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Author's note: The inspiration for this book came from a mixture of two things: one too many vampire novels, and my ever-existent passion for writing.
You know, life is funny. One minute, we're walking along, not a care in the world, just talking with your brother, then the next, you step off a curb and get hit by a New York transit bus. Then everyone starts freaking out, yelling for someone to call 911...and then you step out from under the bus, not a scratch on you. Then, all hell breaks loose as you try to explain how you managed not to die, and everyone is looking at you like you’re the freak-of-the-week.
Welcome to a Night Walker's life.
My brother and I have lived life as if we could die any day (which is totally possible, trust me.) and yet all this bad juju manages to find its way to us. What. The. Hell. I don't get it. First, 60% of our family is murdered, then all of these other problems pop up, and we still can't get a break?
Well, I guess that's just the way of life. What a rip off.
Anyway, I guess I should get started with my story. So, without further ado, I present to you (ha ha, that rhymed!) the story of my life, well, part of it anyway.
P.S. By the way, for your sake, I'll start out easy before I get to the really gory stuff.
“I guess it all started when he died. When Kales died. Most people get his name wrong. Man he hates that. Some call him callus (ya know, like you get on your feet from walking barefoot?) they get a good thwap to the back of the head. Others call him khales (sounds like whales). They get knocked unconscious for a few hours, so if you ever meet him, pronounce his name kahlays or he'll kick your ass.
Kales is my friend, my ally, my mentor, and my partner, but most of all, Kales is my twin brother. As long as he watches my back and I watch his front, no S.O.B stands in our way. My brother has a boyfriend by the name of Jozze, pronounced just like it's spelled. You can laugh all you want, but being gay is not a crime. Plus, it's not like he chose the path, he just walks it. If Kales and Jozze are happy, then I'm happy, too. They were supposed to get married in January, but the wedding had to be postponed. Jozze got extremely depressed when… it happened, but more on that later.
Sometimes, late at night, Kales and Jozze go outside and sit on the balcony with their feet hanging over the side of our apartment building, side by side, Kales's arm wrapped around Jozze's waist, Jozze running his fingers through Kales's long blond hair. They sit out there like that until sunrise when the first rays of light force them inside. Make no mistake; we are not vampires hell-bent on bloodlust. We are Night Walkers, simple cousins of the vampire. We can go into the sunlight, though our cousins cannot, but we are not plagued by bloodlust as frequently as they are. We have the reflexes, the eyesight, the sense of smell, the impeccable hearing, the claws, the fangs, and the pale, ageless faces, but we are not affected by crosses, holy water, churches, or the words of the lord. (Although, both Jozze and Kales think religion is a waste of time.) We don’t have to sleep in coffins either. By the way, the wooden stake thing? Myth, don't try it.
We have what we call a vampire Heart. That means, when we are… "Changed”, our original heart sort of dies and a smaller, black heart grows where the old one was. Surprising as that sounds, is actually isn't. After a century… or twelve, nothing seems to surprise you anymore. My brother and I are both roughly 1236 years old, Jozze is about 4792, give or take a year or ten. Take a sec and figure out when we were born. 2008 minus 1236 is 772 A.D. We were born in Italy, and despite the enormous amount of time we've been in America (two hundred seventy-two years, we came over in 1736) we seem to have retained our Italian accents, and both speak the language fluently.
Jozze, on the other hand, was born in Egypt in about 2784 B.C. He looks like he should have been a pharaoh but he wasn't. He was, however, a prince of very noble blood, but he was kidnapped and held captive. If he tried to escape, Jozze would have been beaten senseless. He is tan with long black hair and almond shaped topaz eyes and his nose looks like it's been broken more than once. He came to America in 1853, and has very much so his accent and speaks ancient Egyptian just to confuse the hell out of me. He thinks it's funny when I lose control because apparently I look cute with my fangs out. He is so not the dude in the relationship. I don't do well with people, but I do know when Kales and Jozze are fighting because Jozze calls him Kales instead of babe like he usually does and Kales quits calling Jozze baby and calls him by his birth name, Jozzlen Anuukman.
They only fought occasionally, but 113 years together and it's damn impossible to break them up. They love each other so much; there was a point in time when I thought they forgot the world and lived for themselves alone. I didn't think Jozze would ever snap out of it after the accident. He was so scared that… well, that would give away the story now wouldn't it?
By the way, my name is Mickey (like the mouse?) I was born six minutes and fifty-seven seconds before Kales was, but he won't admit it. He hates having an older sister. Yes, I said sister. You thought I was a guy right? The way I talk, the way I act. Well, what do you expect? I grew up with Kales, my father, and Rocco, our other brother who died in 1902. My mother was murdered by an escaped convict shortly after I was born. I suppose I kind of dress like a guy, too, but I don't all the time. Take right now for example. I am sitting in the computer chair wearing J-Lo jeans that hug my hips and make my ass look great and a bright pink handkerchief top covered in bright pink sequins that equals about ¼ of a normal tube top.
Kales hates it when I dress like this. He tells me “It's degrading to yourself and makes you an easy target for sexual predators”. Perverts like that are easy to avoid. All it takes is one well placed growl and suddenly you hear the feet run and the balls drop. He sometimes forgets that I am the same age as him so I frequently have to remind him. He also hates when I go clubbing alone. What does he expect? We live in New York City in the most jumping part of town. We live in a small apartment building surrounded by seven nightclubs that are open 24/7: Scream (for Goths), Tremor (S&M joint), Glitz (for fancy-asses), Amazon (for party hardier crowds), Zsting (for wanna-be vampires), Tripp (for dancing queens), and Bloodlust (for the supernatural like us). If I'm lucky I can hit all seven without changing outfits. Tonight I'm feeling like I need a good drunken stupor. Maybe I'll go hang at Bloodlust, where the drinks are concocted for people like us. In other words, if we got pulled over for speeding, (for some reason, the undead like to go super fast) we would be over the legal limit by 2.5 with one drink.
Sometimes I think about killing myself, just to get these wretched voices out of my head. I wonder what…”
“Mickey? Mickey wake up! Mickey stop screaming it's just a dream!” I woke up to Kales shaking my brains out and a piercing scream that took me a while to realize was mine. I clapped my hand over my mouth as Kales wrapped his strong arms around me whispered reassuringly. I have this tenancy to have premonitions in my sleep, which is probably the reason I don't sleep that much. I realized that Jozze was at my back, wrapping me in a blanket and rubbing my back.
“Honey, tell Kales and me what happened. Did you have another premonition?” he asked, concern shining in his eyes.
I struggled to find my voice “Y-yeah. I did.” All at once my dream came rushing back at me. Every little detail, everything I pictured. “It was like a picture book. Like a story, narrated by me. It started out talking about you and Jozze. But it was in past tense, and I was in a church, at a funeral. Then all of a sudden I was outside of the apartment, describing my outfit and how you hate my nightlife and how I dress like a rape waiting to happen.” I blurted out.
“What part of that made you scream?” Jozze asked with his music box voice, immediately calming me down a bit.
“The part I haven't gotten to yet. Then I was sitting in Bloodlust, getting drunk when suddenly I was in an abandoned warehouse. I was confused by then until I heard the narrator, me, say “Sometimes I think about killing myself, just to get these wretched voices out of my head.” Then I saw my body, my wrists cut to ribbons along with my neck. Then Jozze came and leaned over me, crying and picking up the knife I had used saying over and over again “I'll always be with you.” You woke me up just as he was swinging the knife toward his heart.” I finished, tears pouring down my face and dampening the front of Kales's shirt.
Kales thought for a minute, thinking it over. He looked down at me and said, “What were you wearing in your dream?”
I thought for a minute than said “My J-Lo jeans and my pink handkerchief shirt. Why?” I looked up and saw the look in his eyes. I looked down at my outfit, than sprang up, ran to my bedroom to change while the tears streamed harder down my face. I changed into a plain black tank top, black leggings, a red, black, and white miniskirt, and my skull gloves. As I turned around, I hastily tried to stop the flow of tears streaming down my face, but found myself face to pecs with Jozze. He'd come bearing a box of Kleenex and a great big bear hug. He sat me down in his lap on my bed and sat the tissues on my leg, barely stabilizing them before I had a handful of them. We sat in blessed silence for about five minutes before the voices started sounding in my head again.
I must have winced because Jozze looked down at me and said “The voices started up again, haven't they hun?” I nodded and he hugged me closer. As my wretched voices started whispering of murder and suicide, Kales walked in and kneeled down in front of us and asked me the simplest question I have ever been asked;
“Do you wanna go get wasted?”
“Yes!” came my raspy reply. As they helped me got to my feet, I doubled over as one of the voices took a bodily form in my mind and started wreaking havoc on my already pounding head, screaming for murder. I know I screamed "Get out of my head” as I supported all my weight on Kales and Jozze. I also heard Kales ask Jozze if the voices started up again. Had I been in any condition to reply, I would have replied with something like "No s*** Sherlock” but I was forced to be silent. After what seemed like forever, I finally quieted the reckless voice and gained the ability to support my own weight again, but stayed close to the two of them.
“Another one hell-bent on murder, Mickey?” Jozze asked, stroking my hair while Kales rubbed my back.
I nodded, not wanting to test my voice quite yet.
“Still want to go get wasted?” Kales asked, dragging a strand of my sweat-drenched hair out of my face. Another nod and we were out the door with both Kales and Jozze keeping a hand in the small of my back. We got couple of odd looks on our way to Bloodlust, but they were shot down with a glare from Kales.
You could hear the music from Bloodlust before you were even near the front entrance. As we reached it, however, I let my fangs peek out a little bit and my eyes go from their charcoal color to the ice blue of my "Other side”. The bouncer didn't even try to I.D. me, quickly sidestepping me to avoid setting me off into a rage of fury. They did, however, try to stop the boys. I rolled my eyes and stomped back towards the door, dangerously close to losing what little control I had.
“They're with me, Onyx. Lay off.” He took one look at me and stepped away, still not touching me and not looking directly into my eyes.
“Sorry Mickey. I didn't know. I was just-” he murmured.
“Bullshit you didn't know! We've been coming here for fifteen years and you don't know by now that Kales and I are twins and him and Jozze have been dating for longer than you've even been alive? You do not realize how much self control it's taking for me to keep from beating you to a pulp right now. Come on you two. ” I yelled, causing a bit of a ruckus.
“Mickey, that wasn't nesc-” Jozze started.
“In!” I said, cutting him off, holding the door open and aiming one last glare at Onyx. Once inside, I tried hastily to apologize to them for making a scene, but they just told me better Onyx than them and snagged a screwdriver from a passing waitress and handed it to me. As we headed to the bar, I never bothered hiding my Night Walker side, letting my skin pale and my fangs extend fully. I felt my claws puncture the glass and the ice from my now empty glass fell to the floor with the shards that weren't under my fingernails. Everyone stayed away from me. I had kind of a reputation as a bad tempered crazy person, so I had no problem making my way to the bar.
“Keep it together Mickey.” Kales whispered in my ear, his hand once again in the small of my back. “We don't want any accidents. Maybe we should just go home.”
I breathed deeply, trying to calm myself down as we sat on now vacant bar stools. “I'm fine, Kales. I'm just really frustrated at my premonition and the voices coming back. I just can't get a break! I mean, come on! I was premonition and voice free for almost five months, why now? And why in Sam hell does it have to be people I love?” I'd shattered my second glass of the night, earning a glare from the bartender, with which I returned a glare of my own. Before Kales could warn me to behave again, I closed my eyes and apologized to the bartender, telling him to put the two glasses on my tab and asked for another drink.
“Me and Jozze are going to go dance. Are you going to be okay?” The question was loaded. I couldn't say yes, but I couldn't say no, so I simply shrugged and told them to have fun. As I watched them dance in a way that would be considered vulgar by some and could easily get them arrested for some type of public indecency, I realized just how much I envied them. I wished so much that I had something like that, but I knew that I could never be loved like that. I was too complicated to handle like that. Sure I dated, but it never lasted more than a few weeks until the guy got tired of my nightmares and broke up with me, always using some excuse like “I got a job in a different city,” or "My mother died.” It got tiring, but my heart was so used to heartbreak that it took quite a bit to hurt me now.
One thousand, two hundred thirty-six years old, five hundred sixteen boyfriends, four hundred ninety-nine break-ups, fifteen deaths, and two disappearances later and there I was, sitting in Bloodlust brooding over my love life. I needed a vacation. At that moment, another voice decided to break free and pound on me. I barely made it to the bathroom before I started screaming again. Twice in one night. That was a first for me. I thought I heard the door open and Kales's voice talking--no, yelling at--someone, then the door closing and a familiar pair of arms hoisting me up and carrying me forward, pushing through the thicket of vampires, werewolves, shifters, Night Walkers, and various other oggie boogies. I must have passed out because the next thing I remembered was lying in bed with Jozze and Kales sitting opposite sides of me. I heard Jozze's beautiful voice singing softly in ancient Egyptian while Kales wiped at my forehead with a wet cloth.
“Are you sure she's going to be okay, babe?” Jozze asked Kales, his voice clogged with tears.
“She'll be fine, baby. You have nothing to worry about. We've been through this before, we can do it again.” I was relieved to here no trace of doubt in his voice. I knew that when the bed shifted that Kales had leaned across the bed and kissed Jozze softly on the lips. I was waiting for the other ball to drop.
“Although,” there it was. The other ball had just dropped. “She has been getting worse lately. I wonder if it's because she hasn't dated for a while. Maybe she's lonely and needs a break. When she dates, the voices seem to get quieter and the dreams farther apart. Ever since Jesha disappeared five months ago, the voices have slowly reappeared and the dreams became more frequent. Maybe she needs to get out more.” The ball hadn't just dropped; it ricocheted off the floor and walls and hit me in the head. I groaned involuntarily and immediately had two hands behind my back helping me into a sitting position.
“Ow. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ooooooowwwwwww. How long have I been out to be this sore? ” I asked, wincing as the words came out of my misused throat.
“Well, you've only been out for about sixty minutes, but for about thirty five of them you were seizing so bad I had to hold you down. Ten were spent getting the screaming under control and shutting up the voice. After that, Jozze started singing and you relaxed and fell asleep. You should really go back to sleep. Oh, and the reason your throat is sore is because about ten minutes into the seizing and screaming bloody murder, you started coughing up blood. It's a damn good thing your sheets are black.” Kales explained.
I finally opened my eyes and winced, instantly regretting it. As soon as the lamp hit my sensitive eyes, I had an instant migraine. Kales noticed and unplugged it instead of just turning it off. I realized then that it wasn't the seizing or the light that made my body hurt like it did. It was something that I hadn't felt in almost five months. It was bloodlust. We aren't barbaric every night hunters like our cousins the vampires, but the older a Night Walker got, the longer it took for the bloodlust to take hold, but when it did, it was painful on a whole new level. I looked at Kales with desperate charcoal/ice blue eyes and felt my fangs extend, hoping he understood. He did.
“Aw s***.” I heard Jozze mutter and walk out of the room. He rarely swore, so I knew I must look pretty bad.
“Do you want to hunt or take my blood?” he looked as if he were hoping for the latter.
I knew if I went out hunting, I would take one and never want to stop, so I simply looked at him and pleaded with my eyes. He sighed with relief and took his blade out of his leg holster. As he slid it across his wrist, I knew without a doubt how painful this would be for the both of us. I took his arm when he offered it to me, anxious to get it done and over with. I paused, “Promise me you'll stop me.” when I heard his soothing “I promise ”, I put my mouth over the deep cut and took his blood into my body, instantly regretting this weakness because of the pain that came with it. It was like I was swallowing tacks, not the blood of my brother. I knew it hurt him to so I tried to drink faster and get it over with. After what seemed like eternity, Kales pulled me away and wiped the tears of pain off of our cheeks. I felt better and worse all at the same time.
Then suddenly Jozze was there with us, singing softly in Egyptian, putting me into a drowsy haze. It was then that I realized that the sneaky little s*** was putting a sleeping spell on me. Wait…I turned to Kales and saw the same sleepy expression on his face that I knew was on mine.
“You sneaky little s***! You were a witch when you were changed! ” I said, grinning at his cunning instead of yelling.
“Yeah. Funny, though, I thought Kales told you. Hm. Guess not. Now, go to sleep Mickey. You need it and so does he.” As I drifted off, I thought I heard him say something about how Kales and I looked so alike, buuuut then I passed out, silently thinking about the sneaky little bastard that put me here.
That night I had another dream.
I was at a wedding. I realized that Kales and Jozze were at the alter, but not because I could see them. I could hear them, smell them, feel there presence, but I couldn't see anything. I was totally blind. I tried desperately to open my eyes, thinking that maybe they were closed and that was why I couldn't see. It wasn't. I reached tentative hands up to my eyes to feel for any damage, only to find something disturbing on a whole new level. My eyes were missing. All that was left was two empty sockets covered by sagging, collapsed lids. Then my dream changed again. I could see but only through one eye, the other painfully throbbing, as if…as if someone had torn it out of its socket. I saw a flicker of movement and realized that I was chained to the wall, my arms above me and my ankles bound together. The figure moved closer and I saw the silver flash of a…spoon?…in his right hand. As he came into my line of vision, I realized who it was. It was Onyx, the jackass bouncer from Bloodlust.
“Goodnight Mickey.” he said, then stabbed the spoon into my other eye socket.
“Mickey! Mickey! God damn it Mickey snap the hell out of it!” Once again I woke to Kales shaking my brains out and me screaming bloody murder. He, Jozze and I were all sleeping on my king size mattress, Kales in front of me, Jozze behind me.
“Tell me about the dream. I can't know how to make it better unless you tell me what made it bad!” Kales was saying, trying to calm me down from my hyperventilating state.
“It was a wedding. Your wedding. I could hear you, feel you, smell you, but I couldn't see you. I tried to open my eyes but they already were. I reached my hands up to check for damage but my eyes were gone. They were completely taken out. Then it changed. I was chained to the wall and my right eye was already gone. Then I saw someone come at me. It was Onyx, the bouncer from Bloodlust. He said "Goodnight Mickey” then he dug my other eye out. God the pain was so real.” I burst out, crying when I was done, my whole body shaking from the force of it. The pair of them were conversing softly in Egyptian as they hugged me into a Mickey sandwich. I caught a few words that I knew, so it sounded something like this:
Jozze: Blah blah dirty bastard blah blah blah Mickey!
Kales: Blah blah hell blah blah dirty son of a b**** blah blah blah Mickey?
Jozze: Blah blah blah confused blah you blah.
Kales: Blah damn blah!
Only it was in ancient Egyptian. I had finally stopped crying and was royally pissed off. That dirty son of a b**** was gonna try to hurt me and my family. I had already lost one brother in my life, I wouldn't lose another. Just then the voices started up again, all of them rushing forward at once, trying to break through. That was the last straw. I lost total control. As I slipped through Kales's and Jozze's arms, I felt the change, the anger settle in. The voices just kept getting louder and louder until I snapped.
“SHUT THE HELL UP!” I yelled. Then something happened. The voices stopped. Total, utter silence filled my head. Blissful peace fell into my brain. Too bad I'd already been pushed over the edge. My whole body was trembling, my skin so cold it hurt and my fangs were so sensitive I had to keep my mouth open to avoid hurting them. My finger tips felt like they were being stabbed with red hot pokers. I faintly heard Kales telling me to keep it together and I heard Jozze singing his spells again, but nothing worked. I was too far gone. All at once, my senses became super charged and my one physical difference from a vampire came into view. My wings sprouted from my back. I had an eighteen foot wingspan, my brother's was twenty-two feet, and Jozze's was twenty feet. Then something even odder than my absence of mental voices happened. I looked at Jozze just as he started yelling his spells. His eyes were completely white and glowing. In the middle of his head the Egyptian eye had appeared, glowing brightly against his tan skin. As soon as I comprehended that his witch spirit had taken him over, I felt the process of losing control start to reverse itself, dragging my demon unwillingly back inside of me as Jozze's spell settled over me. My whole body grew weak and all of my senses seemed to stop working. As I fell toward the floor, I expected the voices to take advantage of my weakness, but still there was blissful silence. I think I may have thanked Jozze but I couldn't be quite sure. My whole body had just shut down. It had been almost fifteen years since I'd lost control like that, so naturally my body was exhausted. I passed out, knowing that Onyx could never touch me with my brothers here.
As I slowly woke up the next morning, I realized that I had had a dreamless sleep and the voices had not yet returned, which was strange because that had only happened once before, and that was when Jesha had still been with me. But Jesha was gone now. He had disappeared about a week ago. We had been going out for almost five months and were to be married in two more. It broke my heart to know that he was probably dead after the state we found the apartment in. All of the furniture was upended and torn to shreds, the door was off of its hinges, and there was blood--his blood-- everywhere. I know he is dead now, but my heart won't accept it like my mind has.
He was my soul mate. I don't think I will ever recover from his death.
As these thoughts were running through my head, Kales heard the change in my breathing and now came strolling into my room with Jozze on his heels. I tried to sit up, but I decided against it as a wave of nausea settled over me. The morning after losing control feels kind of like a horrible hangover. Sensitivity to light, pounding headaches, nausea, achy muscles, and a total loss of ambition. Take all of that and throw in the feeling of asphyxiation and multiple stab wounds, then multiply it by ten and you were almost there.
No matter what I tried to think of, my mind kept wandering back to Jesha. I missed him so much it almost hurt to breathe; I forced myself to do so. As soon as Kales asked me how I was holding up, I started sobbing again. I knew it would happen, but that doesn't mean I wanted it to. I really, really, really, needed a vacation. Jozze was singing again so I told him to shut up, although the effect of it was ruined by the weak quality of my voice. I'd had enough sleep and I didn't want any more.
Minutes ticked slowly by as I sat on the bed squished between my brother and his boyfriend, silently sobbing and wishing I could better control myself. My problems were getting worse and worse as time went by. Even here, sitting with the two people I loved the most, I could feel the pressure of the voices trying to be heard building. As I regained control of myself, I slowly sat up and climbed over Kales in a sorry attempt to get to my closet.
“What are you doing?” Jozze asked as I started going through my clothes.
“I, Jozze, am covered in a layer of sweat and I'm pretty sure blood. I really don't care to visit the outside world looking like a horror story and smelling like an unhygienic freak, so, I am going to go take a shower.” I replied, faking the cheer in my voice, while really feeling hollow of happiness and a little pissed. I shot an evil smile at the two of them and turned back to my closet. I was going to go to Bloodlust and rip into Onyx like a lion rips into a wounded gazelle. What could I say? It's a dog eat dog world out there. Except these dogs were more like Hellhounds. Which reminded me. “Hey, did either of you notice that the bartender at Bloodlust last night was a Hellhound? I thought Rissika didn't allow Hellhounds at her club?” Jozze and Kales both nodded.
“I didn't think so either, but she must have changed her mind or something. Anyway, go take a shower, we'll meet you downstairs in the lobby and we'll all go talk to Rissika about Onyx.” Kales said, knowing all too well why I was grabbing my dark clothes that were appropriate for meeting people, dancing, and beating the s*** out of someone. Almost twelve and a half centuries hadn't slowed him down one tiny bit. With that, I headed down the hall and into the bathroom that the three of us shared. No doubt the second I had left the room, Jozze and Kales had started making out like they were about to lose their tongues.
I made the water a bit hotter than I usually did, then stripped out of my clothes, stepping gratefully under the stream and simultaneously grabbing my sponge. I used coconut soap and shampoo because it reminded me of home. My father had always smelled like coconuts, even though he had never even seen the fruit before in his life. Thinking about it made me realize just how much I missed him. He treated me like my brothers, never babying me because I was a girl. I loved it. If he had treated me like a pansy-ass girl, I wouldn't be as strong as I am today. Kales, Rocco, and I had actually all been triplets, but Rocco was killed in 1902. He was coming home with his girlfriend on May sixth when he was jumped by a couple of hunters who thought he was trying to kill his girl. They cut his head off before he could even try to explain.
More time than expected had passed, and the water had gotten cold, so I shut it off and grabbed my towel from the hook where it hung. I wrapped the towel around me and wiped the steam off of the bathroom mirror to look at my reflection. My short blond hair was plastered to my head and dripping, my charcoal eyes were flecked with blue and green as they often are. I'm not exactly skinny but I'm not fat either. I wear a size eleven/twelve jeans and a size medium shirt. It wasn't actually from eating that I was the size that I was. I was born with a large skeletal structure, so you can see my rib and hip bones. A lot of my weight is hidden muscle, too. I'm tall for my size and the age I was when we were changed. In my human years, I had some schooling with some other girls my age and I was an average of four inches taller than all of them. Kales, Rocco and I were the same height all our lives, so when we were turned at 17, we were all frozen at 6'2” tall. Like I said, I'm tall for a girl.
I turned from the mirror and started to dress, barely getting my matching bra and undies on when there was a light knock at the door.
“Mickey? Can I come in?” Jozze asked softly. You see, if it were anyone besides him and Kales, I would say no, but 1.) Kales is my brother, 2.) Jozze is his lover and 3.) they're both gay.
“Yeah Jozze, come on in, I'm halfway decent and it's not like you care.” I replied and unlocked the bathroom door so he could enter. We had a relatively large bathroom, so we had no problem fitting the two of us in the room.
Before I could ask him why he wanted to talk to me, he blurted out “I don't think your brother loves me anymore.” He barely got the sentence out before the tears flowed over the brims of his eyes, leaving streaks in his perfectly done makeup. He sat down on the toilet and put his head in his hands, sobbing.
“Why do you think Kales doesn't love you anymore?” I said, kneeling in front of him taking his hands. “He loves you with all of his heart and so do I!”
“I'm not so sure he does anymore, honey. He seems to be… gods this is odd to discuss with his sister. ” he sighed.
“Tell me. I'm here to listen. ” I started to rub his arms, trying to calm him down. It was so strange to see him break down like this. He was usually the calm one, the reasonable one. Seeing him so down was kind of scaring me.
“O-okay. He seems to be looking less at me…and more at other men. Sometimes, it looks like he's undressing them with his eyes. It just eats me up inside to think that his heart may belong to someone else.” he started to cry harder.
“Oh, honey! He loves you! I know he does. Every time he looks at you, his eyes light up with happiness like they never have for any other man. He loves you and only you. He is a faithful guy and if he ever cheated on you I would kill him myself. Hell, I wish more men were like my brother! I've had five hundred sixteen boyfriends in my life time and only one stayed for more than two weeks. Do you know how many boyfriends Kales has had?” I said to him, loving him even more for his small insecurities.
“How many?” he asked warily.
“Five. Now do you know how many he actually told he loved them and actually meant it? ” I asked, hugging him.
“How many?” he asked again.
“One. You. He has never told anyone he dated that he loved them until he met you. He would rather die than see you in the arms of another man. ” I told him, wiping away his tears with a damp washcloth, completely removing his foundation, baring all of his tattoos to my gaze. He was positively beautiful without the dark foundation that he wore, his skin flawless except the tattoos, his eyes rimed with black eyeliner and colored with gold eye shadow. He was perfect and I could see exactly why my brother loved him. “Come on. Let me get dressed and we'll go talk to him about it.”
He grabbed my hand when I tried to move away. “Thank you, Mickey, for letting me talk to you, but are you sure talking to Kales is the right thing to do?”
“Most definitely.” I had pulled my pants on one handed and he let go of my hand to let me pull my shirt on. When I was dressed I grabbed his hand, pulled him to his feet and wrapped him in a hug. “Let's go talk to Kales.”
We walked into the small living room containing a couch, an armchair, a beanbag chair and a plasma TV. Kales was sitting on the couch flipping through the channels when he looked up and caught the look on Jozze's face. He turned the TV off and rose to meet us, wrapping his arms around Jozze.
“What's wrong, baby?” he asked softly, face to face with Jozze. They were so close, their hips touched, and Kales put an arm around Jozze's waist. His other hand went to the back of Jozze's head, gently stroking his hair.
They sat on the couch, Kales taking Jozze's hand in his and wiping Jozze's tears away with the other. “Why is your foundation off? I know you had it on this morning.”
Jozze took a shuttering breath and started talking, ignoring Kales's question. “I've noticed lately that you look less at me and more at other men.” Another breath and more tears. “It seems like you've stopped loving me. If you have, I will no longer plague your household and gladly be on my way.”
He started to say something else but was cut off when Kales pressed his lips into Jozze's, gently working his jaw as he made it clear exactly how he felt about Jozze. He pulled back with tears of his own in his eyes and said “I have never, ever, felt the way I do about any other man than I do about you. From the moment I met you, I knew I was in love with you. The very thought of watching you walk out that door without me fills my heart with grief and pain. I love you more than every dollar in the world, more than every stick of eyeliner money can buy, more than every drop of blood keeping me alive, and more than life itself. I would gladly die for you. It's like you reached into my chest and sparked some life back into my withered black heart. I don't think I could live if I knew you were in the arms of another man. Don't you ever, ever, doubt the love I have for you.” As soon as he was done talking, he gently cupped the sides of Jozze's face and kissed him again, this time with more passion in it than I had seen anyone ever put into a kiss. “You're my Egyptian prince. Why would I ever want to give that up?” he whispered, smoothing the tears back from his eyes.
Jozze laughed a little bit when Kales called him his Egyptian prince. “I could name a few reasons. I'm insecure, I suck at conversations, I'm a witch, my body is covered in cursed tattoos, I'm 2012 years older than you, the list goes on and on.”
“Those are your reasons of why I would give you up? Those are some of the main reasons I love you so much!” Kales said chuckling. He pulled Jozze on to his lap and hugged him to his chest. “Your insecurities are adorable, you don't suck at conversations, you just like to listen, you're not a witch, you're a sorcerer, your tattoos make you even more gorgeous than you are without them, and I don't give a flying s*** about your age. I love you. Nothing could ever change that.”
“Wow. Mickey was right.” Jozze said, shocked.
“It happens occasionally, don't be so shocked.” I told him “I told you he'd rather die than see you in the arms of another man.”
“Are you okay now?” Kales asked Jozze, rubbing his back.
“I think so. I'm not sobbing anymore so I must be a little better.”
The moment was interrupted by a knock at the door.
“You two love birds stay here. I'll get it.” I said smiling at the sight of the two most lethal people I knew cuddling like a couple of kittens. It was sweet. I walked to the door, unlocked it and opened it to reveal a complete stranger standing in front of the door. “Can I help you?” I asked as I surveyed the male standing in front of me. He was human, about 6'5” with black hair, pale skin, and green eyes. He seemed normal enough so I let myself relax a bit.
He extended his hand. “Hi. My name is Jacob Rayyo. I just moved into the apartment across from you and I decided to introduce myself to everyone on the floor.”
I shook his hand and smiled. “Hi Jacob. My name is Mickey Ferrara. Would you like to come in and meet my roommates?” I asked.
“I'd love to.” He replied.
I stepped aside to let him in, then shut the door and relocked it. As we walked towards the living room, I silently hoped Kales and Jozze weren't making out or anything else that would make our new neighbor head for the hills. Thankfully, they were sitting side by side watching the TV, Jozze's head on Kales's shoulder.
“Guys, this is Jacob Rayyo. He just moved in across from us where Mr. Kreel used to live.” I introduced Jacob with a cheerful voice. “Jacob, this is my twin brother Kales and his boyfriend Jozze.” I pointed each as I said their name. I was glad to see that his smile didn't falter when I mentioned Kales's and Jozze's sexual orientation. I also didn't sense any disgust coming from him, so I figured he was fine with it.
“Nice to meet you both. You two make an unbelievable couple. Not to be offensive or presumptuous, but I'm pretty good at that kind of thing. ” he said, complementing them then hastily trying to explain himself to avoid offending someone.
Kales just smiled. “You're not being offensive or presumptuous. We are both very comfortable with our sexuality. Besides, everyone in the building knows we're gay. It's no big secret.” He leaned forward and shook Jacob's hand, then Jozze followed suit before settling down into their earlier position.
Then Jozze spoke up. “Welcome to the wonderful cesspool of New York City. Ooh! Idea!” He said, sitting up and smiling. “We were going to go clubbing. It's a popular thing to do in this part of town, since we're surrounded by seven nightclubs. Why don't you come with us and celebrate?”
“That's a fabulous idea!” Kales exclaimed. “Whaddya say Mickey?” He asked me.
“I agree. I think it's a fabulous idea!” I said, happy that they decided not to kill him or something equally stupid. “What kind of a dancer are you Jacob? We have a goth club, an S&M club, a fancy club, a party club, a wanna-be club, and a club that's a combo of them all. I would suggest the last one but I kind of got into a tiff with one of the bouncers and now he's out for blood.” I said. The "Literally" went unsaid, but it hung in the air ominously.
“Well…this is going to sound stupid, but…I'm all for the goth club. These are the only clothes I own besides the tux my dad gave me that aren't gothic.” he said, self-consciously plucking at the hem of his t-shirt.
“That's not stupid. Tell you what. You go get your normal clothes on and we'll meet you in the hall in ten minutes, okay?” Jozze said, smiling at Jacob's nerves and embarrassment.
“Thank God! This s*** is so uncomfortable. I've been so careful talking so you wouldn't see my tongue ring.” He stuck his tongue out to show all of us the spike in it. “I'm really glad you don't care. Yeah, I'll meet you in the hall in ten.” he said and headed for the door.
“Nice guy.” Kales said as soon as the door was closed. Then all at once we headed for our bedrooms to dress for Scream. I chose a leather bikini top with a blood red fishnet cover and a pair of black pants with studs on the pockets and belt loops, four chains, one on each side going from the bottom pocket to the top pocket, then another going from the top pocket to a small loop near the belt loops. On each front pocket there was a skull and crossbones. I headed to the bathroom and grabbed a box of my comb in temporary hair dye. Two minutes later, I had black hair, my skin was whitened, and my eyes and lips were awash with black makeup.
I walked into the living room to find Jozze and Kales dressed almost identical to me, but Kales wasn't wearing a leather bikini top and Jozze's shirt wasn't fishnet. The three of us sat on the couch and all pulled on our identical black crisscross platform heels. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of silver on my brother's chest. It took me a minute to figure out what it was.
“Kales, when did you get your nipples pierced?” I asked, dumbstruck that he had done it.
“Um…about a month ago?” he said turning to Jozze for confirmation. When Jozze nodded, he turned to me. “I thought I told you that. Hm. Guess not. Hey Mickey, I got my nipples pierced!”
I rolled my eyes as the pair of them started laughing and smacked my arm into Kales's chest, making sure I hit both nipples.
“Ow! Son of a b****, they're still tender.” he said, wincing as each piercing turned bright red.
“I know. That's why I did it. Come on, we have to go meet Jake in the hall.” I said and glared at him before getting up and walking to the door. I knew without a doubt that they were following me.
Kales must have still been bitching about his nipples because all of a sudden I heard Jozze say “Do you want me to kiss 'em and make it feel better?”
“Save it for the bedroom, you two.” I said, shaking my head as I opened the door. Then I stopped, flabbergasted, as I looked at the man standing in front of me. He looked nothing like before. His black hair was spiked up from his scalp and tipped with blood red frost. He had paled his face and donned black makeup. He was wearing fingerless gloves, black leather pants, platform boots, and an opaque black shirt. He'd also painted his nails black, and had his left ear pierced all the way around, a spike gauge in the bottom of each ear that was identical to the one in his tongue. He was wearing color contacts to make his eyes look blood red with cat-like pupils. He was gorgeous. I couldn't stop myself from imagining how it would feel to kiss him with that tongue ring.
I would have kept staring at him all day, but I had stopped short and Jozze and Kales both ran into me, snapping me out of it. We all stared slack jawed at Jacob. Since the three of us all liked boys, I think it's pretty obvious what we were all thinking.
“Wow. I think you look better like this than you did in those other clothes.” I blurted out before I could stop myself.
“Me thinks she likes what she sees.” Jozze whispered to Kales.
“You two are freaks! He looks good in goth okay?” I said, denying what I was thinking.
“The lady doth protest too much.” Kales whispered back.
“Okay! Fine! Jacob, I think you're one of the hottest guys that I've seen thus far in my life.” I said, turning to Jacob then looking back at the other two when he turned beet red. “Happy?”
“Very.” they both said, then started laughing. I smacked Kales in the nipples again, then started laughing with Jozze as Kales started cussing like a sailor.
I turned to Jacob and said “I know we're a little odd, but we're good people once you get to know us. And yes, I meant it when I said you were hot.”
I expected him to take off screaming in the other direction, but he merely laughed and said “Just for the record, I already think you and your brother and your brother's boyfriend are awesome people, and I think you're hot, too. Would you consider going out with me tomorrow?” he asked tripping over the last part.
Jozze and Kales stopped laughing and said at the same time “What?”
I shot them the bird behind my back and looked straight into Jacob's eyes. “Pick me up at sunset. We'll go have dinner.”
“Totally cool. It's a date then.” he said and started for the elevator. I'll admit, watching him walk away is almost as amazing as watching him walk toward us. I ignored the bantering of Kales and Jozze and walked forward to catch up with my new boyfriend. God it felt good to be able to say that again. As I passed the only window in the hallway, I glanced outside to see the bright crescent moon. Crescent moons, ex-boyfriends, and bad hangovers. What a day.
The next night, I found myself buzzing with excitement at I linked my arm with Jacob's and headed outside the lobby. I was wearing a black shirt that was clingy in all the right places and a pair of black jeans. I looked like I normally do. He, on the other hand, was wearing a pair of black slacks and a black button down shirt. His hair was spiked again, but frosted, this time, with silvery/blue. I had learned that he needed glasses but got contacts, which explained why he was wearing another pair of color contacts. Tonight, his right eye was ice blue, but his left was silver. They looked so gorgeous. We had reached the parking lot and were headed now to his mode of transportation. It was a black racing bike. He had a motorcycle. If there's one thing in this whole wide world that made me hot, it was a hottie with a motorcycle.
“I couldn't bring my Mercedes from L.A., so when I got here, I bought a bike. I hope you don't mind.” he said, wincing visibly.
“I love motorcycles! I used to have a Harley, but I got into a crash and totally thrashed it.” I lifted my shirt to reveal a fourteen-and-a-half inch scar going from my left hip to just under the right side of my rib cage. “It was about two years ago on June twelfth. I had two hundred fifteen stitches and twenty-two staples. I wanted to get another one but Kales wouldn't let me. So no, I don't mind.” I said and dropped my shirt.
He smiled wickedly and looked toward our apartment. “Do you want to drive?” He said and laughed a little evilly when a huge smile lit up my face.
I knew Kales and Jozze were listening with their supersonic hearing, so I, too, grinned wickedly and laughed evilly as I grabbed the keys.
“Jacob?” I said sweetly.
“Yeah?” He asked.
“What's your view on speed limits and stoplights?” I said. Grinning, I cranked on the bike and felt the familiar purr of the motor underneath me.
“What are these strange things you speak of?” he replied innocently.
“Finally. A man after my own heart. Hold on.” I said and gunned it, laughing as we shot forward. I watched with glee as the speedometer shot way above the fifty-five mph speed limit. I quickly shifted gears as we hit traffic and started weaving in between taxis and cars. The speedometer hit one twenty just as the green light turned red. We shot straight through the oncoming cars--and straight past a cop car. I grinned as I hit the break and pulled to the side of the road.
“S***.” I heard Jacob say.
“Don't worry. I have never gotten a ticket when I was pulled over yet.” I said and let my eyes turn ice blue, and undid the top few buttons on my shirt. When the officer walked up to us, I looked innocently at him and said “I've been a bad girl haven't I officer.” I flashed my eyes at him and let my mind control his.
He looked at my chest and then at my lips before replying.
“Yes you have. Do you know how fast you were going, young lady?” he said, looking at my chest again.
“I don't know. Around one twenty?” I replied, pushing the thought of a warning into his head and the thought of a ticket out. “Can't you just let me off with a warning, officer? If I get a ticket, my parents will kill me. My curfew is in fifteen minutes! I was just having a little fun. ” I said, putting a pout on my face.
“Well, as long as you promise not to do it again….” he said, eyes still glued to my chest as he wrote out a warning and handed it to me. “Drive safely now, you hear?” he told me, then walked to his car and drove off.
“I told you I never get tickets.” I told Jacob as I buttoned my shirt.
“That was amazing! We were going over twice the speed limit and you got us off with a warning! Damn, I think I love you!” he said, praising my awesomeness.
“Let's get something to eat, shall we?” I said, then started the engine and took off before his answer even left his throat. He had made reservations at a French restaurant called Le Morte, the Death. I circled around the parking lot so I was facing away from it, then I shot forward, hit the front break and turned when I hit the door and cut the engine, stopping perfectly by the valet. Jacob's face had turned white and his heart pounded furiously as I got off the bike and gave the valet the key. “Come on Jacob. If we're not in the restaurant in five minutes, they'll give away our reservations.”
“That was scary. Don't do that again.” Jacob said as he linked his arm through mine and stated towards the front desk. A young blond was waiting with here eyes on us. “Rayyo, table for two.” he told her.
We waited silently as she looked through the reservation book and found us. “Here you are, table for two. Right this way please.” she said and led us to a table in the crowded dining area. She waited until we were seated, then placed a menu in front of each of us. A suave looking waiter walked over to us and stood next to her. “My name is Marie. I'm the manager, so if there are any problems, just ask for me. Jean-Claude will be your waiter tonight. Enjoy your meal.”
She walked away with a genuine smile on her face. There was a woman who truly loved her job. Jean-Claude-fancy-ass, on the other hand, hated the fact that he served others. He told us the specials of the night and told us he would be back in a few minutes, then he high-tailed his fancy-ass out of there.
“Get whatever you want, I'm buying.” Jacob said. I opened my mouth to argue but he beat me to the punch. “Unless we end up eating over a thousand dollars worth of food, I've got it.” He smiled a little bit.
“Christ, you brought a thousand dollars with you? What do you do for a living that has you that loaded? And how did you get reservations here anyway? It's impossible!”
“I'm a costume designer for paranormal movies. The most recent film I did was Le Petite Morte. It's about a French child who's turned into a vampire and goes on a killing spree. It's kind of a dorky film, but I enjoyed doing the costumes. As for the reservations--” he chuckled, “All I did was mention my name and bing bang boom, here we are.”
“I saw that movie. The costumes were amazing! They looked so real! I do agree though, the film was a little under par.” I said, totally amazed that my boyfriend--my boyfriend--had designed costumes for movies that raked in over $1.76 million in the box office in the first week. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” he said, flashing me his dazzling smile. I'd come to notice that he played with his tongue ring between his top two teeth. He stared at me waiting for the question and got the electric blue stud stuck. He held up a finger to motion me to hold on, then stuck his pointer finger and thumb under his tongue and removed the back of it, releasing his tongue. He removed the stud from between his teeth and sat it on his napkin, then felt his tongue to see if it was bleeding. When he was sure it wasn't, he looked at me, “Continue. I thought my tongue ring was smaller than it is.”
“Smooth move. I was going to ask, from each movie, what percentage of the total income of a movie do you take in? If you don't mind me asking.” I said, not wanting to offend him.
“I don't mind. I'm used to people asking about this kind of thing. I usually take in about fifteen percent of the total income of a movie. Le Petite Morte brought in about sixteen million dollars across America. So figure it out. Fifteen percent of sixteen million is--”
“Jesus that's $2.4 million dollars! In one movie! And I thought I was loaded!” I said, completely shocked that he took in that much money from one movie.
“So. It's my turn. What's the source of your money?” he asked with a small smile.
I had thought of a way long ago how to tell humans about our money without mentioning the fact that my father had inherited our money from a king of Italy. His mother married the king after her husband threw her out with my father. The king left the money to our grandmother in the event of his death. But, if in the event of her death after the king's, it would go to our father. He had inherited almost twelve million dollars, which is a lot more in euros. After my father died, he left Rocco, Kales and I each four million dollars in his will. Then when Rocco had died, he gave both my brother and me both half of his money. Of course I couldn't tell him that my grandmother married one of the last Italian kings, so I gave him the condensed version.
“Inheritance. We are of Italian descent. When my grandfather threw my grandmother out with my father, she remarried to a wealthy business man who left all his money, roughly twelve million dollars, to her in the event of his death. After he died, she made a will leaving the money to my father in the event of her death, never spending a penny of it. When she died, my father was twenty-three and married. He inherited the money, but once again, made a will leaving the money to my mother rather than spending it, but she died right after we were born. Kales and I are actually triplets. Our brother Rocco died five years ago. Anyway, after mom died, he changed the will leaving all of the money to us in the event of his death. He died when we were thirteen. ” I said, wiping a tear out of my eye at the memory of my family long dead.
“Wow. Well, there's one good thing about us both having money.” he said, taking my hand and smiling at me.
“Oh really? What's that?” I asked.
“Even if you can't talk your way out of a speeding ticket, we have enough money to actually pay for it.” he said, catching me off guard and making me laugh. Jean-Claude had decided to come back over to us to take our orders.
“Yes, I'll have the steak with Portobello mushroom sauce. Oh, and could you bring out a red wine, please?” Jacob asked him, handing him the menu.
“I'll have the chicken vermicelli with garlic sauce. ” I said, handing him my menu also. The garlic was a personal pun on my part.
“Of course. I'll be back with your wine in a moment.” he said, sneering at the both of us before tromping off to put in our order and get our wine.
“Well, Mr. Hoity Toity over there can kiss my royal white ass.” I said, sticking my tongue out at his back as he walked away from us.
That made Jacob laugh, choking on his water on the swallow. He drew some attention from surrounding tables as he coughed the water out of his lungs.
“God, are you okay? I didn't mean to drown you!” I said, handing him a napkin.
He finally got the water out of his lungs and looked up. “Aw jeeze! Can't I go anywhere without these people finding me? ” he said, picking up his tongue ring and hastily put it back in his tongue.
“What people?” I asked, looking around.
“The thrice-damned paparazzi. This is the price you pay for having a famous boyfriend. Do you mind if we get out of here before--damn. Too late, they spotted me. ” He stood up and put two hundreds on the table, which left like an eighty dollar tip. Then he motioned toward the back of the restaurant as I stood and headed toward it.
Once we were outside, we started to go around the building to get the key to his bike, but the entrance was blocked by paparazzi.
“S***. What now?” he asked.
I sighed. “Back to the parking lot. I can hot-wire a bike.” I said, disappointed that I had to share my police record with my boyfriend of two days.
“How do you know how to hot-wire a bike?” he asked.
“I survived on the street with my brothers until I was eighteen and Rocco died, I can do all sorts of things that are illegal to do in all fifty states.” I said as we reached the bike and proceeded to mess with the wiring until it sparked to life. “We're hot.” I jumped on the front of the bike and turned around. “Get on.” As soon as I was sure that he was on, I opened it up all the way, and we shot off. The only reason I could see is the wonder of my supernatural eyes. We were back at the garage in five minutes, doing one forty-five all the way back.
“I'm sorry about tonight. I thought I'd ditched them when I moved to New York. You saved our asses with the way you drive and the fact that you lived on the street.” he said after we were in the elevator. “I'll make it up to you. We'll go out again tomorrow."
“That would be nice.” I looked at my watch. It was only ten thirty, so Kales and Jozze would still be up. “And, if you want to, we could go into my apartment tonight and I could make dinner. Jozze and Kales don't go to sleep for another couple of hours. We could make it a "Get to know the family" kind of dinner.”
“Are you sure they won't mind?” he asked.
“I'm absolutely positive.” I said as the elevator doors opened. Then I heard a familiar voice.
“Hello Mickey. Remember me?” It was Onyx. “If it weren't for that infernal can't-come-in-unless-invited rule, your brother and his boyfriend would be dead now.” he said, smiling at the expression on my face.
“Jacob. Stay behind me near the elevator doors.” I said while I removed my jacket and widened my stance for better balance.
“What? No! We have to call 911.” he said while trying to pull me back.
I shook him off and pushed him toward the elevator as my skin paled, fangs extended, claws grew, and eyes went blue. “Stay there and don't move until I tell you to. Got it?” Once I was sure he would stay there, I looked back at Onyx. He was relatively young, only eighty-two years old. He had rolled up his sleeves and he'd also let his monster show. He was a vampire, so his skin paled and his fangs grew, but he had no claws and his eyes stayed black as always.
“Let's do this then, shall we?” I said. Instead of waiting for an answer, I launched myself across the room at him feet first, catching him in the chest. There was a reason that I hadn't taken my shoes off. I was wearing stilettos, so when I hit him, they burrowed into his chest. I was glad I had worn the strapless slip-ons. All I did was slipped my feet out of them and I was ready for action. He never stood a chance against me. I stood and ripped my shoes out of his chest, then slashed open his neck with one and slammed the other into the back of his head, cracking his skull but not breaking into it. He fell to the floor in a crumpled heap and I looked back at Jacob. “Get into the apartment. Jozze and Kales are sitting in the living room. Tell them we've got a live one.” He nodded once than opened the door with the key I handed to him.
Thirty seconds later, Kales came out into the hallway and grabbed Onyx by the hair and picked him up. I hadn't seen him this angry since we'd found Rocco's body. Oh well. That was Onyx's problem not mine. As I entered the living room behind Kales and Onyx, I saw Jozze trying to calm down a skittish Jacob. Jozze was speaking softly to him in Egyptian, no doubt trying to put him under a calming spell, but it didn't seem to be working.
“I know what I saw! No amount of witchcraft will ever change that! She's a vampire? Christ, I should have known!” he finally said.
Jozze winced and looked up at me. “I tried, hun. It seems his occupation has given him too much of a mind to accept my spells. I've tried a Suravva" sleeping "Spell, a Breekaer" befuddle "Charm, and a Mareeka" memory "Spell and none of them have worked. He won't forget, he won't make it into a hallucination, and he won't let it be a dream. He knows its real. We either have to change him, off him, or swear him by the gods to keep quiet.” he said. Then he realized that Jacob had called me a vampire. “And by the way, we are not vampires. He's a vampire.” he said and pointed to Onyx. “We are Night Walkers, cousins of the aforementioned barbaric vampires.”
“Wait, we? You two are Night Walkers too? Jesus, I sure picked the perfect spot to live. Inspiration for the next horror flick lives right next door! And I suppose this is some guy bent on revenge against Mickey?” He stopped for a second and waited until I nodded then continued. “Let me think. Oh. I know, he's the reason you we couldn't go to that club, what's it called, oh, Bloodlust, last night. And I'll bet my next paycheck that Bloodlust is a club for the supernatural. Am I right, or am I right?”
Kales had been pounding Onyx for information as Jozze and I tried to calm Jacob down. Kales finally lost it when Onyx told him why he had come.
Kales screamed. “You had better give me a pretty good reason to keep you alive, because if you don't, you are going to be a large pile of dust that'll get picked up in the vacuum cleaner. You have ten seconds.”
As Onyx's jaw worked soundlessly, trying to come up with a response. He didn't.
“Time's up you piece of s***. Goodnight sweet prince. May the merciful lord stay the hell away from you.” he said and ripped Onyx's head off. As soon as it was detached, the whole figure, head and body, started to turn to dust. “God it's lucky that they turn to dust or clean-up would be a real pain. By the way, it would be easier and more rational to off the human. He's seen too much, he can't be trusted any longer.”
“Okay. That's it. We are not offing my boyfriend, no matter how much he's seen. He has a strong mind. He'll adjust, I know he will.” I said, stepping in front of Jake to shield him from Kales's view.
“Oh, come on Mickey! He knows! He's human and he knows! Do you really think for a second that if he were caught by someone who wants us dead, that he would hold up for even a minute under torture without spilling everything? And he's human! He will die, Mickey! You will go on for hundreds of years, and however much happiness he might bring you, you will have to watch him wither. Watch him die. What are you going to do about that? Change him? Both you and I know you don't have the heart to curse someone with this s*** any more than I do. And look at what happened to Rocco. He was fucking killed in the street for being what he was and dating a human. Jesus Christ, Mickey, use your God damned head!” Kales said.
“Shut your fucking mouth Kales! Jesus Christ, can't you let me be happy? I was changed first, Kales. I lived for months like this and you knew. Rocco knew. I was glad to watch you two to live out your human days and watch you grow old and die, but my sire, our sire, just wouldn't have it. I begged him to keep you two as mortals. And you're right. I can't bare the thought of dragging someone else into this Godforsaken life. Sometimes I can't even sleep at night knowing that the fact that I watched over the two of you is the reason my sire changed you two over. Then, as soon as he did it, and you were well enough on your own, I killed that son of a b****. And I know I'm partially to blame for Rocco's death, but he is dead. The past is the past. And if you won't let me be with Jacob, then fine. But I warn you, if you kill him, I'll be as good as dead, too, because doing so would be the ultimate betrayal of my trust in you. I won't stand here while you sentence him to death.” I screamed, tears pouring down my face.
“No, it's okay Mickey. Let him kill me, I don't mind. I only have one thing to live for right now anyway, so what's the point. It doesn't bother me that you're all Night Walkers. What bothers me is the fact that you are such a pleasant person and yet people have been calling Night Walkers dangerous monsters since the beginning of time. I'm just a little freaked out, is all." He took a deep breath and turned to me. "I just want you to know, it has been a terrific two days. I only wish I could have more time to better know the one thing I have to live for.” He gently held the sides of my face and kissed me. As I felt like I was melting in his arms, his jaw worked against my mouth, making me part my lips. His tongue snaked playfully in and out of my mouth, coaxing mine to come out and play. I had never been kissed like this. Not even Jesha made me feel like this and I was going to marry him. He broke off the kiss and said “Goodbye Mickey. Have an amazing life. I wish you every happiness” He turned around to look at Kales. He spread his arms, baring his chest for a killing blow. “Kill me quick. I want my last vision to be her. Please don't let it fade from me.”
Kales turned to mush the minute the words were out of Jacob's mouth. “Dammit all to hell, I can't bloody well kill you now.”
Jacob looked dumbstruck. Dumbstruck, but grateful. “Why not?”
Kales smiled. “Cause anyone who talks to my sister like that and really means it deserves another shot in life. No matter how much you've heard.” He walked to me and gave me a great big bear hug. “He's a keeper Mickey. Hold on to him.”
“I will, don't worry. I hope he's really as nice as he seems. Oh. You should convince Jozze to get his tongue pierced. Kissing with a tongue ring is totally hot. I'm thinking of getting one myself.” I told him with a little laugh. I heard Jozze laugh quietly at his place by Jacob's side, where he was threatening Jacob to death if he ever hurt me. It was nice to have family.
“I’ll make sure to do that. I got my nipples pierced for him, he can get his tongue pierced for me.” he replied to me, rubbing his nipples at the thought . Just then the phone started ringing. Jozze sprang forward and picked up the receiver before any of us could even step forward.
“Hello? This is. Who? Tollayo? Nei! Bekar nami ayo enuur. Deyhar pura eak eairo? Nei sihar? Mehr. Yar. Daiya.” he said, starting in English and ending up in Egyptian. He turned around to three pairs of confused eyes staring at him. “What?”
“Said the man who just had a phone conversation in ancient Egyptian. What the hell was that all about?” Kales said.
“Oh! That was Tollayo, one of my friends from Egypt. They were doing a dig in Cairo and they dug up my family's old house. He told me that they dug it up and was wondering if I wanted him to send me some of the things that were still intact in my old room. I told him yeah.” he explained then added. “He knows what I am. He caught me fighting a vampire when I went back to Egypt a few years ago.” He hung up the phone. As he turned around, he took out a small handkerchief and started to wipe off his foundation. Sometimes his tattoos were hyper-sensitive, so he couldn't wear makeup. He winced at even the gentle pressure of the cloth running over the tattoos.
“Come on baby. The damn foundation you wear will come off a lot easier with a washcloth and soap.” Kales said, grabbing Jozze's hand and dragging him towards the bathroom, no doubt trying to give Jacob and me some quality alone time.
As soon as the bathroom door was closed, I turned to him and slapped him, hoping to knock some sense into that gorgeous skull of his. “What the hell were you doing? My brother usually doesn’t hesitate to kill someone that could threaten to expose us to the world! He would have killed you in a heartbeat. The only God damn reason you're alive now is because you lied to him about having only me to live for!”
“Who ever said it was a lie?” He said, rubbing the red mark where I hit him.
“What? We've had a date and went dancing once. You don't even know me that well. You just found out I'm not even human.” I said, not wanting to accept that someone could feel this strongly about me after two days.
“That may be so, but even after two days I know. Remember I told you that I was good at knowing relationships? Well--sometimes I see things. Not the future or dead people or anything like that, but I see colors. Married couples have the same color. There are two of every color in this world. Your brother and his boyfriend are the same color, kind of a goldenrod. When I look at you, I see the most beautiful shade of red. I don't know my own color because I've never looked, but I'm sure if I did, it would be the same shade of red as you. I feel so strongly about you, it's hard to believe I haven't met you before now.” he said with a slight smile.
“You're a match seer?” I said, hardly believing what I was hearing. “How do you see the colors?”
“Um, it's usually just a little spot right above a person's heart. Sometimes it's a kind of flickering light, but most of the time it's a spot. What's a match seer?” He said.
I ignored the question. “Jozze, Kales, quit making out and get out here. Don't try to ignore me I can hear you.” I said. That's the beauty of supernatural hearing and a tiny apartment. You know what your roommates are doing every moment of every day. The pair of them had actually started off just taking the makeup off, but one thing led to another and there they were, heading out of the bathroom, each with the other's scent on their breath.
“What business of yours is it if we were making out, not that I'm admitting we were.” Kales said. I love it when he gets defensive.
“I can smell Jozze on your breath, Kales. Besides, we have bigger things to worry about. Jacob is a match seer.” I said, smiling when I said I could smell Jozze on Kales's breath. They simultaneously put their hands to their mouths and checked their breath, and then both turned red.
“Okay. Will someone tell me exactly what the hell a match seer is?” Jacob said, frustrated that he didn't know.
Kales turned to him. “A match seer is a human with an ancestor who practiced in magic, most likely love potions and spells. The blood is passed down through the years until it finds a worthy male. Once it does, the male develops the ability to see relationships and what are called match sparks. The ability usually shows up around the age of sixteen. Looks to be that you're not as human as you thought you were.”
“Wow. I didn't even realize that it could actually mean something. I thought it was just a symptom of my eye issues.” Jacob said, looking relatively shocked that he didn't realize it.
“You have eye issues?” Jozze said. “Sorry. None of my biz.” He apologized as soon as he realized what he had said.
“It's okay. And yeah, I have eye problems, but I don't need good eyes to see that we are meant to be together, Mickey. I also don't need them to see just how beautiful you are, fangs and all.” Jacob said, blushing a bit as Jozze hit him with a 'Awww! How sweet!' and Kales said 'Awww! How corny!'
“Okay you two, knock it off. Now that we've all decided on not killing him, how about I make some food and we discuss matters over dinner?” I said, turning away to cover my own blush.
“Didn't you two just eat?” Kales asked. He looked at me suspiciously.
“Get your mind out of the gutter. It turns out that the paparazzi enjoy following movie costume designers and their brand new girlfriends all the way from L.A, no matter how fast you go on a race bike. No, we didn't get a chance to eat anything.” I said with my head in the fridge. I decided to make lemon chicken with angel hair pasta in a garlic and herb sauce.
I was so distracted in my thoughts that I didn't hear Jacob come in behind me. When I turned to put the various ingredients on the counter, I damn near jumped out of my skin. “Jesus Christ!” I noticed the jar--the glass jar--of garlic head towards the floor. Reaching my arm out faster, I knew, than Jacob could track with his eyes, I caught it mere centimeters from impact.
“Did I scare you?” He smirked at me. “I figured with the ear power of Wonder Woman on steroids, you would be able to hear me coming.”
“I'm a bit distracted, okay? This is only the second time in my life that I've had a boyfriend who understands what I am, and the last one didn't turn out so well. For him anyway.” It was painful to reopen a wound that was still so close to the surface, but I would have to tell him about Jesha sooner or later, so why not now?
“What happened?” Concern showed through in his voice.
“Well,” I said as I started preparing the chicken and pasta, "It was about a week and a half ago. His name was Jesha Corving. We had been going out for about five months and were supposed to get married in two more, but when I went over to his house to meet him for dinner, the apartment door was broken in two, the rooms were totally thrashed, and there was blood everywhere. They haven't even found a body.” I had to stop in my cooking process to wipe a tear off my cheek.
“Jeeze. If I had known it was that recent I wouldn't have asked you out so soon.” he said, wrapping his arm around my waist. I don't know what it was about him, but being with him just felt so--right.
“I've lived long enough to know to never live in the past for too long. I've wept enough for Jesha. It's time to move on with my life.” I admitted, quickly stirring the pasta so it wouldn't stick.
“If you don't mind me asking…how old are you?” He raised an eyebrow as he looked at me.
“The present year is 2008, and I was born in 772 A.D. Figure it out.” I told him, smacking the back of his hand that had reached out to steal a piece of pasta.
“Well now, let's see. 2008 minus 772 is…carry the one. Wow! You and your brother are 1236 years old? My girlfriend is fifty-six times my age. How old is Jozze?” He asked, shocked.
“You'll have to ask him that.” I said, smiling at the happy couple as they entered the room, drawn like a moth to a flame by the smell of food. I put plates, silverware, and the food on the table. “Dig in guys.” They did.
Right off the bat, Jacob asked Jozze. "So, if you don't mind me asking, how old are you?"
Jozze smiled. "A girl never tells her true age." There was much laughter at the table, then Jozze said, "Okay, okay. I was born in 2784. Figure it out.”
Jacob frowned a bit. “2784? Isn't that in the future?”
“Oh, you boneheaded boy. That's 2784 B.C. I'm 4792 and don't look a day over 21. Kales and I have been dating for 113 years, and yet it feels like only a day has gone by." Jozze said, making Jacob blush profusely, which brought on another round of laughter.
We talked about the past, telling stories from when the cities were new and from days that no one could even fathom to remember before I built up the courage and asked Kales: “What was Onyx's purpose in coming here?” We all fell silent and looked at him.
“Remember your last premonition?” He asked. Stupid question.
“Yeah. Those things are not an easy thing to forget. What about it?” I knew the answer to the question, but I wanted to hear it from him rather than my own mouth.
“He told me he was here to kill you, plain and simple. After that I lost control and ripped his head off and poof! One less sneaky bastard on this earth.” He said without meeting my eyes.
I smiled. “Let's look on the bright side of things.”
“What's that?” Jozze asked.
“I may have just had some guy try to kill me, but hey, at least we can go back to Bloodlust.” That earned me a few laughs. We finished the meal in high spirits, then Jozze offered to help me with the dishes and Kales and Jacob went into the living room.
I was suspicious. “What does Kales want to talk to Jake about?” I asked as Jozze ran water in the sink. I plunged my hands in the filled sink and winced at the too hot water and cranked the cold up.
Jozze slapped the back of my hand, then quickly shut the cold water off. Egypt had made him impervious to hot water. “Oh honey, the usual. You know, 'You hurt her and I'll hurt you', the same speech you gave me when Kales and I started dating. He has your already broken heart in mind.” Sometimes it felt good to talk to someone who liked to listen. Jozze was definitely putting his ears to good use today.
“Hey, I'm sorry I'm unloading all of my problems on you. I know you've been having problems of your own, but I just--” I stopped when my voice stopped working past the tears that had welled in my eyes.
“Oh honey!” Jozze slung the towel over his shoulder and wrapped me in his arms. “It's okay! You're going through a rougher time than I am right now, what with Jesha disappearing, the premonitions and voices getting worse, a new boyfriend, and people coming to get you? All in two weeks? Everything is going to be fine, I know it is. No matter what happens, no matter what I'm going through at the time, I will always be here to talk to. I don't care if you're crabby because the handle ripped off of your "Designer” leather Gucci handbag, or you're frustrated because your beau can't get it up in bed,” I laughed, “It don't matter. You talk, I'll listen. You're like a sister to me. I'll do anything for family. Okay?” He said, smiling and looking at me through watery eyes. “Damn woman. You got me going now.”
Another laugh. “Okay. Thank you so much for letting me talk. And just to let you know, I'm not like your sister. I am your sister, because you are my brother. God, when did I turn into such a cry baby?”
“Around the same time I turned into a gay drama queen, in sure.” he said, smiling and wincing as he wiped away his tears, his hand hurting his still sensitive tattoos.
“So about 2798 B.C.?” I said and poked him in the side.
“Hm…sounds about right. I've always been a little drama queen, though I haven't always been gay.” He said as he ran a hand through his neat black hair. “I didn't start showing interest in men until I turned fourteen. Then I became a gay drama queen. Believe me hun, our problems are not so dissimilar.”
“You are so awesome, do you know that? If you were straight or I were a guy and you weren't dating my brother, I would totally do you.” I told him, finally unwinding my arms from his. “Oh, God I'm sorry. I got mascara all over your shirt.” I tried with no prevail to wipe it off with a wet corner of the dishtowel.
“It's okay. Your brother does it all the time.” He said, looking down at the black stains. Then I heard Kales yell from the living room.
“I do not!”
“You do to!” Jozze yelled back. “The only difference is you wear brown mascara and your sister wears black mascara!” he smiled at the sound of my brother's squeal of protest. “I'll finish the dishes later. Let's go join our boyfriends shall we?” He grabbed my arm and put me ahead of him. As we entered the living room, I sat in the chair which was nearest, and Jozze walked behind Kales, rolled up the towel and snapped him with it.
“Jeeze! First you falsely accuse me of wearing mascara, then you snap me in the ass with a towel, what next?” he complained.
“You do wear mascara!” Jozze said.
“I do not!” Kales shot back.
“The lady doth protest too much.” Jozze replied.
“I am not, and I do not!” Kales said.
“You do too, and I can prove it!” He stalked toward their bedroom then seconds later, came back with a small pencil box.
“Jozze, what are you doing?” Kales asked.
“Proving it.” He opened the box to reveal about twenty different tubes of mascara, each one a different color, and each one bearing the initials K. F. Kales Ferrara. We all labeled our makeup so it wouldn't get mixed up.
“Oh wow. I didn't even know they made gold mascara!” I said, smiling as I caught Kales's bright red face out of the corner of my eye.
“I told you! Why do you think his eyelashes are always so perfect?” Jozze said in an unconvincingly accusing voice. It sounded to me like he liked Kales's lashes just the way they were.
“I am so going to get you for this.” Kales said, the blush never leaving his face.
“I know you will.” he said as he backed toward the open window, his wings unfurling from his back. “But in order to do that, you have to catch me first!” he yelled and dove backwards out the window, Kales only a few feet behind him.
As soon as Kales's feet were clear of the window, I stood at it and watched as Kales fought over the pencil box of mascara, dipping and diving to avoid clipping each other's wings. Kales finally knocked the box loose, sending it plummeting towards the ground. As Kales dove for it, folding his wings tight to his body and rocketing downwards, Jacob came to stand next to me. Kales pulled out of the dive and caught the box, than headed back in our direction.
“Jacob, duck!” I yelled. We were barely clear of the open window before Kales came shooting through the window. He folded in his wings and turned around just as Jozze came flying in the window and tackled him.
“Say uncle!” Jozze shouted, Kales pinned beneath him.
“Never!” he shouted back, struggling to be free of him.
“Say uncle!” Jozze said, poking Kales in the sides.
“No! Never!” Kales managed to get out while laughing.
“Say it! Say it! Say it or I'll never stop!” Jozze laughed out, tickling Kales relentlessly.
“Alright! Alright! Uncle! Uncle!” He choked out, his face flushed and covered in tears.
“Who's my b****?” Jozze said, not letting up.
“I am! I am! Quit it, you promised!” Kales whined, trying again to throw Jozze off of him.
Jozze stopped tickling him and said “Alright then!” then gave him a quick kiss on the lips, grabbed the forgotten box of mascara, and skipped off to their bedroom to put it away.
“What am I gonna do with him now?” Kales said, watching Jozze's retreating back. “He'll never let me live that down.”
I just smiled and winked at Jozze when he walked back into the room. “Girls one, boys nil.” Then there was a knock at the door.
“Man were popular lately.” Kales said, watching from the floor as I walked to the door.
I opened it to find Spencer Jones, or as we know him, the snotty, rich kid in the apartment next to ours, wearing a towel and reeking of recent sex. “Can I help you Spencer?” I said sweetly. He had tried to get into my pants when he first moved in and I was still dating Jesha. Jesha had overheard Spencer. Spencer never hit on me again.
“Yeah. I couldn't help but hear screams and loud crashes, and I was wondering--could you keep it down?” he was furious that his midnight booty-call had been interrupted.
“You see, I'm not the one you're looking for. My brother and his boyfriend were fighting and things got a little rowdy between them, so you have to talk to them about it.” I said.
“Fine. I will, if that's what it takes for those fags to--." his words were cut off by my hand around his throat.
I dragged him into the apartment and closed the door. “No one talks about my brother and his boyfriend like that. No one. Now, you are going to walk into the living room, look them in the eyes, and ask them to nicely pipe down, and you will ask nicely, or I swear, I will neuter you with my bare hands.” He made no sign of moving forward. “March! Now!” He started walking to the living room, looking back every other step to see if I was following. I was.
Oh this was perfect. Jozze and Kales had apparently heard me talking to Spencer, because they were laying on the floor of the living room, clad only in their boxers. Jozze was sprawled across Kales's chest, his freshly pierced tongue flicking teasingly across Kales's chest. Kales's eyes were closed and his head thrown back, his hand wrapped in Jozze's hair. I looked to Jacob to give him an apologetic look, but found him standing to the side, a camcorder held up to his eye and pointed directly at Kales and Jozze. Good God, they were pretending to shoot a porno.
I looked back at the happy couple in time to see Jozze find one of Kales's nipple rings, take it between his teeth and pull on it ever so slightly. Kales moaned involuntarily. I say involuntarily because they weren't really trying for actual turn on status so much as fake turn on status.
Kales turned his head toward us and looked at Spencer. He stared at him for a moment before extending his arm and saying in a gruff voice "Care to join us?"
Spencer was gone from that apartment like s*** through a goose.
The room was silent for about five minutes. Then Jozze spoke up. “Nice kid.” I thought we were all going to die laughing then and there.
The next night, at sunset of course, we decided to try going to Bloodlust again, but this time we brought Jake with us. With Onyx gone, we figured we wouldn't have a problem. We were wrong.
Archival met us at the door, letting Jozze, Kales, and me in, but stopping Jake. “No Others are allowed in the club.” He said. Others, of course, meant humans.
“Relax Arch. He's with me.” I said, reaching down deep for a shred of patience.
“Sorry Mickey. No Others allowed. No exceptions.” he said again. I could smell the fear rolling off of him. The force of it made every werewolf in a ten foot radius sneeze.
“He's not human, Archie. He's a seer.” I said, hating to play that card so early in the night.
“No witchcraft. We don't want any trouble.” He said. I'd forgotten that rule. The only reason they tolerated Jozze here, I expected anyway, was because he was Kales's boyfriend.
“Okay. He's not that kind of a seer. He's a match seer. He doesn't practice in witchcraft. He simply sees relationships.” I hoped that would be enough to convince him to let Jake in. It wasn't.
“A match seer, ay? Well I'll tell you what. I am married. Have been for sixty years. My wife works here, too. As a matter of fact, I can see her from here. We were told by another match seer that we were right for each other. If you can tell me my color and spot my girl from here, I'll let you in. If not, he goes and so do the three of you. Fair?” He looked at me in particular.
“That's fair.” Jake said. “Your color is kind of a blue-green, turquoise color. And let's see,” he scanned the club, looking for Archie's wife. Slowly, a bright smile lit his face. "There she is. At the bar on the far right. The bartender, tall, blond. Blue sequin spaghetti strap, black micro mini, and strappy silver stilettos. And complete with the same blue/green/turquoise flame above her heart as you. A match made in heaven.” he said, smiling.
Archie looked at him for a second, then a smile stretched his face from ear to ear. “That's my girl, Jessica.” He let him through. We headed to the bar in high spirits. When we all sat down, Melissa, a young panther shifter walked over to us, keeping a close eye on Kales.
“What can I get you guys?” she said. I ordered us all a round of Jeremiah Weed.
“Here you go guys.” she said, sitting them in front of us and grabbing her screwdriver from under the bar.
Kales lifted his drink. “A toast. To another day past without dying.”
We all knocked glasses, including Melissa. She giggled coyly. “You're cute.”
Jozze glared at her and took Kales's hand in his own and giggled mockingly. “He's taken.”
She looked at the two of them. “You're queer? But he's so hot!” she said, pointing to Kales.
Jozze looked at her with eyes that had turned from topaz to ice blue. He bared his fangs and hissed at her, sending her scurrying off in the other direction.
Kales looked at him, concerned. “Are you okay, babe? You look like something is bothering you.”
Jozze shrugged. “I got another call from Tollayo when Mickey was at Jake's helping him pick out clothes and you were in the shower.” He reached behind the bar for the bottle of Jeremiah, poured himself a shot, and tossed it back, rolling the liquor in his mouth before swallowing.
“What's up?” I asked.
He sighed. “Well, turns out that the house wasn't buried. It was burnt down, shortly after I was changed. They found the corpses of my mother, younger brother, and baby sister. Each was found with and arrow in their head, bearing the mark of the pharaoh on the arrow head. Turns out, the pharaoh got royally pissed when he lost his sorcerer and sent out a decree saying that if I didn't show up in four moons, he would kill everyone I loved. I never heard it. I was halfway across Africa with my sire. My brother was thirteen, my sister three.” He said, finishing his drink and pouring himself another one. “I could have been there to protect them, but I wanted to much to be rid of the stupid pharaoh! Nei, I was a coward. I didn't want to be used for fun. I was selfish and stupid. Nein tur taten een. Buruv meekahl kahlee me kuhruu. Buruv meekahl kahlee makekah feurn tehr bein. Buruv dehar kahlee surrehn tehm.”
Basically he said “I can't believe it. I should have stayed there. I should have fought for their lives. I could have saved them.”
Kales glared at him. “You get that thought out of your head right now. There was nothing you could do. You were weak and confused. If you had stayed, you wouldn't be here today. You are not a coward, you're smart. Now come on. We're going to go dance, take your mind off of the past, and so Jake and Mickey can have some alone time.” Kales downed his drink in a single swallow, then stood, dragging a protesting Jozze behind him.
I turned to Jacob, only to find him staring intently at me. “What?” I asked.
“We're gonna go dance.” He said, smiling. He followed suit with Kales, downing his drink and dragging a protesting me behind him onto the dance floor. Lollipop Remix was pounding out of the speakers, and the fog from the machines was so thick that your feet seemed to disappear once you stepped into it.
I closed my eyes and waited for the lyrics to settle in to a rhythm. Soon enough they did. “Tell her girls like Doritos it's nacho cheese. Tell her friends like Fritos I'm tryin' to lay. I can't only have one and I ain't tryin' to wait.” I let the lyrics control my dance, opening my eyes. We pursued each other in a furious gyrating battle. When the song was over, I expected him to stop dancing, but he didn't. Up next was some techno song that I recognized from the radio. I turned away from him and put my arms around his neck. I let my body move with his for a while before turning to face him. Then I ground my hips into his with a slow seductive twist. He lifted my chin with a finger and kissed me. The combined effect of the maximum bodily contact and our tongues entwining into their own lively dance sent electric tingles all the way through my body. We weren't even dancing anymore, a fact that was noticed by everyone but us, including Jezebel, the DJ.
“Oh, look at this people! Looks like we have a new love out here on the dance floor. Say hello to Jacob Rayyo and Mickey Ferrara!” Jezebel could tell someone's name just by looking at them.
Jacob and I both froze as we felt hundreds of eyes fall on us. Then everything got bright. Someone had pointed a spotlight at the two of us. All at once, multiple voices awed with affection. I took his hand and led us both to the bar. He was already buzzed from the high alcohol content in the drinks. I figured two or three more drinks and he'd be totally blitzed. For me would be about twice that. It took a lot of alcohol to get me drunk. I could drink a bottle of vodka and barely be buzzed.
Half an hour, and sixteen super alcoholic Jeremiah Weed rounds later we were all drunk off of our asses. We thanked Melissa and headed home. It was just after midnight, so we decided to walk home. Jake and I walked a ways behind Kales and Jozze, laughing all the way because Jozze kept tripping over his own feet. When we entered the lobby, Jake told Kales and Jozze to go ahead. We'd take it the next time around.
As soon as the doors slid shut, he backed me against the wall and kissed me, pressing his body against mine. All tentativeness was gone between us. His tongue invaded my mouth, stroking mine in turn. He had put his spike stud back in his tongue, and when the tip of it scraped my tongue, it was like my senses woke up from a long slumber. He reached behind me and pressed the elevator button, his mouth never leaving contact with mine. As we stumbled drunkenly into the elevator, I knew exactly where this was headed, and I also knew there was no way in hell that I was going to stop it.
The next thing I knew, it was two thirty in the afternoon, I had a one hell of a hangover, and I was stark naked, spooned against Jacob's body. Oh s***. What the hell did I do? I closed my eyes and listened. Thank God! He was breathing normally, his heart was beating at a steady rate, and I didn't smell any blood, so I didn't hurt him. Good thing I couldn't get pregnant either. If we hadn't used protection we would be in some serious trouble. I heard his breathing increase and knew he had woken.
“Holy s***. What the hell time is it?” He asked, groaning.
“It's two thirty. I should still be asleep for another five hours, sunset isn't even close.” I said, rolling over to face him.
“TWO THIRTY? IN THE AFTERNOON? S***!” he sprang from the bed like he'd been shot from a cannon. “I was supposed to be into work at noon! S***, s***, s***, s***, s***!” he pulled on a pair of boxers and beat up blue jeans, then pulled on a loose t-shirt and a pair of socks, hastily zipping his boots on. He grabbed his spare bike key, then walked back to me and kissed me on the lips. “I'm sorry, I've gotta go. I'll see you tonight after work. S***! I should have the warlock costume done by now. They're gonna kill me!”
With that he ran out the door, snagging his jacket on the way out. I sat up and looked around the apartment. There were manikins and sewing machines everywhere. Cans and bottles of paint were strewn everywhere, rolls of cloth were stacked in a corner, and every spare inch of every surface was covered in makeup. It was hard to believe that the macho man I was dating lived in an apartment that looked like it belonged to a girl. I got out of bed and got dressed, grabbing my purse and house keys on my way out. When I unlocked the door and walked inside, I was shocked to see Kales standing in the kitchen shirtless, his nipple rings a flash of silver in the light, looking absolutely horrible.
“God, bro. You look like s***.” I said, taking note of his sunken eyes and pale skin.
“Look who's talking! You know what I did last night, but what did you do?” he said. I must have looked like s*** to get that kind of a look from him.
I thought for a minute. “I think I did the same thing you did last night, but I'm not real sure.” I massaged my forehead, trying for some shred of a memory. We would have to try it again when we were sober.
“You think? What do you mean you think? How do you not remember the absolute hottie across the hall bunny humping your brains out?” he said, looking at me like I was crazy.
“Hello? We were plastered! You know I forget a lot when I'm drunk.” I said, following suit as he grabbed a cup and poured some coffee from the pot I didn't realize was even on.
Just then, Jozze came stumbling out of their bedroom, wearing nothing but a pair of boxers. I had only seen him shirtless twice before, so I hadn't realized that his torso was also covered in tattoos, all of Egyptian scenes, the gods and goddesses, the Great Bird was the largest tattoo on his chest, stretching across his pectoral muscles.
“Okay, I know I'm technically dead, but damn. Who knew Hell was this painful?” Jozze said, rubbing his face and wincing. His tattoos must have still been tender. He walked past us with his eyes closed. He had long ago memorized the layout of the apartment. We all had, just in case something happened. Something like my last dream. As he turned to pour a cup of coffee, his back to us, I gasped. Down the length of his spine, among scars from, what I assumed were, being whipped as a human, was a tattoo. It was a cobra , its body coiled at the bottom, the head turned toward me, its ruby eyes almost glowing.
“Jesus that looks real.” I said, staring intently at it.
Jozze turned and looked a me. He sat his coffee cup down and reached behind him. “What? This?” He said, smiled, than brought his hand from behind his back. In it was the cobra that had been on his back. It turned to me, looking with its ruby eyes, and hissed, baring its fangs.
“Holy s***! What are you, Houdini?” I said, stepping back to avoid the reach of the snake. I couldn't die from a cobra bite, but they still hurt like hell. I watched as the snake wound itself around Jozze's arm, than sank back into his skin, a tattoo once more.
“I'm no Houdini, but I do enjoy a good magic trick. I can make the bird come alive, too.” he said, than looked at his arm, as if just realizing the snake had taken tattoo form. He reached one finger to it and stroked it's coils. The snake came alive again, hissing at Jozze as he lifted the snake from the perch on his arm. “Don't b**** at me! It's not my fault you were put on my back and not my arm.” the snake seemed to understand Jozze, slithering around his waist and settling back onto Jozze's back.
Apparently Kales had never seen that little trick either, because he was staring open mouthed at Jozze. “That was hot!” he said, looking at Jozze with amazement. “I ain't never seen that little trick before!”
“I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it. Mickey spotting how real it looks was just the icing on the cake. Speaking of icing cakes.” Jozze looked slyly at me. “I know I got mine iced last night. What about you?”
“She thinks she did.” Kales said, stepping forward and putting his arms around Jozze's waist.
“How do you think you got screwed by the godlike, dreamy, extra creamy neighbor boy?” Jozze asked, leaning his head back against Kales's chest.
“Like I told Kales. I was plowed and don't remember.” I said, taking another drink of the coffee.
“Honey, I was drunk last night, too, but I remember what I did last night. Or, rather, had done to me…wow, by the way.” He added the last part as a footnote to my brother.
Kales grinned. “Why thank you, it was good for me, too.” He leaned his head down and kissed Jozze on the lips.
When they broke apart, Jozze looked at me. “Where is lover boy any-hoo?” he said.
“He had to go to work. We got up at two thirty and he was supposed to be at work at noon.” I said, finishing the last of my coffee and rinsing out the cup. Jozze had done the dishes. I put the cup in the sink and started walking towards my bedroom. “I'm gonna try to get a little more sleep, okay?”
“See you around seven thirty then.” Kales said.
“Night guys!” I said. In my room, I put on a pair of cotton pants and a tank top and crawled into bed. Weariness settled in over me and I fell asleep to the thought of Jacob and I dancing at the club.
It started out cheerful, it really did. Dreams often do, but you know me. I can't have a good dream without it turning into a premonition induced nightmare. This one was a real doozy.
At first, I was in a candy store, tending to my weakness for chocolate. Then all of a sudden I was in a dark room. The classic dark room, a table, a chair, and a bare bulb swinging from the force a hand had applied to it as it was turned on. In the chair, at the table sat a blindfolded Jozze. Mr. Hand, as we will call him, ripped of Jozze's blindfold and sat a box in front of him.
“Do you know what this is?” Mr. Hand asked.
“No. I have no idea what's in that box.” Jozze said, spitting out blood and glaring at Mr. Hand. “Why don't you show me then let me go?” Go Jozze.
“Very well, then. I'll show you.” Mr. Hand reached out and pulled the string that had tied the box shut. The sides collapsed to reveal a head. My brother's head.
“No! God no, not my Kales! You will pay for his death with your own, pharaoh.” Jozze said, tears pouring down his face.
Wait. Pharaoh? As in the pharaoh? The pharaoh who kept Jozze captive until he was changed? This was going to be interesting.
“Will I? You see, if you don't come back to me as my sorcerer, that pretty little sister of his is next. Then her boyfriend. Let’s see, don't you have friends in Egypt still? That can be fixed.” the pharaoh threatened.
“Alright. I'll come back to you. Just don't hurt them.” Jozze said, closing his eyes against the tears.
“I can't trust you to you're word. Seal it in blood.” the pharaoh said, then drew a small knife and slid it across his palm, drawing blood before handing the knife to Jozze.
Jozze took it and slid it across his own palm. He reached his palm out and winced when the pharaoh put his on to, mixing their blood. “I, Jozzlen Anuukman, bound myself to you, Pharaoh Anukshamann, by my blood and my life. I am yours eternally. Sire.” He had to force the last word to bite past his lips.
“Good. Now, if you would have done that 1046 years ago, we could have spared the lives of your family. From then and now.” As he walked out the door, my vision started to tremble on the scene.
“You son of a b****! I will kill you!” Jozze yelled at the pharaoh's retreating back.
“Mickey! Mickey it's just a dream! A premonition!” I opened my eyes to Kales's face. That didn't stop the screaming any, it only made me think of his severed head in that wretched box. It wasn't until I Jozze leaned over me on my other side and started singing/casting a spell over me that I stopped screaming.
“What happened, honey? Tell us what happened so we can make it better.” Jozze said, switching back to English once I'd calmed down.
“Oh God. I don't want to remember. God, that horrible, horrible pharaoh, how did you put up with him for seventeen years Jozze? The things he's going to do. I don't ever want to relay what I just saw on anyone else.” I said, tears streaming down my face.
“You have to tell us sweetie. What did you hear about the pharaoh? We have to be ahead of things.” Jozze said.
“Fine! He kidnapped Jozze, put him in a room and sat a box in front of him. When the Pharaoh opened the box, Kales's severed head was inside. When Jozze threatened his life, the Pharaoh threatened the lives of everyone he knew, me, Jacob, his friends in Egypt. Everyone. Jozze pledged his service to the pharaoh by cutting their palms and pressing them together and saying a whole bunch of words about binding by blood and s***. He only did it because the pharaoh promised him that he wouldn't hurt us. As soon as the blood bond was complete, the pharaoh left the room and told him that if he would have done that a long time ago, he would have spared our lives.” Things were quiet for a moment, aside from my sobbing.
Jozze spoke up. “Gods. I need to call Egypt and tell Tollayo to get out of Cairo. If Anukshamann is back, my old house is the first place he'll go.” he walked toward the corner of the room and pulled out his cell phone. When the other line picked up, he started talking in a steady stream of Egyptian.
I bet I know what you're wondering. 'There's the premonition, but where's the voice that usually follows?' Don't worry. It's coming.
My stomach rolled. My whole body trembled and I started to get cold. Fast. I knew if I stayed there, I would throw up all over Kales, so I got up and ran to the bathroom, barely making it as the first wave of nausea sent everything I had eaten out of my stomach. I hadn't thrown up since I was human. I had forgotten how much it hurt. Then the voice came in. It was unexpected, seeing as I had gone a whole three days without it pestering me. I couldn't keep it from breaking through my barrier.
As I struggled to get the voice under control, I had had enough sense to keep my head over the toilet, so when the second nauseating wave hit me, the vomit went into the toilet, not on me. I tasted blood in my mouth at the same time my nose started to burn. I felt myself weakening under the force of the voice and sickness I felt. I'd had enough of it. I quit fighting off the voice and let it break free. As I passed out, I thought I faintly heard a third voice that wasn't my brother's or Jozze's, but I figured it was my imagination. Then the world went blank.
“Mickey? Are you okay?” I heard Jozze ask, but it sounded like he was far away.
“Jozze? Am I dead?” I asked.
“No hun, you're not dead.” he said, still sounding so far away.
“Oh.” I considered that for a moment. “Jozze? Will you kill me?” Everything hurt. Hell would have hurt less than that.
“I would, but there are tender seeing eyes in the room, if you get my meaning.” His voice got a little closer.
“Huh?” My brain wouldn't comprehend what he was trying to tell me.
“Lover boy is back from work. We filled him in on the premonition.” I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off. “The pharaoh put him in danger, too. We couldn't let him go out every day, oblivious to the danger waiting for him.” His voice was were it should be now.
“How'd he take it?” I asked, referring to the part where I had premonitions and heard voices, not that some crazy mummy was going to come after him.
“He took it quite well.” Jacob said from the doorway. “Why didn't you tell me you had premonitions and heard voices?” he sounded disgusted at the idea of it.
“Because every time one of my boyfriends find out about it, they leave. I like you. I didn't want leaving to be an option this early in the relationship.” I said, attempting to sit up. Jozze put a hand behind my back and helped me lean against my pillows. “Do you realize that in 1236 years I have never felt this way about any of my boyfriends? Not even Jesha, and I was willing to marry him! I like you a lot, but if you're not willing to understand me, then what's the point? You're a match seer. You've seen my color. Are you so sure it's the same as yours?” I wiped my hurt and angry tears from my eyes, not wanting him to see how much the look in his eyes had hurt me.
“It's not that I don't want to understand you. Trust me, if there's any human in this whole wide world, someone like me is one of the best people to do just that. But you need to help me, so I know what you want me to understand about you. And I wish with all my heart that I knew for sure that we were the same color. I do, and I've been trying since I found out what I was to find another match seer to tell me what my color is, but I can't! I really want us to be together, but I don't know if we can.” He said.
Jozze spoke up. “You two! Do you realize what a good thing you have going here? Sure you have problems! Kales and I have been dating for over a century and we still have problems! Jeeze, the other day I was convinced he didn't love me anymore! Jacob, she's had three premonitions in a row about us dying, and the voices have only gotten worse. Mickey, give the boy a break! He found out everything he ever designed costumes based on are real, and that his girlfriend is one, that some ancient pharaoh is out to get him, and that you have premonitions and voices that try to kill you and your loved ones. And that he's a match seer? All in three days? That would be hard on anyone, human or not! Now, kiss and make up, or I swear to God, I will put the smack-down on you both, and it will not be pretty. Of course by me I mean your brother.” He looked at us expectantly. When neither of us moved, he started to get up. “Alright. Have it your way. Kales! We have an iss…never mind!” He stopped in mid-sentence as Jacob walked to me and kissed me lightly on the lips.
As soon as he did it, the pain disappeared. This was something new. Jesha had dimmed the voices and lessened the premonitions, but with Jacob, they disappeared completely, along with any pain from the night before. I could get used to this. I pulled back.
“So. We all good?” I said tentatively.
“Yeah, we're good. Sorry I had to split this morning. I would have called in sick, but they can't do rehearsal without me. I'm the only one who can get the costumes and makeup just right, because God forbid I should train someone in to help me.” He said.
“Why won't they let you train someone in?” I asked, kicking off the covers and swinging my legs over the side of the bed.
“They don't want to have to pay someone else to do it. Are you sure you can stand up okay? From what I heard and what I was told, you had a pretty rough day.” He took my hand when I nodded, then helped me get into the bathroom. “Do you want me to wait?” He asked as I pulled him in with me. Wait? Yeah. Right. Funny.
“No, it's okay. You've already seen me naked anyway, what's the difference?” I said and closed the door. “Sit.” I pointed to the toilet. “What if someone were to volunteer? For the job, I mean, not seeing me naked.” I started to brush my teeth, scrubbing away the last traces of morning breath. Vomit and blood do not make a pleasant taste the next morning.
“Well, if it was volunteer work, they wouldn't have a problem. Why?” He looked at me like he already knew what I was thinking.
“I got nothing to do all day. Plus, who better to design supernatural costumes than someone who has first hand experience with the supernatural?” I paused to rinse out my mouth, ridding it of the minty toothpaste I used.
“What about the whole "Can't walk into the sunlight” thing? I don't want you bursting into flames on me.” He said, genuinely concerned.
“That's strictly a vampire rule. It's not that we can't go outside, it's that we're weaker in the sunlight. We still have more strength than a human, but if we were to come face to face with one of our own, we would be royally screwed. Then again, if another of us is in the sun, we don't really have to worry. That and the sun tends to hurt the eyes, but that's easily fixed with a pair of sunglasses. So, what do you say?” I pulled the curtain around the shower and turned on the hot water, waiting for it to heat up before turning on the cold a bit. I turned to him “Are you uncomfortable being in the room when I shower?” I asked.
“No I don't mind. I get an average of fifteen people in and out of costumes every day. I'm fine with people undressing and stuff in front of me. I think you volunteering is a great idea. How about I come get you at eleven thirty tomorrow, we'll head out and we can talk to my boss. He's not going to mind the extra h-holy wow. When did you get a tattoo?” his eyes went immediately to the dragon I had tattooed around my right leg.
I had taken my pants and shirt off and stood in my black lace bra and undies with little red bows. The dragon was a Chinese protector of the innocent, a red dragon with black wings. It coiled from my ankle to just above my knee. “That? I got that in '52. I was drunk and had a thousand bucks in my pocket. It was a stupid thing to do, but I like it, so I can't say I'm sorry. Do you like it?” I looked at the dragon affectionately.
“I think tattoos are hot. Well, I don't think their hot when they're on other dudes, or on my girlfriend's brother's boyfriend, but you get my meaning. Anyway, I was going to say that my boss wouldn't mind the extra help as long as it was volunteered. He's putting all of his money into this movie, so he'd be pretty pissed if he had to give out extra pay.” He still had his eyes on my tattoo. “It looks so real!”
I grinned evilly and stripped out of my bra and undies, stepping under the warm stream of water. “When I'm done, we have to go talk to Jozze about the tattoo on his back. You think mine looks real, you should see his.” I poured shampoo into my hand and scrubbed it into my sweat caked hair. When all the suds were out of my hair, I grabbed my soap bottle and went to grab for my poof thingy, but it wasn't there. I must have left it on the sink. “Will you hand me the yellow poof? I left it on the sink.”
“No problem. So how many tattoos does Jozze have?” He asked, handing me my poof around the curtain.
“God, you are such a gentleman. I don't ever think I'll get tired of that. Um, I know Jozze has six tattoos on his face and one on his back. I'm not quite sure how many he has on his chest, or if he has any anywhere else. The one on his back is the one I want you to see.” I rinsed the soap off of my body and rinsed out the poof. I reluctantly turned off the warm water and grabbed my towel off of its hook and wrapped it around myself. I pulled back the shower curtain to find Jacob with his eyes closed. Such a gentleman! I quickly dried off and pulled my clothes back on. “I need to go put on some clean clothes, and then we can go talk to Jozze. Okay? You can open your eyes now, I have clothes on.”
He opened his eyes and looked at me. “Okay.”
I opened the door to find Jozze and Kales making out in the hallway. “Ewwwww!” I threw my dirty towel at the back of Kales's head. “Save it for the bedroom!”
“Oh blow it out your ear, you just showered with your three day boyfriend!” Kales said, throwing my towel back at me.
“Excuse me? Does he look wet to you? I didn’t shower with him! He was sitting on the toilet talking to me and I was showering!” I smelled a fight coming. Not a verbal fight either.
“Oh, sure. You didn't shower with him, but you sure jumped his bones in a hurry.” Kales shot back.
Jozze spoke tentatively. “Guys, calm down.”
“No way in hell.” We both said at the same time.
“Fine. Tear each other to pieces like last time. Just know this: I'm not helping you stitch up, and you aren't getting any sympathy.” Jozze said and walked away.
I glared at Kales. We went through this every time I got a new boyfriend. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “Jozze, get back here. Kales and I will behave ourselves.”
He turned around. “Promise?”
Kales and I both sighed and looked at each other. “Promise.” we said in unison.
“Shake on it.” Jozze persisted. We did. Then we realized what we were about to fight about and busted into peals of laughter.
Kales tried to talk, but failed miserably, since he couldn't get a word past his giggles.
I walked to my bedroom, still laughing heartily, and brushed Kales's hand as I passed to let him know we were okay. Jacob followed closely behind me. As I shut the door, he looked at me like I was barking mad.
“Uh, what was that all about?” he asked.
“Every time I get a boyfriend, Kales starts getting defensive of me. So, the tension gets thicker and thicker until eventually, something tiny sets him off. The last time, I ripped two of his fingers off and he took a big chunk out of my back. Jozze had to stitch us back together when we had calmed down. We had the cops called on us. Since no one was dead, there was no investigation. Well, their would have been, but Jozze kind of--lets say persuaded--the officer to let us off the hook. I would show you a scar, but we don't have any.” I pulled on some clean clothes, thinking about the bloody mess we both were after we calmed down. Jozze had been pretty upset that we had beaten each other that bad, but he got over it when Kales had told him why he had done it. “Come on. Let's go talk to Jozze.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him out of my room, down the hallway, and into the living room. Jozze was curled up on Kales's lap; his head leaned back against Kales's chest.
“Jozze. Mickey says that I'm supposed to ask about a tattoo on your back? I saw her dragon and it looked real. So, she told me I had to ask about yours” Jacob asked.
Jozze looked at me and grinned with enough wickedness to give a nun a heart attack. He stood and pulled his shirt over his head, turning toward Jacob as he did so. He put his hand under the snake.
“Wow, Mickey was right. I thought hers looked real. Yours is extraordinary. Who did it?” Jacob asked, looking at it intently.
“The crazy ass pharaoh who kept me as a slave for seventeen years.” Jozze stroked the snake's coiled figure. “I can make it look alive. Want to see?”
“Sure.” Jacob said. He watched as Jozze moved his finger up the snake until he stroked its throat.
“Holy s***!” Jacob yelled and jumped back as the cobra reared forward off of Jozze's back.
Jozze turned around with the cobra in his hand. “This is an example of why people don't mess with me once they find out I'm a witch. These tattoos weren't done with a needle and ink; the pharaoh cursed them onto my body. I can make the bird come alive too. The snake's name is Sithar. It means death serpent. The bird is a death bringer for Osiris named Fithar, or winged death. I would make him come out and play, too, but the last time I did that, he tried to eat Sithar. Do you want to hold him?” Jozze held Sithar out to Jacob. Jacob hesitated, “He won't bite you.” Sithar started to hiss at Jozze. “What do you mean 'how do I know'? First of all, I control you, not the other way around. Second of all, if you so much as think of biting him, I will send you straight back to the underworld, may Osiris and his death bringers have mercy on your soul.” Sithar hissed at Jozze and closed his mouth. He stretched out his long body until he was face to face with Jacob.
“Do you underssssstand how much resssissstance it takesss for me not to bite you? Thank your lucky sssstarssss that Jozze isss protecting you.” Sithar hissed, and then coiled himself around Jacob's arm. “Human? How interessssting. Human, yet he sssmellssss of thisss one.” He said, his ruby eyes flicking to me for an instant. “How long have you been ssssick?” He asked.
“I--how do you know I'm sick?” Jacob asked. Surprise showed on his face, both from the fact that a snake was talking to him and the fact that said snake knew he was sick.
“I'm magical. Now sssspill to me and your girlfriend.” Sithar hissed, rolling his eyes.
“Um, about a year. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease last December. I'm on a drug called Sinement that reduces the symptoms, but they're still there. If I was to sit for a long period of time and you would watch me, I would eventually start trembling.” He paused to look at his watch. “Oh, s***. I'm half an hour late for my pill. Hold on.” He took a small bullet shaped pill box out of his pocket. Out of it he produced a small white pill which he put on his tongue and swallowed. Then he realized that everyone was staring at him. “What?”
“What? You were making a big deal out of me not telling you that I have premonitions and hear voices, and then you keep from me the fact that you have Parkinson's? Isn't that a bit of the pot calling the kettle black?” I asked.
“Okay, so we both have secrets. Now that both of our biggest secrets are out in the open, how about we get some of the smaller ones out of the way?” He asked, trying to cross his arms around his chest, but stopped when Sithar hissed in protest.
“Yessss! Letsss shhhare sssome sssecretsss!” he said, his ruby eyes glittering with mischief.
“Okay.” I said, thinking about what to tell him. “Right after I was changed, I slipped away from my sire and killed my best friend.” I said. Sharing all of my secrets was going to take a while.
“I did PCP until I turned nineteen and my best friend died in my arms from a drug overdose.” He said. Sithar had dropped off of Jacob's arm to slither over to the couch, where he sat between Kales and Jozze.
“In my life time, I've killed a total of four hundred sixty-two people.” I said, thinking of all the faces that haunted me.
“I stabbed my brother in the thigh with a letter opener. On purpose.” he said, his eyes showed no sign of regret.
“I've tried to commit suicide.” I told him.
“So have I.” he said.
“I'm wanted in France for arson.” I said.
“I stole these pants from a store in Germany.” He was thinking hard.
“Five months before I met you, I went over to the apartment you live in now and wrote my name all over the walls with a black light marker.” That wasn't a bad thing, but it was funny to picture him with a black light, shining it on the wall to see all of the stuff I had written.
“One time, when I was thirteen, my older brother came home drunk and passed out, so I dripped honey all over him and poured my fire ant farm on him. He was covered in little bites for days.” he said, laughing at the memory.
“One time, Kales passed out drunk on the couch, so I stripped him and super glued the couch cushions and the TV remote to him.” I, too, started laughing.
“One time, my cousin and I were in Kentucky, so we went to a farm and stole like fifty chickens, then put little 'we'll kill you' signs around their necks and locked them in a KFC for the night.” He smiled.
“While Kales was sleeping one night, I covered his hand in super glue and tickled his face, so when he went to slap the bothersome tickle away, his hand was stuck to his face.” I started laughing so hard, tears were running down my face.
“I shaved my sister's head in her sleep.” He had tears running down his face, too.
“Jozze and Kales were out dancing one night, so I went into their room and gorilla glued all of their stuff to the ceiling.” It was getting hard to talk.
“I slipped a Viagra into my brother's punch at church one Sunday.” We both started laughing to hard to keep going. Jozze and Kales were laughing too, while Sithar was doing some sort of hissy chuckle that I assumed was laughter.
“Truce?” Jacob asked and held out his hand.
“Truce.” We shook on it.
“Wow. He'ssss a juvenile delinquent and shhhe'ssss an arssssonisssst and a murderer. What a perfect couple.” Sithar hissed, and then retreated to Jozze's lap when I threw a pencil at his head.
Jozze chuckled. “Do you want to go back on my back?” he asked.
“No. I want her to quit throwing thingssss at me.” he was shying away from the open space between him and me.
Looking at the snake made me think of my own tattoo. “Jozze? Do you think it would work if you tried to make my tattoo come to life?” I asked. “It's a pretty ludicrous idea, I know, but…would it work?”
“Well, there's only one way to find out. Roll up your pant leg and let's give it a shot!” he said, handing Sithar over to Kales as I stepped toward him, making the serpent squirm.
I rolled up my right pant leg to just above the dragon's snout. I watched as Jozze let his powers hum through him, the Eye on his forehead glowing along with his eyes. He gently put his fingertip over where the dragon's heart would be. The tattoo started to tingle and glow. The dragon blinked its eyes. Then I watched in utter amazement as the dragon lifted itself off of my leg and uncoiled itself from around my ankle.
The dragon looked at Jozze and started speaking to him in a raspy language that I didn't understand. Apparently Jozze did, because he responded in the same raspy tongue that the dragon used.
Jozze turned to me. “His name is Peace. He says that he's the protector of innocent. He originates from China, and apparently wants to know where his brother is.”
“He has a brother?” I asked.
“Yes. His brother's name is Harmony. The two of them represent northern and southern China and how the two sides worked together to protect each other, but seeing as you don't have another dragon tattoo, I'm guessing his brother is missing until you suck it up and get it done.” He said, looking a little sorrowfully at Peace.
“What exactly does this dragon look like?” Jacob asked.
“He's just the opposite of Peace. Black with red designs. Despite their violent colors, they are very docile creatures. Why?” Jozze said.
Jacob took off his shirt and turned his back toward us. “Kind of like this one?” he said. Coiled around his back was a dragon tattoo. A dragon tattoo that was just the opposite of mine, its black body twisted and turned.
Peace started to go wild, looking at the tattoo and talking in that raspy language. Jozze tried to calm him down, but nothing helped.
Then Jozze turned to Jacob. “Honey, he's not going to calm down until he gets his brother back.” Jozze looked like he regretted saying that.
“Then give him his brother back. Hocus pocus him off of my back.” he said.
“O-okay, but you're human. I don't know how much it will hurt you. Tattoos aren't meant to come off of human skin. I don't want to hurt you! That would break my poor black heart.” Jozze said, not wanting to meet Jacob's eyes.
“Hey, I can take pain. I've been dealing with pain for about a year. Just, give Peace his brother back.” Jacob turned his back to Jozze and visibly fought down a tremor at the mention of his year long battle with Parkinson's.
Jozze stepped forward and tentatively put his hand on Jacob's back, his eyes and tattoo relighting with his magic. “I'm so sorry.” he whispered and channeled his powers into the dragon tattoo. As the dragon, Harmony, came to life, blood trickled from Jozze's nose, running down his face. When the dragon was free of Jacob's skin, Jozze pulled away his hand like he'd been burned.
“S***! S*** that hurt! Heivat sihar! What the hell?” Jozze said, wiping the blood from his nose off of his face. His face paled and I saw his eyes turn blue a split second before he said “Mickey! Get Jacob, Peace, and Harmony the hell out of here!”
As I grabbed Jacob's hand and the two reunited dragons, I heard Sithar behind us. “I'm coming with you!” he said and wrapped himself around my ankle,
We walked into the hallway just as I heard Jozze's scream of pain. Jacob took out his apartment key and unlocked the door. I walked in and tried to let go of the dragons, but they were coiled around my arms, Peace on the right, Harmony on the left, sleeping. They'd been looking for each other for a long time.
Jacob looked at me and smiled. “Mickey the serpent tamer.”
“What's with the nickname?” I asked.
“You've got a dragon on each arm and a snake around your leg.” His smile got impossibly bigger.
I just shook my head and kissed him lightly on the lips. Then I looked down at Sithar. “Why were you so eager to get out of there?”
“I know I've ssseen him loosssse control before, but never have I sssseen it hurt him sssso much to refrain from hurting ssssomeone. I couldn't bear to ssssee him in sssso much pain.” He shook his head with sorrow. “He'ssss my masssster and my friend.”
I knew that at this moment, Jozze was either latched onto Kales's neck or wrist. Jozze hated hunting, so every time the thirst hit him, he turned to Kales for help. Just then, Peace and Harmony started to move, squirming on my arms.
Peace was the first to open his eyes. He spoke in perfect English. “I thank you for bringing my brother, Harmony, and I back together. I have searched for him for almost three millennia. We were told a long time ago that we were to be separated and sent to a whole new world. For years, we rested in out caves, wondering when we were to be torn apart. One day, the great goddess Ming Dai told us that we had a new mission. To make sure two lost spirits were joined together as one. Then, she separated us, making us no more than pictures on the opposite ends of what is now called the United States. It wasn't until 1952 that a beautiful young woman came into the place where I was hung, and decided to get my picture wrapped around her right leg. As the artist slowly transferred my body from the picture to her leg, my soul bonded with hers. Yours. I knew without a doubt that this was the woman that my brother and I were destined to join souls with another. But who, I did not know. I suffered with you through premonitions, voices, and hunger. Then three days ago, I felt a presence. A presence I hadn't felt in a long time. The presence of my brother, and who was with him but a wonderful human boy, the other soul. Then came the night of the first date. To be so close to my brother, without being able to talk to him! That was sheer torture. Then you went to that barbaric club and danced. I was so close! Then came the alcohol. Finally, the two of you went to his apartment and joined your bodies as one. I could see my brother, see the way the artist had depicted him, just as he was in life. I was so thrilled, but still I couldn't move. Tonight was a wonderful reunion for my brother and me.” He finished his story and looked at his brother.
Harmony spoke up. “My journey was much the same as his and my frustrations just as hard. In 2001, this young man came into the tattoo parlor and got me depicted on his back. I suffered with him through the pain of disease that settled in a year ago. I was ecstatic when he decided to move away from that awful, barbaric place, only to be disappointed when he came here. Then, we met you and all my doubts left me. We had found each other at last.”
Both dragons flew off of my arms and met in midair. A faint glow came from their bodies as they twined together.
Peace looked at Jacob and I. “We have decided that even though we are free, even though we have joined your souls, we would like to stay with you, depicted on your skin for all eternity.”
Harmony looked at Jacob. “No longer will your body be plagued by disease, no longer will mortal wounds effect you, and no longer will you age without you're loved one.” He flew to Jacob and circled around his neck. “Call upon me when you will.” he said, than turned back into a tattoo that circled around his neck and down his chest.
Peace looked me. “The strength of the dragons is yours to do with what you will. Let the strength of us fill your muscles when it is needed most. Let the spirit of the dragons be at both of your wills, to be used when needed to become like us. Call upon me when you will.” He said and turned into an identical tattoo of Jacobs.
Peace and Harmony would never be separated again.
I ended up staying at Jacob's place that night so Jozze and Kales could work things out. Sithar slept in a basket that had been used in the movie Big Bad Wolf, a supernatural twist on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It was a picnic basket, red with a black lid. His body was coiled inside the basket, save for his head which stuck out the front of it, giving me the urge to start whistling like a snake charmer.
I woke at 11:00 and tentatively went over to our apartment to get some clean clothes. I tried to open the door, but realized that I had forgotten my key inside, so I took a small lock pick tool kit that I always kept in my pocket and picked the lock. I opened the door and grabbed my key off of the hook before walking into the living room. There I found Kales and Jozze asleep on the couch. Kales had his arms around Jozze, who had his head in his hands, his face buried in Kales's chest. They were so sweet together; it almost made me want to cry. Kales looked at me out of his right eye. Its stunning stormy gray color was rimmed with blue. He slowly reached a hand up and motioned for me to be quiet, then slowly sat up and scooped Jozze into his arms.
Jozze stirred. “Baby? What time is it?” He tried to sit up but Kales wouldn't allow it.
“Time for you to go back to sleep.” Kales gently brushed Jozze's hair off of his face and kissed his forehead. “I'm going to talk to Mickey for a little bit then I'll be right in, okay?” Judging from the way Kales was carrying Jozze, Jozze had put in a rough night.
“Okay. How's your neck?” He asked. It was sweet how even though he felt like s***, he still cared enough to ask how Kales was doing.
“My neck is fine. Now go to sleep.” Kales kicked the door open with his foot and took Jozze into the bedroom. He walked quietly back out and gently shut the door.
He looked at me. His neck was not fine. On his left side, his neck was torn and ripped. That would explain the pale complexion and blue rimmed eyes. “What's up?”
“I'm volunteering to go train in with Jacob on the movie set. I needed to get some clean clothes before we headed out. That and I wanted to see how you and Jozze were holding up. When I get home, I have a seriously messed up story to tell you.” I said, walking towards him to go into my bedroom. I chose something comfortable; Jacob had told me there was no dress code, so I was free to dress as I wanted to. I chose a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Stuff I wasn't afraid to get dirty. I completed it by putting on a baseball cap and pair of dark sunglasses. I checked the clock on my wall. I was due in the hallway to meet Jacob. “See you when I get home, Kales.” I gave him a quick hug and walked into the hall.
Jacob was waiting for me with Sithar peeking out of the picnic basket. “We need to give him back to his owner before we take off. They will not appreciate some talking cobra.”
I grinned evilly at Sithar. “We could just leave him at Spencer's apartment, knock on the door and take off running.” I suggested, and then took the basket when it hissed at me. I unlocked the door again and gave the basket to Kales, who had walked to the door as soon as he heard the key in the lock. When he raised an eyebrow at the basket, I simply said “He won't get out of it.” I closed the door again and Jacob and I headed for the elevator.
When we were down stairs, I pulled down the brim of my hat to provide maximum shade for my eyes. I hadn't been in the sunlight in almost ten years. I had forgotten the warmth of the light enveloping my body. I wanted to turn my face up to it, but that was going too far.
Jacob hesitated when I didn't move. “Are you okay? Do you need to go back inside?”
“No. I haven't been in the sunlight in almost ten years. I missed it.” I smiled at him. “Do I get to drive?”
“Yes. Just take it easy. My bike has gotten quite a workout. I really need to get a car instead of taking my stuff little by little to the studio.” He got on the back of the bike when we reached it and handed me the key.
“Fine. I'll obey the traffic laws and use the stoplights.” I said, then got onto the bike and started the motor. “Next time, we'll take my car.” As we slowly pulled out of the parking space, I pulled my car keys out of my pocket and pushed the automatic locking button. The lights of my lime green Porsche 911 Turbo blinked on an off. He had been parking next to it since he moved up here and he didn't even know it.
“The Porsche is yours? I've been parking next to that thing since I moved here! I even chalked the tires, it hasn't moved an inch.” Jacob said. His eyes were wide, staring back at my Porsche. “Jesus! If I'd have known it was yours I wouldn't have siphoned the gas out of your tank. That's another thing; you've had a full tank since I got here. When's the last time you actually drove it?”
I had to think about it if that tells you anything. “I haven't driven it since Jozze and Kales got back from Wisconsin, so since June 2nd, I believe.” I smiled at the shock in his eyes.
“June? You haven't driven since June? That's two months and five days. Why? If I had that car I'd drive it everywhere!” He said.
“I've lived over one thousand years without vehicles and being to down on money to afford a horse. I'd rather walk any day.” I quickly hit the break as we hit a red light. My watch said we had ten minutes to get to the studio. We were going to have to kick it up a notch. Looking both ways, I quickly darted between an oncoming Viper and Lamborghini. Angry honks followed us as I opened the throttle almost all the way. As we darted off towards the studio, I could sense Jacob's envy behind me. Envy? For a car? Wow.
“Turn off here.” he told me and pointed to a small dirt road that led off into the woods.
“I thought we were going to the studio?” I said, confused as I pulled onto the dirt road.
“We were. The director called me while you were in your apartment and told me to come directly to the site. We're doing a horror movie called Blissful Ignorance. It's about evil Forest Sprites and the first scene takes place in the woods, so we are using a cleared out storage shed for costume application and design.” He explained.
I parked the bike by a cluster of cars that I assumed were the actors and directors. As I cut the engine, I heard a man's voice from behind me.
“Jacob, what the hell?” it yelled.
“What do you mean 'What the hell'?” Jacob yelled back.
“I mean, what the hell is some chick doing on the front of your bike?” the voice replied. It was not happy.
“First of all, she is not some chick. Her name is Mickey Ferrara. Second off all, Marty, that's none of your business!” Jacob yelled, his voice growing irritated.
Marty snorted as I got off of the bike, looking me up and down. Even the t-shirt and ripped jeans, I somehow managed to show my figure. The t-shirt bore the saying “I'm not as think as you drunk I am.” I looked Marty once over. He had thick chestnut hair, tan skin, green eyes, and a nice build. He was short, I placed him at five five. I knew that if I stood over him, I would be looking down at him.
“I don't care if she's the president's midnight booty call, if she's not staff or cast she doesn't belong here.” Marty had gotten into the habit of glaring at me. I didn't like him.
“Okay, that's enough. Will you two play nice and quit talking about me as if I'm not here? It's really tiring.” I raised my hand to remove my sunglasses and cap, but then thought better of it and just took off the glasses.
“You don't get a say in this, Miss Ferrara, so butt out.” Marty said. That made me mad.
“That's it. No one talks to me like that and walks away unscathed.” I took a step towards him and sent him skittering quickly in the other direction.
Jacob grabbed my arm. “Mickey, don't.” He made a point to look at my eyes. They must have gone blue. I concentrated on reigning in my temper, and let out a slow breath. “Are you going to be okay?”
I took another breath and slowly released it. “I'm fine.” I turned my attention back to Marty and said “You're lucky Jacob was here to stop me. Next time you may not be so fortunate. Don't. Do it. Again.” I glared at him and added an emphasizing growl, then chuckled softly as he turned and quickly walked away.
Jacob was looking at me like I had just chased away the boogeyman. “I can’t believe you actually got him. When I started here, he told me he was unscareable, so I've been sneaking up on him every chance I get. You're here thirty seconds and you send him running in the other direction with his tail between his legs. You've gotta teach me how you do that.” He smiled at me and took my hand. As we walked toward the small building, a settling calm came over me. I no longer wanted to murder Marty What's-his-face. Instead, I just wanted to enjoy the day with my boyfriend. Then I met the director.
My first initial reaction was 'oh my God, he is fine!' Or it would have been. If I were human, anyway. I wasn't human, though, so my first reaction was as follows: oh my God. He's a wereleopard. I forced a smile on my face as Jacob made introductions. His name was Jean-Luc Perrionoi (pear-ee-nwa). I could tell by the look on his face that he knew that I wasn't human either.
“Jacob? May I speak to your friend privately for a moment? I would like to discuss the volunteering matter with her.” His voice held the traces of a French accent. I pegged him for less than a century. When Jacob nodded in agreement, he opened the door to the shed and bowed slightly, motioning me in. He put a gentle hand on my shoulder and led me to a door labeled “Director J.L.” Underneath it, someone had taped two pieces of paper to the door. One said “Enter At Your Own Risk.” the other said “Just kidding Jean-Luc. Justina made me do it. Please don't fire me.” Jean-Luc paused to read the signs, and then tore the “Don't fire me” sign down. He took a marker out of his pocket and scrolled a quick note on the back of it before taping it to the door across from his own. He took a last look at the threatening sign, then chuckled and opened the door.
We entered and Jean-Luc said “Make yourself comfortable, Miss Ferrara. I won't bite if you don't.” He let the door swing shut behind him, and then waited for me to take a seat before he took his own behind the desk. “I believe there is no need to hide our true faces behind these masks.” As he spoke, he let his eyes turn golden like a leopard's. His teeth extended into fangs, each one as pointed as a miniature dagger. His nails became long and pointed, like claws. He looked at me and raised a questioning brow. He was expecting me to "Show myself.”
We mustn't disappoint the director.
I took my hat and sunglasses off and let my features slip to true form. His eyes showed a small amount of shock, so he either didn't know what I was, or had never seen a Night Walker up close.
“You are truly extraordinary; Miss Ferrara, but unfortunately, I don't know what you are. If you could, please, tell me?” Ah. So he didn't know. This could be fun.
“Thank you, Mr. Perrionoi, for the extraordinary compliment. I suppose I could tell you what I am, seeing as I know what you are, but where's the fun in that?” I flashed him my most innocent smile.
“Ah, so you do know what I am. I assume that "Where's the fun in that” can be translated into “I want you to guess”, so here goes nothing. Claws, fangs, a pale complexion. I would guess vampire, but you have no burns and are not lusting after my throat. I am totally and utterly confused.” He was so sincere it made me want to cry. Or puke.
“Fine, I'll tell you. Vampires are my cousins, so you weren't that far off. I am a Night Walker. We are not affected by vampire-warding trinkets, although we do require blood, though not even once a year. I live with two other Night Walkers, my brother and his boyfriend. Though we do not burn in the sunlight, our eyes are very sensitive to it.” I looked at him. His whole face was lit up in a brilliant smile.
“Who better to design supernatural costumes?” His eyes darted to the door and the human mask replaced his true face. “Come in.” I had my disguise back on a split second before the door opened. It was Jacob. Jean-Luc shot me a confused glance when I let my disguise slip and stood to meet him.
Jean-Luc watched Jacob for any sign of shock. When none showed, he spoke up. “Jacob, have you any idea of what she is?”
“Of course I do. Do you really think that I didn't? I've been dating her for Christ's sake.” he looked at me, winked and took my hand. “I also know, J.L., that you aren't human.” Wait. What?
“How do you know that?” Jean-Luc said. He seemed to be a nice guy.
“Well, when I went to a supernatural club with Mickey, her brother and her brother's boyfriend, I noticed that werecreatures and shifters walk differently. The bartender, as Mickey told me, was a shifter. She walked with a silent grace, like she was above everyone. Like a cat! Ever since then, I've noticed that you walk the same way, so my guess is that you are either a werecat of some sort or a cat shifter. If I didn't know that Mickey could take care of herself, I would have never let her come with me today.” Jacob gave my hand a gentle squeeze while we both watched for Jean-Luc's reaction.
Jean-Luc stared intently at Jacob. “You are not human. Not anymore. Yesterday when I saw you, you were ordinary. What has changed? Has your lover taken you for eternity?”
“No. She would never force that on me. And I wasn't completely human before either. I am a match seer and now immortal, thanks to this.” He pulled down the neck of his shirt to bare Harmony to Jean-Luc's view. “Move.” Jacob commanded Harmony. As ordered, Harmony started to wriggle on Jacob's neck.
I pulled down the neck of my own shirt and followed suit, ordering Peace to move as well. Jean-Luc gasped and stepped back. “He has been given eternity by the spirit named Harmony. Be still.” the last was said to Peace. Jacob ordered Harmony to be still as well.
Jean-Luc stared at us for a moment, taking in our clasped hands, before saying “You're hired.”
The rest of the day was spent tailing Jacob. The cast of main characters that I met included four men, one woman, and all human. Well, they were all human, at least, until Jacob got them in full costume, then they were about as human looking as a werewolf at full moon. The sprites were shirtless. They all wore black leather pants, fake points were applied to their ears, and they had red color contacts in their eyes. None of them were forced to wear wigs; their hair all styled to be straighter than Hugh Heffner. Each male turned and looked at me when I had first entered the room.
“Guys and Gal, this is Mickey. She'll be training in to help me out with the costumes, so be nice to her. She's also my girlfriend, so if any of you try to get into her pants, just remember, I know what each and every one of you is allergic to. It would be so unfortunate for me to grab clove oil instead of rosehip oil, wouldn't it?” Jacob's introduction made my heart do an excited little flutter. I raised my hand in silent greeting to them as they all said “Hello Mickey” in unison, making me feel like I was at an AA meeting. “Mickey, this is Nathanial, Kevin, Perceus, and Aden, the sprites, and in the back is Justina, our little murder victim. Just a little give away, she's not really dead. The sprites made her their love slave. These are the very main characters. The rest of the cast won't be involved in anything until later in the movie.” He pointed to each of the actors as he said their names.
“Nice to meet you all. And don't worry. I learn quickly.” I said, the last part making them laugh. Jacob stood behind me with his arms around my waist. The casting crew all stood up and came forward to shake my hand. Jacob and I towered over all of them except Aden. Aden was easily 6'7”, maybe taller. He was Hispanic, his dark skin at total contrast with the red contacts.
Aden smiled down at me and said "Tu es muy caliente. Es un placer." He had said that I was very hot and it was a pleasure to meet me. He didn't think I spoke Spanish. Well I did, that and Italian, French, German, Latin, and a little bit of Egyptian.
I grinned and replied. “Gracias, me amigo. El gusto es mio.” My smile broadened when his face turned red. He was caught in his game of Guess What I Said.
The rest of the day flew by as Jacob taught me how to do hair styles, makeup, and costumes. I had ended up doing fake tattoo work on the guy's chests until the last shooting. So far, I had had all four of the boys hit on me, and Jacob caught two of them. The shooting ended early when Perceus broke out in hives from the makeup.
As we headed for the bike around sunset, we were stopped by Nathanial. “Jacob, J.L. Wants to talk to you about the cosmetic catastrophe. I don't think he's gonna can your ass, but he looked pretty pissed off that the shooting ended early.” With that, Nathanial turned and led Jacob back towards the building.
I headed to the bike, thinking I would lay against the handle bars and relax a bit, but I had too much pent up energy. This was my time of night, the time when I usually got up, completely energized. I sat backwards on the bike and put my hands on the seat. I pushed down, lifting my body weight onto my arms, bracing myself in a sturdy hand stand. As I stood there, I started to think. Back at home, Jozze was probably wishing Tylenol worked on us as Kales held him in his arms, comforting him against the pain. I could just picture the two of them. I wondered if Kales's neck had healed up yet, or if he had spent some time trying to convince Jozze that his neck was fine. Also, had Sithar gotten back on Jozze's back or was he still hanging out in the Little Red Riding Hood basket? Were Spencer and his girlfriend going at it or were they--
“How are you doing that?” the unexpected female voice almost made me lose my balance. I had been so lost in thought that I hadn't even heard her walk up behind me.
I slowly turned myself so I faced her, never flipping over. Walking on your hands is just as easy as walking on your feet if you're used to it. I was. As I looked up and discovered Justina looking down at me, I smiled. “Easily. It just takes a little bit of practice and a whole lot of--balance.” At the last part, I leaned slightly to the right and stuck my left arm out, putting my weight on my right arm.
She gasped. “Be careful! I don't want you to fall off and hurt your self!” She relaxed when I put my left arm back on the bike, then gasped again when I pushed off and did a flip, landing like a trained Olympic acrobat. “Will you show me how you did that?”
“Sure.” I walked back over to the bike and sat down, the right way this time so I would face her. Then I hoisted myself into the air and took a moment to steady myself, and then I pushed off again and landed on the grass behind the bike. “Ta da!”
“That is so cool! I can barely even do a handstand, much less one on a motorcycle, then flip off of it!” Her jaw was dropped as she stared at me.
“Here, I'll teach you how to do a handstand.” I walked a little outwards from the bike and gestured for her to stand next to me. “Okay, I'll show you first and explain it step by step before you try. First, stand with your feet slightly apart. Then bend down and put your hands on the ground, flat. Tip your weight to the front of your body until it rests mostly on your hands. Then push off with your feet until your legs go straight into the air.” I had just finished steadying myself when my cell phone went off. I fell back onto my feet and told Justina to try it a couple times. I dug my phone out of my pocket and looked at the caller ID. It said Kales's cell. “What's up?” I said.
“Where the hell are you?” It was Jozze's voice.
“Jozze! How are you feeling? You looked like absolute s*** when I left.” I said
“I'm feeling just fine, aside from feeling like I got the s*** beat out of me, but that doesn't matter. A little birdie told me that a certain someone got granted immortality by Harmony so he could stay with another certain someone until the end of time. That same birdie told me that the aforementioned certain someones slept cuddled up like two little fuzzy kittens last night.” I heard a hissy chuckle in the background.
“Sithar, you little s***, you better hide when I get home.” I turned when I heard a scream, my body going into full fight mode, but it was just Justina falling.
“What was that scream?” Jozze said, immediately alert.
“Just someone I work with. I'm trying to teach her how to do a handstand, but it's not working to well.” Jacob came out of the building with a smile out of his face. “Jozze, I've gotta go. Me and Jake are about to head out, so I'll be there in about half an hour.”
“Okay. I'll tell Kales that your on your way.” He said, his bantering gone.
“Loves.” I said. We always told each other loves before we hung up.
“Loves. Bye.” The line went dead.
“Justina! I've gotta go, but I think I'll see you tomorrow, so keep practicing.” I said as she fell over again.
She stood and brushed herself off. “Okay! I'll see you tomorrow then! Night.” She turned and headed back to the building, pausing to say goodnight to Jacob.
“Let's motor.” He said and handed me the key.
I started the engine and pulled out of the parking space.
Before I could ask what Jean-Luc had said, he told me. “J.L. Was pretty pissed that I had put something that Percy was allergic to in the makeup, but he let me off with a "Don't do it again or I'll have to fire you” warning. He would have fired me on the spot, but right now, I'm the only costume and makeup designer that he has. So, why was Justina repeatedly landing on her face?”
I laughed. “I was doing a handstand on your bike and she told me that she couldn't do a handstand, so I offered to show her how.”
“You did a handstand on my bike? Cool!” Apparently he had never seen Evil Kenevil in action.
“Yeah. When we get to the garage I'll show you.” I said.
Thirty minutes later, we were parked in the garage and I had my feet in the air on the back on his bike. If anyone were to come down here now, they would think I was nuts.
“I can't believe you can do that without tipping over.” he said.
I flipped off of the bike and landed on the roof of my car. Then I sat down and slid off the back and onto the ground. “Come on, I have to go choke the life out of Sithar.” I grabbed Jacob's hand and started towards the apartment building.
In the elevator, a soft, tinkling tune was playing over the speaker, vaguely reminding me of something, but I couldn't think of what. The stars maybe? No, that wasn't it. My mind was distracted when the elevator doors opened to Spencer fondling his girlfriend in the hall. They seemed to take no notice of us, so I walked up to Spencer and grabbed his ear, twisting it like my father used to do to Kales and I when we used to fight.
“If you're going to screw her, then do it in your apartment. I catch you at it again and I'll call the police for indecent exposure and disturbing the peace.” I waited until they were in the apartment until I unlocked the door to my own. I had barely put my keys back on their hook by the door when I was tackled by a flying Jozze. “Whoa Jozze, what's up?” I said, looking at him.
Jozze looked at me, all smiles. “Kales asked me to marry him! We're getting married!” he said, and let out a scream that I'd only thought to hear from another girl. He started jumping up and down in the hallway, squealing.
“Oh my God! He proposed? Congratulations!” I hugged him hard, my face resembling his, a bright smile passing between us.
“I know! He made us dinner, and he started talking about how long we'd been together, then before I knew it, he was down on one knee in front of me, little velvet box in hand!” He held up his left ring finger. On it, a shiny new engagement ring gleamed as the light caught it.
Just then Kales walked into the hallway, his eyes red and puffy. Apparently he had cried when Jozze said yes. “Kales I can't believe you finally asked him! I can't believe it! Jozze, you're gonna be my brother-in-law!
We went out to Bloodlust to celebrate their engagement. We kept slamming back the alcohol and the song Shots kept running through my head. Which then made me think of the drink called a lemon drop, and I promptly ordered a round for the whole bar.
First, Jacob and I had been soul bonded, then I got a job, and to top it all off, Jozze and Kales are going to get married? What a surprising week.
We all woke up without hangovers the next day. We had made sure not to get drunk because Jacob and I had to work and Jozze and Kales were calling our friends throughout the centuries, telling them about their engagement. I had decided to go for a casual wardrobe today, so I wore black work boots, a tight fitting tank top and beat up blue jeans. I had taken his bike to get some gas for the car, seeing as Jacob had siphoned the gas out of my Porsche. When the gas was in, I threw the canister in the trunk and unlocked the doors. I hope Jacob didn't think that just because I was in a car I was going to obey the speed limits. Cause I wasn't.
He was smiling broadly when he sat on the lime green leather seats. “Wow. I'm going to have to get me one of these.” His smile broadened when I turned on the car. Hard core rap pounded out of the cars amazing built in surround sound system. Jozze and Kales had definitely been in here last. No one else I know still listens to G-Unit.
I fiddled with the radio until I found a station I liked, then cranked the bass boost all the way up, scaring a mother of three on her way to her red van, three children walking behind her. I grinned evilly at her and pulled back out of the parking space. I unrolled the windows, letting the music pour out. The Marilyn Manson remix of Sweet Dreams are Made of These pounded through the speakers.
I started to sing along with the lyrics, dancing in my seat. It had been over two months since I had driven, and I forgot how fun it was. As I pulled out of the garage, I heard Jacob gently singing as Sweet Dreams finished and Animal I Have Become came on the radio. He had a gorgeous voice that matched him perfectly. I found myself going silent so I could listen to his voice. Had I not been driving, I would have been looking at him instead of the road. His voice faltered a little when I pressed on the gas and ran a red light.
We arrived at the shooting site in about fifteen minutes. I pulled up to the parking lot and parked between a blue Corsica and a yellow Chevy pickup truck. My car stuck out like a sore thumb against the older cars. The only car as fancy as mine was a black Jaguar that I assumed was Jean-Luc's.
“Jesus, my car sticks out! If I had known it would be this bad, I would have refused to bring it.” I said, a slight blush coming to my cheeks. I didn't want anyone thinking I was a spoiled snob. That would be bad.
“No one cares what you're car looks like. I would lock it, though. Just in case.” Jacob said. I pressed the automatic lock as we walked toward the building. I had gone without the baseball cap today, so I had a face full of sun. I loved it. I was so glad, at that moment, that I wasn't a vampire. Too never be able to step into the sunlight for risk of burning would be a terrible thing.
“Holy s***! Mickey, is that your car? Damn, girl, you must be loaded!” Nathanial said as we walked toward him.
“Yeah it's mine. Me and my brother inherited the family fortune when my parents died.” I said, jingling the keys as I glared at Jacob. No one cares what my car looks like my great white ass.
“Damn, how much?” Nathanial asked, still looking at my car.
“Me and my brother put together? Twelve million.” I laughed when his eyes got wide and his jaw dropped.
“Twelve million dollars? You and your brother inherited twelve million dollars? And I thought J.L. Was loaded!” Nathanial was staring at me like I was some rare piece of art.
“Yeah, well, it won't be that much for long. My brother Kales just asked his boyfriend Jozze to marry him last night and Jozze wants a big wedding, so we'll be using a small fortune to get everything right. Yes I said boyfriend, no I didn't mean girlfriend, yes my brother is gay.” I said, answering his unasked questions.
“Oh. You should call them so we can all say congrats to the happy couple!” Nathanial didn't seem at all bothered by the fact that my brother was gay. Good. I really didn't want to put up with discrimination right now.
“Okay. Let's wait until we get into the dressing room. That way I can turn it on speaker phone.” I said, smiling at his idea.
“Sweet. I'll go rally the troops. They're in getting into costume.” Nathanial smiled and trotted towards the building.
“Wow. I didn't think I'd get that kind of a reaction from him.” I said, taking my phone out of my pocket and bringing up Kales's cell number and hitting send. I turned on the speaker phone as we walked into the dressing room. I put a finger to my lips when Jozze picked up.
“Hi, this is Kales's phone. He can't get to the phone right now, but I can take a message.” he said. He hadn't checked the caller ID when he answered the phone.
“Jozze it's me. The actors and actress want to tell you and Kales something, so turn the phone on speaker phone so you can both hear.” I said, smiling at the anticipation that was humming through the room.
“Okay it's on.” Jozze said.
I held up the phone to the five of them. “Congratulations Kales and Jozze! All the best from Nathanial, Kevin, Aden, Perceus, and Justina!” they all shouted. I heard Jozze and Kales start laughing on the other side.
Jozze's tear sodden voice came over the line. “Thank you so much guys! I'll let Jacob and Mickey know when the wedding is so she can give you times and dates. I've gotta go. Kales needs a number off of his phone, and you know how grumpy he gets when he has to wait--”
“I do not!” Kales said.
“You do to, now quit your bitching. Loves, Mickey's. Talk to you when you get home.” Jozze said, laughing.
“Loves. Bye.” I hung up the phone. I turned to the guys and girl. “You don't know how much that means to them, you guys. They both get so upset when people discriminate against their sexuality. Besides, it's always nice to make new friends, right?”
Nathanial spoke up. “Jozze and Kales. Those aren't American names, are they?”
“No. Kales and I are from Italy and Jozze is from Egypt. Jozze came to America when his parents were murdered, and Kales and I came over when our dad and brother were murdered.” I said. I winced when they all gasped in unison.
“How old were you?” Kevin asked.
“Well, Jozze was seventeen when he came here, and Kales, my brother and I were all seventeen as well. Kales and I were triplets until my father and my brother, Rocco, were murdered. But don't feel sorry for us. Kales, Jozze, and I all take care of each other. We're all twenty-five now.” I said. I hate when people show us sympathy for our bloody past.
“What about your mother?” Justina asked.
“Murdered by an escaped convict after her jewelry.” I said.
“Jesus! How long ago?” She said.
“Twenty- four years, eleven months, three weeks, and two days ago. We were five days old.” I was stomping down unwanted tears when Justina put a hand over her mouth. Jacob wrapped me in his arms and kissed the top of my head.
“Do you want me to put blackberry in her tea this afternoon for ripping open that wound again?” Jacob asked me.
“No. I'm fine.” I lied.
“Liar. You're hurting and you know it.” He said, tightening his embrace when I tried to squirm away. “It's no use denying it. I know you too well.”
“Fine. It hurts, okay? I never knew my mother and she's dead so I'll never get a chance to. Happy? Cause I'm certainly not.” I finally got free of his grasp and walked to the door. I sat outside, thinking of things I could never get back: my humanity, my mortality, my parents, my brother. I wished I could have it back. My humanity and my mortality I was fine without, but my family…I wanted them back. The door opened behind me and Jacob came out.
“Talk to me.” He said, sitting next to me and pulling me into his arms.
“It's been one hundred six years since Rocco was murdered, one thousand, two hundred nineteen years since Dad was murdered, and one thousand, two hundred thirty-six years since Mom was murdered. It shouldn't effect me like this after this long.” I choked out, then burst into tears. They streamed down my face.
“Hey! Who says it shouldn't hurt after this long? They were killed, that gives good reason to hurt. It's not like you can stop it.” Jacob said and then pulled me into his lap. I turned and buried my face into his wife beater. Thankfully it was black. “You're gonna pull through this, I know you will. It's gonna be fine.”
“No one can know that. We can't predict the future!” I mentally slapped myself when the words came out of my mouth. I was premonition girl, so technically I could see the future, but my premonitions weren't set in stone. We had stopped Onyx and I still had my eyes, so there. “I know that sounded stupid, but my premonitions aren't set in stone. Onyx was supposed to kidnap me and tear my eyes out, but that didn't happen, did it? We stopped him before he could even touch me. Even the future isn't set in stone.”
“I know that. A year ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease with no hope of fully recovering, and less than a week ago, I didn't believe in vampires or werewolves or Night Walkers, but look at where we are now? I'm an immortal match seer with a Night Walker who gets premonitions as a girlfriend, who's brother is also a Night Walker and his fiancé is a Night Walker and a witch. What the hell? If something is going to go wrong, I am going to make the best of it, because I'll be damned if I give up that easily.” He put one finger under my chin and tilted my head up, then leaned down and gently pushed his lips against mine. When our lips made contact, my sorrows and fears were suddenly gone.
Then I noticed the heartbeat that had been standing behind us. Oh, hell no.
“What the hell are you talking about? There is no such thing as--oh my God!” It was Justina. Sometimes when a Night Walker cries, his/her other self shows. I knew my eyes were blue, my fangs were showing, and I was as pale as death.
“Justina, calm down. I'm not going to hurt you.” I said calmly as I collected my legs underneath myself.
“What the hell are you?” she whispered.
I sighed. “Do you fear me? Are you going to scream if I get up and approach you?” I asked. I didn't want to draw more attention to an already to exposed situation.
“No to both. If Jake trusts you and knows what you are, then I have no reason to fear you, right?” Though her voice was steady, I could smell the fear radiating off of her.
I stood slowly, my eyes never leaving hers. If someone was going to scream, the eyes were the first sign. “I'm not a person to fear. I'm not going to hurt you, I promise.” I took a cautious step toward her. When she didn't scream or shy away, I took a deep breath. “I'm a Night Walker, Justina. I'm not a vampire, and I won't suck your blood. Taking blood from someone causes me physical pain. I only need blood about every ten years, and even then, I refuse to take it from a human.”
“Then where do you get it?” Her voice was trembling. Shock, not terror.
“My brother. He's like me. When he needs blood, he comes to me or his fiancé, and when his fiancé needs blood, he goes to my brother or me. Or, sometimes, we get blood from a blood bank.” I was trying to seem less dangerous in her eyes.
“Oh. My. God. I can't believe this is true. Every movie I've ever been in. Vampires, werewolves… sprites?” She stared off into space.
“All real. Shape shifters, psychics, witches, warlocks, ghouls. They're all real. Sprites are like the wicked version of the fairy, though they don't have sex slaves or murder people. One of my best friends is a sprite.” I told her. It was true. Jezebel, the DJ at Bloodlust, was a sprite.
“So. Then…what's a match seer?” She asked. I let Jacob explain that one.
My phone started to ring. I pulled it out of my pocket and looked at caller ID. Jozze's Cell blinked up on the screen. “Hey Jozze, whaddya know?” I said. We did that almost every time we called each other.
“Someone just tried to kill Kales.” he said. My stomach dropped.
“Is he okay?” I had to try three times to get the words out.
“He took three bullets; one is his left arm, two in his left ribcage. He'll be fine, but you need to get home. Now.” He hung up.
I snapped my phone shut and took off for my car. “Can you get a ride home, Jake?”
“Yeah. Why? What happened?” He asked, trying to keep up with me.
“Someone just tried to kill my brother. I'm taking the car and you are not coming with me so don't even ask.” I hit the automatic unlock button as I reached the door. I jammed the key into the ignition and turned it sharply, turning the volume down on the radio.
“Why not?” he said, sticking his head in my rolled down window.
“Kales took three bullets in his left side. He can survive that. You may be immortal, but we don't know how strong you are yet. I've lost my parents and a brother to my enemies. I can't lose you too.” I said. He silently pulled his head out of my window. Looking behind me to see if anyone behind me, I pulled out and sped toward the highway. I pressed down the gas pedal and prayed that I didn't hit anyone. Jacob would understand once I explained more of why he had to stay. Jozze's strained now had silently meant more than now, it meant he needs more blood than I can handle. As I drove home, I worried relentlessly. Was Jake going to be mad that I didn't let him come? Would Kales be okay? I sped up as I hit a red light, shooting through traffic. I was in the parking garage in eight minutes flat, parked the car in my space and ran to the apartment elevator. I repeatedly pressed the up button, once not making it go fast enough, then gave up and ran to the stairs. As soon as I was sure that no one was on the steps above me, I opened my wings and shot to the floor I was on. I tucked my wings in and opened the door to enter the hallway. As I walked past the window, I saw five bullet holes In the glass. Five? Jozze said Kales had only taken three. There weren't any holes in the wall. But that meant… Jesus Christ. Jozze had taken two bullets as well.
Definitely a good thing that I made Jacob stay.
I unlocked the door to my apartment and opened it to the smell of blood. Kales's blood, lots of it, and Jozze's blood. “What happened?” I asked as I walked into the living room. “Jozze you got shot too so don't even try to hide it! Now tell me what happened.”
Jozze stopped trying to hide his arm and handed me a long pair of tweezers. “First, get his bullets out. I think they're coated with scorpion poison.”
“Who would coat bullets with scorpion poison?” I said, cutting Kales's shirt with my nails. I held him down with my left arm and stuck the tweezers into the first bullet hole with my right. “Calm down, Kales. You keep moving like that and the poison is going to go farther into your system. It's bad enough as it is. I know it hurts but don't make it worse.” Kales gave me a look equal to that of a deer that didn't die when you shot it. I gave him a reassuring look and brought out the first bullet.
“Anukshamann. One of his favorite poisons was scorpion poison. The only reason I'm not like Kales is right now, because I know you're wondering,” I was, "Is because the pharaoh covered the whip with it. I'm immune.” He couldn't stand seeing Kales hurt, otherwise he would have taken out the bullets himself.
I dug the tweezers into the next hole, never letting up my grip on Kales. The bullet was wedged between two of his ribs. Any farther in and it could have killed him. I grabbed the bullet and gently pulled it and Kales screamed. “I know, I know, I'm so sorry. I have to get it out. I wish we had some morphine left but we ran out.” I hated hurting him, but the bullets had to come out.
“Just--do--it.” Kales ground out. His chest was moving quickly up and down--he was having trouble breathing.
“Breathe. I don't want you hyperventilating on me.” I waited until his breathing slowed until proceeding. I tightened my grip on him, then clamped down on the bullet and pulled. I wanted that accursed piece of metal out of my brother, and I wanted it out now. I brought the bullet out and grabbed Kales's arm. The bullet there was barely in the flesh, so I quickly removed it and dropped the tweezers. I pulled my hair completely off of my neck and lifted Kales's head.
“No.” he whispered. His voice was tense with hunger and pain. He needed my clean blood to counteract the poison.
“Yes.” I whispered back. Without waiting for him to argue, I cut open my neck with a flick of my claws. The few drops that landed on Kales's lips were enough to make him react. He pulled me down and sank his fangs into my neck. It hurt. A lot. He drew my blood out of me and into himself. It wasn't intimate like they make it sound in books and movies. It never was. Instead it felt like someone was burning me from the inside out, but I didn't protest. Kales, Jozze, and I had made a pact long ago that we would stop each other when we'd had enough.
I didn't have to pull Kales off of myself, though. Just as I started to feel woozy, he pulled his fangs out of my neck and laid back on the couch. I gave him a quick kiss on the forehead and stepped toward Jozze.
He backed away from me, but I stepped forward and grabbed his arm. “You may be immune to the poison, but the bullets have to come out.” I sat him in the armchair, kneeled in front of him and went to work on him. One bullet had hit his shoulder, but wasn't too difficult to pull out. The other, however, was burrowed in his sixth and seventh rib, and every time I had a hold of it, the tweezers slipped. "Jozze, I'm going to have to make the hole bigger and dig it out with my fingers."
"Do it. I need the bullet out." he said, bracing himself for pain.
“Okay, on three. Ready? One, two, three!” I said and used my claws to slice a bigger hole into his chest, then plunged my fingers into the incision. I grabbed hold of the bullet and pulled it, hard, freeing it of it's bony prison. I pulled my fingers out and threw the bullet across the room, not caring where it landed. Then I leaned forward and pulled his mouth towards my neck.
He jerked back quickly, then stood and walked away from me, but I followed. “I don't know how much control I have, and I don't want to hurt you.”
“Jozze, you need the blood. You've lost a lot of blood, and you need to start healing. Now shut up and take my vein.” I said.
“A-are you sure?” he said.
“Promise you'll stop me?” he asked.
“Promise.” The one word was barely out of my mouth before he sank his own fangs into my throat near where Kales had. Having donated a lot of blood to Kales, I couldn't feel the pain this time. My knees buckled and I started to fall, but Jozze caught me. Soon enough, his swallows became less shallow, more deep. Less tentative, more predatory. I pulled him off of my neck and pinned him against the wall. He was high on my blood, riding a wave of power. I held him against the wall until his eyes faded to topaz and his face relaxed.
“Gods, I'm sorry. I--” he started, blushing. I cut him off.
“It's okay. Go sit with Kales before you die of embarrassment overload. I'm going to go take a shower then warm up one of the E.B.S.s we have.” I gave him a quick hug then walked to the shower. An E.B.S is an Emergency Blood Supply. About every month, we stop at a blood bank, buy about a thousand bucks worth of blood and chill it, just incase we need it. I stopped to look at my neck in the mirror. It wasn't torn apart too badly, but there was some tearing where I'd had to pull Jozze off of my neck. Two bite marks scarred my flesh where they had bitten me, but they would be gone after I drank an E.B.S.
I stripped and showered quickly, taking care to clean out the bites. I got out and dried off, redressed, and walked into the kitchen. It wasn't until I took the cold blood out of the fridge and poured it into a saucepan that I realized that Jacob was in the living room. I turned the burner on and looked at the clock. It was only 3:30. I left work at 1:00 and Jake wasn't supposed to be done with work until 8:30, so why was he here now?
As if I had asked out loud, Jacob explained. “J.L. Let us out early. He was in a really bad mood today, I don't know why.” He shrugged and smiled at me. “Do you have anything to drink that isn't red and loaded with human DNA?”
I smirked and opened the fridge, grabbed a beer and threw it to him. “I wouldn't open that right away. Unless your cologne of choice is eau de beer.” I looked back at the stove and turned the burner off. Blood burned easily and I didn't like it hot. Well, I didn't really like it at all, but it was something I had to have to survive. I grabbed a coffee mug out of the cupboard that had the loose door. We used the ones in the loose door cupboard for blood and alcohol. Or both. Bloody marys, yee-haw! I poured the contents of the saucepan into the cup and walked to the living room.
“By the way, I know why Jean-Luc is in a bad mood. He's a wereleopard, right? So what's the explanation? Wereleopard plus crabbiness equals--” I said.
“Full moon.” Jacob finished.
I winked at him and took an unwilling sip of the blood. I wouldn't have fed until Kales or Jozze were well enough to take from them, but Jake was starting to look like a Meals on Wheels entrée, so I sucked it up and chugged the blood. I rinsed out the cup as soon as I was done, then walked back into the living room.
Jacob was staring at my neck.
“What?” I asked.
“Your skin just stitched itself back together. It was kind of gross.” He laughed and walked over to me. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed me gently, the taste of blood not slowing him any.
Kales snickered from the couch where he was "Sleeping.” I groped blindly until I felt his head, then smacked him.
“Ow! That was mean!” He said, batting away my hand. Instead of answering him, I gave him a one finger salute instead. Jacob ignored my brothers and my silent fight and deepened the kiss, losing the gentleness of it, becoming more demanding. You'd think that would be a total turnoff, but quite the opposite.
“Okay, break it up you two. If we can't kiss in front of you, then you can't have a porn film in front of us.” Kales said.
Jacob reluctantly pulled out of the kiss, then let out a ragged breath. “I'll be in my apartment if you feel the need to come and see me.” He winked and left.
It took my brain a minute to figure out what had happened and what had been implied. I turned slowly toward Kales and Jozze.
They looked at each other, then turned to me. “Have fun with lover boy.” Kales said.
I smiled and ran out of the apartment. Jacob had left the door open.
Good sex is like an antidepressant. You're tentative to take it at first, but when you do, you wake up the next morning happy as a dog with a bone. That was the first thing that crossed my mind the next morning. I was curled up in Jacob's arms, as content as a kitten with milk. I was no innocent, but he'd made me feel like a virgin all over again.
I rolled over and buried my face in his chest, breathing in his scent. He smelled like sweat, aftershave, cologne, and coconut. Wait, coconut? I took another breath. Definitely coconut. It wasn't soap or anything. Nor was it my underlying scent of coconut soap and shampoo. He simply smelled like coconuts. Wow. Weird.
“Is there a specific reason that you're smelling me, or is it just something you're doing for the hell of it?” Jacob asked. I hadn't realized he'd woken up.
“You smell like coconut. I love coconuts.” The sentence was out of my mouth before I could think of a better thing to say. I blushed instantly.
“Um…thank you?” he said. “Why exactly do I smell like coconut?”
“It's your base scent. Everyone has one. Kales smells like mist and Jozze smells like sunshine. I don't know why you smell the way you do. All I know is you do.” I shrugged.
“So what do you smell like?” He asked.
“Well, Jozze and Kales both told me that I smell like chloroform. Sweet yet dangerous. Luckily, it takes nothing short of a horse tranquilizer to put us out.” I said.
“That describes you perfectly. You're a sweet person, yet if someone threatened your family, you'd kill them without a second thought. By the way, J.L. called. We don't have to go to work. Apparently he was feeling a little under the weather last night and has a horrible headache today.” He smiled down at me. Suddenly, he started to sit up.
“What's up?” I said.
“I just got up and I'm still mostly human. You do the math.” He said. He snagged a pair of boxers out of his closet on his way to the bathroom. I sat up and put my bra and underwear back on. Suddenly, I had a pain in my shoulder. I looked down and saw a big bruise. Faintly I remembered running into something in my haste to get my clothes off, but I couldn't quite remember what.
Jacob came out of the bathroom wearing the black boxers. He had a very masculine stance, his legs slightly apart, arms crossed across his chest. “Seeing as we have the day off today, what do you say I take you out on a proper date? One where we won't get bombarded by paparazzi.”
“Like I'm gonna argue with that offer. First, I have to go get clean clothes from across the hall.” I said. I stood, my eyes on his face as I did so. His eyes followed my progress upwards, then watched as I bent to retrieve my discarded clothes from the floor.
“I'll throw on something niceish and come over with you. I did invest in some dressier clothes, so I'm not going total goth gear.” He walked to his closet as he spoke, pulling out a pair of black slacks and a crimson wife beater. He may not have been a vampire or a Night Walker, but he would have made a good one. His pale complexion stood out against the crimson of his shirt, and the raven of his hair.
“Okay. We should take my car, though. The paparazzi doesn't recognize it yet because we've only been in it once. It's the perfect way to avoid them.” My eyes wandered from his eyes to his broad chest. Even in the simple act of dressing, his muscles rippled throughout his chest and back. I was mesmerized.
Then he lost his balance and tipped over backwards.
“Wow. You're not very coordinated this early are you?” I asked, laughing as he struggled to get up with his pants around his ankles. It wasn't actually early, around 5:30 P.M, but it was early for me
“Nope. I don't do mornings, but I don't have to tell you what I do.” The innuendo of the comment was clear.
“No you don't. I work with you, remember?” I was being purposely ignorant of the true meaning of the comment.
“That's not what I--you're being sarcastic, aren't you.” It took him a minute to catch on, but he got it eventually.
“Yeah. Learn the language, I use it frequently.” I smiled, stood, and gave him a quick kiss, then walked to the door. I could hear him scurrying to keep up with me. I opened the door and walked across the hall. I turned the doorknob, but it was locked.
“Should we call and wake them up to get the door?” Jacob asked.
“Not necessary. I always keep a spare key in my pocket.” I said, then pulled out my small lock pick tool kit and crouched in front of the lock. My personal best for picking a lock was twenty-two seconds for eight locks that were keeping our old house in Italy closed. I'd tried to teach Jozze how to pick a lock, but he never could get the hang of it
“I'm not even going to ask.” Jacob said as I picked the lock. As soon as I heard a satisfying click, I reached up to turn the knob, but the door swung inward before I could touch it.
“5.62 seconds. A personal best.” Kales was holding a stopwatch in one hand, the doorknob in the other. “You know, if I were straight, and you weren't my sister, you would be in the perfect position right now.” he said, smiling when I stuck my tongue out at him.
I retaliated quickly. “What do you mean? You don't have to be straight for me to nut-punch you.” I replied, balling my fist and raising it threateningly. Kales covered himself and backed down quickly.
“Get in here before someone wanders through and gets the wrong impression. He left the door open and walked to the living room.
I stood and followed him, tucking the tool kit into my pants pocket as I did, and Jacob following closely behind me, shutting the door behind him. In the living room, Kales was laying against the arm of the couch, legs stretched out in front of him and Jozze laying in his lap, half asleep. Kales had his arms around Jozze.
“Jeeze, Jozze. You look half dead or something, no pun intended. What's up?” I asked.
“He was up all day looking after me. He kept apologizing to me like it was his fault that some hit man tried to get me killed. Don't even start.” He added the last when Jozze opened his mouth to argue. “It is not your fault that some crazy Egyptian guy has it in for you and your family. I don't blame you for a second, so don't blame yourself.” Kales said sternly, tightening his grip for a second before letting his grip relax. “You should go get some sleep.”
“I'm fine. And it is my fault. If I hadn't run from the pharaoh in the first place, he wouldn't have a reason to want any of you dead.” Jozze said. Silent tears had started running down his face.
“For the last time, it is not your fault! You were saving your own life by running. Anyone would have done that. Self preservation is an instinct that everyone is born with.” Kales said. He wiped the tears out of his own eyes before wiping Jozze's off. “You need to quit blaming yourself for things that aren't your fault.”
Jozze just shook his head. “It is my fault! If I wouldn't have gotten my hopes up about living a normal life and having my family back, I wouldn't be in this predicament. The pharaoh would have died with no need of vengeance, and I would be free! Free to live in peace, free to live without fear. Free to be with the man I love and wake up every morning without fear of what the day would bring. Maybe you should have let that assassin kill me in 2001. We'd all be better off then.” Jozze stood halfway through the speech and started pacing.
Kales stood and grabbed Jozze's arm and spun him around until they were face to face. “Don't you dare even think that kind of thing. When I asked you to marry me, and you said yes…God. No one could ever duplicate the feeling that it gave me. I gave my heart to you all those years ago, when we started dating. I've accepted you for who you are, not who you want to be. That insecure, scared, timid, shy Jozze is the one I know and love. Not the one who worries about some ancient thing that he has no control over. If you kill yourself, I can guarantee you, I'm right behind you. I can't live without you, Jozze. Maybe a century ago I could have, but not anymore. Life would be meaningless without you. I can't lose you like I lost my brother and my parents. I can't lose another person I love. My heart wouldn't last another blow like that.” Kales and Jozze were both crying now.
“I understand that, too. But, baby, I can't keep putting you guys in jeopardy like this. If something ever happened to you because of me…gah, I don't even want to think about it. I couldn't live with myself knowing that I was the cause of your pain.” Jozze looked down, his tears leaving little puddles on the floor by his feet.
Kales put his arm around Jozze's waist, closing the few inches of space between them with the simple motion. Kales wiped his tears away as Jozze rested his head on Kales's shoulder. Kales put his other hand on the back of Jozze's neck, rubbing it lightly. “Shhh, it's okay babe. Everything is going to be okay. We are all going to be fine, and we will take down the pharaoh. Hush, now. I won't let anything happen to you.”
As Kales tried to calm Jozze down, I motioned for Jake to follow me. We went into my bedroom and Jake sat on my bed, waiting for me to pick out an outfit. I decided on a lime green sundress that made me seem thinner than I actually was, and was both comfortable and appropriate. I slipped on a pair of green stiletto heels and ran a brush through my hair. We walked back into the living room to find Jozze and Kales holding tight to each other, lying down on the couch. Both of their faces were flushed from crying. Jacob and I left the apartment silently.
On our way to the car, Jacob looked at me. “What was Jozze saying about an assassin back in '01?” He asked.
“Well, we were on the run for a while, and one day we came home, sat down, and a hired hit came in through the window. He came in, brandishing a knife, headed straight for Jozze. He threw the knife at him, and the only thing that stopped it from hitting him in the head was Kales. He stuck his hand in the knife's path and took the blade himself. Shortly after, I took out the assassin and we moved to a different apartment.” I explained.
“Oh. I see!” Jacob said, not seeming too worried about the fact that we were on the run in the first place. “Well, just for the record, I'm really happy Kales took the knife instead of Jozze.”
I smiled at him and unlocked the doors, then threw him the keys. He missed, but at least he tried to catch them. “Why are you throwing me the keys to your car?” he said, stooping to retrieve them.
“It wouldn't do for me to be driving you to our date, now would it?” I said and got in the passenger side.
“I get to drive your Porsche? Sweet!” He said. It was sometimes so easy to forget how easily amused humans were. “The second best part about this is the paparazzi will never guess it's me, 'cause they won't recognize the car!” He laughed evilly at the thought as stuck the key in the ignition and turned it.
“The second best? What's the first best thing about it, then?” I asked.
“The fact that I'm driving the car that belongs to the girl of my dreams.” He winked at me and turned up the radio. “Ooh! I love this song!” the song Bad Girlfriend started pouring out of the speakers as he spoke. He sang at the top of his lungs as he pulled out of the parking space. Again, instead of singing along, I listened as his magnificent voice filled the air. His voice made me think of chocolate, something sweet that I craved endlessly.
“You have a magnificent voice, did you know that?” I said before I could halt the words from coming out of my mouth.
“No I didn't. I've always thought my voice was rather haggish.” he said.
“It's not! Your voice is one of the best I've heard that isn't altered my recording booths and special effects. I love it.” the words, once again, just shot out of my mouth.
“Why thank you. What about your voice? I've never actually heard you sing. If your singing voice is as beautiful as the one you speak with, I'll never let you quit singing.” He said, smiling that beautiful smile of his.
“My voice is average. Although, I did get to a high enough pitch to make glass shatter once. That was totally cool. Well, it was for me, anyway. Jozze wasn't too enthused, seeing as it was his fish tank that shattered. I had to buy him tickets to go see Wicked, the Broadway musical to get him to shut up about killing Goldie and Splotch. Stupid goldfish.” I said. I had changed the subject so he wouldn't ask me to sing.
“Oh, come on. Average my all American ass! Nothing about you is average, baby, so either you told me that enticing little goldfish story to get me to shut up, or to avoid the subject of your voice. I'd say the latter of the two sounds more apt to be correct.” he said.
“There are lots of average things about me!” I said, avoiding the last part of what he had said. “My weight, my figure, my hair color, my facial structure, my shoe size. I am an ordinary woman, dating an extraordinary man.”
“Ordinary? Okay, let's get a couple things straight. Most of your weight is the abnormal amount of muscle you have, you have a figure that most women would die for, and most men get hard thinking about, your hair is gorgeous, your face is beautiful, and who gives a damn what your shoe size is? If anything, I am an ordinary man, and you are the extraordinary woman that I am dating.” he was looking intently at me instead of watching the road.
“Jacob, brakes.” I said.
He looked up at the road. “S***!” We both went forward as he hit the brakes, missing the back of the semi in front of us by mere inches. “Jesus, I almost sent us through the windshield.”
“You think? Keep your eyes on the road and you're mind out of the gutter where you're probably undressing me with your eyes.” I said sarcastically. “Green light. You can go now.”
Jacob smiled at me and lightly hit the brakes. “Babe, I haven't redressed you in my mind since we met. Granted, there was that time where I pictured you in this tiny little leather outfit, but that didn't last long either.” He pulled in front of Gracie's Restaurant and handed the valet the keys to the Porsche. “You wreck the car, I wreck your paycheck, got it?” he said.
“G-got it s-sir.” I shook my head as the valet started spewing the smell of fear and sweat. So, Jacob scared him, did he? Well, I couldn't blame him. If I were human, staring at Jacob and me, I'd me more afraid of Jacob than me. We were going to have to do something about that.
“Tell me, do you want to have children?” I asked the valet.
“Y-yes. Some day I do, ma'am.” he stammered.
“Then I suggest you don't scratch the car. If you do, you can say goodbye to ever spawning offspring.” I gave him my most evil, human, look that I could manage, then took the arm Jacob offered me and walked to the restaurant, smiling as the smell of terror and the sound of his rapid heartbeat drifted toward me.
“Jesus, I think you made him pee his pants, Mickey.” Jacob said as we sat at a table and watched the waitress drift toward us.
“I know. Threatening his money will put fear in his heart, but threaten his manhood, and it'll damn near stop it.” I said, then silenced as the waitress reached us.
“Hi, my name is Elaina, and I will be your waitress today. Here are your menus.” she said, putting a menu in front of each of us. “I'll give you a moment to look it over, and then I'll come and take your order.” She started to walk away, but Jacob grabbed her wrist.
“Excuse me, but how often to the paparazzi come here scouting for celebrities?” he asked.
“About once a week. But don't worry Mr. Rayyo. Even if they do come here, the bouncers will get rid of them .” As far as I knew, Jacob hadn't told her his name. Must have been more recognizable than I thought.
“Thanks Elaina” Jake said and let go of her wrist. He picked up his menu and looked over the first course choices.
“Wow. Recognizable, much?” I said, smiling and picking up my own menu.
“Nah, she was dating one of the directors I was working for back home. I met her at a party for the director's birthday.” he said. He peeked at me over the top of his menu and said, “Now we can have a proper date without being interrupted.”
I couldn't stop the smile from peeking through my serene mask. “I liked our first date, personally. Nothing like going 120mph on a motorcycle, then running from the restaurant with the paparazzi on our tails, then coming home to a nut bunny vampire trying to kidnap me and gouge my eyes out to get a girl's blood pumping.”
“Yeah. Totally turns me on. Then finding out you're not completely human just makes everything hotter.” He abandoned the menu and looked straight into my eyes.
“Oh, here comes Elaina.” I said, trampling down the impulse to jump across the table and rip his clothes off.
“Have you two decided?” she asked.
Jacob looked at her crudely. “Yes, we have. I will have the shrimp penne with parmesan garlic sauce.” He handed her his menu.
“And for you, ma'am?” she said.
“The lemon chicken, please. Oh, and could you bring out a bottle of red wine?” I asked. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jake smile. Red wine was his favorite.
“Of course.” She left for the kitchen to put in our food order.
“Jeeze, Jake. What happened to your chipper attitude?” I said, though I already knew what had happened to it.
“I hate it when I get interrupted during a conversation. Especially one such as the one we were just having.” The blazing heat returned, apparently unperturbed by the distraction. “Now, where were we?”
“We were about to behave ourselves until we are in the car where no one will call the police for public indecency. And we are going to drink the wonderful red wine that will be in our wine glasses in exactly 32.65 seconds, then we are going to eat the delicious food that we ordered. And Then, if when we get home, I'm in a good mood, we'll continue this conversation in a more…appropriate environment. Like your apartment, perhaps?” I flashed him a coy smile and then silently chuckled as Elaina walked over with out wine.
Jacob regarded me with widened eyes. “Wow. Usually I'm the one suggesting things, not my date. This is totally frikin'' awesome!” he said, not really caring that Elaina was right next to us. “Thank you Elaina. Just leave the bottle, okay?”
“Okay. I'll be right back with your food.” She smiled and left.
“Well. Judging by the way she was blushing, I'd say someone's a virgin.” I smiled when Jacob choked on his wine. He swallowed hard and coughed, trying to expel the alcohol from his windpipe.
“Jesus woman! Are you trying to kill me or something? I know I'm immortal and all, but I don't think suffocation is one of the things I can survive.” His voice came out hoarse and raspy.
“Why would I want to kill you? You serve a much better purpose when you're alive.” I leaned forward, making my breasts bulge. I'm relatively flat-chested, but pushup bras do wonders for that tiny little problem. Pun intended.
“Well, I'd certainly like to think so.” Jacob flashed me that brilliant smile of his and looked at the approaching Elaina. He waited until our food was in front of us, then looked at her. “Elaina, kindly inform the staff that we are not to be disturbed until I motion for them.”
“Of course sir. Enjoy your meals.” She bowed slightly and left us to our food.
I watched her retreating back with a grin on my face that would make the devil piss himself. “Maybe her chastity belt is riding up. She seems like she's in a bad mood.”
“It may be that I said no when she asked me out. I don't like her one bit.” He said. His face was screwed up with disgust. “She married the last director I worked for and then divorced him. Took him for everything he had. She's a gold digger.”
“She asked you out? And you said no? Jeez, I would have thought with that tiny little body and that perfect face, you would have said yes. But, then again, you are dating me, so you can't be going on looks.” I said.
“What will it take for me to get this through your head? You are beautiful!! You are more beautiful than any woman I have and will ever date! You need to stop doubting yourself.” He took my hand in his. “It's been a week since I first met you, but it feels like an eternity. That is why I got this.” As he spoke, he took a small box out of his pocket. “I thought it was a bit too early for engagement, but I think a promise is well in order.” He opened the box to reveal a ring. It was a beautiful ring, white gold with a diamond in it.
I gasped. “Oh, my God! Jacob, do you know how much this means?” Tears slid down my face as he lifted the ring out of its box and placed it on my ring finger.
“Of course I do. It means that I promise myself to you: my body, my soul. All of me, I promise to you. If we're going to spend eternity together, we're going to do it right.” He reached up and wiped the tears off of my face. “I love you so much. Every day I spend with you, it gets harder and harder to remember life without you.”
“I know what you mean. 1236 years of life and I have never felt like this. We did kind of do this kind of backwards, though.” I said, barely aware of my surroundings. All I could see, all I cared about, was him.
“What do you mean?” he said. A slight panic washed over his face.
“Well, I think you're supposed to have a promise ring before you bond your souls together.” I smiled and the panic left his features.
“Oh--right. Yeah, we did kind of get things a little mixed up. Oh, well, there's nothing we can do about it know, is there?” He laughed. “Before we go any further, relationship wise, anyway, there's something I want you to do. Well, actually something I want you and Kales and Jozze to do, but if you don't want to do it, that's okay, I'll totally understand.”
He was avoiding the favor he wanted. “Jacob. What is it you want us to do?”
“Well, I want you to…meet my parents.” he said. He closed his eyes, as if he were waiting for a big refusal.
He wasn't going to get one.
“Okay. When do we leave?” I said, a big smile.
“Whoa, wait. What? I figured you'd argue with me. No one ever wants to meet my parents.” he said.
“Well I do, and to tell you the truth, I think Jozze and Kales will enjoy it as well.” I wasn't lying either.
“Are you sure? Because if they don't want to come they don't have to.” He said, hastily avoiding upsetting someone.
"They won't care. If you want I can call right now and ask.” I told him. “You have to stop worrying about upsetting me.
“No, that's okay. I just don't want them to be upset.” he said.
"They won't be. Now, when do you want to leave?” I asked.
“Well, I was thinking Friday.” He was still cautious.
“Then it's settled. We'll leave Friday.” I smiled reassuringly at him, hoping to give him a hint of confidence.
“Okay. As long as you're sure they won't care…I guess we're all good.” he said. Apparently my reassurance and confidence had rubbed off on him.
I unrolled my silverware and took a small bite of my lemon chicken. It was good, slightly peppered, the citrus taste was just right. Jake followed suit, taking a bite of his shrimp catastrophe. I'm sure it tasted good to him, but I hate sea food.
I didn't notice I was watching him, immobile, until a smile stretched across his face. “What?” he asked me, looking up and meeting my eyes.
“Umm… I'm not quite sure. My brain is MIA at the moment. Ask again in five minutes, maybe I'll have an appropriate answer for you then.” I wasn't being sarcastic or making a joke. I had a hard time lying to him.
“Alrighty then. I'll try again later.” he smiled, taking my left hand in his and kissing the back of it. Carefully restrained flutters went wild in my stomach.
Minutes ticked by in silence as we both ate. Suddenly, Jacob checked his watch. “It's been five minutes. Why were you staring at me?”
I looked into his eyes. “I think it's because you mesmerize me. Usually the things that humans--human being a loosely used term in this case--the things that they do, how they act. It's usually all so predictable. With you…I never know what's coming. It's like losing control of myself, without the murderous impulses.” I briefly explained. “I'm usually the one mesmerizing people, not the other way around. It's all very new to me. And then tonight you take me out to dinner and pull this”--I gestured to the ring on my finger--"Out and promise yourself to me! I would have never seen that coming. This relationship is unlike any relationship I have ever had. I didn't even feel this close to Jesha and we were suppose to get married.”
He was paying close attention to my face. I wasn't sure why until I felt tears work their way down my face. “Your tears are red.” was all that he said.
“Yeah, it comes with the whole Night Walker package.” I said, hastily wiping them away with a napkin before anyone else could see. "Vampires cry red, too. Jesha was a vampire. I didn't know vampires bled that much until I found his apartment, ruined and covered in his blood.” I was trying to stop the tears but they just came faster, soaking my napkin with blood.
Jacob leaned forward and put his hands on the sides of my face. “It doesn't matter. I shouldn't have asked for an answer when you clearly didn't want to give it.” His lips, mere inches away from mine a few seconds before, pressed mine softly, his thumbs wiping the blood tears off of my face.
“I know it doesn't matter, Jacob. It's not your fault either. You didn't hold a gun to my head, or twist my arm about it. I told you of my own free will. I thought I had forgotten Jesha; the way his apartment had looked when I went to find him, but I guess not. I'm glad I have you, now. I need you more than you could possibly imagine.” I was frustrated by how helpless my voice sounded.
“Why is that?” He asked me cautiously.
“Because before we met, I'd been falling apart. My mind was slipping along with my sanity, the first thing I saw when I got up and the last thing I saw before I went to sleep was Jesha's apartment, I wouldn't talk to Kales or Jozze unless I'd had a premonition and needed reassurance. I was a total emotional wreck before I met you. You give me reason to get up at night, to hold on to sanity, to humanity. You give me reason to be reasonable.” the tears had stopped while I talked. “I love you, Jacob. I know it's only been a week, but I can't suppress my feelings any longer. If I wait to tell you any more, my heart may just burst. I have never, ever, felt like this about anyone. When I'm with you, it feels like all of my problems go away, like I can be normal. I feel whole, complete, but when we're separated, it's like someone cut my heart out of my chest. I feel depressed, like the whole world will suddenly turn against me, slit my throat. I hate not seeing you, not smelling your odd coconut scent, not feeling your presence. It's like someone took a piece of my own personal hell and laid it out in front of me. My whole existence seems to depend on you. I know it shouldn't, that the fact of it makes me weak, but I can't stop loving you. I can't even think about trying it without feeling as if a knife has been driven through my heart.”
Tears started running down his face. “I don't know what to say that could even be half-way equal to that. I know exactly how you feel, about when I leave, because I feel exactly the same way when you leave. I don't know if I could survive being away from you for too long.” He smiled and wiped the tears off of his face.
Suddenly I had an idea. “Why don't we leave to go meet your parents tomorrow?”
“Um…because we both need to go to work tomorrow. Full moon was yesterday, so I figure J.L will want us there to start taping.” he stopped when he noticed the evil look on my face. “What are you planning?” he asked cautiously.
“Full moon was yesterday, true, but that means the animal is still close to the surface. It would be easy for him to lose control.” I said, meeting his eyes. I knew mine were charcoal with ice blue around the pupils.
“I like the way you think.” he said, motioning for the check. Our food was mostly finished and had grown cold during our long talk.
Elaina approached and said “I hope you enjoyed your meal. If there's anything I--ma'am, you've got blood on your dress.”
My eyes snapped down to my outfit, and sure enough, three perfect drops rested on the green fabric. “I had a nosebleed. I can wash it out at home.” I said, never taking my eyes off of Jacob. “Jacob? Shall we take our leave?” I asked casually.
“We shall. Oh. Elaina?” he waited until she turned to him, “Rodger sends his regards.” He stood, took my arm and left. The valet saw us approach and motioned for one of his buddies to get our car.
As soon as the car came around the corner, the valet bowed slightly to us. “Have a wonderful night, sir. Ma'am.” the car parked and the man behind the driver's seat got out, holding the door open for Jacob. As soon as he was seated, the valet hurried around the car to open my door. I stepped in carefully and the door closed behind me.
Jacob looked around, making sure all of the valets were out of the way, then pressed down on the gas pedal, making us shoot forward. “So, what diabolical plan do you have to make J.L lose control?” he asked.
I smiled wickedly and looked at the setting sun. “First, we need to go to Bloodlust and talk to a couple friends of mine. If they're in, we go to my place and wait until sunset.” I told him. He pulled off on our exit and drove toward the apartment building and the clubs.
“Why do you need to talk to some friends?” he asked.
“Because no one provokes a werecreature better than a threat from a superior of their species. Katie and Kat will be perfect for the job.” I explained to him. “Katie and Kat are the Alphas of the N.Y.C. Pack.”
“I thought there was only one Alpha in a pack?” Confusion clouded his voice as he pulled up in front of Bloodlust.
“Usually there is, but Kat and Katie have been fighting each other for years, and neither can beat the other in a fight. So, they called a truce and share power over the pack.” I said. I couldn't wait to see his face when he actually saw the two. And by the way, in N.Y.C., the pack consists of all of the different types of werecreatures, not just one subspecies. So, they had some pretty big status.
“Okay. How do you know they'll be here?” he said as we simultaneously exited the car and walked to the club. Ever since word of what happened to Onyx had gotten out, the bouncers don't bother to stop me or anyone with me anymore, so we got to go right in.
“They're here every night. All werecreatures love to drink and dance 'till the sun comes up.” Sure enough, I saw the pair of them dancing with Reno, a young werewolf that had recently joined their pack. As soon as I started toward them, Jacob close behind me, they stopped dancing and looked at us.
“I don't see them.” Jacob said, confusion ravaging his voice again.
I pointed. “Right there.”
“Okay, correct me if I'm wrong, but all I see is a couple of kids dancing with some older guy.” I gave him a moment to think about what he had said. “That's them? They don't look any older than sixteen!”
“Don't let their innocent exterior fool you. They can kill you before you can blink.” I warned as we came to a halt in front of the trio. “Katie, Kat, I have a favor to ask of you.” I said in my most business-like voice. Katie and Kat were the same height, about 5'5”, though their faces were complete opposites. Katie had short blond hair with dark brown lowlights, gleaming blue-gray eyes, and childish facial features. She wasn't heavy, but she also wasn't thin, a size twelve at the most, while Kat had long brown hair, dark brown eyes and a more adult facial structure. She was smaller than Katie, a size five. Both had been turned at the age of sixteen .
“A favor? Exactly what kind of favor are you asking for?” Katie asked smoothly. Both she and Kat had taken one of Reno's arms. “Calm yourself Reno. They mean no harm to us.” she said when he stiffened and started to growl.
“We need to make somebody lose control. He's a wereleopard, about five years old, still fighting the beast inside of him.” I said, keeping my eyes on Reno.
“Who is this gorgeous hunk of boy-toy you've brought with you?” Kat asked.
“This is Jacob. My boyfriend.” I explained. "The guy we want to get is our boss.”
“What do you want us to do once he loses control? He seems weak by how you describe him, but how weak exactly?” Katie said, looking at Kat.
“I scare him more than I should, and he cowers from most humanity.” I said, drawing Jacob away from a group of eager looking vampires.
“It's no surprise that you scare him. You've taken both of us”--Kat indicated to herself and Katie--"On and won, so I wouldn't doubt that, but fearing humans? Probably out of fear of losing control, but still.”
“We may need to look into this afterward, Kat. He could become reckless if we don't keep tabs on him.” Katie said, crossing her arms. Hidden muscle bulged in her arms.
Beside me, I felt Jacob flinch a bit as Kat repeated the motion, her muscles straining against her skin as well. “He seems like a good enough guy, but we really need him out of commission for a while, a week at least. We don't want him dead, just wounded.”
Kat and Katie looked each other, communicating with the pack bonds which allowed them to speak to each other mentally. “We'll do it.” they said in unison.
“Kales, Jozze! Me and Jake brought some company!” I said as we entered my apartment. Katie, Reno and Kat followed Jacob and I into the living room where Kales and Jozze were covered in a blanket on the couch.
Neither of them moved when Jacob and I entered the room, but then snapped to attention when Katie and Kat entered. Kales was the first to speak. “Katie. Kat. What did my sister do this time?” he asked.
“She asked us for a favor, Kales, calm yourself.” Kat said while hitting Reno in the head. He was growling in Jozze's direction.
Kales stood in front of Jozze, putting himself between Jozze and Reno. “Don't even think about it dog breath.” he growled. “You make one move in his direction and your head parts ways with your shoulders. Understand me? Mutt?”
“Yeah I understand, corpse. Sounds to me like you just threatened my rank. That was not smart.” Reno growled back at him. Then, tensing himself, he dropped into a defensive crouch.
Kales growled low in his throat. “I'm threatening your rank? Who is it that came into my home and growled at my fiancé? Who is it that threatened my dominance by showing his face around me after what happened last time?”
Reno returned the growl, the sound of it ripping through the room. “You have no dominance. I am personally surprised that your boyfriend hasn't had enough of your bullshit and starting bumping uglies with some other little homo.”
Jozze had had enough by then. “Excuse me? Since when is it any of your business, mongrel, who Kales and I f***? Last time I checked, that was between him and me, so unless you're looking to join us, we wouldn't let you anyway, so don't even try, I suggest you butt out before I beat seven shades of s*** out of you.”
Before anyone else, I saw Jozze's eyes go ice blue, his fangs extend, and his muscles bunch. “Jozze don't. He's not worth it.” I lightly put my hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him down. When his body stayed tense, I applied slight pressure to one of the pressure points in his shoulder. “Reno, you son of a b****, leave them alone before I pin you down and do to you what I did to Onyx. If you value your life, leave my brothers alone.
“Reno! Stand. Down. Now.” Katie warned, while at the same time, Kat said, “Stand down Reno.”
"They threatened our—“ he started to say.
“No! You threatened Jozze, and therefore you threatened them. You are almost two years into transition, when will you learn?” Kat yelled.
“Why must we submit to them? Just because we have entered their home does not mean that we have entered their law!” Reno yelled back.
Katie and Kat growled in unison, the Alpha command bleeding into their voices. One said “You will obey!” and the other “Shut up!”
Silence. Then, Jacob spoke up. “What the hell was that?”
A harsh chuckle escaped Kales's throat. “That, Jacob, was a pack dominance fight. I know what you're thinking. And no, we can't turn into animals, but we are considered part of the New York pack. The only difference is, we don't have to obey the Alpha command.
I decided that that was the perfect time to cut in and propose my deal. “Anyway, before Reno so rudely interrupted the peace, I was going to state the fact that Jake and I want to have a little fun with J.L., our boss.”
“Ooo, what kind of fun?” Jozze asked.
"The kind of fun that makes him loose control and makes us not have to go to work tomorrow so the three of us can go meet Jacob's parents.” I said with a wicked smile.
“We're going to meet Jacob's parents?” Kales asked.
“Oh, right, I forgot to tell you! Jake gave me a promise ring!” I said ecstatically. I held up my hand and wiggled my fingers so the light caught my hand.
“Oh congratulations!” Jozze squealed.
“So you guys wouldn't mind meeting my parents?” Jacob said.
“Of course not!” Jozze and Kales said at the same time.
“I told you so!” I snickered.
“Yeah, yeah, I know you did. If we can pull this off tonight, then we're gonna take off tomorrow.” Jake responded.
“Then lets do this thing!” Kat and Katie said at the same time.
“Okay, so we all know our positions, right?” I asked.
“I wait out front for the signal, then move to the front door for an ambush.” Katie said.
“I break into the house and scare him out.” Kat said with a smile.
“Then I wait on the roof to jump him as he's coming through the door.” Jozze said.
“I meet him by the woods as he fights his animal.” Kales said.
“I wait at the back door just incase he decides to go that way.” Reno said gloomily.
“Right. Jacob and I will wait upwind so he doesn't catch our scent until after the shift.” I said. “Let's do this. Our flight leaves at eight and I want to spend some alone time with Jacob.” With that, all of us moved to our assigned positions.
When I saw we were all in position, I whispered “3. 2. 1. Showtime.” The whole process happened very quickly. Kat picked the lock on the balcony window, making Jean Luc go on the defensive. Then Kat advanced on him, driving him out the front door where Jozze jumped off the roof behind him and Katie rushed him from the side. As he ran toward the woods, Kales jumped out and growled low in his throat. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Jean Luc let loose an agonized howl and shifted. Simultaneously, Jozze, Kales and I flipped open our wings, me with Jake in my arms, and took to the air while Kat, Katie and Reno took off running for the car, a sleek black jaguar.
The seven of us peeled out just as J.L. took a dive for us.
Kales, Jozze, Jacob and I bid Kat, Katie, and Reno a good night, then set to packing for the flight that left in seven hours. I had my bag packed in a flash, then told Kales and Jozze that I was going over to Jake's.
I walked across the hall to find the door cracked open. I walked in to find Jacob sitting on his couch in a pair of black boxers. I knew his thoughts were a mirror image of mine, so in a single motion, I shut the door with my foot and walked across the room into his arms. He brought his mouth down on mine, crushing my lips in the heat of passion.
“Bedroom?” he asked. He grabbed my ass and used it to hoist me up. As soon as he did, my legs wrapped around his waist, pressing our lower bodies together.
“Oh yeah.” I replied, those being the only coherent words I could form in my mind. He swooped me into his arms, carrying me to the bedroom and half-way throwing me down onto the bed.
“Mickey, slow down! Sl--slow down!” Jacob said, catching my arm as I stalked towards the woods.
“Why the hell should I, Jacob? So I can listen to your family bad-mouth my brother and his fiancé's sexuality and how we turned out badly because we don't have parents? Or is it so I can see the hurt in my brother's eyes from up close? Because that is all that my slowing down will accomplish!” I spat. Confused? Let me explain.
We'd gotten to Jake's parents in Oklahoma at about 3 A.M., and after a three hour flight, I was glad to be on the ground. That was, until I saw the inside of his parent's house. The first thing I saw when we walked in was the ginormous cross hanging off of the ledge of the second floor. After that, I knew that everything was shot to hell. Jacob's mom's name was Leanne, his dad's Jim, and both were major followers of the Holy Bible. And as most of you know, homosexuality is against the Bible, so when Kales came through the door carrying Jozze, (Jozze has a small issue with planes, so he always makes sure to go at least ten hours without sleep before getting on one so he can sleep through the ride) all hell broke loose.
Long story short, Leanne and I exchanged some words, Jim and Kales exchanged some words. Things were said that we would probably come to regret in the not-so-near future, and Kales had had to hold me back so I didn't ram Jacob's dad's nose through the back of his skull.
“I didn't know they'd react like that!” Jacob said softly, not letting go of my arm.
“What, never went to bible school as a child? Homosexuality is against the Bible!” I shook off his grip and stalked into the thicket of trees.
“Mickey, where are you going?” Jacob asked, running to keep up with me.
“I need to go climb a tree before I snap and kill someone.” I replied, then jumped and caught a limb of a great oak tree about twenty-five feet off the ground. I had gotten about sixty feet off the ground when I heard my brother and Jozze approach my tree.
“Jesus, she can climb fast, can't she?” I heard Kales say to one of the two men down below.
“Yeah she can.” Jozze replied, so Kales must have been talking to him. “Jacob, don't beat yourself up over what your parents did. It's not your fault in the least, and she's just mad because she pictured her future in-laws a little differently.”
I shook my head, then covered my ears. It was a childish thing to do and it didn't stop me from hearing anything, but I took a small comfort in it. The tree shook a second before Kales sat himself down beside me.
We sat in blessed silence for a while before he turned to me and spoke. “It doesn't bother us, Mickey. We've dealt with this kind of thing before. You know that better than anyone else.” He stopped when he realized that I still had my hands childishly covering my ears. He sighed and said “Fine. Jozze, baby, will you get up here please? She's being extremely uncooperative.” The tree shook and another person, presumably Jozze, sat down beside me.
“Girl, why all the heartbreak?” he wrapped his arms around my shoulders as I started to cry.
“Why do you think? I can't believe the parents of the guy I'm dating don't like you two because you're gay!!! That's bullshit! And it's no use putting a spell on me, I'm too pissed off for it to work right now, and you know it!” I said, shrugging away from him and gathered my feet beneath me. Then I jumped and grabbed the branch above me. After hoisting myself up, I let myself fall forward into the wind. Seconds after the fall, I snapped my wings open and soared off to the center of the forest, not caring who saw me.
The flapping of wings came from behind me, so I poured on the speed.
I don't really know which one it was, but one of the two of them flew above me and forced my wings in. The next thing I knew, I was falling through air. But, then, I wasn't. Okay, what the hell? Couldn't people just leave me alone for five minutes? My wings already hurt from being forced against my back, and now there were people trying to make me do something I didn't want to do? Nobody makes me do anything but me. Unfortunately, I realized that too quickly, leaving no time for reason.
I tore myself away from the embracing arms and continued my plummet toward the ground. At the last minute, I flung my wings out and came to a gentle stop on the hard ground. Then, I tucked my wings in and ran as hard and fast as I could, away from Jacob's heartbeat. I let the forest take over my senses and soon spotted what I was looking for, the fast-paced heartbeat of a big cat. Following its scent and sound, I soon tracked down a cougar leaning over a recent prey. I stood for a moment, evaluating the distance between the animal and me, then flung myself into the clearing. Now my animal had taken over, and there was no going back now. I let out a low, furious growl in the back of my throat and sent the cougar scurrying in the other direction. I smiled wickedly and gave way to the chase, letting my senses lead me on the fresh trail.
I gained distance on the animal too quickly for my vicious sense of fun, so I circled around in front of it and jumped at it. Then I gave chase in the opposite direction, running about a yard behind my prey the whole way. After about a mile, I started to lose interest in the hunt and decided to end it. I sprang on top of the cat and brought it down, catching claws in my side and teeth in my arm on the way down.
The pain of my cuts angered me, so I let out another growl from the back of my throat and sank my teeth into it's neck. I moaned with pleasure as I tasted the crimson spill into my mouth, gushing with every strangled heartbeat from the cat's dying heart, pushing past the pain it caused me to take it's blood. The cat shrieked helplessly and clawed at my arms, trying to break free. I bit down, hard, until I heard the crunch of bones and the shrieking stopped. I ramped up my intake of blood until the cougar was a bloodless, lifeless shell of flesh and bone.
“Jesus Christ Mickey! Are you okay?” Jacob asked when I went back to the house that night.
“I'm fine, Jake.” I replied, then tried (without success, mind you) to hold my shirt together.
“Fine? Jesus, you're covered in blood and cuts. Cuts from some kind of animal…Jesus, what were you doing?” He pulled my arm away from side and inspected it, then noticed my side with wide eyes.
“I wasn't doing anything. I just had an incident with a cougar, that's all. It's nothing to be worried about, it will heal in a matter of days.” I self-consciously wiped a hand over the back of my mouth and looked at it. It was tinted a slight red, but not enough to alarm Jacob--or so I'd thought.
“Oh my God, are you bleeding from your mouth?” He gently took my chin in his hand as he spoke.
“No Jacob. I--I lost control of myself and had to go hunting. I took down a cougar and drained it dry. It was just my bad luck that he caught me on the way down.” I hurried for a subject change. “So, have your parents allowed Jozze and Kales into the house, or did they have to stay at a hotel?”
He chuckled, but allowed the change in subject. “Surprisingly, my parents let them in the house. They're upstairs right by our room, but my parents are still up. I'll distract them while you slip upstairs. I'm guessing you'll be able to hear their voices?” He laughed again and trotted toward the doorway. He paused with his hand on the knob and said “I'm glad you came back tonight. We weren't exactly sure whether you would or not.” He smiled and continued on into the house.
I smiled and followed him into the house, thinking myself the wind and so becoming as quiet as. I honed in on the two voices coming from upstairs that I recognized as Jozze's and Kales's, then silently slipped up the staircase. Halfway up Kales came running lithely down to meet me.
“Holy s***, are you okay?” he said. I could hear the concern in his voice as he silently took in my many wounds. Then he threw me into a fireman's carry and brought me the rest of the way to their room. When we were in front of the door, Jozze opened it and motioned toward the bed, where a full arsenal of first aid supplies were laid out. Kales set me gently down on my feet and closed the door behind us. “What the hell happened, Mickey? You had us worried sick!”
“I lost control of myself, so I flew off into the woods and found myself a cougar. Then I taunted it, chased it, and drank it dry. That's it, that's all, end of story, okay?” I said, sighing as Kales ripped the shredded remains of my shirt off and examined my side and arm.
Jozze regarded me with wide eyes. “You went hunting? Since when do you go hunting when you don't need to?”
“Since I lost control of myself.” I replied quietly.
“Since when do you do that?” Jozze said, his eyes going twice as wide as before.
“Enough with the questions, Jozze! I just lost control, okay? End of the God damned story!” I said, getting angry at the both of them. You know those times when you've hit what you think is rock bottom and that things can't get any worse? And then they do? Yeah, that was what happened right then, right there, because guess what? That's right! You guessed it! I got a vision. It started, as most visions usually do, with quietness. And as most visions do, it scared the living s*** out of me.
I realized immediately that the room I was in belonged to Jozze and Kales, but its inhabitants only consisted of one of the two: Jozze. He sat on the edge of their bed with his head hung down low. I heard his quiet sobs before I saw the tears drip off his face and onto the floor, which rose the first question in my mind. Why was Jozze crying? He never cries, and even when he does, Kales is right there to comfort him. Anyway, I saw Jozze lift his head up, wiping his face with his arms. Then he took a long length of rubber from the bed beside him and tied it around his left arm, just like the nurses do at the hospital before they draw blood or give a shot of medicine.
What he was doing didn't hit me until he took the syringe from the bed and stuck it into his vein with a vicious savagery that I'd never seen from him before. He shuddered a little as he pushed the plunger down and emptied the vicious yellow liquid into his system. Which made the second question come to mind. Why was Jozze doing drugs? I watched with sorrow in my heart as his muscles relaxed and he slipped from the edge of the bed to the floor.
Then his body started to shudder again, but not because of the drugs. He had a craving for a different kind of addiction, but what it was I didn't know until he pulled a razor blade off of the bed and into his hand. Then he held out his right arm and drew it across the pattern of jagged scars on his wrist. I gasped as the blood welled up and dripped to the floor like his tears had. He didn't even flinch as the blade cut time and time again into his skin. He got to the crook of his arm before he stopped, and then he let out a ragged breath and leaned back against the bed.
I can't watch anymore of this! I thought to myself. I could barely stand to think of what I had seen, but seeing more of it? That just wasn't going to work for me. Wake up! Wake up! I silently screamed. And then I did--just like that.
And I wished like hell that I could slip back into the vision state.
Kales, Jozze, Jacob, Leanne, Jim, and the household kitten, Boo, were all crowded around me; the first three with concern, the next two with fear and curiosity, the last with a cute little fuzzy face and big, round green eyes that you just wanted to dunk in your coffee. Aw, s*** now we were gonna have to explain the whole vision thing to Jake's parents. I started to sit up when I realized that I had a metallic tang in my mouth, which meant I'd either thrown up or chewed my tongue to bits. I cautiously moved my tongue in my mouth and--winced as the healing bite marks on it popped back open and fresh blood rolled into my mouth. The kitty mewed and pawed at the sheets I was covered in as I tried again to sit up. As soon as Jozze realized what I was trying to do, he put his hand in the small of my back and helped me up.
“Are you okay, honey? You scared me and your brother half to death, keeling over like that! And then you started screaming! Good gods, I haven't heard you scream like that since you found out about Onyx!” Jozze said, throwing the blanket back over my torso to hide my bra from sight. Jim had scoffed when Jozze said 'gods', clearly demonstrating his polytheistic ways that rivaled Jim's own monotheistic beliefs.
In a slight panic, I grabbed Jozze' s arms and turned them every which way, but there were no signs of track marks or cuts, so I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding and relaxed. “Yeah, I'm fine Jozze, but what are we going to do about--?” I jerked my head in the direction of Leanne and Jim.
“Yeah, um…I have no frickin' clue. Not-a one. What about you baby?” he said, shaking his head as he turned to Kales for instruction.
“Don't look at me, you're the one who can hocus pocus his way through situations tighter than a straight man's ass at a gay bar!” He stopped himself with a little giggle and a hand over his mouth. “He he, I just made fun of myself! That's a first.”
“Yeah, well that's all good and great, but we have to focus! What are we going to say?” I said, getting a wonderful migraine between my eyes.
“Why doesn't Jozze just do a mind wipe?” Jacob said. I jumped a little because I'd almost forgotten he was standing right by my head.
“What are you talking about Jake?” Leanne said. No one answered her. “Jake? Jacob? Jacob Alexander Rayyo, you tell me what's going on right this minute or so help me, I'll--”
“You'll what, mom? Kick me out at sixteen and then a year later apologize your heart out and beg me to come home? Or are you going to send me to Bible camp so the priests can scare the devil out of me again? Help me out here, mom! Tell me what you're going to do to me that you haven't already done.” Jacob took a deep breath and looked back at us. “On second thought, maybe one of you should just off them. Right now.”
“Jacob, we are not offing your parents, be realistic.” I said.
“You are not going to come anywhere near me or my wife, young lady. You or your sinner of a brother and his gay partner.” Jim said, stepping in front of Leanne.
I just about snapped a cap right then.
“Oh, you did not just say that.” I said, then took a few threatening steps toward the couple before I felt a pair of arms around my waist. I struggled, furious that some moron should stop the beat down I was about to bestow on the royal pain-in-the-asses. No way was someone going to prevent me from getting even with them for what they'd said about my brother and his fiancé.
“You do realize, of course,” one of my voices advised, "That either your brother of Jozze is the one holding you back?” That was true--but wait! Since when the hell are my voices civilized?
“Oh, I'm not here to be civilized. I merely thought I'd point out to you the obvious. Now that I've told you, however…LET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”
I screamed and clutched my head between my hands as a ball of electricity went rocketing through my brain and landed behind my eyes. I collapsed shaking and screaming on the floor, the invisible pair of arms still around my waist. As soon as one of the voices rebelled, all of them started to go. Hundreds upon thousands upon millions of individual voices rung in my head, each yelling for freedom, or revenge, or blood. All of them came rocketing through my head in horrid blasts of electricity that I was sure would end up frying my brain. The arms around me picked me up, and through my hazy vision, I saw my brother's face, frozen with a look of concern. He was mouthing something to me, but I couldn't hear him over the screaming and the voices in my head.
My nose must have been bleeding because I felt a warm, thick liquid dripping from my nostrils, and then the same feeling from my ears, and from my tear ducts and my mouth. I could hear people scurrying around me, but nothing was clear anymore. My vision flickered out, my hearing was overwhelmed by the buzzing of the voices in my head, and my coherency went out in a final, frenzied flicker. Then: nothing. Just…nothing.
I woke the next morning to a pair of bright emerald greens that I knew so well, and just seeing them made me smile--for a second. I took a deep breath inward and smelled straw. Not coconut, like I was expecting, but straw. The man looking down upon me was not my Jacob, but someone else. I struggled to sit up and something must have shown on my face because the Jacob that wasn't Jacob backed up a step.
“Please relax.” he said. “Jake is in the shower and he told me to come check on you if he wasn't out in a half an hour. It's been almost forty minutes, so I thought I'd better check on you or he'd kick my ass. I walked in and you were, I don't know, whimpering so I thought I should wake you up so you didn't start screaming. Oh, by the way, I'm Edward. I didn't mean to disorient you.”
“Um, hi Edward. It's not that you disoriented me, it's just that you look so much like--” he finished my sentence for me.
“My brother? Yeah, I guess you could say that. We're identical twins. He always tries to tell me that he's older than me, but I really don't think that four and a half minutes counts as being older. That is one hell of a fight waiting to happen, trust me.” He smiled and looked down at me.
“Um, okay.” I usually wasn't this confused in the morning. Granted, I was in a different state, surrounded by people I didn't know, and the little voices in my head had just gone all Godzilla on my Tokyo-like ass. But still, I wasn't usually this confused in the morning.
“Oh, right, I was going to ask before you looked at me like you were going to kill me,--by the way, you've got one hell of a scary assassin face, girl. You had me kind of scared for a minute there.” I let that one slide because I'd felt my face go into blank mode the moment I'd taken in his scent. “Anyhoo, I was going to ask if you were alright after that little episode last night.”
“How'd you know about that? Were you here last night?” I was immediately alert again.
“Simmer down, Super Girl. There ain't no kryptonite in this joint.” He smiled down at me as he sat on the edge of the bed. “I wasn't here for your pass out knock out moment. I got here when they were cleaning the blood off of your face. I just got back from Bulgaria and I came home to find mom and pop yelling and screaming at Jacob about his 'devil witch' and her 'sinner brother' with his 'sinner boyfriend'. Just by the way she was sayin' it, I knew that all the blood on mom's oh-so-precious white carpet had to be from Jake's new girl. I came all the way from Bulgaria to meet you, you know.”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. How much blood was there? I remember biting my tongue, but that was all in my mouth and I swallowed it. How did I get blood on the carpet?”
“Okay, first of all, ew! You swallowed you own blood?” he stuck out his tongue and made a gagging noise.
“What was I supposed to do with it?” I said.
“Well, gee, I don't know. Spit it out?” He started to smile in the middle of his sentence.
I started to smile, too. “Well, you know, I kind of didn't think of it at the time.” He started to respond, but I cut him off. “ We discussed the first of all, now what's the second of all?”
“Fine. The second of all is that not only did you bite your tongue, but you were also bleeding from your ears, your nose, your mouth, and from your tear ducts. It was one scary sight, let me tell you. I'm surprised you didn't slip into a coma with all of that blood loss. By the way, are you feeling dizzy?” he added.
“Um, no.” I replied.
“Fatigue? Headache? Sensitivity to light or sound?”
“No, no, and no. What's this all about?” I was thoroughly confused.
He blushed. He actually had the good grace to blush. “Sorry about that. I'm a nurse and when I see someone that's hurt or who was previously hurt, something inside me just clicks and I go into nurse mode.” He smiled. “Are you sure that you're feeling okay?”
“I'm fine. Why are you so convinced that something is wrong? I've had way worse than that.”
"The only time I've ever seen someone do that, they passed out and slipped into a coma. They never woke up after that. I really don't want Jake to lose you. He needs someone in his life. Tag. Your it.” He said the last with such sincerity it made me tear up.
“Nice, Ed. What did you do now?” Now that was one coconuty fresh male. Jacob came into the room wearing a towel and nothing else.
“I didn't do anything, I swear! You told me that if you weren't out in a half an hour, that I was supposed to come check on her. I came in and she was having a nightmare or something, so I woke her up to snap her out of it.” Edward looked almost scared.
“Jake, he didn't do anything. It's you that has some explaining to do.” I was suddenly a little mad that he hadn't told me that he had a twin brother.
“Me? What did I do?” Now he looked scared.
“It's less a question of what you did do, and more of a question of what you didn't do. Since when do you have a freakin' twin brother? You never told me that! I wake up to a pair of emerald greens and a scent I don't recognize, in a place I'm not familiar with! That kinda scares the bajesus out of me!” Now I really was mad.
“What do you mean a scent you don't recognize?” That from Edward.
Oh s***. I hadn't meant to say scent. I started to make up some excuse when Jacob said “Just tell him, Mickey. He's not going to tell anyone.”
I sighed. “Jake, it's just not that simple. There are people who would like to get that kind of information and use it to kill us. My brothers and I have been running since we were eight. Just for once, I'd like to settle down somewhere without getting stabbed, or shot, or burnt, or tortured, or any other kind of thing like that! What if someone captured him and forced it out of him? Not only would he be hurt, but that information could be used to kill us. Remember how Kales reacted when you found out? Remember what happened to my last boyfriend? I can't let that happen to you, Jacob! If I could have kept that from you, by God, I would have.”
“Why? Why the hell would you keep something as big as that from me?” He was beginning to sound angry himself.
“Because I bloody love you! If Onyx wouldn't have come after me, and if you wouldn't have had to see me fight him, none of this would ever have happened! You would have never found out what I am, and everything would be okay!”
“Um, what you are? You're human, aren't you?” Edward said, a slight hint of nerves leaking into his voice.
Neither of us answered him.
“Oh. My. God. Oh. My. God. Oh. My. God. You're not human. You're not human. What the hell are you?” Edwards's skin had paled down nearly as much as mine. He was stammering horribly.
“Edward, calm down. Just stay calm.” Jacob said, coming closer to the two of us.
“Stay calm? Stay calm?” Edwards's voice had risen in pitch. I pushed my aura out until I felt Jozze and Kales respond by pushing theirs outward as well. I sent them a feeling of desperation and seconds later, they were entering the room, both of them shirtless, though Jozze did have one in his hands. I could see Jozze's tattoos clear as day, until he pulled the white wife beater on. Sometimes it was hard to believe that Jozze was the girl in the relationship. Then a new season of the Gilmore Girls started up and suddenly, it's totally believable.
Kales spoke first. “What's going wrong now, Mickey?” He started to smile, but then saw my face and stopped. “What happened?”
“Edward knows.” I said.
Jozze spoke up. “One, who's Edward? Two, is he cute? And three, how much does he know?”
That made me smile and Kales glare at the two of us. “One, Edward is Jacob's identical twin brother. Eerie isn't it? Two, he looks just like Jacob, so of course he's cute, but you're engaged. Three, he knows I'm not human, but not what I am.”
“You say 'I'm' like it's just you that's in trouble here. Remember, if one of us takes heat, we all get flambéed. You can't just leave us out of this, Mickey. We're all in this together.” Kales said. Then he took a deep breath and looked at Edward. “We are Night Walkers, Edward. We are people of the night, who crave for blood and could stuff you into a coffee mug. We could kill you before you could say Nebuchadnezzar, but we wouldn't do that. And do you know why?
Edward hesitated, then asked. “Why?”
Kales smiled. “Because not only would it hurt you, and hurt Jacob and Mickey's relationship, but it would kill something inside ourselves to kill an innocent. We don't--can't--live like that. When one of needs blood, we turn to each other. We don't usually go out until after sunset, and even then, the furthest we go from home is to clubs to dance. We have jobs, we buy groceries, we pay the rent. We are just like humans, but a little extra--what's the word? Spicy. When Jacob and Mickey had their very first date, someone tried to kill her in the hallway in front of our apartment. That's how he found out what she is. What we are. He can accept what she is, and he still dates her, still loves her, still sleeps with her at the ass crack of dawn when the rest of us are trying to get some sleep across the hall. Anyway, my point is: if he can accept her, all of her, then shouldn't you be able to?” With that, Kales smiled at me and walked out of the room.
Jozze looked at us all, winked at me, then whispered a few quiet words and flashed white eyes at us. All of us became visibly calmer. He sat on the edge of the bed and started talking to me in Italian. It took me a moment to realize it, but when I did, I immediately translated. He was saying something roughly like 'would you like me to wipe his mind?'
I thought about that for a moment, then replied, also in Italian, “No, I don't. If we are ever going to fit into this family, they were going to have to find out some how. Let it be this way, and not any other.”
He smiled and switched back to English. “Mickey, out little bleeding heart. When did you go soft?”
I gave him my best blank face. “I'm not soft, Jozze. Not in any way.” He paled a bit and I laughed. The sight of a witch paling with fear can be quite amusing. You should try it some time. I suddenly realized that it had almost been a half an hour since I'd woke up, and I was still flat on my back. Still laughing, I sat up and moved my feet to the edge of the bed, then tentatively to the floor. I put some pressure on my legs and tried to stand, but apparently they weren't quite up to the job yet. I had my arms out to catch myself when I ended up in Jozze's arms. My brain was a bit scrambled and it took me a minute to realize what had happened. When I did, I also realized that Edward was still in the room and that the smell of fear had joined the coconut, grass and sunshine.
I pulled away to look at Edward's pale face. “Edward, there is nothing to be afraid of.” I held my hand out to him, beckoning him forward.
I laid my hand gently on his cheek, cupping my palm around the familiar face and unfamiliar personality. “We will not harm you, Edward. We only came here to meet your parents so we could take our relationship to a higher level. My brother spoke true when he said we only fed from each other. Well, that and the occasional incident with a wild animal.” I smiled at him. “Besides that and the fact that we can bench press small cars, we're perfectly harmless.”
“Yeah, and Saint Valentine was a cross dresser.” Edward laughed and let out a shaky breath. “I only have one question for you.”
“What's that? I think you've earned the right to a question.”
“How old are you?” he asked me in all sincerity.
That made me laugh. “Kales and I are twins. We're each 1236 years old and counting. If you want to know how old Jozze is, you'll have to ask him yourself.” The last part was a challenge to see if he would look Jozze in the eye.
He did. He looked him straight in the eye and asked, “How old are you?” I liked him immediately.
Jozze giggled and blushed. “If I said 25, would you believe me?”
“No. Wait, would that be offensive? Are you actually 25? I am so sorry, I shouldn't have assumed like that.” Edward began to frantically apologize to Jozze, but Jozze just laughed.
“Calm down, Boy Scout, no one's gonna try to steal your merit badge. I was just messing with your head. I'm a witch, I tend to do things like that.” Jozze topped off that little speech with a wink of a topaz eye.
“A witch? As in hocus-pocus, and bibbidy bobbidy boo kind of witch?” Now Edward was really confused.
“Um, no. First of all, I don't say hocus-pocus. You'd find me doing the naked tango with Marilyn Monroe before that ever happened. Second of all, bibbidy bobbidy boo was a fairy godmother thing, not a witch. No, I use enchanted tattoos and the power of the five elements.” Jozze had just told Edward more in five minutes than he had anyone else in his entire lifetime. Well, except Kales, but they're dating so that doesn't really count.
"The five elements? Is that something like the five senses?” Edward said.
“No, not at all. The five senses are sight, touch, smell, hear, and taste. The five elements are Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, and Spirit. They are all that remains of the five King Elementals. By using them to summon my magic, I also agree that they are my lords, and that I shall live by their example. That is why I wear organic makeup and only use hairspray that doesn't contain CFC's. What can I say? If I didn't, I may very well lose all of my powers.” The last part was said to me. Then he turned all of his attention to Edward. “What was that you said?”
Edward looked confused. “I didn't say anything.”
Jozze didn't look convinced. “Are you sure, because I distinctly heard you say--oh, no. No, no, not again. This can't be happening again.” His face had paled again, but this time, it wasn't at all funny.
I turned in his arms and put my hand on his face. “What's wrong, Jozze? What is it that can't happen again?”
"The last time I started to hear other people's thoughts, it was because--he--was feeding me power. That was 4775 years ago, Mickey. Do you realize what that could mean for us? If--he--has followed us here, then we could all be in deep s***. I can't let this happen again, Mickey. Last time it got everyone that I loved killed. I won't let my master of old take others I love from me. I am scared to death that one day I will forget to look over my shoulder and he will show up and take you and your brother from me.” Tears had started to run silently down his face.
We both turned to as Kales stormed towards us in in a wave of emotion. “What did I say about shedding tears for your old master?” He closed the gap between them in a few long strides, and took Jozze into his arms.
“Just saying that no more tears are to be shed over him is different than it actually happening. Besides, how did you know I was crying in the first place?” Jozze tentatively wrapped his arms around Kales. Once they were there, he buried his face into Kales's chest and started to cry.
“Baby, I know you're going to cry before you even do.” He gave Jozze a little squeeze. "The sour scent of your sorrow tinges the air like rain on a humid day. Now tell me. Why the tears?”
"The voices. The hearing other people's thoughts. It's started up again. He's close. Closer than he's been in over four thousand years. I can't just sit around and wait for him to find me. Not again.” Jozze snuffled a little. I knew for a fact that Kales was going to have mascara all over his shirt that he'd put on. I don't know why he bothers to wear white anymore. It always gets stained with blood or makeup. “If I lose you, I'll never be able to live with myself.”
“You remind me of Shakespeare.” Kales told him. It was not something I was expecting. Apparently, either was Jozze.
“For never was a tale of more woe/than that of Juliet and her Romeo. It's all quite tragic, isn't it? Two star-crossed lovers, madly in love but not allowed to be together, thrown into the world, only to die at the apex of their love? That's where we are, Jozze. We got thrown into this s*** with the pharaoh so quickly, it seems like we could never survive it. But we're not Romeo and Juliet. We're not Pyramus and Thisbe. We're not Tony and Maria. We're not Tristan and Isolde. We won't end up dead. We are going to survive this, and we are going to live for a long time. We've been dating for one hundred and thirteen years, and we're deciding now that that bastard that kept you as a slave all those years ago is going to drag us down? I don't think so. We can beat this, baby. I know we can. If it means that we have to go into hiding for a while, then so be it, we'll hide. If it means that we have to fight and beat his ass, then we'll do it. We are going to ride this out, then we are going to get married and get a dog like you wanted. We are going to be happy. We have a future, Jozze. And that future will exist tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, hell. It'll even exist in the next century. I don't plan on dying any time soon, baby, nor do I plan on letting you out of my sight long enough to let you go, either.” Kales looked up and revealed his "Other side” to the whole room. Kales is one scary looking mother when he's got his game face on. He is effing scary, let me tell you. He could make Marilyn Manson s*** his pants six ways to Sunday. With the glowing blue eyes, pale, sunken skin, and fangs, he was creepy as hell. I really should be used to it by now, but it still shocks me. Sometimes strong emotions brings out your bad side.
I heard Edward and Jacob gasp, and the small noise startled me. I'd forgotten they were still there. Edward spoke first. “Oh my God.” A high, pitiful keening sound started to come from him. I moved to clamp my hand around his mouth before it turned into a scream, but Jacob beat me to it.
“Edward, you gotta trust me on this one. No one here is going to hurt you, I promise, but if you scream, mom and dad will come running and all hell will break loose. They're already flipping out because of last night, and they don't need to know about this.” The keening noises stopped. "There, now. Everything is going to be okay. Besides, their being immortal Night Walkers leaves me with a great advantage with Mickey.”
Edward pulled Jake's hand away from his mouth. “Really? What's that?”
An evil smile had appeared on Jake's face. "The fact that she sleeps during the day means we can go all night in bed.”
“Jacob Alexander Rayyo, I oughta smack you for that!” I yelled as Edward barked out unexpected laughter.
“Admit it, baby, it's true.” Jake said, tears streaming down his face he was laughing so hard.
“Okay. Fine. I can go all night. But, just because I can, doesn't mean you can. Does yesterday at 2:30 in the morning ring a bell?” I said. I'll admit, it was a cheap shot, but he deserved it. No, really.
“Oh, that is so shallow. And besides, when I had to stop, I'd already gotten you off what, six times? Seven times? I'd say that's pretty good for one night.”
“Wow, you over exaggerate a lot.”
“What do you mean?”
“Three times. Not six or seven. Three.”
Jozze piped up then. “Edward, go get the popcorn. This may take a while.” Kales chuckled at him and we all fell silent.
Kales turned Jozze in his arms. “So, are you okay?”
Jozze snuffled a little and wiped his face, smearing his makeup and flashing the room his tattoos. “Yeah, I'm fine. Or, I will be, at least. Son of a b****, my face hurts.”
“I still think that it's the makeup. It makes them sensitive. If you would quit worrying what other people think of you and just go without makeup, they would probably feel better. I, personally, think your inkage is hot.” Jozze opened his mouth to respond. “I know, I know, it's not ink, it's an ancient curse lain upon your skin and flesh at birth by that son of a b**** that forced you to call him master for seventeen years. I've gotten that speech before, baby. No need to go there again.”
“Actually, I was just going to say: Jake, your towel is slipping. Some things should be kept private. Unless, of course, you're offering to be our--oh, I don't know--boy toy or something.”
Jacob glared at him and fastened the towel more securely around his hips. “I only play boy toy to Mickey.”
“Eww, dude, that's my sister!” Kales said.
“ Yeah, I know that. I said that on purpose. I quite enjoy freaking you out like that, to tell you the truth. I gives me a small pleasure knowing that you'll have nightmares about that tonight.”
“You arrogant asshole, I'm going to get you back for that.” Kales said, reddening in the face now. Embarrassment? For moi? Well damn if that didn't make my day.
All of a sudden, a voice rang up the stairs. Leanne's voice. “Jacob, Edward, get down here!”
Edward yelled back. “Why? Were talking up here.”
Jim yelled back. “Your sister's here, now get down here.”
Jozze, Kales, and I looked at each other, then said all at the same time. “Sister?”
“OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD! Ya'll must be Jacob's gal and her…brother and his boyfriend! I'm so happy to meet ya'll! I'm Suzanna, but ya'll can call me Sue, Suz, or Suzie.” Jacob's sister said. You can definitely tell that she was born and bred in Oklahoma. They all have kind of a southern twang to their speech, but you can really tell with her.
“Good grief, Suzie, take a breath. We're gonna be here for a while. You've got time to talk, so you don't need to give them your life story in one shot.” Jacob said.
“Now you just shut your great big mouth, Jacob Alexander Rayyo, before I come over there and smack you so hard grand pappy will be feelin' the sting of it in heaven, God rest his soul.” Sue said, losing the welcoming grin and replacing it with a stone cold look.
I whispered into Jacob's ear. “Ooo, I like her.” I stuck out my tongue when he gave me a dirty look.
“So, we've been formally introduced an' all that hullabaloo, now me, Mickey--sorry if I get your names wrong--Kales?” He nodded. “And…Jozze?” another nod, "Are gonna go for a drive so we can talk. Maybe head into town and find somethin' ta do.”
She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door. My first thought was "She's old enough to drive?” but I swear by my dead heart, the second one I thought of was "What about Jacob?” Quit laughing, it was! Anyway, it was freaky, like she read my thoughts or something, because all of a sudden she stopped and said “Don't ya'll be worryin' about Jake. He's a big boy. Ties his own shoes and everythin'. Plus, he's a boy, n' we need some girl time.” She looked at Kales and Jozze. “Sorry, ya'll. That was so rude.”
Jozze smiled softly and laughed. “Don't worry, sweetie. I know all about girl time. Plus, with us, it kind of is girl time. Now Mickey, either you go out that door willingly, or I'm going to knock you out and carry you out. And by me I mean your brother.”
Kales laughed. “Since when do I do your dirty work? I'm your fiancé, not your bodyguard.”
“Exactly. You're my fiancé. You doing my dirty work is in the job description.”
“Where the hell is that written?” Kales exclaimed.
“Well in the fine print, obviously.” Jozze said.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mickey, get walking.” Kales said.
I rolled my eyes at them and gave Jake a swift kiss before allowing Sue to drag me behind her.
“Okay, now that ya'll are out of that place, you can revert ta yer natural selves. I can see ya'll gushin' over each other. Go ahead n' gush. It's not like I give a hoot.” She walked over to an Escalade and clicked the automatic unlock button. “Ya'll get in. I'm driving an we gotta talk. Big time.”
We all got into the car; me in shotgun and Jozze and Kales snuggled into the back seat, sitting as close together as they could get without actually sitting on each other. Have you ever been in an Escalade? The back seats are frickin' humungous! They did it on purpose, I know it. Just like that flying squirrel in Connecticut stole Kat's cupcake on purpose. But that's a story for them to tell you, not me. I will tell you, between her, Katie, and their friend Val (also a werewolf), that squirrel didn't live very long after that…anyway! You know how sometimes, before someone who knows something talks, there's that awkward silence? That was what was happening before Suzie said the following.
“So what exactly are ya'll? And don't ya'll even try ta tell me human, cuz I know that's a steaming pile of manure. So spill it. What are ya?” How do you reply to something like that? Send the one asking to the psyche ward? Laugh hysterically? Tell the truth? I don't know how you would handle it, but we just sat there in dead silence.
Suzie huffed a breath. “Fine. If ya'll don't wanna talk first, I'll start. Hi, my name is Suzanna Luanne Rayyo, I'm nineteen years old, and I can read people's minds. I may or may not be a vampire's human servant, and I can tell ya'll haven't fed well lately. Now. Spill.”
Well, slap my ass and hand me to my mama. She figured us out. Was it that obvious that we weren't human, or was she just--HOLD the PHONE! She may or may not be a vampire's human servant? What the hell is that supposed to mean? That little tidbit made the truth come right out of me. “We're Night Walkers. And it's not that we haven't fed well, it's just that we keep bleeding it all back out. How in Sam Hell did you figure us out?”
“I told ya. I'm a vampire's human servant. When you work for the head vampire of the city, it's pretty hard not to pick up on things like that. So, Night Walkers, huh? I don't reckon I've ever met one of ya'll. By the way, when I said ya'll could revert to yer natural selves, I meant it. The windows are too dark to see in from the outside. Relax and let yer blood quit movin'. It's not like I never seen it before. My boyfriend is a vampire, after all.” She smiled at all of us. Then shrugged and looked back at the road.
I decided then and there that I had a new best friend. I turned my head slowly to look at Suzie, then let my already chilled skin grow cold. I felt it all happen, felt the blood still in my veins, my nails and teeth extend, felt my muscles twitch with anticipation and my eyes adjust and the color explode with colors only we and vampires could possibly see. I also felt Kales and Jozze do the same, never moving an inch from where they were smashed together in the back seat.
I smelled more then felt the fear radiating from the girl sitting next to me. I knew that to maintain my human air for Jake's family, I would have to feed soon. But so did Kales and Jozze, which meant that we would have to take humans. Or more cougars. Mmm…cougar. The other white meat. Unfortunately, neither Jozze nor Kales had the love of the hunt like I do. So, probably humans. Blech. It wouldn't be so bad, but it just hurts so goddamn bad to take human blood.
I didn't really want to ask the next question for fear Suzie would scream at the sound of my guttural, distorted voice, but I had to. “Are you alright? I can smell your fear in the air.” When she didn't answer, I started to put my human disguise back on display, but she grabbed my arm and I let it fade away.
“I'm fine, ya'll. Just thinkin' of some none-to-fond memories. First impressions always suck, those are the words I live by. Anyway, I think I was right when I said ya'll need to feed. I got someplace ya'll can go and get blood from willing donors. My boyfriend owns the place and lets all supernatural's come there when they need to. It's about half an hour's drive from here, so I can talk ta ya'll on the way up!”
Let me tell you, the next half hour of my life made me want to shoot myself or something. Non-stop chatter all the way to the club, and every single second, all that I could think was: Where's the goddamned off button?
When will I ever learn to trust my gut? Why can't I just listen to myself every once and a while? You see, I knew something was going to happen in that bar. I felt it, in the center of my very being, felt it the moment we stepped over the threshold. But did I listen to that annoying little voice, silently warning me? No. Of course I didn't. Then again, had I listened to it, we wouldn't have a story, now would me? Anyway, things went down a little something like this:
“Don't go in here. Mickey, listen to me, don't go in this place. It will only hurt you. Don't do it! No…” That little trail off was were I started to tune out the voice in my head warning me not to go into this bar. And then I saw Suzie's boyfriend.
“Mickey, Kales, Jozze, I'd like ya'll to meet my boyfriend, Ebony. Ebony, this is my brother's new gal, her brother, and her brother's boyfriend.” Suzie said, introducing us to a man with his back turned toward us.
“Ah, it is a pleasure to finally meet--” Ebony's words trailed off as his eyes landed on me. I felt my jaw go slack as I gawked at the face of a man I thought Kales had gotten rid of ages ago. Ebony's face was a mirror image of Onyx. Suddenly, my premonition that I'd had all that time ago started to make sense.
“You. You are the cause of my brother's death! I will have my revenge on you.” Ebony nodded to someone over my shoulder, and I felt a sudden sting in the back of my head. I reached my hand back and pulled a small dart out of my skin. The cocksucker tranquilized me. The world started to spin and fuzz around the edges and I collapsed to my knees. In the background I was aware of my brother screaming Jozze's name, and Jozze screaming Kales's. Then: blackness. Oh…s***.
I awoke to a splitting pain in my shoulders and to something cold clasped around my wrists and ankles. I opened my eyes tentatively to find that I was chained to a cold stone wall, my wrists and ankles bound with thick chains and stretched impossibly taut above my head. I surveyed the unfamiliar room; simple furniture: a cot, a sink, a small table covered in a piece of cloth. Classical torture room. I should know; I've used quite a few of them in my lifetime.
“Good morning.” an ominous voice said from the shadowed corner of the room. I immediately turned my head toward my attacker, focusing on the twitching shadows. Did I mention that vampires had the ability to become shadow? That'll make you think twice before walking down that looming dark alley at night, won't it?
“Ebony. I didn't know Onyx had a brother. Guess you must not be too important.” I said. Hey, at that point in time, taunting him sounded a whole helluva lot better than taking my beating lying down. (I know, physically impossible because of the way I was chained, but you get the picture).
Ebony materialized himself in front of me and slapped me hard across my face. “You miserable b****, you will beg for death before I'm through with you! You will regret the day you killed my brother.” He screamed into my face.
I know what you're thinking: Mickey didn't kill Onyx, Kales did. I was thinking that, too, but there was no way in hell that I was going to tell him that. If I had to either sacrifice my brother or die myself, I'd tie Kales to an oak tree and shoot myself in the head. I would never hand him over to them. Which got me thinking, what had he done with Jozze and Kales?
“Where are my brothers?” I asked, suddenly pissed that I didn't know where they were.
"They are--occupied. They won't be able to save you. They can't even save themselves. Mark my words, you will all die here.” With that, he turned from me to the covered table and pulled the material off of it. Laying, neatly in rows like in an operating room, were various torture tools. Some of which I'd used on others before and wasn't looking forward to having them used on me.
He contemplated his tools for a moment before selecting a short, thin, wicked looking blade from the table. He strolled to my side and pulled a lever, tipping the wall I was chained to. No, not a wall, a rotating table. Oh, great. He readjusted the chains on my feet to keep me more securely strapped to the table and then set off to work. Without a single word, he raised the blade high above his head and brought it down into my ribcage. Bones broke, flesh, muscle, skin, and organs tore, but I refused to scream. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction.
He disappeared for a moment, then came back with another of those little blades. He repeated the motion of the last wound, but this time the blade landed in my stomach. My breath hitched and I felt bile climb up my throat, but, once again, I wouldn't scream. I could sense he was holding back in his torture. Why? Three more times he repeated the knife routine: once in my right shoulder, twice more in the stomach. Three more times I swallowed my pain and terror and refused to scream.
After the fifth knife slid home, I laughed a little psychotically and said “That's it? That's all you can dish out? This is all the pain you're man enough to cause me? A couple of stab wounds?”
He smiled sadistically at me. “Oh, those are no mere stab wounds. They are vessels for the knives in your torso. Knives that--with the push of this little button” he pulled out a small remote control with a red button in the middle, "Will heat up to over two hundred degrees.” He pushed the button. Little red lights in the hilts of the knives started to blink. There was no heat.
“Oh, they're not hot right now. They need to warm up first. In a half an hour, you'll feel the heat, in an hour, your flesh will blister, in an hour and a half, third degree burns will set in, and in two hours, your skin and flesh and organs will be so burnt it will look like someone set light to the stab wounds. Now, I'll leave you to heat up while I go and get your boyfriend.” Ebony left the room as I screamed threats and promises of death in his direction. Then, after I was sure that he was gone, I screamed at the top of my lungs, not from pain: from anger. Anger at Ebony, at fate, and at life in general. I screamed until my voice left me and I started spitting up blood. Then, when that was over, I surveyed my surroundings from my new position and found that I'd seen the place before, in my premonition where I got my eyes gouged out. I forced myself to remain calm and to finish my evaluation; across from me was another table like mine. Another table of tools stood beside the opposite table, and as soon as I began to wonder who was to be put there, a premonition struck me.
It started with screams, pain-filled, masculine screams. Pleads, cries for mercy, screams of pain filled the air, and the sound of crisp leather cracking through air and hitting flesh echoed around me. I didn't realize who it was until I looked across from me. Jacob, my Jacob, lay suspended by chains on that God awful table, his torso cut to ribbons and his left leg hanging limp. From where I was, I could see the bones in his leg sticking out of the skin. I tried to go to him, but I must have passed out, because blackness welcomed me.
A slap brought me out of unconsciousness and back into reality, which wasn't much better. Across from me, they were chaining Jacob to the opposite table. His left leg already hung limp from his body, the bone protruding awkwardly out of his skin.
He caught sight of me and immediately, although he must have been in great pain, smiled, a relieved look coming over his face. I was about to say something to me when I suddenly was reminded of the knives in my chest by a blaze of raw heat. It felt like my torso was on fire, outside and in, the pain so excruciating, it almost forced a scream from my lungs. Almost. I held my tongue and bit back my scream, even as my flesh started to smoke. I would not give that bastard Ebony the triumph of my scream. As if called by my thought, Ebony stepped from the shadows and leaned over me, getting in my face.
“Almost two hundred degrees of searing metal in your chest and still you will not scream for me?” His face held a smirk, but his eyes held anger and frustration. I used that to my advantage.
I smiled a grim, partially psychotic smile an managed to grind out a few insults. “Ebony, you bastard, you'll have to do a helluva lot more than burn my flesh to make me scream.” I finished with a sneer and spit in his face.
He pulled back and slapped me. “You b****, if you won't scream your boyfriend will.”
He reached into the waistband of his pants and pulled out a wicked looking whip, which uncoiled as soon and it was free of the waistband. Lightning fast, he spun around and cracked the whip out, a blur of motion that left a bloody trench down Jacob's bared chest. Before Jake could make a noise, Ebony lashed out again and slashed another bloody scar down Jacob's chest. Jake gasped, but didn't scream. Ebony's face took on a look of ominous anger and he doubled his effort, striking out again and again, but Jacob still wouldn't scream.
Ebony made an angry sound in the back of his throat and ceased whipping Jacob. He stood back and panted furiously for a moment, then curled his whip over his shoulder and marched forward. There was a sharp snap and a low, pain filled groan. When Ebony stepped back, Jake's nose was broken. Then Ebony growled, a menacing sound from deep within his chest, and threw up his hands.
“I must be getting old! Even this mere mortal can withstand the pain of my torture!” So. Ebony didn't know that Jacob wasn't human. How interesting.
I smirked, but it took all I had to hide my pain. The fire from the blades was so intense I could smell my own flesh burning. “How embarrassing it must be, to torture two people, a human and a girl, and have neither of them scream? Pitiful, just pitiful. What would your brother say? Well, I guess we'll never know, seeing as I killed him.”
In a second, Ebony was on top of me, pressing the blades deeper into my torso. He pulled another blade, this one long and curved, from his boot and pressed the tip of it into the flesh above my heart. “Any last words before I kill you?”
I thought for a moment then said “Yeah. Your brother screamed for me. Like a little dying rabbit.” Ebony was speechless. “That's right. He screamed, he begged, he pleaded 'don't kill me, please don't kill me!' and I did it anyway. And I enjoyed every second of it. I wish I could have set his pitiful screams as my ring tone, because every time I heard it, I would bust out laughing.”
With an earsplitting screech, he plunged the blade down at the same time I reared up as far as I could and bit into his hand. He screamed and punched me in the side of the head, knocking me unconscious.
After that little fiasco, every time I woke up, they used muscle relaxants on me. I don't really remember how long Jacob and I were trapped in that room, or how long I tried to get free of the drugs they put me on. Day after day they made me sit quietly and watch as they tortured Jacob over and over again. Oh, they tortured me as well. Stabbing, cutting, burning, the works, but the real torture was watching the one I loved slip away little by little. Finally, after a long session of torture, Jacob broke down. He didn't scream, if that's what you're thinking. He'd just had enough of Ebony making me watch as they tortured him.
“Ebony, you son of a b****, don't you make her watch this. You can torture me all you want but don't make her watch it.” He straightened himself as much as he could with a two foot short sword through his midsection and spit a gob of blood out onto the floor, about an inch from Ebony's shoes.
“Oh, my dear human, you just gave me a brilliant idea.” he laughed viciously. “Hold on one moment.” He walked out of the room, leaving us bleeding and in pain.
Jacob looked at me. I saw tears form in his eyes before he said “Baby, I know our relationship has been a little rocky lately, and I know that we don't always agree on things, but no matter what has happened or will happen, I just want you to know that I love you. I love you with all of my heart. I love the way you smile, the way you laugh, the way you smell, the way you feel when I hold you in my arms at night after we've just gotten done with out latest sexual thriller. I love the switch in your hips when you walk and the way you look when you lose control of your mask. No matter if we make it through this or not, just know that I love you. Forever and always. And I know that you can't talk right now because your muscles are numb, but I do know you can hear me. I just wish I were strong enough to get us out of this mess.”
I took a deep breath and pleaded with my muscles and my wounded lungs. I had a knife stuck through each of them. Let my muscles work, just for a minute. “Jacob. N-not your job t-to be st-strong. I was sup-posed to be th-the strong one, the f-fighter. The w-way I was ra-raised. J-just w-want you to kn-know that w-what's about to happen--n-not your fault. N-not your f-fault. I l-love you, Jacob Alexander Rayyo. I love you.” Just then, Ebony stepped back into the room and stepped toward Jacob.
“Thank you for the idea, my dear friend. I don't think I would have ever thought of it on my own.” Then he flashed over to my side and hit me on the side of the head. Unconscious again. Damn.
I awoke in blackness, big surprise there, and opened my eyes to look around the room, looking for Jacob, but something was wrong. I could see but only through one eye, the other painfully throbbing, as if…as if someone had torn it out of its socket. I saw a flicker of movement and a figure emerged from the shadows. Ebony. He moved closer and I saw the silver flash of a…spoon?…in his right hand.
“Good morning Mickey.” he said, then stabbed the spoon into my other eye socket.
Pain. One, teeny little word with a thousand definitions. Pain, as in a cut, pain as in a deep feeling of sorrow from the loss of a loved one, the list goes on and on. This pain had a whole new definition. I could feel the tissue and nerves tearing as the cold metal spoon scooped my eye out of the socket. Despite everything I'd been put through already, I screamed as he pulled my eye from the socket. The macabre thought I've got my eye on you flitted through my head a moment before I felt the vomit rise in my throat. Even thought I'd known that this would happen, it was still the most painful thing I've ever experienced. Nothing could have prepared me for the agony.
“Ah, finally, the sweet sound of your pain has graced mine ears.” Ebony's silky voice flowed through my head, the voice extremely close to my ear.
It took me getting my eyeballs torn out to piss me off.
I let go of my humanity and let the change slam into me. I roared, long and loud, my fangs descending over my lips, out farther than I could remember I'd ever let them get. My skin chilled and all of my senses sky rocketed. I could smell Ebony in the room, along with Jacob. I could smell his blood and the cold steel of the torture tools, the stiff leather. I could hear the spider on the ceiling above me skittering away from my fury. I focused my strength in my arms and pulled with all that I had. Though the leverage was crappy, it got my point across. The chains holding my arms to the table snapped, leaving the manacles dangling from my wrists. I pulled with my legs next, snapping those chains as well.
“You took my pride, you took my dignity, and now you take my sight.” I leapt off the table, my wings unfurling behind me. I started to walk toward Ebony, backing him into a corner. “You kidnapped me and my family, you tortured us, kept us chained up like dogs. You made me watch as you tortured my love over and over again, then when he pled for mercy, you caused more pain. When asked to turn me away from his torture, you refuse and instead gouge my eyes out with a spoon.” His back hit the wall and I wrapped my hand around his throat. “You may have blinded me, but you have not left me helpless. You will reap my vengeance.” He started to scream, so I shrieked back at him, putting all of my anger into it, then sank my fangs deep into his throat. I could feel his scream against my mouth as I pulled his blood from his body, and it slowly ebbed away as he drained out. I held him up against my body as his muscles went limp, feeding off of the thick, hot stuff of life and enjoying every second of it. His carcass was a dry shell well before I was done feasting on blood.
My mind was pushed into the far corner of my brain by then, making it impossible to recognize voices belonging to people I knew. All I could think about, all I cared about, was blood. I could smell it from across the room. Rip him, tear him, kill him, drink him, do it, do it now! Blood, bathe in it, drink it. Want it. Need it. When we fall into total bloodlust, our other side begins to speak to us. I smelled the blood and I wanted it. I took a deep breath through my nose, tasting the metallic tang of blood on the back of my tongue. I turned and walked forward, toward the scent of the blood, to the source of that life that I could so easily take. A voice sounded.
“Mickey? Baby, talk to me.” Who is this mortal who calls us by our name? Who does he think he is? He is not our equal. He is a lesser. He is food. “Mickey? What's wrong? It's over, we can get out of here.” We shall drain him, we will take him, he will beg for death before we are done. In the next second, I was in front of him, my lips pressed to the pulse in his throat. I flicked my tongue out and drew it along his neck. I liked the taste. Maybe we won't kill him. Maybe we should make him our slave instead. One part of me whispered. Another seemed to yell mark him! He belongs to us, let the world know it.
I pulled back and kissed him, my fangs piercing his lower lip. I ended the kiss and whispered “You belong to us.” Then I sank my fangs into his neck, avoiding the fatal point, and drank some of his blood, then cut my wrist with a nail and forced it to his lips, made him swallow twice. After leaving my mark on him, I began to feel the bloodlust fade away and my sanity come back. And then I realized what I'd done. I'd taken blood from my Jacob, my one and only love, when he had none to spare, then made him drink mine.
“Jacob, baby, I'm going to get you down from there.” I felt down his torso and pulled the short sword from him. He cried out and the sound made me want to cry. I kneeled down and broke the chains keeping his legs attached to the table, then stood and broke the ones suspending him. I managed to catch him before his mangled leg touched the floor. I put his arm around my shoulder, then headed to the door.
“A little to your left, Mickey.” Jacob said, so I pivoted slightly to my left, then stuck out my hand and felt for the doorknob. I felt it, cold and smooth on my skin. I turned it--locked. I backed up a step, then kicked the door, knocking it from the frame.
“Take two steps forward, then turn right. There's a staircase.” He said. I listened. I took two steps forward and turned right and started forward until I felt the bottom stair. I made slow progress up the steps until I felt a solid wall in front of me. “It's a door.” Jacob said. I knew it was without him saying anything. I could smell the fresh air coming out from underneath it.
I reached out and opened the door, thankfully, it was unlocked, so I didn’t have to break this one down. I walked into the sunlight, feeling the first light of day on my face since we'd been captured. “Jacob?”
“Yeah?” he said softly, exhaustion in his voice.
“Let's go home.”
Metal. Cold, solid metal. A stiff sheet. The smell of death and the dead. The phantom sensation of being naked with only a sheet covering me, while cold metal pressed into my back. Those are the things I woke to. The last thing I remembered is being in the ambulance, smelling the adrenaline rush through the EMT as he tried to get my heart started. One, two, three, four times he used those paddles on my chest. But my heart couldn't beat, could it? It was long dead, nothing could bring it back to life after all those years of stillness. Distantly, I felt Kales and Jozze wake. Only when I heard a loud, metallic thud and muffled cursing did I wonder where I was.
It took me a minute to put it together, but once I did, I gasped. We were in a morgue, stuffed in the drawers surrounded by dead bodies. But we aren't dead. The words floated through my head. I knew that, but the rest of the world didn't know that. I reached an arm up to rub my eyes, but then I remembered that they weren't there. I called out tentatively. “Kales? Jozze? Can you guys hear me?”
I surprised gasp came from beside me and Jozze's voice came softly “I'm here, Mickey, and Kales is right next to me. Him hitting his head is what woke me up. I am going to have one helluva scar.”
Kales spoke next. “I'm here Mickey. Where the hell are we?”
“I think we're in a morgue.” I said.
“Why the hell would they put us in the morgue?” he asked.
“We don't have heartbeats. I remember them trying to use the shock paddles on me, but they declared me dead almost right when we got to the hospital.” I said, trying to find a way to get out of the drawer. Not having eyes was a pain in the ass.
there was a silence. “Okay. Were in a morgue, locked in the drawers, I presume. Can anyone see light by their feet?” Kales asked.
What the hell? I might as well tell them now. “I can't see anything. Ebony took my eyes. Just like my vision.”
Two sharp intakes of breath punctuated the blackness. “Mickey, I'm so sorry.” I heard Jozze say. Then I felt an energy build up next to me. “Those God damn bastards just can't leave us alone for five fucking minutes! I'm getting sick and tired of it!”
BANG! There was an explosion next to me. Then a shocked voice. “Um…oopsie daisy. Oh, well.” There came the sound of skin against cold metal, then a grunt as Jozze landed on the floor. A rustling of cloth told me that he had wrapped the sheet around himself, then a strained grunt as a door was pulled open and a tray was slid forward.
Masculine laughter sounded seconds before Kales said, “Damn, boy. What the hell did you do?”
“Things tend to explode when I get angry.” Jozze said. Then they both grew silent and I knew they were both bracing themselves to see me, or more specifically, my eyes. I couldn't say that I blamed them. I felt the cool rush of air as my door was pulled open, then the odd sensation of simultaneously moving and staying stationary came over me as they pulled my forward. I grabbed the sheet and tried to cover most of myself as I listened to my family gasp in horror. Not at how I looked, but at the horror of the fact that someone had been sadistic enough to do that to me.
I wrapped the sheet around myself like a short dress, covering my body from view and there was a ripping sound in the air. Kales walked around me and gently put a piece of material over my ruined eyes, gently tying it.
“Is he dead?” he asked me, wrapping me in a hug. Seconds later, Jozze pressed himself in front of me, wrapping his arms around both of us.
“Yes, he is dead. I made sure of that.” I put one arm around Jozze in front of me and one around Kales behind me. We stood there for a moment, just comforting each other with our presence. Then the interns came in. And just our luck, there were two guys and a girl.
they came in discussing--big surprise--me. Well, my eyes, at least. The conversation went a little like this:
Girl: That isn't gross, you pussy.
Boy 1: It's not? The guy was missing half of his bottom lip.
Girl: If you think that was gross, just wait until you see this chick.
Boy 2: Oh, yeah? What's so special about her?
Girl: Apparently, they brought her and three guys in from some warehouse. Two guys and the girl died, but the guy that lived said that they'd been held down there and were being tortured. The girl is covered in whip marks and her eyes are missing. Like, completely gone out of her head. The guys are all sliced up, and one of 'em looks like he was put through a giant cheese grater or something. I don't understand how you can see his tat's through all of it.
Boy 1: One of em's got ink?
Girl: Yeah, his whole body is covered in it. And I mean his whole body.
Boy 2: He has ink on his dick?
Girl: Yeah, it's got this weird snake curled all the way around--what the hell?
The startled reaction made the three of us spring into action. I darted forward and used scent to find the female. She started to scream, but I threw my fist out and knocked her unconscious. After she was down, I started to untie her scrub bottoms. What? You thought we were going to run around the hospital in just blankets? Yeah, right. I got her bottoms off and pulled them on. They were a little more airy than I would have preferred, but only because I was being forced to go commando. I got the pants tied around my hips and found that they were the perfect length. I kneeled down and started to work at getting her shirt off. It was hard work when you didn't have eyes, but I managed. I had just gotten the top off when she started to stir, so I did the one thing that I could think of: I hit her up side the head again.
I pulled her top on and dropped the blanket. I stood and waited for Kales and Jozze to finish dressing and suddenly a premonition hit me. It hurt so bad, it dropped me to my knees.
“Say it. All you have to do is say the words and your loved ones can go. Say the words, Jozzlen Anuukman.” A voice said. The pharaoh's voice. This was the first premonition I'd ever had that wasn't visual. “Say the words, Jozzlen.”
“I will never again be yours, pharaoh. I have lived my life. If that means I have to die now, then so be it, but know this: if I die, I'm taking you with me, you son of a b****.” Jozze said.
“You will pay for your rebellion, Jozzlen.” the pharaoh said. Then, a scream shattered the night and the voices faded.
“Mickey! Mickey, what did you see?” My brother's voice came from above me.
I struggled to find my voice. “I didn't see anything. There was no picture, only the words. Like watching a movie with the volume turned on, and the picture off.” I apparently had enough smarts to know that we were in a hotel. Obviously the vision had taken more out of me than I had thought.
Jozze spoke, calming as always. “That's perfectly understandable. Not only have your physical eyes been temporarily taken, but so have your metaphysical ones. So, what did you hear, Mickey?”
I took a shuddering breath and answered truthfully. “I heard you fighting the pharaoh.”
For the first time since I'd met him, Jozze's voice was totally and completely devoid of any emotion. “And what was the outcome?”
“I don't know. I woke up before I could hear anything.”
“Do you know when this would happen?” This from Kales.
“No one said anything, but it felt soon.” I said.
“How soon?” Jozze again.
I thought for a moment, thought back to the premonition. How soon? “Tomorrow night. Right before midnight. It sounded like we were outside, a park, maybe.”
“Tomorrow, s***. Jozze, is that going to be enough time to prepare yourself?” Kales, always the protector.
“I've had almost 4800 years to prepare myself for this. One more day isn't going to make a difference. I think for now, we should try to get some sleep. Tomorrow morning, we'll go get Jake from the hospital and fly back to New York. From there, well, I guess we'll just have to hope for the best.” I had a feeling he was right. All that we could do is take care of the little things before we faced our fears.
So, that night, we all piled into the little twin bed in our stolen scrubs and held each other. Here, in our little embrace, no one could hurt us. And long-dead pharaohs can't come back from the dead and damn near kill us, right?
I woke up the next morning, screaming awake from a nightmare. Not a premonition, just a regular, run-of-the-mill nightmare. I'd known that being tortured would give me nightmares, but I had no idea they'd be so bad. In this one, I was back on that table, having to watch as Ebony whipped Jacob over and over again, then the dream shifted and suddenly I was awaking to find that I only had one eye.
Kales rolled over and hugged me into his arms. “What's wrong? Was it another vision?”
“No. It was a nightmare. I was dreaming that I was back in that room, chained to that table.” I said, wiping the sweat off of my brow as Jozze rolled over and hugged me.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Kales said, his voice suddenly more awake.
“I--I don't know. I'm not really sure if I want to talk about it or not. I'm not even sure I want to go back to sleep for fear I'd have to see that again.” I said. My body wanted to cry, but it couldn't. My tear ducts had been damaged, so I sobbed great, dry sobs.
“Jesus Christ, Mickey. What did that bastard do to you?” Jozze said, pulling me farther into the warmth of his embrace.
“He did a lot of things. Whipped me, stabbed me, shoved knives into my torso that heated the longer they touched your flesh, shoved metal under my fingernails. But, out of all of that, the worst thing he did was made me watch as he tortured my Jacob. He made me watch as they stabbed him, cut him, whipped him, burned him. God, they suffocated him until he turned blue, then let him breathe again. Over and over and over they just kept suffocating him. Then, when Jacob plead for them to turn me away, Ebony gouged my eyes out. He made it so I wouldn't have to see it any more.” I chocked out between sobs.
Jozze and Kales were silent for a moment, then Kales asked softly “Mickey? How did you get out of there?”
I had to think for a moment. My head was so scrambled, I could barely remember my own name. “After Ebony took my eyes, I stopped reigning in my beast and let it go. Completely. Total bloodlust overtook me and I snapped the chains holding me down. I used my smell to back him into a corner and then I drained him dry. Then, I could smell Jake in the room, but my brain wasn't saying it was Jake, it was just thinking of the blood. I walked up to Jacob and--oh, God.” the bonding bite I'd given to Jacob finally registered in my brain.
“Mickey, what is it?” Kales asked urgently.
“I gave Jacob the bonding bite. I bonded him to me for eternity. Oh, God what have I done?” I was furious at myself for doing that to him. You see, when a Night Walker bestows the bonding bite, it means that the mortal is bound to the Night Walker for eternity. It was only half a step up from being a slave, because when the Night Walker dies, so does the bonded.
“Don't you dare beat yourself up over this, Mickey. As soon a Jake learned that you could do that, he would have probably asked you to do it anyway. This way you can be together eternally. This isn't a bad thing.” Jozze said.
Kales squeezed me reassuringly. “Don't worry about it, Mickey. When you explain it to Jake, he'll understand.” I don't know why, but I believed them. I believed that this would all work out.
Jozze was silent for a moment, then he said “Try talking to Jake.” I must have looked pretty confused, because he chuckled and explained. “Those who have bonded retain a psychic connection with each other and can sometimes communicate with each other mentally over a distance. I want you to concentrate on Jake and reach down the psychic line connecting the two of you, and I want you to talk to him.”
“Um, okay. I'll give it a shot.” I focused my full attention on Jacob (which wasn't nearly as hard as you would think) and felt a little spark. Well, it wasn't so much a spark as it was a tug, like a fish on a line. I felt it in my heart, and suddenly I could feel him all around me. I concentrated on that feeling and whispered into his mind. Jacob, my love, can you hear me? Do not speak aloud if you can. Simply think your reply and I will hear it.
I felt his surprise a moment before I heard this fleeting thought: what the hell did they give me? This ain't no morphine trip.
I had to laugh at that. Trust Jake to think of something like that. This isn't a trip, love. This is the bond I bestowed on you when I was in my fit of bloodlust.
That confused him. Huh?
I laughed again. When I bit you, Jacob. After I killed Ebony, when I came to you and I bit you. Do you remember it?
Masculine laughter this time. Oh, yeah. I remember. Damn, girl, why don't you do that during sex?
If I would have had eyes then, I would have rolled them. Because it could have become addictive for you, now pay attention. When I bit you, I bonded you to me for all of eternity, which also gave us a psychic bond.
Now he was thinking a little more clearly. I can live with that. Being with you for all eternity? Damn, someone up there loves me. Where are you and your brothers? They told me you were dead, but I figured it was assumed because you don't have heartbeats. Actually, I'm kind of surprised I'm still alive. Huzzah for small miracles.
I smiled. We are in some kind of hotel. I'd tell you what it looks like, but I kind of can't see.
The smile and laughter faded out of his voice. I'm so sorry, baby. I wish I could take back asking that bastard not to make you watch.
Oh, no he didn't. He would not blame himself for this. It's not your fault and I don't want to hear another word about it. Now, me and my brothers are going to come get you from the hospital today and then we're going back to New York. Give us about an hour and a half.
I'll be waiting. I love you. He said.
I love you, too. With that, I pulled myself away from his mind and back into the hotel room.
Kales, always the smart ass, asked “So did it work?” So I threw my pillow at him.
An hour later, we were all dressed in new clothes (bought with a stolen wallet, shh!) and on our way to the hospital. I sat in the bus that smelled strongly of sweat and urine, thinking of Jacob. Even though I wasn't trying to talk to him, I could still feel him; his steady breathing, the slight pain from his leg, the relief as the doctor told him that yes, he would regain use of his leg. And he could feel me, too. I knew he could feel the pain in my eyes, and I knew it was making his morphine wear off faster, but no matter how hard I tried to shield my pain from him, I just couldn't seem to stop feeling him.
“Mickey?” a tentative voice asked. It was Jozze.
“What's up, Jozze?” I said. My voice sounded strained and tired, even to me.
“Well,” he lowered his voice another level, “I was thinking, I could probably take the pain out of your eyes. I wish I could heal them completely, but I can't. I can, on the other hand, take the pain.” His voice sounded sorrowful, like a man who's hopes have been cleaned completely out of himself.
“Jozze, you will win. You will defeat him.” Who "He” was was understood without actually naming him. “You will come out triumphant, because you have something he doesn't.”
“What's that?” the sorrow remained in his voice, but a tinge of curiosity overlapped it.
“Silly prince. You have us. All he has is a group of people who couldn't give a s*** if he died or not, just as long as someone keeps money in their pockets.” I felt rather then saw his smile at the prince remark, but it was an empty smile.
“How can you sound so confident? After all that you've been put through, after all that's been done, how can you think this will turn out our way? You've had premonitions of both me and Kales dying for Ra's sake. You're vision of getting your eyes gouged out came true, why not those? How do you know that I won't cause all of our deaths?” By the time he was finished, his voice was near hysterics and I felt Kales pull him into his embrace to help calm him, whispering Egyptian poems in his ear. I only recognized one, but that was because they'd made me learn it. They hated my reluctance to learn Egyptian. It was called Night and Day, or Nier en Dai in Egyptian. It basically told of the love between two people, a woman named Nier and a man named Dai and how their jointed love formed the sun and the moon. There is a branch of that poem that tells how Ra came to be in control of the day.
I answered him with a smile on my face. “I know we will win, because I can taste it in the air. I can smell your victory like a heady perfume that lingers in the air even after it's bearer leaves the room. I taste it like the sweetest of candies on my tongue. I know you will win this, Jozze. I can feel it.” I laughed a little and added, “Besides, name one time that one of my gut feelings have been wrong.”
He and Kales both laughed at that. “She's got you there, Jozze.” Kales said.
The bus slid to a stop as we all laughed. I felt the two of them stand, so we must have been at the hospital. I stood and put my hand on Jozze's shoulder, letting him guide me off of the bus and to the hospital entrance. Suddenly, my awareness of Jacob multiplied tenfold. Every sense except for sight mingled with him. I found myself simultaneously smelling the outside world and the antiseptic-y smell of the hospital. I stopped and turned my nose to the air. I could smell traces of him on the air, floating on the cool currents, sort of like one smells a pie that is sitting in an open window. My heart pounded frantically in my chest and my excitement grew, just as my awareness of Jacob had, and all of a sudden, I knew the way. I'd never seen the path before, but I knew the way to get to him. We were soul mates, two halves of a whole, and no force on this earth could possibly keep me from getting to my other half. I moved away from Jozze's arm and walked to the front door. My arm out in front of me, I grasped the handle and pulled, my mind mentally cataloging where I'd gone so far and where I was yet to go.
Jacob's voice whispered into my mind, soft and excited. Mickey? Are you the one making me feel like this?
I wasn't quite sure how to answer that. That depends on how you're feeling.
He chuckled, a low masculine sound. Well, let's just say that when the nurse walked into my room to tell me that you guys were coming to get me, I had to put a pillow over my lap to save myself from embarrassment.
I smiled softly. Down boy. You ain't gettin' any with a broken leg.
Not even anything of the oral variety? he asked.
No. I might miss, you know, not being able to see and all. I felt him laugh out loud, and then felt the heat run up his face as the nurse gave him an odd look, which in turn made me laugh. I'm sure I got a dirty look, too.
I was only about fifty feet from his room when I felt him go blank in my head. No response came to my answer, which was odd. I stopped and asked: Jacob? No answer. Jacob, this isn't funny. If you're just messing with me, you'd better knock it off, right now. I swear to God, Jacob, if you're joking--
Mickey, go back outside. His voice was low and strained in my head.
Mickey, don't come in here! Just go! Jacob interrupted me before I could finish my sentence. He wanted me to stay away?
I ran towards him. I took corners and pushed past orderlies, trying like hell think of who would be in that room. Then, as Jozze and Kales's footsteps sounded behind me, a terrible thought occurred: the pharaoh. Damn it all to hell!
I turned the last corner into his room, my brothers on my heels. I was in the doorway when Jozze shouted out “Mickey! Get back!” After that, I knew. I knew that it was the pharaoh in the room where the love of my life lay, helpless.
A thunderous boom made me fly backwards, popping my eardrums. They healed within seconds and I heard Jozze talking above me.
“Mickey! Mickey are you okay?” he said.
“Yeah, I'm fine.” I paused, afraid to ask for fear of the answer. “Did he get Jacob?”
Pauses. Erie, painful pauses. How I hate them so. They tell you that, without a doubt, the worst has indeed happened. That you've acted too late. You know that something has to happen, but what, you don't quite know.
“Mickey? What are you thinking?” Kales asked.
I took it in. All of it. I took it in and I put it into something I had despised for centuries: revenge.
“Mickey?” Kales said again.
“Come along boys.” I said, my voice more evil than I had ever heard it in my lifetime.
“Where are we going?” Jozze asked.
“Were going to go back to New York. Were going to take every weapon we own. We are going to get my Jacob back.” I replied, cold and empty inside.
“Mickey, think rationally. You'll regret it if something happens to someone. What if an innocent gets hurt?” Kales asked me. I think I was scaring him. Join the club; I was scaring myself.
“No. No regrets.”
We had decided to skip the plane ride and use Jozze's magic to get us back to New York. He said he could use his own magic to get us home without a problem. So we, that is, Kales and I, were sitting on the floor, while Jozze searched his memory for the right spell.
This would be the final showdown. I could feel it, deep down in my bones. This was the fight that would either ensure our survival or end our lives. I knew there was a good chance that we would all die in this fight, but all I could think of was Jacob, helpless in the hands of that psychopathic asshole. Was he alright? Was the pharaoh hurting him? Was he still alive? Oh, God, if you exist, I know I've sinned, but please keep him safe.
I was thinking of the different ways I would flay the damned pharaoh when Jozze burst out. “I've got it! I remember the spell! Will you two come and stand by me please?”
We stood, huddling closely by Jozze's sides. He wrapped his arms around the two of us and started the spell. “Fatir Ra, bsella mi neta yevr wekel. Galb mi de sternth ti trveya ino de wyorn. Baerek usa homrell.”
I felt like my brains were being pulled out of my nose. I felt the ground disappear from under my feet and a cold wind began to swirl around me. To tell you the truth, it felt like I imagine Dorothy felt inside the tornado. Swirling and spinning, making you feel like you're head's going to spin right off of your neck.
Then, no sooner had it started than it ended. I took a deep breath and knew instantly where we were: home. I stepped back and asked Jozze, “What did you say?”
I felt him smile. He loves translating things. “Father Ra, bless me with your wings. Give me the strength to travel on the wind. Bring us home. It's a standard spell, very simple, yet efficient.”
My question answered, I started to turn away when he grabbed my arm. “Mickey. I know you love Jacob. But please, don't do anything stupid. I was with the pharaoh for seventeen years. He will do everything in his power to use Jacob against you. I know how he thinks--hell, his blood runs through my system, through my veins. Inside of me, I carry that same evil, and it burns me up inside to think of it, but I keep going.”
Kales came up to us. “What did you say about having the pharaoh's blood in your veins?”
Jozze swallowed so hard I could hear it. “Anukshamann didn't kidnap me. He's my father. He met my mother, tried to win her over, but she was a witch, like me, and she could sense his evil. She rejected him. So, one night, he followed her to our home, killed who would have been my father, and raped my mother. Then, he took her to his temple, chained her up and used her as a slave for his desires, and nine months later I was born. The doctors cut the cord, wrapped me up, and handed me to the pharaoh. After that, he just sent her out into the world.”
“Did he tell you that he threw her out?” Kales asked.
Jozze laughed grimly. “No. It was my first memory. I always remembered her face, and every once and a while, I would sneak out of the palace and visit her. She bore no ill will to me. She loved me. I was there when my siblings were born, and after a while they just kept a room open for me there.”
I knew my mouth was hanging open, but I couldn't seem to make it close. “What do you mean it was your first memory?”
“I remember everything since I was born. I've tried to forget things, but they seem to just--stick on the inside of my head. I can't get rid of anything that I see or hear.” Jozze said. He took a shuddering breath. “But, in spite of all of this, I'm going to keep going. I'm 4792 years old. It's high time I stop letting my father control my life and just kill that bastard.” Couldn't have said it better myself.
With that, Jozze and Kales began ransacking the apartment, digging up every weapon we'd ever stashed in that place while I called in help from around the city. Soon, the werecreatures of New York City were seated in our living room, Jezebel was there, too, along with Jessica and Archie, half of the vampire clan, and assorted other oogie boogies that owed us favors. With everyone that arrived, it probably looked as if we were constructing an army. Which, I guess, we kind of were.
We were assigning everyone a weapon when I felt a tug on my shoulder. I was wondering what it was when I remembered: Peace. I pulled down the arm of my tee shirt and said: “Rise Peace. What has you restless?” Everyone stopped and stared at me.
He flashed off my skin and began to speak. “Your gift of sights has been taken from you. I have risen to restore it.”
There was a bright flash in my head, then a searing pain began in my whole body. It felt similar to when you lose control, but it was…different. Hot flashes of pain spread over my hands, my fingernails, my jaw line and cheek bones. I knew I grew fangs, but there was another pain in my forehead, then blood started to trickle down my face. I grabbed my head and collapsed to my knees, which I realized were sore and bloody also. What the hell was happening to me? My heels and feet burned like they'd been put through hot coals and my tongue felt like it had been split in two.
I hadn't realized that I closed my ruined eyes until I opened them--and saw. Every color, every shape and every detail was magnified. A subtle blink of my eye and I could see every creature in this room--in heat vision. I started to look around and realized that everyone was staring at my forehead. Not me, just…my forehead. Slowly, I reached my hands up and felt for what they could possibly be staring at. I drew my hands back like I'd been burned, then stood and looked for the mirror on the wall.
Two black horns protruded from my forehead. They were only about the size of my pointer finger, but…come on, horns? What the hell? I took a closer look at my face and saw a pattern of red scales on my cheekbones and jaw line. I put my hand to my face and saw that it bore the same pattern, along with a set of wicked looking black claws. A thought struck me, and I dropped my mouth open, revealing that every tooth in my mouth had turned into a fang.
I turned and saw that Peace was still hovering in the air behind me. “I have restored your sight. Along with it, I have given you the gift of my form. If ever you find that you need to fight, but haven't the strength to do so, just think of this form. It will give you more strength and stamina.”
I felt a tear run down my face. “Thank you, Peace. We will get your brother back.” He smiled and drifted to my side, where he touched his snout to my shoulder. A flash of light and he was a tattoo again. In looking at my shoulder, I ended up glancing down, and found out why my knees and heels were bleeding and why my feet hurt. Thick scales had grown from my knee caps and my heels; the bones in my feet had distorted and formed a sort of paw instead of feet. They looked like a cat's back paws look when it is standing, if you can picture that.
My lips had gone dry, so I licked them, but it felt wrong. I stood and looked in the mirror again and found that my tongue was long, flat--and forked. I don't know if it was the shock of the day, or the fact that I'm just, well, slow sometimes, but I had finally realized. I looked like a dragon. No, not a dragon, my dragon, Peace. He truly had given me his form. I did a double take in the mirror and leaned forward to look more closely at my eyes. They were still charcoal, but streaks of silver shot through them and my pupils were slits: like cats. Or, you know, a dragons.
I turned to face the room. Kales stepped forward and said “Well? Aren't you going to say anything?”
I paused for a moment, then held up my new claws in a mock attack pose and said “Um…rawr?”
My brothers and I were in the midst of trying to explain my little shape shift incident to everyone when premonition struck me.
No words this time, just a visual. It was Rockefeller Plaza, and there were two people there. The pharaoh and Jacob. The pharaoh looked straight at me, waved, then held up a sign that said: Midnight. See you then. And it all faded out.
Miracle of miracles, I'd managed to stay standing for once. Kales gently shook my newly-dragon-ified arm. “What did you see?”
I smiled. “I saw them. He wants us a Rockefeller Plaza at midnight. That's where it all goes down.” I glanced at the clock. 11:27 P.M. We would have to leave soon. It took a half an hour to get to Rockefeller Plaza from our apartment. “Which means that we have to head out, like, now.” Kales and Jozze nodded and started herding people out to the cars. Jozze had dressed himself in a pair of shorts and nothing else and had his long hair in a bun with those little chopstick thingies. Tattoos covered his chest, arms, neck, face, back, and legbs and for once, he showed them with pride.
I pulled him aside. “Jozze, are you sure you're ready for this?”
“Yes, I am.” he said. I wasn't convinced.
“Jozzlen Anuukman, are you ready to do whatever you may need to do to win this fight?” I said. I wanted a straight answer out of him, and by God I would get it.
He looked at me. Looked me straight in the eye and said “Mickey Ferrara, I am more ready to kill my father than I have ever been in my entire lifetime.”
A huge smile split across my face. “Then let's go kick some parental ass.” A chorus of yells, screams, whoops, howls and various other noises followed my comment. I was feeling restless, so I stepped to the window, flung it open, and dived out. I was going to let myself drop a few feet, then snap out my wings, but as soon as I thought of it, my body slowed and came to a gradual stop. I was confused until I remembered the whole dragon thing. Peace didn't use wings when he flew, so why would I? I decided to let myself fall and test my newfound strength, so I thought fall, and fall I did. I plummeted to the sidewalk, but instead of ending up a splat on it, I landed in a crouch, the new shape of my feet and the scales on my knees protecting my legs and the ones on my knuckles protecting my hands.
I stood and looked at the sidewalk, which now sported spidered cracks where my hand, knee and foot made contact. Oops. My brother's truck spun to a screeching halt by my side. I swung myself into the bed of the truck and pounded on the roof. We were off to Rockefeller Plaza to fight the fight of our lives.
I turned my nose to the air, smelling all of the new smells that I never seemed to notice before. My new eyes seemed to focus on nothing and everything at the same time, seeing what seemed like every speck of dirt on the earth. Man, I could get used to this.
We neared the center within record time, mostly due to my brother going almost 100 mph all the way from our place. We came to a stand still at the edge of the plaza and jumped out of the car. Vampires who had run there stopped by our sides, flanking us like bodyguards--with really sharp teeth. The Master vampire, Viktor Barakovich, came to my side.
“”I jyust vant you to know, dat vatever heppens here, ve don't blame you. Ve vill fight by your side.” he said with a very thick Russian accent.
“Thank you, Viktor, cousin. We owe you a favor. You and your Clan.” I said. Katie and Kat came to a halt by our sides on their Ducati motorcycles. They jumped off of the bikes and stood by us.
“We will gladly fight for you, my friends.” Katie said. “If it shall mean our dooms, then so be it.”
“Hey, speak for yourself Katie.” Kat said, then tilted her head at us and added “What she said.”
I was so touched by this, I felt like I could cry. Then, I felt it, colder than a midwinter's breeze. The power of him, the one who took my Jacob.
The s*** had finally hit the fan.
He came into view with a limp figure in his arms: Jacob. Every fiber of my being yearned to run to him, to take him from the pharaoh and get us some place safe, but I squashed down the feeling. I had to sit calmly and wait.
He looked straight at Kales. “So. You are the one who kept my sorcerer from me. I think I shall keep your skull to torment Jozzlen when I get him back.” He flung out his arm and Kales collapsed to the ground, clenching his head.
“Nei!” Jozze shouted. His own arm shot out and the pharaoh stumbled backward.
Anukshamann laughed. “My dear boy, your powers have grown greatly. The satisfaction of keeping you a prisoner will be even greater now.”
“That's not going to happen. We will beat you. We will win this fight and kill you, Anukshamann. You will die this night.” Jozze snarled. The tattoos on his face were glowing, a sign that his powers were close to the surface.
“You don't have even a fleeting chance of defeating me, Jozzlen. Don't be stupid.” the pharaoh spat. “Say it. All you have to do is say the words and your loved ones can go. Say the words, Jozzlen Anuukman.” the pharaoh said. “Say the words, Jozzlen.”
“I will never again be yours, pharaoh. I have lived my life. If that means I have to die now, then so be it, but know this: if I die, I'm taking you with me, you son of a b****.” Jozze said.
“You will pay for your rebellion, Jozzlen.” the pharaoh said. Then the pharaoh shot his hand out at Jozze, who screamed. “See? You didn't stand a chance then, you don't stand a chance now.”
And cue me! “Maybe alone he didn't.”
The pharaoh's eyes snapped to me. “And who are you, little serpent?”
I smiled, my most evil and cruel smile, just for him. “I am the reason that shadows are black at night.”
“Oh, are you intended to frighten me with your sharp tongue?” he mocked.
“My tongue isn't sharp.” I said “It's forked.” Just to prove it, I stuck my tongue out at him. “And don't call me a serpent.”
“You are in no position to speak to me like that, you little b****.” he spat.
“Um, excuse me, that's Ms. B****, to you, buddy. Oh, and to answer your previous question, I'm the girl who's boyfriend you're carrying, and if you don't give him back in thirty seconds, I'm gonna go full dragon on your ass, carry Jozze over there, and let him curse your ancient ass to hell and back. And by the way, he does have a chance at defeating you; and do you want to know why?” I was in full rant mode now.
“Why is that, dragon?” he said.
“Because he has us.” With that, we beckoned all of the people with us forward, brining all of them into the light.
“Ah, my dear Jozzlen, you've gathered some wits.” Anukshamann laughed at all of us who stood behind Jozze. “Do you really think that all of these people will protect you? Or even help you? Let me show you just how easy it is to take out your little defense.” Then he did the one thing that I wasn't expecting him to do. That bastard dropped Jacob and pulled a gun on us. Well, not us, really. Just me.
I didn't feel the bullet wound until I looked down at the blossoming red spot on my stomach. I could feel the bullet in my stomach, the damaged organ trying to push out the foreign object, but it just didn't work. I dropped to my knees and tried to focus past the pain. I did, and I honed in on my anger. I was pissed. I focused on the bullet and got to my feet. My esophagus and stomach started to convulse and the bullet moved up from my stomach, through my esophagus, and into my mouth. I spit the bullet into my hand and held it up for the pharaoh to see.
“You are going to have to do a helluva lot better than that to take me out, you stupid son of a b****.” I threw the bullet at his feet and felt the satisfaction of seeing the first flash of fear on his face.
It was Kales's turn. The pharaoh had threatened his fiancée and shot me, so he was not in a good mood. “You come up here, threaten my family, hurt them, make them bleed, and you think you can just take Jozze from us? Well I'll tell you this: you can kill all of us just to get to him, but when you get there you're gonna have to pry him from my cold, dead fingers, because I'm not letting him go that easily. Ponder that, b****.”
The pharaoh laughed that annoying, mocking laugh again. “You think your army will be enough to stop me? Think again.” He raised his arms from his sides and dozens of figures poured from the shadows.
Demons, vampires, shifters, ghouls and countless other species came from the shadows. Then, figures that looked strangely like mummies emerged from the pharaoh's hands and I felt Jozze cringe beside me.
Softly he said “He used to send those mummies after me when I managed to get away from the palace.”
His voice was too scared for it to be that simple. “What else aren't you telling us, Jozze?”
He swallowed hard and took two tries to say "They specialize in rape.”
Kales closed his eyes. My heart hurt for the both of them. “Baby, why didn't you tell me? I knew something had happened, what with the scars, but why didn't you tell me?”
“Because I didn't want you to know that. I didn't want anyone to know that. And besides, that was eons ago. I'm over it. Mostly” Jozze said. As much as I wanted to talk it over, we had a fight to win, and my Jacob's life still hung in the balance.
As if the pharaoh had read my mind, which he very well may have, he said; “While this sentimental moment is very touching, I'd like to get on with it.”
On with it, we did get.
All at once, our people and his rushed forward and came to a head-on collision. A mummy came at me, and, not thinking, I head-butted it. My new horns slid into the thing's skull with a disgusting squelchy sound. I braced my hands on it's shoulders and pulled my horns out of its head to find two perfect circles where my horns had gone in, and I expected the thing to drop dead, but it just shook its withered head and kept on coming.
I was starting to get really pissed when I heard Jozze shout. “Mickey! Go for the throat!” I dropped down to avoid a swing from it, then came up, claws blazing, and slit the things throat. As I watched, thousands of years of time caught up with it and it turned to a thick, chunky dust. “Oh, gross.” I whipped around and found another sneaking up on me, so I slashed that one's throat, too. Seconds later, poof! dust.
My brother screamed to the left of me. I turned to see a shifted jackal latched onto his arm, large, dagger-like canines latched onto his forearm. I rushed to his side and delivered a heavy punch to the side of the jackal's neck, snapping it's spine and dropping it.
“Thanks.” Kales said between clenched teeth.
“Don't mention it.” I replied.
Bodies had piled into great heaps, more theirs than ours, and sounds of battle closed in on us from all sides. Then, in the midst of it all, a huge gust of wind emanated from the center of the battlefield. Kales and I simultaneously looked to find that Jozze and Anukshamann were locked in a ruthless battle. The gust of wind had been a spell from Jozze that sent the pharaoh flying backward. While the pharaoh was brushing himself off, Jozze stroked the bird on his chest and it popped off of him with a mighty battle cry. He whispered to the bird in a screechy language, and with a beat of it's wings, Fithar lunged forward and latched onto the pharaoh's shoulders and dug into his eyes.
Screaming, and blood pouring out of shattered eye sockets. Jozze stepped forward and pushed the bird aside. He leaned down, put his mouth next to the pharaoh's throat and whispered something. The pharaoh uttered a terrified scream, and in the next moment Jozze drove his hand upward and into his ribcage. His hand stayed stationary for a moment, then he pulled his arm back. He held up his arm and showed us his victory: the pharaoh's still beating heart in the palm of his hand. He looked down at the pharaoh as our people shared a victory cry and the pharaoh's looked around, dazed. The pharaoh had burst into flames, and when the licks died down, all that was left was a small, green gem.
Jozze bent down, Fithar still on his shoulder, and picked up the gem. His eyes turned white and he placed the gem over his heart. An eerie glow started to come from him, covering his whole body in a green sheet. The jewel started to penetrate his skin, sinking past flesh and sinews. He threw his head back, his mouth open in a silent scream, and the gem disappeared all together. Jozze sank to his knees, his head rolling on his neck. As he started to fall forward, he threw out his arms and held himself up. Before our very eyes, swirling tattoos appeared on his face, covering his temples and his eyebrows. Just as miraculously, the old tattoos that he had disappeared as if they'd never existed. All but Fithar and Sithar, at least.
Kales looked at me as Jozze opened his eyes. The topaz beauties now had shots of canary yellow flowing through them, just as mine had silver. “Jozze are you okay?” he asked.
Jozze looked up at us, a new aura of power radiating from him. He stood with an air of grace that I'd never seen before. He looked over my shoulder, and I turned to find Jacob limping toward us. As he reached me, he gave me a look that said I was going to have to explain a lot of stuff when we got home.
“Jozze?” Kales asked again.
“I'm fine, baby.” Jozze replied with a smile on his face. “Let's go home.”
You know, life is funny. One minute you're mourning your dead lover, then the next, you're in your brother's wedding with the love of your life standing next to you, 5 o'clock shadow and all. Well, at least, that's how my life goes.
The priest had just said “You may kiss the groom” and I was bawling rivers when Jacob leaned down and kissed me.
“Don't kiss me, I'll get tears and probably snot all over you.” I said, wiping the tears with my Kleenex that I had balled into my fist.
“Do you really think that I care about getting some tears on me? When we get married, I'm going to have to deal with it anyway. Might as well get used to it now, right?” he said, smiling and kissing my flushed cheek. He was still bonded to me. Very, very, very tightly. It makes showers and changing clothes very interesting. Or should I say 'complicated'? Anyway, life was good. Well, until the next disaster came along, then we were all screwed.
Until then, I would enjoy myself.
Oh, it turns out that the gem thingy that Jozze had absorbed from his father's ashes was a power gem, or krikar, as Jozze told us, and since he'd absorbed it, he'd gotten the pharaoh's powers and duplicated his original ones. So, in other words, he was one powerful witch now. He told us that absorbing it would have some side effects, and that if he tried to hex us, he didn't mean it. To that I told him that if he did try and hex us, I would go dragon on his ass and eat him. He'd stuck his tongue out and went to find Kales.
As we headed to the entrance of the church to send off my brother(s), the band started to play an oddly familiar tune. It was very serene, almost tinkling along as chimes and violins played their ballad to the world. I was trying to place it, but couldn't seem to. I realize now what it was: it was the music that I heard the first night Jacob and I got together, and I also realize now what it reminded me of.
It reminded me of love.
Forever and always.