Chapter three of my first book based on a vampire family post racial wars.
Micah paced the white marble floor, his bare feet slapping out an impatient cadence.Â The entryway wasn't wide so Micah was nearly hitting the walls before he would turn.Â As he was lost in thought he absentmindedly smoothed his short blonde goatee. He had failed not once but twice in the same night and there was no excuse for it. He huffed out an impatient breath and again went over the different protocol for the guards. Each of the main entry ways should have had at least one, not to mention the handful that roamed the halls at unspecified times of the day, there was no set pattern for someone to learn, yet someone had slipped by somewhere. Again he shook his head and turned to pace a few steps in the other direction.
Ruavia sat in one of the plush chairs, she was relaxed, bored looking even.Â She crossed her legs and bounced her foot to the rhythm of Micah's steps.Â He noted her relaxed manner and slowed his pace. He watched her for a moment before he turned fully, his golden eyes assessing her. He'd been so awestruck by her delicate beauty when they met that he wouldn't speak around her. That hadn't lasted long for him, not with her spoiled princess attitude and the way she simply dismissed anyone as unimportant if they weren't family. Micah had to quickly learn to tolerate them, and was amazed at how much more difficult they were compared to vampires.
"How can you be so calm?" He snapped as he shoved his hands into his pockets. Ruavia glanced up slowly as she shrugged her thin shoulder.
"My brother is safe and that's all I care about."
Micah's jaw clenched as his anger bubbled up. "And Serina?" He growled. "What about her safety or mine?"
Ruavia pushed up from her seat quickly, arrogance rolling off her in waves as she got in Micah's face.
"She could have been chewed up and spit out by any one of those demons and as long as Tanyl was safe... I wouldn't care." She said with a smug smile as Micah seethed.
"And if she hadn't chased one off it may have come after your pretty little ass." He spat through his clenched teeth and Ruavia raised one thin eyebrow.
"Well I guess I should be thankful for the precious leech." She snapped as she took a step back from him. Micah's eyes were hard and flat as he stared her down. Ruavia blinked and looked away as the sound of Serina and Tanyl's footsteps reached them and her features softened again. Gently she flipped her hair off her shoulder and adjusted herself as if Micah hadn't been standing there. She gave him one last hateful look then roughly shoved past him, her boots making sharp taps against the pristine marble. Micah's eyes followed her every movement until she was out of sight. 'No doubt to stir her cauldron.' He thought sarcastically to himself with a bitter huff. Finally he took a calming breath and turned around to meet Tanyl and Serina. He shook his head a bit as he waited and silently wondered how Serina had put up with the constant tension and on the tail of that, he thought of himself as her only ally outside the kingdom. He frowned at the thought and stiffened his back as he clasped his hands behind him, turning on his heel to stand at attention.
As the couple rounded the corner, Tanyl lead as she followed obediently. Micah watched her face as she looked up at him and he felt anger rise in him again. She gave him a small embarrassed smile that he could only take as an apology, for what, he couldn't imagine. Tanyl silently noted Micah's complete disregard for his presence with a raised eyebrow.
"Seri, darling..." Tanyl said softly as he continued to watch Micah. "Why don't you go and get cleaned up while I chat with Micah." As he finished his sentence he turned his face slightly to give her a smile. For a moment Serina hesitated then nodded. Micah waited as Tanyl watched Serina disappear from sight then turned slowly to face him again; his eyes cold and hard.
"Where were you?" Tanyl said in a low angry voice. Micah bit back a sarcastic remark and looked back coolly.
"I was on duty all day; I was just going to my room when I spotted Seri."
Tanyl scoffed as he clasped his hands behind his back, mimicking Micah.
"Huh..." Tanyl breathed sarcastically and Micah again stopped himself from lashing out.
"Do we know who or what was out there tonight?" He asked instead as he took a calming breath. Tanyl simply turned from him and remained silent as Micah rolled his eyes. Micah resented the fact that he had to put up with the way he was constantly talked down to but kept his calm so he wasn't dismissed from his post. Not that he cared about losing the position, but he couldn't fathom leaving Serina to these fools. Tanyl shrugged his shoulders as if deciding his next words carefully.
"I don't know, didn't see much of it but ..." Tanyl trailed off for a moment. "... we need to see what's going on in their world."
Micah waited a moment to see if Tanyl was going to send him out for information but was met with more silence.
"Do you think we should summon Elira for a consult?" Micah prompted as he waited again for a response. Finally Tanyl turned to face him and shrugged a shoulder.
"I'm sure that would be helpful." He sighed and waved his hand in what Micah took as a dismissal. He sighed softly and nodded. He wanted to leave with a smart comment but again held it back. As he walked past the still brooding 'master' of the manor he barely spared a glance as his bare feet made barely audible slaps against the marble. Tanyl cleared his throat to get Micah's attention making him come to stop and his shoulders slumped a little as he turned to face Tanyl again, his eyebrow raised.
"My apologies, were there further instructions?"
Tanyl's mouth set in a hard line at Micah's sarcastic tone.
"If you don't mind, everyone would appreciate if you'd dress a little more..." Tanyl paused as he indicated Micah's bare chest and feet. "...appropriate for your position."
Micah took a deep breath as he clenched and unclenched his hands behind his back.
"Yes..." He gritted his teeth. "...sir..."
Tanyl grinned smugly as Micah turned on his heel and stalked off before he did something he'd regret.
Tanyl took a moment to watch the guard stalk off, the tension rolling off him in near tangible waves. He'd hated that James sent this man to always be with Serina and often thought of dismissing him just so he couldn't spend so much time with her. There was something he didn't like about how he looked at her that set him on edge, they were too close for his comfort. He sighed an angry breath as he shook the thoughts off. He needed to clean up and change clothes. He plodded up the stairs, his boots falling heavily on the plush runner. He paused briefly at the top of the stairs and rubbed a hand over his face. Part of him wanted to just go to bed for the night and forget everything, but he knew he had an obligation to keep everyone safe. As he reached the door to his and Serina's bedroom, he leaned his head against the frame, wincing when he bumped the wound against the wood. He backed up with angry shove and hiss of pain. As he growled under his breath the door opened into the room. A servant walked out with her head down as she carried a bundle of Serina's clothes. As she stepped out of the room she looked up and jumped with a startled gasp.
"Oh! Please excuse me, sir."
Tanyl smiled tightly and swept past her into the room shutting the door behind him harder than he'd intended. He stopped and watched Serina as she leaned over the bench and admired the shape of her. She was tying her boots and as she stood straight he wrapped his arms around her waist. He breathed deeply taking in her fresh clean scent as she stiffened in his arms and momentarily Tanyl gritted his teeth, then finally relaxed his jaw as he pulled her into his body. He looked up to see the pair of them in her dressing mirror. She looked wary of him but he didn't care.
"Did I frighten you?" He murmured as he moved her wet hair aside and pressed kisses along her pale neck. Tanyl felt her loosen up in his arms as she sighed softly.
"I didn't hear you come in." She said softly as he rested his chin on her shoulder and they looked at each other in the mirror.
"Micah is summoning Elira to the conference room." He murmured into her ear and she smiled.
"I've not seen her in so long; too bad it's under these circumstances." Serina stepped out of his arms and picked up her brush.
"Were you going to stare at me or get ready?" She murmured as she began brushing out her hair. Tanyl blinked before grinning at her in the mirror as he started shedding clothes.
"We could have a little fun before the meeting with that..." He paused thinking better of his next words. "... with Elira."
Serina set her brush down with more force than she'd intended and then slumped as if exhausted. Tanyl stood in the buff unfazed by her attitude.
"I think I'm going down to greet our guest." She murmured softly as she pushed away from the vanity and stood. Tanyl wasn't paying attention to anything but her body and he felt himself harden. As she turned to face him, she let out an exasperated sigh and moved to walk past him. As she did Tanyl grabbed her wrist and pulled her tight against him.
"She isn't here yet, we have plenty of time." He grinned as she sighed again, knowing it wouldn't take much to win this. Serina opened her mouth to respond but closed it when a shiver of magic stirred the air and she smiled. "Yes, she is." She stepped back, pulling his arms from her and let them drop. Tanyl hadn't moved or even tried to bring her back to him. He simply stood there, lust and anger stirring through him. Serina couldn't help but giggle softly as she strolled to the door and threw it open. She spun on her heel to face him again and indicated his erection.
"You may want to take care of that." And with that she turned strolling off without another word. Tanyl blinked as he growled under his breath and stalked off to the bathroom.
Serina still had a smile curling the corners of her mouth as she hopped off the last step and found herself looking forward to seeing Elira, it had been too long. Again she was struck with how alone she was in this place. She shook it off and started a brisk pace through the house. She slowed as she reached the door and flipped her drying hair off her shoulder as she reached out to push the door open but it swung open before her fingers could reach it. The tall figure of Micah stood in the doorway outlined by the soft candle light that shone inside the room. He bowed his head slightly with a smile.
"I see you made it, Seri." He said softly, barely above a whisper. Serina smiled to show Micah that his informal use of her name wasn't out of line then frowned as she looked him over. He was standing in the doorway, uncomfortable in a button down shirt, jeans and shoes. She noted that his wings were hidden to accommodate the shirt.
"Why..." She started but Micah raised his hand to stop her, his anger flashing in his golden eyes.
"Following... orders..." He breathed and Serina's eyebrows shot up as she huffed and shook her head.
"After tonight... you really don't have to, I know how uncomfortable it is for you."
After a moment's hesitation and a grateful smile he stepped aside to allow her entrance to the room. While antiquated, candles set up for the summoning lent the room an intimate atmosphere. She stopped at the table, gently resting her fingertips on the polished wood. She looked around at everyone and smiled to Adamar and Ruavia politely. Adamar returned it then went back to fiddling with whatever new piece of technology he found interesting. Ruavia didn't bother to recognize Serina, but simply sipped at her whiskey as she kicked her feet onto the table. Serina's polite smile became strained for a moment before she caught a glimpse of spined tail. Again she glanced down the table, her smile becoming genuine. Barely containing her joy at seeing her long missed friend, Serina respectfully nodded to Elira with a smile.
"When did you become so formal?" Elira questioned as she stood.
"It happens when you become someone that needs to be." Serina laughed as Elira nodded. Her spiky hair didn't move but the candle light glinted off her horns that curved over her head and down to her shoulders.
"I never was any good with being formal." Without hesitation Elira stepped around the chairs and hugged Serina tightly. Serina nearly sobbed as she returned the hug just as fiercely. The demoness had been like a mother to her for so long that it felt natural to treat her as such. She and Elira had become close as they both often inhabited the same kingdom. The king, James, shared the crown with Elira. Some say to piss off the opposing races, others say because he'd always been madly in love with her. Serina often thought it was a bit of both. Their business union in the kingdom had also produced children, Patrick, Blinx, Trista and Remi.
Serina smiled as she leaned her elbows on the table, her dark hair falling like a curtain around her shoulders.
"I've not seen James, how's he been?"
Elira laughed and shrugged her shoulders lightly.
"You know how James can be, even when he's there, he really isn't there." She sighed and played with her tail as her eyes unfocused a little as she her smile turned wistful. She shook her head then looked at Serina again.
"I know what you mean, there hasn't been a time where I've seen James and I have his full attention." Serina smiled at her own memories. James Belaren, the king of one coven out of so few that were left, had always been a good friend that respected her. But after letting her go as his adviser, so she could marry Tanyl, they had drifted apart. James didn't like change, but still respected the choices of his subjects and close friends. Serina sat back brushing her hair from her face as the door opened. Tanyl glided through with barely a sound and Serina's eyes followed him into the room.
He'd dressed himself in all black and completed the look by pulling his shoulder length hair back at his nape. The look was captivating in a purely sexual way for her. The man knew how to dress to accentuate his best features, when he wanted to, and she noticed. She sighed softly. 'Too bad most the time his arrogance spoils it.' Serina blinked as she found herself staring at what looked like pieces of smartphone, Adamar was rebuilding. As Tanyl greeted Elira, Serina brought herself back to the conversation.
Elira leaned back in her chair and nodded her greetings to Tanyl. "So I hear you two had a bit of trouble with a couple demons this evening." She grinned but her polite smile was not reaching the troubled look in her eyes. Tanyl nodded and leaned forward to rest his elbows on the table.
"They had power I've never heard of a low level demon using. To say I was taken off guard is putting it lightly." Tanyl smoothed his hair back from his face, he was exhausted. Serina watched him feeling weary but trying to stay focused. She could see Micah hide a mocking smirk as he covered it with his hand, turning the motion into a thoughtful stroke of his goatee.
Elira tapped her nails on the table and looked around the room. Everyone stopped and looked at her. Adamar sat up straighter under her scrutiny. His eyes met hers and he smiled nervously.
"Elira... would you happen to know who is doing this?" Adamar's eyes never left Elira's as he continued to reassemble the phone in front of him. She watched his hands intently as they worked.
"I have a few ideas, nothing too sure though."
Micah moved forward unconsciously as his tension wound tightly through his muscles. Elira caught his slight movement from the corner of her eye and her head followed. Without taking her eyes off of Micah, she continued to address Adamar and Tanyl.
"There are few that can contract demons for their personal use." Her attention slid back to Tanyl and she folded her hands on the table in front of her. "Higher level demons, high level magic users, angels..." She looked down at her hands and back up to see Serina on the edge of her seat, poised with her hands on her lap, listening intently. Elira tried to give a reassuring smile to her friend, but it faltered.
"Some of the more influential families I know can ask that favor of any demon master." Serina's eyes never wavered from hers and her posture never changed, but Elira had sensed the change in the emotion shown in her eyes. Serina smiled but the shock of the implication still registered in her eyes.
"You don't really think that my family would send demons to hurt us?" She looked to Tanyl for a denial but when she saw him considering the possibility she quietly sat back and nodded to Elira.
Tanyl watched as Serina tried to reason out Elira's statement. Again he was torn, half of him hated to see her distraught and the other half merely looked on, emotionally detached. He had to force himself to lean towards the former rather than the latter because he was the head of his family; it was his responsibility to keep them safe. Tanyl propped his elbow up on the arm of his chair and leaned his head on his hand as Micah stepped forward. He clasped his hands behind his back and nodded towards Serina. Silently he was requesting permission of her to speak. She smiled and nodded allowing him to have the floor.
"Seri, no matter who it is we will find them." He looked around the table, watching each person as they thought about the possibilities. Serina nodded in agreement, as did Elira. Tanyl huffed and looked at his hands as he gently placed them on the table.
"Yes, we will handle it." He said pointedly as he glanced up at Serina his eyes flat. "We'll take care of you."
Serina's eyes sparkled with anger as she ground her teeth. Micah shook his head and took a step back from the table. Elira leaned forward with a mischievous grin stretching across her face, waiting for the tension to erupt into something bigger. Tanyl glanced at her with a flat expression and back to Serina.
"You don't have to worry..." He murmured hesitantly as he finally was aware of the tension. Anger bubbled up through Serina and she growled dangerously as she slammed her hand down.
"I don't need your protection!" She erupted and the room went still. Elira chuckled softly as she sat back again as she rested her chin gently on her hand. Adamar lowered his head slightly, refusing to acknowledge the tension and Ruavia looked on indifferently. Tanyl looked around as his eyes burned with rage and Micah moved to stand behind Serina, clearly stating his opinion without saying a word.
"And what exactly are you planning to do, Tanyl? Bleed all over them when they skewer you?" Serina spat as her anger gripped her. Tanyl stood up pushing the chair over as his fists pounded the table, but fell short for words as he watched Serina's eyes turn black. No one spoke and only Elira moved as she sat forward, studying Serina's face. Tanyl finally righted his chair with a thump and sat down, clearly shaken as he cleared his throat.
"I simply meant that we would all work together." He murmured attempting to cover his ass. Serina scoffed and sat back crossing her arms moodily. Micah stepped forward again and leaned his hands on the table to put himself between Tanyl and Serina.
"We will figure this out, Seri. And I won't dare get in your way." Micah smiled a little bit and she felt some of her anger melt away. Tanyl huffed a bitter laugh and rolled his eyes. Micah, having enough of him, snapped his attention to Tanyl.
"And I'll stop anyone that tries to stop her. With force if necessary." As Micah's eyes burned into Tanyl's, Tanyl kept his mouth shut tight but his glare was murderous. Micah smiled in challenge and tapped the table gently as he stood straight.
"Now, if we're done getting nothing done, I would like to go over security measures to put in place till this is sorted."
Ruavia sighed as she finished her drink and stood. Every eye in the room snapped to her, but she shrugged it off and walked around the table. Adamar looked up as she passed and reached out for her hand.
"Ru..." He murmured as she avoided him and picked up the bottle from the side table and walked out the doors. Elira's eyes followed her as she exited then lighted back on Serina with a raised brow.
"Well I guess she's uninterested in keeping her pretty little ass safe to drink away another day." She murmured as she crossed her legs and folded her hands in her lap. When no one spoke, Elira flicked her tail moodily up into her lap; her thoughts moving a mile a minute behind her dark eyes. "Seri, I don't want to you to be offended by my observations. I just wanted to consider everything." Elira fidgeted, playing with her tail.
Serina let a smile creep back into her features as she turned fully to Elira, completely dismissing the fuming Elf.
"I'm not offended by your information." She murmured as she glanced towards the brothers silently listening. "Nor by anything you've said tonight."
Elira smiled and leaned forward again, but before she could say anything else, Tanyl spoke up.
"Micah's right... we need to go over security." He glanced at Adamar then hesitantly to Micah. Micah looked between Serina and Elira as both women sighed in unison.
Read Chapters 1 & 2 here: