‘We have enough bloody work to be dealing with at the moment; Neptune's been causing us trouble again. As Gods of Solace we have to make sure everyone, or thing, is safe on this planet. A lot of work indeed. Everything has to be running smooth, otherwise we have a problem. Even more so, as Vampire Goddess, it is crucial that I look after my species and those close to it. But if...she keeps running around re-modifying my vampires with her minions, we'll see where she ends up this time. Good for nothing little fuck up...'
‘Zeph! What the fuck did you do to them?!'
‘I didn't do anything, they were trying to get out and Phoebes smashed the window in!'
‘Just get in the back with them, ok? I'll drive.'
‘Shit.' Blake thought, ‘Patience is going to kill me for that window repair and if they carried on like that I'll need a new Audi.'
‘What happened to getting us a meal Blake? I thought you had control of that girl whoever she was.' Said Zephr, over the screams of laughter.
‘I don't know...' He mumbled.
He really didn't. Zephr knew as well as he did that, regardless of the window breaking or not he still could have got her, and yet he had something switch inside him. Why didn't he lure her into it? It's never happened before, other than Fiona his ex-wife. But even she's no exception, she's a human, Fiona's a werewolf...so why? Maybe it was something to do with her out of the ordinary visage. He couldn't understand himself right now, but he had a suspicion he was going to see more of this girl, him definitely having something to do with it. He must tell Nicholas about this.
At 80mph Blake could make it to the mansion five minutes and as his drunken companions had decided to sing Bobby Darin's ‘Beyond the sea' he didn't think twice about risks. However, as he took a glance in his mirror, a bike with red and blue flashing lights sped towards them, signaling him to stop and pull over. ‘Ahh, tonight seemed fitting for a little stop and ‘Où est votre permis de conduire?'' He had better not tell the others about this one. Before the officer had said a word Blake had forced him into the car and drove to an empty warehouse close to the Mansion to relieve themselves from hunger, tearing at his flesh like hounds and drinking like withdrawn alcoholics.
The place had transformed since he was last here, which was around fifteen years ago. As he stepped into the huge hotel-like entrance with Phoebe on his back, three floors of multi-coloured doors came into sight through the stylish gold wall lamps; all the walls were draped in dark rouge wallpaper filled with black orchard trees lined with gold. Solid walnut wood covered the floors and a gigantic winding staircase waas placed in the middle leading, as Zephr told him whilst managing to drag a giggling Aevah up them, gradually to the top floor where the others spent their spare time.
‘What the bloody hell took you so long eh? You're missing out on poker.' Said a strong familiar Irish accent as Blake barged his way through into the huge room. This too had undergone drastic changes. The decour was the same as the entrance except a bar had been built and resided against the back wall, next to a tv taking up the rest of the space. Long leather comfortable corner sofas and armchairs filled the middle of the room and to the right a round oak dining table covered in a scarlet cloth ans scattered with playing cards and poker chips stood, with nine chairs surrounding it. The atmosphere was genuinely relaxed, and the welcoming smell of warm A negative mixed with brandy filled the room. Eoghan was sitting on a black armchair near the door, and had stood up.
‘We would have been quicker, but, considering Phoebes and your wife got so drunk we've spent the last half an hour trying to keep them on their feet.' Blake replied.
Eoghan tended to ultimately intimidate society in one with his toned body, strong Irish accent and reckless nature; The type of person to attract a lot of fights. Unbelievably, Aevah happened to be his wife. Luckily for her she turned out to be one of the only ones that could keep him under control.
‘Pah! Can't say I blame them really. Welcome back stranger.'
He rushed over, giving Blake a tight bear hug.
‘I'll take her from here.'
Having said that, Eoghan got up to welcome his drunken wife with a smile and a passionate kiss. Blake had to laugh; he was struggling to hold her up. Although, despite Aevah being drunk, her red hair was still in that same 50's ‘do' that she loved and her black dress had not a crease as he laid her on the long gold leather couch to rest.
After pouring himself a well-deserved drink and leaving Zephr to deal with Phoebe, he sat at the dining table along with a glum looking Patience; hand on chin, the joy gone from her drooping green eyes, still wearing her work glasses and the long white jacket bearing her name; the thick curved white strip in the middle of her hair somewhat straighter than the short matted golden brownness of the rest. She turned to him, her face whiter than the already pale bronze of her skin, giving him a half smile which he took to be a hello.
‘Come on S' which is a nickname he had chosen for her, 'you can do better than that cant you? It's been too long since I've seen you and that's all I get?'
He'd managed to crack a smile out of her.
‘Bienvenido de Nuevo, amigo.'
She got up wearily, collapsing herself onto his lap, kissed him on the cheek and wrapped her arms around his neck.
‘What's up S? Hard day?' Blake asked as he took of my glasses and lit up a cigarette.
‘Si... agotador...' She sighed.
‘You need sleep S, your speaking in Spanish again.'
‘...can't...' she replied. ‘...pager'll go off soon...oh look...there it goes...'
Blake felt sorry for her when she came home like this, which is exactly why he wouldn't dream of working in a hospital. 'I'd better not mention the window for a couple of days' he thought. Slowly rising from her chair, Patience managed to drag her legs all the way out the door, to which the deep voices of Nicholas and Dieter could be heard. They were already in mid-conversation about securing ties with Canada for that car manufacturer company that Blake could never remember the name of ('just makes me think, trust Dieter to produce a German name that only he can't forget and pronounce correctly, considering he has the accent').
‘And how is all?' Shouted Nick; throwing his beloved black overcoat on the side of the couch and lighting up a roll up from his top pocket (almost singeing his already untidy mass of black hair).
‘Fantastic.' Said Zephr. He was attempting to haul Phoebe from the floor, who was putting up a resistance and by the looks of it, had nearly broken his leg with her immense stealth.
Nicholas stood there laughing for a while, until finally clapping his navy eyes onto his guest.
‘And what do we have here?' He said, grinning.
Blake was so happy to see him that he couldn't even say a word and instead, walked into his open arms.
‘Welcome back, my son.'
Dieter placed his hand out for me to shake.
‘I thought you were going to shave that off?' Blake said, referring to Dieters magnificent musketeer moustache and beard.
‘Cant, Phoebes will kill me.'
‘So you're still together then?'
‘Only, not together?'
‘Precisely, or as Eoghan calls it, ‘shag buddies''
Dieter, in seeing his ‘shag buddy' falling over for the umpteenth time, took her in his arms and carried her out.
‘Where's Vincent?' Blake asked Nick, sitting back at the table.
‘No idea. But you know what he's like. Once he sees a pretty girl, off he goes...'
Nick (after whipping himself up a cocktail of B Positive an O negative) sat opposite him, wearing a wide-toothed smile.
‘Someone's in a good mood.' He said, frowning.
‘Well, Dieter's plans are awfully good; we should be doubling the company's intake soon if he keeps this up.'
Blake sat, taking a drag of his cigarette and staring at him for a while, until Nicholas looked away, seeming drained.
‘You haven't been into work, have you?'
He sat there repeatedly taking drags as if in deep thought, or trying to count how many strands there were in the section of crimson carpet he was staring at. He spoke suddenly, in a quiet tone, his nerves all over the place.
‘Was it me? Was it? Because I just can't take it anymore.'
Blake pulled his chair closer to the table as he looked up at him, his eyes filled with tears.
‘No, it wasn't. I don't know what it was, but it most certainly wasn't you-‘
‘-What if I'd done something wrong? Like talk to those Fauns or, or stared at another woman-‘
‘The Fauns are irrelevant. She hates all Fauns-‘
‘-But the woman thing? I mean, I do pay attention to-‘
‘-If Val thought you were having an affair she would have told you Nick. Seriously, I neither know nor understand what could have happened to make her leave. I mean, 4 millennia, Nick. Anyone would tell you that it wasn't you who made her disappear otherwise she would have done that a long time ago. She loves you. Besides, it was probably us that made her leave.'
‘Don't say that, what could you have done?-‘
‘-what couldn't we have done? I mean, who would want to share the same house with eight other vampires who you constantly have to maintain? It would drive anyone insane-‘
‘Not me, and not her either. She would have mentioned it if that was the case, which it isn't. When we took all of you in one by one we knew that we could handle it, so please don't blame it on you or the others. To be honest you did quite the opposite. You held us together.'
He sighed and rested his head on the table. Usually it'd be Aevah giving this type of consolidation to him on his 65th Anniversary without her, but Aevah was in no fit state to consider someone's feelings, and so it was Blakes turrn.
‘Don't worry Nick, she loves you regardless. She'll come back, I know it.'
He gave a weak smile. Blake didn't like seeing Nicholas like this; he was near enough father to him and the rest of them, and so sought to distract him. He decided to mention what was eating away at him.
‘Nick; I wanted to ask you something. Have you ever seen a person with red hair and grey eyes in your lifetime?'
He was sure he would have, considering he's lived the longest out of all of them. Being 29 hadn't struck his countenance in all his 4 millenia 649 life. It even made him look younger than the norm. He downed his drink and sat up.
‘Red hair and grey eyes? I've barely seen anyone with grey eyes as it is, other than Val's mother. Why? And what kind of scent?'
‘Just curious. I was in the park about half an hour ago and this strange scent was coming from a girl with those exact features. Her eyes were like stone; the purest and deepest of grey with no tinge of blue whatsoever. Her scent made me want to have her, and yet, it seemed untouchable. It just got me so confused...' Zephr had spat out some of his cocktail all over the couch. Aevah started her fit of giggles again. Nick sounded surprised.
‘Are you sure you weren't just thirsty? Or drunk?' He asked.
‘Oh he wasn't drunk.' Zephr interjected. ‘I know that girl.'
Blake found it surprising Zephr knew any girl like that and had never mentioned anything about her. He was even more surprised that he hadn't dated her yet. Knowing him he'd be showing her off like a prize.
‘From where?' He asked.
‘She's Knox's little sister; her being 3 years younger than him. She owns an MLM shop downtown and if I were you I wouldn't start messing around; off-limits according to him.'
Blake raised his eyebrows at him. He had heard things about this Knox. It would be easier to get to her considering he's Zeph's best friend. He felt that there appeared to be something more about this girl; he thought it was her exquisite eyes that lead him to that thought, but it was more that Zephr seemed very intentional on that reason of staying away from her. Blake wasn't so keen on playing by the rules.
‘That's what you think.'
‘I mean it! Knox will go mental at me if you do! And me!'
‘I don't know why you befriended a human anyway.'
He honestly didn't. It made him more of an idiot in his opinion.
‘It's called interspecies relations Blake. Interspecies relations.'
Urging for another drink, Blake strolled over to the bar, when a Raven had flown past him, landing on the leather couch beside Zephr.
‘It's been a while, Vince.' Said Blake.
The bird was replaced by a lean guy with slick black hair combed backward to his lower right and wearing a sly smile.
‘Long time no see.' He said, staring at him. He had an aptness for turning up out of the blue.
He had one of the stranger abilities. He could shapeshift into any living creature he desired, an ability very bizarre for a vampire.
‘You should change into a Raven more often, it suits you.'
Vincent, like the others, hugged him until his bones cracked. Blake was happy to be nack with his other partner in crime. Vincent, Aevah's twin brother from the Vampire Goddess Willow, was the cults amusement; he made everyone laugh with his careless character and his ability to slide out of any situation you could think of. Ironically he is also the person they generally went to for problems or needing consolation. One of his many talents.
‘Where's the others?' he asked, searching for them around the room.
‘Celeste and Chloe decided to stay a little longer; they'll be here soon though.'
‘What's up with my sis?'
‘Ask her yourself.' Said Zephr.
He tried. And tried. And when he finally gave up, dragged her out of the room. Eoghan did not seem too fussed, in fact he went on to say, ‘Anyone wanna play poker?'
‘I'll raise you, 900.' Said Vince.
‘Is that in Euros or pounds?" Asked Zephr.
The game was becoming intense; although it was made more interesting with Phoebe; now sober after throwing up severely, and Aevah, still half drunk, deciding to play.
‘Fold.' Said Nick.
‘Three thousand.' Added Phoebe.
‘Four.' Said Blake.
‘I win anyway.' Shouted Aevah.
Everyone gave grunts and sighs, their game now ruined.
‘Hello?' Said Zephr. ‘Aren't you supposed to be blocking her Eoghan?'
The truth is, Eoghan had become distracted for the past five minutes, unable to concentrate on stopping Aevah's complex mind ability and simply staring into space. Blake wondered what he was up to.
‘Surprised you didn't do that Blake...' Vince mumbled.
‘I was caught off-guard...Anyway at least I didn't cheat.' He said, giving a childish look to Aevah. It was true, he could have; his ability came with the simple fact of cloning others ones around him, but he liked to play by the rules when it came to poker. He was actually quite good at it.
‘I would have beaten you all with my eyes closed anyway!' She sniffed.
Eoghan jumped up suddenly, knocking the drink beside him onto her.
He seemed very alert, disturbing the calm aura. He had his finger in the air as if concentrating on a specific thing. Silence fell, but not for long. They could hear footsteps, and not ones they recognized; theey were too heavy. And heartbeats; enough for three. Eoghan glared at Nick.
‘You smell that?' He asked.
‘Humans...' Nick replied.
Humans? Deemed unlikely, especially around here. The area is practically deserted other than an empty warehouse. Nicholas stood up.
‘We'll wait until they get up here. Zephr get the lights. Everybody stay put and stay quiet.'
It took about 2 minutes before they opened that door. In an instant Eoghan and Phoebe slammed two of them down onto the table, sending glass, money and poker chips everywhere. Blake tripped up the third and held him by the throat at arm's length against the wall.
‘I've had a fucking nough of these bastards!' Bellowed Eoghan.
‘Eoghan stay calm.' Said Nick. He turned to Phoebe.
She searched them all within milliseconds.
The trio of boys looked no older than seventeen. Shouting and struggling they gagged and forced them into the chairs; tying them tightly against the frame. Nicholas, utterly bewildered that humans had somehow entered his domain, paced up and down in front of the line of chairs in the middle of the room. He eventually spoke.
‘Now then' Said Nick. ‘How the hell-‘
‘-I beg your pardon?' Started Aevah.
She was glaring directly at the boy to the right of her, giving her a sexual look.
‘What did he say, Aev?' Zephr asked.
She simply glared at the kid for a while, until finally answering him.
‘He called Eoghan an Irish bastard, and was thinking very... obscene thoughts that me and him would...fuck.'
Eoghan, who had been sitting at the bar, had slowly walked towards his wife, screwing up his hands andvhis face in disgust, but Aevah had stopped him.
‘Don't worry Eoghan darling. I'll handle him.'
'Are you sure? You're in no state to-'
'I'm fine now, darling.'
She sat him down and kissed him before advancing onto the lad, who struggled drastically to get out of the chair. She ungagged him.
‘No, no please! Please don't kill me! I'm sorry! I'll do anything please!'
The hysteria of this situation made Aevah laugh.
‘Bit late for that now, isn't it?'
She slapped him, leaving a searing redness against his cheek.
‘So...you think I'm physically attractive do you?' She said.
The boy was amazed as Aevah leant down to his level and decided to straddle him. She then kissed him passionately and extensively, before ripping away from him, shouting
'Patience, chuck us a knife would you?'
As soon as Aevah caught it she stabbed him right in the bollocks. All the men in the room had flinched. Gagging him once more, she took her time engraving the letter ‘A' on his face.
‘You'll soon regret everything you just thought.' She said between his screams and flinches. ‘I can get inside anything with a mind you know. See into it, manipulate it, make you see things you'd never want to see and drive you completely crazy if I desired. So I should think that you count yourself lucky; you're being killed by the daughter of a God.'
Licking the bloody mess carved into his face, Aevah grasped his head in her hands and bore into his eyes with her own. He suddenly stopped struggling, creating a split second of silence before screaming and sweating all over; his heart at top speed. His two companions looked on in fear, trying desperately to get out of their awaited fates. Out of curiousity, Blake peered into his mind to watch what she was pressurizing him to experience. Burning alive is one of Aevah's specialities, and he was taking his time to die in this very apartment; a more torturous way of dying inside your own mind other than killing yourself. Eoghan found this extremely funny.
The boy had at last terminated all movements, his head lolling to one side. She kicked the chair so that it fell backwards. Blake, wanting to confide in Nicholas, strolled over to him.
‘I've got a funny feeling Nick; I smell a rat. This is just wild.' He said.
‘I must admit it sounds a little odd. I mean, most humans couldn't find this place with a map and a fucking compass. Then these kids come here as if they own the place. For fuck sake why tonight?'
‘I have no idea--‘
He was interrupted by the crash of what sounded like their front door being blown off. Within an instant swarmed about twelve vampires dressed in black and with their fangs out, poised for an attack...