New Kingdom: European Court Ch. 06byMicKay©
A million thanks to WorldHistoryBuff for editing the European Court chapters!
Emma was paralyzed with fear as she watched this woman smile at her revealing the white fangs that would surely end her life. She fleetingly wondered why she was still alive. Seeing the other vampires in action had proven their stealth and speed. This woman had grabbed her so fast; Emma knew she was no match for this enemy. Yet, the woman continued her hold on Emma without moving closer.
Why had Antony remained motionless during this attack? Oh yeah, this woman, Eloise, was his mate. She was the woman to whom he was attached by an unbreakable blood bond.
"Which makes me the intruder," Emma whispered with tears filling her eyes.
The next several minutes passed in an almost surreal sense. Her attacker's hold was instantly gone. When she felt her body falling to the floor, she closed her eyes bracing for her impact against the hard wood. Gasping, Emma opened her eyes to find the hard surface was not the floor but the hard chest she was dancing against only a few minutes earlier. Once again she found herself trapped in the embrace of a vampire. It was not his arms that held her bound but his eyes boring into hers. The trance was broken when she realized other people were in the room.
"Where have you been hiding?" Gabriel demanded.
Twisting her body out of Antony's hold, Emma watched Gabriel demand of his captive. Eloise remained silent staring at the floor.
"Gabe," Alena said from behind her mate, "who is this woman?"
"Someone we had declared dead," he answered her with a glare at his brother. "Alena, please help Emma."
In a blur of motion, Emma watched Alena move nearer, nod to her mate, and then smile in comfort before whisking her from the room. Suddenly she was sitting on a sofa in an apartment she had never seen before. She watched Alena move from the bar to the sofa carrying a small glass filled with amber liquid.
"Bottoms up, kiddo," Alena instructed transferring the glass to Emma's hand. "You need to calm down."
Frowning at the comment, Emma looked down to find the liquid sloshing in the glass threatening to spill over the rim. Another hand wrapped around hers to calm the motion.
"Steady," Alena said. "Drink it all and drink is fast. I think it might be whiskey."
With a nod, Emma moved the glass to her lips and quickly tossed the contents of the glass down her throat falling against the couch as the liquid burn its path to her belly. When she opened her eyes, she saw Alena placing the glass on the side table.
"Were you trying to kill me?" Emma asked with a raspy voice.
"If I were trying to kill you, you would never know. Quick and deadly," Alena answered gesturing to herself with her thumbs. "Which is why everyone is confused about Eloise."
"Oh there's no confusion. She was on vacation. Antony failed to share that piece of information with me," Emma said touching her fingers to her lips. "My lips are numb."
"I meant that we are confused that she attacked but didn't follow through. It's probably the alcohol causing the numbness. Vacation?"
"He didn't seem shocked to see her," Emma answered. "Not at all shocked to see his mate walking naked out of the bedroom where I slept last night. The same bedroom I thought I was sharing with him tonight. God I'm so stupid!" she finished as she struggled to stand.
"Emma," Alena said while gently helping the girl back to the sofa. "Don't think you can understand. Their ways are not ours."
"Understand? What's to understand? I've been in this country for one week," she said holding her index finger close to Alena's face. "And every fucking minute has been a disaster. And what do you mean their way and our way? Aren't you one of those ... things?"
"Mama," Abigail said from the doorway. "What's wrong with Emma?"
"Go back to bed, sweetheart. Emma is fine but she..."
"Emma is not fine!" Emma slurred. "I'll tell you what's wrong, Abby. I'm an idiot. You're lucky to be loved kid cause when you don't have love as a kid then you ain't getting shit when you grow up. I should've let the bitch kill me."
"I don't think she wanted to kill you," Gabriel said as he walked into the room. "Abigail, go to bed," he said to his daughter watching her obedient retreat. "What's wrong her?" he then asked Alena motioning to the other woman on the sofa.
"She was upset so I gave her something to drink."
"Has it helped?"
"Not really. I think she remains upset but is now bolder."
"She," Emma said loudly, "is sitting right here and can hear you."
"Emma," Gabriel said calmly, "it's important that you understand that Eloise did not return home. She was sent her to upset you."
"Well, it was a damn fine plan," the girl responded leaning on Alena's shoulder, "cause it worked. You know what? I don't need this shit. I'm going back to America."
"No," Gabriel said moving closer, "you are not."
"Move out of my way, Gabriel," Emma said as she moved to the edge of the sofa, "or I'll move you myself."
Alena laughed out loud not sure if she was reacting to the threat or the expression on Gabe's face. Apparently he had adjusted to the absence of a human woman making silly declarations.
Before she could stop Emma, she watched the girl stand and take a step forward. Both women screamed as Emma's legs buckled sending the girl flat on the floor. When Alena moved to assist her, Gabriel held up his hand.
"What exactly did you give her to drink?"
"Something brown," she answered. "In that," she motioned to the empty glass on the table. "I didn't think she would get drunk."
"She's not drunk," he said retrieving the glass, "She's drugged. This drinks works well for me but it's a bit too much for her."
"Poor little humans."
"Don't be arrogant," Gabriel said with a smile. "You would have been flat on your ass too," he added while refilling the glass.
When he turned back to Alena, he saw the questioning look in her eyes and knew he could not hide his worry from her.
"The enemy continues to grow," he answered then tossed back the drink. "In numbers and courage. Eloise has been gone for more than a year."
"I thought she was dead."
"Antony thought she was dead."
"How could he be wrong?" Alena asked.
"He wasn't, although he questions himself even now. But there's no mistake when one of our people die."
"Then why is he questioning himself?"
"Because a woman he considered to be his mate died in his arms and he remained alive and well. The difference in having a mate and just another woman is the difference between needs and desires. I've drank from other women. Willing women. But I need your blood to live or, I should say, remain alive. Antony remained after Eloise was gone."
"So what if something happens to a mate ...?"
"Why do you think I waited until I found you? It's also the reason why I helped Edward save his Iona," he answered staring into the bottom of the empty glass. "My brothers and I have one critical weakness. The only way to destroy me is to destroy you. I've been patient with Antony because he lost Eloise."
"But she's not dead ..."
"She is dead," Gabriel interrupted. "He watched her die. Again."
"He watched her die as a human. And he watched her life end again last year."
"So who is the woman that walked into this house tonight?" Alena asked.
"A shell occupied by something else. These new vampires and Eloise are very strange creatures."
"Coming from you, that says a lot."
"You think I'm strange," Gabriel said quietly.
"You know I've always been comfortable with who you are."
"But you must admit," he said pulling her into his arms, "you didn't know all of me. Even now, you are learning just how evil my people can be."
"How can you say that?" Alena snapped twisting out of his hold. "I know you don't believe that, because you would have never changed me."
"I always knew there would be a chance that you could be dangerous to humans but I still changed you."
"No, you stayed with me. When I woke, you were there and told me what to do so I wouldn't be ... so I wouldn't harm anyone."
"Odd. I remember you being very much out of control with cravings," he said with smile.
"That was a different craving."
"Nearly broke my back," he continued. "I'll confess that I enjoy the back breaking sex sometimes."
"Really?" she asked and then turned away blushing. "I thought maybe I embarrassed you when I lost control. You're always so dignified and I'm barely in control."
"We are all barely in control," he explained. "Every one of us is capable of becoming a blood thirsty monster. And I had every intention of losing control when we were at the cabin."
"You didn't change. An issue that still confuses me. Anyway, if I had lost control then you would be dead and even monsters won't molest dead bodies."
Watching her smile, Gabriel motioned for her to come near him.
"Get back in my arms," he said gently pulling her close, "and promise me that you'll never pull away again."
"I promise," she vowed with her voice muffled against his shirt.
"Gabe? I may be wrong but I don't remember the floor being very comfortable when I was human."
"Hmm?" He asked and then followed Alena's gaze to the woman lying in the floor. "Yes, well, I guess Antony will be pissed enough when he discovers that we slipped her a mickey."
"She was hysterical."
"I'm sure she was," he agreed as he lifted Emma from the floor. "And now she's unconscious."
"What the hell?" Antony yelled from the door. "What have you done to her?"
"She was hysterical," Alena started to explain. "I was trying to calm her so I slapped her face and accidentally broke her neck."
Quickly, Gabriel placed the young woman on the couch and grabbed his brother.
"Antony," he growled, "listen to Emma's heartbeat. She's fine. But for the record," he added while tightening the hold on his brother, "if you ever move to touch Alena again, I will end your existence."
After Antony nodded, Gabriel released his brother and walked to Alena. Sitting on the loveseat, he pulled her onto his lap and held her close.
"Teasing a distraught vampire is never a wise move, my love,"
"I see this now. Did he really think I would hurt her and laugh about it?"
"He's suffering in a way that he's never before experienced. He actually loves this one."
"What have you done to her?" Antony asked quietly sitting beside Emma's sleeping form.
"We were trying to calm her and gave her too much to drink," Gabriel answered quickly.
"What did you give ...," Antony stopped and then looked to Alena. "You'll need to lock the liquor cabinet from your young one, Gabriel."
"I thought it was whiskey," Alena explained.
"And it is .... partially," Gabriel said.
"Now she's going to be angry and sick when she wakes," Antony said quietly stroking his fingers down Emma's arm.
"It's partially whiskey and partially what?" Alena asked.
"Blood," Gabriel answered after hesitating a few minutes. "Very strong ... and very old blood. I'll explain later but first we have some guests that need our attention. One is unhappy and the other is unwelcomed. Antony, how is Eloise here?"
"I don't know," his brother answered quietly. "Last year, she returned from traveling and I knew immediately that she been infected."
"Infected?" Alena asked.
"By the contaminate blood," Antony answered. "Gabriel had given us details of what to expect when one of our people were infected and what we would need to do."
"The blood wasn't contained in America?" she then asked Gabriel.
"Distance, time and finances do not deter our people, my dear," Antony answered. "And Eloise, as my companion, would have no limits. She may have, in fact, visited the States during her travels."
"Why weren't you with her?" Alena asked.
"Distance makes the heart grow fonder," he answered. "Sorry. You asked a legitimate question and I respond with a cheesy adage. But the truth is, our appetites are insatiable in everything. A relationship with a beautiful woman, who is more than willing to play by the rules, can become ... redundant."
"Yes, beautiful, it can become boring. It's nearly impossible for us to take a mate because we are never with one woman for very long," he finished and then starting laughing after a short pause. "You can't imagine the shock when we heard that two American sisters had mated with a king and the great general. No one could believe that he was committed to one woman."
"Yeah," Alena said, "I'd heard about Edward's reputation long before I had even met Gabe. He was known as the ultimate playboy."
"Edward?" Antony asked quickly and then looked to his brother. "Sorry brother but you lose this one. Oh no, my dear Alena, it was not Edward's disappearance from the scene that caused the big stir."
"Stop," Gabriel said.
"No," Antony answered. "You see, Alena, my brothers and I were never boys who sneaked a smoke behind some barn or learned to drive our father's car without his permission. One day, we didn't exist and then, suddenly, we were here. Fully grown men with unlimited resources and a mission. The kings received a cryptic riddle that resembled something found in a fucking fortune cookie but the general ... oh yes ... he gets the world."
"She knows I have a past. She doesn't need to hear the details," Gabriel growled.
"As long as it's the past and it ended before we were mated," she agreed.
"Before you mated? Sweetheart, it ended when he walked into that damn hospital. We should have moved those kids out and burned down that building."
"The hospital?" she asked.
"We've all been given these public assignments to justify our wealth and public appearances. Gabriel used to walk in, delegate authority, and move out watching the system from his office at Court. Court," Antony repeated the word and smiled at Gabriel.
"Alena, have you ever wondered why you've never attended Court?" Antony asked.
"Why are you doing this?" Gabriel asked.
"Because I really want her to know that you aren't some perfect creature and I'm the self pleasing bastard that has hurt Emma and Eloise!"
Holding Gabriel's hand, Alena answered, "I had to appear before the Council which I assumed was Edward's Court. Was I wrong?"
After a few moments of silence, Antony finally answered, "Yes. Our Courts are grand but reminders of what we've become." Then he looked at his brother and said, "We've lost sight of the mission. Just like growing bored of a woman, we grew bored of attending to the only reason for our existence. Damn."
"Antony," Gabriel said, "it's not over. Tell me about Eloise. What happened when she returned last year?"
"Short version," Antony agreed. "She walked into the house announcing that she was home and then proceeded to kill five human employees before I could reach her. When I did, I was shocked at how much stronger she had become."
"Oh no," Alena interrupted. "Did you have to kill her?"
"No. Not then," Antony answered and then stood and walked to the bar. Pouring a large glass of the mysterious liquid, he returned to his seat and drank slowly before continuing. "Maybe I should have but I refused to believe the blood was given to anyone except a newborn. Anyway, I attempted to keep her here but she managed to escape."
"And that's when you discovered the clubs," Gabriel stated.
"Yes, and I should have told you then but I still couldn't believe that my woman had been poisoned by that stuff."
"It was a means to get to you," Gabriel said.
"So they got Edward's woman and then mine. How did you escape?"
"Alena was hidden. She was preoccupied with family and work and she never participated in social functions."
"So you followed Eloise to a club ..." Alena said encouraging Antony to continue.
"And I found what our people had become."
"I see what you mean," Alena said. "I thought the club was just newborns drinking the contaminated blood too but you're saying that older vampires were there." At Antony's nod, she asked, "How did the blood created at the hospital travel so far so quickly?"
"It didn't travel in a conventional way," Gabriel explained.
"The great General Philandros is trying to be kind," Antony said. "My mate was the vessel carrying the contamination. I sired her and she fed from me. Because my blood ran through her veins, she was a perfect vessel. The enemy learned from their mistake."
"Alena," Gabriel explained pulling her closer, "we believe Iona was the first experiment in transporting this blood. The mate has the king's blood in her veins but yet she is considerably weaker and can't fight the effects of the poison."
"So when you saved Iona, the enemy needed a new woman?" Alena asked.
"No. They abandoned Iona when they realized that because she was not yet Edward's mate. His blood had not sired her so she lacked his strength and began deteriorating quickly," Gabriel explained.
"But Eloise was strong," Antony continued explaining. "And she became their new mule. Once she had saturated her veins with the poison, she was able .... Eloise started enlisting new recruits."
"What?" Alena asked. "Are you saying that she was making new ... changing people..."
"She fed the existing vampires and together they sired newborns. Their numbers increased to a significant size almost instantly."
"She changed people who wanted to change?" Alena asked.
"No. And as you know, changing an unwilling person is a crime punished by death. It's a law we still hold sacred and Edward enforces through Council approval."
"Is that when you had to ... when Eloise was ... killed?"
"Yes or at least I thought so," Antony answered. "Damn it, Gabriel, you know me. You know that I wouldn't allow her to continue. She was gone, totally out of control. The woman I knew was nowhere in that body and I know her life ceased when I killed her."
"You think I don't trust you?"
"I know Edward doesn't."
"And with good reason," Edward answered walking into the room with Iona at his side. "How the hell could you not finish the job? It's cruel to Eloise and the memory of who she was to you."
"I ended her life!" Antony shouted rising from the couch.
"But you failed to destroy the remains," Edward quietly replied.
"Her heartbeat ceased. Why did I have to watch her flesh burn?"
"Our people are made by changing dying flesh into one of us! Your actions were as irresponsible as creating a newborn and abandoning her to survive!"
"Brothers," Gabriel said calmly, "We have a guest who is sleeping on the couch and I have children who think I don't know they are hiding behind the door."
After a few seconds, the two children quietly appeared in the doorway.
"We heard voices Daddy," Abigail started, "and we wanted to see if something was wrong."
"Go to bed," Gabriel said smiling, "and stay in bed."
When the children had exited the room, the others remained quiet for a few minutes. Iona motioned to Emma's sleeping form but said nothing.
"Apparently our men don't drink plain old fashioned whiskey," Alena tried to explain.
"Oh no," Iona replied with a grimace.
"You knew this and didn't share," her sister accused.
"Sorry," she mumbled. "I told Edward everything. I don't think he believes it."
"It's not that I don't believe you," Edward said sitting in a vacant chair. "I'm just disappointed at how well organized our enemy has been."
"Is there something you need to share?" Antony inquired.
With a nod from her mate, Iona explained, "I told my sister that something seemed strange about this place."
"And that piece of information is supposed to be a great revelation to us?" Antony snapped.