The Old Rocker was the same as it always was. In an older part of Montreal where parking was non-existent. Andrei learned long ago that driving here was a mistake. For multiple reasons. For one, Sven never let him have his meal without beer. And Theophania, or Tiffany as she was commonly called today, would never let him leave without a meal. A real meal. Bless her little beating siren’s heart!
He looked up to the dark, murky clouds as he sighed and thought of a real meal. He pressed his lips together with bright eyes. She was a welcome addition to their group. Andrei marched with long strides to the entrance of the Old Rocker and pulled open the massive, carved oaken doors. The noise and heat hit him as soon as the door was ajar. Warm aromas and pheromones called him in like a song. He drifted in and unzipped his jacket.
“Yo! Princess! Over here!” shouted a warm, cheerful voice that boomed across the crowd and noise.
Andrei sighed and looked over at Sven with furrowed brows. Sven was a beast. Taller than most, wider than all and pure muscle. He gave a wide toothy grin to the slight Russian man. He waved a massive arm to get Andre’s attention. The thinner man marched over in time for Theo to reprimand Sven.
“You KNOW he hates it when you make a show.” she hissed.
Sven pouted at his tender half. “Aw, but that’s what makes it fun!”
She scoffed in sync with Andrei.
“I appreciate you trying,” he said as he reached a hand to her.
She gave a gentle smile of her full heart-shaped lips. “I’m sorry, he’s a lost cause.”
Theo placed her hand in his, and Andrei kissed her knuckles gently before holding a stool for her. She smirked and looked at Sven.
“See, this is what gentlemen do.”
Sven blinked his big brown eyes at her. He chewed on a nacho chip from the platter on their table.
“Yea? So?” he asked unphased.
“You should try it out sometime,” she said with a twinkle in her seafoam eyes.
Sven snorted. “Babe, if that’s what you wanted, you should not have bonded with me.”
Theo sighed. “Not even gonna try, are you?”
Sven grinned. “Last I checked, being me had other perks, and you liked those plenty.”
Andrei groaned. “Please, don’t ruin my appetite! I just got here!”
“Hey!” came a fourth voice.
The party all turned to the sound and found Ambrose with his hands full of beer. Sven stood and grabbed them all, giving each pint to its recipient.
Ambrose sighed as he was relieved of his burdens. “Oh, thank you so much.”
Sven grinned. “Sit down pops before you break something!”
Ambrose snorted but sat. “Pops? rich coming from you, Fenrir.” He looked to Andrei with a mild look on his face. “How do you stand it?”
“What?” Theo asked.
“His cheer,” Ambrose said the final word with venom.
Andrei shrugged. “Like all poisons, you become immune.”
Sven laughed. “It’s not my fault you two are so grim and gloomy, now is it?”
Theo smiled at Ambrose. “It’s really nice to see you again!”
Ambrose grinned. “Likewise, the more, the merrier.”
Sven grabbed his beer. “Come on, guys, the good stuff’s getting warm.”
The took their pints and clinked all their glasses together before taking a drink. While the others sipped, Sven downed his entire first pint in a single gulp. He sighed and put his glass down firmly. The Viking of a man looked around, and Ambrose touched his forearm.
“Don’t worry, they know to keep them coming.”
Sven relaxed in his seat. “Wow, thank you.”
Andrei smiled as the two of them behaved and grabbed a chip. “So, how was everyone’s week?”
Theo gasped. “You beat me to it!”
Ambrose looked between them. “Is this a custom?”
Andrei smirked. “Theo thought it would be a nice way to ‘normalize’ our hangouts.”
Sven nodded. “We’d end up talking about Clan or Pack business none stop – and that gets old real fast.”
“So we made a rule.” She chimed in. “Where at least for the first topic, we should talk about the normal stuff from every day.”
Ambrose grinned. “Awe, that’s so wholesome!”
Andrei snorted. “Ah-huh.”
“No! Really!” the older vampire snapped as he looked at his Russian friend. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear that things are, settled down, for you,” he said, pausing on how to put it.
Andrei shrugged. “Lorenkai was dealt with. I have moved away from the old Clans. And I have no reason to get involved in any more politics. I’m just here to be.”
Ambrose grinned. “I’m glad. No more king-making for you, sir!”
Sven groaned. “Please, no!”
Theo looked between them. “I mean, I know about the backlash, but you made someone a king?!” she squeaked.
A server joined them a moment with more beer for Sven. They paused and ate as the drink was served. As soon as their privacy returned, Andrei shook his head.
“Not tonight. Please?”
Theo nodded. “But I want the story at some point.”
Andrei nodded. “That’s fair.”
“Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” Sven interrupted.
All eyes at the table were on him. He wiggled his thick auburn brows.
“How’d it go?” he asked with a grin.
Ambrose turned to look at Andrei – his grin rivaling Sven’s. “Yes, how did it go?”
Theo gasped, her little, delicate hands coming together at her sternum. Andrei put a hand up before she could echo them. She sighed with disappointment.
“Mixed bag.” was all he replied.
Sven’s grin dropped. “Okay, but what does that MEAN?!”
Ambrose frowned. “Mixed bag, why mixed bag? What was mixed in the bag?!”
Theo put a hand on both their shoulders. “Guys, sit back down and let the man speak?”
Both men sat back and relaxed into their seats and cleared their throats in mild embarrassment. Andrei crossed his arms.
“She chose the wrong club, and we ended up in someone else’s territory?” Andrei lifted a brow at Ambrose.
“Oh, Kenneth is great, they’re very chill – this was at the Cloakroom, right?” Ambrose asked.
Andrei sighed, and his shrugged shoulders relaxed. “Yes, exactly.”
Ambrose waved his hand. “Their fine – clans exist, but only loosely here. There’s no issues about territory like back home.”
The younger vampire released his arms. “Oh, good.”
Ambrose quirked a brow.” Why? What happened?”
Andrei sighed and recounted the events of the evening to the trio present. They all went through their reactions. Ambrose from joy, to annoyance. Theo gasping and covering her lips with concern. While Sven watched with that cold, detached look he got when his hunter’s instincts kicked in.
Sven was the first to sigh when the tale was told. “The curse really won’t leave you alone, will it?”
The slighter man shrugged. “Nope.”
“But she’s okay, right?” Theo asked.
Andrei pulled out his phone, opened the text messages, and let her read through it. “She’s texted since, so yes.”
Ambrose sighed. “Well, I have no clue who that fledgling was – but Sven is right. This is likely your curse again.”
The younger vampire grabbed his beer and brought it up. “To shit never really changing.”
They all clinked, and Theo perked up. “I’m going to find you boys some proper supper.”
Without another word, she stood and weaved through the crowds. Sven tsked. “You boys are so lucky.”
Andrei scoffed. “Ah, yea, only second to your luck on that one.”
Ambrose leaned forward on his elbows. “How on EARTH did you nab a lady like her?”
Sven grinned. “Secret.”
Ambrose sighed. “Cheapskate.”
A lull of calm settled over the group. They ate, they drank and were merry. A bright end to a successful week. And Andrei could not have been more grateful for it.