Blood Bonds Pt. 08

byphoenixphair©

He tapered off as Kevin broke into quiet laughter, trying to cover it by taking a swig of beer, but failing.

"Yeah, yeah. I know you heard this already, Hunter," he growled, smiling ruefully as he continued. "So, here we are, just me, her, Andrew, and apparently, a couple of bartenders, but they're hiding. Her eyes go black. Like death itself. And—damn I hate that tail of hers— she snakes it around my waist before I can even react and launches me clear across the room. I jump up, ready to kick her ass, and Andrew orders me to stand down. Now, normally I'd never obey a Blood Drinker, but he's about six thousand years old, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

"But she's pissed. Unfurls her wings, lets loose a set of claws like I've never seen and bares a set of fangs that put mine to shame. And, this was in the early days, before she had any control, she lets out a burst of power and goes into... battle mode. Spikes come out all along the top of her wings, tail gets longer and heavier, fangs drop out more. You get the picture. Well, I realize my mistake fast. I actually started laughin' once I figured out how fucked I was."

"Possibly the worst response you can give an enraged woman, regardless of what she is," Ana noted dryly.

"No shit. She lets out a roar that... I can still hear it... At this point, I decide to talk my way out of it. Tell her I've obviously overstepped myself. Still not gonna apologize, since I'm Alpha and don't answer to some chick with a demon inside her."

Kevin let out a snort, which the Lycan ignored.

"Andrew, bless 'im, ain't even trying to stop her. No use. I call her 'Baby' again and she vanishes. Melts right out of thin air in the shadows behind me, wraps an arm 'round my neck and sinks a handful of claws right into my chest like skin and bone are marshmallows. Right in my ear, in the scariest voice you ever heard, says 'you may call me Lady Talera or My Lady. Call me Baby again, I'll tear your heart out and let the last of the blood pump out onto your lips before I feed it to you. Bit. By. Bit.'

"Popped her claws out, retracts 'em and runs a finger over my lips. So not only am I tasting my own blood, she's touching me skin on skin. And we all know what that does to ya. I don't what she was gonna do next, but August shows up, orders her to let me go."

"I hadn't heard the part about the heart," Kevin remarked, looking at his beer bottle, trying mightily not to laugh. "She can come up with some mean shit when she gets riled."

Sarah sat aghast for a long moment, the drink in her hand threatening to drop before she came back to reality.

"On one hand, that's scary as hell," she said, a slow smile creeping across her lips. "On the other, it's every woman's dream to do that to some creep in a bar. Uh, no offense, Pershing."

"They all seem to sense something," Ana said, standing and walking to the edge of the balcony, pushing open the heavy glass door slightly so that the noise from below filled the room for a moment.

"In the old days," the black-headed wolf said, leaning back once more. "After a Turning, there'd be a party to present the new Blood Drinker to the... community as a whole. Since this was an unconventional Turning, it's a damned big deal. Word got out fast that she was coming back tonight. Before it got out of control, August set up this gathering, kept out all the humans who have no business being here. It's a show of respect for the older races and might help keep some of the hotheads out there in check if they see her now up close and personal."

"Do they know?" Sarah asked, not needing to finish the question.

"No."

"Is she—"

"I can't speak for her, but... I would imagine that if she'd wanted the world to find out, she would have arranged it long before now."

"There are probably a few down there who can see right through her... mask," Kevin put in, cocking his head to the side in thought. "But they're not going to say anything. It's too dangerous."

"I wish Nel was here," Sarah said with a soft sigh. "She's going to regret missing this."

"The little blonde?" Pershing asked, continuing when they nodded. "I've seen a picture of her. Cute thing. Looks familiar. Where is she?"

"On vacation with her family," Sarah answered. "We couldn't find her in time for the—the ceremony. I got her on the phone yesterday, but she said she couldn't get away. Sucks."

"Talera couldn't find her?" the Alpha asked, eyebrows coming together, glancing at Ana. "And you couldn't either? Did you try dream-walking, hunting her that way?"

Ana nodded, shrugging.

Pershing took a deep breath, let it out slowly. He opened his mouth, closed it, holding his tongue.

"What?" Kevin asked, leaning forward.

"The odds of neither of them being able to track her down... Two of the best in our world..." Pershing said slowly, face darkening.

"What are you saying?" Sarah asked sharply, anger flashing in her dark eyes.

"Sarah, all of you," the Lycan said, all the calculated easy-going gone from his demeanor. "Be careful. You're in deep now."

If he was going to say more, it was cut off by a sharp gasp. Ana held one hand over her throat, eyes staring at the ceiling. In a sudden flurry of whispered sound, her wings unfurled, extending then folding restlessly behind her once more.

"What is it?" Sarah asked, jumping to her feet, seeing Ana swallow hard, eyes roving, searching the walls around them.

"She's here," Kevin said, voice barely above a whisper. He rose as well, walking to the balcony doors, Pershing at his side in a flash of movement.

Ana turned and pushed open the glass, stepping out onto the balcony, wings raised high, violet light burning in her eyes, smile curving her lips.

Below the crowd let out a roar. In that instant, the world went dark and silent. Only the sound of ethereal whispers, rushing winds, stirred the unnaturally dark club, though it seemed to have vanished into the abyss as well.

In a rush, the world went back to normal. The crowd roared again, so Sarah knew she hadn't imagined the moment before. The lights went even dimmer, music coming to a halt, though it quickly began again, a dark, sensual beat crackling through the charged air.

Sarah dashed onto the balcony, ducking under the raised wings, feeling Kevin put a hand on her shoulder, Pershing coming to her other side. A sharp breeze whipped through the building, sending another surge through the beings on the floor. All at once, anyone who had been hiding some physical enhancement under the pretense of being human revealed themselves. Wings came out, tails flickered, eyes glowed or burst into flames, hair and skin burst into any number of colors, a number of animals—wolves, big cats, birds— stood where humans had been a breath before.

Sarah glanced at the wolves on either side, but aside from matching sets of blood-red eyes, neither changed. Ana was focused on a single spot in the deepest of shadows at the back of the club, chest heaving as she breathed deeply.

At the first words of the song, Talera stepped out of the shadows Ana was scrutinizing. Instead of hitting a wall of sound from the gathered beings, only silence greeted her dark, nearly menacing smile, fangs flashing just for an instant, though she kept her head down, eyes closed.

Her black hair, stripes like fresh blood, writhed around her white shoulders, catching and flowing off her raised wings, shading half her lowered face before flowing back again. She wore a black leather bustier that held her breasts like loving hands, leaving little of her taught form to the imagination. Her long trousers were like shadows themselves, sitting low on her bare hips and flowing around her long legs as she strode slowly into the center of the club.

Sarah gasped, hands going over her mouth. The Mark of the Chosen was gone from her back, only the scrolls remaining, writhing around the base of the giant wings, which seemed to have grown quite a bit, the undersides now crimson where they had been jet, scrolling markings like those on her skin gracing the black sides in red and the crimson sides in black. A wash of cool air rushed around the room once more as she stopped.

With eternal slowness, Talera's long lashes parted and a fire like none Sarah had seen burst out of her eyes, bloody flames, shadowed with deepest black whirling and arcing out of her pale face. A shockwave of Dark power radiated out from her still form, setting in a 360 degree burst with her as the calm epicenter. It surged over the crowd like a wave in a pond, the darkness so deep that only the barest of pale outlines marked the forms of the beings as it passed over them in a flash. Sarah felt it hit her, wash over her, leaving her cold and gasping for breath on her knees in its wake, the wind passing over her a half a second later.

Kevin, breathing deeply himself, reached down and pulled her to her feet, his smile fleeting as he turned his attention back to the floor below, his hand going back to her shoulder. Pershing took in a sharp breath, red eyes glued to the scene, not noticing Sarah look up at him. As if tearing his attention away was painful, he shot a look down at the floor, flicking his chin decisively. A young man, taller by far than the dark vampire, surrounded by wolves, approached the demon, dropped to his knees, grinning as he bared his throat, head falling back.

A low rumble sounded from either side as both Kevin and his Alpha raised their fists in the air, the others in the party with the young man doing the same. Belatedly, Sarah realized this was Pershing's Pack. Talera bent and the young Lycan arched his back and roared just as those long fangs pierced his skin. He clenched his hands at his sides, visibly fighting not to touch her as she drank. When she was finished, he laughed triumphantly before passing out. The rest of the Pack bowed to her and then to Pershing high above, who smiled and waved them back.

A rustle of movement among the crowd and a young woman, palest blonde hair swaying around her sharp features, flanked on either side by a white leopard, stepped up, inclining her head in a bow, then let it fall to the side, neck exposed. Talera, face solemn, came to her, cupping her jaw with one hand, bending slowly as if to kiss the pale flesh.

Talera received tribute from four other beings, taking as much time with each. Sarah was sure of a succubus, the regular blue kind like August, not Ana's Dark variety, at least one male vampire, and what may have been a Fae. The last was a gorgeous creature that Sarah could place as neither male nor female, with long golden hair like sunlight and long delicate fingers, with which it stroked Talera's satin hair as she drank. When she finished, it disappeared in a flash of golden streamers of light.

Sarah jumped as a flash of cobalt sparked in the corner of her eye. At Ana's side, August's blue hair was settling around him, his eyes aflame, his sensuous form radiating excitement and pride. With a wink in Sarah's direction and brush of his fingers over Ana's check, he vanished in a blur once more.

On the floor, he appeared at Talera's side just as the song sank into the bridge, arms going under the heavy wings as he swept her up in a kiss, raising them both off the floor several feet, his own wings flaring into the darkness. The crowd let out another roar, many bowing their heads. She kissed him back, letting her own head fall back as his lips grazed over the scrolls gracing her jawline.

Kevin's hand on her shoulder tightened as the flash of August's fangs glinted for a millisecond before sinking into the flawless skin of Talera's throat, one hand bunching the heavy mass of her hair, the other tightening around her narrow waist. Sarah felt her stomach twist, her blood pounding in her temples, the flush of heat in her chest as Talera went limp, body relaxing as the song surged violently, her own fangs catching the light for an instant. Pulling back, August kissed the spot where he'd bitten her tenderly, lowering them to the ground.

She roused as her feet touched the floor, lifting her head languorously, kissing August once more, then bowing deeply to everyone present. As her Sire raised his hands, mouth moving in the words of a spell, she melted back into the shadows. His eyes blazed, wings opening, a faint bluish haze emanating from him and whirling slowly on the sluggish currents of air. Just as he finished the incantation, another song, thundered out of the walls and he rose again as the dance floor erupted in a slow frenzy of muted lust, couples dancing, grinding together, embracing, lips going to throats and breasts.

August appeared on the balcony again, a grin on his lips as he surveyed his handiwork, eyes blazing brighter than ever.

"Nice touch," Pershing snorted, taking in a shuddering breath. Sarah could feel the heat emanating from both wolves like being caught between two furnaces.

"I thought so," the Immortal said with a rakish toss of his long hair. "Unless you want to join them, you might want to go inside before the scent gets this high."

Ana huffed a laugh, her face saying she was considering going down on the floor herself before she turned with a sigh and went back inside the suite, wings vanishing as she passed through the doors. The others followed, albeit reluctantly. Sarah was the last to pass, and as she did, August caught her wrist gently, concern in his eyes as they lost their fire.

"I'm fine," she murmured, smiling weakly at him, turning her hand so that she clasped his wrist as well.

"I know," he said softly, leaning in and brushing his lips over her forehead. "And I thank you for that."

Before she could respond, he was gone in a rush of warm wind. Pausing for a moment, taking a deep breath, Sarah smiled to herself, excitement bubbling in the pit of her stomach, and went inside, shutting the door tightly after herself.

And ran smack into an unyielding wall of werewolf. Tears welled in her eyes as she gingerly touched her offended nose and forehead.

"Fuck, Kev," she barked. "What the hell?"

"Exactly what I was thinking," he shot back, but she could tell he wasn't really responding to her.

Cutting between the two wolves, she stopped short next to Ana, a ripple of something between fear and elation shooting up her spine.

"Hi," Talera said softly, cocking a half-smile at them. She perched on the back of one of the leather chairs, bare feet resting on the seat, wings sprawled on the floor, elbows on her knees, chin resting on her folded hands, hair a wild cascade around her.

"God, you scared me," Sarah burst out, hand going to her throat, rubbing at the heated skin there.

"Apparently," Talera said flatly, one eyebrow coming up, watching Sarah's hand intently.

"It's really... obvious," Kevin said cautiously, eyeing her closely, licking his lips. The tendons in his neck pulled tight, shoulders dropping slightly as he flexed for a fight.

"I know," she sighed, tossing back her hair as she hopped down, wings vanishing as she landed soundlessly in front of them.

At the sudden movement, everyone but Sarah tensed hard, leaving the girl looking at the four of them speculatively.

"This is going to get old," Sarah muttered to herself, then raised her voice, asking no one in particular. "What exactly is obvious to everyone but me? Predatory hierarchy? Do I need to step outside while the four of you decide who's the biggest, baddest thing in the room?"

For a moment, no one said anything, then a snort of laughter from Pershing broke the tension in the room. He sank back down into his chair, snatching the bottle of whiskey as he sat and taking a long pull straight from the source. He tossed it to Kevin, who shot back a mouthful before passing the bottle on to Ana, who did the same.

With a sheepish grin, the blonde wolf took the few steps separating them and swept the new vampire up in a tight embrace, murmuring in her ear. She closed her eyes, a genuine smile softening her features as she pressed her cheek into his neck.

When he released her, Ana came forward, hugging her hard, kissing her experimentally. She said nothing when they broke apart, but a low, lusty giggle accompanied a slow smile as she backed away, hands catching Talera's, slipping them through her fingertips.

A flutter of unknown emotion in her stomach, Sarah stood still, biting her lip as Talera looked up at her.

"There are about five other places I could bite that would be easier given my particular dentition," the vampire said dryly, a good-humored smirk on her red lips.

"What?" the girl asked, taken aback, then blushed as she realized she was still shielding her throat with her hand, though she didn't move it away.

Grinning broadly, the mentioned fangs glinting for a moment, Talera stepped closer, putting out one hand and gently placing it atop Sarah's, wrapping her fingers around Sarah's and squeezing lightly. The girl lowered her chin and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath to try and hold back the tears she could feel pushing at the corners of her eyes. With a sharp exhalation, she threw her arms around her friend's neck, burying her face in that billowing mane.

Her tears were hot against the icy, silken waves around her face, sending a small chuckle to her throat at the contrast. Talera's cheek against hers was cool, soft as rose petals, her hands resting on Sarah's back as tender as if she were handling a baby bird. Sarah just held her for a while, feeling her breath calm, becoming aware of the press of her body against the cool, soft contours of Talera's form, the gentle creak of leather against her chest, the heavy drape of wool against her legs.

"Give us a minute?"

Sarah felt more than heard the words vibrate against her chest, then she felt a rush of wind, felt her feet come clear off the ground. She was suddenly drowsy, sleepier than she'd ever been in her life. She relaxed in Talera's tight, secure grasp, sinking into sleep.

When she awoke, Sarah found herself leaning on a pretty stone railing, covered with a charming grace of chartreuse algae. The gentle gurgle of water, rasp of leaves on a faint breeze, humid warmth, green illuminated by bright shafts of moonlight, unfurled slowly as her eyes grew accustomed to her surroundings. Benches, walkways, the muted red glare of an EXIT sign seemed out of place in the quiet jungle, the huge fig leaves, heavy drape of dark colocasia, frilly fiddleheads of giant royal ferns that perched just beyond her reach. Looking up, she was puzzled by the white girders, towering glass looming silently above, stars winking through a light sheen of condensation.

"Where are we?" Sarah asked, voice muted, loathe to break into the serene reverie of the life around her.

"National Conservatory, a few blocks over," Talera said, deep voice sinking into the verdant crush of darkness.

Sarah didn't say anything, just took a deep breath, peering out into the carefully tamed jungle.

"My parents brought me here once," said the demon at her side, voice even, relaxed through a veil of sadness. "Before—when I was little. I thought it was the most beautiful room in the whole world. I was about eleven, I guess. I can remember crying because Tyler...my little brother....was tired of it and whining, and it was closing and we had to leave. When we got back home, my dad bought me this beautiful bell jar and some tiny little ferns to grow inside it. My own little jungle on my dresser."

"Do you still have it?"

"No," she whispered, voice dropping to a jagged shadow. "They smashed it when they took my life. Took all I had."

Sarah felt new tears burn her eyes, smudging the rich colors as the wet warmth welled in her vision. One hot escapee trickled down her cheek, tracing its way over her smooth brown skin, pausing, cooling on her chin, before she swiped it away.

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