**A/N: I want to thank my readers, both the newbies and the ones who have stayed the course with me from the first chapter of this little story, for taking a chance on Andre, and therefore me. I fully realize that, at least in the books, Andre is the “anti-hero” who no one is ‘supposed’ to like, therefore it took an act of fic-reader faith – and a bit of confidence in me as a writer – for y’all to even click on that first chapter. But you did, and I hope you’ve not been disappointed in my spin on the character of Andre…the Master Torturer…and his Emma. Hey, I did make him taller, broader, a bit older, and hella sexier…that counts, right??**
Sigebert rose early that next afternoon in his light-safe quarters, but remained in his bed. His usual habit had been to rise immediately upon awakening – a smart habit for a vampire used to fighting and who knew the value of rising alert to potential dangers – but of late the impulse to do so was… lacking.
Why bother jumping from the soft comfort of his cold bed when there was nothing more exciting waiting for him beyond the doors of his resting room? Why rise and spring to wary attention when his “nest” was a well-protected chamber in a well-guarded Palace? Why bother being excited to wake when night after night was filled with the same boring thing…night after night?
Last evening and the evening before had been different, of course. He had been left in charge of protecting his Maker and Andre’s Mate while the French Torturer had gone off on his kill mission. He wished he could have gone, of course. He loved swinging his broadsword with lumbering grace and spilling the blood of his enemies, but his ‘little’ broder had been the wiser choice. Wybert was very skilled in battle – of course he was, his was his broder after all – but more likely if he’d been left in charge, he’d have spent his time gazing into the eyes of his sweet little donor fluff.
The blond mountain snorted. Sigebert had been born first by mere minutes to their poor beleaguered mother, and was naturally the better looking, smarter, more capable broder.
However, sometimes during quiet moments he found that he envied the ever-so-slightly younger vampire. Wybert was better at that technology thing that he’d ever be. And while he was an excellent fighter, the lack of a good battle didn’t bother him nearly as much as it should. Somewhat more laid back than the older sibling, Wybert seemed to expect less out of life and was therefore the happier for it.
He could read and write, now, like his broder, but that served him no real purpose. He broke more so-called ‘devices’ than he actually used. His only skills rested in his ability to fight, and fight well.
Sigebert believed in creating his own fortune, in fighting for victory, glory, power, wealth, fun…whatever he wanted. He had been fighting for years before he was Turned, and he had fought for centuries thereafter. He had taken great joy in fighting for, and alongside, his Maker who then became his Queen.
Sadly, it seemed there were no more battles to fight, now.
While he had taken pleasure in keeping his Maker safe, Andre was so proficient at his job that his services were very rarely actually needed anymore. As much as he had enjoyed them, unfortunately the past two nights had been a fluke, and truly, he could see no good battles in the coming future, either.
He simply wasn’t needed any longer.
Ah, well, he sighed tiredly upon finally rising. There was still blood. If he couldn’t spill it, he could at least drink it.
“But what if…” Tracy started, but quieted when Rasul brushed his thumb across her kiss-swollen lips. Her eyes still misty from their most recent romp, the Were turned her head toward the companion she cared for more than she’d thought possible.
“Shhh,” he murmured into her throat as he brushed his lips across her sensitive skin then laved at a bite mark from earlier that evening that he had already healed.
Although he had taken many, many lovers both before and after his Turning, and saw no difference between ladies of Human, Vampire, or Were origin, Rasul had never taken one into his bed before Tracy…and had certainly never fallen into his dayrest with one still entwined in his arms. When he had come to late that afternoon with a freshly-showered and Were-warm Tracy resting quietly by his side, it had felt as though a small piece of his heart had slid into its final place. That soul-deep feeling had sparked an instinctive response, and the next several hours had been spent quite…pleasurably.
Although he wasn’t sure if she’d been aware of the fact or not, during the course of their affections the first Bond had been made quickly and effortlessly. While Rasul wasn’t sure if he wanted a stronger Bond with her yet, still, he was very, very happy to have taken that first step. Their nights were young and, considering the longevity of Weres in general (and specifically the longevity of Weres who ingested small amounts of vampire blood at regular intervals), he felt no need to rush their burgeoning relationship.
Besides, she already carried his scent in all ways possible, so there couldn’t be any question that she was his. He was glad his surely smug expression was hidden from her rather perceptive gaze.
“Let’s not be borrowing trouble, love. I will speak with him soon, and we’ll go from there.” He subtly sent her feelings of peace and reassurance, then gathered his courage. “I also need to tell you something. As you may or may not be aware given your Were senses…”
In the suite next Sigebert’s quarters, Wybert rose and once again found the sides of his mouth curling up in what was becoming a familiar sight in the mirror: a small grin.
Never being one to go about sporting such a thing on his face, the novelty of the expression still caught his attention. Smiling was not a normal part of his repertoire, and while he had much to think about, he wasn’t one to talk a lot, either.
He considered the ideas born and held in his head his – they were private, personal, and very, very plentiful. Of course he would discuss his more important observations with his broder and his Maker, and sometimes with Andre, but no one else usually warranted such confidences.
Until he had met Circey.
As he thought of the pretty blonde donor whose body and blood both called to him… and whose eyes sparkled with understanding when he found himself spewing out a lifetime of hidden thoughts and confidences, he felt that smile on his face broaden.
That same smile fell a bit when he remembered that she had class this evening and wouldn’t be arriving until later, but he understood. She was working her way through college as a paid donor, and her classes and study time took precedence.
When he had first met her, he had known immediately that she wasn’t one of the Palace’s usual donor-whores. Virgin in bite if not in body, her inexperience and nervousness were obvious when he had spotted her on her first night, and somehow they had called to him on a deep level. He blamed his draw to her on his curiosity about why someone so obviously ill-suited for such would want to join the Palace’s donor pool, and immediately guessed that she was one of the paid donors.
Naturally the donor housing on the lower level was constantly filled with women, and a few men, who were so addicted to a vampire’s bite and fuck that they chose to serve for free, but everyone save the newest vampires quickly tired of the usual “menu” be it flavor of blood or sex act. A few undead had their personal favorites, but most vampires viewed the house donors the same way humans would regard a roast beef sandwich that they had to bite gently and couldn’t chew.
His Maker liked to provide new blood, literally, for her Children and a few of her favorites as often as she could, and with the advent of new technology, she had to do so legally. At first he had been surprised that she didn’t seem to mind paying these women, and men albeit fewer in number, for their services, but she apparently paid them quite well. Once he had gotten somewhat familiar with a couple of them as time had passed, he better understood his Queen’s reasoning – you get what you pay for.
The paid donors were free to decide for themselves if blood would be the only service they would provide, and while most chose to have sex with their vampire for the evening and were therefore paid accordingly, a rare few did not wish to provide anything but blood.
To Wybert’s initial consternation then vast relief, Circey was one such donor. Thus far he had been the only vampire to feed from her, much less to fuck her after what had seemed like an eternity of waiting, and he fully intended on keeping it that way.
She somehow had the curious effect of making him not want to drink from anyone else, either. He didn’t mind, not really, but choosing not to feed and fuck whenever he wanted was something of an odd, novel, experience. For some reason that he didn’t understand, he had not yet told her that he refused to fuck or feed from anyone else. He also didn’t understand why he always healed his bites, refusing to leave her marked as a common fangbanger.
He massaged his fangs and hoped her class released soon.
With a huff he went to shower. As when he was human, his appetites – all his appetites – were large and powerful, and this self-control thing was highly overrated.
By mutual if unarranged agreement, at 3:00 am Emma noticed that almost everyone in her new sphere of friends had arrived to lounge about in her and Andre’s den-slash-living room.
Tracy had arrived first, having been called a couple of hours earlier by Andre to “attend to her Mistress” before he left to report to his Maker. Within an hour of her arrival, Rasul, and then Sookie, had wandered in, and shortly thereafter had come Wybert looking well fed and happy.
When Emma realized that Wybert looked happier than normal, she started wondering what was going on with the hulking vampire she was quickly coming to consider as an older brother…or a young-ish uncle. As with his broder, he never spoke often, but when either brother did deign to say something, it was usually relevant and worth hearing- unless it involved a game of some sort. That she tuned out. She strongly suspected that both hulking blond vamps were a lot more astute than they wanted others to realize, but she held those thoughts to herself. If they had a reason to let others think they were more mentally aerated than they actually were, it was their reason to have.
She wanted to question him about what was going on, but decided to wait especially since she was certain his new, more relaxed, countenance involved a female. Better answers would most likely be forthcoming if they were alone.
So, she, Tracy, and Sookie enjoyed a delicious late-night dinner expertly prepared by the Palace chef now that the danger was gone and foods from the kitchen were once again cleared. Rasul and Wybert played many hands of an archaic card game that made no sense to anyone else while the dark-haired player kept sneaking glances at Tracy and the blond-haired player would sometimes stare off into space for a bit.
Moving slowly, her ‘loins’ still slightly sore and tingling from the results of being woke up by a very horny vampire who was obviously happy to rise in more ways than one with his ‘mate’, Emma amused herself by rearranging the movies for the umpteenth time and straightening the throws and pillows… anything to waste time until Andre returned. She finally shook her head at her lovesick actions and plopped down on the sofa to talk to and watch tv with her company. She also made yet another mental note to herself to talk to Andre about all that mate stuff.
Sookie, much more accustomed to waiting while Eric did “vampire business” and quite thankful to be left out of as much of it as she could get away with, and Tracy, trying and failing to not blush every time she glanced over at Rasul, both simply waited with Emma. They all bided their time after dinner by watching people hunting houses on tv and making fun of the constant high-pitched need to “update” kitchens and bathrooms that didn’t need updating. All three ladies shared several laughs over that.
Eventually Andre, Eric, Sigebert, and, surprisingly, Sophie-Anne joined them, fresh from whatever it was they had been planning. Emma was under no illusions that BeauChamp’s death was some magic fix-all, that suddenly everything in her little world was magically ok now that the asshole was finally ended. Nothing was ever that simple.
For the next several hours Andre basked in the rare opportunity to sit peacefully with his Emma firmly ensconced on his lap, his Maker safely lounging on the sofa in direct sight across from him, and both his brothers-by-Turning happily wiling away the hours playing some game or other.
Not only was it rare for him to be surrounded by such an atmosphere of peace, but the extraordinary thing was that not only were most of his closest family present, they were together in the same room and not because they were planning any sort of take-over or some defensive mission.
Being able to see with his own eyes that those closest to him were indeed safe and well eased something in his chest. As he quietly observed his Emma laughing and softly joking with his Maker, Sookie, and Tracy, it occurred to him that he was also surrounded by people who were quickly becoming true friends.
Eric naturally had Sookie in his lap, and surprisingly, although no one mentioned it, Rasul had his Emma’s Were-maid in his lap with his arms firmly around mirroring the actions of the other mated males in the room. Of course he knew that the two had become intimate, but he hadn’t given it more thought than to ensure that their relationship wouldn’t interfere with their duties. He made a mental note to discuss with Rasul the likelihood of their liaison becoming something more permanent. If so, he had a few small plans to rearrange, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle.
Ah, the course of true love, he snarked to himself.
As time passed during the course of the night, he noticed that his Maker had thrown several almost indiscernible but concerned glances toward Sigebert, and that his Emma was making a subtle point to include the vampire in their conversations. She wasn’t doing anything obvious, mainly ensuring that the demi-giant never felt left out of the discussions flowing quietly between all the visitors, but he could sense that his giant of a brother wasn’t quite himself.
Sigebert’s current mood worried him some. The generally taciturn blond was even less responsive than usual these nights. Granted he did liven up a bit during the games, and on the night he had asked the vampire to assume personal responsibility for Emma’s current and potential safety, he had responded with serious vigor. But…something was wrong, something that seemed darker than just needing a new feed and fuck.
He made a mental note to speak with him, too.
Wybert, however, was nothing short of a happy fucker these nights, he thought with a snort. He was fine.
Whether they all realized it or not, they were forming a very cohesive unit, and Andre would allow nothing to tear them apart.
**A/N: Ok, so, what did you think? Remember, reviews feed the muse! Oh, and on that note, if you find it easier to review on FF when reading on a device, that is perfectly fine. You are also entirely welcome to review somewhat more privately over there, too, if you prefer, and PMs are always welcome (provided they’re not mean. Don’t send mean PMs…I ugly-cry and no one wants to see that…).**