See yesterday’s post to read the recap. Enjoy!
We straighten our clothes and head off for the bar. Olivia has a little bit before she arrives so I hope Antonio appears before her. Sometimes all my careful machinations go awry because I didn’t tell the schmuck to be somewhere at a set time. We reach the third floor without coming into contact with anyone. I see a shadow detach itself from a tall mahogany bookcase. A tall male figure steps into the light, moving our way. The mental signature approaching us is the lovely, lonely Drew.
“Good evening, Drew. So glad you could join us tonight.”
“Yes, I said I would, didn’t I?’’
I brush off his sarcasm—it wasn’t like he really had a choice—and wait for him to continue. After all, he’s meeting me here outside the bar for a reason.
“Vivian, there’s something I’ve been waiting to approach you about.”
What the hell could this be? I just saw him earlier. Why didn’t he mention it then? He certainly pumped me for enough info at the time.
I’m glad I was able to transfer some of the extra power to Rafe. I’m a bit more myself now than when I spoke with Drew in the cabin. I still fear my emotions are close to the surface and that’s not the best way for me to face the guests, but it is what it is.
I motion to the sitting area across from our spot on the landing. “Shall we head over to the reading parlor for some privacy?”
Drew follows my lead without answering and soon all three of us, Rafe included, are standing around a low, hand-carved coffee table with a grouping of chairs behind us. The tension in the loft room feels high and none of us have moved to take a seat.
This seems odd. Why the intensity? And why now?
I’d like to get on with it and address him rather abruptly. “Okay, we’re all ears.”
“This is private, more like…vampire-related business.” He says it innocently enough, but the glance he casts towards Rafe has my gut screaming out in angry reaction.
“Perhaps without the human would be best,” Drew adds.
How dare he discount my mate so easily! Who the hell does this idiot think he is?
Rage fills my body. My vision darkens and pinpoints on Drew. In a split second, my eyes bleed black while my hands twist into claws. The skin of my face contorts into a vicious visage, pulling back from my elongated canines. Power pulses out of me in a wave to slam into my opponent.
My movements mirror my dark thoughts when I launch myself at him across the short space between us. The red rage I feel consumes all. Instinct takes over, and the drive to protect my mate colors all I see: I will correct this insult within my territory.
There’s a crunching of wood as the table gives way to my momentum and I’m brought to an abrupt halt. I shake the haze from my brain to realize Rafe has grabbed me by my shoulders and pulled me back before I could make contact.
Damn, Dria, step down! He is not ‘in your territory’ for christsakes. He’s a guest!
Drew’s mouth opens in shock then he hunches slightly away. I’m guessing a bit more of my monster came out than I’d have liked. The damn murder is messing me up. Perhaps I need a vacation when this fiasco is over—one with no other vampires nearby.
Now I know he meant no actual harm, but instinctively, the predator within me senses something is off with this vampire. Ah, the problem is which voice do I listen to?
“Vivian, Drew may not know you and I share everything.” Rafe’s voice sounds calm and soothing, like one might talk to an enraged pit bull. “We are not the average bonded pair in that regard, dear.”
I relax my hands from their claw-like positions while taking a steadying lungful of air. Logic eventually trickles in past the anger. I pull in my aura of power and glance at Rafe over my shoulder. The cool force of his energy flows from his touch down my spine. It soothes the savage beast which almost got out. Stepping back out of the remains of the table, I reflect on the voices I hear in my mind.
Dria, you’re fine, baby, and so am I. Don’t let his rude slip bring you to the edge.
My own inner monologue is much more simplistic: Kill him. He is a threat.
But it’s Rafe’s voice I listen to. His steady timbre inside my head, and his alone, I can always count on no matter the situation. I straighten up from what was almost a lunge while smoothing my skirt back down.
“Please forgive my reaction, Drew.” I feel less in control than my voice sounds. “Rafe’s right. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and decide you’re ignorant.”
Ha! Let him suck on that one!
Drew appears to be trying to back-pedal, literally and figuratively, as he moves back from the jagged wood pieces and bumps into a leather chair behind him. He’s just insulted his host and her mate, and the same mate barely saved him from getting jumped. And make no mistake, I may be pretty, but I would’ve torn him up good.
In an effort to diffuse my anger even more, he wisely chooses a passive sitting position and lowers himself to the seat. Smart move. Without him standing to face me, the tension level in the room goes back down to normal.
“I meant no disrespect,” Drew begins. “Rafe’s right. My question was a personal one and I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I had hoped to ask in private, but did not mean to insult either of you with the request. ”
Enough of the drama already, I want this finished.
“Spit it out, Drew. I’ve got other guests I’d like to see to as well.”
He looks really unsure of himself now, eyes downcast, shifting his weight from one hip to the other in the chair. Good. I move to brush past him. My patience is running out and I think he senses it.
“I’d like to formally petition for entrance into your family, the McAndrews’ seethe,” he finally blurts. “Please consider adding my life to those who serve and protect you. I’d be a loyal addition and my previous seethe will give references on my character, if you desire.”
Wow. Wasn’t expecting that in a million years.
Shock registers on my face; I can see an image of myself mirrored back at me from his shiny black pupils. The reflection shows I actually have my mouth open like a gasping fish. Best to fix that now.
I close my mouth. Open it again and nothing comes out.
I try again.
“Um, okay, but I don’t really have a formal seethe. I prefer not to have one. Haven’t you noticed in your week here?”
“Yes, I have. I originally came to your inn to seek solace from an old pain. The peace of this oasis has enchanted me. I’ve been unhappy for a while and wandering for eighteen months. My family in Chicago, the Maggios, gave me permission to find a new seethe but none appealed to me. Until now.”
The questions in his cabin combined with his roaming of the property make more sense now, but I’m still not sure I know all there is to know about this man. Call me suspicious, call it trust issues, whatever—it has kept me alive for a long time and I’m not going to start doubting those instincts anytime soon.
My curiosity gets the best of me and I’m dying to know what his real problems are. I itch to reach out to touch him and Rafe knows it. I don’t have time to get distracted though. He grabs my hand firmly and pulls me back a bit from Drew.
Rafe speaks again on Drew’s behalf. “I think it is worth considering, Vivian. Do not answer too hastily.”
Shock again! I certainly didn’t expect that response out of Rafe. My head whips around and I stare into his eyes.
What am I hearing? You want me to take on more vamps here?
It wouldn’t be the first time I was around a bunch of spoiled prima donnas. After all, I am exposed to quite a few in our place of work, my dear.
His smug little rejoinder is an obvious reminder we do have vamps here all the time. It’s our livelihood, for crying out loud. I guess it never phases me because they are transients, but to have another one here in permanent residence seems a bit much to take on.
To allow one into our seethe means we have to discuss things as a group, it would no longer be just Rafe and I hashing things out. The idea of having someone here who may know what I can really do is a frightening prospect. To open myself up and let another vampire know I can control their thoughts and actions if I choose—well, it hasn’t worked well for me in the past.
Rafe chirps in to my panicked ramblings. That’s the past, my love. Take things a step at a time here.
The politics in a seethe are always a bitch to follow. I hate the backstabbing and the accompanying infighting. Which is why I haven’t gone off and rushed to fill the resort with other vampires who would live here permanently. I enjoy the lulls we get throughout the season. Right when I think a group has been here too long and I realize I don’t really like them, their stay is over and they go home.
The only thing keeping me calm with the upcoming vamp, Asa, coming to stay was the thought that it was temporary.
I reach out to Rafe’s mind. I need time to think. I can’t deal with this, not right now. Why is all of this happening at once? Don’t you question the timing?
Well, it does make his pointed questions to you in the cabin a little understandable.
I turn back to Drew. Slightly more composed now, I hope.
“I will need some time to think on it. This is a very unique resort, have you noticed yet?”
“Do you mean besides the obvious rooms on this floor and the screams I hear from cabin two? I figured the rumors of a Dr. Ruth-type vampire had to have some weight and I came to check you out. So far, what I’ve seen looks like a lot of fun.”
“Well, Drew, I had intended to use you a bit tonight if you showed up. Now, let’s just consider this part of a test. Interested?”
“Of course, my request was a serious one. I would do anything you asked. Name it.”
Oh, that’s an invite too good to pass up.
“I need you to do your best to please a woman named Olivia at the bar. Give her your undivided attention and shower her with affection. If she’s willing, you may even feed from her. She’s a companion and used to donating, but it must be her choice.”
His eyes gleam in anticipation of the challenge, and he stands. “That’s it? Shouldn’t be too hard.”
“Oh, no exchange of blood and no vamp whammy either.”
He bites out, a little sharper than necessary, “I’m not into rape.”
Interesting. He has scruples. This game in the bar could prove to work out much better than I thought.
“I will be extremely impressed if you are able to pleasure her in front of us all.” Now that addition certainly brings a smile to Drew’s face.
“I’ll do my best, mistress.” He replies with a small bow and rises with a mischievous look. “This sounds more and more like fun with each passing moment.”
“The point is to make another vamp in her party jealous, not have her fall for you. His name is Antonio and I’ll make sure to point him out to you with my eyes when we’re in there, okay?”
“Yes, sounds fine.”
“Drew, I’m trusting you here and I don’t trust easy. This is a small task and it would behoove you not to screw it up.”
Irritation crosses his face. It’s nice to see he has a backbone.
“I’m not some uneducated rube who will treat the situation poorly. I know I must prove myself in this and I will not fail.”
Good, he gets it.
“Once we get Antonio riled up enough, he’ll probably leave. Either alone or with someone else is anyone’s guess. I don’t anticipate he’d challenge you for her; he’s still undecided on what he wants.”
“Fine, I’ll meet you both inside. What will Olivia look like?”
“She’ll be dressed all in red and has long blonde hair.”
“Okay, got it. We’ll chat again later?”
“Yes, but don’t expect me to have an answer for you about the seethe. I’ll need time to think. One last thing, Drew.”
“You’ve only been here a week. Think long and hard about your request to join our seethe. There are no other vampires in it but me for a reason, and it is not because I let others leave if they are unhappy.” I stare directly into his eyes and try my damnedest to look mean and uninviting. “It’s a commitment for the rest of your afterlife—however long it may be.”
The air hangs heavy with the blatant threat. Will it be enough to scare him off from his request? I can hope, can’t I?
You couldn’t resist going all spooky and hard-ass on him, could you? Dria, the murder today proves we have some weak spots in our security. Don’t scare away the only applicant!
You know how I feel about outsiders—they are best left on the OUTSIDE.
Drew smiles a big sunny grin at me. “Who would want to leave this paradise?” And with that parting remark, he turns and heads towards the east wing, disappearing beyond the French doors.
A smile? Well, damn. That didn’t go as I’d hoped.
I turn to Rafe. You think using him in a seduction scene tonight is a smart idea?
It was a sound plan when we discussed it earlier. The request to join the seethe means he’ll give the task his all.
We’ll talk with him again after the scene plays out. Let it keep till then.
Maybe Rafe will let me touch Drew during our talk. Something’s up with him. I can sense it. I will find out by the end of the night or there will be hell to pay.
Today marks the end of the free chapter postings of C.J. Ellisson’s debut novel, Vampire Vacation. If you’ve enjoyed the excerpt and would like to continue, it’s currently available as an ebook for 99 cents and will be ’til Oct 14th. The print version costing $12.95 releases this weekend. You can search for either on your Kindle or in the Amazon store under its title, Vampire Vacation.
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Copyright © 2010 C.J. Ellisson
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.