Blood Bonds Pt. 07byphoenixphair©
As always, if you're reading this series for the first time, check out previous chapters first under the 'Novels and Novellas' category, or you'll be lost in the wilds of plot development.
They all stood in a loose circle on the beach, Talera and Ash in the center. Both had their wings and other supernatural endowments on display, probably, Kevin noted because they wouldn't be able to hold them in anyway once the ceremony began.
Ash still held onto her with an iron grip. He'd let go for a half second a when they were arranging themselves, and she'd nearly toppled into the sand but for the intervention of her tail.
How much had Ash had to drain her when they'd been alone? How much of her power would still be at the ready when the connection was made? Would that make the transition easier for them all when the time came? So many questions.
Pershing shot Kevin a look, clearly following the bent of his thoughts. The other raised a brow, then shook his head. Mildly chagrined, Kevin cleared his throat quietly and tried to focus on the drama before him.
Andrenin appeared back in the circle after dashing off a few minutes earlier, a small tray now balanced on one hand like a waiter.
"I know I stipulated in our warm-up that this was always done with a chalice of red wine and an ornamental blade, but," he said, stopping to grin, holding out the tray for a second to display a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue and a round of shot glasses for each except Ash. "Per request of our guest of honor and as a refreshing slap to tradition, I thought I'd go with something different for tonight's entertainment."
Visarius let out a loud snort of laughter, shaking his head. Ash just smiled, glancing down at Talera, who leaned into his chest, arms around his waist, grinning herself. Kevin, standing on one side of Sarah, with Ana on the other, glanced at Pershing at his right. The Alpha gave an appreciative nod at the whiskey, shrugging slightly.
Lessa held the tray as Andrenin poured the shots in silence. The tension that had abated with Andrenin's reappearance returned, hands clenching, teeth on edge, hearts beginning to pound all around. With a glance at the bottle, then at Pershing, Andrenin tossed it over with a smirk. The Alpha caught it easily, setting it at his feet with a satisfied smile as the blonde vampire took back the tray, holding it carefully.
"Everyone ready?" Ash asked, eyes flicking from person to person, receiving a nod from each.
Kevin's heart leapt, this was it. As it was explained, the Turning was generally a grand ceremony, complete with sacred spells, cloaks, candles and chanting. The whole House came, sharing their Blood and their energy, a communal event filled with mysticism and ancient solemnity. Talera had wanted none of that, the thought of the entire event eliciting a sour expression and a groan of revulsion when the Council had walked her through it years ago. Kevin had been slightly disappointed when Andrenin had told them they weren't going through with the full ceremony, but he had to admit that he would much rather have been there, on the beach, with his friends, than not included at all. Experiencing was definitely better than hearing about it later.
"Didn't think I was coming, did you?" a gentle tenor cut into the tense silence. A male hand cut into the circle, setting another shot glass on the tray with a sharp snap.
Andrenin and Visarius both took a few steps backwards, their faces registering first shock then elation. Pershing's eyebrows shot up as a man on the short side with sandy brown hair swaying just below a set of narrow shoulders stepped between the two Elder vampires, resting a hand on their shoulders for a moment. The newcomer was handsome, with large blue eyes, high cheekbones and a slight but powerful build beneath faded jeans and a loose white linen shirt.
"Hey, man," Pershing said, smiling and leaning past Andrenin to extend a hand, which the other shook firmly. The wolf snatched up the bottle, filling the new shot glass, before capping and replacing it at his feet.
"Hi, Sweetheart," the man said, stepping into the center of the circle. He took Talera in his arms as she untangled herself from Ash, kissing her tenderly on the forehead. Kevin noted they were about the same height.
"You scared me for a while there," Ash chided, smiling ruefully and clapping him on the back. "Thought we weren't going to get the endorsement."
"Have to show how important I am every now and then," the newcomer said softly with a teasing smile, looking into Talera's eyes.
He rested his forehead against hers, both their eyes closing. She murmured something that Kevin couldn't translate, and the man responded in kind, his hand stroking her hair, gathering it over one shoulder. He leaned in, whispering in her ear. It wasn't until he fell silent and a tiny gasp escaped Talera's lips, that Kevin even realized the man had bitten her. Her hair fell back around his head as she tilted her chin towards him, touching her cheek to his.
Kevin caught Sarah's questioning look, shrugged back at her. "No idea" he mouthed silently at her and then to Ana, who looked puzzled as well. The blonde werewolf hadn't even picked up that the newcomer was a vampire until he'd bitten Talera.
The man released her, resting his forehead against hers for a long moment, his chest rising and falling heavily, though he made no sound. Kissing her again, he stepped back, holding her tightly at arms' length.
"Be careful," the man said to Ash, looking up at him, face serious. "It could still overwhelm you. I don't want to lose you both."
"That's why you're here," Ash said with a wry half-smile. The man huffed a short laugh, turning an uncharacteristically compliant Talera back into her husband's arms, where he enfolded her once more.
"Just do it, this is embarrassing," she muttered. Mustering herself with a deep breath, blinking rapidly, she pushed back from him, wings wavering as she used their weight to balance herself.
"You heard the lady. I didn't bring a knife, so find a partner if you don't have fangs. But you really should have them, you know," Andrenin said with smirk, taking one of the shot glasses, handing the tray to Visarius.
Holding up his index finger, he pressed it to a sharp tooth, letting a big drop of blood well on the tip of his finger before he squeezed it into the whiskey, the heavy red drop slowly melting into the golden liquor, the colors deepened, but still vibrant in the moonlight. Skipping the newcomer, he passed the glass to Visarius, who repeated his actions, giving Andrenin back the tray. Lessa was next, holding out her hand to her Sire, wincing slightly as he nicked her fingertip.
Ana offered her hand to Kevin with a smile. He gave her a look, then sighing, turned her palm over, sinking an upper canine into her hot skin. She clenched her teeth, eyes flaring for an instant as she watched the blood well, shaking it into the mixture that was slowly turning more crimson than gold. Taking the little glass, Sarah hesitated for a second, then pointed one finger in Kevin's face with a half smile. Rolling his eyes, he bit her as well, trying not to actually taste her blood when the skin burst in his mouth. She sucked in a sharp breath through her teeth, but only smiled reassuringly at him when he cringed.
Kevin did his part quickly, passing the mixture to Pershing. Eyes innocent as a newborn fawn, the Alpha held out his finger to Kevin as well. Talera snorted, hand coming up to cover her eyes when Kevin shot back a level stare. Smothering a grin, the Alpha did it himself, handing the shot back to Andrenin. The golden-eyed vampire held it out as the unnamed vampire added his own blood to the mix.
Meeting Ash's eyes, Andrenin nodded. Taking a deep breath, Ash took a step back up to Talera, kissing her deeply, lightly touching her temples with his fingertips.
"One more time," he whispered. "I love you."
Her reply was cut off by a sharp gasp as his teeth sank deep into her throat, his hand coming up to hold the back of her head gently. A pulse of dark power, stronger than the one that had passed across the island earlier, thrummed out of her. Kevin froze as it washed over him, a breath later catching Sarah's upper arm and holding her upright before the disorienting effects sent her to her knees.
No one dared move, eyes glued to the couple in the center of the circle. The wind picked up suddenly, the timing too perfect to be a coincidence. It whipped around the circle, sending hair twisting and pulling at clothing. The Darkness began to creep into the winds, whispers from somewhere else beckoning just at the edge of the senses.
Ash's eyes opened slightly, blue fires blazing, gaze unfocused in the direction of the sandy-haired vampire. He stroked the hair of the Elemental in his arms as she lost control, the winds rising around her defensively.
"I got it," the mystery vampire said, voice just above a murmur. "Keep going."
Ash blinked in thanks, eyes closing tightly once more. Talera's legs gave out under her, head falling back, hair swaying heavily, wings collapsing into a puddle of leather. Kevin squinted as the air around them roiled violently for a frightening moment. Then all was calm again. His stomach lurched when he saw that the small man's eyes had caught fire as well, the blue glow so light as to be nearly white, narrowed in intense concentration. His hands were held slightly elevated at his sides, palms facing downwards.
He knew who the newcomer was. Licking dry lips, the new Lycan took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, forcing his mouth closed, making himself look away, though his heart thudded in his chest.
Ash suddenly sank to the sand, managing to hold onto his lovely demon, though crimson tears leaked out of the corners of his eyes. Kevin could hear the powerful heart thundering in the incubus' chest, hear Talera's faltering, her breath barely raising her breasts.
With a pained gasp, Ash jerked his head away from her, leaving a set of wounds in her throat, blood pulsing out weakly in twin streams, joining into one, flowing down over the scrolls on her skin, which had faded to pale grey.
Fighting to catch his breath, his own pulse like a bass drum in Kevin's sensitive ears, Ash gathered Talera more securely, holding her up on her knees with one hand around the back of her neck. Extending his own claws on the other hand, he released a sharp breath and slashed a small gash in the side of his own throat.
Kevin's stomach twisted, face burning as the enticingly sweet scent of incubus blood with Talera's own distinctive spice mixed in heavily, flooded his senses. Pershing laid a hand on his shoulder without looking at him, instinctively reigning in the Wolf that roared silently.
Sliding his hand under Talera's head once more, Ash brought her lips to the wound in his neck. At first, nothing happened, the flow of Ash's blood leaving a crimson trail across his bare chest, staining the waistband of his white pants.
With a thundering burst of power, Talera sucked in a hard breath. Her fangs sank into Ash's neck with an audible pop. He roared, head falling back, muscles tensing, hands tangling in Talera's hair, crushing her body to his.
"My God," Ana murmured, breathing shallowly, face flushed.
Sarah's eyes were the size of quarters, every ounce of attention focused on the two in the center of the circle. Kevin reached out and clasped her hand, feeling her shaking, starting slightly at his touch. She glanced at him quickly, then back, tears glittering in her eyes.
With a sharp exhalation, Talera released her Sire, bowing her head for a moment, trying to calm herself. After a moment, she grabbed him and their lips met in a passionate kiss.
"Did it work?" Andrenin breathed, watching them both with wide eyes.
No one moved, watching the two as they simply kissed, their heartbeats slowing, breath calming. After a few minutes, they rose to their feet, Talera's head bowed against Ash's chest, eyes squeezed shut, face going snowy pale.
Ash nodded at Andrenin, a smile fleeting at the corners of his mouth, his long blue hair sliding over his eyes.
"Hurry up. Can't hold it long," Talera murmured, voice rough, weak, one arm coming up, the other holding Ash's waist, pale fingers curling around his waistband at his back.
Andrenin stepped forward with the tray. Ash used one long nail to open a wound in Talera's wrist, holding her hand as a burst of crimson rushed down her arm, dripping onto the sand when he held her arm up higher. Catching a small stream of blood in each shotglass, Andrenin set the mixed whiskey back onto the tray one at a time. The wound healed the instant he was done, Ash holding her hand, bringing it back down to their sides.
Kevin took the offered shot when Andrenin held it out to him, senses immediately on overload as the scent of the blood hit him. Sarah held his hand more tightly as she took hers, shaking so much that it threatened to spill. Ana held it under her nose, inhaling deeply, eyes flaring brightly.
At a nod from the sandy-haired vampire, they all downed their shots. Kevin tasted none of the liquor, the fire and energy of the Blood obliterating any hint of alcohol. The Wolf roared, scratching at his insides, demanding release. As it was, he knew his eyes had gone red, but it was beyond his control to bring them back to normal. Beside him, Pershing rumbled deep in his chest, his own eyes red, chucking the glass into the waves, the spark of light disappearing into the moonlit water with a silent splash.
Talera took a step away from Ash, reaching out a hand, claws sliding out fully. Andrenin carefully handed her the shot, waiting as she tossed it back, then took back the glass from her.
"Open your eyes," the blue-eyed man said softly. "You can control it that long."
Taking a shuddering breath, Talera slowly raised her head, facing in his direction. With her back to him, Kevin couldn't immediately see what made the three vampires across from him start violently, but their expressions were enough to send a thrill of fear up his spine. Slowly, she turned so that they could all see, for the real power of a vampire was shown in their eyes.
Hers burned with a flame that was unlike anything Kevin had ever seen. Black flames, only visible in her dark eyes because they were tinged with bloody crimson, roiled with a barely contained sea of power.
The man stepped forward, embracing Ash tightly, murmuring in his ear, stroking his long blue hair. Then he held Talera, kissing her lightly, first on the lips, then on each eyelid when she closed her eyes. Turning, he put his hands on the chests of Andrenin and Visarius, pushing them backwards. Getting the idea, the rest of the circle did the same, all of them moving back up the beach away from Talera and Ash.
"Let it out," Ash said softly, bending to kiss one cheek, then the other. "I'll be right here."
Taking quick, shallow breaths, Talera nodded, lowering her head, wings rising behind her, expanding fully.
"Holy shit," Pershing breathed as she blinked out of view, reappearing in an instant. Some unfocused thread in Kevin's mind noted that it seemed not so much that she vanished as it looked exactly like what happened when the wind interrupted the signal from his DirecTv. Three more times, the same thing happened.
The last time she disappeared, something else came back in her place.
A gigantic well of matte blackness rose up from the sand, uncoiling, sinuously winding and curling. For hideous moment, Kevin's mind went completely blank. No thoughts, no explanations popped into his head. Whatever was before him defied description, the world sinking into slow-motion and stopping.
With a roar, time resumed its normal flow, and the giant black dragon unfurled its wings high into the sky, blotting out stars, the crimson beneath its wings covered in the same scrolls as the ones on Talera's skin. The long tail, which accounted for half its nearly two hundred foot length, undulated from side to side just above the beach, five foot tall metallic black spikes glinting in the moonlight.
His heart jumping painfully in his chest, mouth falling open, Kevin followed the spikes along the graceful back, over the tops of the towering wings, up to the base of the long, narrow skull set atop the powerful neck. Relatively short, heavy legs ended in long feet that were more feline than reptile, though bonier and tipped with vicious talons in the same black metal. Two pointed ears swept back from the skull, two long horns behind them, elongating the elegant head further. The whole creature was not scaly, as every myth and legend stipulated, but soft, velvety-looking, skinned in the suede that was unique to Talera's wings, black on most surfaces, but crimson on the underbelly and the insides of the ears.
Ash reached out to it, dwarfed by its size. Slowly, it swung its long neck around, ducking its head, letting him kiss the end of its long snout lovingly. The black-red flames in its eyes quieted as he ran a hand over its cheek.
With a violent shudder, Kevin realized that the dragon was Talera. No question. His breath caught in his throat, heart skipping a beat.
Nearby, he heard a stifled gasp, looked over in time to see Alessandra faint into Visarius' arms. The silver and golden vampires regarded the creature with faint smiles, both their eyes glowing brightly. The other vampire was openly grinning, pride in his stance, the cross of his arms over his chest.
Pershing grunted something in Lycan, eyes wide, hand over his mouth, rubbing the stubble on his chin thoughtfully. He seemed not scared so much as awed, caught completely off-guard. Ana just peered serenely at the creature, no hint of surprise about her.
Kevin turned to Sarah, mouth opening, but she yanked her hand out of his grasp. Her eyes couldn't open any wider, her mouth a perfect O, arms coming up to cover her breasts protectively, shaking violently, breath coming in pained gasps, near to hyperventilating. Smothering a shriek with her hands, she backed up towards the trees, stumbling in the loose sand, gaze fixed in terror on the creature before her. Kevin took a step towards her, arm coming out, but she turned and darted into the forest.
The dragon watched her go, tilting its head to the side like a confused puppy. Flickering again, it disappeared, leaving the girl standing on the beach once more, wings, now crimson underneath, folding behind her, hair sliding behind newly pointed ears. She dropped to her knees on the sand, hand covering her eyes as she caught her breath.
Slowly, she relaxed, resting back onto her calves, dropping her hand to her side. Her eyes were green when she looked up, smiling crookedly at all of them.
"Fuck! You coulda warned us!" Pershing burst out, stalking forward, snatching her up and into a tight embrace, kissing her hard.
She laughed shakily when he released her, putting a hand on the side of his face tenderly.
"Yeah, Yeah," he muttered, almost preening under her touch, smiling slightly, baring his fangs on one side. "I would never have believed that shit."
"Should I go after her?" Kevin asked, his heart still pounding.
For a moment, she regarded him with that same tilt of her head, but then she shook her head, looking down sadly, then back at him.
"She has to work it out on her own," the sandy-haired vampire said gently. He came down the beach to take her hand and kiss it, bowing over it respectfully, one god to another. She inclined her head to him, taking a deep breath, releasing it slowly.
"Jesus," Pershing exclaimed, regarding her critically. "I can feel the bloodlust radiating from here."
She shot him a level stare. He just grinned at her.