Man Behaving Badly

by Anne Fraser and Jean Hontz

 

 

Man Behaving Badly

copyright 2006

by Anne Fraser and Jean Hontz

Background:

after the deposition hearing (see: "A Special Meeting of the Council") was over and Gen was let off the hook with her head still attached, Carmine of Italy flirted with her publicly. Jean, jealous, insulted Carmine. The Italian Prince gave Jean a chance to retract his statement, but Jean only insulted him again. Carmine told him he was not worthy of Genevieve and a disgrace to the office of consort.

Jean then attempted to apologize, but it was too late. He agreed to travel to Italy, after consulting with Gen on the wisest course, to accept whatever punishment Carmine chose to mete.

___________

Jean de la Mare sat alone in the terraced garden at the Chateau de
Monet, awaiting the arrival of Orsino Fonti, mage to the Prince of
Italy.

He had badly insulted said Prince. Without Carmine having given him a
good reason for said insults. This was no way for a consort to another
Prince to behave!

But Jean... Jean had been through a lot recently, more than even his
spirit could handle. He was hurting, deep inside, and there seemed to
be nobody he could talk to. The Gardiens respected him too much for him
to confide in them. He did not feel comfortable talking to Nyree. And
Julian, with whom oddly enough he seemed to be comfortable, was
otherwise occupied. He could talk to Genevieve, a fairly recent
innovation in their relationship, but since it was worry for her that
was making him hurt, it didn't seem appropriate to talk to her about it.

She was still depressed. He could see it; she had even spoken to him
about it. She felt it, the longing that comes to all vampires sooner or
later, that tiredness of spirit that called out for respite. For the
True Death and surcease. It was not as pressing as it had been during
the war, but it was there. Once a vampire feels that call, it is hard to
shake off. Look how many times Alexander had tried to find the final
peace!

He could not lose her. It had taken the horrible war and its
results--seeing her lying there in terrible pain from the wound caused
by a silver crossbow bolt--to make him realize how much she meant to
him, how miserable a fool he had been for far too long. Worry about
her, her state of mind, was driving Jean to uncharacteristic behaviours.
He was lashing out at any convenient target.
Unfortunately, Princes tended to make ill choices for targets. He was
going to pay--likely, knowing Carmine, severely--for the insults he had
so stupidly heaped upon Italy.

Just as Jean was contemplating what Carmine might inflict on
him--fingernails pulled out? Tar and feathers?--Orsino appeared.

"Capitaine," the mage bowed. "A fine evening."

"Yes," Jean rose and bowed in return. "Thank you for the transport."

Orsino's mouth twitched. "You shall see if you still wish to thank me
afterwards, Capitaine."

"I deserve whatever Carmine decides is fit," Jean said.

"Don't be so hard on yourself," Orsino told him. "Carmine is pleased
that you wish to apologize."

Jean looked up. "He does not wish to punish me?"

"I did not say that. You cannot insult the Prince of Italy and hope to
escape without some payment, Capitaine. But it is up to my Prince to
decide your fate."

"Then take me to him, and get this over with."

A moment later, the terrace was empty of all save a startled cat.

And then Jean's ears were ringing with incredibly loud music and he was
buffeted by the rush of people. It was too much to arrive from the
quiet of the garden in the Loire to the centre of a scene of near
madness. No, not madness, instead a plush club somewhere in Italy.

If he thought it was noisy at first, it was suddenly noiser as a new
song began and more floods of people headed toward them. Orsino had
apparently deposited himself and Jean in public, at the edge of the
dance floor. True, there were so many people crammed in here no one
would notice two extras.

Orsino grabbed hold of a piece of Jean's shirt sleeve and pulled him
along. They made their way around the dancefloor, and the circular bar
until they could fight their way through the laughing clapping happy
crowd cheering on the dancers, to a curving staircase that led up to
seating that overlooked the madness on the main floor.

Orsino waved to several peo.. vampires, in the crowd and they waved
back. Apparently there wasn't to be an immediate offing of Jean's head.Carmine, and his court were out on the town.

They fought their way up the stairs and there, at a large table, sat the
Prince of Italy himself, whispering something to a gorgeous woman who
sat beside him. She was not a vampire.

As Orsino and Jean approached the woman was doing all she could to lay
claim to the Prince. He seemed amused by her flirtations. The others at
the table were watching the dancing below and pointing at clapping at
some of their group who were down in the midst of the throng.

It was, Jean admitted to himself, a bit classier than the Battery.

"My Prince expects a full, abject apology," Orsino said, managing to
make himself heard over the music.

"Here?" Jean asked, looking at the happy throngs. Nobody had
particularly noticed them so far, other than those who had waved to
Orsino... well, not quite true, for one or two women in the crowd were
checking out the handsome, piratical new arrival. Orsino was too
well-known, but this new vampire... hmm!

"You promised," Orsino said, looking quite cheerful. Someone else being
on the receiving end of one of Carmine's rebukes always cheered him up.
And Jean was not a rival for Carmine's attention--at least not for long.
He was also quite easy to look at.

"I thought..." Jean bit down on what was threatening to be a complaint.
He would do whatever Carmine required of him, without complaint, without
retaliation, no matter how humiliating. Or painful. He knew he'd
behaved badly, and that it reflected adversely on Genevieve that her
consort could not act properly, so he would do his best to make amends.
From now on, he swore, he would be a proper consort. He wondered if
Olivia of England would give him lessons.

Finally Carmine looked their way. Orsino, still guiding Jean, made his
way over to his Prince and bowed. Jean knelt.

"Prince Carmine," he said, not daring to look up at the Italian vampire.
"I render you my most abject and sincere apologies for insulting you.
It was unwarranted. I deserve whatever sentence you decide to pass. I
beg your forgiveness."

"Oh my, honey, are you really a Prince?" the woman asked with eyes wide.

Carmine shrugged, that Italian shrug, so beautiful. "I am-a from an
old-a family. The last of-a my line."

Jean had heard Carmine speak English. He spoke it perfectly not with anysort of Italian accent.

"And people still bow down to you! See, this is why I do sooooo like
Europe. People know their place here," she finished. "It was a real
mistake lettin' the peasants think they was equal to the rest of us."

She was eyeing Jean where he still knelt totally unregarded now, and
unanswered by Carmine. Orsino was nearly choking, trying to hold back a
smile and an explosion of laughter.

"Si, bella. Notice the line of his-a features. Peasant stock. What-a
you think I should do with heem?" Carmine asked her.

She frowned and stared down at Jean. "What did he do?" she asked.

"He-a insulted me in public, bella. I cannot let such disrespect go
unpunished."

"No!" she said with an eager nod of her head. "Certainly not! A Prince
must not allow such things to go without punishment."

"What should-a I do, you theeenk?" Carmine asked her, his liquid
innocent, sweet and hurt eyes on her. "I am not a vicious-a man."

"Well," she thought for a bit. "What is the usual punishment?" she
asked.

Carmine looked down at Jean. "I would-a be within my right," he said in
a singsong thoughtful voice, "to remove his head."

She gasped. "That's still allowed here in Italy?"

That shrug again. "Si. It is molte hard being a prince, bella. One dare
not show-a mercy for fear of the peasants getting up."

"Rising up," she corrected him unthinkingly.

"Well, perhaps that is a bit harsh," she added after a moment.

"It is such a pretty face," Carmine agreed, running his finger along
Jean's jaw line. "It-a would be such a shame to part it from his body."

The woman was suddenly looking a bit frightened. "You aren't.. I mean,"
she leant in closer, "mafia?"

Carmine looked shocked. Shocked! "Bella! They are peasants!"

Jean felt totally at sea--and without a pirate ship. He didn't know
what game Carmine was playing by forcing him to apologize here, in frontof this completely clueless breather. Surely Carmine couldn't possibly
find the company of such a stupid--if beautiful--woman pleasing? It
took every iota of whatever self-control Jean possessed to remain
kneeling and submissive rather than either punch Carmine ('peasant
stock', indeed--Jean had been from a good family, minor nobility, which
was how he'd gotten a commission in the cavalry!) or flee for the door
and the sanity of the quiet night air.

"Oh, I'm sorry," the woman drawled. She looked at Jean. "He is kind of
cute," she admitted. "Though you're prettier, of course," she added
quickly to Carmine. "But he shouldn't have insulted you, of course."
She bit her lip. "Could you..."

"Could-a I what?" Carmine put his arm around her.

"Maybe he just needs a lesson... how old is he?"

"You heard-a the lady, Giovanni," Carmine said, giving Jean a nudge with
his foot. "How-a old-a are you?"

The answer of "two hundred and seventy" was probably not a wise one
here. "Twenty-five, Price Carmine." That had been the age he'd reached
as a breather.

"Just a boy, really," said the woman. "Oh, you can't behead him,
darlin'. He's too young. Maybe... maybe a good whipping?"

"I will sleep on it," Carmine decided. He snapped his fingers and
Uberto was standing beside him.

"Uberto," rapid fire Italian happened next. Jean could speak some but he
wasn't quite that fluent. But he did get the gist of it. Uberto was to
take Jean to the Villa.

"Come," Uberto directed.

Utterly bewildered, Jean looked at Carmine, but the Prince was ignoring
him now, concentrating on the airhead. Jean got up from his prolonged
supplication at Carmine's feet and shrugged. "D'accord,' he said. What
the hell...?

Uberto led Jean out of the club to a car parked very nearby. Uberto
opened the passenger side and let Jean in. He slammed the door shut and
got in on the driver's side. Altho the car was bigger than your average
Italian car, it was still a bit of a tight fit for the large Uberto.

"I'd have put you in the dungeon," was Uberto's comment as they drove
away.


"It isn't the dungeon?" Jean asked.

"More's the pity. A guest room."