This might take a week or so as I've been swamped with assignments and managed to squeeze only 30minutes to an hour of writing a day. The only good thing I guess is that my fuel is burning bright and I'm typing relentlessly. =)
I do apologize though if chapter 6 left some of you confused. Yes, everything will hopefully be revealed in the coming chapters.
Oh yes, as an afterthought, I'm considering allowing one reader to proof read my next chapter before I send it for editing. Haha. Should I even open that suggestion?
Chapter 7- teaser
“His Lordship?” Natasha was clearly surprised. “Why would he want to do that?”
“We’ll talk on the way to the car. It’s not safe here,” he replied; his eyes taking count of the various cameras and humans present. As the two of them walked further away from the auditorium, Draven felt the urge to keep looking over his shoulder every few seconds… hoping that Amber would come out after him.
“She’s not coming,” said Natasha coldly as they reached his car.
“I know that. Get in,” he muttered gruffly.
They sat in his car in silence for a few minutes as Draven tried to calm himself down. It was only when Natasha began entertaining herself with an annoying Talking Tom app on her iphone that he turned to face her.
“Just what in the world is that annoying voice?”
“It’s the voice of God,” said Natasha, not to Draven but to her phone; giggling uncontrollably when Tom’s high pitch voice mimicked her, albeit exaggeratedly.
“Right… put that away Sasha.”
“Put that away Sasha!” chimed Talking Tom. Natasha grinned as she slipped the phone into her bag and then turned to give Draven a solemn look.
“Serious mode now,” she announced. “Ready to talk?”
Draven ignored her mocking tone. “I need you to promise me that you won’t breathe a word about this.”
“Tell me what your father has got to do with this and I’ll consider it.”
Draven cast a sideward glance at her. “Is everything a transaction to you?”
“Only when someone else made the offer first,” she replied with a nonchalant shrug. “So tell me.”
Eyes narrowing to study her, Draven considered whether it was better if he just removed her memory of meeting him. He must have been staring at her for a whole minute for she suddenly cleared her throat and pressed a finger in the middle of his forehead.
“I can remove your memory just as you can remove mine,” she reminded him in an annoyed voice. “I might not be as good but I’d chop up enough of the chronology to make your life miserable.”
“Fine,” said Draven through clenched teeth. Memory manipulation needed physical contact and at the moment Natasha did have the upper hand, literally, he noted.
“So tell me, why would your father want to have her hunted down? You don’t even know if he will do that,” she said accusingly.
“Well, I spoke to my…” he was about to say Alpha but caught himself. “My friend… and he predicted that father might disown me should I take on a wife outside of the Vampire nobility circle.”
“Wait a minute… didn’t your father married a human? What? Suddenly he decided to be endogamous?”
“He produced me with a Pureblood Vampire didn’t he? He considered it his duty to produce a legitimate Pureblood heir as is mine. After that, it was up to him what he wanted to do.”
Natasha sat up slightly, taking her finger away from his head. “He… didn’t love your mother?”
A smile curled at Draven’s lips as he shook his head. “Neither did she love him… or me for that matter.”
“It’s alright,” whispered Draven, trying not to remember the loneliness he had felt centuries ago. “If he could make the sacrifice, he won’t understand why I won’t.”
Natasha was silent but Draven could read her like an open book. He knew that she felt sorry for him and was mentally berating herself for asking him questions in the first place. Unlike him, her parents were true life mates and she had many siblings to keep her company as she grew up.
“Why don’t you try and talk to him, Draven?”
“He’ll say no,” he replied affirmatively.
“You haven’t even tried…” she whispered sadly, watching the way his eyes tried to avoid looking at her. “I will be with the wolf when you talk to him. If he sanctions her immediate termination then I’ll help her run.”
His gaze immediately flicked towards her. “You’ll do that for me?”
Letting out a long sigh, Draven began nodding slowly. “I’ll talk to him…”
Alaron had been camping on Erika’s couch for the past week, keeping her company and being her guard dog as she persistently calls him. Honestly, it was a good life; sleeping, watching TV, walking around to search for a suitable place to rent and most importantly, keeping an eye on a beautiful woman. The downside was that he had to sit through Vampire Diaries, Glee, Desperate Housewives and god knows how many other TV shows because Erika only had one television and it was in the living room. He also disliked the fact that he had to carry all her things when they went grocery shopping or book hunting. But worst of all was being called her guard dog - that was akin to being called a wolf and he resented that.
However, it seems that the torturous week was coming to an end. Eian had told Dominic to help source out suitable locations for Erika and Fiona to decide on for their store venue and the girls had finally settled on one that was situated just outside Bloomsbury. The rent had been pricy but Alaron had urged her and Fiona to get it, insisting that he and Draven would chip in the cost.
So this morning, they were going to head down to MacFarlane Realty to sign the lease forms and then they can begin moving all the boxes that were currently lying around in Erika’s apartment. She had spent the last two days packing her personal things as well as the precious inventory that she had salvaged from the ruined bookstore below. Alaron had found her organized and meticulous nature particularly desirable, although he had never brought it up.
In fact, he had not made a single move to clarify or advance their relationship. As far as he was concerned, he was comfortable with the normalcy in which they snipped and insulted each other.
“Are you ready to go?” he heard her ask from inside her room.
“Yeah. I’m at the door,” he replied, tapping a foot impatiently. She had been getting dressed for the past hour and was still not ready. Why does it take so long to get dressed anyway?
“Okay, give me a minute!”
“Sure… take your time. My butt is practically paralyzed from standing too long. A minute more won’t matter.”
A crash and a smattering of curses later, she emerged from her room wearing what looked like a mini dress made out of feathers… or was it grass? Alaron was almost recoiling out the door at the sight of her when he realized that she was staring at him expectantly.
“What? No good?” she asked, twirling around. She was obviously waiting for his approval or otherwise. “It’s a Louis Vuitton Spring collection you know,” she added when he gave her a blank look.
“Well…” Alaron didn’t make it past his first word for she was walking back into her room, leaving him standing at the door with his mouth hanging open. What did he say?
Taking off his shoes he went back in and pushed open her room door. “Hey! Why’d you walk away? We’re running late… whoa!” Alaron gave a surprised shout at the sight of her standing in her lingerie.
“What are you doing here!” she said, reaching out for the first available thing to throw at him, which unfortunately was a table lamp.
Thankfully he had quick reflexes for he caught the lamp and set it down.
“Look, whatever you were wearing is fine. I don’t mean now,” he frowned looking at her from head to toe. “I meant before. We need to go now unless you want to be late. We still need to swing by and fetch Fiona and I do not want her to be angry at me.”
She cocked her head to the side, obviously aware that he was still standing there watching her rifle through a box of clothing. What was annoying though was that he didn’t even give a damn that she was barely dressed and was instead looking annoyed.
“Fiona’s not coming,” she replied tartly, pulling out a pair of jeans and a boring black t-shirt. “She called last night to say that she has scheduled an appointment with her doctor or something.”
“Hmm,” he said, looking first at his watch then at her. “In that case, you still have about an hour.” When she began tugging on the jeans, he laughed. “That means you don’t have to put on jeans if you don’t want to. I know they’re too ghastly for your taste.”
She pursed her lips and pushed down her jeans unhappily. It just occurred to her that Alaron might actually be gay and was lying to her when he said he wasn’t in the car. He had practically stayed in the same house with her for a week without making a move and was now seeing her in her lace thong and all he could say was that her jeans was ghastly?
“Why are you scowling at me?” he asked suddenly. Erika narrowed her eyes at his curious expression. “What!” he exclaimed in defense but she simply responded by tilting her head haughtily. Truth was, Erika was feeling extremely embarrassed. Hadn’t she always worn those sexy baby dolls to sleep every night, hoping that he would come into her room? Sure, he’d come into her room only to use the toilet, grunting sleepily when he saw her.
“You’re gay aren’t you?” she said accusingly.
“No I’m not!”
“Oh god… just admit it will you? It spares me the humiliation.”
“Humiliation?” he asked, confused. “I don’t understand…”
“Just get out of my room Alaron,” she replied with a resigned sigh, turning around so that her back was facing him.
Alaron was really unsure what just happened. One moment she was happy then she was angry and now she was disappointed.
Alaron frowned at the slight wavering of her voice. Was she… crying? This time he didn’t call her name but simply moved forward, almost instinctively, and wrapped his arms around her.
“Don’t cry,” he whispered, holding her tighter. “I’m sorry… for whatever it is that I did.”
Her voice was soft but he heard her barely audible words. “It’s more what you didn’t.”
Alaron had no idea what she was talking about but he hated it when women cry so he replied reassuringly, “Okay, I’m sorry for what I didn’t do too…”
Obviously she knew that he was just saying that to appease her so she began clawing at him to release her. However, Alaron simply held on tighter, unsure exactly what Erika really wanted. Alaron had to admit that he hadn’t had much experience dealing with female whims. It was different with family, he thought, thinking of Fiona. He could be a hard ass with her and still she would love him because well… they were family; a taken for granted assumption.
But it was different with Erika. He didn’t want to treat her like the other women he’d use for convenience food or sex. In fact, he had been on his best behavior ever and still she seemed upset by it. And what’s with her obsession about him being gay?
His thoughts were interrupted by the sudden limpness in Erika’s posture. Apparently she had given up fighting to get free and was leaning all her weight on him as though hoping it would make him fall backwards.
“What are you doing?” his question was addressed as though he was scolding an insolent child.
“Trying ways to get me out of your embrace,” she replied in a stiff voice. Alaron frowned slightly at her choice of words. He didn’t think of his hold as an embrace but more of a measure of control. Somehow that knowledge scared him and he released his grip immediately.
“Okay. I give up. Get dressed in ten minutes. We’re leaving.”
They had been silent throughout the drive to the company headquarters but Alaron was too annoyed to bring up the issue. At that moment, he just wished he could read her mind and know exactly what she wanted. That must be why Draven always seemed to get women to like him. Frowning a little, Alaron figured if he was going to land this impossible woman, he’s got to do it the old fashioned way… whatever that means.
He considered asking Eian but shuddered at the thought. Eian and his brother were as old as earth and their idea of wooing a woman would probably take him back to the Renaissance. Besides, Fiona had conveniently landed on Eian’s lap and Draven…well, the guy was in love with a Werewolf for godsake! Not the best choice.
For the briefest moment, Alaron wished that his mother was still around. She would know what to do. Suddenly his hands froze on the steering wheel. That’s it! He couldn’t believe that it took so long for him to realize the answer: Pearl!
With his mood cheered up a little, he began whistling as they entered the underground parking lot of MacFarlane Realty.
Ten minutes later, he and Erika were going up the lift; straight to the board of directors’ level. Alaron wasn’t sure why they couldn’t just let the lower level managers handle the matter. Frowning, Alaron stepped out of the lift and gaped at the plush settings of the reception area. He gulped. If Eian had entrusted a board director to handle such a pathetic leasing agreement then it must be a really expensive location.
He was mentally recalling the amount of money he had in his savings when the receptionist came up to greet them. She was a slim brunette, dressed in crisp business attire and had pouty lips and a derriere that would make any man look twice. In fact, Alaron himself was giving her a considering look but only because she was eyeing Erika with derision. She obviously disapproved of Erika’s fashion sense.
“Hi, we’re here to see Mr. Dominic MacFarlane? I’m sure we have an appointment,” Alaron spoke up, drawing the receptionist attention to himself.
Immediately her attitude changed and she flashed him a warm, almost flirty smile, “Well, hello. Yes, of course.” Alaron tried not to grimace. He knew that he was good looking and was used to women paying him attention. Her eye flicked most briefly on the expensive watch he wore to the family signet ring on his right hand. She smelled money and she liked that smell.
In fact this one, like all the others he had met in the past, eyed him with the same lustful contemplation and because she was staring at him for far too long, Alaron casually slipped his hand into Erika’s before speaking, “Would you like to show us the way?”
Both women stiffened in their place. The receptionist, upon realizing that Alaron was not up for grabs, immediately turned on her heel and went to her desk to call for Dominic MacFarlane.
“What are you stiffening for?” asked Alaron with concern when he realized that Erika’s breaths were shallow and her body almost catatonic. It was only when he spoke that she forced herself to relax and pulled her hand away sharply.
“Nothing,” she snapped.
“Sure?” he asked, peering into her face. “Holding my hand won’t deprive you of blood I swear,” he added when she gave him a fierce look.
She was about to say something insulting when Dominic came walking towards them. Erika immediately forgot what she wanted to say. She remembered seeing Dominic at Fiona’s wedding but she had been too busy eating and dancing that she had not noticed how the men in Fiona’s life looked extraordinarily handsome. Or was it just her?
“Hi, we’ve met at the wedding. I’m Dominic, in case you forgot,” he said, extending a hand towards Erika. Snapping out of her daze, Erika shook it and followed him into his office with Alaron close behind her.
“Snap out of it. He’s married,” whispered Alaron out of nowhere.
Erika hissed. “What you can read minds now?”
“You have that moony look on your face,” he replied before pushing her inside the room gently. That was to mark the end of their discussion for Dominic was seated and smiling sweetly at both of them.
“Have a seat,” he said, watching as the two of them complied. “So, Miss O’Brien, I understand that you’ve sold over your current property and will be renting out the loft and retail space outside Bloomsbury?”
“Right, so here’s the lease agreement. I need you to read it through and sign at the bottom when you’re ready. Your co-owner has already agreed and signed so it is now up to you.”
Erika nodded once again and took the form from him.
“I’ll leave you to read. I’ll be back in a while,” he said, smiling once more at her. Alaron rolled his eyes as Dominic got up and left the two of them alone. It was obvious that Eian had purposely set Dominic to the task of charming off Erika’s pants so that she would sign the damn form with little consideration.
They all knew of his concern for the women’s safety. It was almost a point of obsession, he thought but on hindsight, he didn’t think he’d like Fiona to work in that dump either. In fact, he didn’t like Erika working there either.
The last thought annoyed him somewhat. Turning to Erika, he scowled, “Lemme see that.” He plucked the form neatly out of her clasp and frowned as he studied the details and immediately his jaw dropped.
“This is blasphemy! It’s ruddy expensive!” he exclaimed. “£536 per square feet? What is this? Daylight robbery?”
“What? Are you sure…” she asked, taking the paper back from him. Obviously she wasn’t paying attention; excitement clouding her judgement for she wanted to simply sign the paper and be done with it. However, Alaron was right. It was a pricy sum to pay and she knew that he was making such a big fuss only because he was partly paying for it.
“I’ll go find Dominic and have him renegotiate this,” he muttered irritably as he got up and left Erika alone.
Truth was, Alaron didn’t mind helping the girls pay for the rent. Even if Draven was missing and did not chip in, Alaron had enough savings to reimburse them for the damage he and his brother had caused. However, what about after that? Would they make enough money to actually have profits?
Feeling surly, Alaron sniffed out for the Beta and found him in another director’s office. A glance at the title told him that Dominic was with his wife. He didn’t think they’d sneak off to make out during office hours especially since the door wasn’t fully closed.
He was about to knock when he heard Sydney’s voice.
“So have you made the necessary alterations to her files?”
“Yes I have. It wasn’t easy seeing that her credentials were almost 30 years old but she looks younger than that.” There was a pause and some shuffling around. “But I’m not sure if it was right for Eian to send her to live amongst the humans as though she’s one… you know that the university provides accommodations for their teaching staff right?”
“You know you have to do it honey. Even with her memory suppressed, staying within the compound might trigger her memories by accident and cause her to go rogue once she remembers that her mate doesn’t want her…” she paused. “Then she’ll become the target both of the pack and the Vampires.”
A long silence filled the room before Dominic spoke, “Do you think the Vampires are really coming after her?”
“Eian seems to think so… and you should stop doubting your Alpha.”
“Yes but he’s putting her away from the compound… how is that suppose to keep her safe?”
“If the Vampires are really coming after her, then the first place they’ll search is the compound and the medical centre. Even a quick check on the medical directories will not direct them to her… because you’ve removed her from it right?”
Dominic must be nodding for Sydney continued talking. “It will take them time to track her down to where she’s at now. And even when they do, they will not take her out in front of the humans. They might be ruthless if she was in our midst because we already know they exist but they will not expose themselves to the mortals.”
“I never thought of it that way… but what if they do find her? Who’s keeping guard of her? I know Eian hasn’t sanctioned any of the Betas to stay and keep an eye out for her.”
“Stationing too many Beta wolves at the same location will only give their hiding location away! No… Eian has sent some of the younger Weres to study there remember? Some of them still have not expressed their wolf-qualities yet and they smell just like any other humans. I think they report back daily. Anyway, is she going by her official name now?”
“Yeah, Fiona really put a big whammy on her. She doesn’t even respond to ‘Amber’ anymore. It’s kinda funny though coz I think one of the guys shortened her name because he thought her eyes looked like amber. He must be blind or something for her eyes are blue not yellow! But she immediately loved it and started going by that name.”
“You’re just stupid honey. Her eyes are like amber; the blue varieties. Anyway, Ambrosia sounds so… old fashioned. I don’t blame her for choosing to be called Amber instead.”
“Thank god you didn’t shorten your name to Syd or something. I mean, imagine me moaning out Syd when we’re making love. Totally not sexy.”
Alaron had heard enough. Suddenly he forgot why he was standing outside the door in the first place for his mind was occupied with worry over his brother. If they had put a ‘big whammy’ on Amber as Dominic had said, it must mean that Eian had found out about it! Damn! That was sooner than he expected.
Walking away as fast as he could towards the reception area, Alaron dialed Draven’s number. His brother picked up on the third ring.
“Are you in trouble?” was the first thing he asked.
“I’d rather say you are. Where are you?” asked Alaron, glossing over Draven’s question.
“I’m on my way home. Why?”
“Which home?” Alaron’s voice was brimming with impatience. “You better not be going back to Father.”
Draven kept silent.
“Oh god… you are? That is seriously the most stupid thing to do at the moment. I’m guessing if Eian knows it, Father will know about it by now. He’ll be enraged!”
A soft sigh accompanied Draven’s voice, “Don’t be so dramatic Alaron… everything is fine. Eian will not tell Father anything because there is nothing to tell. I want to go home and let Father know about my decision to return to the Council.”
This time, Alaron kept quiet. Draven’s decision to return to the Council had obviously stunned him.
“You’re all grown up now Alaron… surely you don’t expect me to be around to take care of you right?”
“But the lab…”
“I’m sure you can handle the work there. You’re a smart, resourceful boy. You were quite a genius in isolating that gene for Fiona remember?”
Alaron was quiet. He knew that Draven was just trying to cheer him up when in fact his brother was the one who needed it. In all his life, he had never seen Draven taking more than a glance at a woman and yet he had been enamored by that Doctor, even forgetting the consequences of his actions.
“Brother…” whispered Alaron in what almost sounded like a plea. “Please don’t go to Father… he can scent out a lie from a mile away.”
“It will be fine Alaron… Unlike you, I’ve had centuries to practice the art of lying. Besides, I just want to let him know about my decision to return to service.”
When Alaron didn’t say anything, Draven continued, “Alright then, I’ve got to go. Take care and stay out of trouble understand? Everything will be fine.”
Then he disconnected. Alaron looked down at his feet and whispered sadly, “You’re lying…”