————— Quarters of the Black Queen —————

Selene shifted a bit in the large, black leather armchair she was sitting in. Lifting her legs she curled them underneath her and with a glance and a flick of her fingers set the fireplace opposite her to life. She smiled as the flames began to warm her and the sitting room of her quarters in the New York Hellfire Club. She reached out a pale white hand and lifted a glass off the slender table beside the chair. Sipping at the contents, she lifted a piece of paper that had been resting on her lap. Lifting it up she frowned.

The paper contained a list of names and on it she had crossed off two. At the bottom was another name added in different ink. Alan Tremaine and Ursula December were crossed off; Eve it seemed had already secured those two for whatever Sebastian was planning. She scanned down the page to the additional name, Daniel Morinstar. She was fuming at the fact her sources had not picked up Bedlam’s call from his son. She lifted a quill and scratched a line through that name as well. Another one for Eve.

Looking up the page again she noted another name, Kiden Nixon. Her ploy earlier in the week to secure at least one of the people on Sebastian’s list should have worked. She was pretty sure the enchantment she had weaved on her had worked. When Eve approached that girl the paranoia should have ate at her until she freaked out. She sipped from her glass again and wondered how long it would take for the phone call.

Just then it rang. Selene smiled, her black lips curling to match the glint in her eyes. She unfurled herself from the chair and walked across the floor to the phone. She lifted the receiver and raising it to her ear simply said “Hello Kiden”.

“How did you…”, replied a shocked voice before Selene cut her off.

“How did I know?” she replied, “I just knew you were a smart girl”.

————— New York University Quad —————

The sun was shining hotly on the New York University quad, and the students gathered there were mostly under the shade of the large trees that were scattered around it. A red headed woman strolled along the well-kept paths admiring the tranquillity of the place. The heat was keeping the usual boisterous students in a quieter mood and she enjoyed it. She walked onto the lawn and casually leant against a tree that had nobody under it.

Eve let out a sigh. She was feeling tired and a little harassed. Overjoyed by her early success, Sebastian had been leaning on her to increase the pace at which she collected his list. She had still not told him about the incident with Kiden Nixon. The day after their strange encounter she had gone back to see if the girl was ready to listen to reason but had been unable to find her. She had set a team to try and relocate her but she had pretty much given up on that one as a lost cause. The girl would be lucky if she was alive in a few days. Most New York runaways did not last long on the streets.

On top of the collection she had been trying to keep her own business ventures and intrigues afloat. The Hellfire Club was notoriously devious and she needed to stay on top of her game if she wanted to continue to enjoy the privileges she did now. She smirked to herself and mused over all the little things she was involved with. The Club could be such fun sometimes.

She pushed herself off the tree she was leaning against and stood up and stretched. The air felt cool across her midriff as her silk red top slid up. She brushed dried grass off her jeans and stepped back onto the path of the quad. She walked toward a building bearing a sign saying ‘Business and Economics Department’. As she approached it she saw a group of students emerge from the double oaken doors and descend the steps to the pathway she was on. The group consisted of three girls and two guys. The girls were the typical arts student type, perfect make-up, expertly picked outfit and carrying matching coloured folders and impractical satchels, too small to fit any actual text books in them.

Eve turned her attention to the guys. One was skinny with broad rimmed glasses and tawny hair hanging over his eyes. He seemed to be part of the group but little attention was directed his way and he barely contributed to the conversation. The other guy however looked to be the near opposite. Well built he was wearing a striped rugby top, jeans and K-Swiss sneakers. He was the focus of the three girl’s attention; they fluttered about him like moths around a bright light bulb. He was tall with close-cropped dark hair and was carrying a satchel full of notebooks on his shoulder. He was smiling and talking to each girl in turn making eye contact with each one, giving light touches every now and then. Eve smiled and thought to herself that here is a real charmer. Confidence positively oozed from him. All she had to do was wait and make sure.

The group reached a junction in the path ahead of Eve and came to a halt. “So you promise to come then?” one of the girls, a blonde, asked the tall guy.

“Hey I said I would, didn’t I?” he replied with a laugh.

“Cool. It’s gonna be off the scale” replied the girl. “This party will be talked about all over campus by next week.

“What about you George?” one of the other girls asked the smaller, quieter man.

“Uh, I guess I could come for a bit”, he stuttered obviously uncomfortable at being asked so directly.

“Of course he is coming”, boomed the taller guy, throwing his arm around the other one, “It’s not a party with out my wing man here, eh George”. The girls laughed and George shrugged of his friends arm, smiling.

“Well we will see you both there then. We better get off to our next class. You going to it too George?” said the third girl.

“Yeah I guess so”, he replied, he then turned to his friend, “I’ll catch ya later Dakota, give me a ring”.

“Will do buddy, I’m gonna head home then go see Cassie for a bit” replied Dakota. With that the girls bustled off with the nerdish guy in tow. As they passed where Eve was standing she heard one of them asking who Cassie was. She smiled and made her way along the path to the now alone Dakota.

Dakota waved in the general direction of his best friend George as he headed off with the girls they had met at their last class and shrugged his satchel off his shoulder. He knelt down and began rooting around in it for the keys to his apartment on campus.

“So, what class do you have next?” he heard a silvery voice come from somewhere above him. He raised his head and looked up to see a very attractive woman staring down at him. He nearly caught his breath as the cool breeze made the silk of her top ripple across her. He stood up and put on his best smile. He stood nearly a half a foot taller than her. Reaching out his hand he introduced himself.

“Hi, I’m Dakota Smith. And I don’t have another class today, but if you’re heading my way I’m just on my way to my girlfriend’s house”. He smirked as he added that last bit. It was a bit mean but he got a kick from seeing the disappointment in other girl’s faces when he mentioned he wasn’t single. So he was rather surprised to see this woman smile when he mentioned it.

“I guess I can walk with you a little bit”, she replied. She dipped to pick up his satchel for him and he couldn’t help check her out as she did so. Damn, he thought, if I wasn’t with Cassie right now I would definitely ask this girl out. He took the satchel from her hand and slung it over his shoulder again. “Oh, my name is Eve by the way”.

They began to walk down the path side by side. “So Eve, you a student her then?” asked Dakota.

“Not exactly, but I live in the city” she replied.

“So what are you doing here then?” he asked.

“Why I’m here to see you of course”, she smirked and looked up at him.

Dakota stopped walking and looked at her confused. “Uh, what?” he asked perplexed.

“I have an offer for you, one I really think you should consider” Eve replied, turning to face him.

He smiled at her, “Look I’m really flattered and all, but like I said I have a girlfriend”. The laughter that rang musically in her ears only served to confuse him even more. This was definitely one weird situation.

“Oh honey, I don’t need you for anything like that” said Eve. Then she paused and bit on the tip of her index finger as she let her eyes trail up and down his body. “Although…” she added just loud enough for him to hear.

“Well if you don’t want to ask me out then what is this offer you were rattling on about”, he snapped. Dakota was beginning to loose patience with this whole scene.

“Straight to the point then, and you are right, I wasn’t hitting on you. If I was believe me you would not say no”, her eyes glinted as she said this, and despite himself Dakota had to force himself to swallow a lump in his throat. She was actually making him feel nervous. “Tell me Dakota, are you happy with your life?” she suddenly asked.

“Happy? What do you mean?” he asked, thrown by the sudden switch in conversation.

“You know happy. Content, no worries, that kind of thing” she replied idly tracing a finger up and down her bare arm.

He broke his gaze away from watching her do this and looked at her face. “Well then yeah I guess I am. I have a great girlfriend, top of most of my classes, I’m probably the most popular guy on campus and my family is fairly wealthy. Not to blow my own horn or anything, but I’ve got the whole freaking package” he said.

Smiling Eve replied, “I guess you are”.

“Look as great and all this weird boy meets nut job woman situation is, I really have better thing to do”, he said, looking for a good excuse to walk away from this situation.

“But you haven’t heard what I have to offer you yet”, pouted Eve.

“Didn’t you hear me, I don’t think you could offer me anything, I’ve got it all”, he replied.

“So it would seem”. Eve said. She decided to let her other plan for this young man play out. She could bind him to the Club in other ways. Abandoning her current idea she stepped to the side of the path. “It was nice meeting you Dakota, hopefully I’ll see you again”.

“Yeah. Whatever”. He walked past her and continued on his way. Eve watched him and then suddenly called out.

“What about power Dakota? Do you have power?” she asked.

He turned around and looked at the woman. What was she on about now? “What do you mean power, I don’t understand?” he called back to her. Instead of answering him the woman called Eve turned around and began walking the other way. Dakota gave up trying to make any sense from what had just happened and walked off.

As Eve walked away she pondered Dakota’s reply to her last question. Quietly she said to her, “So you don’t understand Mr. Smith. Well, you will soon enough”. She walked toward the exit of the quad and took a small cell phone from her jeans pocket. Dialling a number she waited for an answer.

“Yes, it’s me. Bring project 4a to this address. Things are going to proceed at a far faster rate than I originally suspected”.