(One Very, Very, Very Long Evening…Part A)
Her first night under his roof, under his protection, and he could keep neither his eyes nor his hands off her. Such a small, profound thing, he thought, being able to openly memorize her sleep-softened face and smooth his fingers through her long dark hair.
He had been back for over an hour, and still he could not make himself move from the side of her bed. He was certain he would stop in just a few more minutes. Just like he was going to stop half an hour ago, he thought wryly.
What was it about her that made him act so irrationally? He who had been in complete control of himself for countless centuries was suddenly held spell bound to the side of the bed of a sleeping female while gently sifting her hair through his fingers. And he would not trade these moments for all the gold or precious jewels his hands could hold.
He stared down at his hands, certain that he was not worthy of touching even a strand of her hair. These hands had senselessly murdered thousands upon thousands…had inflicted all manner of cruelty upon both the deserving and, especially in his new-born times, the innocent. These hands had started and ended wars out of sheer boredom. Many centuries passed after his creation before he first recognized the whisperings of his conscience…and more centuries passed until he truly rethought his way of being.
These hands did not deserve to touch such beauty and character…such grace and joy and wit. But they did. And they would.
As much as it literally pained him, he would wait until she was more certain of him before touching her…thoroughly, but until then, he at least had her in his home, in his care. Cherished whether she knew it or not, she was home. And he would watch over her.
Now – to entice her to stay. Let the campaign begin…
Cara rolled over and stretched. She caught a whiff of something dark and delicious in the air and lazily opened one eyelid. For a moment it seemed like Godric had been there. It must have been her imagination. The scent had to have come from his clothes she was wearing.
Since the light-tight shutters were still down she had no idea of the time, so she rolled over, curled up, and went back to sleep.
Hours later nature decided it was time for her to wake up, so she answered its annoying call. Once vertical, she reluctantly decided to remain that way and get properly dressed for the day. Her jeans from the day before were still clean, but she decided to continue wearing Godric’s shirt…since her own was dirty, of course.
In the process of making her bed, she happened to glance over to the nearest nightstand. There was a folded note where the alarm clock should have been. With a small smile on her face, she reached for and opened the paper.
“My dearest Cara,
I hope you slept well and long. You need your rest, and as in all areas, I will see that your needs are met. If I must lower myself into absconding with your alarm clock to see this through, then so, I fear, it must be.
This is your home; do as you will. If you must leave the premises this day, take your guards with you.
When she caught herself rereading his words for the fifth time, Cara simply smiled and tucked the letter into her purse. She could just imagine the grin on his face as he wrote about the alarm clock, just as she could imagine his calmly authoritarian look when he told her to take her guards. She tried to ignore the shivering warmth pooling between her legs at the thought of him meeting “all” her needs…
The next mission was definitely coffee. When she opened the bedroom door, she noticed that although the hallway was dark, a much brighter light was visible from the bottom of the stairs. According to the cooking odors in the air, lunch had already come and gone. Oh, great…how late had she slept? Oh, well, at least maybe she missed Anderson.
When she poked her head into the kitchen, sure enough, Sarah was preparing the evening meal.
“Oh, Sarah, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to sleep so long!” Cara was horribly contrite as she tiptoed over to the coffee machine.
“Cara! Good morning, erm, afternoon! And don’t you worry about a thing. Mr. Godric left a note explaining that you had a difficult night and would be sleeping in, and that since Elise wasn’t having to guard you while you slept, she would help out.” Sarah laughed at her apologetic countenance, then gave her a long, curious look. “Seriously, it’s all ok, I promise. Just tell me how you ended up being here and we’ll call it even,” she wheedled for information.
Cara couldn’t help but laugh at Sarah’s blatant need for info. “Ok, ok, just lemme get the coffee IV hooked up.”
“Do you want something for breakfast?”
“Ugh, no, but thanks anyway. I can’t handle food for the first few hours I’m awake. I’ll get something after while.” She downed half her cup of coffee in one gulp. “This is all I need for now.”
Meanwhile back in his control room not too far away, Godric was pleased that Cara had apparently slept herself out. Between the effects of his few drops of ancient blood and a good long rest, she looked absolutely radiant. Her face was clearer, her hair shinier, her movements even more fluid…now if she would just eat something he would feel better. He appreciated how well she filled out his shirt, and relished the sense of male satisfaction he felt knowing she was wearing his clothing.
Oh, that explains it, he thought as he listened in to their conversation. He would keep an eye on her to make sure she did eat later, though.
Keeping one ear on the conversation, Godric quickly completed a few pending area tasks, then tended to his own personal business interests. Thankfully his trusted attorney, the renowned semi-demon Desmond Cataliades, had over the years introduced him to exceptionally qualified account managers, so his considerable financial holdings ran quite smoothly without his active participation.
“…here last night?” Godric refocused his attention; he wanted to hear what Cara had to say.
“Well, you know the vampires had a big meeting they had to go to last night, right, and that I stayed until they got back?” Sarah nodded. “Well, apparently at some point during the evening Destructo-Weres ransacked my apartment.” Sarah gasped. “Godric said they broke down the door and went through all the rooms, and from what I understand they broke stuff just for the practice or something. Anyway, there was no way I could go back home after all that, so I stayed here.”
“Oh no! That’s terrible! Thank God you weren’t there when it happened!”
“Oh, I’m thanking both God and Godric for that one. I give credit where credit’s due: if he hadn’t asked me to stay here last night, I’d be dead, or worse, now.” Cara shivered.
“What are you going to do? You can’t go back there, not now.” Sarah was adamant. Godric approved.
“Nope, but I do need to go by and see what the damage is, and what I can salvage. Godric offered to let me stay here until he gets things resolved, but…” Her voice dwindled off uncertainly.
“But what?” Sarah didn’t see any problems with the perfect solution. She’d seen exactly how Mr. Godric looked at Cara…and she’d seen how Cara looked at him when she thought no one was watching. The kiss between them yesterday could have melted the paint off the walls. There was definitely chemistry between the two of them, and it seemed that Cara was the only hold-up. Maybe she just didn’t understand how very quickly things like this progressed in the supe world? Perhaps it was time to explain a few realities to her new friend. Things just worked…differently…in the supe world.
Cara paused as she considered how to respond. Stalling, she made herself another cup of coffee. Godric impatiently clutched the arm rests of his chair so hard the metal warped.
“Quit stalling, Cara. Spill it,” Sarah cajoled.
He was definitely giving that Were a raise.
Cara laughed. “Hey, I’m a stalling pro…gimme a minute over here!” Godric had to smile; he loved her humorous honesty.
Sarah snorted as she went over to the oven to check on the (garlic-less) lasagnas. “Ok, then, I’ll start. Mr. Godric likes you. You like him. He has a big, gorgeous home, and he apparently wants you to stay with him at least while there’s danger. You need a safe, comfortable place to stay. Am I right so far?”
Cara smiled, and nodded to her coffee cup.
Sarah continued. “So, what’s the problem? Do you not want to get involved with him? Is it because he’s a vampire?”
Cara jerked her head up. “No! No, that’s not it at all!”
“Then what the hell is the problem?” Sarah could be rather blunt when needed.
Cara huffed. Then thought for a long minute. Then sighed.
“I’m…I’m not really sure, honestly,” she finally replied quietly.
Through the slight bond, Godric felt her sincerity. She truly had no problem with him being a vampire, but there definitely was some sort of problem. He stared at her vision in the monitor as if he could pull the source of her hesitation from her mind.
Cara rubbed the back of her neck and tried to relax the sudden tension she felt there. Finally she grimaced and fessed up.
“I’m scared, that’s all.”
“Well, for one thing, he’s my boss.”
Godric rested his head on his tented hands as he stared at the screen and sensed an immediate firing coming on.
“That won’t last forever. Next?” Sarah really did want to get to the bottom of this. They were too perfect a couple to not succeed.
“And what if I…we…what if we did get together, and it didn’t work out?”
“You haven’t been in many relationships, have you,” Sarah asked kindly.
“Nope, not really. Not lately at any rate.”
“Mostly because I’m too damn picky,” Cara laughed. “Seriously, why ever bother settling for Mr. He’ll Do? I mean, I had a couple of semi-serious relationships when I was way younger, but in retrospect, I think those fiascos were more about sex and figuring out what I didn’t want than anything else. After a while, I wised up and figured out that crappy, mediocre sex just wasn’t worth the bother, so I kind of gave up on getting involved with anyone.”
“Got burned, huh,” Sarah wisely guessed.
Godric’s face hardened. The thought of anyone hurting his Cara, even a former love interest – especially a former love interest, infuriated him.
“Oh, yeah. There was nothing angst-ridden or unusually traumatic, so don’t worry about that. It was more of a slow realization that I really wasn’t meant to be with anyone, at all, ever. I have way too many issues,” she shrugged nonchalantly.
What issues? Godric heard the lightness of her voice, but felt the heaviness in her heart. Maybe that was the source of those brief flashes of pain he would see reflected in the window?
“What issues,” Sarah enquired. “And what would they have to do with Mr. Godric?”
“Well, for one thing, I have a distinct problem with authority. You can ask me to do pretty much anything in the world, and if I can, I probably will. But command me to do something, no matter how simple, and I’ll quite happily tell you to stick it up your ass. Let’s just say that I have a bit of a temper.” Cara politely sipped her coffee.
Godric was fascinated. Inexplicably, the knowledge that Cara was fated to be his was growing stronger by the second. Apparently she was quite the spitfire.
“Is this quick temper of yours an “anger management” thing?” Sarah wanted to know.
“Could be, but I don’t think so. I’m also usually right, about other people and situations at any rate, so I’m a bit cocky by nature,” she shrugged nonchalantly. “I think I was just an intuitively perma-right queen of the universe in a past life,” Cara winked at her friend and laughed.
Sarah laughed with her. Godric leaned back and his mind raced.
“So, when you’re used to being always right, and you combine it with a severe laziness habit like I have,” Cara had to laugh at herself, “of course you’re going to get pissed off if someone starts trying to order you around.” She snickered.
“But, honestly, the problem I have with authority comes from my automatic over-reaction of ‘who the hell are you to try to tell me to do a damn thing’. I have an extremely firm belief that we are all equal, no exceptions until or unless proven otherwise. So, until or unless proven otherwise, there is no one on this planet who is worth more, or less, than me.”
“Ah.” Sarah was starting to get a better picture.
So, incidentally, was Godric.
Sarah continued. “So, since Mr. Godric actually is an acknowledged authority figure, you don’t really want to get involved with him at all. Am I reading this right?”
Godric broke the chair arms before sensing Cara’s feelings.
“Kind of…,” she hedged. “Funny thing…the thing about Godric is,” she paused in thought.
Godric thought he was going to explode. But…while he still sensed that hesitation, he also felt warmth and sweetness from her.
“Ok, the thing with Godric is that he’s so smart, and so calm and gentle and wise and controlled (here the ancient vampire snorted) that what he says makes sense. I can’t fight logic, you know? Logic makes sense; it follows a pattern that I can follow. So, if Godric were to ask me to do something, even if it didn’t make sense at the time, I’d be much more likely to do it and ask questions later. And I would. Ask questions later, that is,” she laughingly clarified. “But, yes, if even Godric tried to command me to do something, I’d be out the door in a heartbeat. I have no tolerance for domineering behavior…unless it’s mine.”
Godric tossed the now-useless chair arms across the room and breathed an unnecessary sigh of relief. His Cara would indeed lead him on a merry chase, he was sure of it. This kind of ‘problem with authority’ he could handle. With their combined intelligence he would be able to work around her tendencies. He strongly doubted such a need would ever even arise.
He could easily keep her apart from the worst forms of vampire protocol; never would he willingly expose her to the most archaic dehumanizing, humiliating traditions stubbornly adhered to by some of his species.
“But,” his heart sank as he heard her continue, “the fact remains that he is a powerful authority figure in the vampire political world in particular, and apparently in the supe world in general. I can’t ignore that fact. Since it’s a political power thing, he can’t be associated with an ‘uncontrolled’ woman with a really bad attitude, and that’s exactly how I’d come off to people, especially judgmental old vampires, who don’t know me.” Cara shook her head sadly. “As far as vampire power is concerned, from what I understand he has to be seen as “in control of his woman”, and that’s where I balk. Badly.”
Sarah nodded, realizing that her friend did indeed understand something extremely important to their supe world.
“Cara, I see where you’re coming from, but you’re forgetting one major thing.”
Cara just laughed, and inclined her head in agreement.
Sarah continued, “How about this: how about you let Mr. Godric worry about it, and let him deal with whether or not all that might cause problems, ok? I’d guess he’s been around that world a few times already and knows exactly how to deal more than you and I ever will.”
Godric decided the Were needed a double raise.
“If I agree, can we shelve my trust and control issues for a later discussion?” Cara wasn’t completely kidding.
She burst out laughing at the look Sarah gave her.
“Hey, I’m highly self-aware. I know that all my problems stem from trust issues, and I’m ok with that. They’re mine and they know my name!” She giggled.
Bemused, Godric shook his head. This human was a fascinating study of contradictions. He would gladly spend lifetimes trying to figure her out.
Before Sarah could say another word, Cara rose to start preparing the salad and non-garlic garlic bread to go with dinner. A glance at the window showed night wasn’t ready to start falling yet.
Godric smiled as he felt her slight disappointment. His smile did not last long.
A few minutes later, Sarah gave Cara a “look”. Cara rolled her eyes and faced the counter to concentrate on her salad preparations.
Yesterday Anderson somehow managed to “miss lunch” and had shown up conveniently right after everyone else had left the table. His increasingly insulting, arrogant presence annoyed them both for the better part of an hour until Mark came to do a general check on the house. They both hoped he wouldn’t stay as long today. Cara decided that if he did, she was definitely going to say something to Godric that night. She hated feeling like a tattle-tale, but there was something seriously creepy about Anderson.
Moments later, that mangy pup Anderson came strutting in. Godric rose and started pacing. Fuck…he was still trapped by fucking daylight!
Sarah tried to run interference. “Hey, Anderson. What do you want today?”
“Can’t I get something to drink if I want it,” he challenged, his attitude belligerent and insulting. “So, Cara,” he started, his voice dripping with smarm, “you’re the new maid around here – are you going to get me something to drink? ”
Cara didn’t bother turning around. “You know where the glasses and sink faucet are; have at it.”
“What the fuck is up with you today, huh? You too good to even look at me?” He sidled up a little closer.
Godric’s fangs dropped. The second he was free of the light, that fucker was hurting…bad.
She rolled her eyes and snorted. “Some of us actually do the jobs we’re hired for over here. And for the record, I’m the house cook, not your maid, Anderson. Godric is my boss; not you.”
“Ohhh, pretty little kitty has claws, eh? What makes you think you’re so special that you don’t even have to look at me, huh?” Although she refused to look at him, she could just imagine him puffing his big chest out.
By this time Godric was snarling. Through the slight bond he sensed that she felt no fear, only aggravation, disdain and a strong determination, but still. That was his woman… Fucking daylight!
Hoping for peace but preparing for battle, Cara “ignored” Anderson, keeping her front facing the counter and her body relaxed. Somehow, she knew peace was losing. His attitude was much worse today. Yesterday he’d stuck with badly clichéd innuendos dripping with smarm…today was escalating quickly…much too quickly. Weird! She quickly reviewed her options.
Anderson took another step toward Cara. “I’ve had it with you, you damn fangbanging whore. You’ll lay down with fucking vampires but won’t even look at a real man? Somebody needs to teach you to respect your betters and I guess it’s my job to do it.”
He raised his arm up to strike Cara and in a blur Sarah rammed her full weight into his side. They both fell to the floor. The large male Were slammed Sarah into the lower kitchen cabinets and came up cursing at Cara.
Godric was livid, but a strong, strange peace in the bond saved his sanity. Somehow he knew – Cara had this.
Then Anderson grabbed her shoulder.
**I’m sorry for the cliffie!!! I had two choices: post the world’s longest chapter (srsly…) or break it into halves. So…to save you from complete and utter boredom &/or eye exhaustion, I had to find some place to stop this chapter and this really was the best place. I promise! (Please don’t kill me…I have cats…and a perma-puppy!)
So, for future reference (no promises), which would you prefer: a super-mega-long chapter (and the accompanying eye strain), or a 2- or 3-parter with possible cliffie?**