“Yes you’re Grandness?” He was a Londoner too? Even better. I could tell just by looking at him that we were going to have such a laugh.
“Fletcher, I’d like you to meet Commander Sam Parker. You may have noticed a new bureau and leather desk chair being brought in here. Sam will be working with Jared, so I hope you will be just as valuable to her as you are to Jared.”
Nodding, Fletcher said, “That goes without saying, your Grandness.”
Antonio returned his focus to me. “Sebastian will ensure that your Sire is notified of your employment here. I’m sure he’ll be delighted about it.” Wearing a sly smile he and his entourage left the room.
Fletcher approached me and held out his hand, “’Ello Commander, I’m -”
“Let me stop you right there,” I said, smiling. “No Commander Parker – I beg you. Just call me Sam.”
“Oh my God, you’re a Cockney like me! D’ya know, I was the only Brit in The Hollow ’til now.”
“That’s what we call the place, luv. Hmm, I suppose the teleportation process didn’t give you a great view. Come with me.”
It turned out that Fletcher had a feminine walk too. This Keja just got cuter and cuter. He led me up two flights of stairs to the roof of the building. “There,” he said, pointing down. “See?”
“My God.” The place was humungous. Like a holiday camp or something. Several buildings were scattered around, forming a rectangle shape around a man-made, white-sanded beach that had a bridge in the middle. It had a real relaxed Caribbean feel about it. “Where are we exactly?”
“A little island just south of St. Lucia, luv. You won’t find it on any map. The proper name for this exclusive community here is The Hollow. This here, as you know, is The Command Centre. It has ten offices; one for each Commander. You’re now the eleventh, but of course you share an office with Jared.”
“So there are ten squads in the legion?”
“Yes, with ten vamps in each one.” He gestured to the main mansion which was to our left. “That’s Antonio’s residence. The only other vamps who reside there are Sebastian, his consorts – the greedy git’s got about fourteen of them – and his Advisor. Oh and his personal guards, you might have noticed he’s got plenty of them. He mostly stays there. Then to the left of the mansion is the Guest House. We don’t get many guests as Antonio likes his privacy. Then there’re two Residence Halls for his general staff like the chefs and maids and maintenance people and what-have-ya. Then the row of buildings directly facing us are shops and cafes and restaurants and bars, oh and there’s a cinema and a bowling alley and even a nightclub.”
Fletcher grinned. “I’m glad I’m not. With all those bars and shops, this is my Graceland.”
“Is there a clothes shop? I’ve only got enough stuff to last me till tomorrow. Something tells me that my Sire will not nicely pass along my belongings,” I grumbled.
“Oh yeah, there’s nothing those stores don’t have. The idea behind Antonio’s design of The Hollow was so that he wouldn’t have to leave. As the Grand High Master, he has to worry about attempts on his life. If someone was to kill him then they would have the right to fight the Heir, which is Jared, for the position of the Grand High Master. So, Antonio built himself and his bloodline and his staff a nice little community. Or a world within a world, as he likes to call it.”
“So...anyone who works here can’t leave?”
“Oh don’t worry, luv, it’s not like a prison,” he giggled. “People can venture out if Antonio gives them permission. I’ve never met anyone who wants to leave. All staff gets full use of that lovely beach there and plenty of time off, and the pay’s good. Most important to them, they have the best vampiric protection they could possibly have. There’s no securer place to be.”
I gazed around me, astonished and in awe of Antonio’s little community. “What’re these buildings to our right?”
“Oh, that’s the Residence Hall for commanders and their consorts and personal assistants. Then you’ve got the Residence Hall for all the members of the legion, and another one for any humans. And that last building in the corner by the nightclub is the security lodge.” He twirled on the spot and then urged me to the opposite edge of the roof. “Last but not least, we have all this.”
The view overlooked the pool and gardens of Antonio’s mansion, the arena where the tryout had taken place, the small forest that I had not long ago been chased through, and also a beach. It was absolutely breathtaking with the azure blue sea and white sand. So inviting.
“Only Antonio, the commanders, and the legion have access to this beach,” Fletcher told me. “That’s why he has the man-made beach for the other vamps. So...what d’ya think?”
I smiled at him. “It’s alright, I suppose.”
He elbowed me gently. “Give over. It’s fabulous.”
Back at the office Fletcher handed me documents upon documents about the history of The Hollow and the legion. I made myself comfy on my leather chair, balancing my feet on the bureau, as I settled with the files while Fletcher was in the process of gathering as much available personal information as possible on the new squad members to create their own personal files. I was eager to read them and get a proper idea of who I would be coaching – a job that was in effect from tomorrow.
“Reading up on the history of the legion, huh,” said Jared, leaning against his bureau gazing at me. He was getting a good look at my legs, like he was trying to see through my pants. Self-conscious – not many people ever made me feel self-conscious – I was itching to drop my legs from the table. But then he would know that he had made me feel self-conscious, and he would get off on that.
Then a thought came to me: How had I not heard him or sensed him enter the room?
As if guessing my train of thought, he said, “I can teleport.”
“You have two gifts? How is that possible?”
“I have three, actually. My natural gift is electrokinesis, but Antonio has the power to pass on gifts. Twice he singled me out to receive two others as rewards.”
“So what’s the third?”
Telepathy, I heard in my head. It was like hearing him talk through a mobile phone.
“You can read thoughts?” I sounded horrified by the idea, which made him smile.
No, but I can communicate using my mind, he replied.
I was extremely relieved that he couldn’t read my thoughts; no way did I want him to know how gorgeous I thought he was, or that I was trying so hard to not ogle, or that I was hoping to get a good look at his backside the next time he turned around. “Good for you.” I tried to sound uninterested in him or his attempt at conversation and returned my attention to the documents.
“You could have said that with your mind, you know.”
“I thought you said you couldn’t read thoughts.”
“I can’t. But if you direct a thought at me, I’ll hear it.”
I looked up at him and smirked. I’d like to slice off your salami and shove it up your sexist arse.
His smile became a mischievous grin as he arched a brow. So you’ve been thinking about my salami?
I scowled at him and went back to the documents, but apparently he wasn’t finished teasing me yet.
Well, you’ve been thinking about my salami so I suppose I could think about you naked, and then we’d be even.
“No, no, I do not want you thinking about me naked.”
You really should’ve said something sooner.
I meant to scowl at him again but the intense red glow in his eyes froze me for a second. It was almost impossible not to get a kick out of someone as gorgeous as him wanting you, even if they were a sod. Recovering quickly, I asked, “So where’re our new recruits?”
“My new recruits are having a tour of The Hollow, and then they’ll get settled into their accommodation before dawn.”
“Oh they’re your new recruits, are they? So you’re still intent on being childish.”
He sighed. “Actually, I’ve been thinking.”
“Sulking would be more accurate.”
“Did you honestly think that I’d be thrilled that Antonio thought I needed help?”
“I knew you’d hate it. I knew you’d think you don’t need my help. And I knew you’d try to make my life difficult hoping I’d jib it. But here’s the thing Commander; you can’t possibly hate this more than I hate working for my Sire, and there’s nothing you could do that could be worse than what he’d do if I went back to him. So if I were you I’d stop the sulking and get over it.”