Blood Bonds Pt. 11byphoenixphair©
Sarah bolted awake, head swimming with half-remembered landscapes that were beyond description, body faintly throbbing with pleasure that couldn't have been real. She sat up, rubbing her eyes, taking a deep breath, twisting her tangled curls into a bun.
"Have fun?" Talera's voice murmured into the darkness.
"Was that real? I was really in someone else's dreams? With Ana?" Sarah asked, stretching her arms upwards, feeling bones pop with a satisfied ache. "Don't answer that; I know it was...wish I remembered it clearly..."
She felt the bed shift beside her, started to turn, but stopped when cool hands touched her shoulders from behind. She let the other turn her so that she sat, legs crossed, near the edge of the bed. Talera's long fingers were soft as silk, sliding up the girl's graceful neck, massaging the skin and muscles beneath with deft familiarity.
The vampire's touch warmed suddenly, hands moving to undo the bun at Sarah's nape, raking through tangles gently, sending tingles from the roots of her hair all the way to her toes. Sarah let her head fall forward, eyes closing, enjoying the moment.
"Just ask," came a barely whispered reply out of the darkness, responding to a thought.
"What you are...is it... supernatural? Or something else?" Sarah asked quietly. "The books...in what little they say about...Dragons...always say you come from the heavens, the stars...?"
The fingers on Sarah's hair moved to her scalp, tracing circles into the soft skin, releasing tension around her temples, at her crown. Sarah breathed a deep sigh, eyes fluttering as Talera took a breath, answering softly.
"I do love the stars..."
"How old are you? And don't say 20," Sarah added with a faint smile.
"Years upon years upon years," whispered Talera voice distant, almost wistful.
"Before there was time, I was," the other murmured.
"Metaphorically or literally?"
The girl fell silent, letting the simple pleasure of the other's touch lull her. It was what seemed like an hour later before she opened her eyes and took a deep breath. The hands moved to her shoulders, touch still gentle, pulling any ache from muscle and bone.
"It's just after three in afternoon. Kevin's getting dressed to meet the Pack," Talera said, voice still quiet, answering the questions before they hit Sarah's tongue.
"Are you going too?" the girl asked.
"Yes, ma'am," came a quiet Southern drawl.
"I miss the accent," Sarah commented. "We don't hear it much anymore."
"Then you'll like it where we're going," Talera chuckled. "Incidentally, you've been extended an invitation as well."
"As long as I'm not the evening meal," Sarah huffed.
"I would never let anyone harm you," the demon said gently, after a long silence, voice barely audible.
"I believe you," Sarah sighed, dropping her eyes, thoughts pouring out in a whispered rush. "What do I do now, Tay? How do I live a normal life? Can I at this point? I always pictured...the white picket fence and couple of kids. If anyone had told me four years ago that I'd be in bed with a werewolf and a vampire, I'd have laughed in their face and told them to take their meds. I'm destined for unswerving normalcy, not immortality. People like me...we don't have it in us to be...more..."
Sarah took a shuddering breath, striving forward, voicing all the fears and insecurities that had been eating at her since that moment when her friend had opened that door to the world beyond the generally known. Talera's hands kept at the tender ministrations, only patience and understanding in her touch.
"I was watching some TV show about space the other day, just dreaming about one day looking out at all those stars and galaxies, seeing it in person. And it occurred to me... I could. If I wanted, right? All I have to do is ask...but could I really go through with it? How do I know if I'm supposed to do it? How can I know what I'm supposed to do in this life, much less with five or ten or a hundred? When I have everything going for me that ninety-nine percent of the people on this planet dream of, is it wrong to wonder if there's more out there for me?"
For a long moment, Talera said nothing, then her hands released Sarah. The girl opened her mouth, about to squawk in hurt protest, then those warm, smooth palms covered her eyes. There was an odd shift in the air of the room, the gentle warmth of the covers replaced by soothing winds and caressing bursts of cool and hot. Sounds, whispers, wisps of song filtered in from all angles.
Kissing the side of her friend's neck softly, Talera pulled her hands away, twisting them so that she caught Sarah's in her grip. The demon seemed to drift closer, pressing against her charge, bringing their combined hands down, and holding Sarah tightly just below her breasts.
They floated in a warm pool of air, suspended in an infinite expanse of blackness. Before them, a whorl of light drifted, glowing fairylights against the backdrop. The galaxy, stars becoming distinct, overlapping, orbiting one another, sparkling in a glowing mist of gases and creation, swirled majestically just beyond Sarah's reach. The girl's eyes teared up, throat closing, forced open with a ragged breath, a sharp sigh.
"What's your point?" she whispered finally.
"That's it? That's all you've got for me? Fortune cookie advice and special effects?"
"I suppose this will all hit me later, then I'll have a burst of insight and wisdom," Sarah sighed. "Is that your plan?"
"Maybe," came a soft chuckle. "Or maybe you're still dreaming."
Sarah jerked up, tossing back the heavy mantle of covers, sending a few pillows careening across the room. The curtains were open, revealing the pretty city street below going about its day rendered in the bright, golden light of the spring afternoon.
People walked dogs of all sizes and colors, some in a tangle as they dashed excitedly down the sun-dappled sidewalks. Cars moved slowly, most occupants chattering on cellphones, looking around at passersby and the beautiful brownstones packed neatly into the city blocks. Mounds of red begonias sparkled gaily in neat beds the length of Talera's front walk, frequented by the occasional carpenter bee and moth enjoying the early spring warmth.
The door cracked open and Kevin stuck his head around the door, grinning a toothy grin when he saw her sitting up.
"Thought I heard you bolt awake," he said, stepping inside and moving like, well, like a wolf to plop down in the center of the bed next to her, his head near her feet.
"What time is it?" Sarah asked, looking around, but seeing no vampire in sight.
"Just before four," Kevin answered, giving her a puzzled puppy-dog look when her eyes went wide, then narrowed in confusion. "What's the matter?"
He sat up, leaning forward to caress the side of her face.
"Where is she? Have I been here this entire time?" the girl stammered, searching his face.
"Where else would you be?" he replied, one brow lifting. "She's gone out to get Pershing from the airport. We didn't want to wake you. What's wrong?"
She sighed, shaking her head. "Nothing's wrong. Fortune cookies."
"Nothing," she laughed shakily, turning her head to kiss his palm. "So, we're going down to meet the Pack tonight. Are you worried?"
"A little," he sighed, looking at her intently, though his inner gaze was elsewhere, his hand moving to run through her hair. "To be honest, I'm a lot worried."
"About what they're going to do to you?"
"That, and what I'll do to them," he muttered, letting his thumb trace her bottom lip.
"Do you know you have her power?" Sarah asked suddenly.
"What do you mean?" he asked, immediately alert, eyes bright, searching hers.
"You don't know that?" she asked, mouth falling open. "I know something you don't? The world may end righ—"
"Seriously, Sarah," he cut her off, shaking his head. "What are you talking about? What did she tell you?"
"Just that everyone who was there when she, you know, has a direct connection to her power."
"She said that? What words did she use?"
"What do mean? She said just that, what I just told you—"
"You all have my Blood Bond."
They both turned to the voice at the door. Talera stood, looking drowsy but unharmed by the beam of sunlight that shone across her face.
"Arkon let you give your Blood Bond to two Lycans, a witch, a human, and a Dark Succubus?" Kevin asked skeptically.
"And he would stop me how...? Even if he had a problem..." Talera drawled, raising a brow. "Did you think I just went through the motions? You should know me better by now."
He gasped suddenly as her Mark writhed into view on his arm, flames burning darkly in the bright room.
"I expect you to use that tonight," she said, giving him a serious glare, then turned and was out in hall without further comment.
"Pershing's here," Kevin murmured, eyes still glued to his left forearm, which he rubbed thoughtfully, face distracted. "You should get dressed."
He was off the bed in a blur of movement, pulling on a black motorcycle jacket that he'd dropped by the bed. He left it unzipped, but the red stripe that ran across his chest and over both shoulders was eye-catching nonetheless. His eyes, crimson infiltrating the bright copper of his irises, were frightening in their intensity. His long dark blonde hair was coming loose from the ponytail at the base of his skull in a glorious tangle. Towering as he did over the bed, legs apart, big feet planted like redwoods, he looked beyond formidable.
"You look tough as hell," Sarah commented, grinning at him. "I wouldn't tangle with you. And I've met Pershing's top Wolves."
That got a chuckle from him, and he dropped his arm, taking her hand and yanking her out of bed. With a twist of his wrist, he spun her into his arms, kissing her hard. She all but yelped as he brought his lips down, and without warning, sank both of his upper canines into the soft skin where shoulder met neck. It hurt, but from recent experience, Sarah's body interpreted the pain into a burst of heated pleasure in an instant. She pressed her cheek into his forehead, hands clasping at his collar, fingers running through the heated waves of his hair. He released her a few seconds later, taking a moment to breathe deeply, his chest heaving against her.
"What was that for?" she gasped, wide eyes staring up at him as he licked blood off his upper lip. He bent once more, catching a trickle with his rough tongue, then kissed her forehead tenderly.
"Insurance," he rumbled. "No one better dare touch you. You're doubly Marked now."
"Ugh," she sighed, shooing him out of the room. "More fortune cookies."
"I still don't understand that one," he noted, backing out as she waved at him to close the door to the hallway.
Sarah looked around at the sunset-hued landscape of North Georgia that surrounded the small airport. Talera hopped down from the top of the steps, not bothering with the rest, slipping on her dark sunglasses and flipping her hair so it fell into her face. She didn't even bother to conceal the hideously fanged yawn, just shook her head as if to clear it, then glared up at the setting sun for a second.
A gathering of people on motorcycles waited below, but she generally ignored them. A group of seven Lycans, three wild-looking females among them, sat astride black Harleys, leaving three empty bikes at the head of the formation.
"Aren't you supposed to burst into flames or a cloud of dust or something?" Sarah asked coming down the steps and cocking a brow at her friend.
"Probably," Talera snorted. "Welcome to Georgia. Not bad now but hot as the third level of Hell in a few weeks."
"Are you going to be less grumpy after sunset?" Sarah asked.
"Probably," Talera sighed, but smiled sheepishly. "I haven't been back here in a while."
"Where are you from? Around here?"
"Nah, I'm from above Atlanta, an hour and half or so south of here. We're staying in the north tonight. On the line with the Carolinas near Sumter National Forest. Pretty country."
As she spoke, Talera drew a map of Georgia in the air with her hands, motioning to indicate their position. Sarah found herself wishing she'd paid more attention during geography in high school, but nodded her head like she followed anyway.
Pershing was out of the jet in a single bound, landing silently several yards away next to the lead bike. At the barest of signals from Pershing, Kevin took the bike behind the Alpha, taking a breath to look over the controls and acquaint himself with the machine. Talera led Sarah to the third bike. The demon climbed on gracefully, straddling the big Harley like it was a horse. Sarah clamored on behind, adjusting her leather jacket, another new one Talera had brought out on the flight down, against the oncoming chill of the mountain night.
They waited as the wolves readied themselves, zipping up jackets, checking gauges, chatting to each other in their rough language. Sarah inwardly smothered a laugh. It would be funny, cinematically stereotypical, if it wasn't obvious that these people really did dress, act and live as they did.
Sarah cleared her throat, quashing a smile as Pershing kicked his bike into gear and they all rocketed into the trees, heading east into the dark woods. They kept formation, Talera in the center of the line as they shot down mountainous, isolated roads, past campers and rusty trucks. They roared through tiny little towns boasting little more than RV parks, gas stations and the occasional Wal-Mart or country buffet restaurant.
The houses that flashed past were small, blending into the mountainsides, whole towns of rustic cottages, log cabins and sturdy little brick homes. Folk art was common, charming and comical in some cases. The people here had a sense of humor, carving out a life that seemed carefree and idyllic to the visitor rushing past at a distance. Small gardens, filled with cabbages and peas dotted the landscape, shaded by twisted dogwoods and wild pears.
As they passed, what locals were out in their yards, tending small flocks of cows or goats, feeding horses, checking their gardens, threw up hands in greeting. Pershing lifted his fingers off his handlebars in response, nodding his head.
Sarah marveled at the beauty of the area, never having been so far south before. The spring cast the trees and undergrowth with a vibrant, new green gloss. When they topped a ridge now and then, she craned her neck, rising just slightly in her seat to peer down into the golden-lit valleys, many sparkling with streams and lush greenery. Though washed out and battered by millions of years of winds and rains, the Appalachians were intimidating enough when taken at high speed over winding roads and in decreasing light.
As night fell, sinking the road into pure darkness as they roared through the silent oaks, Sarah felt Talera take one hand off the handlebars and clasp her left arm. Her sight wavered, going black then bursting into unbelievable color. This wasn't the sight of auras and glows Sarah had experienced before, this was true color, unhampered by darkness. Vampire sight.
"Cool," the girl murmured in the vampire's ear. "Sunlight must be blinding."
By way of response, Talera gave her arm another affectionate squeeze, then returned her attention to the road. Sarah could see the riders ahead now, the low beams of their headlamps dazzling. Kevin looked tense, though he was doing a stellar job of hiding it beneath a veneer of unruffled attention to his surroundings.
A light fog descended around them as they climbed higher into areas untrod by the ever-present RVs and pickup trucks. Sarah shot quick a glance back at the two couples behind, catching them peering up past the canopy of leaves at the moon as it rose above a ridge. One of the women threw back her head and howled, an eerie sound that echoed off the rocks and rills, clear above even the roar of the engines. A chorus of howls answered her from seemingly everywhere.
Sarah felt her jaw drop, but snapped it shut when she felt Talera's stomach muscles tighten beneath her hands. They were slowing now, pulling off onto a deceptively smooth dirt road, taking it with slightly more care. The sheer drop off to her left had the girl clamped tightly to her driver, though the other seemed completely unconcerned, her gaze traveling over the entire valley below and across from them.
After what seemed like an hour on the dirt road, they pulled into a turnout, rumbled down a short drive, and came out into a mountain meadow with a small gathering of tiny but sturdy-looking rustic cabins and a large covered pavilion. Sarah waited for her demon to dismount and hold out a hand before she did the same, trying not to stare at everything in sight with that incredible vision. The wolves around her seemed to glow and throb, and with a start, Sarah realized she was seeing not them, precisely, but their blood.
The night was cool and damp, filled with the chirp of crickets and flutter of leaves and undergrowth in a sweeping, but charming breeze. Talera lifted her face to the sky, inhaling deeply, eyes closed.
She shrugged out of her short leather motorcycle jacket, draping it over the seat. If the cool night air bothered her, she gave no sign, the scrolls on her exposed arms rolling and moving for a long moment. In fact, as she raised her hands to the sides, the winds picked up, racing through the camp in one direction and then back again. Pershing flashed her a look, and she lowered her arms, crossing them under her breasts petulantly.
Sarah looked between the two of them, wondering about the silent exchange, then caught sight of Kevin lifting his nose to the wind. Talera was helping him, she realized, sending the scents of the camp and the surrounding terrain to him so he could count heads, fix positions, get the lay of the land.
Pershing nodded in the direction of one of the cabins and, taking Sarah's elbow, Talera steered her towards it, following Kevin. They passed it, moving behind the little log building and came out into a breath-taking little glen that shivered with new ferns and little wildflowers. The air was filled with the scents of fog, green and fresh dirt; sweet, musky and full of life. Shafts of bright moonlight filtered down through the branches overhead, giving the whole a surreal cast that had Sarah gazing with wonder about her.
Talera went up to Kevin, murmuring in his ear, kissing his cheek. She stroked his tangled hair, rubbing his shoulders hard, her words a calm stream of sound, rising and falling like a prayer said by rote, without particular cadence, but purposeful. Sarah couldn't follow since the language was beyond her, so she just let her eyes wander.
They must be separated from the Pack while they all gathered. Pershing had explained just a little to her on the plane, having spent most of his time with Kevin. They'd all be there by ten, awaiting the introduction of their guests and their new brother, if they chose to give him a chance. Then the challenge would begin.
Talera, touched Sarah's arm softly, making the girl jump.
"Sorry," the demon whispered. "I'll be right back. Don't leave Kev's side."
With a burst of wind that lifted Sarah's hair upwards, she was gone.
"Hunting," Kevin murmured, dropping to a knee beside Sarah, letting her lean against his warm bulk, one arm snaking around his shoulders. "The sun sucks all the power out of her."
"Can you hear them?" the girl asked, idly fingering the heavy, sun-warm waves of his hair.
He nodded, eyes moving all around them, though he stayed still.
"This place is beautiful," she sighed. "I've never seen any place so...green."
"Can you see? I would think it's nearly pitch-bla—" he started, then shook his head. "Oh. I forgot they can do that. Give their sight."