I hope you're enjoying the latest short story, once it's all post I'll add another section to the bonus content for it. This section is where we're introduced to the one and only Theodore Roosevelt and I have to say, I enjoyed writing him. I had to do a lot of research to get things right about him, but I am confident that, so far as existing in a supernatural world with vampires and werewolves, this is a fairly historically accurate Roosevelt.
So, please enjoy the next installment of Wolves and Wild Roses.
Sonia stepped out of the car, the noon-day sun shining down on her black gown, her eyes shielded by a wide brimmed, "Merry Widow" hat. Grant exited the car behind her, surveying the scene. To either side, men in tweed jackets and hats, marched to the door of Rinaldo's, opening it for her. She acknowledged them with a nod and entered, the host taking her from there. Her dark gown and hat drew a few looks from some of the patrons, but Sonia didn't bother to look their way. Her gaze was directly ahead of her, at the door to a private dining area. As she approached, the men in jackets halted her servant. Grant reached into his jacket, but Sonia placed a hand on his arm, halting him. He nodded and took a position outside the door as she entered.
Stepping inside, she was bathed in a soft light. The walls were adorned with landscape paintings of Paris and London, with wall sconces illuminating the room. Near the back at a solitary table sat a man with a strong frame and a spruce mustache. He looked up from his meal, smiling at her approach. He dabbed a napkin against his lips and stood, donning his pince nez.
"A pleasure to meet you, Madam!" he boomed with an exuberance usually saved for younger men. She nodded and offered her hand, which he took.
"And you, Mr. President."
"Please, have a seat. I trust you don't mind that I began without you. My men were quite sure you wouldn't show."
"I told your boy I was coming," she replied, taking her seat across from him. "Do BOI agents really think so little of me?"
The former president chuckled before taking a drink. "No, Madam, I daresay BOI agents know nothing about you. However, these men aren't with the Bureau. Well... not that Bureau."
Sonia took a moment to survey the men around her. They dressed like federal agents, but she failed to see what set them apart. A small glint from the collar of one man caught her eye, drawing her to a pin. A white shield adorned the pin with a stylized purple flower, it's petals hanging loose and staggering down the stem.
"Wolfsbane," Roosevelt remarked, digging back into his meal.
"Dear God, you've created another agency."
"A good portion of which are made of former hunters, like you. Your family's name came up more than once in recent days."
"Which begs the question, Mr. Roosevelt, what is it you want killed? Surely a man such as yourself wouldn't come to me without reason," she replied.
"Indeed not, Madam. But first, I do hope you'll be dining as well."
At his signal, a waiter approached. Sonia looked at the plate in front of Mr. Roosevelt; fried chicken smothered in white gravy. Beside it, a large cup of black coffee.
"Cucumber salad, please," she ordered.
The waiter nodded and stepped away, leaving the former president with a large smirk under his thick mustache. "A killer of monsters, but still with the appetite befitting such a dainty frame."
"Mr. Roosevelt, I'd be willing to wager that fewer meals of that caliber and you wouldn't need this 'dainty ' woman's assistance."
"Ha!" Roosevelt exclaimed, clapping the table. "Bully! I like this woman!" Seeing the president's reaction, several of the agents around him allowed themselves a nervous smile. "Very well. Let us get down to brass tacks. My men at the Bureau of Demonic Affairs have been tracking an infestation recently. I believe it's linked to the outbreak of lycanthropy back in 1906."
"I handled that," Sonia commented.
"Indeed. But it seems the ramifications of that outbreak were far more wide reaching than we expected. My men have put down no less than three dozen werewolves since then, all throughout the Eastern Seaboard."
"Then it sounds like your men are doing a good job," she replied.
"Of course they are! But now that I am free to join them in the field, I believe it's time to find a more permanent solution."
"Permanent? Is death not a permanent enough solution for you, Mr. Roosevelt?"
"My dear lady, Americans are dying every day. Poor working conditions. Impure food. Those were problems I could solve as President. Now unholy creatures from the bowels of Hell seek to destroy those I have sworn to protect. I cannot put forth legislation to outlaw lycanthropy, it is a disease that must be eradicated and it must be done before it can spread to infect all of these United States."
"You're looking to go on a werewolf hunt? That is ambitious, Mr. Roosevelt. I don't believe I've heard of such a hunt since Salem," Sonia replied.
The waiter returned, setting down her salad and bowing before leaving. She nodded to him before turning her attention back to the President. His look was intent. There was no doubt that he was serious in this matter.
"Madam, if I must travel this entire country and put down the cursed beasts one by one, I shall. But my men told me that if there was anyone that could bring me a solution, a way to eradicate this plague once and for all, that the Trevor family would know."
Sonia smirked as she brought her first bite to her lips, allowing the former president to linger in silence as she finished. She looked at the men surrounding them. "Your men are not mistaken, Mr. Roosevelt. If anyone in this country could do it, it would be me."
"Then you'll help?"
"No," she replied, returning to her salad.
"I beg your pardon. Why not?"
"I have no interest in this matter. This seems exactly what you formed your little... bureau for."
Roosevelt laid his knife and fork down, furrowing his brow. "Madam, if this is about compensation, I can assure you-"
"Please, Mr. Roosevelt, you don't have the money to bribe the Trevor family."
"One would think you'd do it as a service to your country!"
"I've served this country and several others by eradicating unholy abominations and, somehow, I still don't have the right to vote."
Roosevelt pounded his fist on the table, several of the agents turning, hands moving to their pistols. "Mrs. Trevor, I have been a staunch support of equal rights for women since I was a lad! Do you know that I put women in key positions at the New York Police Department? Or that I advocated for corporal punishment for wife beaters? Why my bureau has three executive officers that are women!"
"I'm aware of all your pomp and circumstance, Mr. Roosevelt, but I also know that you served two terms and didn't give us the vote," Sonia replied, taking another bite of her salad.
Mr. Roosevelt took a breath and calmed himself, raising his hands to his men to ease their concern. "Very well. If none of that will convince you, perhaps this might."
With another gesture, an agent approached, handing the former president a rectangular object wrapped in cloth. Pushing aside his plate, Roosevelt laid down the object and unwrapped it, revealing a worn, leather-bound book. Sonia hesitated, staring at the book for several moments before setting down her fork. She reached for it, but an agent drew his pistol.
"Hold now," the former president said, calming the agent. "Let her examine it."
Sonia sneered at the agent as he holstered his gun, grabbing the book. She weighed it in her hands and ran her fingers over the cover. Faint writing was etched across the front: The Observations of RJ Thompson on the Magus Device. She parted the pages, flipping through the book. Her stern disposition melted away as she read over random pages, each second forming a larger grin on Roosevelt's face.
"You'll... give this to me?" she asked.
"Not this one exactly," he replied, holding out his hand. "But a copy, exact in every detail. This journal is too valuable to go missing from the BDA library."
Sonia closed the book, hesitantly placing it back in the president's hand. He wrapped it back up in the cloth and handed it off to one of his agents before turning back to her, his smile a mile wide.
"Do we have a deal, Mrs. Trevor?"
"How do I know the copy will be exact?" she asked.
"You have my solemn word, Mrs. Trevor. There is nothing more pure I can offer than that."
"And... why would you allow state secrets like that to fall into the hands of a hunter?" she countered.
"The journal is of historical importance, but my men... and women... have been unable to find anything useful from it. I thought perhaps you might have better luck. The Trevor family is famous for its... clandestine connections, shall we say?"
"Very well. I expect all my expenses to be paid and to be given full control of the operation."
"Second in command," he countered.
"Excuse me, sir?"
"You don't think I'm going to just watch, do you Mrs. Trevor?" he replied with a grin.
Sonia composed herself, glancing around at the agents in the room. "Very well. The full moon is in three weeks. I'll be back in two with your solution."
Sonia slid out from her chair, the former president standing in respect as she did. He took her hand in farewell and the two parted. Stepping out, Grant resumed his place at her side."I trust you had a lovely lunch, Madam?"
"Delectable. When we arrive home, please prepare my trunk and make preparations to travel to London."
"Of course, Madam. Will this be the red trunk or the black trunk?"
Sonia grinned as she slid into the car. "The black one."
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.