sired by one of the most revered Regnants ever known, had killed my Master and had reaped rewards beyond my means because of it.
“Damn it!” I growled under my breath collapsing back against the chair, feeling utterly lost. Well this was just great wasn’t it? Now what?