Authors: Candace Blevins
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Urban, #Erotica, #Bdsm
As I turned to walk to my chair, Kieran reached for my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, “My Lady, you will not take notes during the session, and you will accept what is said as fact without wondering how it can be true.”
I felt something attempting to poke through my shields as he spoke, as if he were trying to get to the place my thoughts originate.
Someone coming through my shields could only be seen as an attack, but I was in therapist mode, where I’m focused on my patients and not myself, so I held my temper.
I removed my hand from his and lowered my voice to slowly say, “Mr. Dixon, I am not
, I will take any notes I wish, and I will decide what to accept as fact and what not to accept as fact. This is what you’re paying me for. Please trust me to do my job.”
His face was one of surprise.
. And Gwen’s face matched his — as if they’d suddenly discovered I was from the planet Jupiter and had rings circling my head. After spending five seconds staring at me, they looked at each other, and Gwen told him, “Let me make an attempt, with your help,” as she reached for his hand.
Gwen spoke in an odd voice and looked at me with piercing eyes. “Miss O’Shea, while we are here you will not take any notes and you will accept the things we say without surprise and without question.”
The two stood as one, as if they were part of the same aura, and whatever was trying to get through my shields made it into my brain, this time. Their combined energies were trying to override my will and seemed to be trying to place a marker.
When I edit a home video and wish to put in a special effect, I mark the beginning and end, and then tell the program what effect to use on that section of video. Somehow, Kieran and Gwen had combined their power in an attempt to put some sort of double whammy on me, as if to mark a section of memory yet to be written. It didn’t work, but it was very impressive.
Most of humanity would have no idea the couple had done anything, and likely would’ve fallen for the suggestion. Thoughts come into people’s head and they assume they thought it, having no idea other people and beings could
thoughts into their heads.
While I analyzed what they’d tried to do and made sure they hadn’t actually managed to do something, they visibly relaxed, as they apparently thought their little mind trick had worked this time. I debated with myself and decided I probably had a much better chance of figuring out what was going on if I played along, so I said, “Of course,” and turned around to walk to my chair.
How did I know they were trying to poke around in my head? I spent a good part of my mid-twenties sitting in Native American sweat lodges, and my late twenties meditating on a Chinese mountain with monks. I took the phrase “finding myself” to a whole new level. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to shield myself physically and psychically, and even more time learning which thoughts are my own and which thoughts were being placed into my head by others. These abilities saved me from their little trick.
“Here is the questionnaire you asked us to fill out,” Kieran said as he offered it to me. “Please look it over and return it to us.”
Hmmm. Interesting. They
fill it out, but I couldn’t very well ask why they’d lied — not without letting them know their little trick hadn’t worked.
Uneasy, I nonchalantly moved from my comfy chair to my desk so I’d be able to draw my gun without them seeing. I need to draw in a good bit of energy to use my metaphysical weapons, and if they could mess with someone’s mind, it seemed a good guess they could sense someone loading up on energy. A gun seemed simpler at the moment.
I accepted the paper from Kieran on my way to the desk, and looked it over. They’d been married three hundred and fifty four years, they had a good sex life (the choices were unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good, great). Before the current issues came up they fought less than once a month, and... what?
They’d been married three hundred and fifty four years
? Alrighty then. Things were certainly getting interesting.
My friend Aaron was thousands of years old, and Nathan was around eight hundred years old, so I didn’t immediately assume this couple couldn’t be the age they claimed.
I’d been around not only those two shapeshifters, but also a number of werewolves, and in my experience the shifters had a specific kind of energy — one I’d learned to pick up on when I met someone, and neither Kieran nor Gwen had come across with the spicy, hot, volatile energy of the shifters.
I glanced through the rest of the form and looked up, meeting Kieran’s gaze, then Gwen’s. “Okay, so what brings you to see me?”
Kieran reached over and took Gwen’s hand as she said, “Kieran and I are having jealousy issues and would like help working through them.”
Kieran blanched a bit at her words, but didn’t argue with his wife.
I was still thrown off by the amount of time they’d been married, and needed to verify it wasn’t a mistake. Instead of asking a neutral question, I commented, “You’d think that after more than three centuries together you’d have figured out you love each other and are there for each other. Is this some sort of special circumstance?”
Gwen blushed, and for the first time I noticed how pale she and her husband were. “Yes, in a manner of speaking, but first we need to explain some things. You see, we are vampires and we need to feed on human blood. Kieran and I have both had human companions over the years who acted as a food source.” She glanced at her husband as she said, “Humans who we cared about and who cared about us, whom we fed from in a mutually beneficial relationship.” Her eyes tracked back to me. “This was considered necessary, and we both treated each other’s humans with respect.”
She spat the final word out, and I guessed this was probably at least part of the problem. But, I kept listening.
“In recent decades we’ve had access to bagged blood from the blood bank, and as a result we’ve spent a long while without human companions. However, I don’t find bagged blood as fulfilling as lifeblood direct from the source, and I’ve taken on another human companion.” She looked at her husband again as she added, “For the first time ever, Kieran is jealous of my human.”
Acting lessons. I needed acting lessons. My sixteen year old daughter is currently playing the lead in a local production of
and is practicing for the production of
Alice Through the Looking Glass
, which starts next month. I fell back on some of the things I’ve heard her acting coach say about how to keep her face composed for a certain emotion, and I worked hard to appear professionally detached. If I pulled this off I should try out for something myself.
I looked at Kieran and asked, “Do you agree with her explanation, or would you like to give me more information?”
“She has her facts correct, but neglected to mention she is in
with her human companion.”
Indignant, Gwen practically spat, “Of
I love him! But only as a companion, the same as you’ve loved your past humans! I don’t love him as I love
I put my hands into the ‘time out’ sign and said, “So I can better understand the dynamics, I’m going to make a few statements and I’d like you to both nod yes or no, without looking at each other, as I make the statements. Okay?”
They both nodded yes.
“In the past,” I said, “you’ve both had human companions at the same time, never one person with a companion and the other without one.”
They both shook their head
“Okay, Kieran, can you explain how it worked in the past, then, when only one of you had a companion.”
His speech was precise and proper, and sounded like a mix of accents. Sometimes there was a touch of Ireland, but then a few words would have more of a British feel to them, and every once in a while something sounded almost French. Mostly it was just pompous American, though, as he said, “In the past, we usually each had a companion. However, there were times when one had left us, and Gwen or I were searching for another. During those periods only one of us enjoyed a companion.”
“So, even though one of you was without, you were still actively looking for a companion of your own, right?”
“And you’re currently not interested in your own companion?”
He shook his head, his lips tight and his eyes shooting daggers.
“Okay, another question for both of you, again please either nod yes or no without looking at each other: Do you have sex with your companions?” They both nodded yes.
“Kieran, why are you not interested, when you have been in the past?”
“Because it is enough for me to drink bagged blood. I enjoy not having to be tied to a human. I appreciate the freedom it allows me. Companions were once necessary, but it took a lot of time and energy to keep them fulfilled, so they would stay and be happy.”
I felt my eyebrows raise, but refrained from asking the question on the tip of my tongue, unsure how much Gwen’s suggestion should keep me from asking.
Thankfully, Gwen answered my unasked question. “If a human companion is not happy in their role then they leave. In this age and place they are not our hostages, they come to us of their own free will.”
I smiled in thanks at Gwen and looked to Kieran. “And you think it should be enough for Gwen to drink bagged blood as well?”
His eyes narrowed, his brows rose, and he dipped his chin and lifted it in an arrogant nod. I had a feeling he wasn’t always an asshole, but wore it like a mask, now, to keep from showing his pain.
I looked at his wife and asked, “Gwen, you say you aren’t fulfilled by bagged blood. Can you explain why?”
I couldn’t believe I was managing to have this conversation without acting surprised. If I hadn’t already known about werewolves, werelions, weredragons, and other assorted animal shifters, it’s likely I wouldn’t have been able to.
Gwen’s voice was softer, this time. “When you drink from a companion you take on more than just their blood, there’s a mind connection and I believe you take on some of their life force as well. I don’t get this from bagged blood, it leaves me feeling cold.” She looked pointedly at Kieran. “Even if I warm it up, first.”
Seemed there’d already been some discussion about the cold versus warm thing.
“Question for both of you: Among the other vampires, are there others who’ve gone back to keeping a human companion after living on bagged blood?”
They both nodded yes.
“And, by chance, is it mostly female vampires who aren’t happy with the bagged variety?”
“Yes,” Gwen said, “though it hadn’t occurred to me before. Of those in a relationship, I can think of a dozen women who’ve taken a companion, but only four men, all of whom are gay.” She was still thinking, so I was quiet and gave her time. “I can’t think of anyone who is currently single — male or female — who is living entirely on bagged blood.”
This was sounding like a basic difference between males and females to me. “Kieran, can you understand that bagged blood doesn’t do it for her? Perhaps you resented the need for a human companion and thus can be happy without one, but she needs this kind of sustenance in order to be happy and fulfilled and… nourished? It isn’t a statement of you not being enough of a husband for her, it’s that she needs more than she’s getting from the new and improved way of feeding?”
Now I saw anger as he burst forth with his shouted, “
She was fine on it for years! It wasn’t until she became besotted with this human that she decided bagged blood wasn’t good enough anymore!”
“Gwen, how often do you see this human?”
“He lives with us.”
. “Is that normal?”
They both nodded in the affirmative.
“Who sleeps where?”
Kieran took this one and spoke with a flourish, “We are
! We do not sleep. We die at dawn and then arise as the sun sets.”
Wow, drama, anyone? Maybe I could take acting lessons from
. But, I wasn’t supposed to be surprised by anything, so I plugged along professionally. “Okay then, who dies where and who sleeps where? And when does Gwen’s companion sleep?”
Gwen’s voice remained calm. “My human has a day job and his own bedroom. I spend a few hours with him between when I rise at sunset and when he goes to bed for the night around ten or eleven o’clock, the rest of my time is available for Kieran if he desires it. Or, Kieran could spend some time with us while my companion is awake if he chose, and if he could be nice, but he does not.”
“Kieran, what’s your biggest stumbling block? The time Gwen spends with her companion, or the things she does with him?”
Kieran looked thoughtful for a moment and said, “Both bother me, but the time she spends with him upsets me more than what they are doing. I had not thought of it this way before, but there have been things I wanted to do with her, or things I wanted to tell her, and I stayed away and said nothing because it would’ve started a fight to impose upon her time with him. I enjoyed the years it was just us, with no companions.”
Okay, time for me to problem solve. I wasn’t sure if I had enough information, but I
wanted to solve this in one session and not have to deal with this couple again. Because I was afraid I’d say something so they knew I wasn’t mind-melted to their orders, I was willing to take a shortcut and help them out with a solution, rather than asking them a million questions until they came up with it.
Looking more at Gwen than Kieran, I asked, “Can we work to find a compromise, so Kieran feels welcome to impose upon those few hours a day you’ve set aside for your companion? He resents it’s no longer just the two of you and he begrudges the time you spend away from him. Do you have any ideas of how to go about helping Kieran not feel as if he’s lost you for a portion of every day?”
Gwen didn’t appear to like this idea at all. She spoke fast and with a touch of an Irish accent I hadn’t heard before. “Kieran is a tyrant about this! I gave him an inch and he took a mile until I had to put me foot down and say the time from when I woke up until Mark went to bed belonged to
. When I said Kieran could impose, he managed to interrupt us every single day, and had Mark ready to walk out the door! And I didn’t blame Mark for being upset, Kieran was awful to him!”