Daybreak Ch. 05bypurefire©
Jameson found Charisma on the chaise in the solarium when he returned. She was asleep, he was happy to observe, and she looked so peaceful, so beautiful. With her hand tucked beneath her chin, she looked like a child. A surge of protectiveness washed over him. Jameson knew that he would die to keep her safe if he had to, and it wasn't only because she was his charge. Just another reason for him to ask himself why he was the one sent to find her. He barely knew anything about the woman, but somehow, he managed to figure out that he wanted more that just her safety. Why? Why her? Why now? And would getting involved with her be the smartest choice?
Even if the choice was a smart one, it wasn't as if a relationship could work. He was a half-god demon hunter. And she was a human freelance chef. She would always be in danger. She would always be a weakness.
With a sigh, Jameson gently lifted her into his arms and had to ignore the feeling that washed over him. She fit... so perfectly. And she smelled like berries.
Charisma opened her eyes slowly and smiled at Jameson. "I fell asleep," she said as a greeting.
"I know." He said nothing more as he carried her up the stairs and toher room. As he set her on the bed, he smoothed her soft hair back and found himself captivated by the whimsical look in her eyes. "I'll take you shopping for more stuff tomorrow."
"No, you already bought me so much."
"Yes, but you need clothes to train in."
"I have clothes at my..." Charisma trailed off as realization set in once more. She had no home. It burned down two days ago. Being at the manor served as a nice distraction from that fact. Her life was a mess, and she had no idea how to clean it up. The sense of control she lived for was gone.
The sudden onslaught of tears caught them both by surprise. "I'm sorry," she said, "I just... I don't usually..."
Jameson found himself frowning. He'd never been one to be comfortable around tears and because of that, did everything possible to get as far away from an overly emotional woman as possible. But he couldn't leave Charisma. Not like this. He murmured sweet words of encouragement as he pulled her close. Her tears were quick to end, but her devastation lingered. "It's going to be all right."
"How can you be so sure?" With everything going on in her life, there was no feasible way a positive outcome could be had.
"Because I just know."
"But how? How do you keep going everyday knowing the things that you do?"
"You don't think about the next day, or the next week is how," he replied. As he ran his hands over the expanse of her back, he continued, "All that matters is getting through the next five minutes without losing your mind. If you can do that, then the five after won't be so bad." It was hard to get her to understand because she'd only been part of his world for a few days. After centuries of fighting for his life and for the sake of mankind, he'd seen things no being should have, things that had the ability to break the minds of weaker men. Jameson had time to hone his skills of desensitizing, of considering everything part of the job. Because of that time, he was able to compartmentalize a little too well.
When Charisma pulled away from him, he wiped her tears away. She looked so vulnerable, so scared, so unlike the woman who'd cooked dinner for his family. "Charisma?"
"Yes?" She looked from his paralyzing grey eyes to his mouth and found herself leaning in to kiss him before she could stop herself. It was only a simple kiss, one meant to test the theory that his mouth was as delectable as it looked. His mouth was more than that, she realized, and the knowledge only made her look into his shocked eyes nervously. She'd never been so bold before and thus the fear of his rejection kept her from moving.
Jameson stared at Charisma for only a minute before he pulled her to him again and took full possession of her mouth. Her lips were sweet and soft; they molded to his perfectly. He found himself moaning in pleasure when her tongue timidly snaked out to caress his lips. In response to her move, he allowed her tongue entrance just as he used his to invade the sweet cavern of her mouth.
Heat and passion swirled through him as his lips slanted over hers. He could not control his need to touch her and found himself lifting the hem of her shirt. Her soft skin drove him mad and her whimpers of pleasure made him want more. Jameson trailed his hands up her taut stomach and groaned at the feel of her hardened nipples begging for attention through the lace of her bra. In the back of his head, he screamed at himself to stop because there would be no turning back once he took her. At the same time, he couldn't stop himself; with every touch, he craved more of her.
"Yes," she moaned as his fingertips brushed over the hard peaks of her breasts. A scant second later, she frowned in confusion as he pulled away and took a few steps back. "Jameson, what-"
The more he looked at her, the more he asked himself the same question. He sighed as he said, "My life is complicated." It was unfair of him to act as if he lived a life that would keep her out of danger.
She understood what he meant and even agreed with what he was trying to say. But she wasn't asking for marriage. "That doesn't mean sex has to be." Charisma wasn't the type of person to casually offer herself to strange men, but there was no use in denying the fact that Jameson set her on fire. Casual sex with him would be just that; casual. No strings, no obligations, and no promises. They both remained in complete control of their lives.
Jameson looked away, knowing that he would not be able to tell her that though he'd only known her a handful of days, he wanted more than sex, the very reason he couldn't sleep with her. "Get some sleep. We'll be out early."
* * * * *
"I thought you said that this would be enjoyable." Liam rifled through the various racks of clothes in front of him, disgusted by the fact that he'd agreed to accompany his brother and the woman on their trip. For the past three hours, he'd stood back and watched as Jameson held up item after item for her to consider. Charisma has simple tastes, only choosing dark yoga pants and sports bras for training. Jameson had other ideas, especially when he noticed that many of the stores located in the mall were having sales. Liam, who originally thought that the trip would take an hour, grumbled when his brother reached for another item.
"Watching you grumble is amusing." Jameson laughed when Liam's eyes narrowed dangerously.
Charisma watched the pair curiously. From what she observed, none of the brothers, save Draco and Roman, looked like each other. Their personalities were eons apart, but yet, they all meshed easily. Maybe it was because they'd been brothers longer than... Well, she didn't know how long, but based on their relationship, it was a damned long time.
Watching them gave her another urge to contact her adoptive parents. She longed for a bond. With anyone. She was relatively new to town, and she wasn't close enough to her friends to call them family. There was Marie, who oddly knew her quiet well, but their relationship was more employer-employee than friendly. The men she lived with were suddenly her closest friends in the world. Would she be able to adjust to being alone again once she was no longer in danger of being kidnapped?
Charisma blinked herself out of her thoughts and looked up into Jameson's concerned eyes. "I'm fine."
"Why are you blushing?"
She looked at Liam's exasperated face and felt her flush deepen. She'd only looked into Jameson's eyes and she was acting like a schoolgirl. In public. "Just got a mental image of you in that." She motioned to the pale yellow yoga pants he held. "Very sexy." At Jameson's loud laugh, she smiled, and watched as Liam angrily placed the item back on the rack. He was so hot-tempered.
"I think that's enough for today," Jameson said, "You two stay here while I pay for these."
"No." Charisma moved to block his path and ignored the shocked expression on his face. "I can't let you pay for these."
"Why the hell not?" Liam asked, "Most of you females jump at the chance to have all this shit bought for you."
"She's not most women," Jameson defended. She was so much more than that. "But I'm going to guess that you forgot your wallet in the rush to leave the manor - oh wait, that's right; it was destroyed."
"That's because one of you got rid of it." Alexis had given her her treasured wallet, claiming that Euan found it while searching through the remains of her home. Her credit cards hadn't been damaged, but her wallet was singed badly. When Jameson heard that her source of independence had been returned, he made sure he distracted her while her wallet mysteriously went missing. "I'd rather we put this stuff back and come back when you give me my wallet back."
"Even if I knew where your wallet was, there won't be time to comeback here." Jameson tried to walk around her but stopped when she blocked his path once more. "Listen, we have a lot to do in the next nine days and that includes training you. You won't be back here until things settle." And he had to part ways with her. He didn't want to think of that day, not only because of the fact that he wouldn't be around her anymore, but because he didn't want to analyze the meaning of it all. "I'm going to pay for this."
"Listen, human. I'm ready to leave so stop getting in his way."
Charisma took a step back after Liam took a threatening one forward. How could she argue with two half-gods against her? "Fine, go pay for it."
Jameson smiled victoriously as he walked away. He didn't like being overbearing, but he wasn't lying when he said that there was a lot to be done. It only took ten minutes to have everything checked, bagged and paid for and when he returned, he handed the bags to Liam. "Take these home with you."
Liam looked at his brother's outstretched arms as he asked, "Do I look like a pack mule?"
"No, but since you're so eager to get back to the manor, I figure you can do your brother a favor, especially since I need to take her somewhere." Jameson watched as Liam narrowed his eyes dangerously a scant second before he grabbed the bags and walked away.
"He's always so angry," Charisma said.
"That's the happiest I've seen him since Nadia left."
Jameson nodded as he led her out of the store and shopping mall. He walked her to his car (he'd purposely asked Liam to take his own) and once they were settled in, he began to drive to their next destination.
"So tell me more about these More-dicks."
"Mordecai," Jameson corrected on a smile.
"Whatever." She laughed at her mistake as she said, "What's their deal?"
"Like I told you, Zaide was the first. He was a Forkai."
"Glorified vampire but they could walk in daylight. Most of them, the ones who chose to live among humans, fed on animals."
"And those who didn't?"
Jameson glanced at her and smiled at her curious expression. "That's why the Nariko were created. Vampire hunters are what you would call them."
"What's so special about them?"
"Superhuman strength and agility. Other than that, they're pretty much human."
Charisma sat back in shock. All of this was going on in the world and she had absolutely no idea. "So this Zaide guy was a Forkai and then poof, he became what he is now?"
"No one really knows how he became a Mordecai. Our best guess is that someone found a way to get rid of his soul and he pulled in another one when he next fed, which somehow turned him. Basically, you'd have to first be a Forkai to be turned into a Mordecai."
"And these Forkai actually agree to a life of living in the dark?"
"Apparently." Jameson pulled the car to a stop when they reached their destination. "We're here."
Charisma felt her heart skip a beat when she looked at the charred remains of her home. She quietly exited the car and looked at what was left of the one thing in her life she was most proud of. Everything was gone. Everything. "There's nothing salvageable here."
Jameson stood beside her quietly, both glad and upset that she wasn't the least bit emotional. He'd brought her here to show her that though the house was gone, the land was still in tact. There was hope.
"That house was the one thing that was mine. I worked hard to earn that house. It was the only thing I had to show that I wasn't nothing. Now it's gone." She looked at his expressionless face and found a sense of comfort in his stoicism. "Now I have nothing."
Jameson reached over to take hold of her delicate hand. It was so soft and small in his. "It doesn't have to be that way. You can rebuild your house the same way you can rebuild your life."
Though his words were comforting, they weren't enough to erase the pain and doubt she felt. She would have to start over again. And it couldn't be here, where there were demons after her. Marie wouldn't like it, but they would have to move. "Can we go back now?"
His answer was to simply lead her back to his car. As he drove them back to the manor, Jameson remained silent, primarily because he knew that she needed time to organize her thoughts. This was a lot for a person to handle, all on top of discovering that she had an ability. The uncertainty she must have felt...
This was a perfect time for Caleb to skip town to take care of the family business. His ability to alter emotions would have greatly aided her.
"I don't get it."
Jameson glanced at her perplexed face as he made a right turn. "You don't get what?"
"I know that my ability is useful, but why would someone who lives the way Zaide does want me?"
"That's what we've been trying to figure out. I'm not sure your power works on the undead."
A chill went through Charisma. This was all so confusing! How was she supposed to face this bravely? "How do you do this, face uncertain death everyday?"
He knew that sympathy was the quickest way to get her to lose her composure. "You get used to it. I've learned that the more you think about dying, the more likely it is to happen." He waited for her to reply to that and when she didn't, he took a breath. He wished that Nadia would return soon. Not only would she be able to give him some insight, but having had the crash course into their world just weeks before, she was the only person capable of calming Charisma.
"Do you have a phone I can borrow?"
It was then that Jameson remembered the phone call she was to make to her assistant. He opened the glove compartment, making sure to ignore the rush that went through him when the back of his hand brushed her knee, and pulled out his sparsely-used phone.
"Thank you." Charisma quickly dialed Maria's number and sighed in relief when her assistant picked up on the second ring. "Marie-"
"Oh, my God, Charisma! I have been going nuts trying to find you!"
Despite herself, Charisma smiled. "I'm fine, there's just been-"
"Where are you? I'll come and get you. Jesus Christ, what the hell happened to your house? I went over to see if you were ok and it was like, burned to the ground. You didn't do something while you were cooking, did you?"
"No, I didn't burn the house down." Charisma looked at Jameson and nodded at the words he mouthed to her. "There was some sort of weird gas leak and I left a candle burning when I went to the market."
"The place exploded?!? Holy hell! Please tell me you're ok."
"I promise you that I'm fine, Marie. I'm staying at a friend's."
"What friend? Do I know her?"
The concern for her general well being was quite soothing. "No, you don't. I just called to tell you to cancel all of our appointments for the next few weeks. And I want you to take a vacation."
"You've been talking about visiting your sister for weeks. I'm giving you paid time off. Take it." The sooner she got her assistant out of town, the less she had to worry about. "I'll call you as soon as I figure some things out."
"But it would be better if I stayed and made sure you-"
"Trust me. I'm in good hands." Charisma caught the small smile that took over Jameson's face and rolled her eyes heavenward. "Remember, cancel everything for the next few weeks and go have some fun. I'll keep you updated."
"I'll call you soon, Marie. Bye!"
Jameson grinned at the exasperated laugh Charisma emitted. "Your assistant sounds like a handful."
"She can be. Mostly, she's just very chipper. Tends to drive you crazy when you're having a bad day."
He laughed as he said, "Maybe it's a good thing you told her to go out of town. Liam would kill her."
"You probably would too. I have nothing against happy people but she scares me sometimes."
"But you keep her around."
"She's a good assistant. Even if the pep gets annoying, it's still good to have around."
Jameson said nothing to that, primarily because he was sure that her assistant's abilities weren't the only reason she was around. Charisma needed Maria because she was a reminder that not everything was as dark as Charisma painted them to be. She may not have said it, but he knew that she longed to be as bubbly as her assistant.
The remainder of the drive was done in silence. While Jameson was glad for the opportunity to think, it unnerved him to know that Charisma was quiet because of the thoughts that haunted her. Was she strong enough to handle the details of his life?
As he pulled into the garage to park his car, he realized that he didn't want the answer to that question. He had too many other thoughts in his mind to analyze. Jameson cut the engine off and looked at Charisma's sleeping form for a moment. He'd seen plenty of beautiful women in his life, but there was a different element to her attractiveness. He wasn't sure if it was because of her ability or Nadia's premonition, but he couldn't shake the hold she had on him. "Charisma, wake up." Jameson reached over to gently shake her awake and sighed at the surge of desire that went through him. The memory of her soft skin was enough to make him harden with need. "Charsima."
She came awake slowly, and found herself smiling at the melodic tone of his voice. "I fell asleep again."
Jameson nodded at the flush on her skin and quickly exited the car before he lost control and kissed her again. He waited for her to catch up to him before he let her back into the house. In the kitchen, Liam sat watching the local news. He nodded to them as they entered before saying, "Your stuff is in your room."
"Thank you," Charisma said.
"Did you unpack them and put them away?" Jameson asked with a grin.
"What the fuck do you think I look like?"
Jameson's grin widened as he asked, "Do you really want me to answer that question?"
"I'm going upstairs," Charisma announced. She smiled at the bickering brothers and walked out of the kitchen. As she walked up the stairs, she thought over Jameson's earlier words. She could rebuild. All hope wasn't lost. At least not yet, anyway. Her faith in life renewed, she opened the door to her room and stopped short at what she saw. A man she'd never seen before stood in front of all of her shopping bags, eyeing the items curiously. He seemed rather interested in her underwear, Charisma was uncomfortable to notice. The man hadn't pulled them out of the bags, but the lust-filled look in his almost black eyes was indication enough of his thought process. "Who are you?"
He quirked a thick dark brown eyebrow as he allowed his onyx eyes to travel the length of her body. The woman standing in front of him had the kind of body men killed for. Though she wasn't waif thin as was the fashion these days, she was soft and lush in all the right places. "Whoever you want me to be, baby."