(Mr. Sexy Vampire Beast…)
“Had you ever met any Weres or vampires before the attack?” Sarah was asking Cara.
Godric’s ears twitched a bit. How much of their conversation had he missed?
“Nope. I knew that vampires existed, of course, but until that day, I’d never knowingly met either one. And it would’ve been nice if my Intro to Wereology had been, say, you, not four snarly, growly, glow-eyed murderers.” Cara shivered at the memory.
He was glad to see that this time Sarah got up to stir whatever was in the huge pot on the stove.
“So, I have to ask, what do you think about Weres and vampires now that you know we’re all real?” Sarah asked from the stove.
Godric focused intently on her upcoming words.
Cara felt a tingling in her shoulders, but ignored it. After thinking for a moment, she replied, “Honestly? Y’all all just seem like people to me. Granted some of y’all have been alive half of forever, and some others of y’all sprout fur and paws at regular intervals, but in the end, y’all are all just people.”
Sarah turned from the stove. “So you don’t really see any difference between Weres, vampires, and humans?”
“Not really. Naturally everyone’s perspective is different, but then, every individual’s perspective is shaped solely on their own experiences anyway. I can no more accurately imagine being able to change into another form and run wild and free through nature than I can accurately imagine living through all the part fascinating, part boring as hell history some of our vampires have lived through.”
“Wow – you’re really open-minded for a human.”
Cara laughed. “In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably point out that I’m one of those “we’re all one universe” people. I see absolutely no reason why different groups of people can’t just get along. One group of people deciding to not like another group of people for arbitrary, racist reasons makes no sense to me. Why cut off your nose to spite your face?”
“That makes sense, but it’s really hard to overcome bias when it’s learned at home. Most Weres are taught to hate, fear, and distrust vampires just because they are vampires,” Sarah admitted. “Our pack is a bit different, though. DesChamps and Godric have a good working relationship, and they respect each other.”
“Why would Weres hate, fear and distrust vampires,” Cara wondered. “Is it because vampires live so long? Their strength?” She was honestly confused.
“I haven’t met many vampires, but the ones I have met, well, even most of them seem so…mean and snotty. Aloof. Like they’re better than everyone else, and like no one else is worthy of being in their little group.” Sarah grimaced as she realized how awful she sounded.
Godric smirked and rolled his eyes. Trust a Were…
Cara just laughed. “Of course they do, honey.”
Shocked, he sat up straight and raised both brows. This conversation he was listening in on was not what he expected.
Sarah looked totally confused. She’d expected Cara to somehow defend the vampires, especially considering what she’d heard about her and Godric.
Cara laughed. “Before I elaborate, do you think the guards would like cream cheese pie for dessert?”
Sarah looked even more confused, but agreed. “Yeah, uh, that sounds good.”
“Then I need to get started on them now. Ok, cherry or blueberry? You choose…I have commitment issues.”
Commitment issues? Godric’s focus sharpened.
“Erm…blueberry?” Sarah still looked confused.
Cara laughed even harder. “Sorry! I should have warned you. My brain tends to think about forty-nine different things at once…I can barely keep up with my own self sometimes, so don’t worry about it.”
The ancient vampire shamelessly eavesdropping from his hidden surveillance room took note…and waited impatiently to hear Miss Cara explain herself.
She gathered enough ingredients to prepare three of the easiest pies ever and talked while she worked.
“For what it’s worth, here’s what I think about that infamous vampire facade. It’s…mostly a facade…at least I hope it is.” She reached over and took a sip of her coffee as Sarah chuckled.
Cara thought for a moment, wondering what to say and what to leave unsaid. She knew that Godric and Isabel had shared information with her in private with the sometimes spoken and sometimes unspoken request to keep it private. But, some things just made common sense. That, she decided, was the route she’d travel.
“Imagine if you were looking into the eyes of eternity. Imagine you’ve lived for 300 years…500 years…1000 years, or even longer. Now imagine all the mortals you’ve seen live and die during all those countless years. It only makes sense that vampires would develop their primary relationships amongst themselves. In so far as I know, they are the sole members of a very specific group: immortals.” She paused as she measured the lemon juice.
Sarah admitted, “Ok, that makes sense. They’re not going to want to get emotionally attached…” She dwindled off, not wanting to say anything awkward to Cara considering her possible relationship with one of the oldest vampires in America.
“Exactly. I can’t imagine what a toll it would take on a vampire to get involved with a mere mortal knowing how little time will pass before that mortal meets their expiration date. So it makes sense to me that the older a vampire gets, the less likely they are to knowingly choose to become involved with mortals except for the most mundane of tasks. Blood, sex, or business, and that’s it.”
Godric pondered Cara’s words, and wondered if she actually thought that about him. He strongly suspected that she had no idea how he really considered her.
Cara paused to work on the desserts for a moment, then continued, “So, to me, that would explain the aloofness. They’re not being mean; they’re being cautious. I’m not saying a vampire can’t or won’t have a relationship of some sort with a mortal, but it’d be in their best interest not to. You can only have your heart broken so many times before you stop risking it. But, yes, they are distant and aloof, just, it’s for a completely understandable, valid reason.”
The Were nodded in understanding.
Godric’s eyes grew sad as he momentarily relived the weight of Cara’s words. Her empathy was astounding…she was exactly right.
He jerked his head up and stilled completely. His blue eyes blazed as it occurred to him that his Cara might actually be an empath of some sort. It was an idea definitely worth considering…and investigating. He refocused his attention onto her words.
“Now, about the mean part. I think vampires are just like everyone else: some are remarkably good; some are nasty little shits; and most are average. Either way, what’s the one thing a potentially immortal being is going to want to do?”
Sarah shrugged, interested but clueless.
“Survive.” Cara held up the electric beaters to clue Sarah (and, incidentally, the eavesdropping vampire) about the impending noise-fest. A few minutes later, she poured the pie mix into the shortbread pie crusts and put them into the refrigerator. After washing her hands and making another cup of coffee, she doled out a couple of Advil from her bottle now living beside the coffee machine and gratefully plopped back down.
“If you realize that you have the ability to live half-way to forever, you’re going to take what measures you can to increase the odds that you’ll actually live that long. And, one of the main ways to increase your odds is to not have any exploitable weaknesses.” She took a sip of her coffee and swallowed her Advil.
Godric felt another spasm of guilt, knowing that if she had gotten better sleep, she might not be feeling as bad.
“Now, I figure that everyone, no matter what species, has weaknesses. Some of us have more than others, but in the interest of survival, you have to keep your Achilles’ heel protected. You can ignore your soft spots and die young, or you can minimize them to the best of your ability. Above all, you don’t admit to having them, period. One of the best ways to deflect anyone else from seeing your weaknesses is to visually subdue your emotions, and act what we would consider mean. It’s an automatic perception that if someone is unemotional and mean, they’re stronger, and therefore…have fewer weaknesses you can exploit to take them down.” Cara paused to give Sarah a chance to comment if she wanted to. Apparently she didn’t.
“I can just imagine that, after living a few centuries in a group of people appearing to be mean and aloof, and who hide behind unemotional facades, after a while, you’re going to be acting the same way. Blending in with the herd is also a great way of escaping the attentions of those who would hurt you. I can also imagine that, after a few centuries of only considering mortals as food and sex toys, or maybe at best a business associate, you’d lose your tendency to consider that your food or your sex toy has actual feelings.”
Sarah’s expression was a blend of vaguely enlightened and vaguely confused.
His was fascinated. He had the slightly uncomfortable feeling that he could sit and listen to Cara talk for days on end and still remain captivated. He also strongly suspected that she had simplified her reasoning in deference to her new Were friend. Such intelligence! Such innate understanding from someone who had known vampires for less than a week!
He glanced at the time code on the screen just as he noticed Cara glancing at the clock on the kitchen wall. He could officially rise to see her in about fifteen minutes. Should he not already be accustomed to this odd feeling of anticipation?
It galled him that he had to go to that damn meeting this evening, but he hoped he could discover more about what he suspected was a Were plot while there. He still could not figure out who had what to gain by attacking his child, but it could well have something to do with this meeting…or perhaps this meeting could simply be used to draw him or one in his retinue out into a less defendable position. Thanks to his Cara, he now anticipated the possibility of an attack either en route or while there. Protective measures were now in place. He had also doubled the guards for his estate, just in case.
He wanted to find a way to entice her into staying at his home at least until he returned, and thought to pique her curiosity about the reasoning behind the attack as a means to such ends. While tempting, he would not risk ordering her to remain. He did not think that would go over so well, and would not resort to such tactics unless her safety were truly at risk. Then, all bets were off.
“…above everyone else. I mean, seriously, would you want to shake hands or become emotionally involved with your food? EWE!!”
Sarah and Godric both laughed out loud at Cara’s impersonation of a properly horrified vampire. He glanced at the external monitors and not only noted the proper placement of his Were guards, but that the evening’s slow darkening had begun.
Cara got up to wash the few dishes dirtied during the pie preparation.
“Why don’t you just use the dishwasher,” Sarah asked.
Godric wanted to know, too.
“It’s just simpler to go ahead and do it by hand. Plus, I can see if I’ve left a dirty spot on a plate or whatever. Most dishwashers can’t.” Sarah laughed. “I’ll use it if I have a huge load of stuff to wash, otherwise it’s just simpler to do them by hand. You can use it all you want, though. I really don’t care either way.”
Godric was objectively curious about his apparent fascination with listening to a human woman discussing methods of cleaning dishes. He rolled his eyes at himself then vamp speeded through his rising ablutions.
Four minutes later he entered the kitchen eager to discover what fascinating subject the females were currently discussing. It only plagued him a small bit that he actually was fascinated.
According to the slight dilation of Cara’s eyes as she slowly admired him from toe to head, he had chosen his casual “meeting” attire well. He refused to dress up unless absolutely necessary. He felt he was just too old to waste the time or effort.
Cara couldn’t help but stare. Dark brown leather shoes led to well-fitted dark brown pants, which led to a dark brown belt with a gold buckle, which led to a soft brown sweater with a V-neck just low enough to hint at some tattoos, which led up to a handsome face wearing a shit-eating grin and a devilishly raised brow over startlingly blue eyes trained directly at her.
Her face flamed. Her mouth watered. Her heartbeat revved into overdrive and a small swarm of butterflies invaded her tummy. She gulped. So much for avoiding the sexy vampire beast this night…
“You like?” He did not think she could blush any redder, but he had to try. She was just so damn adorable.
Surprisingly she snorted, then laughed. “You know you look absolutely edible, Mr. Sexy Vampire Beast. So which modeling agency are you signed with?”
Isabel, the only other vampire actively living on site, walked in just in time to hear Godric’s resounding laugh. It had been…she couldn’t remember how long it had been since she’d heard such unrestrained joy from him. She did wonder why Cara’s face was so red, and why the Were Sarah was grinning like a loon.
Cara suddenly decided the huge pot of beef stew simmering on the stove needed a good stir. A good…long…stir. Godric decidedly approved of the view of her ass as she faced the stove. He gave an elegant shrug when he heard Isabel’s virtually silent snicker at the direction of his gaze. Sarah gasped when he vamp-sped over to the stove to stand behind Cara, who started at his sudden closeness.
“What have we here,” he asked, his lips so close to her ear that she felt his cool breath.
“A heart attack waiting to happen courtesy of your vamp speed,” Cara quipped.
Godric laughed again. He was delighted with her playful mood, and with the fact that she was not dodging his attentions as he had suspected she might.
“It seemed like a good night for a nice big pot of thick, chunky beef stew since it’s getting colder,” she explained as she finished stirring.
He had noticed that the food Cara prepared did not carry quite the same stench as most human food, and figured it was because the ingredients she used were fresh and recognizable, even if he did not remember the names of the roots or meats.
“I have to admit, the food you create does not smell as bad as most I have encountered.” Once again his words were spoken directly into her ear.
“Was that a back-handed compliment? Should I say “thank you” or “bite me”?” Cara laughed, knowing it was a compliment but wanting to tease him; he could be so much fun. She sidled over toward the coffee machine. His nearness was definitely interfering with her internal circuitry.
He silenty dogged her movements exactly step for step. When she stopped, he inhaled her scent with obvious enthusiasm then purred in her ear, “Ma petite, never say that particular phrase to a vampire unless you well mean it.”
Cara bared her neck infinitesimally and ignored the goose bumps suddenly pebbling her flesh. “What, “thank you”? What could vampires possibly hold against that particular phrase?” Her lips trembled as she tried to stifle her giggle.
He took the half-step needed to bring his front flush with her back, and growled low knowing full well she would feel it. “Woman,” he paused as he braced his arms on either side of her to effectively trap her between his quickly reacting body and the counter, “I think you know exactly what I mean.” His voice lowered seductively. “But, just in case you have any questions…” He paused to very slowly, very carefully, glide his fangs down her throat to the curve of her neck.
He was playing fire and loving the burn. His fangs ached, his mouth grew wet, his cock throbbed…and he would not have changed a thing. Her sweet scent grew rich and sultry with her arousal and the moist pulse of her heart thrummed faster.
Giving further into temptation, he leisurely lapped his tongue back up her neck, reversing the route of his fangs. She shivered, and he tasted sunlight and honey and jasmine and hot, sweet nights. Suddenly, every instinct he had screamed for him to bite, to bite and suck and rub and fuck and…
“Godric, what are you doing back there,” she gasped with a breathy laugh. Cara had a feeling that the rules of the game were changing, and she hadn’t read the rule book. She “innocently” leaned forward to break his way-too-tempting contact with her neck, not realizing it would also grind her ass into his throbbing cock.
He almost came where he stood. It took all of his 2100 years of training to keep from shredding her clothes and bending her over the damn counter that very second.
Thankfully by the time she made her coffee, he had managed to regain just enough of his self-control to appear sane. His fangs and cock had other ideas and refused to cooperate, but at least he could act like he had not been a second away from fucking the pure living hell out her…witnesses be damned.
Sensing the need to provide a distraction, Isabel grabbed two bottles of blood from the fridge and proceeded to heat them up in the microwave. Godric could not decide if he wanted to thank her or beat her for her timely interruption. Since he had never once chosen corporal punishment for his female child even when she was a newborn, and certainly was not about to start now, he decided to go with thanking her. Grudgingly.
Getting the idea that a change in subject was a good idea, Cara asked, “So, y’all’ve got that meeting tonight?”
Rolling her eyes as she shook her bottled blood, Isabel nodded her head. “And I guarantee it’s going to be a snooze-fest, too.” Isabel had no love for politics or meetings…just like her Maker. Everyone studiously ignored the burning shimmer still vivid in Godric’s eyes.
Suddenly inspired to move, Sarah tore her extremely curious eyes away from the others and stirred the stew. She cleared her throat, and asked meekly, “Cara, do you think we should make some corn bread to go with this?”
Cara looked over at her and gave her a huge smile. “What a great idea! There are a couple of #10 cast iron pans under the counter. That should make enough bread for everyone, shouldn’t it?”
“Sure! Erm, what’s a “number 10″?” Sarah kind of laughed.
“Oh, sorry. My mom always called them a “number 10″ cast iron frying pan, but it actually means a cast iron frying pan that’s 10 inches in diameter,” Cara explained as she got the milk out of the fridge.
Godric drained the bottle of warmed blood Isabel handed him, then, “Cara, I would like to ask you to do something for me this night.”
The brief but smoldering look Cara threw him over her shoulder would keep him up in days to come in more ways than one. She turned her head and gave the jug of milk to Sarah.
“All right, what’s up?” She wasn’t going to look at him. Not going to look. Not going to…
He waited until she finally turned back to him, then caught her glance to pay back her in kind. With interest.
“I would ask that you remain here until after we return.”
“Why? How long do you think you might be gone?”
“Most likely no more than several hours, but I would feel better knowing you are safe here in my home just in case there is some sort of ambush.” He tried to keep his gaze from focusing on her bottom lip as she bit it, and failed miserably. “I have safety measures already in place for both the flights and the location of the meeting, so we will be fine. It is your safety that concerns me.”
A worried look crossed her face as she lowered her eyes to study her feet. She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the counter. Godric felt a cold shard of ice in his chest. He in no way liked the signs he felt were of withdrawal and immediately sped to her.
He lifted her chin to meet her eyes. “What is it, Cara-mia?”
She searched his intent stare for a moment, then replied, “I’m just thinking that if it’s a person they’re after, then they’ll most likely attack you guys en route. It’s possible they could wait till you got to the location of the meeting, but if there are going to be a lot of others there, witnesses as it were, they probably won’t do anything. But, if it’s a thing that they’re after, then won’t they come here to search for it the second they know you’re all gone?”
“Yes, that is entirely possible, but even so you will be much safer here than at your own home. This estate is much easier to protect than your home, and I have doubled the vampire and Were guards. You will be safest here.”
He held her gaze until she looked away. “You’re really worried about this, aren’t you,” she quietly asked. He did not like that she seemed determined to avoid looking directly at him, and that she still had her arms wrapped around herself. Had he pushed too far, too fast? It certainly seemed as if she were retreating. Perhaps he should allow her some breathing room. There was definitely a new and curious hesitance in her manner. He would find his patience somehow and take comfort in her obvious attraction to him.
“Yes. If it were my decision, you would live here until I can end this threat.” She stiffened at his comment, but he did not mention it. “As it is, I would ask that you at least stay here until we return. It is possible that I might learn something about the attack from someone at the meeting.”
Aha! Godric was pleased. Curiosity piqued in 3…2…
Cara sighed as she took the bait. “Ok. I’ll stay till y’all get back. Just…be careful, ok?” She meant to simply peep up at him to let him know she was serious in wanting him to be careful, but his eyes caught hers in their burning blue fire, and she couldn’t make herself look away.
He slowly brushed his thumb over her bottom lip. “I will come home to you, ma chere.” He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead just as the rest of his retinue entered the front door.
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