While the four mortal Sims stood staring at him, Vlad sat down and made himself comfortable. He took one look at Laurel, inhaled deeply, and said, “yes, I can see why Lilith finds you irresistible. You are really something. But no, that cannot continue.”
Laurel started backing away. Carmen, feeling like she had nothing to lose, sat down next to him to ask if he also knew Imane. He did, and said she had been causing a lot of trouble as well. He looked at Carmen and said, “you are strong, and carry little fear. I see why she failed at taking the man whose heart you hold.”
Jim told Vlad that he only brought the women there so he could see that there were two sides to every story. For as much trouble as certain vampires were causing for their coven, the trouble was felt threefold on the mortal side of things. He felt he had made his point, so he asked the women to give them some space to discuss things.
“Alright,” said Vlad, “you have my attention. What exactly is it that you need from me?”
“You know I want to be in business with you,” said Jim. “In my line of work, there is always a need for… problem removal. I think that when I remove these… problems, your coven could benefit. Why go looking for fresh plasma when I can provide it to you free of charge?”
“What you are offering sounds intriguing,” said Vlad, “but I’ve lived long enough to know nothing is free. What is the true price of what you are asking?”
“My son is fond of these two women, and they lend an air of legitimacy to his enterprises in this world, so I want them happy. Keep this Lilith woman away from Laurel. And make sure that Imane stays far away from Hugo and their daughter. Actually, to give Carmen a real shot at happiness, just get rid of her.”
“Is that all?”
“No, in fact, it is not,” said Jim. “I know for a fact that you all have been controlling much more of this world than almost anyone realizes. Your reach is pretty far, so I want your coven to help with security and protection when any of my guys are travelling between our territories. Oh, and one more thing, I’m going to need the weather machine.”
“What do you know of a weather machine? How do you even know such a thing exists?”
“Just know that I know. What matters is that I know how important it is to your coven to keep the peace. There’s a reason you all decided to integrate into the mortal community recently, and I don’t really care what that reason is. All I know is that it has made your status quo untenable. Sims can’t just go missing anymore, it raises suspicions whenever a vampire lives nearby. And because of that, I know that what I’m offering you is worth it’s weight in gold, or should I say, plasma.”
“Okay, Holloway,” said Vlad, “you have made your point.”
Vlad sat quietly for a moment while he considered Jim’s offer. Finally, he spoke, “I will get you the weather machine you seek. I can only try to warn you how powerful it is. It will affect everywhere, not just Veronaville where you live.”
“I’m willing to accept that,” said Jim.
“When it comes to Lilith, I can speak with her, remind her of the coven consequences for seeking the same Sim too many times. Also, tell Laurel that she needs more garlic around her home. That single wreath will not deter the stronger of my kind.”
“I think she can manage that,” said Jim, “I hear she is the one who made the wreaths for everyone in the first place.”
“When it comes to Imane,” said Vlad, “I cannot help you. Her family is too powerful. You might not believe it, but this mortal Hugo is the fourth one she has done this to. She was always an advocate for integrating with mortals, but not for reasons that are beneficial to mortals. She marries these men and has children with them. The children are either born or turned vampires. They raise the children together, and she sees it as raising better hunters because they grew up around mortal Sims. She simply waits for the husband to grow old and die, and then she does it all over again.”
“And here I thought my wife was a ball buster,” said Jim. “Watcher rest her soul.”
“Pay attention to what I am saying,” said Vlad. “She is leading many in our coven down a dark path, where they prey on mortals, simply using them to deepen our own hunting knowledge. If I ‘get rid of her’ as you so delicately put it, it will surely start a civil war. I do not want that. But you can fix your own problem.”
“If you can’t do it, how could I possibly make it happen?”
“There are always ways if you are creative enough,” said Vlad. “Your daughter’s wedding is coming up, is it not?”
“It is,” said Jim. “But I don’t see how that–”
“I’m sure you will figure it out,” said Vlad, “and if you can manage that, I will take it as a sign of good faith. You fix the Imane problem for both of us, and everything else will fall into place.” Vlad stood to leave.
“Let me make sure we’re on the same page,” said Jim. “Our deal is the weather machine and the protection detail for my guys in exchange for a guaranteed fresh plasma supply and getting your hunters back in line?”
“Yes,” said Vlad, “but remember, it is contigent upon you getting rid of Imane in a way that doesn’t reflect back on either of us.”
“You have yourself a deal,” said Jim.
Before he left, Vlad spoke to Laurel again. “I’m so sorry for what has happened to you. You should know that not only mortals see what you have contributed to this world. Your improvements benefit us all. And you have made a powerful friend in Jim Holloway. I advise you to keep his son Luca close. And if Lilith bothers you again, send word through them. You mustn’t fear my kind, we are not all out to hurt you.”
“Heed my advice,” continued Vlad. “grow your garlic, and put up as much as your family can handle. But that thing inside of you that draws so many in, don’t ever diminish that. I hope to see you flourish even more in this world with the time you have left, and I’m sure the generations coming behind you will do even more of the same.”
Laurel didn’t know what to say. So she simply nodded.
Vlad finally took his leave after a nod to Luca and Carmen. He was gone in a whisp of smoke, and they watched as a bat flew away. Jim told Luca to escort Carmen and Laurel home, then to come straight home himself. They had plans to make, and they only had a few more days until Daniella’s wedding.
The first thing Laurel did when she got home was check on her garlic plants. They were already sprouting, and she took that as a sign that things would work out. Whatever Jim had discussed with the vampire Vlad, everyone seemed sure that she wouldn’t have to worry about being awoken from her sleep and compelled to share her plasma with a vampire anymore. They said all she had to do was hang a few more garlic braids around, and they would take care of the rest. That was a plan she could get behind. After watering her plants, she went to bed and happily went back to her dreams about her perfect life.