Oh, people say, people say that the world is so cruel but I just don’t buy it
There’s in beauty in everything life throws at you if you’re looking for the truth
I’m tired of all this pain and negativity, I know it’s tough for us all
There ain’t no guarantees but I’m dumb enough to dream whether I wake with a smile or a scream
Life’s like music, I won’t turn it down, gotta live it loud and love’s a groove that keeps us spinning round
In this beautiful messed up world, in this beautiful, in this beautiful messed up world
~ Beautiful Messed Up World, Anastasia
The room was pitch black; the light tight shutters having covered the windows a couple of minutes before sunrise in order to protect my ancient vampire. Slowly I opened my eyes and was greeted with the sight of my vampire’s glorious chest. He may have been young when he’d been turned but he was still exceptionally beautiful. My eyes felt puffy, and I could tell that they would be bloodshot and sore for the rest of the day. Under one of my arms, clutched in my hand, I had one of the teddy bears Godric had won for me. I hadn’t slept with a teddy bear in over two thousand years.
Reaching my free hand upwards, I traced the blue ink around my love’s chest and neck area, relishing in the comfort his physical presence granted me. One of his arms was thrown over my waist, keeping me close to his body; the other arm was under the pillow we shared: He didn’t have to worry about cutting off his circulation. In his day rest he reminded me so much of his human self, his boyish features completely relaxed and his wise yet pale eyes shielded from the world.
“You’re awake,” the whisper behind me drew my attention away from Godric. Turning over slowly and wriggling slightly under his arm, my blue eyes found those of my cousin. There was little space between us as Eric had taken up space behind her. The two vampires were effectively shielding us, protecting us, even in their day rest.
“How long have you been awake?” I whispered back in response, my throat felt like sandpaper and my voice was husky.
“About fifteen minutes,” she continued in a whisper. Both of us were aware of the fact that nothing would wake our vampires during the day, but we still liked to treat them as if they were human by whispering and not turning the lights on. Silence consumed us and my thoughts wandered away from me, away from the current moment and to the events of last night. The mental pictures of my beautiful casino in ruins, damaged, people screaming for help, all of it came back to me. Screwing my eyes shut, a strangled cry slipped from between my lips.
I felt Sookie’s hand on my bare arm, rubbing it in a soothing gesture. “Come on, it’s a new day, we’ll sort this out and make it better again. You could even get rid of all that marble you hate so much,” she teased, causing me to laugh a little. Maybe it was time to give the lobby and casino a makeover after all. We hadn’t changed either since we’d built the place.
“You’re right,” I agreed quietly, moving my hands to Godric’s arm, which I gently shifted off me. He’s a dead weight when he’s asleep, just like every other vampire out there. Shuffling out of his grasp, I slid out of bed, leaving my teddy behind as I moved over towards the bathroom in order to clean myself up. Sookie was hot on my heels, and since neither of us had our shields up yet I knew she wanted to be there to support me should I have a mini breakdown.
Turning on the shower to allow the water a minute to warm up, I steeled myself for the next part of my morning ritual. Spinning on the spot I allowed myself to face the mirror and straightaway regretted it. My eyes were red and puffy, my skin blotchy from the salt in my tears, the mascara I’d forgotten to wipe off last night had run down my face in several black streams and the shine my blue eyes usually had was long gone. My blonde hair was also a wild mess from sleeping on it while it was damp.
Sighing, Sookie appeared at my side, a small smile on her face as she once again rubbed my arm in a soothing gesture.
Stripping out of my pyjamas, I moved back to the shower. After two thousand years on this planet, a lot of my inhibitions had vanished and nudity no longer bothered me, not that it bothered most fae in general anyway. A lot of Supes had a different approach and feeling towards nudity and sex. It’s natural, it’s nature, and the human body is something to be admired and shown off, not hidden.
Stepping into the shower, I allowed the hot water to wash over me, to eradicate the events of the previous day once more and to try and tame my wild mane.
“Ata, you have a note here.” Sookie’s voice floated over the sound of the spray.
“Can you read it to me, please?” I asked her, raising my voice a little so it could be heard over the water.
You have no idea how horrible I feel knowing that I cannot be with you when you wake for the day, but I want you to know that although physically I am not with you, mentally and emotionally I am.
Please eat something today, I know how stressful last night was for you and all you had to eat at the fair was one of those cotton candy sticks. I don’t wish for you to become sick, even though I would have no qualms about nursing you back to health.
As soon as sunset is upon us I will come and find you. Take it easy today and remember that I love you so very much.
~ G xxx”
I was grateful for the sound of the running water; it covered up the sound of my tears. My beautiful vampire had worried about me, worried about my health and had told me that he loved me. The fact he took the time to write a sweet note and place it in a location I would not miss it spoke volumes about his level of care. Taking a minute to compose myself, I made quick work of washing before turning the water off and stepping out.
Grabbing a fluffy towel, I wrapped myself up, looking at the note that Godric had left for me, which was placed on the side of the sink. In Sookie’s hands was another note; one I assumed was from Eric and therefore none of my business. Picking up the note from my vampire I moved out of the bathroom to allow Sookie the privacy to bathe alone. Last night she had joined me in the shower for comfort more than anything, and she had kept her bra and panties on, as she had felt uncomfortable with anything else more, or less as the case may be.
Putting the bedside lamp on, I shuffled into the wardrobe, grabbing a pair of panties and my sports bra, both of which I pulled both on, not caring that they didn’t match. Throwing on my favourite pair of Abercrombie and Fitch jogging pants, I grabbed one of Godric’s shirts from a hanger and threw that on too.
As I emerged from the wardrobe, Sookie stepped out of the bathroom, wrapped up in her own towel. “Help yourself to my clothes,” I offered, moving to the wooden treasure box in my room. Opening it, I placed my note from Godric in there for safekeeping. All my memories were contained in that box, all my favourite things in the world, even my old diary. It was my history, and I allowed very few people to peek inside.
As Sookie dressed, I crossed back to my bed, observing both vampires as they slept. I could see why my cousin had fallen for the Viking. Last night he had been kind enough to return my well-meant goodnight gesture. I hadn’t done that since my human years, it had been my special goodnight to my father and to my guard, Khai. I could see the love he held for my cousin and the way I often caught him thinking about her always managed to make me smile. To him she was the light, she was everything good and pure and, on occasion over the past forty-eight hours, I had caught him wondering what he had done to deserve her. I suppose it helped that he was physically attractive too. There was no use in denying it, and I’m sure my cousin loved it, but he wasn’t my type. My type was his antithesis, who just so happened to be slumbering in the bed too
Looking at my vampire I couldn’t help but smile, two thousand years of separation, and now we’d found one another, our love for one another still strong. I couldn’t bear to think about the first thousand years of his life. He’d spent them alone, without Eric there for companionship. It had to have been lonely for him. Reaching out, I brushed his bangs away from his eyes, his boyish features illuminated by the soft glow of the bedside lamp. Leaning down, I pressed a light kiss to the corner of his lips, nuzzling my nose against his. “I love you too, never forget that either,” I whispered in his ear before I dropped a kiss on his shoulder blade. Pulling the sheet up, I covered my vampire up to his chest. The sheet wouldn’t offer him any warmth, but I liked that it made him appear more human. I would never change his state of being for the world, but there was nothing wrong with thinking of him as human every now and then.
Rising from my spot on the bed I moved to the other side, sitting beside Eric. “Thank you for taking care of my cousin, God knows she probably wouldn’t be around anymore if it weren’t for you,” I thanked him quietly, leaning down to drop a motherly kind of kiss to his temple before pulling the sheet up around him too.
“Shall we go and get breakfast?” Sookie’s voice broke the silence as she emerged from the wardrobe. Giving a nod, I rose from my seat on the bed, crossing the room to Sookie who offered me her hand. Taking it, we left the bedroom, shutting the door firmly behind us to offer some protection to our vampires.
Padding down the hallway, Sookie opened the door to the kitchen before we both stepped into the room. Felicia was already there and busy cooking breakfast for us. Upon seeing me, however, she stopped what she was doing, rushed over and collected me in her arms, causing me to let go of Sookie’s hand. “Oh, my dear girl! I am so pleased you are okay! I was so worried about you when I heard about it on the news!” She pulled back, grabbing my face in her hands. “You are a little bit of a mess cupcake, but once we get some food in your system you’ll be on the road to recovery,” she patted my cheek affectionately, leading me to a barstool.
Felicia returned to Sookie, embracing my cousin too. “I’m glad you weren’t in that nasty explosion either Miss Stackhouse, Miss Ata needs you around!” She gave her a warm smile, moving her over to the seat next to me.
“Ari and Khai left you notes this morning Miss Ata, and someone delivered you a beautiful bunch of red roses earlier!” Felicia gushed, gesturing to the formal dinner table. Turning around, I looked over my shoulder, a huge vase full of red roses, all studded with what looked like Swarovski crystals. Felicia slid two folded pieces of paper across the bar to me. Turning my attention back to the notes, I opened the first one, the scribbled writing on the front informing me that this one was from Khai. It seemed like it was my day for getting notes.
I hope you are well this morning, please spend the day relaxing and do not worry about last night’s events, the boys and I will deal with all of that when we rise.
After you retired for the evening, Oeri and I returned downstairs to help the clean-up crew. We have been able to shift a considerable amount of marble off the premises. However, there are a few more chunks that we will have to deal with when the sun sets this evening. Only having limited hours to work with was somewhat of a nuisance last night. The lobby has been cleared and the casino has been blocked off, as it is still a little bit of a mess. The structure of the building is fine and residents have been allowed back to their rooms but, unfortunately, many checked out early this morning, as they were worried there would be another bombing.
On a brighter note, I’m pleased to say we managed to free all the humans, and have had no fatalities. There are a few who are in serious but stable conditions at Sunrise Hospital – yes I am aware of the irony – and I have instructed our day man to take flowers to each of them and offer to pay their medical bills. The last thing we need is for people to start thinking we are neglecting those who were hurt.
~ Khai xoxo
I couldn’t help but laugh at Khai’s ‘xoxo’; he’d watched Gossip Girl with me far too many times. There was no use in denying the fact that I was upset about most of my customers checking out, but then I couldn’t exactly blame them. If I were in their shoes I would’ve checked out too. It would mean a drop in revenue for a short time: I might need to dip into my personal funds to ensure the finances remain stable. That thought alone caused me to groan internally.
At least no one was dead, though, that had to be a bonus.
Felicia placed two plates down, both of which contained waffles, bacon, eggs and sausages. “No one died last night, thankfully,” I sighed, passing the letter along to Sookie who took it gently, letting her eyes scan over the page as I picked up the second letter. Felicia was busy pouring both Sookie and I an orange juice. The elegant script on the front gave away that this letter was from Ari; he’d taken calligraphy classes over the years, so whenever anything had to be handwritten he would be able to make a strong first impression.
I hope you feel better this morning, I recommend that you have a large breakfast, top up your tan, watch a movie, do whatever makes you happy. However, please, please, take your guards with you wherever you go. I’m worried about your safety, and that of Miss Stackhouse. It might be useful for both your cousin and yourself to carry on training, just to be on the safe side.
Riei and I got in contact with our insurance providers earlier this morning, and they’re sending over the first round of repairmen this morning in order to start work on the lobby. I’ve had our day man give them a list of the items that were damaged. They will most likely want to speak with you to discuss renovations and decorations. I have told them to follow your instructions to the ‘T’ or I will see to it that they won’t wake up one morning – I know you disapprove, but I do not want them to cause you any stress.
I’m sure Khai has already informed you that the structure of the building is in perfect condition; the damage done is purely cosmetic. You’ll do anything to get rid of the marble, eh?
Khai, Egor, and Agmund will clear out the casino this evening, and then we can start working in there too. Thankfully we just paid Felipe last month’s taxations so we have another month to sort things out and start pulling in some more money to pay his ridiculous fees.
It may also interest you to know that the werewolf who set off the bombs is detained in the basement. Godric threw him into a cell last night, and I’ve had members of the local pack guarding him while you’ve slept. I wouldn’t ask this of you if I could help it, but I’d like you and your cousin to go down and ask him a few questions, see what you can get out of his mind. We need to know who sent him so that we can hunt them down and stake them. I’ve doubled the daytime security for both of you; please don’t argue with me about it.
The sun is about to rise, so I will see you later.
~ Ari xx
Sighing once again, I passed the note along to Sookie so she could read it as I pulled my breakfast towards me, tucking straight into the delicious meal. I was famished.
“At least your boys have sorted nearly everything out for you,” Sookie offered gently, placing the second note down once she’d read it before tucking into her own meal.
“I guess. I’d like to go down and give the werewolf a piece of my mind after we’ve spoken to the repairmen. While I’m interrogating him, could you dip into his thoughts for me, please? I’m afraid I’ll be too engrossed in giving him a piece of my mind to be able to focus on listening in,” I explained, popping a piece of bacon into my mouth.
“Mhm,” Sookie agreed through her mouthful of food. At least we might be able to get some information out of him.
We continued our meal in companionable silence and finished at the same time, draining our glasses of orange juice before rising to our feet: Felicia would clear the dishes away for us. Crossing to the roses I plucked the note out from the small holder embedded within the bouquet. Tearing the envelope open I read the message.
I am deeply saddened to hear about the horrendous events of last night and the damage done to your home and business. I hope that the damage can be repaired quickly. If there is anything I can help you with, be it financially or emotionally, then please do not hesitate to contact me. You know I am always here for you, even in this difficult time.
~ Felipe x
My anger flared and I threw the small card down onto the table before letting out a scream of frustration. How dare he try to use the damage done to my hotel as a method of coercing me to accept his offer! I couldn’t wait for the day someone would manage to stake him.
The sound of the elevator doors opening drew my attention and my four daytime guards stepped out, another four following closely behind. Ari wasn’t joking when he said he’d doubled my daytime security. “Good morning boys,” I greeted them. All of them nodded their head in greeting. “Are the repairmen here yet?” I asked, not minding which of them answered.
A rather built, dark haired man stepped forward. “The repairmen are downstairs awaiting instructions from you, ma’am,” he informed me. I cringed at his form of address. While it was polite, there was no denying the fact it made me feel my age.
“Thank you, love,” I responded, adding a term of endearment onto the end of my sentence in the hope it would show that we were all friends here and that there was no need for him to address me so formally. “You ready to go, Sook?” I asked my cousin, turning to look at her over my shoulder. With a nod, she moved to my side. The two of us entered the elevator, with the eight guards squeezing in with us.
As we travelled down, I steeled myself for the sight of my lobby. Stepping out on the ground floor, I took a deep breath before looking around. All the marble pieces that had littered the floor and other surfaces the night before were gone, the floor had been scrubbed and the statue in the middle of the room that had been destroyed had been completely removed. There were still huge chunks missing out of the walls and ceilings, but my boys had covered them with tarpaulin so I wouldn’t have to look at them. They had also boarded up the windows and doors. They would end up being the last thing to be repaired; they would be needed to get building materials into the Palace.
There were a few people milling around the lobby and several members of the press were out front, being held back by members of the local werewolf pack. I didn’t want the press getting photos of the interior of my ruined business just yet. Among the people milling around were several repairmen, distinguishable by their work belts and plaid shirts. What was it with workmen and plaid shirts?
A rather large bald man came hobbling over to us the moment he saw us, sweat covering his brow and a large folder clutched in his huge, grubby hands. “Miss Caesar, it is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Doug and I’ll be in charge of the repairs and renovations here. We were wondering if you could please spare us a few minutes of your time to go over some plans and ideas for the new designs for the lobby and the casino. Mr. Seti-Nekht informed us that the drop-off zone should be rebuilt to the specifications it had been originally built. Is that to your liking Miss?” He asked, wiping his brow with his free hand. I had to resist the urge to gag as his sweat was smeared over his forehead.
“It’s nice to meet you, Doug. I’d be more than willing to spend a few minutes going over plans and ideas with you. While the original plans for the drop-off zone were brilliant at the time, the renovation of that area will largely depend on what we decide is best for the lobby,” I explained, not wanting Doug and his team to go barging in and agree to everything Ari said.
“Is there anywhere we can go to discuss the renovations, Miss?” Doug asked me. Nodding my head, I gestured in the direction of my favourite bar within the Palace: Cleopatra’s Barge. The bar wasn’t open for business at this time of the morning; however, the manager had no qualms in letting Sookie, Doug, the guards, and myself in. Taking a seat on a barstool, Sookie sat to my left and Doug took the seat to my right. The eight guards took positions around the room, always maintaining a visual on Sookie and myself. I had designed this bar to best replicate my homeland. In the centre of the room was a replica of a barge, on this barge sat numerous tables and chairs, allowing guests to sit, chat and drink. In the middle of the barge was a huge DJ deck and a large dance floor, encouraging those sitting to get up and dance. The bar was located off the barge, on one side of the room, and numerous tables and chairs decorated this area also. The other side of the room was another dance floor, designed just in case the club became busy. It was busy almost every night.
I had painted the room in an earthy yellow colour and had placed statues of my Gods around. I’d even painted hieroglyphics on the walls. To the customer, these markings would just look like they were there for fun, random markings, but I had chosen them carefully. All of them were wishes for this place. Good fortune, good health, to have fun, everything good and kind I could possibly wish upon my guests.
Doug spread out a bunch of plans on the bar surface, all of which described the size of the lobby, the location of certain objects such as the check-in desks and even listed the previous materials used. “What kind of thing were you looking to do with the space, Miss Caesar?”
Three hours later, several shots of vodka for me, and some gin and tonics for my cousin, we said goodbye to Doug. The guards escorted him out of the club. “I don’t think I can handle seeing the werewolf yet, perhaps we could get some of your training in?” I offered, turning to look at my cousin as the manager took our empty glasses away. I had made sure that the quantity of gin in each of her drinks had been rather low in order to keep her brain clear. I couldn’t say the same about myself, but over the years I had become somewhat immune to the effects of alcohol.
“That sounds like a good idea, we still have the three other types of light to work with – toppling large objects, attacking and healing. I think we should start with toppling large objects this afternoon” I explained, sliding from the barstool and onto my feet. As Sookie did the same, I could see that I was a lot more stable on my feet than she was, perhaps practice would be amusing. We made our way out of the bar, our guards close behind us. Taking the elevator back up to the penthouse, we ventured into the living room where I once again moved a book from the bookshelf, revealing the passageway to my training room.
“Okay, we’re going to start with simple objects to topple, such as wooden and metal crates,” I explained, crossing the room. Grabbing a panel on the wall I heaved it backwards to reveal a medium sized storage room: I kept my training equipment there. With 2000-year-old vampire blood circulating through my veins, it took minimal effort to set everything up. I started with small towers of two, both wooden crates and metal ones. I also set up a few towers of three and even some of four, just in case Sookie managed to get the hang of her power quickly. Making a pit stop at the boom box I hit play.
“I want you to place your right hand on the bottom box, imagine yourself toppling it, feel the energy flowing around you and then give a light shove,” I instructed her, watching as Sookie moved towards the wooden crates, I could see her apprehension.
“I know you can do it, you did it when the maenad took over your home,” I pointed out, having found that memory inside her head on the first night. It was amazing how quickly you could learn about someone’s life when you had free access to his or her memories and thoughts.
“What if I shove too hard, though? Won’t the boxes shatter or dent the floor or something?” She voiced her concern, looking over to me as she nibbled on her lower lip nervously.
“If it shatters I’ll get someone to clean it up, and if it dents the floor then we’ll replace the battered panels. This floor has been replaced so many times, don’t worry about it,” I wafted my hand through the air nonchalantly. Sookie’s powers were more important than my floor.
We stood in silence for a moment, Sookie’s eyelids fluttering shut. I could see her drawing in a deep breath and then screwing her eyes tightly together as she concentrated. The wooden crates toppled, landing on the floor and splitting into several pieces. Sookie’s small shriek caused me to laugh. “You did it, well done! Don’t worry about the mess, just focus on the fact you did it,” I beamed at her, wanting to help her build up her confidence.
“I didn’t shove too hard, did I?” She seemed genuinely worried, though I couldn’t understand why.
“You could never shove too hard. If something needs moving, then the more you can shove with your mind, the better,” I reassured her. “Metal boxes next yes?” I moved across to the metal crates, knowing they would be a little harder to topple than the wooden ones.
“Is this how you pinned Pam down last night?” Sookie questioned, pausing in her actions to look over at me.
With a sheepish smile, I nodded, gently biting my lower lip. “Think I overstepped the mark?”
“Nah, she needed it, but an angry Pam isn’t a pretty one so perhaps you could try and be nice to her this evening?” Sookie shrugged, returning her attention to the metal boxes.
Snorting, I shook my head. “I refuse to play nice with the woman who detests you, Sookie, especially when said woman tried to blow you up,” I hissed, feeling my blood boil as the memory that I had captured from Sookie’s mind flickered into my thoughts.
Grimacing, Sookie didn’t reply to my comment, instead, she focused her attention on the metal box and soon the two boxes toppled to the ground, crashing against the wooden flooring. “Well done! Now onto three,” I informed her, steering her in the direction of the three wooden crates I had piled on top of one another.
“How come I wasn’t this powerful before?” My cousin inquired as she placed her hand against one of the wooden boxes.
“When those who aren’t full fae are surrounded by those of their bloodline their powers increase. They become even more powerful and start to smell, taste and look more like full-blooded fae. In the Fae Realm, many of our kind live together, almost like vampire nests, as it creates a mass of energy they can feed off of and increase their power. Few of us on the human plane associate with one another due to the changes such association brings around. While our powers increasing would be useful, the increase in smell, taste and appearance would bring us to the attention of the other Supes here, including the vampires, and the more attention the vampires give us the quicker our numbers will dwindle. As our taste becomes stronger, so does the potency of our blood, and you’ve witnessed first-hand what happens when a vampire loses control,” I sighed, silently mourning for Claudine.
“How much would my power increase just being around you?” Sookie asked, closing her eyes as she focused on the boxes.
“I haven’t a clue, but it’ll probably be a fair amount given that I’ve had two thousand years to perfect my powers, plus the addition of Eric’s blood in your system,” I explained, watching as Sookie focused on the boxes. I could feel the energy in the room swirling around her and I could feel her shaping it to use on the boxes. I held my breath, however after a few minutes nothing happened and Sookie’s eyelids snapped open, her frustration evident in her posture.
“Don’t beat yourself up about it, Sook. Give yourself some time, you’ve already achieved far more than most hybrids do in their entire lifetime.” I reassured her gently, giving her arm a soothing rub.
“Why didn’t it work?” She pouted, upset with herself.
“You’re moving a larger and heavier object, it requires you to call upon your spark more and access the mass of power it can give you. It isn’t an easy process, but I believe you can do it,” I gave her a reassuring smile.
Glancing at the clock, I worked out how long it would be until sunset. “We have about ninety minutes left until sunset, Sook. Why don’t we take a break for a while? If you have any questions regarding Supes or your training or whatnot I can try and answer them for you?” I offered, remembering how curious I’d been when I had first learnt of my powers. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had anyone to turn to so I’d had to learn everything myself. It had been a long and tiring process, but my boys had supported me throughout. Now it was time for me to offer that support to my cousin.