New Kingdom: European Court Ch. 03byMicKay©
A million thanks to WorldHistoryBuff for the quick and excellent editing. If there are any errors, it's because I didn't hit the accept button correctly!
The next morning, Antony walked down the grand staircase of his home and stopped in mid decent when he heard the commotion on the ground floor. In four thousand years, he had participated and hosted some riotous events and was known by his brothers as the least serious of the Third Creation. But in all his years, he had never heard so much noise, in his home, at six o'clock in the morning.
Strolling to the source of the ruckus, he found Alesso standing in the hall staring through the library doors. The volume of the squeals was outweighed only by the thumping sound that reminded Antony of the horse races of Palio di Siena. What he saw reminded him the chaos in the club the previous night. Except the club was packed with vampires and humans and his home was being traumatized by these two. Were there really only two?
Just as he opened his mouth to bellow a command to cease, with no intention to delete the expletives, a feminine presence breezed by him and silently stopped the chaos. When she turned to face Antony, she smiled in a gesture that communicated apology and a sincere plea for his forgiveness. Suddenly, Antony forgot about the two minions and watched the beautiful woman approach him slowly.
"Antony?" the angel asked with her American accent.
"Yes," he whispered.
"I'm Alena," she said then waited in silence. When Antony said nothing, she continued, "I apologize for the noise. I can't imagine what an inconvenience we are to you and your staff," she offered looking at Alesso.
"No," Anthony murmured. "It's fine. We were just, uh, we are not accustomed to the sounds of children," he finally explained.
"Trust me," she said with a knowing grin, "I understand."
"Breathe, brother," Gabriel said walking around Antony and entering the room. When he reached his mate, he pulled her into his arms and tucked her head under his chin. Looking at his brother, he hardened his expression and narrowed his eyes in the age old gesture of staking his claim.
"Have you met the children?" Gabriel asked.
"Uh, no, but that's ok. I need to leave for the office."
"Antony," Gabe said stopping his brother's exit. "Don't do this."
Sighing in resignation, Antony walked into the room. He reached Alena first and reached for her hand, kissing her fingers in greeting.
"I will agree with my brother. You are truly beautiful."
"Thank you, Antony. Again, I'm sorry about the disturbance this morning. I promise that I will keep the children with me in our quarters."
"Nonsense," he replied. "My home is your home." When Gabriel gave him an odd expression, he added, "If she stays locked away with the children, then I would never get to see her lovely face."
"My brother is a flirt," Gabriel said to his mate. "Fortunately, he has met another on whom he can bestow his charm."
At his mate's confused expression, he shook his head and kissed her quickly. Gabriel then turned to the children who stood quietly watching the discussion. He hefted them into his arms easily and brought them foreword for introductions.
"Antony," he started, "Meet our most recent additions to the New Kingdom. This is Joshua and Abigail."
Quietly Antony stared at the children, not knowing how to address them. In turn, the children stared at him, not understanding the awkwardness with the big man. Finally, Antony nodded at them and then turned to leave the group.
"I need to leave for work soon, Gabriel," he said over his shoulder. "If you still believe we should call Edward, then let's do it now."
Kissing the kids, Gabriel sat them down and leaned close to Alena. Without saying a word he gave her a meaningful look and waited until she shrugged her shoulders and then finally smiled at him. He gave her a soft kiss and then walked from the room and paused to hear the expected question.
"What did Daddy say to you?" Abigail asked.
"If he wanted you to know, then he would have said it out loud."
"Excuse me," Alesso interrupted. "I was hoping to offer my services during your stay. I'm sure there is much in the city that the children would enjoy visiting. If you would like, I could make suggestions and even reservations for various events."
"Thank you Alesso," Alena replied. "That would be wonderful."
"And with your permission, I would be honored to extend my services as Executive Assistant with your schedule so the household can assist with preparations and travel arrangements."
"Thank you again."
"I can only imagine how busy you must be as mate to Lord Philandros and mother to the children. What are you plans for the day?"
"As you can see, the children need to release some energy, so I had hoped to tour the grounds. I understand there are tennis courts and a maze onsite."
"Yes of course. I will provide a map for you. You should visit the maze in the morning when the flowers are open."
"And tomorrow or soon after, I will need to buy new clothes," Alena said looking at the two, standing still as stoic angels. "They are growing so quickly that we have to buy new wardrobes every two weeks."
"Not quick enough!" Joshua exclaimed. "I'm stronger than a human man and I'm treated like a little kid."
"To be only one year old, I'd say you're growing very quickly. And I enjoy having you as a little kid for awhile longer," Alena responded giving her son a motherly kiss on the cheek.
"And," Abigail added posing with her hand on hip, "you act like so much like a baby that it's easy to treat you like a little kid."
Before Alena could say a word, Joshua leaped across the distance separating him from his sister. With a squeal of surprise, she struck out her arm sending him flying across the room and landing against a side table. As the table rocked, the vase placed on top began to wobble. With vampire speed and parental skills, Alena moved quickly to steady the table, save the vase and calm the children.
With a sheepish grin, she turned to Alesso and asked, "Which way to the maze?"
Across the Atlantic Ocean, the vampire king of America groaned in frustration.
"Do not answer that phone, Edward," Iona ordered.
"But that's Gabriel's ring tone," he explained to his mate, straddling his lap.
"I swear to God, if you answer that fucking phone, I'll have Alena change to your ringtone to a gay show tune."
"Give me two second Gabe," he said into the mouthpiece and then hit a button on the phone. "Baby, you know I love you and I'd much rather be loving you. But I need to take this. Please? Forgive me?"
Grabbing her hips, he lifted Iona from his lap and placed her gently on the bed. Her response was not so kind.
"Damn it, Edward, I am too close. Hang up that damn phone so I can cum!"
Edward watched his mate's facial expression change from a mixture of frustration and anger to a look of horror when the sound of male laughter erupted through his phone.
"What's that?" Iona asked.
"It's what happens when Daddy hits the 'speaker' button instead of 'mute'," a male voice responded with a chuckle.
"Damn it Antony!" Edward bellowed watching his mate quickly leap from the bed and exit their bedroom in anger.
"Edward," Gabe's voice said through the speaker, "I told you that I would call this morning."
"Yeah, well I wasn't planning on sitting by the phone all day waiting for your call," he grumbled hitting the speaker button again. "What's up?"
"Besides you?" Antony asked.
"Fuck you," the American king retorted. "Now, what's happened?"
As the tone turned serious, Edward listened to Gabriel's recount of his arrival in Italy. The discovery of finding Antony climbing from a female human's window was eliminated from the report. As they described the hedonistic scene of the club, Edward grew silent and then rapidly fired questions wanting more information about the vampires at the club. When Antony declared the rouges to be of American descent, Edward demanded to know his proof.
"Because brother," he explained calmly, "they sleep against our natural clock. Their clothes and manners are relaxed and undisciplined."
"Their clothes are undisciplined?" Edward asked with a hint of amusement. "You sound like an aristocratic snob. No wonder you were given Europe."
"And you sound like an impotent ruler who refuses to admit that all of these problems came from America!"
"Stop!" Gabriel exclaimed. "Are we resorting to blaming each other for this? All of us relaxed our guard and now all of us need to fight against this before everything is destroyed."
"You're right of course, Gabe," Edward said through the phone. "Antony, sorry for the comment. What do you need from me?"
"An army. I need your best guards and as many as you can spare," Gabriel answered and then hesitated. "Edward, can you spare Phillip?"
"No," Edward answered quickly. "I need him to watch over my kingdom."
"Where will you be?"
"With you. You were right. If we are going to win this war, we need to fight together. I'll have my best guards with me."
"Please extend my personal invitation to your lovely mate," Antony offered. "And Edward, you may want to let her know that if she still feels unsatisfied when she arrives, I'll personally see to her pleasure."
Gabriel and Antony laughed when an audible click announced the disconnection of the line.
While preparations for retaliation and new battle strategies were planned across the city, Emma sat quietly in her apartment, experiencing a myriad of feelings. Much to her delight, her dream lover had appeared. Beyond her wildest dreams, the apparition assumed the identity of her boss, Antony Melchiorre. To her horror, the god-man was actually a vampire.
"Too much caffeine, too many romance novels, and too many late night movies," she said aloud. "If the man could read my mind, he'd run for cover. The chances of him ever being attracted to me are zilch. And if he ever was, then he'd have to be a blood craving monster!"
Walking to her closet, she ignored the suit that she had chosen to wear today and searched for an alternative outfit. The ignored ensemble consisted of a pin-striped black suit with a silk, lavender blouse. She had purchased the suit because the lines extended her petite frame while the blouse had a feminine cut in her signature color.
She was a little more visible to mankind when she wore the color lavender. Her naturally pale, gray eyes would transform and reflect the purple hue that captured everyone's attention. The effect was not freakish but exceptional.
As Emma perused her meager wardrobe again, she looked at the suit she had carefully laid aside the night before. Realizing that time was not waiting for her to make a decision, she grabbed the black suit swearing a vow.
"This is not for him," she mumbled. "It's for me. Just because I look good in it doesn't mean that every woman he knows wouldn't look better. They would look great in flour sacks or even better naked."
As she rushed through her morning tasks, Emma reminded herself that last night's dream had illustrated the absurdity of her attraction to him. She had six weeks left and she would make it successful.
"I will have the superior resume and I will be successful in life. Maybe I can volunteer at shelters or be a Big Sister. My success will be the encouragement another girl needs to make her life better. It's a stupid life goal but it's all I've got."
As she completed the final touch to her hair, Emma grabbed her purse and left the apartment without ever looking at her reflection in the mirror.
Across the street, the two men watched the woman exit her apartment building and begin her journey to the office building where she worked. As she walked down the street, the men followed from the sidewalk across the street. When she would pass the various widows, she would look at the picture reflecting from the glass as though she gazed into a mirror. When the men realized she was looking at herself, they quit ducking behind pedestrians and continued following their prey.
Just before the Kingdom Investments building was in her sights, she felt the impact of a large man stumble into her. Losing her balance, she fell to the sidewalk landing on her knees first. Pain and embarrassment collided through her brain as she acknowledged the fact that her stockings and shoes were ruined and her skin would be cut and bruised in several places on her body. When she turned to snap at the clumsy man, she stopped quickly.
He was undeniably handsome. Maybe not as handsome as her boss, Antony Melchiorre, but he was still drop dead gorgeous and since she had no chance with the boss, she decided to take advantage of this opportunity.
"Wha ... what happened?" she asked in her best damsel in distress impersonation.
"Oh, no. I am so sorry," he said kneeling beside her. "Are you hurt? I was looking across the street and did not see you."
"I think I'll live but I'd like to get off this sidewalk."
"Of course," he said. "Please allow me to help you."
Once they had moved from the path of pedestrians, she was able to evaluate her condition and decide that her injuries were not life threatening but would not be acceptable in the office. A quick phone call to announce that she would be late then she could focus on exchanging phone numbers with her assailant. She would soon be on the mend to having a very interesting day.
After placing the call, she looked at the handsome man and said, "So now they know that I'll be late, I have a few hours to kill."
"You should not have lied to them."
"Oh, you won't be late. You will never return to work again," he said and with his superior strength and speed, subdued and removed her from the eye of any witness.
Fifteen stories above the street, Antony exited the elevator and looked around at the empty office suite. Walking to his office, he stopped and placed a hand over his heart feeling an odd pain rip through his system. As he slowly walked to his desk, he sat down and dropped his head into his hands. When did he let his world slip from his grasp? He could clearly remember that upon his initial arrival on this continent, he had quickly established his reign over vampires and influence over humans.
As his kingdom had grown, his workload had grown too. He had mocked Edward's need for the Council but now wished he had someone who could help him carry of some of the burden. Anticipating Edward's arrival today, Antony reminded himself that the visit was temporary and for the sole purpose of fighting the threat against their people.
He needed one person and not a Council. If he had once confidant who could share his hopes and dreams, he would be able to refocus on his reign and strengthen his kingdom. He never wanted to control the people but he wanted to guide them away from the mistakes that have historically destroyed species, races and nations. One person, who would stay with him, who would be more than an advisor but would not be a second king. Maybe he needed a queen. Hell, if he had to relinquish and share his hold on the European kingdom he might as well get laid.
Antony raised his head just when George entered his office. Once again, hearing the silence around him, he knew something was wrong. Something evil had harmed one of his people. Fighting the urge to run from his office and find the source of pain, he reminded himself that he had no idea where to begin his search. He had several hundred employees in this building alone and the injured person could be in the city, country or continent. Whoever was suffering would know that he had failed to protect them.
"George," he said to the little man. "Where is everyone?"
"Where is Sophie? I see she is still away from her desk."
"I will see if she is scheduled to be out today," the man answered carrying the morning reports to the small conference table. "Is there something you need that I could get for you?"
"No, I'm fine. And Ms. Livingston? She's in her office?"
"I have not seen her today, sir," George answered with a questioning look on his face.
"Yes, I should be able to tell but ... something is wrong."
"Wrong? Something has happened to Ms. Livingston, sir?"
"No. Something has happened to the kingdom and I spent too much time looking in another direction," Antony answered looking the man in the eye. "Let me know what you find about Sophie and Emma."
"Of course, sir," George replied and left the office.
This morning's phone call had created a delay in Antony's work day. Staring at the stack of reports George had brought to him, he closed his eyes again quickly searching the building for problems, absences, and Emma. Why would he care about this one little American human? If she had been under Edward's protection then he could have claimed a diplomatic courtesy and publically extend an offer of support.
Last night Gabriel had caught him committing a heinous crime against the woman. It would make no difference to his brothers if they knew Emma was his only victim of such atrocities. And the worst part? He felt no remorse. Long ago, the separation between day and night included only activities and different faces that performed those activities. But for the past week, Antony felt as though he could go home after a long day at the office and actually recharge his battery.
Of course it wasn't his home he would visit nightly. Since Emma had been transferred to his corporate office, he had been under an internal compulsion to seek her enticing scent and taste her delicious blood. Every morning he would stand at the window like some love sick boy looking for the girl of his dreams.
"I'm an idiot," he said aloud. He had a kingdom to save and he was pining over a girl. A girl who would die of a heart attack if she knew what he was. If he really wanted to protect her, he would have sent her packing back to the states with a nice little check and a box of bogus documents to analyze.
"I'm not an idiot. I'm a fucking bastard," he groaned.
"I guess one could say that, considering we never had a father," said a voice from the door. "Of course, we never had a mother either."
"I thought you and the terror twins were going to tour the property."
"Alena will handle it. She has that special touch of knowing when they need amusement and when they need rest."
"Gabe, how could she possibly know how to deal with them?"
"She understands them. Not the way we read people but she has a bond. When she gave them her blood, the three of them were altered."
"And then you shared the blood."
"To seal the boy's wound. Not enough to feed."
"I know. Gabe, believe me, I know that you have carried the weight of our responsibilities on your shoulders and now you are leading us to reclaim what we've lost. This mess is the result of neglect and your six brothers are guilty."
"I don't think of it like that."
"Which makes you the better man."
"Ok," Gabe said moving to sit at the conference table, "enough melodrama for now. I get my share from the newborns in our nucleus."
"Alena seems pretty special," Antony commented. "Correct me if I'm wrong but was she the invisible force keeping you from committing our sins."
"Yes and she is special. But most importantly, she is everything to me. I would kill anyone who intended to harm her and die if I ever lost her."
"This is the reason I know I didn't lose a mate but just another long term lover."
After a moment of silence, Gabriel asked, "Why were you declaring yourself a bastard?"
"Because of my actions with the human whose apartment you caught me vacating last night."