\ 21:03 Alison and Evalyn | unlimitedi.net
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Evalyn was starting to feel somewhat more in control of herself now. The last of her Ardbeg slid down her throat, its smooth, pleasant burn lingering with a strong taste of hickory smoked bacon. Sometimes there was nothing more satisfying than a good Scotch, straight up with nothing fancy.

Sebastian was leaning against the bar beside her – apparently he had the night off tonight, but decided to come anyway for the event. “Can I get you another one?” he asked genially as she placed her glass down, his eyes smoking. No work to preoccupy him tonight!

Evalyn smirked back at him and poked a finger on his chest. “Non, merci mon cher, you would get me too drunk before the evening 'as even started!” His look said he didn't mind, but she pushed herself up off her seat to end further discussion. When he started to follow her, however, she held up a hand and lowered her voice, “Stay where you are. I will find you again.” She winked, then turned to leave him standing there with her empty glass. After a couple of steps, however, she paused and turned back to him. “Actually... you can get me anozzer drink. I will enjoy it wiz you later.”

She left him completely that time and glided off into the crowd. Evalyn was still curious to meet this author, Lucinda Graves. Jasmin had recommended she read her book and that she might enjoy it from what she heard, and though books weren't really Evalyn's thing, she couldn't put it down! Excepting Jasmin herself, it was a nice change from the real demons who weren't nearly half as alluring. Yves had made fun of her for reading it, but then she found the book also made an excellent club.

She didn't have to wonder long before a brilliant blue caught her eye near the restrooms and drew her attention, and once caught, the dress held it. That had to be the author – she looked similar to the woman in the cover of her book at least.

Evalyn put on her most charming smile and made her way over.

“Bonjour! You are the wonderful Lucinda Graves, oui?”

For just a few moments, Alison had managed some peace and quiet in the ladies’ room. She’d finished her first drink, having nursed it for some time, and the couple of minutes alone in the bathroom had done much to fortify her for the next hour of the party. She’d learned to take these things one hour at a time – it was the only way to retain her sanity amidst the scores of strangers. All she had to do now was track down another mojito and she’d be set.

It was while on this mission that the French-accented voice stopped her in her tracks. She turned and flashed her best smile at the young woman who faced her. “Why yes, I am. How are you doing?”

“Very well, merci.” Evalyn looked over the other woman's outfit and had to compliment her. “You are stunning! I 'ave seen your photo in my copy of your book, but you are even more beautiful in real life. I love your dress!”

“Oh, thank you. I must say, you look fantastic as well. I’ll bet you’ve turned a head or two in here already.” From the corner of her eye Alison caught sight of Sven surrounded by yet another bevy of beautiful girls and wondered how long it would be before his tastes turned to the Continental. About half a second after he saw this woman, she figured.

“I’ve met so many new fans here tonight. It’s humbling to see how many people like the books.” And it really was. Alison knew how lucky she was to be able to live this life. She had to remind herself of this at the times when keeping up the Lucinda façade became tiring.

“Merci! I did enjoy your book quite a bit, al'zo I 'ave to admit, I 'ave only read your latest so far.” Evalyn apologized with a small shrug, but continued smiling. “My friend, Jasmin, actually recommended zat I read it before coming. Now I believe I am 'ooked! I shall 'ave to read ze rest!” Yves and his mockery be damned!

Evalyn sighed. This woman was quite pleasant, but she didn't seem nearly as gothic as she'd assumed she would be. “May I ask: what made you write about vampires?”

For a moment Alison almost gave her usual glib reply, but just then spotted Pablo out on the balcony and almost in spite of herself she found herself saying, “I met a man, years ago. He said something about vampires to me in connection with an event… well, that’s not really important. We dated for a while, but he had his work and I had mine and we sort of drifted apart. But the idea of vampire stories stuck with me. People love to read about them. They’re dark, mysterious, terrifying, sexy. And best of all, they’re imaginary. So as a writer I can make up all sorts of stuff about them. Although I did spend a stupid amount of time researching vampire myths and legends. There’s such a variety, it’s hard to pick which version to go for.”

She chuckled. “And then, of course, once I got to book two I had to include werewolves. The zombies showed up in book three… You know how it goes. Once you start down the path of supernatural fiction, it seems every branch ends up in there sooner or later. The vampires have always been the mainstay, though.”

Evalyn chuckled with Lucinda, she hadn't expected quite the detailed explanation, but she felt grateful for the honesty. Made it much easier to talk.

“Per'aps you should 'ave a Chatuman or two in your next book as well,” she joked when Lucinda finished. At the woman's polite but confused look, Evalyn waved her hand in dismissal. Bad joke. “Just some random demon I 'ad 'eard of once. I sink it is more of a French sing.”

Evalyn suppressed her embarrassment and resumed her smile, “'As zis man ou planted zese ideas ever come back to claim royalties?” This felt like a much safer joke than the last. Evalyn didn't much fancy explaining Chatuman to the woman, no matter how pleasant she was to talk to. Evalyn felt she'd be more embarrassed than anything else to have her kind published like that. She'd never hear the end of it from Yves!

No. You would not.

“Not royalties, as such. But we did recently bump into each other again. You know, I think the old spark never quite died.” Alison tried to spot Pablo again over the woman’s shoulder, but couldn’t see him on the balcony anymore.

“And I’m afraid I’ve never heard of this French demon. I’ll have to look them up; I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. Giving me ideas is a great way to end up on an acknowledgements page,” she grinned. “Though for that, you’d have to actually tell me your name,” she added with a wink. “Now, Chatuman… how do you spell that?”

Merde! Evalyn cursed inwardly for getting caught up in niceties. She racked her brains, trying to think of any dignified way she could get out of giving this woman ‘new material’. “Uh... 'ow do you spell it? I uh... can not be too sure, but....”

Yves! Aide moi!

“I sink it's....”

Désolé, mais Yves n'est pas ici maintenant!

Con! That man was insufferable. However, just as Evalyn was about to lay into him with a few more choice words, an idea struck her. Bien sûr!

“Uh... S-H-A... ah...” Evalyn continued repeating the word softly trying to find other alternate letters that were close enough to the mark, “D, zen double O... M-A-N.” Evalyn mentally congratulated herself, refrained from sighing in relief and instead pulled an apologetic smile to her face, “I do not expect you will find much zo. It is a very obscure sing.” She held out her hand, “My name is Evalyn, by the way.”

Looking for something else to quickly change the topic, Evalyn recalled Lucinda peering past her shoulder as if looking for someone, then turned to look herself. “Is your muse 'ere tonight?”

With no small amount of amusement at the woman’s antics, Alison took the proffered hand. “Well, it’s lovely to meet you, Evalyn.” She made a mental note of the spelling given for the demon, but resolved to check alternatives. Evalyn hadn’t seemed too sure, that was certain, and if it was of French origin she would have expected a C-H beginning for the ‘sh’ sound.

“As for my ‘muse’…” She nodded. “He’s here somewhere. Hopefully getting me another strawberry mojito. My first appears to have evaporated.”

“Ah...” Evalyn nodded sagely, “Oui. It is a common evil zat troubles us all. Myself, I 'ave a drink waiting for me somewhere.” She smiled with a distant look as she thought of Sebastian and the fun they might still have. Jasmin did have a gloriously wonderful club filled with a many dark corners.

“Well,” Evalyn continued, refocusing on Lucinda, “I am sure you 'ave many more people wishing to see you tonight, but it 'as been a pleasure.” She gently took the author’s shoulders and passed a faint kiss by either cheek. As expected with most Americans, Lucinda stiffened slightly at the gesture, but Evalyn liked the woman and it was a common courtesy. “Per'aps we will see each ozzer again before ze night ends.”

Alison smiled as warmly as she could, ashamed at having given in to her insecurities even for that brief second. She was so used to being hugged and kissed by strangers, why the sudden stiffening when Evalyn did it? She had no real explanation, but dismissed the aberration as being merely the cumulative effect of the evening’s encounters.

“I’m sure we’ll see each other about. Especially if you’re a friend of Jasmin’s. She makes a wonderfully gracious host, I must say,” Alison said, gesturing around at the club. “This is perfect. And I do believe I need to go in search of that mojito.”

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