"Make it eight months. Gonna start shooting the next season soon. Some locations will be outside city limits. I'll need a dependable supply."
"That would be 496 doses at 75 dollars per vial of the W70B30, Mr. Roiz."
Jenson switched his phone to speaker mode as he reclined in his swivel chair. His spine and joints were aching again, and his headache wasn't helping his mood, either. "Yeah. Sounds about right," he replied to the pharmacy assistant on the other line.
It wasn't exactly the usual pharmacy in this side of town, but it catered to their medicinal needs even at ungodly hours, practically open 24/7.
As far as he knew, most of the pharmacy's customers ordered products and their prescription meds via phone or online. He imagined putting "also a certified wolfsbane potion dealer" on their storefront would most likely drive potential customers away, instead of attracting more patrons.
"The packages will be delivered tomorrow at seven in the evening, Mr. Roiz. If not, the next morning at the latest."
"Great. Thanks." Jenson hung up and massaged his throbbing forehead. Not again. It almost felt like a full-blown migraine episode tonight.
It was his fault, though. He had been ignoring his need to sleep and he did forget to order refills of his special medication before his supply ran out. He couldn't raid Charm's stash to steal a few bottles of her supply.
Her meds had a slightly different concoction. Still mostly made of wolfsbane, but paired with a variant raw material. "Slightly different" didn't exactly translate to minimal side effects for him.
Charmaine came from a lineage of purebloods: the van den Hovens, a noble Dutch family. He, on the other hand, was a half-blood, which meant his bodily functions and immune system remained predominantly human. If he took her medications, it might give him more than an upset stomach or a pesky headache.
While the tension in his skull worsened, Jenson rearranged the stacks of paperwork on his office desk. A new folder caught his attention for a moment.
The label said "Road to Valhalla S3 Key MUA List of New Team Members", and he was sure he hadn't read the contents of the folder yet.
He flipped through the list of new makeup artists recently employed by the production company they signed to manage their makeup and styling crew. As co-producer of their TV series, he should give it a peek at least. Jenson noticed there were fresh faces under their Key Makeup Artist's management, some young and newly hired makeup artists recruited by the production company.
Then he saw a 2x2 photo of a strikingly familiar face. Jenson stiffened up in his seat when he recognized the pale brunette.
Long and dark hair. Porcelain skin. Angular but quite heart-shaped face. Beautiful brown eyes that made her look biracial. Pinkish lips. A nice smile.
"It's her," he muttered to himself, feeling a small coiling sensation in his gut. It’s definitely her...the young brunette he chatted with in the convenience store. Jenson scoffed. He couldn't be mistaken.
Small world. Or was she...spying on him? Had she been tailing him that morning? Did Magnus pay her to keep an eye on him?
What was she doing on this list?
Jessiah Marionne Kinley.
24 years old.
Not a local.
Her résumé said she had barely three years of professional experience as a makeup artist, and according to the signed sheet of paper, her previous job was a temp assistant in a corporate office in another state.
How did she land this job if she lived five states away? Did she just move to LA recently? Was she even a real makeup artist?
The doubts just doubled as Jenson stared at her photo for another minute or so.
If Magnus sent her to LA to spy on him, why did Magnus feel like he had to? To make sure he was doing his job well? Maybe Magnus was having second thoughts now, and supposed he wasn't adhering to his bigger list of responsibilities in the clan. Or did Magnus think he was not to be trusted anymore?
"Play his game. He's just testing you," his logic reasoned while his fairly surprised brain entertained another slew of thoughts. Jenson sighed to himself and rubbed his palms onto his face.
Even his hands felt tired. Overworked. He flexed his forearms and wrists till he heard a slight pop, instantly letting go of some tension. Shit. He needed to take his meds now. But he stupidly forgot to secure a buffer supply.
Jenson glanced at his messy desk again. Pens, thick piles of paper, and some empty coffee cups littered the table. His desk needed the touch of a full-time assistant with incurable OCD.
Great. Now he had to take some time off his already jam-packed schedule to hire an assistant for himself. Should he just call someone from the production company? Maybe he should. Tomorrow.
He stared at the bright red numbers on the digital clock atop his desk. "Tomorrow" happened ten minutes ago. It was already past midnight, and he was still in his small office. Stuck with work. Exhausted. Alone.
He preferred the solitude, though. Being a Hollywood celebrity, he knew he had to give up most of his privacy the moment he signed up to be the lead actor in their TV show. Quiet moments like this were rare these days, and it reminded him of how different his life was fifteen years ago.
The stark reminder didn't feel like a cold slap of reality, though...more like, a pleasant memory that reminded him of his humble roots back in Italy.
Small-town lad from Corvinus. It was a peaceful village just outside of Rome, almost untouched by civilization. He vividly recalled his simple countryside life back then.
He would trap wild wolves and other forest animals to sell their fur and meat. He bred some livestock, too. Then he would give half of his earnings to his mother to help her buy medication for herself.
Ever since his father died, Jenson had realized he had to work extra hard to earn a living to financially support himself and provide for his mother's needs. Then Magnus came along. Magnus suddenly showing up in Corvinus to offer him a chance at a different path was his life's next turning point.
To put it simply, he owed his comfortable life now and his career's success to Magnus. Jenson absentmindedly stared at the dim ceiling. He should just look at the bright side and not worry too much about the what-ifs. Perhaps Magnus would be giving him another difficult task just to prove he was a loyal ally, thus Magnus sending someone to keep an eye on him.
It was likely Magnus just wanted to make sure he was never going to abandon his responsibilities in their clan. Jenson hated the thought of his privacy being undermined further, but he understood the sentiment behind his uncle's actions. That's if Magnus actually sent that girl to spy on him.
Before he could dig deeper into Jessiah's background, Jenson heard his phone go off again. He checked who the caller was and scoffed when he saw Darren's name on the screen.
Either Darren butt-dialed him again, or Darren was officially hammered now and thought he could talk him into joining the after-party celebration.
Jenson took the call and was slightly surprised when the background noise was not some typical club music but Darren's audible intakes of breath.
"Hey. I need your help," Darren mumbled over the phone. There was a palpable uneasiness in his muted voice. Then he sighed noisily and muttered something about room service and the time.
"What? Where are you?" Jenson couldn't help but frown. The guy sounded half-drunk, but it was the streak of paranoia in Darren's voice that fully held Jenson's attention.
"Hotel. Can you come over? Now. Right now." Darren let out another loud sigh, his voice almost wavering. "Please."
Was he about to cry? Jenson pulled a face and got up from the swivel chair to grab his car keys. What's going on? What was Darren up to this time? "Which hotel?"
"Arlington. Room 904. Man, just hurry up. I'm serious. I don’t..." Darren grunted and tried to hold back his loud breathing. "She's not breathing, Joss. I tried but she's not..." His voice faltered, and then Darren sounded like he was suppressing a sob. "Fuck!"
"Who?" Jenson rushed out of his office now and eyed the elevator. Who the heck was Darren talking about? "The heck did you do, man?"
"Just get over here. Please. Now. Okay? I can't... I-I dunno what the fuck to do, Joss."
"Did you call an ambulance?"
"No!" Darren groaned on the other end. "I can't. Okay? She just...OD'ed. I think. I dunno! I-I gave her some, and I dozed off, then she just— Shit! I tried CPR but she didn't even..."
Oh fuck. Jenson gripped his phone and slapped his own forehead. For a few seconds, his self-restraint battled with the strong urge to punch the wall. While his heartbeat raced, he pressed the button on the elevator that would take him down to the basement parking.
What the heck’s Darren up to now? Shit. Out of all the things...
Why? Why him? Jenson could no longer ignore the impulse to swear out loud. As he stood alone in the cold elevator, he could feel the shock and anger washing over him, pushing his exhaustion to the hilt. “Shit, DJ.”
“Sorry.” Darren sniveled.
Sorry. Right. Like that’s gonna help. Jenson swore in his head. Just like every damn time, he had to clean up someone's mess. As if his only job on this Earth was to come up with immediate solutions to every little screw-up because the other members of their clan simply could not comprehend the nature of the words "caution" and "rules".
Darren, like their alpha’s other subordinates, wasn't really pack leader material. Nor was he a good enough follower and pack member, apparently.
Jenson sighed. Right now he was almost regretting that day Magnus told him he would be his right-hand man. If he only knew what the job entailed...
"Hey. You on the way now?" Darren asked over the phone, his tone still full of impatience and a streak of notable panic.
"Yeah. Cover the windows. Lock the doors. Keep the lights off. Don't touch the girl."
"Okay. I'll just, uh..." Darren cleared his throat and let out a lengthy sigh. "Just be here. Please. I dunno what to—"
"Shut up and stay in the room. Don't call anyone. Don't call Magnus," Jenson warned, unprepared for the repercussions. If Magnus heard about this absolute shitshow, neither him nor Darren would be able to appease his outrage. "And don't you fucking touch her again. I mean it, DJ."
"Okay! Okay. I get it." Darren grunted loudly again. "Just hurry."