“You realize that the purpose of terrorism is theater,” Tobias Strahan said to the Clan leaders. “It’s not so much what our enemies have done to hurt us that they care about, but how we react to it that they’re counting on.”
Francesca Reynard smiled at the Prime’s superior tone. She wondered if the Matri Council was going to let him get away with lecturing them or if the commander of the Dark Angels was about to get his ears boxed. She waited in the council room to see what would happen next. She wasn’t supposed to be there and this wasn’t a conversation she was supposed to hear. A small rebellion, but she’d take any kind she could get.
Petty, aren’t you?
The telepathic voice in her head was Strahan’s, speaking even more arrogantly to her than he had to the respected Clan leaders.
Primes were supposed to be arrogant, and she normally found them easy to ignore.
But not this one.
It’s a hobby, she thought back at him.
Along with petulance and pride, but then everyone knows Flare Reynard’s hobbies.
She’d learned to accept the nickname and had earned the reputation that went with it. I am reputed to be bitchy, she pointed out, then raised the mental shields that kept polite vampires out of each other’s heads.
She saw the faintest of shrugs from him. Though she could ignore his mind, she was female, so she couldn’t help but run her gaze appreciatively over the fine figure of an overgrown Prime that he was. He certainly was a big boy. Big hands, big feet, very tall. Muscular, with a tight ass and narrow waist in perfect proportion to his extra-wide shoulders. He was considered the best-looking Prime of his generation, but she liked that the perfection was slightly marred by ears that stuck out a little from a back view.
The Matris bridled and glared at the Prime; most were as offended as he’d intended for them to be.
But Lady Juanita Wolf laughed. “We’ve been involved in deadly games with the hunters for generations,” she reminded Strahan.
“But they’ve never publicly attacked us before,” Lady Anjelica Reynard said. “Never set us up to be found out by the media.”
Strahan nodded. “We can’t afford to react in the classic manner. They’re counting on that. They want to post videos of your people on YouTube, to get news crews camped outside your homes. Because outing us is the best way to destroy us.”
“I can almost understand mortal vampire hunters attacking like this,” Lady Cassandra Crowe said. “But you haven’t convinced me that one of our own is a traitor, that information is being passed from inside our own community. There is absolutely no reason.”
“I think I know the reasons,” Strahan said.
“We’ve heard enough on the subject already,” Lady Serisa Shagal said firmly.
Los Angeles was Shagal territory, this was her Citadel, and she felt that the defense against the threat to her Clan should be hers to handle. But she had agreed to Strahan’s demand to cede emergency powers to the Dark Angels since the attacks were on all supernatural groups, not just Clan vampires. There had been arson and bombings committed against vampires and werefolk all over Southern California, including trouble at the medical clinic here in Los Angeles. The Angels were a multispecies special forces group who answered only to Strahan, who had formed his unit in anticipation of these sorts of attacks.
Francesca admired his confidence in the face of so many Clan Matris. He’d walked into their meeting, taken over, and convinced everyone to do things his way.
Francesca admired his ability to bully Matris but resented that he’d interrupted her own effort to save the day when her friend Sidonie Wolf faced execution for bonding with a werewolf member of the Dark Angels. Francesca and other vampire females had been attempting to start their own revolution as well as save Sid, but now Strahan’s power play had forced that effort to the sidelines. She did not admire him at all for interrupting her bid for freedom, even if he had achieved her objective of saving Sid.
He turned his head slightly, giving her a view of his sharp profile and hard expression. A woman couldn’t help but think of a male like that as tasty—even a woman like herself who hated the vanity and total jerkhood of the males of her species. Luckily, she’d had years of practice at ignoring the instincts that reared up in her as she watched this Prime. She’d paused to watch him lecture the Matris, not to get all tingly and warm.
It also helped that a squad of Primes came pouring in through the doorway. She stepped aside to give them plenty of room to get to their various Matris.
“The arrangements are all made,” Barak Shagal told his Matri and bondmate. “Everyone’s cars are waiting. Guards are placed, and the pilots of your private planes have been alerted.”
The plan was for all vampire females in California to be whisked away to safety, but Francesca had no intention of going back to the Clan Citadel in Idaho. She’d come to California with a purpose and wasn’t leaving until she’d accomplished it. She was glad she’d kept quiet and in the shadows. It made it easier for her to slip out the door before she could be noticed and called back.
© 2010 Susan Sizemore