New Kingdom: American Court Ch. 03byMicKay©
After her shower, Alena wrapped her hair in a towel and put on the matching lace camisole and boy shorts that had been left for her. She returned to Gabriel's bedroom and stopped to stare at the huge bed in the center of the room. The massive structure was an ornate black headboard offset by a dark blue spread. The combination represented Gabriel's two most dominant characteristics - intimidation and seduction. Approaching the bed, she pulled the covers back to reveal the matching silk sheets. She was entranced by the scent that belonged exclusively to Gabriel. Vowing to rest for just a minute before drying her hair, she lay back on the pillow and relished the feeling of luxury against her body.
Surveying the room, Alena observed the masculinity of the décor which revealed no evidence of a female touch. Strengthening the barrier around her thoughts, she smiled in the secret pleasure of knowing that no woman could claim any ownership to his room. The windows were securely covered by the heavy drapes that were not needed to prevent the sun's rays from injuring Gabriel but hinder vampire voyeurs from seeing the guest. Relaxing in the luxury and safety of his possessions, Alena allowed her eyes to close submitting to the extravagant comfort even if it would last for only a few short hours.
"Baby," Gabriel said gently, sweeping aside her hair, which had escaped the towel, from her face. "Wake up."
Eyes opening, she blinked in confusion, "What? Oh no, I feel asleep."
"Your sister needs you."
Disoriented, she jumped from the bed, removing the towel from her hair and looking for her clothes.
"Here," he said, handing her his robe in response to her search, "Hurry."
Before she could tie the belt, he pulled her into his arms and started moving. She could only guess his speed by the breeze blowing through her hair. Within seconds, he was standing her on her feet.
As she slid down the front of his body, Alena turned to find Edward holding Iona close to his chest stroking her back. They were all in a room that was apparently part of the king's living quarters. "What's going on?" she asked belting the robe and walking to her sister.
"I have nightmares when I sleep and then I can't function when I'm awake," Iona said with a tremble in her voice as she turned to her sister. "It's part of the reason you're here. We thought you might be able to help me," she said with tears in her eyes.
"Oh honey," Alena said instantly conforming into her surrogate mother persona. "Take a deep breath. Do you need something to drink?" She asked placing her hands on Iona's face shielding her eyes from seeing anyone but her.
"It was just another dream, Ona," she continued, coining the new nickname. "Come, sit with me and tell me what happened." Alena sat on the couch and then crawled to the end grabbing a pillow to place in her lap.
"Do you mean that I've had these before?" Ona asked pulling away from Edward.
"All of your life," she answered patting the pillow in her lap.
"And you took care of me?"
"Sometimes," she smiled at her sister. "But when we were kids, I'd crawl under the bed and take my chances with the bogeyman."
"Funny," Iona said lying on the couch with her head on the pillow. "I'm sure Edward is convinced that I'm losing my mind and I won't survive my change," she added with a tone of despair.
"No," Alena replied, looking at the king's worried expression, "He's figuring out just how spoiled you are and who is responsible for it."
With the tense mood lessening, Edward and Gabriel walked across the room to fix drinks at the bar. Alena stroked her sister's hair in an offhanded way showing and old habit. "So do you remember the dream?"
"It's always about the same thing -- blood."
"I would think you'd be ok having dreams about blood."
"Yeah, really. But I'm so disturbed that I can't feed for several hours after waking up. Edward is worried that I'm going insane."
"Will you tell me about the dream?"
"I'm hunting....someone," she paused, obviously choosing her words with care, "and when I catch them, I feed until they die."
"So you dream about breaking a New Kingdom vow," Alena reasoned. "It's like dreaming that you show up at work naked. It's just a dream."
"No, it isn't!" Iona said, sitting up in her agitation. "I dream of hunting children. I hear a voice promising that the nectar is so rich and sweet that I will not regret breaking the vow. So I catch them and kill them and enjoy draining their lifeblood. Then when I wake, I crave that taste to the point that it's all I want and then I hate what I am and can't fathom drinking blood at all," she finished. Looking across the room, she saw that Edward and Gabriel had quit talking and were listening intently to her confession.
"Love," Edward said cautiously approaching his mate, "why didn't you tell me? You locked me out of your thoughts so I only knew about the nightmare and then you refused to feed." Looking directly at Alena, he continued, "Her survival depends on her drinking blood."
"Understood," Alena said resolved to accept her sister's new life by encouraging her to feed. "So, where's the stuff kept? We'll get you a glass and then we can do whatever you do during the night."
As though waiting for his cue, Edward quickly approached with a glass in hand. "Here," Alena instructed her sister, "Bottom's up."
"How can you tolerate this?" Iona asked.
"You need it."
"But how can you sit there knowing what's in this glass?"
"I accepted the lifestyle of vampires years ago," she replied quickly glancing at Gabriel. "It's the same as vegetarians accepting us carnivores," she said with a smile. "So drink up and let's get moving."
Returning the smile, Iona lifted the glass to her lips and took a small drink. Savoring the sweet liquid as it slid down her throat, she closed her eyes and allowed the warmth, starting in her core, to spread through her body. Feeling the rush of strength surge through her muscle, she looked up to her sister and grinned, "You really are amazing. I don't know how, but I knew that I needed you."
"Well, I'm here," Alena yawned, "maybe more in body than in spirit, but I'm here. So finish the glass before I pass out on you."
"You need sleep," Iona stated after draining her glass.
"Not as much as I need to know that you're ok."
"Edward," she looked to her love, "I'm better and, for the first time, I really believe that I'll be ok. I know that you and Gabriel have work to do, so, I'll just stay here with Alena and watch TV. If that's ok with you," she added looking to her sister.
"Excellent," she answered, "I can't wait to see the bad Sci-Fi movies and infomercials that I've been missing during my pathetic human existence."
Nodding to both women, Edward agreed, "Then we will return to our offices, but do not hesitate to call me."
"How do we call you?" Alena stopped when three pairs of eyes flashed at her in amusement. "Ok, so I forgot about well vampires can hear. Sorry, I'll just yell" she shrugged laying her head on the arm of the sofa.
As the men said their goodbyes and left, Iona grabbed the TV remote and started searching for an acceptable movie. Scanning the channels, both laughed when they found a Dracula marathon on cable.
"Let's watch this," Alena said. "You might learn something."
"Why? Will there be a pop quiz?"
"Maybe," giving a suspicious look, "Do you even have fangs?"
Barely suppressing the giggle, Iona gave the full treatment by baring her fangs and leaping across the distance between them on the sofa, effectively pinning her sister to the couch. Caught in the moment, Alena shrieked in surprise. Before either could regain control, the door to the suite slammed open with both Edward and Gabriel appearing in front of them.
"Uh," Iona started, "We were just goofing off."
"What the hell were you doing?" Gabriel growled at her.
"Gabe," Alena interceded, "It's my fault. I know that you're worried about my safety but we were just joking around and I forgot your warning. Sorry."
With a smile, Edward declared, "I guess we were granted our wish that the sisters would be reunited. Ok, we'll leave you to your," he hesitated looking at the screen, "interesting choice of entertainment."
Leaving the woman laughing together, Edward and Gabriel exited the apartment again. As Edward closed the door, he said to his friend, "I will confess that, until you carried Alena into my apartment, I couldn't understand your attraction to her."
Exhaling slowly, Gabriel waited for his friend to continue.
"When I saw you escorting her into the house this evening, I couldn't see past a rather plain looking woman."
"She was exhausted. The previous three months have been extremely trying on her."
"Ah, yes," Edward returned, "I'm sure that the one hour of sleep she got in your bed has restored her to the beauty she is right now."
Smiling at his friend's assessment, "She's never considered herself a beauty."
"She's never seen herself through a man's eyes."
"When we first met," Gabriel said when they were finally behind the closed doors of their offices, "I would tell her how beautiful I thought she was but I quickly learned that she did not handle compliments well. So, I settled for looking past the exterior and just getting to know her."
"And you fell in love!" Edward exclaimed in shock. "How did I not know this, friend?"
"Odd. She knew about us but we didn't know about her," he mused. "It appears that you had taken care of explaining the obvious complication."
"She actually guessed it," Gabriel shared. "We had been working late for so many nights and she just looked at me and said, 'Not all of us are vampires drinking blood and working all night. I need food and sleep.' I couldn't believe it," he said remembering.
"What did you do?"
"I was so shocked by her observation that I couldn't deny it."
"Interesting," Edward said studying his friend. "And I repeat, how did I not know this?"
"It ended quickly. There was never a need to explain it."
"Why and how?"
Staring his friend in the eye while hiding his memories, "Edward," Gabriel started, "it's in the past."
"But she's here in the present," the king replied with a grin, "and I believe she will remain throughout our future."
Dropping his head, Gabriel signaled his request to drop the subject. After eight years of suffering, he would not allow himself to hope for a different outcome with Alena. He agreed with Edward's evaluation of her beauty, having almost forgotten his mission when he had first seen her lying in his bed.
Alena had obviously not intended to fall asleep. The covers were folded at the foot of the bed and the partially clothed woman with the long mane of mahogany curls was snuggled seductively against his pillows. Even with the dark shadows under eyes, she still had a perfect, cream complexion and petite curves that beckoned him to join her in the bed to physically elicit her agreement to stay with him for eternity. The simple gesture of moving her hair from her face had sent of jolt of arousal through him that caused his fingers to tingle from the contact. He knew that his bed would now be permeated with the scent no perfume could duplicate. With each beat of her heart, the subtle aroma guaranteed that her blood would be a rich, decadent dessert. When he carried her to Edward's suite, he felt the warmth of her soft flesh that promised a life full of pleasure. Gabriel shook his head ending his reverie and noticed that Edward was intently studying his face.
"We've known each other for so long," Edward started in a serious tone, "through all of the good and the bad, or so I thought. You've cared for her, and still do. I'm willing to bet that she feels the same," he continued with his eyes boring into Gabriel's. "So I'm now wondering if the reason that I didn't know about your separation is because I am the cause of your separation."
"My loyalty has always been to you."
"How could your relationship with her ever interfere with your loyalty to me?"
"Edward, it's been eight years," Gabriel finally pleaded, "please, let it rest."
"For now," he acquiesced. "So we will move on to our earlier topic. Who is trying to destroy the New Kingdom and how are they doing inside our walls?"
As the men's conversation returned to serious matters of state, the sisters were in the king's suite watching the marathon featuring b-rated actors portray various vampires famous in fiction.
"So," Iona asked with a serious expression, "do we agree that ex-porn stars make better vampires than washed out stage actors?"
"Only in the seventies and when nudity is required," Alena returned. "I don't want to see Christopher Lee naked but I hope that I never hear this idiot," she pointed to the screen, "speak another word."
"This is fun!" Iona declared snuggling to her sister lying on the couch. "I love Edward more than my own life, but this has been a very difficult month," she said in a serious tone. "If I'm going to survive, it's because of you. Promise me that you'll stay forever."
"I'll stay as long as you need me."
"Then it's decided," she replied settling back again her sister, "You'll stay forever."
They both laughed in amusement at her first official edict. When they returned their attention to the screen, the conversation dwindled to rare comments and eventually silence as they both surrendered to sleep forced by exhaustion and the quickly approaching dawn.
Before sunrise, Edward and Gabriel returned to the suite to find the sisters cuddled on the couch, sound asleep. When Edward gently lifted Iona into his arms, Alena grabbed for her sister in a gesture of protection.
"Easy, lioness, I'm only taking her to bed," Edward told Alena while looking at his mate's peaceful expression. "I owe you so much for helping us. Whatever you need, you will have."
"She's my sister," Alena mumbled in her exhaustion, "I love her."
Gabriel watched the exchange and envied the young woman in his friend's arms. He did not need the protection, but most of his life had been void of the devotion. Except for the few short months eight years ago, he had lived all of his life with only physical pleasures to comfort him.
Lifting Alena to his chest, Gabriel whispered, "Come, sleep with me."
"I can walk," she murmured in a quiet voice.
"We're already in my room," he chuckled laying her in his bed. "Sleep, my love," he whispered with a kiss to her hair as he curled his body behind hers, holding her in his arms.
Several hours later, Alena awoke feeling lost and disoriented. Stretching in the bed, she recognized the wall of flesh behind her and his strong arms imprisoning her against his body.
"As far as prisons go," she thought, "I'd take life without parole in this one."
Feeling her movements, Gabriel tightened his embrace, "Stay with me. You've already slept most of the day with me, in my bed. Please give me just a couple more hours of this."
Alena continued struggling against his arm until he relented and relaxed his hold. She smiled at his obvious confusion and pleasure when, instead of rising from the bed, she turned in his arms to lay her face against his bare chest.
"Gabe, I'm sorry," she said wrapping her arm around his waist, "I have to wiggle around when I'm in bed. Is that going to be a problem?" she asked pressing a kiss to his heart.