Fire Ch. 02byEnithermon©
Here's chapter 2.
Thank you all for your kind comments, I was pleasantly surprised!
I felt under pressure to make this one at least comparable to the first...but I can't really tell how I did to be honest. So once again, recommendations are always appreciated...though the warm fuzzies were delightful too. :)
Jairus stood in the darkest corner of the room becoming progressively more menacing as he stared unblinking at the frightened sweating man before him. He was waiting for an answer. The man fluctuated between fear and anger, his face turning white and red accordingly.
The ultimatum he had received was not something to be taken lightly. Jairus was understanding enough to be patient, though his supply of patience was limited, he had no intention of sitting around all night waiting for him to make up his mind. He had a job to do.
"So this is it then, is it?" The man demanded harshly. "That son of a bitch Callum just crooks his finger and I'm dead? Is this where we are? Over what? A council seat...a trade deal? The man is crazy if he thinks he can do this." He ran a hand through his tussled hair.
It was late in the evening, and Jairus had woken him rather rudely with the point of his blade and led him to the privacy of the man's office. He was still wearing his night clothes and he paced the smooth marble floor with bare feet.
"Well?" He asked stilling himself momentarily and glaring at his unwelcome visitor.
"I have told you all that I plan to tell you Councilman Ryder. I think I've been very obliging, so please, oblige me and make your choice."
Ryder's eyes practically bulged out of his head. "Obliging?" His voice was a near shout and Jairus raised a single finger slowly to his lips. The man sputtered, but lowered his voice. "How the hell have you been obliging? You barge into my home and kidnap me at knife point then..."
Jairus cut him off with a dark look. He spoke slowly and carefully letting each word fall with heavy resonance, "I came here with only one objective. Make Ryder disappear." Ryder paled suitably and cast a fearful glance at the curved blade that rested conspicuously against Jairus's thigh. "I've decided to let you decide how that will happen. But if I were you, I would leave. Leave tomorrow by dawn, tell no one but your wife where you will go, and, if you like, have her decide to move away to escape the pain of losing her late husband."
Ryder sighed heavily and sunk into his desk chair. "There is no way I can convince you? I'll pay double...or more what he's paid you to make this go away...please."
"Then I'll pay you to kill him. We can say I hired you first, I'll even pay others in the guild to sa..."
Jairus shook his head. "I would be in conflict."
"How noble of you." Ryder growled.
"No. Merely professional." He paused and watched his mark try to think his way out of his predicament. It was unfortunate for him, but there was no way but the two presented to him.
"Fine, fine. Yes, clearly I have no choice, I will leave. But you will do one thing, I beg you..." Jairus tensed slightly, though he was sure the man didn't notice. "I know I can't pay you to harm Callum...and I know who hired you even if you won't say...so how about this, I will pay you not to harm my family, and to steal Callum's collection of rare Valarin paintings.'
"And deliver them to you?" Jairus arched his brow curiously. It was an unexpected request.
"No, keep them, dump them in the canal, make a bonfire out of them, I could care less. If I can't literally rip his heart out, then I'll do it by proxy. That fat pig will cry like a little girl when he finds out." He grinned maliciously. Then blinked and looked up and stared at Jairus intently. Will you do this?"
Jairus sighed imperceptibly and mulled it over. It was a grey area, but he didn't much care for Callum, and he knew the paintings Ryder spoke of, and had heard they were heavily guarded. It might be an entertaining challenge. He nodded.
Ryder stood, his chest puffing proudly as if had just accomplished a great feat. He moved around the desk and pushed back a false panel on the wall revealing a small safe. He withdrew a small but hefty looking bag of gold and tossed it to Jairus, who caught it deftly and weighed it in his hand before letting it vanish under his cloak. Ryder then grinned darkly and pulled out a necklace of silver that wrapped itself like filigree around smooth jade and coral stones. Even from across the room he could see the workmanship was fine and that it was worth a great deal.
"You can't sell this here, it's too rare, some one will know where it is from, but it is worth a great deal...and this is what I buy my family's life with. Swear you won't harm them, ever."
Jairus nodded and accepted the necklace. "As you wish."
Ryder nodded and swallowed. "That's it then. I will be gone by morning. I suppose I should go tell my wife." Jairus watched as his glee faded once more into fear and sadness.
"You know it probably would have been easier to kill me..." He said as he reached for the door.
Ryder nodded and turned away, closing the door behind him.
Jairus allowed himself a mild smile and exited the way he'd came, dropping silently beside the ancient stone portico of the back gate, unnoticed except for a grey cat who hissed at him in displeasure from his sentry atop a garden wall.
Callum's little 'palace' was set on the outskirts in one of the few gardens in the city, a testament to his wealth in an over populated and water logged city such as this. The city itself had aged into a twisting maze of narrow roads and canals, and was difficult to navigate quickly. It was good that the night was still young enough, he would have time. And, he conceded, he'd always liked pre-dynasty Valarin work. The new stuff was a bit garish for his taste. It was a good thing Callum had an excellent eye.
The next evening arrived far too slowly.
All day as he slept, or rather attempted to sleep, Jairus's dreams were plagued with frustrating images of women just barely out of reach. Or rather A woman, as there was always just one. One with doe eyes and dark Auburn hair.
He couldn't stop thinking about how he'd come upon her, tied to the post before the fire. It had been as if she was left there for him, knowing he would be coming that very night. Strange that she, of all people, should have been the one they singled out. But, he supposed, it was her unusual coloring among such fair folk that had set her apart. It had been surprising to see her face across the fire, to hear her voice call out to him.
She was no stranger to him after all, though she would not have recognized him.
He had tasted her blood before. More than once. Many times more. He rarely took from anyone twice. Anyone but her. She had been his inexplicable exception. For some reason he found he had great difficulty staying away.
And now she was suddenly within his grasp. Almost. How extraordinary that the world could still astonish him after all these years. He heaved a sigh and got up, he would get no sleep. He pulled the delicate necklace from his pocket and wondered how it might look against lightly tanned skin.
He clearly remembered the first time he'd slipped into her room. She'd been much younger, a woman, though just barely. She couldn't have been more than twenty, at most. He'd seen her dark hair first, odd in that village, and she'd turned with a sigh and stretched out on her back, her head falling towards him illuminated in a stray shaft of moonlight. She looked almost mystical, with her strong features and soft red mouth, and her arms stretched gracefully over her head. He'd stood there quite a while, lost in the sight, before he'd willed himself to move.
He could remember her scent, no perfumes or flowers, just her, and the taste of her skin. After all this time both of those things had remained wonderfully unchanged.
And then there was her blood. The thought made him take a shuddering breath. The things it did to him.
He was lost in his thoughts when a knock came. He was sitting already at the little table, the only furniture besides a narrow bed, and simply looked up and called for them to enter, tucking the necklace he still held carefully away.
It was Marcus, his youthfully middle aged intercessor, whom he expected. However, he was followed by a very angry looking Soman Callum whom he did not expect. Jairus resisted the urge to smile.
Before either of the other two could say a word Callum burst out. "Where the hell are my paintings?"
"Good evening Marcus, good evening Councilman." Jairus returned blandly.
"Paintings...where..are..they?" He puffed.
Callum with his rotund figure, opulently and rather brightly dressed, looked absurd blustering red faced in the small stark room.
"You can't steal my paintings, that's against the rules...tell him Marcus!" He gestured wildly at both of them.
Marcus gave Jairus a side long glance. "Technically Councilman, he only agreed not to do you bodily harm at the mark's behest....that is IF he took the paintings." He added carefully.
Good man, Jairus thought and returned Marcus's anxious looks with stoic ones.
"He took them. Two unconscious guards and nine more who saw nothing, who the hell else did it? I demand you return them immediately."
Jairus fixed Callum with a hard cold stare and stood, extending himself to his full height, which was a good half a head taller than anyone else in the room, and took a step forward, putting himself within arm's reach of the upset councilman. This had the desired effect and the man physically shrunk away from Jairus, his eyes darting subtly and his anger shriveling into petty consternation.
"I assure you councilman, I did not take your paintings." His steady gaze dared him to argue, and Callum only coughed and looked away in reply.
"Well, then, I need you to find out where they are and get them back."
"That's not the sort of work I do councilman, you will have to find someone else."
"But I paid you to..."
Jairus raised his hand. "You paid me to make someone disappear. This I have done. We have nothing more to say to one another, unless you've..."
Jairus too was interrupted by a commotion outside and a young page yelling "master, master!"
The boy was let in. He froze when he saw Jairus and seemed to lose his momentum.
"Speak boy" Marcus prodded.
"Ah," he blinked and looked away to Callum,
"Master", he breathed remembering again his purpose, "The paintings, they found them."
Callum beamed. "Where? Speak son, Where?" The boy looked nervously at the other two men who were watching in silence.
"Th-the river sir."
Jairus repressed another smile and watched as Callum reduced himself to jelly in mere seconds. It was as if the bones had left his body. He literally quivered.
"River?" He gasped. "No. Oh god no." He whimpered and staggered out of the door sobbing tearfully as Ryder predicted he would. Jairus tried to enjoy it for him in his absence.
Marcus turned to him after the sounds of Callum's heartbreak were out of earshot. "You threw priceless art into the river?" He sounded horrified.
"No, I threw some ugly ninth century forgeries into the river...I just changed the frames first." He smiled grimly at Marcus, letting the points of his teeth show ever so slightly. His eyes glinted as Marcus averted his eyes and swallowed hard.
"You're a little bit twisted you know that?"
He chuckled lowly. "So you've said before." He felt suddenly morose and sighed. "I suppose it comes with the job. Speaking of which..." he pulled his purse from behind him and drew out a number of coins. "Here's your cut." Marcus frowned at the coins while accepting them.
"I already got mine."
"This is for the Ryder job."
"I didn't get you that job."
"But you are going to keep quiet about it."
Marcus smirked at him."You seem unusually chipper...should I be concerned?"
Jairus shrugged and sobered. "It happens."
"Yeah. Alright. Where you going?"
Jairus had started for the door. "I have an expensive art collection to ship, and I have no desire to remain in this sewer of a city any longer than necessary."
"Before you go, I've got a big job lined up, fuzzy details, but they want to meet in two weeks...can you do it? It's a big, lots of money, tracking, not much information, but it seems sensitive. It may need subtlety, so they want you to handle it."
Jairus had worked with the guild longer than Marcus, and the combination of experience and natural predilection saw that most of the difficult jobs came his way. Of course calling it "the guild" was really only a euphemism. It was really just a series of mercenary cut-throats and the disreputable agents who arranged their services with what Marcus cheerfully referred to as their 'clients'. Marcus was such an agent, and a good one, and Jairus was a very special and unusually talented sort of cut-throat. They generally did very well for themselves.
"If I am so subtle how it is everyone seems to know about me?"
Marcus grinned. "It's not like that, they just said they needed whoever did the Gower job."
Jairus snorted derisively. "That was a botched job."
"That's why people know about it. It wasn't that bad though...they still officially ruled it suicide, and the client was happy."
"I'll be back in two weeks." He waved dismissively and left, content to be on his way. He'd come to despise this city. Fifty years in one place will do that to a man. It would be time to move on again soon. He hardly knew why he'd ever returned to this sad corner of the world in the first place. He had had good reason to leave it. 'I suppose I thought time would improve it' he thought bitterly, but even a couple centuries were clearly not enough.
He made his arrangements to have several crates shipped, Tim, would pick them up in a town far enough away from home that it would not lead anyone into his territory. That he could not abide. If old age had done anything to it was make him possessive. Like an aging wolf defensively guarding his dominance. It was a little depressing if he thought about it too much, immortality loses its charm and romance faster than one imagines. So he turned his mind to other more pleasurable things. Torturously sweet things. These new thoughts sped him quickly and almost happily home.
Thea's woke up in a sweat, gasping for air. There was a knock on her door, and she flinched. "Yes" she called out weakly.
"Are you alright?" May popped her head through the door. "You cried out."
"It must have been a night mare, I'm sorry for waking you.."
"Oh I was already awake I wouldn't have heard you if I wasn't passing by."
"Oh, well, thank you for your concern, but I'm quite alright." She desperately wanted her to go quickly, fearing that somehow she'd read the truth in her eye as Jairus seemed to be able to do. It was another reason she'd found to keep her distance, despite the tentative friendship they'd seemed to have developed. To her relief she did leave with a friendly nod.
Thea flopped back onto the bed and sighed heavily. She had been having a rather vivid dream, but she wasn't sure it qualified as a night mare. It was the first time she'd had that dream since she came here, but she knew she'd had it before. She must have forgotten it after waking in the past, but this time it was clear in her memory, almost as clear and real as an actual memory, and not as faded and disjointed as her dreams normally were.
In her dream she'd woken up back in her little cottage. Everything was as she remembered it. The fireplace burned low under a small cooking pot, her broom and cloak hung in the corner by the door, herbs hung against the chimney to dry, and she sat curled up in her small, worn, but cozy chair dozing in front of the fire. At the door there came a knock and she rose, and walked slowly over, wondering at the lateness of the caller. As she approached her dread grew until she was barely able to lift a hand and open the door. It swung open slowly of its own accord the moment she touched it, and beyond the door was inky blackness. She didn't need to call out to know there was something out there. She stepped back into the warm ring of light emanating from the fire, and was overwhelmed by the sense that this had happened before. A face appeared, familiar, and yet not, pale in the darkness.
The man, for he was a man, entered, his dark cloak swirling around him. 'Hello again' he whispered.
'Again?' she whispered back. Had they met before?
'I don't know you.'
He stepped forward and she stepped back. One step at a time until her legs bumped the back of the chair. She froze as he came to stand a hand's breadth away. She stared up at him and he gazed down at her. He was tall she thought absently. His eyes seemed to glow with unearthly light. Those eyes...maybe she did know him.
He raised his hand and lightly touched her face.
'You do, but you won't remember.'
His red mouth curved slightly, parting and revealing long teeth. She gasped and tried to pull away, but his arms were already encircling her, pressing her against him.
'Because I'm only a dream.'
She opened her mouth to call for help, but no sound came out, and those long teeth came down, piercing the skin of her throat, his face buried in the crook of her neck. There was pain and it made her whimper softly. But the whimpers soon turned to moans as her senses were flooded with an erotic heat that made her whole body quiver.
The man growled into her throat and crushed her against him, running his hands over her body. Down her back, her hips, squeezing the smooth round globes of her rear, making her groan against him and grind her hips into his. One hand slid lower grasping her thigh and hitching it up against him so that his own leg pressed between and hard up against her now throbbing sex. He released her thigh only to run his hands up her sides slowly, cupping and lifting her breasts, squeezing with a growl.
His mouth wandered from her throat, and she felt herself lean away to give him access as he kissed and bit his way across her chest and down into the valley of her breasts which his fingers had nimbly exposed, nipping and pulling at the electrified flesh. He pushed the fabric away carefully, sliding the lacing apart until he'd exposed one pale round breast.
She looked down and watched in aroused silence as his hand slowly traced the curves of her and the small pink nipple hardened to a point beneath his touch. He too watched and slowly lowered his head, taking the nub into his mouth and sucking gently. She groaned again and clung to him watching as he pulled away and extended his fangs once more, sinking them into the tender flesh, her body exploding with lightening sensations.
It was then she'd woken up. She must have cried out when he bit her in her dream. She blushed hotly. Not just at the thought of having someone hear her, but because recounting her dream had made her once more aroused.
She tentatively slid an experimental hand under the covers and discovered she was indeed quite wet. She flushed, but did not pull her hand away, and instead slid two fingers along the slick folds and pressed them against that same intense spot that Jairus had found that first night.
She closed her eyes and pictured his face, imagining he was back in the room with her, and that it was his fingers gliding over her. She even dipped a finger ever so slightly into her virgin slit as he had, and marvelled at how hot she felt. She dipped again this time a little deeper and shuddered in pleasure. She worked her finger slowly inside herself, sliding deeper and deeper until she met with resistance.