Home was that building, where she was… It was the place where he could easily smell her enticing scent, and hear her soft, lovely voice, but where he could not see her. He needed to see her, but all those walls, and those things over the windows, kept her from his sight. What good was his vampire vision if he couldn’t use it?
For three nights she didn’t go out after dark. She would come home from her daytime work, and stay inside. For three nights. He saw to her safety over-night as was his right, but… Three very long nights…
Finally he would see her!
From his customary perch atop her roof, Godric had gleefully overheard the brief conversation between his Cara and a female named “Steph” when they’d agreed to meet at TSO for “a talk”.
Joyfully impatient, he crouched high up on the thick tree branch in the yard of her apartment, and watched as she locked her door and got into her car. Her car was unlocked? Her car door should have been locked!
With no sound, he rose up into the air and tracked her progress as she drove the short distance to TSO. When she parked, he glided down to the roof of the complex and watched as she entered the building.
Seven minutes later, wearing clean clothes and a pair of shoes that he detested, he took his usual place – close enough to see, hear, and smell her, and to stake his claim if needed, but far enough away so as to not bring her attention to him before it was time.
He ignored the very interested yet vaguely worried glances sent his way from his child as he focused on the general conversation between the women as they sat down, ordered then received their drinks, then their foods.
“Seriously, honey, we need to talk.” He saw his Cara reach over to rest her hand on the overly-scented woman’s hand. He wanted to shove the other woman, the “Steph”, far away and remove her stench from his Cara’s vicinity. “You’ve been miserable for too long now, and I’m tired of it. Tell me exactly what’s going on, and let’s see if we can fix it.”
She sipped her coffee and nibbled on her salty fries as she waited for her friend to gather her thoughts. He tracked her every moment, from the way she automatically lifted her smallest finger as she sipped from her mug to the way she dipped only so much of the greasy potato stick into the ugly red paste on her plate…to the way she licked her lips after every single bite.
She liked salt, he concluded. She liked to lick salt from her lips. He remembered that he had also liked salt, once upon a time. He thought that perhaps he would like to lick salt from her lips, too.
The unworthy female began bleating again. “Blake…Blake dumped me.” Good for this Blake, he thought snidely. He must have tired of the grating sound of her voice. Or her unfortunate perfume addiction.
Cara sighed. “Ok, which one was he?” His lips almost curved into a smile at that. Almost.
The woman didn’t even notice the unintended insult. “Blake was the tall, blond guy with the great body and the gorgeous blue eyes.”
She rolled her eyes at the description. “Ok, Steph, do you want some hard facts, or do you want me to tell you it’s all going to be ok?”
The “Steph” looked surprised, and almost affronted, but then she surprised him.
Steph took a deep breath then exhaled with a gust. “Give it to me straight, then.” He was glad that he was far enough away to miss the odor of her breath, which he decided was most likely horribly rank.
Cara finished her coffee and automatically glanced around for a waitress. If no one waited on her within a minute, he was going to have words with his child about the quality of the servants, erm, waitresses…that was the word he was supposed to use…there were no servants here in this place. Maybe that was the problem, he theorized. In the old days, he paid the servants well, and they did their duty quickly. Nothing was the same…
Ah, good, a waitress. Slower than she should be, but not too bad all things considered.
He watched as she adjusted the coffee to suit herself, his eyes unintentionally softening as she added yet another spot of milk to her cup…as she usually did. He tried to ignore the friend as that one crammed more food into her gaping maw.
He liked watching when his Cara ate. She had a nice appetite, unlike some of the walking skeletons he’d seen in the past few decades, but she ate daintily and was suitably particular about what she put into her mouth. His gaze focused on her plump lips as he considered other things she could put in her mouth.
When Cara subconsciously rubbed the back of her neck again, he pointedly turned his gaze away from the women for a few moments. He didn’t want to gain her attention…not yet. He wasn’t ready. He was, but he wasn’t. The timing wasn’t right. He might never be ready, but that was a concern for another night.
“Steph, you give too much of yourself away, too quickly, too often, to the wrong men, and for the wrong reasons. Yeah, I’m being super-blunt, but that’s me, and you know that I have the best intentions at heart.”
Blunt? Yes, that was beautifully blunt, he supposed, but the message was delivered so kindly, so sweetly. His Cara didn’t play these “games” people droned on about in these times. She was kind to a fault, and cared for her people, but she didn’t seem to be the kind who would beat around some bush, either. If she thought it, it seemed likely that she would say it.
He really did need to know her better. Much better.
Somehow he also needed to find a way to provide better protection for her, too. Did she even realize how very breakable she was? And she’d even left her car unlocked! She couldn’t know about the protection, though. It wasn’t time yet. But she would go out after dark – both a blessing and a curse – when others like himself stirred. If she attracted his attention, then surely she would attract…others, even if they didn’t feel the pull.
No, that could not be tolerated! She was his! He grabbed and fractured the table as he took long, purposeful breaths in an attempt to calm himself down. Thankfully faint traces of her scent wafted across the necessary distance between them, and he focused on the tiny lifelines. He sighed when she began speaking again as the sound of her voice soothed the beast threatening to erupt.
“Did you notice that when you described Blake, all you did was describe his looks? I’m glad you did because now I know who you were talking about, and while he is a gorgeous man, the fact is, that’s all you said about him. If I didn’t know you better, I’d swear that his looks were the only thing that you loved about him.”
Steph opened her mouth to deny the accusation, but smartly closed it quickly.
“You’re a very smart woman, hon, but damn if I can see why you date the losers you always seem to choose. I totally understand being attracted to attractive guys, but jeez, when you turn the lights out, it doesn’t matter what they look like. At that point, appearance is the last thing that matters! Take Blake, for instance. Actually, take him out to the litter box because that asshat had the personality of a rabid dandelion. He was annoyingly useless!”
He barely contained the bark of laughter at her description of this Blake character. He was curious about what a “litter box” was, but…”rabid dandelion”?! He completely missed his child’s curious stare as he enjoyed his Cara’s humor.
When Steph attempted to look insulted, Cara continued on. “Did he ever once express an actual opinion on anything other than model cars or wrestling? Anything? At all? Did he ever talk to you about his dreams, hopes, or ambitions? Did he want children? How did he treat his parents? Has he ever traveled? Where has he been, where did he want to go? Who were his favorite writers? Did you even discuss favorite colors?”
She paused, and when Steph shook her head sadly, she continued. “Then you weren’t in love with him, hon. You were in love with the idea of being in love, and you wanted his body. The end. It’s no wonder it didn’t work out.”
His Cara pressed her fingertip into the salt on her plate. He almost died as he watched, mesmerized, as she slowly licked the salt her finger. He was already half-way risen from his seat when he felt a large, strong hand gently push him back down.
With a hiss and dropped fangs he turned to meet the smirk on his child’s handsome face. He retracted his fangs and scowled at the bottle of Royalty Blended that suddenly appeared in front of him.
“Drink, fader. It might help.”
“Eric, you know I hate this filth,” he stated somewhat petulantly as he slid the bottle of expensive faux blood back toward his child. At least he didn’t throw it through a wall this time.
“Then you will feed from one of the donors?” Eric knew he wouldn’t partake of the locals, but he had to try.
Glare firmly in place, the ancient vampire grabbed the bottle and downed it all in one swig.
“There, happy?” He knew that Eric was only looking out for him, but that didn’t mean he had to like the noxious liquid, but at least it wasn’t as polluted as the donors seemed to be.
He smiled slightly at his son’s droll reply. His son…who tried so hard… The child had no idea of how things truly were in his Maker’s mind, and he was determined to keep it that way. For all of Eric’s abilities and experience in bloody battles and cutthroat politics, his child had a certain innocence that he refused to taint with his own history and musings.
Eric felt the band of worry squeezing his heart loosen a little with that smile. Such occurrences were so very rare these nights. He turned his attention back to the woman he knew to be the cause of both his Maker’s current disappearances and his slightly more lightened attitude in recent weeks.
She was pretty enough, he reckoned, and did have a nice smile. She was short, and comfortably curvy, which was fine, but he preferred blondes, not brunettes. She did have nice breasts, though, so he guessed he approved of his Maker’s obvious fascination. He just wished he knew what was going on behind his Master’s ancient blue eyes.
Eric spotted the soon-to-be unfortunate male shifter approaching the women at that table a moment too late.
His Maker had already reacted.
*Hope it was worth the wait!*