The Council Ch. 11byJazCullen©
You guys ROCK! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments on Chapter 10! Managed to submit while I'm away so hope you enjoy this chapter as much :-)
WorldHistoryBuff, thank you as always. You're the best! To the Guild too!
Loretta felt crap. She didn't just feel crap, she felt like she was going to die. She threw up noisily and leaned wearily against the toilet bowl. She had been perfectly fine this morning and even into the afternoon but come dinner time she had suddenly started to feel a bit shaky, first a light temperature forming and then the nausea.
Maybe she had been too exuberant with her morning workout with Andrei? He had run her ragged before they'd made love twice. Add to that the shock of him biting her. It was obviously more than her body could take in one day.
She felt a moment of fear as she remembered the bite. It had been the most amazing and terrifying moment of her life. Amazing because she experienced the most intense orgasm she'd ever had and terrifying because she had been waiting for her heart to stop beating as Andrei's venom flooded her system.
Maybe her sudden illness had to do with the venom? She should go to see Luke and get checked over but that would involve her telling him why she was worried and he'd tell Jared instantly. There would be none of this patient/doctor confidentiality crap when it was something that could affect the pack adversely..
She had promised Andrei she would give him two days. She had also promised she would be at the club tonight but there was no way she could go feeling the way she did. She had two choices. Either ride out the sickness on her own and call Andrei to let him know she wasn't coming over; or she could call him to come pick her up and he'd just have to deal with her illness along with her.
She knew which one she wanted to do. She wanted to be with Andrei so badly at the moment it was almost crippling her. She wanted his arms around her, soothing her while she felt so ill. The fact that he probably would come looking for her at the compound if she bailed on him two nights in a row also played a part in the decision she came to.
Dragging herself back into her bedroom she grabbed her phone and called Andrei, silently cursing the fact that her new telepathic bond with him didn't stretch much past a mile. She had hoped it would reach further because vampire mates could contact each other at much greater distances but it proved to be the same as Were mates' bonds.
"Hey Rose," Andrei said softly when he answered.
She could hear the smile in the softness of his tone and she smiled too, feeling comforted just hearing his voice. She also felt suddenly very weak and fragile, not something she was used to. "Andrei," she breathed quietly, a slight tremor escaping her along with a sigh of relief.
"What's wrong?" he asked instantly, sounding immediately alert. "Loretta, are you alright?"
"I'm not feeling too good," she admitted slightly hoarsely. "I feel feverish and I've been throwing up a bit. My entire body is aching at the moment. I don't think I can go to the club tonight, Andrei."
His breath hissed out loudly. "Of course you can't," he answered a bit sharply, his concern evident. "I'm on my way over."
She felt her heart start to sink immediately. She really didn't want him coming onto pack lands. It would just create unnecessary issues. "Wait for me just outside the compound," she urged quickly. "I'll meet you there."
"I'll come and get you. You stay where you are." Andrei's tone brooked no arguments but she still argued with him anyway.
"I'm fine enough to meet you, Andrei. Please don't enter the compound. If you do so it will only attract attention and piss Jared off. Please, Andrei." She heard his breath hiss out angrily and she fought down a sigh.
Maybe meeting up with him tonight wasn't such a good idea after all, not when she was feeling so crappy. If she was this low he would easily be able to dominate her and she wouldn't have the strength to fight back and keep him in check.
"Fine," he finally answered his tone much gentler. "We'll do this your way. Keep your phone close though and call me back if you have any trouble making it to the compound boundary."
Andrei hung up immediately and raced upstairs into the club. His heart was pounding with fear at the thought of his wolf being ill. Her voice had sounded so weak, her breath so shaky. It was so out of character for Loretta to sound so vulnerable that he was instantly concerned.
"Pietro, I'm out for the night," he told his bartender. "Do the necessary with closing up."
Pietro smiled widely. "Let me guess, Loretta again?" he teased lightly. His boss's current relationship with the feisty little Were was an endless source of amusement for him. Andrei appeared to be like a chicken running around with his head cut off most of the time these days.
Andrei managed a weak smile and nod of his head as he hurried outside. He couldn't shake the gnawing fear which was starting to settle deep within him. Was this his venom just starting to take effect? Was Loretta slowly dying? Why the fuck hadn't she gone to her doctor straight away?
He was speeding recklessly towards the compound, his heart thumping painfully hard in his chest. If anything happened to her because of his actions he would never forgive himself. He silently prayed she would be okay, that this was just some normal human or Were type illness and nothing to do with him biting her this morning. Never getting sick himself he had nothing to compare it to and it was that lack of knowledge which was increasing his anxiety levels even further.
Loretta was waiting for him, resting against a tall tree on the forest floor, just outside the compound boundary. Her face was so pale that for a moment he thought the unthinkable and was flying out the car and was at her side in an instant.
Her eyes opened and she smiled weakly at him. "You took your time," she managed to get out weakly.
"Why didn't you go to Luke?" he demanded, his tone so sharp because of his concern. He picked her up gently, cradling her tenderly against his chest as his eyes intently roamed her pale face, his heart thumping painfully hard in his chest as she rested weakly against him.
"I didn't want him asking if anything out of the ordinary had happened recently," she murmured softly, closing her eyes and sighing with relief that he had her safely in his arms. She felt so much better just having him close. She shamelessly leaned on her mate's strength feeling calmer that he was there to protect her.
"Of all the stupid, idiotic reasons I've heard for not going to a bloody doctor," he ground out through clenched teeth. "Fuck, Loretta, you should have gone to him the moment you started feeling unwell!"
Her lips twitched in a little smile and she opened her eyes again to look up at him. He looked so frustrated, so worried. She could see annoyance in his eyes and also a little hint of fear. Her vampire was so worried about her and it made her feel good.
"I promised you two days, Andrei," she sighed. "I didn't want to break my word to you. Whatever it is seems to be passing anyway. I feel a lot better already. Maybe I was just sickening for you?"
Her smile was stronger as she made her little joke though she wondered if there was a little truth in what she said because she had felt better when she had heard his voice earlier too. The sickness seemed to feel worse when she couldn't hear or see him. Maybe it was something to do with her body accepting his mating bite?
Andrei was torn. Part of him wanted to take her straight to her doctor at the compound and the other part wanted to take her home with him and nurse her himself. Not that he had the first clue about taking care of someone who was ill but she was his woman and it was his role to protect her. She did look a bit better already, her voice not sounding as weak as before. Maybe she was right and whatever was wrong with her was already starting to pass?
He opted to take her home after a brief internal struggle. He didn't want to let her out of his sight until he was sure she was okay. If she got worse he could have her back at the compound in the blink of an eye. He'd just run with her. It would be faster than driving.
He carried his precious wolf over to the car and lowered her gently into the passenger side, before leaning in to buckle her seatbelt. She snorted slightly a rueful smile crossing her face.
"All that's missing is the white horse," she chuckled lightly and he felt his own lips twitch in a little smile. She did sound so much better.
"I'll remember that the next time my damsel in distress calls for my help," he retorted, bending to kiss her lips lightly before he closed the car door and hurried around to climb in beside her.
She dozed on the drive home. He couldn't contain himself from reaching out to touch her as he drove, needing the contact with her. Her colour was better though she still looked pale and her breathing sounded slightly laboured. Maybe he should have made her see Luke after all. But he couldn't deny he wanted the time she had promised him before telling her Alpha about him biting her.
Andrei wondered just how much of a callous bastard he really was as he pulled up outside his house and moved to open the front door before coming back to the car to gently pick his woman up. She remained sleeping as he kicked the car door closed and carried her carefully into his house.
He knew Loretta struggled with maintaining the needs of her pack against her personal need to be with him. He too struggled with trying to look after his people's best interests and be the best mate to his precious woman.
He should have argued more with her at the compound. Insisted that she see the doctor but instead he had allowed her to convince him she was alright. So he could have the time he needed to investigate how he had managed to bite her without killing her.
"Bathroom," Loretta suddenly moaned loudly and he streaked upstairs at supernatural speed and got her into the bathroom just in time for her to throw up noisily down the toilet bowl.
He held her hair back gently from her face and supported her firmly as she heaved a second time. Sweat broke out on her body as she gulped in large deep breaths once her body calmed again.
"Sorry," she groaned as he helped her over to the sink and she rinsed her mouth out.
He stroked her hair gently. "Shhhh, you've nothing to be sorry for," he said softly. He kept hold of her as she brushed her teeth and rinsed her mouth again, and then he picked her up and carried her into the bedroom. "Feeling any better?" he asked tenderly, his worried gaze searching her face intently.
"A bit," she sighed managing a weak smile as Andrei gently stripped her clothes off and helped her into bed.
He covered her and then lay down beside her on top of the covers, his hand stroking her cheek gently. "Are you sure this is nothing serious, Loretta?" he asked anxiously, his expression grave.
"It feels like a touch of food poisoning," Loretta sighed with a reassuring smile for him. His concern was touching and making her feel better. "It should pass shortly. Try not to worry too much, love."
Andrei snorted and rolled his eyes. His woman was throwing up and looking all weak and helpless and she seriously expected him not to worry about it? After he had bitten her and unleashed his toxic venom into her system!
He lay with her until she drifted off to sleep and then he called Alexei and asked him to come over. His brother wasn't too pleased at the summons, especially when he told him to leave Cedar behind.
Alexei arrived half an hour later in a very bad mood. He was about to lay into his brother and then noticed the ashen colour to Andrei's face and the pinched corners to his lips. "What's wrong?" he demanded.
"Loretta's sick," Andrei answered. "I need to go talk to Caleb and I want you to sit with her until I get back." There was no one else he would trust with his woman but his twin. He didn't want to have to leave her but he had to talk to Caleb immediately, just in case Loretta's illness had to do with his venom inside her. He had to believe that Caleb would know something if that was the case.
Alexei's face took on a concerned expression. "Why didn't she go see Luke?" he asked in a puzzled tone. He had a feeling there was more going on that just Loretta's illness.
"Because she can't," Andrei admitted with a weary groan. "This has to stay between the three of us, Alexei. You can't even mention it to Cedar, not for a couple of days at least."
That brought a frown to his brother's face instantly. Even though he was no longer playing his game with Cedar, Alexei still expected total honesty between them and he wasn't happy about being asked to keep a secret from his woman, especially when it related to her friend in some way.
"I bit Loretta this morning," Andrei announced and Alexei felt as if someone had just walked up and sucker punched him.
He stared at his brother in shock, his mouth dropping open as the full import of his words hit home. "You fucking did what?" he ground out hoarsely, anger quickly boiling up inside him. "You bastard! You've killed her!" Even as the words left his mouth, he suddenly digested the 'this morning' part of Andrei's statement and took a step back from his brother.
His eyes widened as he stared at his twin in shock. If Andrei had bit Loretta this morning then how could she still be alive, albeit it sick at the moment?
"Will you calm down," Andrei sighed wearily, running a hand through his tangled hair. "I didn't bite her deliberately, it just sort of happened. She was fine after I did it, no sickness or anything. She didn't drop dead. We agreed to keep it quiet for a couple of days while I looked into it but she called me this evening to say she didn't feel well. She didn't want to go see Luke so I brought her home. Now I want you to sit with her while I go and talk to Caleb. I'm sure he knows something he's not telling us about the whole Vamp/Were mating thing."
Alexei couldn't believe that Loretta had lived after Andrei's bite. Their venom was lethal to Weres, it always had been. "Where is she?" he heard himself asking, anxious to check on the wolf himself. His thoughts whirled madly in his head. If Loretta could survive Andrei's bite then maybe Cedar could survive his? There was nothing he wanted more than to taste his beautiful wolf, to fully join with her the way she craved for them to be joined.
He followed his brother upstairs to his bedroom. Loretta was sleeping and looked a little pale but her heartbeat was strong. She appeared to be running a bit of a fever too but nothing too dangerous.
"Will you look after her for me, Alexei?" Andrei asked quietly.
Alexei turned to look at his brother's concerned expression, knew that he didn't want to leave his mate but felt he had to. "You know I will," he answered just as quietly. "Go find out what you can from Caleb." He knew the level of trust his brother was placing on his shoulders.
Andrei crossed the room to bend down and gently kiss Loretta's forehead. "I won't be long, my Rose," he whispered tenderly as she murmured slightly in her sleep and sighed softly.
"If she gets any sicker, take her to the pack and tell them everything," he told his brother. He wanted the extra time Loretta was giving him but he wouldn't take it at her expense. If her health deteriorated then she had to come first. "Keep her safe for me, Alexei," he added softly.
Alexei nodded, not even surprised at the open vulnerability his brother was showing with regards to his mate. He knew he would react the same if it was his Cedar lying sick in the bed before him
He pulled the overstuffed armchair over beside the bed and picked up a book which was lying on the bedside table as his brother quickly left the room. He settled down beside the sleeping wolf and began leafing through the pages.
Rhianna was just settling down to a cup of coffee and her book when the doorbell rang. She blinked in surprise and wandered into the entrance hall. No one ever visited apart from Demetri and Mara or Rafe and Lacey and they just let themselves in.
She opened the door, her eyes widening further insurprise as she looked up at Andrei Romanov. He was probably the last person she ever expected to see standing on her doorstep, particularly as Caleb was so pissed at the other vampire.
For a moment she wondered what to do and then she realised that technically Andrei was one of her leaders, being a member of The Council. She supposed it wasn't the done thing to leave someone of such importance standing on a doorstep even if she didn't like him very much. And she was very curious as to why he was there.
"Caleb's not home yet," she said curtly even as she stepped back to allow him to enter which he did without a word.
Andrei wanted to growl with irritation at finding Caleb not home. He entered the house and looked down at the Ancient's Youngling. Rhianna Armand was a bit of an anomaly among their kind. She was two years Sired to the life of a vampire and yet not one of his people seemed capable of putting the little redhead firmly in her place within their social hierarchy.
Hell, even The Council had had to accede to Caleb's little show at the ceremony where the Ancient had made it more than plain that his Youngling would be treated with respect or else. The unspoken threat was explicit.
"Annie," he said by way of greeting. If he wanted Caleb's help then it made sense not to alienate his woman. "Do you know if he'll be long?" He kept his tone polite and respectful even though she should be the one being respectful towards him, not the other way around.
Rhianna stared thoughtfully at Andrei, her lavender gaze taking in the lines of strain he was struggling to hide. He was managing quite a credible job of it but she always managed to see past what most people were trying to hide. Something was wrong with Andrei Romanov and it was something serious.
"Fancy a coffee?" she asked with a small smile tugging at her lips. "It will only take me a couple of minutes to rustle one up." She turned to head into the kitchen sensing the other vampire's frustration building.
"Caleb?" he repeated slightly tersely as he followed her into the other room.
"Will not arrive home before I've made the coffee," she answered lightly. "Cappuccino?" She started making one even as she contacted her vampire.
"Caleb, Andrei's here to see you at the house and he seems upset, love. Can you come home? I think something's wrong and it could pertain to the Weres, most probably Loretta judging from the level of anxiety he's throwing off at the moment."
She heard Caleb hiss loudly in her head, fury rolling down their bond. "Why the fuck did you let him in, Annie? You know damned well I don't want him in my home and I sure as hell don't want him alone with you at any time."
She sighed inwardly, finishing up the coffee and handing it to Andrei who took it automatically. "There's sugar in the bowl if you want it," she told him before she turned her attention back to her vampire.
"Andrei happens to be a Council member and I'm a lowly little Youngling," she explained patiently. "It would have been improper of me to slam the door in his face, Caleb, and quite frankly I didn't want to. If something's wrong with Loretta then I want to know about it. She's my friend. Now, stop yelling at me and get you backside home. I'm going to see if he'll tell me anything but you know what he's like. He'll most probably blow me off and wait for you to arrive."
She listened to Caleb curse loudly and then he gave a deep weary sigh. "So, suddenly you want to show some respect for your vampire hierarchy?" he asked archly. "Doesn't seem to apply to me most of the time."