She likes to leave you hanging on her word,
Suddenly I see this is what I wanna be.
Suddenly I see why the hell it means so much to me,
And she’s taller than most and she’s looking at me,
I can see her eyes looking from a page in a magazine
Oh she makes me feel like I could be a tower, a big strong tower.
She got the power to be, the power to give, the power to see
~ Suddenly I See, KT Tunstall
As Ata disappeared, I slid from my barstool and scampered back to the bedroom I was sharing with my handsome vampire. Opening the door slightly I slid in, not wanting to risk any sunlight entering the room. Flicking on the light as I entered, the room was showered in golden light. I riffled through the small selection of clothing I’d brought with me, pleased that I’d remembered my bikini. I grabbed the blue polka dot one and ventured into the bathroom and stripped down, donning the outfit before returning to the wardrobe to hang my sundress back up. I’d only had it on for about a half hour so I could wear it again later. Looking around me I realised I didn’t have a tote bag or sunglasses, or even a beach towel.
Scowling in annoyance I returned to the bedroom and my eyes landed on the naked vampire asleep on the bed. Feeling mischievous I sashayed over to him and leant down to scatter kisses all over his face and down his throat. Pulling back, I admired his perfect physique before pulling the sheet up to cover him. I knew he wouldn’t get cold, but the thought of someone accidently entering the room and seeing him in the buff caused jealousy to pump through my veins. He was mine, and only I could have the pleasure of seeing his sculpted six-pack and gracious plenty.
Flicking the lights off as I exited the room I returned to the kitchen. Ata was, of course, still getting ready and I was in need of a few extra items, so I followed the path she’d taken. I spotted a room with a door, which was slightly ajar. Hearing shuffling inside, I knocked lightly. “Come in,” her voice, laced with an Egyptian lilt, beckoned.
Entering the room cautiously I was greeted with the sight of Ata placing her beach towel into a woven tote bag and the bare back of Godric, as he lay on his stomach in his daytime slumber, his face angled towards the door I had just entered through. “Where’s your beach bag?” Ata asked me with a light frown, observing my lack of accoutrements.
Dragging my eyes from Godric’s sleeping form I looked at Ata shyly, “I don’t have one, I forgot to bring it along with a tote bag and sunglasses. I was wondering, if it’s not too much trouble, if I could borrow some please?” I asked, nibbling on my lower lip.
“Ah cousin, what’s mine is yours. Of course!” She grinned, moving around from the other side of the bed, and I found myself admiring her outfit. She’d picked out a red swimsuit, the top was a halter neck that added to her already ample chest and the bottom featured a small skirt. Her lips were painted a matching shade of red. Her pale skin tone allowed her to pull off the ensemble well.
“Oh, I’m in love with your checkered swimsuit! I have the perfect accessories to go with it!” She exclaimed, observing my own bikini before she dashed off into what I assumed was her own walk-in wardrobe. In my opinion, my bikini wasn’t as impressive as hers, but the fact that she was complimenting it made me smile. My gaze returned to the sleeping form of Godric, the tattoos on his back clearly visible, the sheets stopping at the base of his spine in order to retain some of his modesty. He looked so young in his day rest, all traces of his 2000 years of experience and knowledge wiped away. He looked like the seventeen-year-old human boy he’d been when he’d been turned.
I hadn’t heard Ata re-enter the room, but her soft voice didn’t startle me. “I’ve missed seeing him sleep, he looks so peaceful and relaxed. He used to always be on edge when he’d sneak into the palace to sleep beside me. I used to have to stay up all night to keep an eye out for the guards for him to get any sleep at all,” she explained softly, holding out another woven tote bag, this one, however, had a blue polka dot scarf tied around the handle.
“What do his tattoos mean?” I asked absentmindedly, taking the bag from her as she placed a floppy hat on my head and handed me a pair of large black sunglasses. My eyes caught sight of the giant double-locking C’s on the side and I held back a choke of surprise. She was handing me a pair of expensive designer sunglasses as if it was the most natural thing to do in the whole world.
“The raised red disk is the brand he was given the first night he arrived in Egypt, it identifies who his Master was. I hate seeing it mar his skin. The sea serpent, well as snakes shed their skin through moulting, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. His old Master, his Maker, gave him that tattoo after he’d been living with him for a few years. I guess his Maker had already planned on turning him even then.” She sighed, “I have no idea what the writing on his right arm says, but I do know it’s written in Elder Futhark, the oldest runic language. The zigzags on his left arm are his tribe’s symbol for water. All he could tell me about the tattoo across his chest is that the village elder that gave it to him said that the meaning would be revealed in the future,” she explained cryptically, clearly not knowing everything about the marks.
“Did he have them all before you met him?”
“Like I said, his back was free of any ink. It was the tattoo on his chest that attracted me to him at first, I thought it was pretty and I secretly wanted one too,” she laughed while moving to a chest of drawers, from which she produced a blue sarong. Moving back to me she flung the material around my waist, tying it loosely into place. After tying a white sarong around her own waist, she scooped her bag up from the bed and grabbed her own pair of Chanel sunglasses and a bottle of sunscreen.
“We’ll walk down barefoot, just put your feet down properly, I don’t want you slipping and hurting yourself on the marble!” She grinned and then leant over to press a chaste kiss to Godric’s lips before following me out of the room, shutting the door firmly behind her.
Making a quick detour back to my room, I gathered my small amount of belongings and placed them in the tote bag Ata had lent me. Stealing one more kiss from Eric, I ensured the bedroom door was shut firmly behind me as I left. I had no doubts about Eric’s safety in Ata’s home, but it was hard not to worry about him when he was vulnerable in his day rest.
We made our way through the penthouse and down to the ground floor where four burly men all nodded respectfully and greeted us: I squealed when my warm feet hit the cold marble. Ata’s chuckle broke the silence. “The boys watch over me at night and hire Were guards for me during the day. I have no enemies here but given our heritage and abilities we’re coveted considerably,” Ata explained the four men, sashaying through the lobby as if she owned the place. Ah, wait, she did. She walked with as much confidence as Eric, knowing her every command would be followed and all her dreams fulfilled. It wasn’t long before we ventured through a large marble arch.
The moment we stood outside in the glorious sunshine I stopped, letting the Nevada heat beat down on me as I observed the beautiful pool. Ata had called this the Apollo Pool. On the far side of the five large white columns supported a curved white beam, ornately decorated with Roman symbols. Lush green plants climbed up the columns and medium sized trees and bushes concealed the other amenities behind the columns. In-between each column sat a white gazebo that contained two sun loungers and a mini fridge, perfect for those seeking shelter from the sunshine. Numerous sun loungers sat around the rectangular pool; the edges of which were curved to soften the harsh corners. The pool was populated with quite a few people; however, they all moved aside as Ata strode through them towards the best sun loungers – the ones covered in sunshine. I felt privileged to be part of her entourage if it meant I would be able to get the best seat for soaking up the sun.
We finally stopped by two loungers and Ata whipped out a white beach towel, laying it on the seat before sitting herself down and stretching out. Wincing as her muscles complained. “Bit exuberant last night?” I teased, smoothing my own beach towel out on my own lounger. I too went to stretch and complained as my muscles twanged.
“Seems I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed a bit of rough and tumble last night,” Ata shot back to me with a waggle of her eyebrows, laughter streamed from both of our lips seconds later. Her guards had hidden among the other swimmers and in the tree lines, observing both of us from a distance to give us some sense of privacy. It unnerved me a little, and even though I hated being spied on, I could understand and respect why someone as old as Ata, with a higher level of fae blood in her system and such a profitable business, would need around the clock protection. Removing the beautiful sarong, I folded it neatly and placed it in the tote bag so as not to crease it. I was just starting to doze when I heard Ata shuffle a little and looking in her direction, I caught sight of her slathering the sunscreen on. “A tan suits you cousin, but they look terrible on me,” she explained, chucking the cream back into her bag once she’d been covered from head to toe.
I don’t know how long I was asleep for but I woke up to Ata gently shaking me. “Turn over, lets even out your tan,” she told me gently and I complied, turning over onto my front as Ata untied the back of my bikini top to remove any possible tan lines. I slipped back into a dreamless slumber.
I woke again to the feel of Ata gently shaking my arm, “Come on Sook, it’s 2:00, time for us to start your training,” she cooed, and I groaned at the prospect of having to leave the sunshine behind. Ata tied the back of my bikini together and we both rose at the same time, gathered our belongings and made our way back to the hotel and up to the penthouse.
“Go change into some comfortable jogging bottoms, soft shoes and a t-shirt then meet me in the living room and we’ll get started,” Ata told me as she disappeared back to the room she shared with Godric.
Placing my bag back in the bedroom I shared with Eric, I changed quickly and moved through the penthouse to the living room, meeting back up with Ata. She’d donned a pair of skin-tight leggings and a black t-shirt promoting the hotel, on her feet she wore battered trainers. She stood and offered her hand out to me, a wolfish grin on her face.
“Where are we going?” I asked curiously as I was led to a bookcase. Ata pulled a book out and the whole case shifted, revealing a spiral staircase. “You have a secret passage?” I gaped.
“It leads to my training room, the last thing I need is a human seeing me practice with my powers. The panic room is also up here,” she explained to me as we ascended the staircase. We entered a large empty studio, the floors were made of wood and the far wall was all glass and overlooked the whole of Vegas. The wall where the door was situated was covered in floor to ceiling mirrors.
“I would never have thought that this would be up here!” I exclaimed, taking in my surroundings. Ata grinned and watched me happily.
“Now Sook, we need to determine what powers you have. You won’t be able to suppress your scent or the toxicity of your blood, as you don’t have a large amount of fae blood in you, though your spark is incredible. However, going from your memories, once again I’m sorry I peeked yesterday, you have already displayed signs of photokinesis and can, of course, hear humans and Were’s. So, let us focus on your photokinesis for today and experiment a little with infiltrating dreams and then explore other traits over the coming few days. Sound okay?” She inquired. I nodded, excitement bubbling within me at the thought of getting to try out my powers.
“Okay, we’ll start with dream infiltration, this means you can manipulate dreams to suit your purpose, and we happen to have a willing subject who’s already asleep,” she grinned, obviously referring to Eric.
I frowned, however; there was a problem with using him. “Vampires don’t dream, though,” I pointed out.
“Ah you’re right, they don’t. However, if we infiltrate their minds we can force them to. Of course, we won’t know for a while if it works or not but we can try anyway. We believe you’re currently incapable of entering vampire minds, but I want you to try now that Eric is in his day rest,” Ata suggested.
I wasn’t too keen on her recommendation, I couldn’t see there being much of a difference between pushing into Eric’s mind while he was active or while in his day rest. Knowing that my cousin wouldn’t let it go until I at least tried, I closed my eyes with a sigh. Moving through the blank spaces of vampire minds in the penthouse, I located Eric with ease. His mind felt a little warmer than the others. I’d never given a vampire’s mental void a push before, and not having any better ideas, I gave his mental void a gentle shove. Nothing happened. Determined to give it my best, I focused on his void once again. Gathering myself, I gave it another gentle shove. This time, a noise erupted in my mind. A loud noise, like that of the cicadas that populated the woods around my home, filled my mind.
Pulling back at the sudden onslaught, I opened my eyes to find Ata. “Cicadas. His mind sounds like cicadas.”
Ata’s face lit up at my discovery. “Yes! That’s the sound a resting vampire mind makes. It’s much easier to hear them when they rest as their brain isn’t working overtime. They’re also completely vulnerable in the day, not just physically but mentally too,” she explained.
The noise from Eric’s mind was still buzzing in my head. It wasn’t as strong as when I’d mentally probed him, but it was an irritating background noise. “Will this damn noise go away?” I pinched the bridge of my nose, scowling at no one in particular.
Ata laughed, and I turned my scowl on her. “Now you’ve managed to push into his mind during day rest, you’ll experience the noise more frequently. The only way to stop it is to build up your shields some more. Either that, or you just accept the noise and learn to live with it.”
“I hate cicadas,” I deadpanned.
“Then we’ll have to build up your shields, which is a task for another day. Now you’ve managed to enter Eric’s resting mind, come up with something you want your vampire to know or that you want to know about your vampire and focus on that, turn it into a question in your mind,” Ata told me and I nodded. There was only one thing I wanted to know more than anything else, so in my mind, I asked what it was he’d been after in Russell’s mansion, why he’d shouted at me and told me I meant nothing to him. Obviously, I meant something to him but at the time it had upset me.
“Okay, take my hands so I can monitor what’s going on. Then, when you’re ready, push that question towards him,” she explained as she took my hands in hers. I opened my mind up to her and felt her calming presence. Taking my question, I pushed it towards the noise coming from Eric’s resting mind and felt nothing in return. I was about to give up hope when I suddenly felt a stirring within my mind, which was soon followed by memories flooding in, it was like a movie being played in my head.
I could see Eric standing with Talbot in one of the rooms of Russell’s mansion, he was looking over a cabinet of ancient artefacts and his gaze fell on a crown within said cabinet. ‘Viking’ he corrected Talbot, and then the memories of his human life came into play.
He walked into a large wooden home, carrying a child in his arms. A man and woman who looked similar to Eric sat at the table, looking fondly at one another. Given their similarity, I guessed they were his parents. Eric had his father’s build and his mother’s hair and eye colour.
His parents wore crowns and it was the one on his father’s head that matched the one from Russell’s mansion. His mother spoke to him and rose from her seat, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying. Unfortunately for me, I was yet to learn his native language.
Eric was dressed in a brown tunic, an animal skin cloak draped over his shoulders. His hair fell to his shoulders like it had the first night I’d met him and his signature smirk was still in place. A redheaded servant entered the room and started to make eyes at him, which he returned. I felt a swell of jealousy and then remembered that this was before my time, so I had no right to feel jealous.
He sat at the table and picked at his food as his father leant forward to talk to him in the ancient language. The redhead walked past the table once again and Eric eyed her with appreciation, she returned the gesture of course, who wouldn’t? He and his father started to have a heated debate and Eric rose from the table, trying to end the conversation. His father was stubborn though and rose too, following Eric and continuing to speak with him. I could see where Eric’s persistent side came from.
He left the room and was back with the redheaded girl. He had her sitting on a small table, and she was pushing the animal skin cloak off his shoulders, his lips were on her neck, scattering kisses and he was pulling her tunic down, kissing her collar bones and the top of her breasts. The moment has hand slipped between her thighs, however, was when extreme jealousy and anger flooded my system. All of a sudden I was overcome with a sense of calm, Ata’s hand tightened on mine. I could feel her pushing those feelings to me. That was new; I thought only vampires could do that.
I didn’t have time to dwell on that fact, though, as the movie in my mind continued. The sound of shouting pulled Eric away from the woman he was busy getting frisky with and he rushed back into the main room he’d started out in, his hair ruffled from his antics. A wolf was leaping up at his father, snapping its jaws in his face. I watched, horrified, as Eric looked around, taking in all the dead bodies until his gaze fell on his mother and the baby, both dead. I held back tears as he moved swiftly to her side, checking her non-existent pulse before grabbing a sword and joining his father in the fight.
I watched as Eric slammed a sword into a wolf and it shifted back into a human: Even as a human, he’d been a mighty warrior. His eyes locked onto the brand on the man’s neck and I immediately recognised it. Operation Werewolf. My breath caught in my throat. He looked up in time to spot a wolf holding his father’s crown in its jaws. The wolf trotted to the door and gave the crown to a man in a cloak. I watched as Eric pulled his sword free of the man he had stabbed, moving to the door in anger as he observed the man in the cloak. The man turned on the spot and disappeared off into the snow. It didn’t take a genius to work out who the man was given the future location of the crown.
The lost and bewildered look on my Eric’s face as he fell to his knees by his dying father made me want to bolt back to our bedroom and hold him close. He spoke to his father once again in the language that was unknown to me, his hands covered in his father’s blood as he held his head up. I watched as his father lost his battle to stay alive and couldn’t hold back the tears as Eric gently put his father’s head down, his face an expression of shock, loss and despair.
He was back in Russell’s mansion again, holding his father’s crown in his hands, Talbot’s eyebrow quirked in curiosity about Eric’s moment of silence.
The memory ended there and my eyes snapped open, the tears flowing down my cheeks in streams as a sob racked through me. My beautiful vampire had his family murdered by Russell; they’d stolen his crown. He’d been after vengeance, which explained his unrelenting need to kill the 3000-year-old psychopath.
Ata’s arms wrapped around me and she pulled me into her warm embrace, pushing more comfort towards me as she held me. I allowed myself to cry in pain for my Viking’s sake for a few minutes before pulling back slightly, wiping my eyes and cheeks with the backs of my hands.
“Russell killed his family and took his crown,” I whispered, shaking a little at the revelation.
“I know, I saw it too sweetie,” she soothed me. She gave me a few minutes to compose myself before panic set in.
“Will he know I went and had a look?” I asked quickly, worried that he would be angry with me if he found out.
Ata pursed her lips for a moment, clearly mulling it over. “We know he hasn’t dreamt in over 1000 years so he might suspect some foul play. When he learns about your training today he may put two and two together. I don’t know. I don’t think he’d be angry with you finding out if you explain why. You weren’t expecting that to be the response to your question: Your tears tell me that,” she reassured me, giving my arm a gentle rub.
“I think that’s enough with dream infiltration for today. We’ll move onto your photokinesis now, it’s a lot less emotionally taxing,” she told me with a warm smile.
“Have you ever infiltrated Godric’s dreams?” I asked quietly, wanting to know if the experience had been the same for her.
“After I heard about his passing I tried every night. I didn’t want to believe he was gone, I was holding on to hope that he was alive,” she stated ruefully.
Abandoning the conversation, Ata moved to a small boom box in the corner of the space. Pushing a button on the top, music started to blast through the large speakers in each corner of the studio.
“Let’s get going then!” She grinned, clapping her hands together in excitement, trying to lighten the mood.