Scott laid his head back against his leather executive chair and exhaled in relief. He didn’t breathe anymore—so it was impossible for him to be out of breath—but there were times when a sigh was a necessary thing all the same.
Josie tucked her head under his chin, cuddling against him. He could feel her heart pounding in her chest and hear her labored breathing. Despite the fact that he had already had a drink of blood, her aliveness made him hungry again. But he didn’t act on it. He tried to be judicious when it came to drinking from her; he didn’t want to make her weak or anemic. And he worried about the scars he was leaving on her neck—although he tried to bite her in the exact same place every time to limit the scarring.
But nothing turned Josie on more than vampire foreplay, so there was no way she would let him stop doing it completely—not that he wanted to stop, either. He felt like he was making up for nineteen years of boredom. And he was enjoying the hell out of it.
Josie sighed deeply—sounding rather contented—then got off his lap. She found her red satin panties in the floor and put them back on. She was, once again, the perfectly nice front-office secretary, with her gray, knee-length pencil skirt, ivory sleeveless blouse, and black silk scarf—dangling with black beads—tied around her neck. A vampire’s lover? Josie? Naw…. She was a nice, intelligent girl who wouldn’t be into that at all.
Scott smiled at her, then pulled up his pants and tucked in his shirt. Banging the secretary? Attorney Cunningham? Naw…. He was too quiet and respectable for that sort of thing.
Josie checked her gold wrist watch. “Your next appointment should be here in about ten minutes.”
“That’s fine. Do you have the papers drafted for the Golden divorce?” See? They were a normal, run-of-the-mill law office.
She tapped a yellow file laying in his inbox. “It’s right here.”
“Oh,” he said, feeling a little embarrassed. “I haven’t even had time to go look at my inbox. I’ve been… doing some research.”
“Yeah, mm-hmm, research,” she said with a knowing smile. She knew he was actually a terrible procrastinator—on top of being addicted to Angry Birds.
She gave him a saucy wink, then walked out, shutting the door behind her. Scott took another deep breath, then reached for the Golden file. But he hadn’t even managed to focus his mind on his task, when Josie rapped her knuckles briefly on the door, then opened it without waiting for a response. “This is Ms. Margaret Votter,” she said, showing the woman in.
Scott felt the blood drain from his face—if that was physically possible.
He rose, numbly, to his feet. “Yes, I know Maggie,” he said quietly.
Josie looked at him, confused for a moment, then realization dawned on her face. She grimaced apologetically behind Maggie’s back, then hurried to leave, shutting the door behind her.
“Maggie,” he said emotionlessly.
“Scott,” she replied. She sat down in one of the chairs across from his desk. He made himself sit down too.
“You… look like you’re doing well,” she offered after an awkward silence.
“Mm,” he replied, noncommittally. What the hell did she want?
“Clarice asks about you,” she offered.
Scott felt his jaw tighten, his teeth grinding together. But his voice was carefully neutral. “And what do you tell her?”
“That her Daddy had to leave because he’s a vampire.”
“How about a different truth, Maggie? How about I left because you threw me out?”
“Yeah, well….” She had the decency to look away. “Maybe… maybe I made a mistake,” she mumbled.
Dear God, was she here to get him back? Oh, hell no. Not just no, but heeeell no.
“I think you made a mistake in the way you handled it,” he said, his voice still emotionless. “After nineteen years, you could have at least split things 50-50 with me. I worked and paid for things, the same as you. More than you, actually; I always made more money. But, instead, you took everything and left me with nothing. You didn’t even give me my goddamned clothes.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Things can be replaced, Maggie. What can’t be replaced are the two years you stole from me and Clarice—two years we could have been in each others’ lives. I’ve missed birthdays and Christmases and report cards and summer vacations, and who knows what else. That can never be replaced.”
“I know,” she whispered, not looking at him.
“So… why are you here? If you just want to apologize, I’m not interested in hearing it or accepting it.”
“I thought… maybe… you’d like to come home… to visit. You know, like… a couple of nights a week, at dinner.”
Visitation with his daughter. He thought he felt his heart leap in his chest—which would have been a very odd thing, given it didn’t normally move at all. But he didn’t want to show his hand to Maggie. He had learned how to play hardball in law school.
“Evenings are my busiest times,” he replied. “And I honestly don’t think I could stomach being a stranger in my own house.” His voice began to betray his bitterness.
“What would work for you, then?”
Scott pressed his lips together, thinking hard. He was almost trembling with the thought he might see his daughter again. “Why can’t Clarice come here a couple of days a week after school?” He could help her with her homework… ask her about her friends and how her day went….
“I thought you couldn’t be in the sunlight?”
“I have an apartment downstairs. You can drop her off here, after school—or she could ride the bus.” Hope was rising in him, despite his best efforts to squash it.
Maggie frowned. “I… think it would be better if she was… supervised to start with.”
He rocked back in his chair. “Maggie, you do know vampires have legal rights to their children now, don’t you? If you hadn’t gotten the judge that you did, when you did, I’d have joint custody. So I think having her to myself two afternoons a week isn’t too much to ask for. Besides,” he added, “it’s not like there aren’t people—humans—in the building.”
She looked at the floor. If Scott had needed to breathe, he would have held his breath. Finally, she nodded slightly. “Alright,” she agreed quietly.
It took all of Scott’s enormous strength not to jump out of his chair and shout with joy. But he’d never let Maggie see how desperate he was for the bone she had thrown him.
“What nights?” he asked, working very hardy to keep his voice steady.
“How about… Monday and Thursday?”
“Okay. But I’m going to want every other weekend, too, at some point in the future. But I’m still working on putting my apartment together. I want her to have her own bedroom first.” His mind began to race with thoughts of building out a bedroom and bathroom in the basement. He’d have to get some quotes as soon as possible. He’d take out another loan, if he had to.
“We’ll talk about that when the time comes,” she said, hedging her bets. Scott knew it was the best he could get at the moment, but at least she was on notice that he expected more.
“I want to write this up, Maggie, and make it legal,”
She forced a small smile. “I suppose that’s the lawyer in you now, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
She nodded a little, then stood up, slinging her pocketbook back on her shoulder. “Your secretary has my phone number. Call me when it’s ready for me to sign.”
“Can I have Clarice tomorrow?” he asked, his voice betraying his longing. “Tomorrow’s Thursday.”
She winced a little. “Yeah, I guess so. I’ll have her ride the bus here.”
He stood up. “I’ll leave word with Jim—Attorney Rutherford. His secretary sits up front during the day. She’ll bring Clarice down to me.”
Maggie nodded, then turned to leave.
Scott tried to get one last concession. “Can I have my dog back?”
She turned to look at him, a little confused. “Blondie? We put her down… a year ago, I guess it was.”
Scott gaped at her. “What?” he finally managed to ask.
“She got bone cancer, so we had to put her down.”
Scott felt his eyes grow wet. “You… didn’t tell me? You didn’t… I should have been there with her. Why didn’t you tell me?” Poor Blondie must have thought he had abandoned her. Even in her final moments, he wasn’t there for her.
“Scott, it was a dog, not a person.”
“Get out,” he whispered. He plopped down into his chair again, his vision blurring with tears. “Get out. Get out of my office.” He leaned forward, burying his face in his arms, and began to bawl. He never heard if Maggie left.
A few moments later, a soft voice came from the hallway. “Scott, I’m so sorry, I had no idea that was your ex…. Scott! What’s wrong? What happened?” The next thing he knew, there was a gentle hand on his back.
“She… she put my dog down and… she didn’t tell me,” he said between sobs.
“Oh, Scott, I’m so sorry.” Josie enfolded him in her arms and he clung to her, crying like a baby.
Read the entire series–The Bloodsuckers: Vampire Lawyers of Middle Tennessee