Darkness Calling Ch. 12bymadam_noe©
"You saw into her dreams?" the hooded figure asked.
He smiled. "Yes, indeed Bram Darkwind is very much alive, and connected with her."
The elder turned his broad back and stared out the window. They were alone in the hallway, the only souls inside the COM building so early in the morning. "It is disturbing that Soren Nightraven has married, and his wife is indeed Darkwind's daughter. This affords us an opportunity."
"Seems so," the younger man chuckled, the images in his head broadcast loud and clear to the very powerful hooded gentleman who made noises of disgust.
"We can control him through her. All we need is to separate her from her husband, or her meddling sister in law and her husband. Get her alone and take her, and cover your tracks. No funny business! I want her unharmed."
The younger man rubbed his fingernails on his lapel and then breathed on them, cultivating a polish. "Going up against three level tens, two of them prominent politicians...it is not without risk."
"You're being paid well! Your tip about Selene's activation proved true and panned out. She is indeed the key to Darkwind and all his secrets. If we want his cooperation she must be unharmed." The hooded figure turned, casting the shadows to cover his face so his employee would not know his true identity. "When Darkwind has given me what I want, you may take the girl as payment, and do whatever sick urges you hold."
The younger man smiled. "Expect results soon." Then he teleported himself out with the flourish of understatement only a level ten could muster.
Selene woke alone and sat down to breakfast slightly confused. Had she and Soren truly made up? If so, he should have stayed, she thought, and then realized he must have held that same thought numerous times.
June brewed coffee, Michael cooked up bacon and eggs, and Selene was set on toast duty. She listened to her foster parents hum in harmony and smiled. This was the kind of comfortable, familiar love she wanted in her own life, someday. Would it ever be that way with Soren?
A knock sounded at the back door.
"I'll get it," June said with a smile and opened it to reveal Soren. "Soren!"
He smiled and hugged her. "I brought fresh jam for you, raspberry."
"My favorite. Um, Selene?"
"It's okay, June. We spoke last night." June turned to her and smiled, relief swelling in her eyes.
"Come on in, sit down. You too Selene, I'll bring coffee."
"Hello Soren," Michael called over his shoulder. "Congratulations on your marriage to my little girl. I have to say this, you know, but break her heart and I'll kill you."
Siren sat down across from Selene and raised a brow. "You might have to stand in a long line for that. Good morning, Selene, sleep well?" His voice tuned husky and she blushed.
"Yes, thank you. Are you going to ask me to come back with you?"
"When you're ready. Sigrid has torn me a new one, and I've decided perhaps being-"
"Such a jackass?" Selene said with a smile.
June set down the tray with coffee, cups, and cream and sugar. "Language, honey!"
"Sorry, June. I'll pour." She grabbed the coffee and cups and began to pour, slightly embarrassed that she didn't know how Soren took his coffee.
"Black is fine. So high-handed is what I was thinking. There is a limited window here, and Selene it's not fair, but it's a fact. You are married to a man in a high position, and your father is the most prominent, if somewhat mythical, figure of our people. People like us don't get to live normal lives...it's who we are."
"He's right," Michael said and June threw a dishtowel at him as he began to plate scrambled eggs.
"Tonight then," Selene said with a sigh.
"Soren, you need to know...I've been talking with my father. He wants to speak with you. No magic, no dueling, no yelling, just talk. Are you willing."
Soren thoughtfully sipped his coffee. "I'm not sure I'm quite ready. But Jonathon suggested, and I find I agree, I need to stop interfering. He is your father, you should see him as you see fit."
"Do you mean it?"
Selene stood and hurried around the table to hug him. He seemed shocked, but warmly returned the embrace.
"Soren, eggs and bacon?"
He stood and kissed Selene softly. When he spoke, he looked down into her eyes. "I'm so sorry but I have to go. I'm supposed to be on vacation but urgent things have come up. I have some meetings I must attend to, but I'll be home this afternoon. See you there?"
"Tonight," she agreed.
"June, Michael, we'll see you soon." With that Soren disappeared.
"Must have been some night," June said and Michael coughed.
Selene blushed and sat down. "I can't believe this. I don't have to hide my father anymore. I can see him any time."
"Why don't you invite him here?" June said and sat down to pour ketchup over her entire plate.
Michael sat too and sipped his coffee. "That might be a good idea. Out here, in human territory, and, well...I'd really like to meet him."
She tried to imagine her dark wizard of a father in the small nouveau-hippie home and smiled. "I'll contact him."
Bram had been a surprise. Locked away like a monk for many years he displayed impeccable manners and seemed totally at ease with the humans. She remembered his description of his early years, and how in those days witches and humans lived together.
A great part of her wanted to talk more, find out more secrets of the past, but all Bram wanted to know about was her past. Had the McPhersons been kind, good? In return they wanted to know if he would truly love her and do his part to protect her.
Soon enough talk slid from concerned parents into knowledge of plants and archaic spells. Selene found herself almost dozing and happily volunteered to cook dinner.
Afterwards, June and Michael excused themselves to make sure the nursery had survived being run by part-timers on a rare day off.
Bram sat on the couch with Selene and smiled at her. "You remind me so much of your mother. I'm so proud of you."
She blushed and ducked. "I'm still just a graduate student who makes money waiting tables and doing research for a professor."
"Selene, might I remind you I'm a rather...old soul, and unlike human priests in the Dark religion and Light, we're allowed to make money. You need never want for anything. I've seen glimpses, know what it's like for you. I'm sure we could buy a library at that school and get those idiot kids thrown out."
She laughed. "You're the boogeyman, dad."
He smiled, but it didn't touch his eyes. "I never had that reputation until the elder Nightraven spread it. Tell everyone I'm crazy, evil, all so he could be assured he'd be the one to get my secret."
"The secret of immortality."
Bram nodded. "Sweetheart, it's simple. I've been telling them all along, and no one believes me. I'm not truly immortal...I can choose to fade, to die. Once all witches were like me. We lived longer, achieved greater power, chose our own fates. There is only one 'secret' and I've never kept it from anyone.
"The secret is to not choose one alignment; it is to possess both the Light and the Dark simultaneously. Just like in you."
"Selene," Bram leaned forward and took her hand in his. "You are immortal. That was what I was trying to do all those years ago; bring together Light and dark witches to create Children with both alliances, children that would be pure. That is what someone destroyed; men and women in love, men and women who decided not to switch allegiance, men and women who had created life. All that is left from that grand experiment is you."
Her head began to swim. "But-"
"In time I will teach you. I will teach you how to awaken this power in your husband, in your friends. Perhaps they will listen to you as they never listened to me."
"This is all happening too fast."
"Cheer up, you literally have all the time in the world to get used to it. Now it grows dark, you have a husband to return to, and I have a mythology to keep up. We will talk soon, my sweet." He kissed her forehead and was gone.
"He left?" June said a moment later, coming in from the cold with Michael trailing her. "It's the Solstice, we should have done something, he might have enjoyed it."
"It's the solstice? How did we all forget?"
"We had a lot going on, sweetie."
"Sigrid's party! June, Michael, I love you and I'm sorry but I have to go." She kissed their cheeks and thought of Soren. Instantly, she was there.
He was in his den, in a chair reading the paper. His dark suit jacket was off, the soft light blue shirt unbuttoned and rolled up. A fire was going and a glass of dark liquor was next to him.
"It's Samhain!" Selene said, making him jump.
"Fu- sorry, I didn't feel your magic."
"Long story, but I have a theory. Isn't your sister having a big party tonight?"
"It starts in half an hour, but I thought we'd skip it."
She raised a brow. Witches celebrated Samhain on the Solstice, the holidays being one in the same for them unlike humans. It was human Halloween, Christmas, and New Years Eve rolled into one.
"Not that I particularly want to go, but I promised I would, and, er, you're a cabinet member. Aren't you supposed to?"
He folded the paper and stood, crossing to her and tipping her face up for a deep kiss. "I'd rather focus on you and me, right now, and if we go it's a public announcement that we are married. Pardon me for worrying, but if you plan to leave me anyway, I'd rather not."
She cupped his face with her hands. "I'm not. I won't. I'm not going to leave."
His entire being went still. "Why the sudden change in mind?"
"A very wise man told me today I'll have a long time to adjust to things. So if you promise to be patient, stop treating me like a child, I'll do my best. I'll get scared, I'll get mad, I'll make you sleep on the couch every now and again, but I won't leave you. I mean, I have to finish graduate school, and-"
He cut her off with a kiss that seared her to her toes.
"Fuck the party," he said and she felt his magic powering up.
"No magic. Please? Just you, and me, and nothing else."
He raised a brow but wasted no time in pulling her shirt up even as she tore his open. They kissed, struggling with the pants, kicking off shoes and socks and laughing at their rather uncoordinated attempts.
At long last they were naked and she pushed him back to the chair straddling him.
He broke the kiss to capture a nipple with his mouth and tease it with his flickered tongue. Her fingers curled into his shoulders and she rubbed his stiff cock against her clit.
Selene felt so wet, ached so much, she couldn't wait. He palmed the other breast and she raised her hips, centering him, and slammed down.
He gasped, groaning, and Selene quickly pressed his face to her neck. She ground against him rather the thrust and moaned as her pleasure grew, delighting in each short grunt he uttered.
He clutched at her hops, slamming them against his own, and sweat built up, making their bodies slick. She rubbed faster and faster and just as the orgasm claimed her and fireworks burst behind her closed eyes, Soren raised her hips and forced her to thrust.
He plunged in and out, deeply, the slick sounds of their arousal filling the air. Soon, almost too soon he nearly wailed with release.
Their bodies settled hurriedly into collapsed repose even as the pulsing continued. Lazily she sought his mouth and kissed him deeply.
"It can be nice, sometimes, not using magic."
He chuckled, kissing her, and suddenly she felt his ghostly mouth and fingers everywhere. He now held her arms pinned to her side and she was helpless against the assault. Overwhelmed, her body responded to the call and quickly built, muscles pulling in tighter and tighter, until she fairly exploded in climax.
At long last he broke off having swallowed her scream, and smiled as she panted against him. "And sometimes magic can be fun."
She laughed and leaned back. He resisted but she succeeded in falling back onto the plush rug and taking him with her. His body slipped out from hers and they landed side by side, laughing.
"What happened today?"
"I saw my father."
Soren tucked a long, tangled bit of black hair behind her ear, his aqua eyes filled with patience. "And?"
"We didn't have to hide. We got to talk, not like conspirators trying to uncover the past, but like two people. June and Michael like him."
Soren smiled softly. "I trust their opinion highly. I'm sorry I'm not ready, sweetheart. You have to understand, growing up in an old family..."
He sat up and turned his back. "Look at my heraldry."
Heraldry tattoos started at the left shoulder blade and trailed down the back. The longer and thicker the intricate blue designs were, the older and more powerful the witch's lines.
The Nightraven heraldry was extremely intricate. She had seen it but never paid attention to it. Written in runes, she had never been educated in reading them as she would have been raised in witch schools. All she could tell was that it was old and powerful.
"In families like this," Soren continued, "enemies and wounds are nursed and passed down. I don't know exactly what started the feud between your father and mine, but I was raised to believe he was evil and wanted me dead. I'll try my best, but give me time. I have to get over that."
She sat up and wrapped her arms around him, pressing the side of her face to his back. "I don't fully understand."
She turned her left wrist so he could see the tattoo. It marked her, again in runes, as an orphan, where she was found, her approximate age, and the name she'd been given along with an ID number.
"This is no longer true." With magic he removed it, the scent of cinnamon rising and a slight burning along her skin accompanied the action.
When it was done her skin was slightly more pale there, but the tattoo was gone.
It was a relief on one hand, but also the loss of something she'd had all her life, like the birthmark on her back. Still, she could read his open mind and knew he wanted to remove any reminders of that old life, wanted her to never have to feel like she was less. His heart was in the right place and she kissed his tattoo. "Thank you."
"Now that I'm not so crazed with lust, perhaps we should make a small appearance. Just to say hi to my sister and Jonathon, and then we can come home. Would that be all right?"
"I have nothing to wear."
He turned and raised a brow, flashing a devilish smile. "Still not used to being a level ten, are you?"
He stood and helped her up and with a burst of power they were cleaned, coiffed, and dressed. He'd given himself a dark evening suit with a crisp white shirt and the requisite bow tie.
For her he'd given her a silver dress with a high back, masking her lack of heraldry, though it scooped low in the front. Her hair was piled on her head with a surprising artistic flair, heavy earrings were in her lobe, and her high heels brought her up to almost his height yet were comfortable.
She caught her reflection in the mirror above the fireplace and barely recognized herself. Her eyes glowed with power as did his. She looked...stunning.
"You certainly do," he kissed her slowly and she responded fully.
"Five minutes," he groaned. "Five minutes or I'll drag you off to the pantry there to have my way with you."
She giggled and blushed at that, finally feeling that things might work out.
"They will," he assured, and transported them over.
The Whiteblooms' home had been transformed. Lights were everywhere, greenery and candles on every surface, liveried waiters moving around a throng dressed to the nines, endless food and drinks appearing, and somewhere a band played.
Soren had conjured them in the small alcove by the stairs, away from the crowd. "One quick walk, a few handshakes, a short conversation with my sister and then we can leave, all right?"
She nodded, terrified she might do something to embarrass him. For some time now he'd been just Soren, she had to remember now he was Soren Nightraven, the presumed successor to Blackfoot to sit as head of the COM.
They emerged and immediately people crowded around him, offering Soren and Selene congratulations on their marriage. She was introduced as Selene Nightraven, which sounded so foreign but she knew would keep questions on her ancestry quiet.
Soren, true to his word, kept his responses brief and polite and kept moving towards the conservatory where he spotted Sigrid.
After what felt like an eternity they made it and Sigrid and Jonathon hugged them both.
"Took my advice and groveled, 'eh?" Jonathon asked.
"As best I could. Sigrid, what's wrong?" Soren asked.
"Father is here, and he was looking for you. In fact, he's headed here now."
Selene felt abject panic. "I need to, ah, um..."
"I'll accompany you, follow me" Sigrid led her to the bathroom but was waylaid by a guest.
Selene went in and took a deep breath. In-laws, in-laws who hated her father. She hadn't quite let that sink in with everything going on.
Father just wants to meet you at dinner tomorrow. I'll make yup an excuse, she heard Soren's voice say in her mind.
Thank you, she directed in return when someone knocked insistently on the door.
She emerged to find Sigrid gone. Knowing Soren was still speaking with his father and shielding his thoughts, she decided to escape the crowd clamoring at her to know more. She declined several requests to dance or fetch her a drink and escaped upstairs where it was quiet.
On the wall were photos of Jonathon and Sigrid as children, Sigrid often posed with a young, adorable Soren, and a slightly older version. In each one the three Nightraven children had haunted eyes, but Soren's spoke of deep pain.
She stared at one when suddenly she was grabbed from behind.
"Too easy," a deep, familiar voice said. "Didn't even need to use magic."
Not used to hers she panicked and struggled. The man holding her was tall and thin, that much she registered as a narrow hand covered her mouth.
Suddenly voices came from the stairs and she felt magic scented like fake banana flavoring as her attacker disappeared.
"Selene?" It was Sigrid and Jonathon. "My father is gone."
"Someone just tried to grab me."
"What happened?" Sigrid ran to her and hugged her as Jonathon began a tracing spell.
Selene told her as Jonathon cast and recast to no effect. "Damn it, he covered his tracks."
Soren, I need you, Selene thought and instantly he was there. Jonathon gave him the short version as he hugged his wife.
"Fake banana flavoring? Jonathon, see if anyone knows what family line that might belong to. I'm taking Selene home."
"Be safe. We'll continue our lessons soon, Selene. Be safe," Sigrid repeated.
Suddenly they were home, in bed. Soren wouldn't stop hugging her. "Damn it, I never should have closed my mind. I wanted to keep my father from sensing you. I should have been there, the way I was back at your school."
The incident with Rhiannon and her gang. Selene stiffened. "Hugh! It was Hugh Lakeheart who grabbed me!"
"The level ten who I stopped?"
She nodded. "He's...attacked me before, that's where I knew that scent from. All stupid stuff with Rhiannon."
His eyes darkened like the sea in a hurricane. "Even if this was another silly schoolboy prank, I will see he pays."
"Tomorrow, we can deal with this tomorrow, Soren. Tonight, hold me, and when I stop shaking..."
"Yes?" he kissed her temple.
"Make love to me."
In the blink of an eye their clothes were gone and her hair tumbled loose about her shoulders. "A good husband sees to his duties. Come lay down with me sweetheart. The world can wait until tomorrow."