Lanie ran as fast as her legs would carry her, but still couldn't manage to outrace the image of Magnus, lips pressed to another woman in passion while the dark haired vamp ran her hands all over his body. Five minutes after Lanie had left and there he was, right where she had left him, not even bothering to hide his dalliance with another woman. She supposed that they had never discussed exclusivity, but she hadn't thought he would fool around with another woman while at a party with her.
Lanie forced herself to stop and take a breath. What was she doing? She had just said it to herself. Magnus was not one to do something like that. He cared about her, she was sure of it. Why was she overreacting? She had a been shocked to learn the extent of his family wealth, but did that make his any different than the solid, dependable man she had spent the last week getting to know?
"Lanie!" she looked up to see Erik striding towards her and groaned inwardly.
"Erik," she tried to smile, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make a scene."
She hadn't thought she had, but then his eyes always seemed to be on her. He came up next to her and handed her a handkerchief.
"No need to apologize," he assured her, patting her on the shoulder. "I don't think very many people noticed. I just happened to catch that Widsen woman with your police officer, and knew you were right behind me so you must have seen as well."
"He's not my police officer," she said.
"You know, I hadn't realized he was part of that Martinsson family," Erik mused. "No reason on earth I would have, of course. I haven't had a lot of dealings with them. They look down on me, you know."
"Down on you?" she asked, confused.
"I'm new money," he shrugged. "They've been in the aristocracy for generations. Incredibly high in the instep. I had heard the rumors about their son, but didn't put the two together."
"What rumors?" Lanie couldn't stop herself from asking.
"Oh, that he was wild," Haas looked away from her. "He had a certain reputation for being... ungentlemanly shall we say... in the bedroom. Got to the point where none of the women in that set would talk to him. Then he ran away and joined the police department. Parents were enraged, threatened to cut him off. I don't know if it ever came to that though. Still... well, never mind. I don't want to stick my nose in where it's not wanted."
"Erik, what were you going to say?" Lanie was sick with anticipation. She knew she shouldn't be having this conversation with Haas, knew that he was manipulating her, but she just couldn't help herself. The image of the woman in red wrapped around Magnus was too fresh in her brain.
"I wasn't going to say anything but, well... after this I feel I have to," Haas said with a deep sigh. "The security guards that I hired for the off hours... I was debriefing them the other day and, well..."
"Oh god," Lanie turned bright red. "They told you about catching the two of us, didn't they? Erik, I swear, nothing like that will ever happen again!"
"No, no," Erik assured her, "I mean, yes, they did tell me, and I wasn't thrilled about that happening in my office, but it's not what I was going to say. It seems one of them became rather chummy with Martinsson, and they met for coffee the next day before he picked you up from work. I don't know how to say this, but... well he told me about some pictures Martinsson was showing them. Pictures of you. In various states of undress."
"He's lying!" Lanie gasped. It was impossible. Erik was lying. Magnus would never betray her like that, would he?
"There was also a video," Erik told her gently. "From what the man said you were... performing for him on it. Martinsson was bragging to the guard about how he could get you to do anything. I guess they had quite a laugh."
Lanie's world spun. She lurched forward and sat on a nearby bench. It couldn't be true, she refused to believe it. She was going to be sick, or start crying and never stop, she didn't know which. All she knew was she couldn't be here right now.
"Erik," she managed to get out, "I'm so sorry. I know I'm supposed to working, but I'm really not feeling that well. Would you mind..."
"Go to bed, Lanie," he said gently, wiping a tear from under her eye. "It will all look better in the morning."
Lanie nodded and walked to the house. Her world would start spinning again. It had to. She would get through this party, and then she would never have to see him again.
Magnus pushed Sonja off of him and began to go after Lanie when Holly caught up to him.
"What was that?" she asked, glaring at him as she spun him around by his arm.
"Not what it looked like," he said shortly, trying to pull away from her.
"Listen, I don't know what's going on with the man-eater back there, but if you've just been stringing Lanie along you and I are going to have a conversation. And I don't care if you are carrying a gun, though I don't know where you could be hiding it in a tux that tight."
"I am not stringing Lanie along!" he barely kept himself from bellowing at her, as he once again began heading in the direction Lanie had taken, Holly trailing after him. "That man-eater, as you so aptly called her, is nothing but a past mistake rearing its ugly head to try and interfere in the present."
"You dated her?" Holly asked, stunned. "Wait, I'm confused. How do you know Vampira back there? And why are you wearing Louboutin's? I thought you were a detective."
"I am," he sighed. "My family has money. The shoes, the tux, Sonja - they're all part of my old life. One I don't particularly want anything to do with any more. I tried to tell Lanie that, but she ran off on some work errand and the next thing I knew, Sonja and her father had cornered me. Stay away from him, by the way. He might look like a harmless old man, but I wouldn't leave my sister in a room alone with him."
"Okay, now I need a shower," she shuddered. "I don't believe this. So you're a studly officer and you come from money? Seriously, did Lanie sell her soul at some point and fail to tell me about it?"
"While I appreciate the vote of confidence," Magnus laughed shortly, pausing as they came to a fork in the path, "I don't suppose you have any idea where she might have gone, do you? We seem to have lost the trail."
"To find a place to scream and cry, I would guess," Holly shrugged. "Lanie hates making a scene, but she's been super tense this week, understandably. She'll need a mini-breakdown, but she'll want to do it in private. My bet would be back towards the house. She can scream into a pillow then come back to the party."
"Thanks," Magnus said, giving her shoulder a quick squeeze and turning towards the house.
"Magnus," Holly stopped him briefly, "you mean it, right? There's nothing going on with you and that woman?"
"Less than nothing," he assured her. "I know it's way too soon, but I'm pretty sure I'm in love with Lanie. I would never do that to her."
"Aw," Holly grinned a big, dopey grin. "Well, go find her then! And when you've kissed and made up, pick out a brother or cousin or something for me. No reason she should have all the luck!"
"Thanks Holly," he smiled, and sped towards the house.
Lanie couldn't really believe he would be so blatantly disrespectful, could she? He knew they were just beginning their relationship, but he was all in. He had never met anyone who felt so right. She was smart and funny and sexy as hell, and he when he found her he was going to tie her to the bed and tell her all of that over and over again until he go it through her stubborn head that she was the only woman he wanted to be with.