tagNonHumanInto the Vampire's Lair Ch. 09

Into the Vampire's Lair Ch. 09

byArtForm©

NB: First and foremost, my gratitude to wildheartedangel for reading my (godknowshowmany) drafts and being so patient and efficient about it. Next to Mokkelke for giving some amazing ideas and also for patiently proofreading my work. Really appreciate it! Thanks also go out to those of you who gave comments and suggestions on my blogs regarding the plot for this chapter. So I hope the next few chapters please you.

****

Once the door was closed behind him, Aramis led the beautiful red headed wolf towards the sofas. Of course he wasn't going to take a sip out of her. That would incur the wrath of her Alpha and Aramis didn't think he'd like that. It was serious enough that his son had literally kidnapped this woman under her Alpha's nose. That would have to be dealt with later on.

Aramis let out a long, resigned sigh. Why did Draven choose to mate with one of Keiran's wolves? Or any wolf for that matter? It was for this reason alone that Aramis did not immediately have her locked up. It annoyed him that he had to extend his courtesy to her; treat her like his guest when she was an obvious liability to his plans.

For godsake! That boy had enough women, both mortals and immortals alike thrust under his nose for the past centuries and he chose this one?

Oh, she was beautiful alright; fair skinned, blue eyes and long auburn hair that looked like it was on fire all the time. He had no doubt this little wolf was just as feisty, if not more. However, she is still a wolf... and although she appears more docile than the last time he met her, he wasn't sure if he'd be willing to lose another offspring to Keiran.

It was different for Fiona. She was already adopted into the pack before she came to him and thus her allegiance was never to him or their race. Besides, daughters and granddaughters alike were almost always dispensable, having to follow their husbands when they married.

However, Draven was not. He was aware that he would have to allow his first born to live within the pack, where his loyalties would no longer be to his own father or his race... but to his Alpha. Aramis didn't think he'd like that.

Humans have been intermarrying Vampires and Werewolves for many centuries but the latter two often stayed away from each other as much as possible... as should his son and this wolf.

"You're hungry," he commented with a sigh, settling himself on a sofa opposite her.

She was nodding but she never took her eyes off him. Aramis gave a grunt as a response. Her stomach was literally bubbling in its own acid since the moment he met her. Turning to the phone on his table, he picked it up and called directly for his head of the household. It seems that some shopping is needed.

When he turned his attention back to the woman, he saw that she had begun to relax but her guard was still up. He didn't blame her. She didn't look like she even knew who he was. And he was beginning to think that she followed him only to spite Draven for manhandling her.

That thought put a smile on his face.

"I apologize for the rudeness that you witnessed earlier on. It is sordidly humiliating on my part to have raised a son like that."

He watched confusion flicker across her face before she spoke, "I thought he was just addressing you formally when he called you 'Father'... I thought perhaps you were a member of the clergy. Are you? You look too young to possibly be his father."

Laughter bubbled in Aramis's throat at her reply. "And how old do you think Draven is?"

She was biting her lips, as though thinking. "Probably around my age; thirty five at most."

This time, Aramis didn't bother containing his laughter, "When he was thirty-five, he was already a trained mercenary and bore witness to the Münster Rebellion," he said in amusement. "That's in the 1530s if I'm not wrong."

Her eyes were wide with surprise. "Impossible!"

Aramis couldn't help but frown at her response. "Surely you know who we are and what we are?" When she didn't reply, he frowned deeper. This was strange. This woman had seen Fiona's awakening and was even one of the few unfortunate recipients of her power. Surely she would know? Or had Draven tampered with her memories?

Aramis decided that it was better if he skipped the Vampire history for now. Her mind might be too fragile to recall too many things if it had been modified not too long ago. He was planning on returning her to her pack and wanted to make sure that she did not sustain any form of damage under his roof.

"Well then, please forgive me for my lack of manners. It seems I have much to apologize for today," he said with a smile. "My name is Aramis Culzean and I am the Lord of this castle... not in the religious sense of course," he smiled again before adding, "The Lord below the Viscount on the peerage system." When she nodded, he continued. "My eldest, whom you've already met, is heir to the title and born from my first wife. His brother and my youngest son, Alaron Culzean is born to my second wife. I don't suppose you remember him either? He has quite a penchant for trouble that one."

Amber was clearly fascinated. Aramis didn't appear to be as cold hearted as Draven painted him to be. Maybe he was joking about Draven being born centuries ago. In fact, he wasn't threatening her in any way and she wondered why Draven had been so upset and paranoid about his father. It made her all the more determined to get into Aramis's good books. If she did it right, then she might not have to stay in the dungeon and even better, she might be allowed to go home!

As such, she almost had a compulsive need to stand up and curtsey before she replied. Was it the rule in the house to do so? She wasn't sure but didn't think it would be appropriate not to since he was clearly nobility and she was... nobody.

Clearing her throat, she got up and did what she thought was a curtsey and was about to introduce herself when she saw him get up on his feet, laughing.

"You're doing it all wrong my dear. You're supposed to place one foot behind the other and bend gently down with your body leaning slightly forward."

Amber grimaced. What a way to make a mess of herself! She did as she was told and watched Aramis's eyes smile as he observed her curtseying a few times.

"Good, you may put your hands at the side of your skirt and bow your head just slightly if you wish," he added, watching her comply. When she was standing upright, he smiled and commented, "Actually... there is no need for you to curtsey when speaking to me."

She was smiling back and shaking her head as she did a proper curtsey this time and introduced herself as Ambrosia Alexakis. He found it interesting that she did not use Keiran's family name as her own... or maybe she didn't want to be associated with them. Is that possible?

"Your father was called Ambrosius?" he speculated, watching her face frown in confusion.

"I... I'm not sure," she stammered slightly. "I don't... remember him. Did you know him?"

Aramis shook his head. The wolf looked young. If she said she couldn't remember him, it could be that she was born during the war and lost him...

"No I do not my dear... but Alexakis is a rather common Greek family name and when I was still friendly with them, I know the daughters always took the feminine form of their father's name."

"Oh, I see..." she replied, rather impressed with what he told her. She really didn't recall anything much and it surprised her to know that her name was Greek at all. She just thought it was a terribly old fashioned name...

Amber started frowning as though she recalled having said that before. Shaking her head slowly, she sat down once more, as though trying to chase after that fleeting thought... but to no avail.

Aramis must have sensed something was wrong for he came closer and peered at her with concern. Strangely, he was beginning to like this young woman. She had been there for his granddaughter and now she's trying to be brave even though she had no idea what she has walked into.

Aramis had to face the truth: She was good for his Draven... if only she was a Pureblood Vampire instead of this confused little wolf inside a human's body.

"Come my child. You need to have something to eat," he said, offering her a hand to get up. He noticed that she was a little weak and the grumbling in her stomach was more pronounced that it was a while ago.

The dining room that he brought her to was reserved for the family use. He was pleased to see that there was human food already set on the table and also a goblet of blood for himself.

"Please eat," he offered, pulling out a chair for her to sit. He watched with interest as she tore a chunk of bread and dipped it in some sort of stew in the bowl in front of her. Her eyes were fluttering, signaling that the food was good and she began to eat some more before realizing that she was the only one eating.

She immediately put down her spoon and looked up guiltily. "Would you like to have some?"

Aramis shook his head, "Do continue... It used to bring me joy to watch my second wife eat. Of course, she was a beauty to watch all the time but mealtimes were especially entertaining."

Amber didn't continue eating as told but gazed at Aramis with a sad look on her face. "You must have loved her very much... and you lost her."

That sentence seemed out of place and he wondered for a moment if she was talking about him or about herself. Instead, he smiled and urged her to continue eating, getting up only a few minutes later to return to his office.

Not surprisingly, Draven was still there.

"Father! What have you done to her?" he asked in accusing tones.

"I would really appreciate it if you'd mind your tone with me young man."

Draven simply gave a huff and glared at his father.

With a resigned sigh, Aramis sat at his desk. "She's well. I just had her fed... human food of course," he added when he saw the worried look on Draven's face. "I give you my word that I will not harm her in exchange for your compliance. Rest assure that she is safe and return to your own chambers. I have no desire to prolong this conversation anymore."

Draven was clearly aware of the dismissal but part of him was still worried. He knew that once his father gave his word, he will keep it but he was sure that the old man had something up his sleeves.

"I'd like to see her please," he demanded in as civil a tone as he could muster.

"No."

"But Father..."

"No."

Draven gritted his teeth. He hated it when his father speaks with that sort of finality for it was impossible for anyone to continue arguing with him...

Maybe he was raised too well; taught never to speak unless spoken to, never to raise one's voice against an elder and most importantly, to respect and remain loyal to one's Sire who in this case were his parents.

Fine... I'll admit it. I don't dare to raise my voice and argue with him unless Amber's here to give me moral support... not that she was giving me any. Tsk. She even conspired with the enemy!

Draven rolled his eyes at the recollection of how demurely she followed his father without any hesitation.

To spite me of course. Fine. I'll give her the space she needs... to sulk.

"I'll come back later to fetch her then," he replied grumpily, fully aware that it was he who was sulking. "I lay my trust on your word Father."

Aramis gave a gentle nod as Draven started leaving the room.

"Ah... to be in love," he murmured to himself, opening the stack of returned RSVPs on his desk.

His smile was broad as he mentally took note of the guests who were coming. Putting the letters aside, he picked up his phone.

Someone on the other line picked up, "Elders Office."

"Lord Culzean speaking. Put the line through to Léon please." Léon was one of the two permanent Nobles sitting on the board of Elders. Aramis waited a few moments until the line was reconnected.

"Lord Culzean, how may I be of service today?"

"Have you received my invitation?"

"Yes I have sent my RSVP saying my family and I will be attending."

"Very good. I need another favour old friend," said Aramis.

"Yes of course, Aramis."

"I wish to have the Council enforcers present at the ball tomorrow night."

The other man was silent for a little while. "Are you afraid of a security compromise, Aramis?"

"Mmm, something of that sort. It's more for insurance," he replied with a broad smile.

"Very well then. I will have them present."

"Thank you, Léon. That will be all."

Aramis sighed as he placed the receiver down. It was a necessity. To be sure that his son does not violate their agreement, the threat of violence needs to be present. Draven shouldn't have been so stupid to have brought his bargaining deal into this castle. If he had thought that bringing the Were here was to ensure her safety, then he was wrong.

Aramis would have her terminated on the spot should Draven refuse to uphold his side of their deal. Satisfied now that the matter of his heir was settled, Aramis placed another call to his other son...

***

"You what?" exclaimed Alaron, almost frightening little Alex off his lap. Alaron had taken a trip down to Pearl's house for a visit and the boy had latched himself immediately to him the moment he entered.

"Father, this is ridiculous. You are having a ball tomorrow and you only let me know about it today?" he complained, looking down at his watch and groaned. It would take him five hours at least to drive up north. He listened while his father continued talking on the other end of the line, nodding ever so often before bursting out in a shocked, "What the hell!"

This time, Alex jumped off from Alaron's lap for the Vampire was scowling at the phone.

"Damn right I will. I'm coming over right this minute," he growled then disconnected angrily. The nerve of his Father!

"Alaron dear, is everything alright?" asked Pearl, walking into the living room. She had gone to the kitchen to get some tea and had rushed out when she heard him swearing.

"Oh... uh, yes. It's a family thing," he replied awkwardly. "Anyway, I have something important to ask you and I'll be real quick about it because I have to leave soon."

"Oh, ask away then!"

"Err... I'm not sure who to ask for relationship advice and I thought, since you're a woman and all... surely you'd have more tips for me..."

Pearl was giggling as she sat down and ushered him to do the same.

"Erika I assume?"

Alaron nodded. "Why is it... as in... why does she cry but say there's nothing wrong? And then sometimes she's crying but she says she's happy. How does that work?"

"Oh dear..." said Pearl with a laugh.

"Right. Then there's the part where nothing I say or do seems to be the right thing and then she tells me it's not what I did but what I didn't do that's the problem. How the hell is that even logically possible?"

"Alaron, you cute little thing. Well, it's obvious she likes you and wants you to do something about it. So for example when she cries and says there's nothing wrong, obviously she means there's something wrong and wants you to ask her what. That doesn't mean you'll get an answer straight away of course but girls like that kind of attention I suppose," giggled Pearl. She was obviously delirious with amusement at his plight.

"Who has time for that?" asked Alaron in utter amazement. "It's like opening a door and then seeing another one and another one. You'll never actually get inside the room!"

"Oh pish! Men are such ignorant creatures," she clucked her tongue. "So what did you do when she started crying or saying that you weren't doing things right?"

"I said sorry of course! But she doesn't seem to believe them."

"Of course she doesn't. You've got to grovel a little dear."

Alaron's jaw dropped, clearly appalled at Pearl's suggestion. Did she say grovel?

"Like on my knees?"

Pearl was nodding with an amused smile on her face. "Do whatever it takes. Flowers would be nice too and then of course make-up sex after that."

When Alaron just stared at her, she laughed and continue. "Oh trust me... all husbands have done that. Just ask Mike... or Dominic or even Eian. Oh he's tough alright like a cookie but inside he's still warm and chewy and just as malleable."

"No way..."

"Oh yes way. Now if you want her to like you back, then you've got to start treating her like a lady... not keep biting her head off at every chance," she said in a nagging voice. "Don't give me that look like I don't know. I've seen you two. You're always insulting each other or arguing. Sure that's nice as a precursor to sweaty sex but you're not going to get her to open up to you if you only snipe at her all the time."

Alaron raised an eyebrow at her then pursed his lips in contemplation. Perhaps she's right... well, mothers always know best don't they?

"Okay, I'll give it a try. I've got to go now Pearl. Thanks for the advice! I'll come back for more if I need to!" he gave her a warm smile then started towards the door.

***

Aramis returned to the dining room and smiled when he saw that his guest had finished her meal.

"Do you know how to dance?" he asked.

"Oh... I don't..." but he was already raising a hand to stop her and instead offered her a hand to help her out of her seat.

"I'll teach you."

"Oh, I'd rather not..." she started but he solemnly shook his head.

"First, we bow," he instructed. "Then the man will offer his hand and you shall place it like this," he continued, grasping her right hand and placing her left hand just beneath his right shoulder.

She jerked a little when she felt his right hand resting behind her shoulder blade but he didn't seem disturbed by her discomfort.

"Trust me; some of my guests will be less civilized than how I'm holding you right now. It is then your right to make sure their hand remains here," he warned.

"Why are we learning how to dance?"

"Ah, because I want you to come for the ball tomorrow night. I'm going to announce who he's marrying."

"My Lord?" she whispered, unsure about his request. "Wouldn't it be painful for Draven if I attend this ball as well? Surely you are not so cruel?"

"You are my guest here, not my prisoner. I do not wish for you to be treated otherwise. Perhaps it would be a good way for you to help him choose the best wife."

"Oh..." Amber wasn't sure what to say. Yes, Draven's kiss had knocked the wind from her lungs but then again, she didn't remember much about him. What if she couldn't love him back? Wouldn't it be better to just let him get married then leave when she had the chance?

"Right now, let's not get distracted. What I'm going to teach you is called a Viennese Waltz. It's the opening dance and almost everyone will be involved."

Amber snapped out of her thoughts and nodded, letting him continue, "We begin with the forward step, side, back then side again like this," he demonstrated. "For this dance, you must count everything in threes, so one, two, three, one, two, three... there you go, very good."

Amber wasn't sure if she was going to feel good for much longer. Her head was spinning from the way he spun her around the room. He may call it a box step but she sure felt like he was twirling her around endlessly.

"Just follow your partner's lead... you are doing great."

When she accidentally stepped on his foot and lost her own footing, she let out a series of hysterical laughter as her butt hit the floor.

"Oh!" she gasped. "Good god! You sure can dance for an old man!" she teased and saw Aramis laughing as well.

"It's years of practice my dear. Now would you like to try again?"

Amber got up on her own, refusing his help. Determination was all over her face as she concentrated on the steps once more.

"You're not going to start teaching me some cha-cha or something are you?"

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