For the second time that day, Erin was waiting, only this time, she didn’t have to very long. She was seated in the large library of Meihui’s rambling mansion in The Peak, an exclusive area in Hong Kong. The room was far from understated, lined wall to wall with first editions from some of the greatest writers who’d ever lived and paintings from the likes of Renoir and Ucello hung from the rustic walls, as though they’d been meant to grace them.
It was minimally furnished with velvet covered hassock chairs in a variety of earth tones and on five wooden pedestals, sat glass cases with rare stones within. Erin heard Meihui’s sultry tone long before she saw her. She was speaking rapidly in Mandarin, arguing with one of her house staff for reasons Erin did not bother to listen to.
When she finally entered the room, the alluring scent of pomegranate and mint came with her, filling Erin’s nostrils pleasantly as she came closer.
“Erin, you honour me with your presence.” Erin stood as Meihui rounded the corner, glad that her dark-caramel skin didn’t allow her a proper blush. The woman was just as stunning as Jiao and in her lacy red gown that clung to her body and fell effortlessly to the floor, she was nothing short of breathtaking. Magic don’t fail me now, Erin thought to herself, amused at her reaction. Despite Erin’s usual preferences, it was hard to fight off the advances of this species of demon.
Both succubi and incubi were renowned in the supernatural world for their ability to take almost anyone they wanted, any way they wanted, with little difficulty. Having originated in the East, most of the original bloodlines remained, while others had spread their wings and were now scattered across the world, mingling with humans and supernaturals alike.
“It’s good to see you again,” Erin said, meaning it. She’d always liked Meihui and had believed her to be a better candidate for S.I.N’s representative at the Gathering. Meihui smiled and touched Erin’s shoulder, her dark brown eyes drinking her in.
Feeling a sensation, not unlike rising lust, Erin artfully stepped away. “Never expected you to cut your hair, the last time I saw you it was almost to the floor,” she said, the chitchat that she would not indulge with Jiao, coming naturally in this case. Meihui touched her short edges absently. Her hair was dyed a dark chestnut, with golden streaks that shone under the library’s soft lighting.
“Yes, it became bothersome,” she answered, reverting to English.
Erin did the same, “It suits you.” They took in each other, neither saying anything for a few moments, memories of times past before Erin had understood the importance of protecting herself from the crafty wiles of the succubi, coming to the forefront.
Meihui broke the silence, “I thought I’d finally meet this new partner I have heard about.”
This sobered Erin up and she frowned. It did not surprise her that Meihui would know about Zach. Those who attended the Gathering were kept informed about a few of Praesidium’s activities. Some of the information the organisation was willing to share was about new wardens and containment officers inducted into the organisation, which was important, as it made it easier when Praesidium employees were carrying out their jobs. In the case of Meihui, it was simply her personal interest in Erin which made her keep abreast of certain details regarding her. Something like a new partner, would have stood out.
“He’s working back in Middlesbrough,” was all she said and Meihui peered at her curiously for a moment, but said nothing more on the subject. She sat, motioning for Erin to do the same.
“We are to visit your side of the world in just under a week.”
Erin raised an eyebrow, “You’re going to England?” she asked, settling into the comfortable seat.
Meihui looked at her puzzled, then smiled as it became clear, “I forget that it is many years since you have called the island home.”
Erin swallowed hard. She’d wanted to visitfor a long time, but it had been forbidden, and any cases within the Caribbean had always been handed off to other wardens. Erin hadn’t understood it at the time and now she did, the thoughtupset her.
“Business?” she asked casually, noticing how closely Meihui was watching her,
“Yes, for talks regarding buying some property there. The country’s market has taken some worrying hits, but with the right direction I feel we can get it back on the right path.” She leaned forward, her porcelain cleavage peaking from the depths of her dress. “Maybe you will join me there,” she said seductively.
Unfortunately for Meihui, she’d lost Erin with talk of Barbados and now all the warden wanted to do was get to the bottom of the accusations brought against her. “You know why I’m here.” It wasn’t a question and Meihui leaned back, all business as she fell back into Mandarin.
“Yes, Jiao Li Wong is trying to convince you of some wrongdoing on my part.”
“Do you deny it?” Erin asked, watching for the slightest changes in her facial expression. There were none.
“Jiao will do anything to see the empire I have built fall. It is not enough that she has control of our nation, but she tries to break those who choose to better her.” Though Erin found it hard to believe that what Jiao had said about Meihui’s recent activities was true, it was her job to make sure of that.
The organisation would not tolerate the bloodshed of innocents and Erin needed to be certain. “Why would she lie Meihui? Why now? Just recently I read a magazine article where the two of you were shaking hands and smiling over a new joint venture, I assumed all was well.” Erin had been reading a popular business magazine on the plane ride to Hong Kong, to distract her from her thoughts.
Meihui laughed bitterly, speaking again in English, “You of all people know of the faces we wear. You deceive people every day,” she said.
“And others try to deceive me too, all the time,” Erin replied, not missing a beat.
“I am not one of them. I respect all that the Gathering stands for, just as my mother before me did and her mother before her. I am a succubus and so I feed, but I do not kill, that is the rule for me and all those in my house.” She looked earnestly at Erin and the warden opened her mouth to speak, when a man wearing a light blue changshan which was covered in blood, rushed into the room. He paused uncertainly when he saw Erin, then gave Meihui a slow nod. She returned the gesture and the man bowed low before he left. Erin immediately saw the worry etched on Meihui’s face.
“You must excuse me, as you can see, Longwei my guard needs me urgently.”
Erin caught her arm as she stood, “What’s going on Meihui?” she asked. “That blood on his robe …?”
Meihui regained her composure, pulling her arm gently from Erin’s grip. “I must go now, please make yourself comfortable, I will send someone in with food and drink.” Erin didn’t reply, watching as Meihui fled theroom. When a few minutes had passed the warden stood, allowing her magic to awaken within her, feeling new strength and confidence in her abilities.
“Let’s see what you’re up to,” she said to no one and hurried out to follow Meihui’s trail.