Ram’s swagger looked a little wilted as he found Storm and Kay having a quiet drink and flopped into one of the bar’s cushy lounge chairs next to them.
“You in shock?” Kay said. “Do we need to order whiskey and a blanket?”
“Aye. Shock. Those women…”
Storm smirked. “How many?”
“All of them. They’re all in the space that used to be my temporary home. Elora. Litha. Rosie. They’re actin’ like ‘tis the event of the century. Dressin’ my sister up like she’s auditionin’ to dance at the Moulin Rouge.”
“They having fun?”
“Aye. That’s what’s so scary about it all. And the noise level…”
“Mr. Heavy Metal is complaining about noise?” Kay asked.
“Well, I would no’ want to say they’re screechin’ exactly. But when they get excited, their voices get high pitched and they do this thing where they… I can no’ even explain it.”
“Squeee?” Kay asked.
Ram’s eyes got big. “Aye. ‘Tis exactly that. Squeee. Sounds more like a banshee than anythin’ else.”
“Did you leave your children with them?” Kay asked.
Ram screwed up his face. “They’re with Nanny, but you are guiltin’ me for leavin’ them in the apartment. Great Paddy. They may develop psychosis. I should get them out of there while they’re still sane.”
“What makes you think your children are sane?” Storm teased.
“Ho now. You can chide me all ye wish, but do no’ be disparagin’ the fruit of my loins.”
The waiter arrived at the arm of Ram’s chair. “Triple whiskey,” he said. The waiter raised an eyebrow. “’Tis no’ your place to judge. ‘Tis my night off and I’ve been forced to flee my humble home.”
Ram didn’t wait for an answer before turning back to his teammates.
“So what’s this all about anyway?”
“No’ sure I’m at liberty to say.”
His teammates held a silent conversation with each other. Kay cleared his throat. “In that case, it would be wrong for us to press. So we won’t ask.”
Ram gaped at Kay. “Seriously? You’re no’ puttin’ up more of a fight than that?”
“Well, if you’re not at liberty to say…”
“On second thought, I’m sure Glen would want me to advise my trusted friends and teammates.”
“Only if you’re sure…” Kay said.
Ram proceeded to tell the story, which was fairly accurate for being third hand at that point. “So I’m gettin’ Rev to go out with you tonight. If it turns out this Jazz Man is what he says he is, I’m no’ takin’ any chances with my sister. That prancin’ poofer she’s married to would be sendin’ an army to join my da’s own army and all of them would be after my head. I’m very fond of these beautiful blonde locks, as you both know.” Storm and Kay both nodded thoughtfully. “So I’ll be playin’ bodyguard to her highness tonight.”
“You know we’ll be patrolling the neighborhood around midnight. We could maybe swing by Dublin Down. Just say hi. Make sure everything’s going okay.”
Ram grinned. “You fuckers are dyin’ to get a look at him.”
Storm wanted to appear nonchalant, but couldn’t help sneaking a glance at Ram when he said, “I’ll bet Elora would like to sashay by there tonight. We know she has a thing for talking vampire.”
Ram caught the mischievous gleam in Storm’s eye and knew Storm was teasing, but it was also a dig that didn’t go down easy. After three children and years of married life, the way Baka and Elora had interacted, back in the day, still bothered Ram. And Storm knew it.
Rammel carefully set his whiskey tumbler down on the table beside him before launching himself out of his chair so fast it looked like he’d been sitting on an eject mechanism. He flew across the space that separated them and attempted to get Storm in a headlock.
“What are you doing?!?” Storm wheezed, turning red and trying to get his breath while Ram’s forearm squeezed his windpipe. “It was a joke!”
Ram didn’t respond to that protest because he didn’t care if it was a joke. He jerked Storm out of the chair by his neck, which was a testament to Ram’s strength because Storm was still a big well-muscled guy. As soon as they fell to the floor together, Ram hauled back and launched a fist that caught Storm in the side. Storm reacted by rolling over so that he could get enough room to clip Ram on the side of the face. Kay, of course, was yelling and doing his best to break it up, but in the process took punishing hits from both of them.
Several of the other knights came to assist Kay and fifteen minutes later, the three veteran members of B Team were standing in the Sovereign’s office, being called on the carpet like they were kids.
“The. Hel.” said Glen, clearly furious. “Every trainee in Jefferson Unit has already heard that B Team were brawling in our own club lounge, rolling around on the floor like… like…”
“Brawlers?” Kay suggested.
“Famous legendary elite vampire hunters indeed.” The sarcasm was dripping from every word Glen uttered. “A fine example you set for the next generation tonight.”
“He started it,” Storm mumbled.
“You did not say what I think you just said.” Glen looked incredulous. “Is this some kind of midlife crisis?”
That hit a mark. All three men looked horrified. “We’re no’ yet even thirty-five,” Ram protested.
“You’re acting like you’re not yet five.”
Ram glared at Storm. “There are just some things you do no’ say about an elf’s mate.”
Glen pulled back and studied Ram for a minute. “I don’t believe there is any power in heaven or hel that could make me believe Engel Storm insulted Elora Laiken.”
“Well,” Ram hedged, “he did no’ insult her per se.”
“Per se,” Glen repeated.
“Aye. Per se.”
Glen threw up his hands. “You know, I don’t really care what happened. If you were Z Team, I’d just roll my eyes and say, ‘What else is new?’ The three of you are going to be guest speakers at one ethics and decorum class per grade during this term.”
“Oh, for…” Kay started.
“Not. Another. Word.” Glen walked over and opened the door to his office. “Get out. And shame on you.”
Standing in the outer offices, Kay looked at the door that had been shut in his face and said, “I didn’t do anything! In fact I tried to stop it.”
Ram and Storm started walking down the hall toward the elevator. Storm turned to Ram and said, “Look what you did now.”
“You want me to? Pull your shirt up so I can see.”
“There’s nothing to see. You on the other hand are going to need some ice soon if you don’t want that eye to swell shut.”
Ram reached up and touched it. “You got me good.” He smiled.
Storm’s face split into a proud smile. “You’re gonna be wearing my mark for a while. Elora’s gonna chew your royal rear end when she hears about this.”
By that time Kay had caught up. From behind them he said, “Maybe you two are having a midlife crisis.”