1 **Bite me under the Mistletoe!**

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(A/N  Derek in his tux for the party!)

Derek stood in the corner of the large ballroom, located in the Broadman Hotel, and sipped slowly on some nasty drink he'd grabbed off the serving tray as the server had passed him earlier. Christmas music was being played by the live band stationed on a platform in the front, and a few couples danced. However, most of the men there were schmoozing and trying to make deals.

As for him, he was bored out of his mind and was wishing he was anywhere but here. Why exactly am I here again? Oh, that's right, because it, quote 'expected of me', unquote.

Letting out another sigh of annoyance, he once more glanced around at the women dressed in their Christmas finery and the men in their tuxes. Perhaps I'll find a single woman who looks just as bored as me and ask her to dance. That might at least pass a little of my time until I can leave this snooze fest.

Off to his left, and toward the back of the room, he spotted his business partner, Jerome, along with his wife, Natalie. Jerome was the one who had insisted Derek come to this gala. He'd said it was for a good cause, one hundred dollars at the door that would go to a local charity, and that anyone who was anyone would be there. Jerome believed it was always a good business to be seen rubbing elbows with the high class.

Derek raised a curious eyebrow as he spotted Jerome having what seemed to be an intense conversation with the mayor and his wife. He sighed in irritation as a thought crossed his mind, I wonder what kind of scheme Jerome and his wife have up their sleeves this time. Whatever it is, it can't be good for the Mayor, perhaps I should go and interrupt, or maybe I'll just get close enough to listen in since, sadly, I don't really care at this point what Jerome is up to.

Derek was a vampire who had been around a long time. So, it usually didn't take much for him to lose interest in whatever he was doing as far as jobs went, and he'd been in the real-estate business with Jerome for five years now. Alas, Jerome wasn't known in the business world for being honest, but Derek had ignored the rumors that had floated around about the man when he'd been looking for a new venture. It hadn't taken him long to realize there had been a lot of truth in the rumors and hearsay.

The first couple of years had been good though until he'd noticed how some of the entries on the books didn't always add up. When he'd said something about it to Jerome, however, the man had made excuses about a crooked employee. Derek had investigated it all a bit more and found that it wasn't a crooked employee at all, no, it was Jerome who was the crooked one.

When Jerome realized he'd been caught, he'd stopped, at least for a while, until the heat was off. Then, last month Derek had found the books were being doctored again, among other things. Jerome had been having some rough looking people in his office, people who didn't look as if they were there to buy a home, so he'd began snooping once more and found drugs. It looked as if Jerome was dealing the narcotics from his office and Derek wanted no part of any of it. He might be a vampire and could disappear if the police caught wind of things, but it wasn't right, and he didn't want to be anywhere close to it.

So, although Jerome didn't know it yet, come the first of the year Derek was quitting the business and leaving town. He then planned to anonymously expose Jerome and his dealings to the police.

Derek was pulled from his musings when he felt an electrical shift in the air. Pushing away from the wall, he allowed his narrow-eyed gaze to move over the room once more. This time it was in search of the vampire he knew had entered the room. What he found was a big, bulked up, bruiser-looking man with a ponytail now talking to Jerome. He snorted, probably one of Jerome's suppliers, or perhaps one of his street dealers. Then he stiffened as he caught sight of the girl standing a few steps behind ponytail man.

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