Into the Vampire's Lair Ch. 08byArtForm©
NB: Heartfelt gratitude goes to Mokkelke for proofreading this chapter and helping me out with the improvements. To my sister, Josephine for fiddling with my work Nazi-style and last but not least, to my editor, wildheartedangel for sorting out all my other grammar and vocab errors.
To my readers, I really apologize for the delay. Chapter 9 might take a while so I thank you for your patience!
Fiona wasn't exaggerating when she said Eian was cooking up a storm. Every available space on the dining table was filled with a plate of something- roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables, stewed meat, creamy soups, risotto and various other dishes that Alaron couldn't identify.
"This is to celebrate your pregnancy?" he asked in bewilderment.
"Uhuh," nodded Fiona with a chicken drumstick in her mouth. "Eian says I need to eat more."
"But you don't even eat Fi... I mean we don't even eat."
She frowned at his words. Somehow that had escaped her notice. "I think the baby wants to eat," she commented instead. "It's still part wolf right? I can't just survive on blood once every month alone."
"Yes... but that doesn't mean you stuff yourself," he said in annoyance. "You'll grow fat."
Fiona stiffened then laughed happily. "Then I'll be pregnant fat. That's different," she corrected, watching Alaron roll his eyes before turning to Erika.
"Would you like me to get you something?" he asked, unaware that Fiona had suddenly leaned forward in interest. Erika nodded and started to get up but Alaron was already walking towards the table, debating with himself over what to choose for her. Fiona watched as he plunked a bit of everything onto the plate he was holding.
"He never does that for me," she said in amusement. "Although that doesn't count since I didn't use to eat."
"Oh," said Erika, unsure of what to make of that observation. Fiona was also staring at her in a strange way, making her squirm slightly in her seat. She was sure that Fiona was about to ask something embarrassing but was saved when both Eian and Alaron came into the living room carrying plates loaded with food for the women.
"Sweetheart, you need to eat more," said Eian nervously, taking her empty plate away from her then standing to make sure she was eating and not throwing up.
"Seriously Eian, you're going to make her fat," said Alaron, even as he passed the plate he was holding to Erika.
Eian raised his eyebrow at the heap of food that Erika was now holding and then laughed, "Speak for yourself. At least I can finish her food for her, you can't," he said, caressing Fiona's hair.
"Aren't you going to eat Eian?" she asked, looking up at her husband. He flushed guiltily at her then nodded quickly before taking a few steps back.
"Err... I will, right after I'm done with the muffins," he said before rushing off to the kitchen to tend to them.
"Your husband is such a romantic!" exclaimed Erika the moment Eian was out of the living room. "He's sexy, smart, loving, protective and best of all, he cooks! He's going to spoil you silly Fiona! Trust me, a guy like that will go berserk once the baby arrives. He'll coddle you non-stop."
The two women laughed heartily, chattering non-stop; first about the sex of the baby then clothes, then to the shop, then books, then men and finally back to the topic of babies. Feeling slightly ignored, Alaron walked towards the kitchen, only to find Eian sitting on the floor with his back slumped against the wall.
The Alpha wolf has fallen, mused Alaron to himself. It was clearly an unusual sight for him. Who'd thought this regal and commanding man could be utterly stressed out by the idea of a baby?
"Need some help?" asked Alaron. The shocked look on Eian's face told him that the Alpha was obviously caught by surprise. For his heightened sense of hearing, this sure was unusual.
"Why are you here? Is something wrong?" he asked in panic, getting up quickly.
"Relax. You looked better when Fiona turned into a scary mind-control machine."
Eian simply scowled at him. "That's different."
"How so?" he asked in amusement. "It's just a baby, Eian..."
"But we never had a hybrid before. What if something goes wrong? What if I'm not there with her when she's in pain? What if her labour changes her even further? What if she doesn't eat enough food? Oh no! What if I gave her the wrong food!" his last words were almost a cry before he lunged towards the living room.
"You're losing it. Seriously," said Alaron, catching Eian by the waist and settling the tall, muscular man gently on a chair. In another situation, Eian might have bitten Alaron's head off at such manhandling but at the moment, he just sat quietly, staring to the floor.
"She'll be fine... you've got to believe it," said Alaron in the most reassuring voice he could muster. Seriously, this was not a situation he wanted to be in. Draven would be a better candidate in this sort of 'man to man' talk. In fact, he was just a baby compared to these two ancient artifacts...
When Eian still remained silent, Alaron decided it was time for a change of topic. "What's going to happen to my brother?"
The worry on Eian's face was immediately replaced by a hardened look. "Why'd you want to know?"
"He's in trouble isn't he?" asked Alaron, watching the way Eian's eyes looked at him curiously.
"I'm sure he knows how to take care of himself."
"Especially since you've taken care of half the problem?"
A flicker of worry flashed in Eian's eyes but it did not materialize on his face. He kept calm as he replied, "There is no problem, Alaron. Even if there is, you are too young to understand it and might cause more trouble for him."
"But he's my brother! I care for him."
Eian gave a long sigh. If the young Vampire intended to take his mind off Fiona and the baby, he surely did succeed but there was no way Eian was going to discuss Draven's problems with a youngling. Alaron was prone to fits of unreasonable anger and actions. He might rage against Aramis or worst, go to Amber and make her remember things that should otherwise be kept buried.
"If you won't tell me, then I'll just ask Fiona. You know she'll tell me."
Eian turned to look at him in alarm. "No... please don't do that. She might get upset and I don't want her to worry... the baby... Please Alaron."
Alaron was taken aback by Eian's behavior. He had expected the Alpha wolf to threaten him, knock him against the wall or something but instead he was just pleading.
"I'm sorry," said Alaron slowly, aware that it was the first time he'd apologize to Eian. Taking a seat beside him, Alaron looked up to the ceiling and sighed. "I know my brother's been sniffing around with that she-wolf of yours. At first I had thought it was just sex but then again, I don't think so when I found out that you've ordered for some major alterations to her name and memories."
Eian stiffened and turned to face Alaron. "How do you know all this?"
"It doesn't matter," he shrugged. "What matters is that I know but I'm not going to do anything about it unless his life is in danger. He went back to the castle earlier today and I'm just worried."
"He's back in the castle?" Eian was surprised that Draven would return so soon. He had thought the Vampire would have hidden out in his New York home for a few months at least.
"Yes and I suspect he's going to talk to Father. You know how he is right?"
"Father. He's going to overreact to everything that Draven says and then try to take everything into his own hands."
"What do you mean?" asked Eian in alarm. Surely he wasn't going to sanction a hunt for Amber without asking Eian's permission right?
"Well, I mean just take Fiona for example. You take her to him to have her fed and what does he do? He arranges for you two to get married. I'm just saying he's going to do the same thing to Draven. If he finds out that Draven's in love with Amber, he's just going to force him to get married to someone else to settle the issue."
Eian felt relief wash over him for a second, replaced only by a feeling of sadness at the knowledge that what Alaron told him might actually be possible. Separating mates while both were still alive was already a cruel act and now to force Draven into a marriage he does not want would wipe the reason for living out of the Vampire. But...
"It is for the best Alaron..." he said softly. "Unlike you, your brother does not have as much liberty when it comes to his life. He was born to take the title, to be exactly what your father wants him to be. He is a Pureblood."
Alaron understood that. Although he, Fiona and Draven shared the same family name, they were in fact of different classes. Draven, conceived by two Purebloods was born as one. He on the other hand was born to a human mother and Pureblood father, making him an Augustus. However, seeing that he had turned Fiona, though still of Noble blood, she was a class below him; a Caesar.
The Purebloods were a dying class, he knew. At the moment, there were only thirty five Pureblood families left and the Council had been trying to encourage the Purebloods to intermarry for the sake of the continuity of their species.
"Does he love her?" he asked suddenly.
"Okay." Alaron gave a resigned sigh. He felt bad for being envious of his brother in the past. Right now, he could bet that Draven wished he was in his place instead. Eian was right. He does have more liberty than his brother in choosing the paths in his life. Even if he chose to mate with a human, there would be no violent objections from his father. In fact, he didn't think that the Lord Culzean would mind at all. He already had the best of both worlds; an heir to retain their Pureblood status and a granddaughter that would provide an heir to a Duchy. He didn't really need Alaron.
The thought made him sad.
"I'll leave you to your muffins now," he announced as he got to his feet and walked away.
"Keep this to yourself Alaron," said Eian gently, watching the young Vampire nod wordlessly.
"Hi, umm, Professor. We met the other day at the auditorium remember?"
Amber stared at the beautiful black woman in front of her and nodded. "I'm sorry, I didn't get your name the other day," she said with a smile.
"Oh, I'm Natasha. And you are?"
Amber frowned slightly at the woman. Perhaps she had misheard; surely this student knows her name?
"Actually, I'm running late for my next class. Are you here to see me for a consultation?"
Natasha had no idea what a consultation is but she had promised Draven to keep an eye on the wolf so she was.
"Uh... I'm going to the same class you're going," she replied instead, watching Amber's eyes lighten up in delight.
"Oh that's great! Do you know where tutorial room sixteen is? It's only my second week on the job so I'm still not familiar with the place."
Damn. Okay, I can handle this... I'm a trained, experienced enforcer. How hard could it be to find the tutorial room?
It turned out much harder than she expected. By the end of the hour, both women were panting, having climbed various stairs and run across various corridors.
"Are you sure you're a student here?" asked Amber, leaning against a wall to catch her breath.
"Yes. It's kind of my first term here. Sorry..." apologized Natasha. "I think the class is over by now. Do you want to grab a drink before the next one?"
Amber looked up at Natasha and grinned. "Okay."
When they were seated at the school canteen, Natasha pondered over the drinks menu while Amber sat quietly, observing the stranger sitting in front of her.
"What would you like?" she asked.
"Anything cold is fine," she replied sweetly, taking out her purse and passing some money to Natasha. The enforcer stared at her in surprise then shook her head.
"My treat," she insisted, pushing the money across the table to Natasha. "You're still a student. I know you don't have much. Go ahead. Get whatever you want," she said with a smile.
Natasha got up as quickly as she could and dashed to the drinks counter. Was that woman just naturally sweet or was she glazed with honey every morning? That kind of sweetness was just abnormal! Every woman has a bitchy side to them and as much as she could tell from this Amber person, she had no notion of what it is to be angry, sad or hurt. Natasha wished that she could read this wolf's mind but that's akin to talking to a dog she supposed.
She shook her head slightly at Draven's reminder not to call Amber any form of animal. Well... that was quite a hard thing to do, considering how Vampires had been groomed from young to shun the Weres, thinking of them more as an inferior race. But then again, the humans were worst. They were helpless against both Werewolf and Vampire attacks.
Right, I'd better stop being such a racist or Draven will kick my butt.
Ordering two Pepsis, she headed back towards their table.
Amber smiled as she took the can and poured it into the paper cup that Natasha had passed to her. Taking a sip, she stared at Natasha over the top of her cup.
"Is there something wrong with me?" asked Natasha.
"You said you two are siblings? You don't look very much alike."
It was then that Natasha realized how lame their cover had been. No wonder Amber was suspicious of her! She was Black with an obvious Russian accent and Draven was clearly Caucasian with an Irish/Scottish thing going on.
"Oh well, we're step siblings I suppose but he doesn't like to say that. His mother married my father and so on. Long story. Boring. Let's talk about you."
"Me?" she asked in surprise.
"Yeah. Tell me about your family; how many siblings you have and all that."
"Oh," amber frowned as though trying to recall something; faltering a few times but eventually shaking her head and apologizing. "I'm sorry... I can't remember..."
Oh oh. Someone's been tampering with her memory.
"It's okay... why don't you tell me about your work. You said this is your second week?"
Amber's face lit up slightly as she nodded. "Yes. I was fortunate enough to get a place here. I used to practice before this but now I feel more comfortable teaching. So which field are you planning on majoring in? I mean, I know you won't get to decide until you finish your first year of residency but it's always good to have a goal in mind."
Why did I ever volunteer for this job? I have no clue what she's talking about and worst of all, I can't go back and erase her memory if I make a mistake!
Somehow, Natasha was saved by the sound of her ringing phone. Grateful for the reprieve, she quickly picked up the call.
"I'm coming over in half an hour. Make sure she stays within your sight at all times."
He hung up before she could say anything.
"Problem?" asked Amber in concern.
Natasha tried to smile but she was clearly worried. If Draven was going to arrive on such short notice, it could only mean one thing- bad news.
"Umm, Professor, do you think you could keep me company for another hour maybe? I haven't made any friends here and I'm just a little afraid of being alone."
Understanding filled Amber's eyes. "It's perfectly fine Natasha. I know it must be daunting to be in this strange place all by yourself. You'll make friends soon, I'm sure. Why don't we go to my office? That way you could keep me company too while I do my work."
"Oh, thank you Professor Amber."
Amber went rigid at the sound of the name. "I'm sorry dear, you must be mistaken. My name's not Amber. You can call me Professor or Doctor... but I suppose I'm not sure if it's the norm to address me by my first name."
Natasha stared open mouthed at the woman in front of her. This is not Amber?
"I apologize um, Professor. Perhaps we should go to your office now," she suggested instead. Inside, Natasha was feeling a sense of dread. Would Draven be angry if she was taking care of the wrong woman? There was only one way to find out... she'll have to look at the name on this woman's office door.
Natasha followed behind the red haired professor, keeping a focused eye out for any impending danger. They continued walking down a corridor before entering the faculty offices. It was relatively quiet but a quick scan around told her that there were a few humans around. In fact, they were all human, except for this woman in front of her. Natasha didn't think that even the redhead knew that she was a Werewolf.
"My office's kind of messy at the moment. I hope you don't mind," she announced before opening her door.
Ambrosia A. MacFarlane.
"Oh boy... wrong woman..." muttered Natasha under her breath. She stopped by the door and took out her phone to call Draven.
"Answer damn it."
She waited quite some time before he answered. "I just parked. Where are you?"
"In her office... or I think this is the right one. This is the same red head we met the other day right?" she whispered, walking a few doors down to make sure Amber did not hear her.
"Yes. Is there a problem?"
"Hell yeah. She says she's not Amber."
"I see. It's okay. Keep her safe. I'm coming."
"Why? Don't trust me to take her on a run on my own?"
There was a slight pause before he answered. "I'm coming to bring her home."
"What?! You're bringing her straight to her own death?"
"I'm becoming desperate Sasha. My father is unyielding but It thought... since he has worked with her before... he knows what she's like and. I may be a fool for thinking he might change his mind... but I've got to try."
"And what if he doesn't?"
"Then I'll stay with her in wherever he chooses to hold her. I'm not staying away from her one more minute. It's killing me."
"How much time do you have to convince him?"
"Not too long; about a day or two at most. I think he plans for me to marry on the equinox."
This time, it was Natasha who kept silent. When she finally spoke, there was worry and understanding in her voice.
"Don't do it Draven... please..."
But he already hung up.
Natasha cursed as the line disconnected.
He had searched under MacFarlane and found Amber's office location. He was aware that her first name was registered under something else but he had no doubt that she was the same woman he loves.
Striding down the corridors, he finally reached the offices and trailed after her scent, leading him into a small room that had been labeled with her name on the door.
The moment he entered, his first command was directed at Natasha although his eyes were solely on Amber.
Get to the Dean's office and to whoever else in charge of this place and make sure you wipe their memory of ever having her here. You can leave this office as it is but just make sure no one knows I've taken her.
Natasha looked up in alarm at Draven then flicked her gaze to Amber who was staring at them in confusion.
She can hear you!
I know. Just go Sasha. I'll handle this.
No. Why don't you just run? You have resources... you can live in seclusion.
Draven took his eyes off Amber for a few seconds to glare determinedly at Natasha.
And be labeled a rogue? Deserting my position is one thing but kidnapping a Were sounds like a crime to me. The hunters will go after our heads without question.
What the... and bringing her home is not kidnapping?
She'll be my guest and my wife. That's different. Now just get the hell out Natasha. I can't stand not being near her anymore.
Natasha glared at him for one last time but got up to leave as instructed. She did not approve of what he was about to do but knew that there was nothing she could do; short of physically restraining him on the floor and she really didn't want to do that.