Authors: Candace Blevins
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Urban, #Erotica, #Bdsm
“Ah, so the two of you have already tried to find solutions to the problem, and this has led to the current arrangement.” I paused a few moments as I considered the dilemma. “It seems to me you’ve tried the two extremes but haven’t met in the middle. How does this sound — Kieran is allowed three nights a week he can impose on the time set aside for Mark. Not all of the time on those nights, but
of it. He doesn’t have to impose all three nights, and most weeks probably won’t, but if something comes up then he can. The option’s there should he need to take it.”
They were both eerily still, like statues. I wasn’t even sure they were breathing. I inhaled and continued, “If there’s a function or event Kieran would like to attend with you in the evening, can you see Mark long enough to feed and then go to a play or whatever with Kieran? Or, if it’s rude to eat and run then can you drink bagged blood that one night and give Mark the evening off?” I shifted my gaze to her husband. “Kieran will not create situations, but if they arise then he won’t hesitate to make you aware of them. And, in exchange for this, Kieran will be nice to Mark and will make him feel welcome in your home.” I looked at both of them and asked, “Does this sound equitable to both of you?”
They both thought it through, and then both slowly nodded yes.
I looked at Kieran. “You will be nice to Mark and you will make him feel welcome. And you won’t intrude just because you can, but only when something truly comes up, or when there’s an event you really want to attend with your wife. Can you handle that?”
I looked at Gwen. “Can you keep from blowing up at him for intruding? If you feel he’s encroaching too much then give yourself at least six hours after the interruption, and then calmly speak with him when you’re alone. If you cannot resolve the situation then you’ll make another appointment to come see me and we’ll talk about specifics and how to better handle a similar situation in the future. Does this work for you?”
“You should both proceed with caution until you’ve reached a place of trust and comfort. Kieran won’t take advantage, and Gwen won’t assume he’s taking advantage unless there’s ample evidence. Gwen will be sensitive to Kieran’s feelings and will make sure he knows how much he’s loved.” I looked back and forth to both as I spoke now. “And I can tell you both love each other, and are hurt by this rift. It’s easy to take the love we have for one another for granted after ten years, I can’t imagine how it is after several centuries, so both of you should go out of your way to show the other how much they’re loved and cherished, and to see that everyone’s needs are being met. Try to give each other the benefit of the doubt as you find a way to make your marriage work.”
They both nodded again and I breathed a sigh of relief. Could it be this easy?
Relaxed, happy to have resolved the situation, I let my guard down and asked a question. “How many vampires are in town? I’m assuming there’s a group, but are we talking a dozen, or hundreds?” I knew there were well over a hundred werewolves in town, and since vampires and werewolves are some of the best known mythological creatures, I wondered if their numbers were similar.
Their heads swiveled towards each other, their expressions a mixture of alarm and puzzlement. Too late, I remembered I wasn’t supposed to question the facts.
Kieran spoke very slowly, “Why do you ask?”
I lost my actress face, and there was nothing I could do to get it back. I knew I looked as guilty as my daughter and dog had the night before when I caught her giving him her baked potato when they thought I wasn’t looking. I could feel the guilt written all over my face so I decided to come clean.
I spoke quickly and moved my hands around in the air as I spoke, a nervous habit I usually don’t resort to anymore, but I couldn’t stop. “I guess this is where I tell you it didn’t work when you combined your powers, either. Right? I mean, I felt you make it through my shields, and I felt you trying to play with my willpower, but it wasn’t so hard to hold on and keep you from messing with it.” I shrugged and carefully placed my hands on my legs and willed them to stay there before adding, “I figured it wouldn’t be hard to do as you asked and not take notes or be surprised by what you told me. And really, it’s not so surprising to me that vampires exist. I mean, I know of other mythological beings who aren’t so mythical, so why not vampires?”
They both spoke at the same time, with Kieran asking, “You knew we combined our powers?” as Gwen asked “What other mythological creatures are you aware of?”
I decided to address Gwen’s question first since it was the shortest answer. “Just as I won’t be telling anyone else of the existence of vampires, I won’t be telling you of the existence of them.”
To Kieran, I answered, “Yes, I knew what you were doing. I realize most humans probably don’t figure it out, and you’re wondering what I am. Right?”
Hi tilted his head up so he was looking down his nose at me. “I do not wonder what you are. You smell human, ergo, you are human. However, you are the first human I’ve met in over sixteen hundred years who could stand against two vampires working together, and only the third human who could stand against me alone.”
I decided to take the bull by the horns, as I figured they had some kind of directive to not let me live with knowledge of them they couldn’t erase. If that were the case I needed to know sooner rather than later. My hands itched for my gun, but my instincts told me to leave it in my belly band. I considered drawing energy into me, but once again my intuition told me they wouldn’t react well if they noticed, so I didn’t.
“Well, our time is up and I need to get home to my family.” I wasn’t sure if the knowledge I had a family would help keep me safe, but figured it couldn’t hurt. “I hope the two of you are able to work on your compromise. If you aren’t then give the office a call and we’ll figure out whether a phone conversation will help, or whether we need another appointment.” As I spoke I pulled my laptop from the top of the desk, put it into my bag, and casually untucked my blouse in the back under my suit jacket so it would be easier to get to my gun.
The couple looked at each other and Gwen spoke first, “We need to talk to…I’d like to think she is trustworthy. I smell truth.”
Kieran’s nostrils flared. “Yes, but she’s had a gun since we walked in, but just did something to fan the smell into the room. I suspect she gave herself easier access.”
Damn. Vampire noses must be as good as shapeshifter noses. I needed to dig myself out of the hole I seemed to be shoveling deeper every time I spoke.
“Of course I adjusted my weapon. It’s ten o’clock at night, we’re downtown, and I’m about to walk outside to my car. It has nothing to do with the two of you and everything to do with me being a small female in the city at night.”
I raised my empty hands so they could see them. “I didn’t pull the gun. It’s still at my waist under my clothes. And, sorry about the change of conversation, but based on what Gwen just said, I’m guessing there’s a rule stating if you couldn’t erase my memory then you can’t just let me walk away, right?”
Two affirmative but terse nods.
“Yeah, you aren’t the only species with rules about who can know about you. Other species trust me with their secret, and I can assure you I’ll keep yours safe, too. Besides, I’m also guessing you gave me fake contact information, so there’s no way I could point to the two of you, and who’d believe me if I told the story, anyway?”
Kieran ignored my words and said, “You’ve had some sort of training. You mentioned shields?”
I leaned back in my desk chair, trying to look relaxed. “I’ve spent my fair share of time in Native American ceremony as well as lots of time on mountains meditating with monks. I’m not psychic, but probably only a few steps short of it. Extremely sensitive, I guess.”
“There is something you aren’t telling me, you are leaving too much out. You’ve learned to be defensive. Have you learned to be offensive as well? You mention knowing other mythological creatures. Have they taught you things?”
I kept to my relaxed posture leaning back in my chair, and gave him a steady look. I knew he could smell my fear and anxiety, but I had it mostly under control so he wouldn’t smell much. “I
speak to you about any
I bet he was great at poker. His face was completely devoid of emotion as he said, “Please, come sit in the chair in which you started. Give me a moment while I ask for permission to let you go with knowledge of us. To do so means I am personally vouching for you until my Master can speak with you, but I feel responsible that I did not verify you were under our control before we started speaking. And, I do believe you are aware of others, besides us, which means they feel you are trustworthy. So I will ask.”
I didn’t like it, but I moved. Once I was seated, Kieran walked to the window and looked out. Time dragged on and I realized he must be talking to someone in his head. I very slowly began building up an energy reserve and hoped no one noticed. If I pull it in all at once then anyone who can sense energy or magic or whatever you want to call it can tell what I’m doing. Drawing on the energy around you in large quantities is kind of like slamming a magazine into a gun and racking it — it tends to make situations even more volatile.
After what seemed like five minutes, he turned towards me and said, “I’m sorry to make this sound as harsh as it will, but it’s the best I can do. You have a choice, we can kill you now, and your family and friends will be safe. Or, you can walk out and promise to keep your mouth shut, but should you ever tell anyone of our existence then we will kill you, your family, and close friends. If one of them strikes our fancy, we may give them the option of becoming one of us.”
“Will there be some sort of trial, or will you just take someone’s word for it and start killing?”
“You will have a chance to speak up on your behalf, of course. Also, it is likely my Master will make inquiries about you in the supernatural world to see who you are friends with, to verify you were already aware of others.”
“I keep the secrets of others. I can keep yours as well. I do insist that should my honor ever come under scrutiny, you come to me with polite questions and not the assumption of guilt.”
He nodded, pulled his wallet out, and removed a stack of cash as he stepped towards me. He laid it on the table beside my chair and said, “For services rendered. You have been most helpful. Gwen and I will walk you to your car to make sure you are safe.” As I stood, he retrieved the questionnaire and handed it to Gwen. I locked up, and they walked me to my car and watched as I drove off.
The next afternoon I received a text message from Aaron.
We need to talk. Please call me when you have time.
Aaron may have embraced technology in spite of being thousands of years old, but he would never take shortcuts with language — I think it might kill him to use a ‘
’ in place of ‘
’ when texting.
My day was back-to-back patients and I texted him between appointments to let him know it would be after work before I had time. So as I left my office that evening I put my bluetooth earpiece in and called him as I slid into the driver’s seat. It isn’t a good idea to talk to him while I’m walking to my car, because our conversations aren’t usually fit for the general public to hear.
He jumped right to the point with no niceties, which wasn’t like him. “The new police chief in Fort Oglethorpe called me in to a murder scene, as he didn’t think a death this way was humanly possible. I’ve known him for years as he’s moved up the ranks in the county sheriff’s department, so hopefully things will work smooth with him at the helm in Fort O.”
He took a breath and continued, “I’d like to spare you the details, but we have something nasty in the area and you need to understand what’s going on because whoever did this seems to have skills similar to yours. I’ve called someone in who might be able to help with whatever this is. And, well...” He really didn’t want to tell me, but took another breath and did so anyway. “The body was cut up and each slice appears to be cauterized. It was like the pieces were melted apart. No splintering of bones; a smooth cut.”
“You don’t think I did it, do you? I only kill in self-defense, and even then I’m racked with guilt.” There was no need to say it, he was well aware of my guilt when I was forced to take a life. Still, I felt I needed to defend myself. “Besides, if you aren’t there when I kill someone, you always know about it as soon as I can call you and tell you.”
“I know, Bug. I’m just a bit spooked that someone else is killing, and the mode of death appears to mimic one of your kills.”
“Yeah, well, thank goodness the new police chief doesn’t know what it would look like if I killed someone.”
“Right, we’ll have to be extra careful with you around him until we solve this murder. Good point.”
Fort Oglethorpe is a small town in Georgia, just over the state line from Chattanooga. Because of its proximity to Chickamauga Battlefield, a lot of non-human activity happens in the area. The police force has had to come to terms with the fact they can’t deal with non-human beings, so they call Aaron in to help on their supernatural cases.
I’m not sure why I didn’t tell Aaron the new police chief and I had met. Intimately. Perhaps because I wasn’t sure how things would be when Denny and I were within speaking distance of each other?
The next evening I found myself at the back of the children’s theater watching my daughter practice for
Alice Through the Looking Glass
. I was checking email on my tablet when a gentleman sat down a few seats away, and I glanced up long enough to see an attractive man impeccably dressed in an expensive suit, clearly not off the rack. His black hair was cut stylishly and his face looked as if it’d been chiseled out of granite by a master sculptor who agreed with my definition of sexy. It was hard to tell his age, but I’d have guessed within a couple of years of my own thirty-four. I nodded to him politely and looked back to my tablet.