Kaia sits patiently at an interview table, a recorder prepped and ready. She twists the Cat’s Eye ring around her pinky. Anxiety hotwires her pulse when Scarlet enters, hair pinned in a sleek bun atop of her head, adorned with a small tiara. Pearls decorate her throat, giving more class to her simple, black dress. White gloves cinch her arms mid-bicep. She truly channeled Audrey Hepburn, only with a darker, more exotic face.
Kaia presses record as Scarlet sits across from her.
Scarlet: I see your lovers put too much faith in either your courage or my restraint, leaving you alone here to question me. Maybe that is because you are a human, and I have little interest in them.
Kaia: They’re around. And I’m not scared of you.
Scarlet: You should be, but good for you.
Kaia: Can you state your full name for the record?
Scarlet: Marusya Negreev. It means bitter.
Kaia: And you’re commonly called the Scarlet Queen?
S: Among other names, yes. You are correct.
K: What was your childhood like?
S: What boring questions you have for me. My parents were ignorant and inattentive, so I sat idle too often in my room and with my servants’ children like some improper babe. I had an education like any normal child, and I came into my abilities late. Scarlet tugs on her white gloves, adjusting the fingertips before smoothing her skirt against her tan legs.
Kaia remembers Eilon telling her how this fae ceremoniously slaughtered her own parents with those abilities.
K: Would you unleash sparkly death ponies on the world?
S: Amusement brightens her dark eyes. No. Even if such creatures did exist. I would rather keep and cherish them. Although I admit, I would use them on my subjects if need be.
K: What do you require of your subjects?
S: Loyalty, of the unwavering variety.
K: What makes you angry?
S: Idleness. Everyone should have a purpose for himself or herself. Always.
K: Who is your greatest hero?
S: Hero? I have no heroes. I do admire the vampire queen; however, I would not call her my hero. An ally perhaps.
K: Not knowing much about the vampire queen, Sev tells her that his agency, the Assetato, fight against her. How did you meet your lover?
S: Her sigh is hard to decipher—frustration or longing. I met him on my first trip to the Americas back in the twenties. Daniel was a relatively young vampire, but he had an amazing ability that I hoped to exploit. She shook her head, showing a fracture in her decorum. He could project stories into others’ minds, replace their memories, and make them believe whatever he liked.
The first time he showed me, he escorted me as an agent for the vampire queen, and I watched as Daniel convinced a woman her baby had died while it sat sleeping in her arms. Stirred into hysteria, she shook what she believed to be her dead baby in attempts to wake it, only killing it in the process, snapping its poor neck.
He showed me a fantastic time, and I let him kiss me when he dropped me home.
K: Kaia covers her mouth to keep from retching. Surely, the story means to frighten or disgust her. Scarlet accomplished her goal. What a fairy tale romance.
S: The best a girl can ask for. Her sweet smile might be convincing if not for the evil twinkle.
K: Taking a deep breath, she pushes forward. What is a ritual you engage in daily?
S: Smile slanting, she nods. I bathe in the blood of virgins.
K: Now, Scarlet is messing with her. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
S: I would develop a more prolific sense of humor. Obviously.
K: Tea or coffee?
S: Tea with milk and one sugar. One must always have sweets and cakes at tea time.
K: Odd that they have that in common. She doesn’t like it. What’s your favorite sweet?
S: Пряники or spice cakes with honey. But I will take Орешки or dough balls filled with condensed milk and jam.
K: Great. I’ll have to try those.
S: Is that all?
K: Yup. You can have an escort if you want.
S: How sweet. She stands, smoothing her dress and gloves before she leaves.
Kaia relaxes, shuts off the recorder, and looks around. Anxiety taps into her chest. Waiting until her breath calms, she leaves the room to rejoin her new lover and wolf, Sev.