“You play a dangerous game, my old friend.” China smiled coldly with narrow eyes as she surveyed her friend and sometime nemesis, Jodi Harte. “If you are not careful, you will be destroyed along with that kingdom of yours.”
“Nonsense. I am the best thing that has happened to it.” Jodi Harte replied looking off into the distance, already bored of this conversation. “Ossetia would be lost without me.”
“If you say so.” China smirked. “What do you have planned, Jodi?”
The Ossetia Queen ignored China and instead walked slowly, deliberately around the richly furnished room of the mansion.
“What do you think of Dublin’s Ossetia Suite?” Jodi asked her own question.
Recognizing the slight change in tone, China narrowed her lovely eyes slightly. “It is full of grandeur as is every Diplomatic mansion Dublin supplies.”
“Would you say it’s as nice as….well, as the Greeks?” Gracefully she gestured toward the large window the held the view of the Greek embassy across the street.
“I would not know.” China spoke tightly. The Greek embassy was one of the few embassies she had been barred from. “I have never been inside.”
“Really?” Jodi feigned shocked disbelief as she casually reached for a teacup. Then almost serenely she sipped from the dainty cup and peered innocently over the edge of it at China. “Isn’t Lord Ambrosia the diplomat for Greece?”
“You know he is.” China replied stonily then interrupted Jodi from going further. “And, yes! I do know that it had been revealed the Kristos is Kallista’s brother. Word gets around fast.”
“Indeed. Just as word gets around fast that Ossetia has a new Queen.” Jodi’s smile widened.
“Is this your angle then, Jodi: to use your status as a queen to get into the embassies of other countries?”
“It IS a well-known fact that sneaking into an Embassy of another country is near impossible. Only those of the highest rank can get in without the usual stripping of magic at the door.” Jodi simpered as she swept across the room as if in a dance. “But no. I am only here for the Ambassador’s Ball.”
“Right, and I am nun.” China muttered under her breath as she watched the younger woman who was the only one to ever outwit her. But that had been only once. There would never be a second time.
“It’s too bad you could not attend, dearest China,” Jodi said as she inspected her colorful nails. “Kristos will be there. It should make for an interesting night.”
“Oh, but I AM going to attend.” China spoke smoothly. “As a highly valued consultant to the Irish Sanctuary of course I was invited.”
“Well, I can’t say I am surprised.” Jodi smiled coyly. “It just would not be a party if the great China Sorrows was not there.”
China got up to leave the drawing room, matching Jodi’s smirk with one of her own.
“Careful my dear,” China purred, a deadly tone underneath. “If I didn’t know any better I would think you were trying to start something with me.”
“Never!” Jodi mocked lightly, placing a hand over her heart as if in dismay. “I am just simply expressing my delight at finding that you will be there.”
“Of course you are.” China responded as she turned to leave. “I had best get going now. I see your next appointment is here. “
Jodi narrowed her eyes as the other woman took her leave without a glance back.
NJ Maverick walked into the room with serene grace as soon as the other woman was gone. Ignoring the servants who bustled about tiding up and the body guards who kept a close guard on Jodi, she opened her stunning blue gray eyes wide.
“How astounding,” she exclaimed, her voice smooth and eloquent. “How did she know I was there? My presence is normally not picked up by even the most talented mages out there.”
“Not much gets past China Sorrows.” Jodi told her guest, wryly. “But never mind that now. What did you find out?”
“Kallista Pendragon has found the lost sword of Godiva. Currently she is at Elysium Manor but had been staying with her brother.”
“That must have been an interesting family reunion.” Jodi smiled as she gathered up her sai swords. “Imagine that! All along Kristos has been a Pendragon.”
“Things are not looking good for Kallista. She is not allowed at the Ball tonight.” NJ continued smoothly then stretched.
From across the room and maid gasped startled as she stared at NJ wide eyed. Crossing herself against evil she muttered in Hungarian.
From behind NJ, large beautiful dark wings expanded reaching almost the length of the room.
“Really, Myrtle?” Jodi raised her eyebrows at the maid. “Have you never seen a Dark Angel before?”
“I AM pretty rare.” NJ admitted proudly and fluttered her soft wings for extra show.
But Myrtle shook her head and edged from the room with a wide eyed fearful look.
“OH, come on!” NJ called after her as the maid stumbled away in haste. ‘In some places I am considered good luck!”
“Which is why you are with me,” Jodi said as she dismissed the cowardly maid. then cringed as she heard a vase break on the smooth wood floor, knocked over by the fleeing woman. “That would have been my Ming vase. It was priceless. Oh well, what can you do?”
Jodi shrugged slightly as she walked towards the grand staircase. “We have things to discuss and a Ball to get ready for. Come with me NJ and tell me more about what you know of Kallista and her sword.”
Acquiring NJ’s services had been no easy task, Jodi mused as her personal maid Marta, assisted her into an evening gown. The gown was created just for her by a famous designer Versace, Valentino, Dolce…she forgot which one. But the gown was stunning, the fine material fitted over her slender body like a dream. Pleased, she did a slow twirl in the ornate room that was her suite.
“If you don’t mind me saying so, Your Majesty,” Marta bubbled out enthusiastically while playing with the rainbow clip in her hair that Jodi had given to her earlier. Jodi would not miss it. She had many more where that came from. “You look mighty splendid! So beautiful!”
“I do, don’t I.” Jodi agreed more to herself then anyone.
Amused, NJ thought she looked like a pleased lioness right after a successful hunt. Perhaps, in a way she was.
“I think you will be needing this.” NJ said as she walked over and handed Jodi the bejeweled tiara.
“Indeed I will,” Jodi murmured as she placed the glittering headpiece over her sleek styled hair.
Giving the dark angel a glance, she noted with approval that the girl needed no adornment for her head. Exquisitely dressed in an elegant gown with her hair pulled back in a glamorous style, she looked like she had just stepped off the pages of a high end fashion magazine.
“I had the tiara charmed just as you requested,” NJ spoke with the same mesmerizing voice that instantly put anyone with hearing distance at ease.
“And my sai swords?” Jodi questioned, losing her playful expression for just a moment. There were too many strange things happening lately that gave her great concern for her well-being.
“I had your weapons cleaned and charmed as well, Your Majesty.” NJ curtsied slightly, her eyes holding the barest hint of gentle rebuke. “I never go back on my word Jodi. You came to me for help and help I will give you. In these troubled times when the threat is growing, it will be good to have me by your side. An angel’s power is just as great if not greater than that of the faerie.”
Jodi nodded only slightly reassured. There was too much at stake. Tonight she needed to break into the Sanctuary. It was there that she would find the answers. After digging deep she had found out about the missing Pendragon papers from the ancient family heirloom. It was like an oracle; she knew it would hold answers as to why this surge of magic phenomenon was happening.
Current events had alarmed her greatly. The tales she had been told of disappearing people, the rise of monsters and the dark faire had sent her fleeing to the small country she now ruled over to make a desperate plan and to put it into motion. This was HER world. She would not let anything take away her playground.
Tightening her lips in resolve she turned and dismissed Marta then turned to NJ. “It’s time to go then. Are you ready?”
“I know what I have to do.” NJ’s voice reassured her once more, her calm eyes promising safety and strength.
The two women were escorted from the Queen’s chambers down to the limousine by the smartly dressed captain of the guard and his finest hand-picked men.
The ride was smooth in the state of the art luxury vehicle. Jodi helped herself to a drink, offering one to NJ as well.
“No thank you, Your Majesty.” NJ smiled pleasantly, aware that every moment was being watched by the driver of the limo. No one was to know the exact relationship between the two of them. “I am on duty.”
Jodi only nodded half paying attention. Distractedly she looked out the window while mulling over her strategy for that night. It was still light out. Somewhere else, the sun was most likely blazing dramatic colors in the sky. But not here in Dublin where the clouds blanketed the vast expanse. How she missed the blazing color of Ossetia.
“What is that up ahead?” NJ’s lovely voice broke through her thoughts.
Mildly she took a sip, unconcerned of whatever lay ahead. Almost lazily she turned to take a look out the front window and almost choked on her drink.
Parked half-hazardly in the side of the road, slightly in the muddy brown field was another limousine. It’s finely dressed occupants stood on the clean part of the road while watching the chauffer attempt to fix the back tire. The two young looking girls seemed to be taking great delight in the misfortune of the driver who didn’t really seem to know what she was doing. The chauffer was none other than Kallista Pendragon.
Amused and a little more than curious, Jodi signaled for her driver to pull up beside them. Rolling down the window she took in the situation and didn’t know whether to laugh or to be sympathetic to the young girl’s plight.
“What in heavens are you doing down there in the mud, Kallista?” Bemused Jodi looked at the other two girls who she also recognized.
Regally she nodded in greeting to Darkane Claw and Florence Black, two talented rising stars in the Irish Sanctuary.
“Hello, Jodi.” Kallista responded dourly. “I hear you became a Queen. Would not have believed it if I had not seen it for myself.”
“Yes. I am Queen of a lovely small but prospering country.” Jodi smiled then narrowed her eyes. “But enough about me. What about you my dear? It seems you have been demoted.”
The Queen’s lovely eyes took in Kallista’s gray manly outfit, her long hair covered in a chauffeurs cap.
“I was hoodwinked.” Kallista responded shortly and resumed trying to fix the flat tire.
Darkane and Florence both giggled as the car jack slipped from the other girl’s slender hands again, falling into the mud. Muttering a low curse Kallista glared at them which made them laugh all the more.
“Oh, Kallista dear. We did not hoodwink you, sweetie.” Florence simpered.
“This is pay back for the time you let Israel and the others get the jump on us.” Darkane grinned in satisfaction as she remembered the prank gone wrong a few weeks before.
“Yeah, well…” Kallista looked up at them from where she was kneeling and tried to come up with a good comeback but failed. Sighing she facepalmed, forgetting about the mud on her hand. “How did I end up here?”
“Just because Israel said you can’t attend the Ball does not mean you can’t GO to the Ball.” Florence told her.
“And you did make a deal with us. Remember?” Darkane raised her eyebrows.
“I remember.” Was all Kallista said as she snarled and went at her task again, working furiously.
“Excuse me, Your Majesty.” The driver of Jodi’s limo looked at her through the rearview mirror. “May I be off assistance to the young lady?”
Darkane overheard and leaned in the window to take a better look at the driver.
“No. This is for Kallista to do.” She spoke firmly but pleasantly.
“All done!” Kallista interrupted triumphantly.
“Good.” Florence said, nodding. “I would like to get to the ball sometime today. I’ll take the wheel, Kallista while you push.”
“Of course.” The muddy faced chauffer growled and went to take her place behind the car, in the mud.
Another vehicle came roaring down the road then. Curious, Jodi looked back and saw the gray van that told her unmistakably that Israel would soon be there.
Kallista must have seen too for she muttered another low curse and shifted her hat down low over her eyes and turned away as if hoping to be undetected.
No such luck though. Israel Elysium pulled over and took in the scene with his intelligent eyes. His gaze rested on Kallista. With raised eyebrows he said nothing and just sat back with arms folded, waiting for the car to become unstuck.
Gritting her teeth, Kallista strained to push the car out of the slight muddy ditch as Florence floored it. A cascade of mud came flying out of the spinning wheels suddenly like a thick tidal way and slammed into the slight girl pushing the car. With a scream Kallista slipped back then fell face forward, landing in the mud spread eagle.
“Well that was fun.” Israel spoke, not at all amused as he hoped out of the van.
Striding over to the limousine he gently assisted Darkane and Florence from the seat and lead them to his van.
“We need to get you ladies to the Ball.” He spoke determinedly. “It’s a big night. But YOU, Kallista,” He whirled on the groaning girl who was now just sitting up and looking quite dejected. “This is one of my best limos I expect you to have it out of the mud and back at the Manor by tonight, WITH YOU THERE AS WELL. DO you understand?”
He stared into her eyes long enough to look into them to be reassured of the truth that lay there. Satisfied that Kallista would do as she was told for once, he acknowledged the other two people who were there.
“Hello, Jodi.” He nodded in greeting. “You look…….royal!”
“That is because I am now.” She smiled charmingly at her old friend. “You remember NJ Maverick, of course.”
Israel’s eyes widened as he saw the dark angle in the other seat, looking just as resplendent as the Queen in her gown. Her dark wings were folded up neatly behind her.
The dark angel smiled and gave a little elegant wave.
Signing, he cast a gaze at the darkening sky and hastily walked back to the driver’s side of the van. Before he got in, he looked at Jodi with his piercing eyes.
“Meet me someplace quiet at the Ball.” He ordered. “We need to have a talk about your…activities.”
“You are pretty bold, sir,” Jodi mocked lightly under a playful tone. “Shame on you for ordering a Queen about.”
“Shame my ass.” He shot back at her and smiled, not amused. “You are going to explain things to me one way or another.”
Without another word, he hoped in and sped off. Jodi caught a glimpse as Florence and Darkane high fived one another after a job well done.
“First you are going to dance with me, sir.” Jodi whispered low and smiled cunningly as she watched him drive away.
Signaling her driver to move on out, she reflected on her evening ahead with newer thoughts. Mixed feelings filled her as she thought about what was to come now that she knew for sure that Israel would be there. Her plans would not be so easy to navigate for sure. But if she could get him to dance with her for a few dances….she smiled, delighted at the thought. It all would be worth it.
“This will be an interesting evening. Don’t you agree, Your majesty?” NJ smiled calculating as she read Jodi’s brilliant thoughts.
“Most assuredly, my dear NJ.” The Queen smiled in return.
Watching the vehicles until they were long gone, stood Kallista with shoulders slumping.
“Dang it!” She shouted as she ripped off her hat and flung it to the ground. “And I wanted to dance!”
Three more vehicles sped by then, each sending a gift of flying mud which slammed into her in quick succession. Stagger back each time, Kallista would slip but managed not to fall. Laughter followed as the sports cars filled with people she knew sped happily to the Ball.
*This chapter is dedicated to one of my dearest friends who I love and have adopted as one of my blog sisters, Lenka Sweet. Lenka, I think you are one of the most epic people I have ever met! Thank you for being such a wonderful kind and giving person. Your compassion, encouragement, and your friendship have helped me many a time. Your talent inspires me and your personality delights us all. We all love you Lenka. *hugs tight* I hope you have fun seeing Derek again and can spend some wonderful time with Octa and Pryo. May many noogies and hugs be passed around!
Love you sister! *hugs* THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU! Pure EPICA!!!!