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30 September 2008 @ 01:27 pm

Because I FAILED at LJ cut the first time around. Could the mod delete that entry, please?

Had Anita been paying attention, she would have realized that though the windows of the limousine were tinted too darkly for anyone outside to look in, one who was inside could see out perfectly, and had she cared to look, she would have noticed that they had gone far from the city where her plane had landed, and had gone out through the long country highways and into backwoods territory. The scenery began to take on the appearance of something one would expect to find in a Southern Gothic novel. The tall grass, occasional marshy patches, and great oaks dripping with Spanish moss all made one forget about urban Atlanta and start thinking more along the lines of the Okefenokee Swamp. The car took a turn off the lonely road, and on to a dirt path that led in the woods. Deep, dark, down south woods, the kind where there isn’t a nice hunter to save little girls from big bad wolves. Or werewolves, as the case may be.

Ten minutes through the woods, and they were on another path, one lined with great oaks and cedars, but growing in a manner that suggested that these were planted specimens, not wild, standing along the path, evenly spaced like soldiers, with only a little overgrown foliage surrounding them. Anita chose now to look out, and could see a house coming up ahead. It was a great antebellum relic, something one would expect from a Louisiana plantation, not hiding in the woods off a Georgia freeway. The Spanish moss from the trees also made its home on the Gothic and Greek Revival architecture. Even in the daylight, the place looked positively haunted.

“Not what I was expecting from a big money brothel,” said Anita. Phoebus let a smirk cross his pretty lips. “Miss Blake, this is not a place where any Joe Blow can stop by for a quickie. This is a place full of pleasures beyond mundane imagination, or mundane incomes for that matter. Our clients consider the drive to be more than worth it.”

“That, and it helps keep out the riff raff,” added Lefty. “You can’t come here unless we want you to. The way it works is that if some rich dude looking to get his rocks off with a little something off the beaten path, he just asks around the right people. Mainly, other rich dudes with similar interests. One of those guys will eventually be one of our clients, and he’ll give the first guy’s number and stuff to us. Then, we check him out, approve him, give him a call, and send a limo his way. After a couple of visits or until we know he’s good material as a repeat customer, we give him directions so he can come on his own whenever he wants.”

“Sounds damn exclusive,” said Anita, raising an eyebrow.

“It is,” answered Phoebus. “But with what these men pay, we could refuse to admit half of them and still break even.”

“And just think,” cackled Lefty. “You’ve got every monster in St. Louis fucking you for free!”

Anita bristled while Phoebus spluttered out an apology on his brother’s behalf. Things might well have gotten ugly if the car hadn’t come to a stop just then. Phoebus hastily, though not without grace, exited the car and held the door open for Anita, who sniffed, “I can get it myself thanks, my vagina doesn’t disable my arms.”

Really, she thought, They want me to solve a murder case, but don’t think I can open a car door?

Phoebus decided that it was not worth telling her that he held doors for everyone. He was just like that, you see. Anita tottered slightly on her stilettos, which had long since replaced the sensible tennis shoes she used to wear when working back before she became the resident supernatural cum reservoir, as she climbed the stairs up to the vast porch of the equally vast house. Manor, really. The doors looked new despite the ancient appearance of the rest of the place, and were of dark polished wood with great black iron knockers shaped like the heads of snarling ogres. Instead of rings in their mouths, they clutched in their great jaws the twisted figures of pitiful humans who, in their throes of agony, had contorted themselves into circles, gripping their ankles with their hands, faces twisted in howling pain. Anita wondered exactly how this was supposed to be appropriate for a place that profited off the trade of sex, then recalled such clubs as Narcissus in Chains. Not waiting for Phoebus, she opened the door herself and stepped in.

Given the state of the manor’s exterior, one would not expect the inside to be so well-kept, so sumptuously decorated, so exquisite, so…decadent. The floor was covered in a vast tapestry of scarlet and gold depicting monsters and nymphs in unspeakable acts. Gilded Rococo love seats and chaise lounges lined the walls, and the place was lit not by electricity, but candles. Stone arms were built in to the walls, and each held a candle with a dancing flame. Some of the arms were ghastly, sporting claws and fur or scales, while others were the arms of beautiful women. She could see a statue in the side of a doorway at the other end of the room, and while she could not make out just what it was, she could tell that it was a deviant and divine merging of the grotesque and the beautiful, as was everything else here. Above her, a chandelier held human skulls instead of bulbs, each with a candle within than made the eye sockets glow, and the dangling jet black crystals caught their light with eerie glamour.

“Nice digs,” said Anita, not sounding impressed. She’d already seen this level of tacky at Jean-Claude’s place. “You’re missing a holy item check girl, though. What if somebody decides to whip out a crucifix on one of your workers?”

Lefty chuckled. “Ain’t gonna happen. Remember, we know who goes in here, and we’re always sure on what they’re here for. Nobody gets anything past us.”

“Someone did,” she smirked. “Or I wouldn’t be here.”

As his brother was at a loss for a retort, Phoebus again stepped in to the lead, offering Anita his arm, a gesture he immediately regretted at the look she shot him. How date he act civil to her!

“Miss Blake, please allow me to escort you to Hieronymus VanPelt, the master of this house and all who dwell there.”

They walked down a long hallway, passing paintings, busts, and mirrors, each depicting something twisted and heavenly. Even the mirrors had macabre designs framing them, and some showed very distorted reflections indeed. They reached another set of doors, with the knobs being the shape of curling, demonic horns. Phoebus paused in almost a reverent fashion before opening them.

“I bring you Anita Blake…the Executioner.”

At the other end of the room, a man was seated in a throne. Anita had to choke back a laugh. Who had themselves an actual throne built? Who would actually sit in one? Still, it was cool enough, if you liked that sort of thing. That sort of thing meaning the sort of thing that matched the theme of the house so far. The throne was designed to resembled one great demon with many smaller ones upon it, growing out of it. The feet of the throne were huge and clawed, and wings were carved from the sides, and horns at the head. Imps and devils bedecked it, with two serving as knobs to rest one’s hands on at the ends of the chairs arms, which were the great demon’s own arms, outstretched with the palms ups to hold the little semi-spherical lesser demons. It was all dark grey stone, almost black, save for the rich red cushioning on the inside. But she couldn’t see much of that, because of the man sitting there.

“Well, well…the prize arrives,” said the man, looking interested, and with a tone Anita wasn’t sure that she liked. “An-i-ta.” He emphasized each syllable of her name in a way she KNEW she didn’t like. Still, his voice itself was not unpleasant. It was deep and rich, and put one in mind of melting chocolate and silk sheets.

He looked to be in his late forties, though age had been exceedingly kind to him. His chiseled, gorgeously masculine face held on the shadow of laugh lines, and there was not a spot of gray in his curling golden hair, which was unfortunately, in Anita’s opinion, cut short as the average male’s would be. His eyes were, to her surprise, purple. She had only ever seen on person with purple eyes before, and that was Nathaniel. This man’s eyes, however, were not the wereleopard’s delicate lavender hue, but a strong solid amethyst. He had a big build, with monstrously broad shoulders, strong arms that ended in huge hands, a wide chest, and a very large stomach that immediately put Anita off the idea of adding him to her man-harem. She liked short, delicate, long-haired nubile pretty boys!

He wore a wine-colored shirt beneath a black suit jacket, black pants, and black leather shoes. Crosses and other charms of various religions hung about his neck on chains and ropes of real gold, silver, and pearls. His think fingers sported a number of rings, all of which looked very big, very old, and very ugly. At his feet like loyal dogs were a number of people, vampires and weres, male and female and who-knew-what, evidently prostitutes by their attire. Off to the side, however, were two normal-looking folks. Hieronymus reached forward and beckoned with one of his hands, and Lefty came forward, joining the pile of bodies at his master’s feet. Phoebus looked more hesitant, and cast an embarrassed glance towards Anita and the normal-looking pair, but followed his brother nonetheless.

“What’s with the jewelry?” asked Anita, stepping forward towards the throne until she reached the people-pile. “Don’t tell me you need protection from your own employees?”

Hieronymus laughed. It was a deep, rich, rolling sound, like a huge waterfall cascading into a bottomless chasm. “Surely you know, Anita, that such talismans only work in the hands of the faithful.”

As if to make a point, one of the vampires at his feet reached up and playfully swatted one of his ornate crucifixes. Like a Gothi kid in an Abercrombie shirt, Hieronymus VanPelt was wearing them for sheer irony.

“Hold your horses, Mr. VanPelt, we’re not on first name terms yet,” Anita warned. She didn’t like him getting so familiar. That was only for boys she planned to bed! They could go ahead and started licking her, but VanPelt here had to call her by her surname!

Strange, she thought, I expected the ‘master’ of this place to be a vampire, or at least some kind of preternatural. But this guy is fully human. I don’t feel anything but normal vibes off him. He’s more mundane than Bert!

While Phoebus sat more away from the rest of the pile, holding his legs to his chest and looking nervous, Lefty was happily mingling, and looked perfectly at ease among his fellow writhing, licking, caressing bodies. Then, for no apparent reason, he gave a little leap up from the others and into Hieronymus’s lap like a pet, wrapping his arms around the other man’s thick neck and looking at Anita in an expectant manner, his dark brown eyes taking on a purplish hue of their own next to his master’s.

“You can call me Hiero,” said the large man. “In fact, I prefer that you do. They all do, here.” He petted and rubbed Lefty’s head a bit as he said this. “I trust my boys treated you well? They’re my special ones.”

Anita was not amused by any of this. “Let’s just get down to business.”
rodentfanaticrodentfanatic on September 30th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
"How date he act civil to her!" should be "How dare he act civil to her!"

"Think fingers" should be "thick fingers" and "Gothi" should be Goth"
there's a rabbit in the moonfrabjously on September 30th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
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