I was asked by legendary District Manager of The Bureau, Ethan Raines, (hero of Tall, Dark & Deadly) to visit the facility located in the heart of New Orleans to interview him instead of my typical location. It was a bit odd to have to do this interview so late at night, but considering who I was going to meet, I quickly made an adjustment to my schedule.
After removing my silver necklace and earrings, I was escorted through the enormous building that fronted as a generic IT security office. It wasn’t long before I was corralled past the facade and into an elevator by a guard. I gingerly stepped in and settled towards the back as he swiped his card key. He didn’t push a floor number, and I felt us move downward, despite there were no sub-level floors called out on the button panel. It was like I was in a James Bond movie. Pretty slick!
When the elevator door opened, I witnessed a bustle of supernaturals moving like they had a purpose. It reminded me of high school when the period bell rang! The tall, quiet guard turned to me, a sliver of his hazel eyes in my view.
“Stay close to me,” he warned. “Try not to make eye contact with too many folks. Some supes may take it as a challenge.”
I gave a quick nod of compliance. “Yes sir.”
When the guard stepped out, I was literally on his heels making sure I didn’t get caught up in the whirlwind of busy creatures working to fight crime and otherworldly atrocities. As we moved through the crowd, I took notice of pale, fanged vampires, beautiful women with fairy wings, and I thought I saw a horned creature with bat-like wings!
Finally, we turned a corner past two giant steel doors that read “Levels 1-6”, then another corner that led to the offices. Excitement within me began to swell as the guard led me through a pair of mahogany double doors and into a majestic, posh office. There was a fireplace crackling past the huge, mile-high bookshelves and a slew of ancient artifacts in glass cases to the left of the sleek, wooden desk. Gas Lights flickered on the walls where corporate fluorescent lights should have been.
The stoic guard directed me to one of the oversized club chairs next to the calming fireplace. “DM Raines will be with you in a moment. Please make yourself comfortable while you wait.”
“Thank you,” I replied as I set down my laptop bag and purse. As the guard exited, I settled in the comfy chair, resting my tense body. The heat of the fire warmed me as I drank in the vision of the room. The ambiance of dancing flames from the hearth reminded me of home. I stretched my legs out on the ottoman and leaned back as the smell of burning cedar and wafts of lavender filled the room. As my body eased and sunk further into the chair, it was apparent there was an air of tranquility that lay thick among the classic beauty of the office.
So peaceful, rather, I found myself nodding off before the abrupt sound of the wooden doors closing and my eyes shot open.
I popped out of the seat immediately to find myself gazing on a tall, dark-haired mirage of a man with arctic blue eyes peering behind horn-rimmed glasses. Wearing a white dress shirt, with a black tie and slacks, his elegance seemed to stretch well beyond the light business attire he was wearing. His hair was cut short away from his warm ivory face that held a gentle, but cryptic expression. Standing confidently at about 6’3 or 6’4, his intimidating presence spoke of power and ageless strength. With all those classically handsome features standing less than four feet away from me, I found myself simply gawking at him.
Speak Kharma! Speak! I thought to myself. Use your words!
A thoughtful smile curved that gorgeous mouth of his as he moved closer to me. “Hello, I’m Ethan,” he said extending his right hand to me for an introduction. “You’re here for the interview, yes?”
Echoing his smile, I met his eyes and the hand he offered. “Hi, I’m Kharma Kelley. Yes, thanks so much for having me here, Mr. Raines.” Eagerly, I shook his hand.
“Of course, thank you for being so flexible and meeting me at his hour. I’m usually asleep during the day.” Ethan motioned to my chair, “Please have a seat. Can I get you anything?”
I sat back down in the welcoming pillowed chair and shook my head. “Thank you, but I’m fine.” I leaned forward, digging for my cell phone in my purse. “If you don’t mind, I prefer to record our interview so I can transcribe it later.” My eyes followed his lean, but muscular frame as he tugged his slacks and sat down in the over-sized chair across from me.
Ethan adjusted his glasses and nodded to me. “Sure, whatever works for you.” His voice, deep and sensual, sent a ripple of awareness through me. I could listen to a voice like that all day. Mellow and calming, just like everything else in the office. Right then, I was convinced to get this guy talking ASAP!
Holding the phone in my lap, I pulled up the voice recorder app and pressed record.
“This is an interview with The Bureau’s founder and New Orleans District Manager, Ethan Raines.” I looked up and smiled. “I’m happy to speak with the mysterious member of The Bureau that has built such a strong organization on behalf of both supes and humans alike.” I leaned forward, putting on the game face. “So, Mr. Raines, let’s start at the beginning. What is your name?
He grimaced, but answered matter-of-factly. “Ethan Raines.”
I slowly shook my head. I knew better than that. “Give me your full name, please. For the record.”
He sighed with a sly smirk. “Seriously? You really need to know that?”
I clicked my teeth and nodded. “Yep. You know, for the record.”
He slightly shifted in his chair and stared at the phone recording in my lap before focusing back on me. Ethan leaned back, folding his arms. “Fine,” he continued in a deadpan voice.
“My full name is Ethanos Amaryllis Raines. For the record.”
I grinned. “Thank you. Interesting name. So, besides the change to ‘Ethan’, do you have a nickname or pet name friends call you?”
Ethan answered with cool authority and one I would expect from The Bureau’s founder. “No. I wouldn't ever entertain such a thing. ‘Ethan’ is the best everyone’s going to get. I make it a point not to get too familiar with my colleagues and nicknames are definitely too familiar.”
“So, is it more of a general rule with The Bureau, or more of Ethan Raines’ rule?”
His devious smile nearly made me choke on my words. Amusement flickered across the masculine features of his face. And there, I saw a peek at a layer of personality that Mr. Raines hid behind his reserved demeanor. “My colleague, Director Nakamura and the others would claim those choices were one in the same to be honest. But yes, it’s a general rule of The Bureau-no fraternizing. It can make the environment quite hostile, especially with different species interacting. Can you imagine a break up fight between two agents where one is a Frost Giant and the other a Sea Nymph?”
I pondered that for a bit and had a terrifying mental picture of everything frozen, covered in slick ice around The Big Easy, including the people. A shiver rattled my body. “That would be disastrous.”
He inclined his head in a deep gesture.“That, Miss Kelley, was the Winter Storm of 2014 here in New Orleans.”
“Yikes,” I swallowed at the intensity in his expression. “Duly noted, Mr. Raines.” Clearing my throat, I continued. “Okay, we’ll talk a bit more about The Bureau shortly, but I have more ‘getting to know you’ questions, such as what species are you? You know: human, werewolf, etcetera? Or are you an alien from another planet?”
Ethan raked his fingers through his obsidian hair and gave a quaint chuckle. I could tell he was a bit uncomfortable answering, but inquiring minds wanted to know.
“That's a bit..complicated. But for all intensive purposes, I'm vampire.” A flash of humor crossed his face. “Hence our late night interview.”
I cleared my throat and continued on. “Ah, yes. Vampire.” I tilted my head in curiosity. “I'm sorry, but I've gotta ask. So what’s with the glasses?”
Ethan leaned back and fit his fingers together. “What do you mean? You don’t like them?”
My eyes widened, worried I offended him. “Oh, no I think they’re fine. It’s just a little weird for a vampire to need glasses, you know? You guys have excellent vision...right?” And they were hiding some seriously gorgeous peepers!
Ethan nodded with a gentle smile, his fangs slightly visible. “That’s correct.” He pushed his glasses against his nose. “They help me appear normal, that’s all.”
I adjusted my legs and checked the recorder, which was still going. “So where and when were you born?”
Sighing, he briefly turned to the fire as if to look for some sort of truth in there; as if his memories were lurking in the flames. Finally, he turned to me. “I was born in Uruk, or what's now referred to as Iraq several thousand years ago.”
“Oh my.” I started counting with my fingers. “And that would make your age...?
The glint of humor suddenly returned to his lips. “A very old one.”
In spite of myself, I chuckled loudly, stifling it with a covered mouth until I finally sobered. “Gotcha. So let’s switch gears and talk a bit about The Bureau. How long it existed and what made you want to create this stealthy governance organization of supernaturals?”
He inhaled a deep breath.“Well, the concept of The Bureau is about 1,000 years old, meaning the idea and need for governance with supernatural factions and species started back then. A long time ago, it was nothing but wars, skirmishes between this creature against that creature. It was bloody and unrelenting as everyone fought for dominance over the earth. But when it started to bleed into the human world, leaving them to waste, some of us believed that enough was enough.”
“So you formed The Bureau?”
Ethan shrugged and replied in earnest, his deep blues locked on me. “Well, at first, it was just a small group of us that banded together to tackle war crimes. I had to find a ‘deputy’ from each supe group, which wasn’t an easy task. Many saw each other as an enemy, so it took a while actually build trust to even handle the war criminals. After many years, many sacrifices and treaties, we got to a point, just like the humans, that we developed a functional penal system. This turned into what we refer to now as The Bureau of Supernatural Governance and Investigation or simply ‘The Bureau’ for short.
“A thousand years is long time to work towards a cause, Mr. Raines.”
Ethan smiled, inclining his head. “Only if it’s a lost one, Miss Kelley.”
“I agree with you there,” I added, quite taken by his profound rebuttal. “Okay, now, with that said, I imagine some supernatural creatures aren’t fond of you or The Bureau. You came in and made rules when there was lawlessness. When that happens, some may consider you either a hero or a villain. Sooo...are you a good guy, or a bad guy?”
Leisurely, Ethan stretched his legs. “It depends on who you ask. The Fae and hard-working supes of The Bureau would probably consider me a good guy. Whereas supernatural felons, gangs and notorious broods bent on raising hell, would find me the cold-hearted bad guy, which is perfectly fine by me. Because to them...I am.”
“I wouldn’t underestimate that in the least.” I checked the time and realized it was time to wrap up soon. “Alright, I’m gonna give you some rapid fire questions. The goal is to not think too much on them, just say the first thing that comes to your mind. Okay?”
He tilted his brow, looking at me with uncertainty.“What kind of questions?”
I waved my hand dismissively. “Just some fun, light-hearted questions. It’ll be quick and painless.” My expression grew a reassuring smile, but his eyes narrowed with scrutiny. “I promise, Mr. Raines,” I quickly added as I pulled out my list of questions from my purse.
Ethan leaned back, relaxing somewhat. “Okay. Shoot.”
“Alrighty.” I cleared my throat and read my first question. “What’s your favorite weapon?”
“A blade. Any blade. It’s timeless.”
Ethan looked down, seriously thinking about his response. “Hmmm.”
“Remember, first thing in your head,” I replied.
“I like to rotate every century or so--this time it's red.”
“Alright.” I tapped the paper with my fingers. “Do you have any enemies?
He scoffed. “Yes. Quite a bit.”
“How about friends?”
Ethan shook his head. “Eh. Not so much. I’m just too busy.”
I nodded. "Okay, blondes, brunettes or redheads?"
Ethan's head tilted back in a laugh. "Wow, that came outta left field!" He adjusted his glasses, before letting his bright eyes settle on me again. "I don't really have a preference and I hope you don't think that's a cop out. When you're as old as I am, you learn that just the creature that is woman, is simply amazing, mysterious and beautiful."
Grinning, I couldn't help myself. "Awwww. That's super sweet to say, Ethan. I'm sure my fans will love that about you. So what kinda woman piques your interest? What um, assets you find sexy?"
"I don't think I could ignore a woman who's kind, bold and knows how to handle herself in every way. I'm not threatened by it--in fact, I find it extremely sexy."
I started to fan myself. "Can we turn down the fireplace? It's a bit warm in here." As he leaned over to turn down the gas, I continued looking at my questions. “Umm, describe where you sleep.”
He sat back down and shrugged. “A graveyard, of course.”
My head jerked up. “What? Really?” I stared at him.
After a moment, a dashing smile grew slowly on his face. “I’m only joking.”
I blew a sigh of relief and laughed. “You nearly got me. You’ve got quite the poker face.”
“So I've been told. I actually have a condo here in New Orleans.”
His left eyebrow rose a fraction. “Yes. Why do you ask?”
Feeling my cheeks flush, I let out a nervous laugh.“Nothing, just, um...you know, curious if you had, you know roommates.” I shook it off and continued. “Nevermind, it’s not important.” I pushed my hair back and exhaled a big breath for composure. “Okay, last question. What's your favorite...blood type?,” I asked, tweaking the question on the fly.
“That’s easy. Type AB negative.There’s no taste comparable to it.”
“Hmm. That's extremely rare isn't it?”
“Yes. That's why it's my favorite. Less than 1% of the human population has it so I can't get it often, but when I do, I savor it. Because I may never get that chance again. Many of those donors are asked to give frequently, but it’s to help other AB negative humans in case of blood loss. I like to keep that in mind when acquiring such rare provisions.”
Intrigued, I leaned on my elbow, bracing my chin on my hand. “Do you take it straight from the tap or blood bank rations?”
His tone was velvet, yet edged with steel; similar to this shift in demeanor when I asked the question. “I forbid any of the agents of The Bureau to kill humans. I don't even approve of the vampire agents simply feeding from them. It's a slippery slope and can be a recipe for disaster. It’s caused problems in the past, so now there’s no tolerance for it. I get chilled blood shipped directly to my door as do many of the other vampires that work at The Bureau. If I find anyone drinking from the tap, so to speak--and trust me, I always find out--they will have to answer to me.”
The intensity in his warning, though not aimed at me, had me shrinking in my chair. The man meant business and it was easy to see why he was revered in such high regard. Quickly, I thought it best to change to a lighter topic. “Blood shipped to your door? That's pretty modern. Bet you wished that was a thing back in Uruk, huh?”
A weight lifted hearing him laugh. It echoed a warmth through the entire room. “Yeah, I'm not going to disagree with you there. There was nothing of convenience in those days. Everything was the hard way.” He rubbed his chin. “I've seen a lot in my time, but I don't think anyone could've prepared me for the world of niche monthly subscription boxes.”
“You and me both.” I smiled and clicked the recording app off. Grabbing my purse and laptop bag, I stood up and Ethan did as well. “Well, I have everything I need and I’m sure my audience will appreciate getting to know more about you, Mr. Raines. Thank you.” I extended my hand to him.
Ethan leaned in and kissed my hand instead. Goosebumps prickled on my arm has his warm lips pressed against my skin. “Of course. I’m glad I could help you. It was a pleasure.”
And there you have it fans! I had a lot of fun interviewing Ethan and hope you enjoyed it as well! If you have a question to ask Ethan, you can ask him in the comments below. We works nights, of course so look for him to burn some midnight oil :)
Be sure to pick up a copy of "Tall, Dark & Deadly" to see more of Ethan in action!
Till next time!