Authors: Robyn Peterman
Tags: #Paranormal Romance, #Romantic Comedy
"Good point," I replied, admiring his spirit. "I'll see you in the morning. Bring Raquel if she feels up to some sparring," I added.
"I'm sure she will be busy repairing the mishap we’ve had in here, but I will extend the invitation," he said with a twinkle in his eye.
"Very well then. I'll be off."
"Have fun," Jean Paul called after me as I made my way to Ethan's floor.
I grinned and shook my head. The little fucker had balls. I thoroughly enjoyed people with balls… and I enjoyed those who might have the potential to help me get what I wanted.
Even if what I wanted didn't want me.
Astrid was grinning from ear to ear when I entered their living room. Ethan and Astrid's suite consisted of the entire top floor of the compound. It was more down to earth since Astrid had arrived and it was baby proofed within an inch of its life. Samuel slept contentedly in her arms as Ethan paced the room and waited for me to come clean.
"Sooooooo, I hear you can't get it up anymore," Astrid commented casually as her grin grew wider.
"Jesus," I muttered as I dropped down on the couch next to her and stretched my sore legs. Jean Paul had gotten a few excellent kicks in. "Good news travels fast."
"Considering it came from the ho-skank Christina, I don't think many will buy it," she said sweetly raised eyebrows and with a shit eating smirk.
"What has gotten into you?" Ethan asked as he seated himself directly across from me.
"Not sure," I replied. I let my head fall into my hands.
"I am," Astrid volunteered. She hopped up, crossed the room with the sleeping Samuel, and tucked him into his big boy bed. His baboon slept contentedly under it on the floor. I was still surprised they’d kept the animal due to the destruction it had caused, but Samuel adored the beast and the feeling was mutual.
"Astrid," I warned as I heard her giggle.
"Out with it," Ethan said tightly, "unless you want my mate to do your dirty work. And trust me, it will sound far worse coming out of her mouth."
"I resent that," Astrid said as she flounced back over and sat on Ethan’s lap.
"I, ahhh…" I didn't know where to start—or if I even wanted to.
We all sat in strained silence and waited to see what I would say. I was more curious than anyone about what might come out of my mouth.
"Well, it's like this…" I began slowly.
"Oh, for shit's sake," Astrid interrupted. "He's in love with Raquel. They've been doing the horizontal hula for longer than I've been alive. I mean, my Uncle God, the entire compound heard them bumping uglies this morning. I'm quite sure she's his mate and he keeps fucking
, pun intended
, everything up by sleeping with her and not dating her properly."
Ethan was shocked to silence. He had also been correct. The facts were definitely more heinous coming from Astrid's mouth.
I watched Ethan closely, inwardly seething. His eyes were closed and his lips were thin. My gut clenched and my instinct was to attack. What the fuck was wrong with me? He was my prince… and my friend.
I tamped down my fury with difficulty. I’d had enough of being judged and denied. Did he think I wasn't good enough for her too?
"Is this accurate?" he demanded in a choked voice.
I was unsure if his loss of voice was from Astrid's choice of words or if he believed I was unfit to be his sister's mate.
"Not exactly," I mumbled.
isn't accurate?" Ethan asked as a small smile pulled at his lips.
"Mine's not ugly," I replied evenly.
Ethan's smile was now full blown.
"And neither is hers."
Oh fuck me. Did I say that out loud? If their large eyes and Ethan's pained wince were any indication… I had.
"Okay, that’s information I could have lived without—forever." Ethan groaned and buried his face in his mate's neck.
"That was a little much," Astrid agreed gleefully.
The statement was amazingly alarming coming from my cousin. Astrid had no filter whatsoever. With my behavior as of late, I supposed I now qualified for the same club.
"Look, it doesn't matter. Raquel doesn't want me. She's made it clear," I stated.
"Have you made you intention clear? Ethan asked.
"Very," I shot back. Under no circumstances would I share my humiliation from two hundred years ago. That was between Raquel and me.
"Do you think it's because you ripped Raquel’s legs off all those years ago?" Astrid asked as she sat forward and clasped her hands together in excitement.
"Possibly… and it wasn't her legs. It was her arm. Only one arm," I added. For a brief moment I contemplated Astrid’s theory and then brushed it aside. "No, how could she be mad about that? She deserved it and it grew back."
Again with the silence.
"She was trying to kill me at the time," I protested. "We're Vampyres. This sort of violence is normal."
"Hmmm… there's a lot you don't know about women," Astrid muttered with an eye roll and an unladylike snort.
"Fine," I relented. "It was a thoughtless move, but I've apologized numerous times over the years for that one."
“Did she ever accept your apology?” she asked.
“Then she’s still pissed. I would be fucking furious if someone ripped off my legs,” Astrid declared.
“Arm,” I corrected her.
“Whatever,” she snapped. “I say you offer up your leg, or at least a foot, and let her tear it off. It’s not really normal dating protocol, but we’re Vampyres. I think it might just work.”
“Are you insane?” I hissed.
“Define insane,” she said.
"Enough,” Ethan said. “I believe she's your mate. So does our father.”
My eyes shot to Ethan’s and my chest constricted. Why did all of this have to be so complicated? Mates were supposed to recognize each other. Why couldn't I find someone who wanted me as much as I wanted them?
"Now you just have to convince her," Astrid said logically. “I still think a dismemberment would go a long way.”
“Sweetheart?” Ethan said.
“I’m quite positive we can come up with a better idea than maiming Heathcliff,” Ethan suggested.
“Fine,” Astrid huffed, put out that her bloody horrid idea had been shot down. “How can he convince her?”
"It won't be easy," Ethan muttered. "She has…"
"What?" I demanded. "She has what?"
"Issues," Ethan replied cryptically. "Issues I'm not at liberty to talk about."
"Wait one fucking minute," Astrid griped. "Why don't I know about Raquel’s issues?"
"Because it's truly not my tale to tell. It's hers and it's not a pretty one," Ethan said as he put Astrid on the couch and began to pace the room again. "Here's what I will say… Raquel has given up her Monarchy of Europe. She has turned her rule over to our brother Gareth."
"But he rules the largest section of Asia.” I was completely shocked by the news. "When did this happen?"
"Right before she came here. My father’s fine with this. He has given his blessing. Gareth is a solid and honest leader, even if he can't seem to keep it in his pants," Ethan said with shrug.
"Will he be at the wedding?" Astrid asked.
“My father?” Ethan asked confused.
Astrid smiled. “No. Your manwhore brother.”
"He wouldn't miss it," Ethan replied. "He adores American Vampyres."
We were getting off track. "I’m a little lost here. Why would Raquel do that? She's one of the finest and deadliest leaders in the world. She's beloved by her people and completely insane. They would die for her," I said as I tried to figure out what would make her give up her birthright.
"That was all really good except for the insane part," Astrid coached.
"Did I say insane?"
"Yep." She nodded.
"Interesting. Well, I meant that, but I didn't mean to say it," I told her.
"I'll let it go this time, but if you say something stupid again, I'll have to zap you. The pain will train you to be more of a gentleman where Raquel is concerned. I'm doing this because I love you, Heathcliff—not because it will be fun to electrocute your ass."
I nodded warily. It was surely a very bad idea. However, I did need to rebuild a filter when I spoke to Raquel.
"This is all well and good," I said as I ran my hand tiredly through my hair. "Everyone in the world can believe we are destined to be together, but if Raquel doesn't—it's not happening."
"I agree. You certainly have your work cut out for you." Ethan shuddered and grimaced. "Good luck."
"Anything else you can tell me?" I asked hopefully.
"Nope, hers to tell."
"That's bullshit," I snapped.
"As is much in life," he replied.
I nodded curtly in frustration and stood to leave.
"Heathcliff, don't worry. I know she wants you too, but something’s holding her back. I'm going to help you get her," Astrid promised.
"I really don't think that I…" I stuttered.
"No, don't thank me," Astrid said as she gave me a hug. "It's my duty as your cousin. I will help you kick ass and get the girl."
I hugged her back and was able to hide my look of sheer horror over her shoulder. Of course Ethan saw it and just grinned. I flipped him off and his grin became a laugh. It wasn't funny. It was my
But since I obviously hadn't done too well on my own with it… Hell. Maybe Astrid
"God damn it," I bellowed as my cousin flicked her fingers and almost set my ass on fire. "I didn't say anything bad. Why in the Hell are you zapping me?"
"I'm practicing. It would be a fucking shit show if I zapped your nuts, now wouldn't it?" she snapped.
That shut me up.
I was early to the fight training center. Jean Paul was supposed to meet me at eleven and Astrid had sent word for Raquel to bring Samuel at eleven as well. I had no clue what her plan was, but I didn't care. I wanted to see Raquel. I wanted to know the mystery… and I just plain wanted her.
"Take off your shirt," Astrid instructed.
"Your shirt. Take it off. Now."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because Raquel will be here in a few and we need to show off your assets," Astrid explained as if she'd just made a perfectly reasonable request.
"I will not take off my shirt. I'm going to charm her with my wit," I said, right before an electrical volt hit my backside. "
Son of a
," I shouted as I hopped around in pain.
Grabbing my ass, I shot my cousin a look that had brought armies to their knees. Astrid simply narrowed her eyes.
"Retaliate and your balls are next," she threatened.
"Fine," I grumbled as I removed my shirt, leaving me barefoot and in my low riding sweat pants. "Should I oil my pecs?" I asked sarcastically.
"Oh my Cousin Jesus," she squealed. "That's an awesome idea."
"I was joking."
"Well, I'm not. Do you want me to magic up some oil?"
"Absolutely not," I said.
"You are being an asshat," she muttered. "I'm here to help you."
She punctuated her remark with another zap to my backside.
This brand of help was not working for me.
"They're coming," she whispered with manic excitement. "Act normal."
"If I act normal, you're going to zap my ass right off of my body," I growled.
"Right," she said as she wrinkled her brow in thought. "Then just flex your muscles and stay quiet."
"Not happening," I mumbled and quickly jumped out of the way as another electrical current zoomed toward me.
"You do realize that if you move, I might blow up your balls and your Johnson," she informed me as the rest of the group entered the training room.
"Balls," Samuel yelled as he pointed at me from Raquel's arms.
"That's right, baby boy," Astrid said as she took her child from Raquel. "Nice to see you, Jean Paul and Raquel. Let's get this party started."
"Thank you for rearranging my suite last night."
Raquel was not pleased. It was evidenced by her raised eyebrows and an
I'd like to kick your ass
look on her face.
I opened my mouth to counter her attack with something rude and brilliant and noticed Astrid's twitching fingers. Fuck.