Thorne Ch. 04

bykalamazoo707©

"No but, it was only one person; she said so." Barb replied.

"Did she say this before or after you were in the car?" Thorne asked.

"Afterwards, what difference does that make?" Barb asked.

"My point is that you don't know how many people were there. Neither did Adrianna which was why she took you out of the store. Now, if you will kindly shut the hell up; I want to hear what Adrianna has to say."

Thorne looked at Adrianna and nodded.

"I saw Olivia Saunders at the department store." Adrianna said. "I know that it was her, I know her family well. It is as you say, I don't know if there were others with her. Once I saw her, my focus became getting Ms. Simpson out of the store."

"I understand." Thorne said, "But what doesn't make sense is that no one knew that she was here and there hasn't been the usual rash of disappearances and deaths that comes with them."

"Permission to speak freely sir." Adrianna said and then waited.

Thorne nodded his consent.

"Maybe she's here alone although I doubt it. Rufus Saunders wouldn't allow it. The other possibility is that they're on vacation and don't want to attract attention."

"I agree." Thorne said, "But we all know how unpredictable hunters can be. We also don't know how many are with her and if any of those are vampire or any other species. Adrianna, are you able to stay here with Ms. Simpson?"

"I can stay for as long as you need me to." Adrianna replied.

"Good... Barb, Olivia will stay in the room adjoining ours. You are to go nowhere without her and that includes outdoors. Just a reminder, she isn't here as your servant so don't try to treat her as one. Grant, how many of your pack is available for duty?" Thorne asked.

"How many do you need?" Grant asked.

"Four for the day and four for the evening." Thorne replied. "Is that possible?"

"Consider it done." Grant replied. "Thorne, may I make a suggestion?"

Barb's eyes snapped to Thorne. She waited for him to put the wolf in his place.

"I'm listening." Thorne said.

"I would suggest moving your mate until we know what's happening. I do not doubt your ability to protect her..."

"Your point is well taken." Thorne interrupted, "What else?"

"I believe that she needs to be reminded that she is no longer in the human world and that rudeness is not tolerated."

"It will be taken care of. Thank you." Thorne said signaling an end to the conversation. "If you will excuse me, I have phone calls that I need to make. "

Thorne walked away without a backwards glance at Barb.

"Am I allowed to walk around my own house alone?" Barb snipped.

"As long as you stay within one hundred yards of me, then have at it." Adrianna replied as she kicked off her shoes and sat down. "You know, if you were smart; you'd ask me what you needed to know in order to make your transition into this life easier. But you won't and do you know why? You think that I'm beneath you. You also consider Grant to be nothing more than the hired help. I saw the look on your face when he addressed Mr. Blackwell by his first name.

I'll fill you in on a few facts. Grant isn't just a wolf, he's the pack leader. He and Mr. Blackwell have been friends for a long time so I guess you can say that they're equals. Grant drove you around and put up with you attitude as a favor, so if I were you; I'd apologize for being so rude."

Barb bit back a retort when she realized that Adrianna to some degree was right. Not about the apology, but about using her as a resource to learn about her world. She ignored the thought that she could have called Kevyn, Louise or even Nadine for help.

"Alright," Barb said sitting down. "Tell me what I need to know."

****

Louise stood up and stretched. She had just finished putting the mobile for one of the cribs together. The instructions had made it seem much simpler to put together than it really was. She didn't mind. It kept her from worrying about Barb and her baby. She was more convinced than ever that the feelings of sadness were coming from her unborn niece or nephew. On the positive side, the feeling that something horrible was coming for them hadn't increased, but it hadn't diminished either.

"What if they don't know it's us that they're after?" She asked Nathan at breakfast.

"I suppose that's possible." Nathan replied. "But hunters are indiscriminate about their targets. There haven't been any unusual deaths or vampires reported missing all of which are indicators that hunters are in the area."

"What if it isn't hunters?" Louise asked. "There must be other species who would want the vampire world to end."

"That's true, but as you know; every species has a natural enemy." Nathan replied. "The hunters are ours. There are other species who hate us, but they couldn't do anything on their own. That's why they often work with the hunters."

Louise stretched again and replayed the conversation with Nathan in her head. The more she thought about it, the more she believed that they were dealing with hunters. The fact that no one had died or gone missing argued against it, but she was sure that's who they were dealing with. The other question was who was with them. She had the feeling that only one of the hunters was human. She didn't know if it was male or female, but the gender didn't matter.

She heard the phone ring in Nathan's office and then his voice when he answered it. Nathan came out a few minutes later and kissed her head.

"There's a meeting at Thorne's beach house tonight. Apparently one of his guards spotted someone."

"Who?" Louise asked.

"Ethan didn't say." Nathan replied. "But at the risk of repeating myself, I don't want you going anywhere without me and I definitely don't want you trying to reach out to whoever it us until we know more."

"I promise." Louise said placing her hand over her heart. "What time is the meeting?"

"At seven." Nathan replied, "And it's only four. That's plenty of time to get you naked and in bed before we have to leave."

"Are we going to try the vanishing thing?" Louise asked.

"Soon, but you aren't ready for that yet." Nathan replied. "And besides, we would have to start small. You would have to be able too vanish from your chair."

"Ohhh, do you mean like this?" Louise asked as she vanished and then reappeared.

She laughed at Nathan's shocked expression.

"Why are you so surprised?" She asked. "You told me how to do it and I've been practicing."

"I know... but it was only last week that I told you how to do it." Nathan said.

"I'm a quick study, but that's all that I can do." Louise said. "I haven't figured out how to get from one place to another yet."

"Like this!" Nathan said as he picked her up and vanished into their bedroom.

***

"A hunter." Ethan said to himself. He picked up the phone and called the area hunters watch office and spoke to whoever was on duty.

"Run your stats again and call me back."

He agreed with Thorne, either the hunter was alone or they were on vacation and staying below the radar. In his experience, hunters didn't take vacations and if they ran across a vampire; they killed him or her without a second thought. He thought back to when Nathan and Louise's feeling came and didn't go away. It had been at least a week which meant if there were hunters, they had been in the area for at least that long. A few minutes later, his phone rang.

"Mr. Sinclaire? I ran those stats again and nothing."

"Alright, keep running them and as soon as anything changes call me and Thorne Blackwell."

Ethan hung up. They wouldn't know which group of hunters they were dealing with until they found a body. Each group had its own signature and in which it was dealt with. The sadistic groups were dealt with in the same manner that they dealt with their victims and so on.

Ethan hated killing, but he would do it without hesitation to protect his family. The only thing that he wouldn't do is torture. But that was him and he wouldn't stop anyone else from doing it. He had always kept an eye out for hunters, but he hadn't thought about trying to make peace with them in a long time. Not since the fight between his family and the Blackwell's. Maybe it was time to think about it again, but first he had to know who they were dealing with.

**

Thorne called Adrianna into his office confident that Barb wouldn't leave the house. Even if she did, she would be stopped by Grant or one of his wolves.

"Tell me what happened in the store."

"If you're asking if your mate obeyed me, the answer is ... no. Precious time was wasted because I had to repeat myself and then compelled her to silence so that I could drag her from the store."

"I figured as much." Thorne said. "Was she as rude to Grant as he says?"

"I'm sorry but your mate is rude to anyone who doesn't cater to her, but yes; she was rude to Grant. I think that part of the problem is that she hasn't made the adjustment from the human world to ours. I hope that I haven't over stepped, but I just explained things to her. My hope is that it will make her more cooperative."

"Thank you." Thorne said absently his mind already on other things. "Do you need to speak with your mate?"

"No, he isn't home and won't be for several weeks so I am at your disposal."

"Good, Adrianna my main concern is the child that Ms. Simpson carries. Do whatever you need to do keep her and by extension the baby safe."

"I understand... but if I may, why do you not acknowledge her as your mate?"

"That is none of your concern." Thorne replied. "The only thing that should concern you is the task at hand."

"Of course." Adrianna said. "I didn't mean to pry. I only asked because the subject came up."

"The Sinclaire family will be arriving in a couple of hours. They will be coming with their own guards but while the meeting is going on, I want you to meet with their head guard and Grant. We need to circle the wagons as it were. Ethan Sinclaire is aware of the meeting so no worries there. After our meeting, Ethan and I will meet with you, Grant and Ethan's lead guard. What we want is a solid plan on how to keep everyone protected at all times."

"I understand." Adrianna said. "I would also like to suggest a safe house that is big enough for all of you. We may not need it, but we need to plan for every circumstance."

"Agreed." Thorne said liking the way that the small guard thought. She was every bit as sharp as he had heard. "That is something that the three of you can discuss. Is there anything else?"

"Yes as a matter of fact there is..."

****

Barb walked around the house bored and angry that her day of shopping had been blown to hell. She started to go outdoors, but stopped when she saw a man sitting on the steps. He looked relaxed, but he wasn't. As if knowing that he was being watched, he turned around and looked at her with bright topaz colored eyes.

She backed away from the patio and went to the kitchen to make something to eat. She saw the bottle of prenatal vitamins on the counter and grimaced. She toyed with the idea of missing a dose but thought better of it. She rummaged through the fridge looking for something to eat and gave up. Nothing sounded good especially since she had planned to have a late lunch at a fancy restaurant. She ate a banana and then took the vitamin.

She continued wandering aimlessly through the house until she found herself at the bottom of the stairs that led to Noel and Felix's part of the house. It still galled her that there were two grown men living in her house. She looked around wondering where Felix and Noel were. She hadn't seen Felix since she arrived and Noel since he vanished from the car before the meeting at Ethan's house.

She took a step away from the stairs and then turned back. She wanted to see what kind of art Noel did. She found it odd that the door to his studio was locked and she didn't believe for one minute that he was a successful artist. She believed that he and Felix were nothing more than freeloaders.

She took one step and then another until she was at the top of the stairs. She stopped to listen for the sounds of anyone coming. When she didn't hear anything, she opened the door that she knew led to the room that Noel used as his studio. She expected it to be locked since the door that adjoined the studio to Noel's bedroom was locked.

For a brief second, she almost turned back; but curiosity got the better of her. She touched the cool metal of the doorknob, wrapped her hand around it; and turned it. To her surprise, the door opened. She stood in the doorway for several seconds before stepping in. She reached over to the wall and felt for a light switch. Finding it, she turned on the light. She looked behind her and then walked into the room. What she noticed first was the number of paintings in various degrees of completeness. She thought that they were nice, but nothing special. What drew her attention was the one painting that was covered.

Even as she walked toward it, she knew that she should leave it alone; but she couldn't. She stood in front of the covered picture, reached for the sheet and pulled it away. A pair of beautiful brown eyes looked at her.

Barb looked at the eyes and wondered why they looked so familiar to her. She suppressed a shiver when she thought that she sensed displeasure coming from the portrait. She jumped when she heard an angry voice behind her.

"What in the fuck are you doing in here?"

****

Noel had been asleep since he spoke with his mother. He had wanted to stay awake and figure out what was happening, but the soft voice that went with the eyes in the portrait told him that he needed to sleep. He had resisted, but finally; he gave in.

He fell asleep soon after his head hit the pillow. For once, his sleep was dream free and restful. He didn't know what woke him. He lay still for several minutes assessing for a threat, but sensed none. He extended his senses throughout the house and felt Thorne, an unknown female, and Grant. Felix was gone for a few days...so who? Barb was missing. That she was gone was too much to hope for. It was the soft rustling of material sliding down that drew his attention.

He jumped out of bed and went to his studio where Barb stood looking at the portrait. Noel reined back the urge to attack. The only thing that stopped him was that the woman who had invaded his privacy was his brother's mate.

That knowledge did little to quell his anger. In fact, it fueled it. He had tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. He had tried to be kind to her and here she was touching what wasn't hers to touch.

****

Barb turned around to see Noel, green eyes blazing in anger standing behind her.

"I asked you a question." Noel said as he took a step toward her. "What in the fuck are you doing in here?"

Barb didn't move, she was too afraid to. Her gut told her that if she did, Noel would attack.

"Get. Away. From. Her." He growled. "NOW!"

Barb moved away from the painting and stopped.

"I only wanted to see your paintings." She lied. "Thorne says that you're well known..."

"Lies." Noel said. "You lie."

Seconds later, a voice that she never thought that she would be happy to hear came from the doorway.

"Noel, I'll take care of it." Thorne said. "I swear that she won't come into this part of the house again."

Noel didn't respond, but continued to stare at Barb.

"What part of this part of the house is off limits to you didn't you understand?" Noel asked. "What part of respecting the privacy of another do you not understand? Get out and do not ever come here uninvited again."

Barb started to say something, but Adrianna put a finger to her lips urging silence.

"Come over here." Thorne said to barb keeping his eyes on Noel.

When she reached him, still looking at Noel; he spoke to her.

"Apologize."

"What? No!" Barb hissed.

"Fucking apologize!" Thorne demanded.

"I don't want her apologies." Noel said softly. "It would be a lie. All I want is her word that she will never step foot in here again. Do I have your word?" Noel asked Barb.

Barb looked at Thorne not believing that he would allow his brother to dictate where she could go in her own house.

"Answer truthfully." Thorne cautioned her. "We will know if you lie."

"Fine!" Barb spat out, "I won't be back!"

She stormed off without a backwards glance. Thorne was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. He grabbed her arm and dragged her to his study.

"Did you not tell me that you weren't stupid?" He hissed. "But yet you continue to do dumb ass things! If you hadn't been my mate, I would be burying you right now! Do you fucking understand that! He could have killed you but instead he called to me. Where in the hell are your brains?"

"I can't believe that you're siding with him! I'm supposed to be your mate! You're supposed to side with me! "

"Let me remind you of how you came to be my mate." Thorne said.

"No thank you." Barb retorted. "I've heard the story."

"Alright then, let me tell you how this story is going to end." Thorne said

"Mr. Blackwell," Adrianna said. "Ethan Sinclaire and his mate are here."

"We'll finish this later." Thorne said and walked away.

Barb didn't know what he was going to say, but she knew that it wasn't going to be to her benefit. She cursed under her breath and followed Thorne to the living room where Ethan and Katrina were waiting. She hadn't formally met Katrina at the last meeting, but she had watched her and decided that she didn't like her for the same reasons that she disliked her sisters.

If Katrina was aware of Barb's feelings toward her, she didn't show it as she warmly greeted her.

"I'm sorry that we didn't officially meet the last time." Katrina said. "I know that coming into this world can be challenging and frightening so if you have any questions feel free to ask. Any of us will be more than happy to help in any way that we can."

"Thanks but I'm fine." Barb replied.

The twins and their mates were next. She shied away from Veronica who made it clear that she still hadn't forgotten the incident when she tried to hit on her mate. Joseph came in, nodded at her and went to sit down. Hans and Juliette arrived followed by Leon and Nadine, Kevyn and Patrick and finally Louise and Nathan.

Barb couldn't help but notice how Louise glowed. Nor did she miss how Nathan was always touching her and kissing her temple. For just a nanosecond, she almost allowed a conscious thought come through and she didn't allow it to continue. She noticed the gift bag that Nathan carried in and sat on the floor beside him.

She glanced around the room at all of the couples realizing that all of them were happy except for her and Thorne. Thorne was already talking when Noel came in and stood in the back of the room. He looked pale, but not ill as he had the week before.

"This is what we know." Thorne said. "Barb and Adrianna were out shopping when Adrianna saw someone that she knew. Olivia Saunders. Here's the thing, it appeared that she was alone which in and of itself is unusual. Hunters never travel alone even during the day so is she really alone?"

"No." Louise said. "I keep seeing more than one person. She must be the human that I see, but there are more with her."

"I've been getting hourly reports from the watcher station." Ethan said. "So far nothing odd has popped up but as we know, that can change at any time."

"That's true." Thorne said. "Adrianna made a suggestion that I think has merit. She suggested that we find a safe house that neither of us owns just in case we need to leave our homes here. I told her to discuss it with Grant and the head of your guards."

"I think that's wise." Ethan replied. "It would be good to locate a place as soon as possible so that we can make sure that it's stocked."

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