Chapter 1: Rylie Elise Renner
I'd recently become a panwere. Well I say panwere, but I couldn't shift. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about I carry various strains of Lycanthropy. There was only one other that was like me, but she carried even more strains than I did. I held, Wereleopard, Werewolf, Werelion, Weretiger (Blue, there are several different clan colours, the other panwere carries all colours) and Werecheetah. The guy that I had contracted it from -Sebastian- had a thing for the big cats and when he inadvertently contracted werewolf he lost it, well more than he already had. So Edward or should that be US Marshal Ted Forrester and I took him down.
Yes I am a US Marshal of the preternatural branch and like many licensed vampire hunters before me I was grandfathered into it. Which was fine by me a badge gave me more clout when it came to working with some forces. My name is Rylie Elise Renner, 28 years old from San Bernardino, California. The vampires call me Harbinger though as of late I've noticed some referring to me as Famine, I was flattered to be counted among the for most feared by Vampires and some Shifters. The choice made perfect sense, few had a casualty rate as low as mine. I preferred to get the innocents out of the way, leaving me free to get down to business.
I was on my way to St Louis, Missouri, one to join the preternatural team out there and two to meet the only other panwere that like me that couldn't shift. She was also the Executioner or War as she too was one of the four Horsemen, when there was a call about a Werecheetah that had gone ape-shit in Cape Girardeau. I touched down in the airport and immediately strapped up before being driven by a local officer to the scene. They'd cornered him in an apartment complex. Luckily they had gotten everyone, but one woman out. My priority was her and then either bringing him in or taking him down. "So guys name?" I asked as I walked towards the lead Detective James Casto.
"Rick Nider. Don't know what set him off all we know is the woman he's got inside is not so much as a passing acquaintance. So how do you wanna do this?" Detective Casto asked. Casto was tall, but he was piling on the pounds, in his 40s so it was understandable, but his movements were slow, I didn't think he'd be any good in there. I was just thankful he wouldn't have my back in there. His soft blue eyes showed the scars of many hard negotiations and horrors on the job, but his face still held an easy going, but serious façade.
"First we need to get that woman to safety then we worry about him. I just need your best shooter up there with me." I said watching as his eyes suddenly showed surprise.
"You can't be serious?" I pulled up my long chocolate brown hair into a ponytail to keep out of my way. Then gave Casto my full attention setting my storm grey ice cold eyes on him. I'd been told plenty I had one of the best stone cold killer stares and Death would agree. He once asked me if I was a sociopath like him and all though I was able to shut down everything, almost go to a calm zen like place when I executed my warrants, the deaths never seemed to effect me, but come the every day, I was just like everyone else, I felt for people, cared about them and it was real.
"I am deadly serious detective. Anyone else up there is just another potential hostage. There is a reason why I have a low casualty rate on my jobs and I'd like to keep that way." He nodded slowly more than a little concerned by the look I was giving him.
"Sure." Then I heard him. Crazy bitch is going to get herself and Thomson killed! I shook my head at his thoughts and let a smile creep onto my face. Being a telepath helped more than most would realise.
"Thomson! You're with me!" I barked out ignoring the wide eyes stare I got from Casto as Thomson moved over to me already geared up to go. "I tug my ear up there and you have a clear shot, shoot the suspect." He nodded and followed me as I moved to the front door. I pulled out my Sig P226, the magazine was filled with silver tipped bullets. Two shots with this baby would have any Were down. I lived by a double tap rule, one bullet no matter how well placed was never enough for me, it had to at least be a double tap to take it down and keep it down.
As we ascended the stairs I could smell Rick the Werecheetah, with being a panwere came a boost to my senses and I could smell him strongly I didn't think he was a very powerful Werecheetah as I could feel my own stirring inside me at the scent, but she wasn't to interested. Even though I knew the beast was inside me, I wouldn't shift, though I had felt as if I might the first few times, but I never had. No it was like I had a cheetah inside me pacing around and it was intrigued by Rick's cheetah, which could be advantageous to me. I quickly picked up the thoughts of both of hostage and hostage taker. The woman Nicola was in a complete panic she thought she was going to die. Rick however was a whirl of thoughts that I couldn't quite pick up, he hadn't decided anything yet and till he did I don't think I could read him clearly.
We stepped into the room. Thomson with his AR-15 up and ready, me with my Sig P226 out. As Rick saw us his eyes went wide and he started to think oh shit. I raised my gun up in one hand trying to convey I meant no harm. Rick was a small man, he looked harmless. Sandy coloured hair topped his head in a floppy hairstyle that framed his face.
"Rick, I'm US Marshal Rylie Renner. I'm just here to talk ok?"
"No, no you're not! You're gunna kill me!" He was on the verge of shifting I could see the fine tremors running through his body.
"No I'm not. I want a peaceful resolution." I was slowly letting my cheetah make its presence felt,just a trickle of power slowly growing and I saw the moment he picked up on it. His nostrils flaring his head moving minutely forward, his mouth open smelling, tasting. "Rick I don't want to take you down, but if anything happens to that woman, I can't do anything for you. Just let her go Rick." My tone was soft, commanding, but calm.
My Cheetah was more dominant than his, I could feel it so I used. Pushing my will against his. I saw when he folded. Knew he was going to give. His arm loosened on the woman and she bolted, but the second she was clear Thomson pulled the trigger. "NO!" It had been split second decision on Thomson's part, but one that he would learn to regret. The bullet had hit Rick in the shoulder, but it didn't stop him as he crashed through the window.
"Are you a complete fucking moron? Did I give the signal?!" I shouted as I backed up. Rick had jumped into the building next door the gap was maybe four feet. I could make it. I turned glaring at Thomas before running and jumping, landing in the apartment next door I stumbled slightly before steadying myself. Rick was already moving and out in the corridor. I gripped my Sig tighter and took off after him. Down the stairs and out into the open he ran into the road a car almost colliding with him. It stopped just short of ploughing him down. Rick ran round to the driver's door and yanked open the door before pulling out the driver and tossing them to the floor. Before I could take aim at the tyres he'd pulled off I pulled out my badge and pointed my gun at the car behind.
"Ma'am I'm going to need to take your car." I pulled the woman gently from the car and jumped in speeding off. I could still sense him so I just followed that. He just kept driving and driving, every so often I could pick up a passing thought, he intended to lose me in St Louis. How exactly he intended to do that I wasn't sure.
Night had fallen fast as I arrived in St Louis and Rick was heading into Vampire territory, I wasn't happy about coming this far in on my own in an unfamiliar area. I pulled up moments behind him as he headed into a place called The Circus of The Damned. I followed him, but immediately my senses were weakened, so many Were's inside, but so was the unsettling feeling I got when I knew vampires were around and plenty of them. Many were of the wolf flavour so I let my Lioness come forward, I opened my mouth as Rick had done scenting him and took off after him. Weaving through bodies easily, I picked up his thoughts and knew he was heading out the back hoping I had been side tracked by all the other Were's, but I wasn't so easily brushed off.
I came upon him as he went to open a door, there were too many around to risk firing and if he got through that door I could lose him. So I tackled him slamming him to the floor and pulling out both Sig's placing one at his head and one at his heart.
"Rick I said I didn't want to kill you, but I'm pissed enough just to do it right now." My fingers tensed on the triggers and he whimpered. So instead I struck out hitting him hard, then flipped him pulling out my handcuffs that had a high silver content so he couldn't break them. Then I cuffed his legs with shackles of the same kind. A gun and hand slowly came down to point at Rick's head and I instantly had mine out and pointing at the man in front of me, he'd bent down to point the gun in Rick's face.
The guy had to be over 6'8, completely bald with thick black eyebrows and dressed all in black. Brown eyes set back in his head. I knew of him. Olaf Gunderson or his Marshal name Otto Jefferies. He was a convicted murderer and rapist of women of my type, short and dark haired, but only as Olaf, the government gave him leniency if he worked for them.
"Back off Jefferies this is my warrant."
"I am assisting." He replied in his deep voice a trace of German in there. He spoke to me like I was something in significant he had scraped off his shoe.
"No, the suspect is incapacitated. My warrant, my suspect, my job. So back off Otto!" I growled out. I gave him my stare and let the snarl form on my lips. It was a look that said it all. I didn't like him, I didn't respect him and I would gladly put a bullet between his eyes, hell I'd probably have a little party afterwards. I could feel the Lioness inside wanting me to tear him apart. That I couldn't do, but I could put a couple of bullets in him.
That feeling I got when I was sure if they wanted to one of my strains of lycanthropy could push was there. I held my guns steady and breathed in deeply. But the smell of another Lioness and a lion hit me and I was almost over whelmed. I was sure that if it ever got past that point I would shift and I didn't want to shift. I thought of wolf, my only none cat strain, earthy hues filled my nostrils and my Lioness backed down. Suddenly other officers were there and other Marshals. Edward/Ted Forrester one of them.
"Otto why don't you back up and let Marshal Renner get her suspect up and into the van?" Olaf turned slowly looking at Edward. Then without a backwards glance he moved away. "Rylie?"
"Perp just needs taking in." I said letting him know I was alright. The guy code didn't exactly let you speak about your feelings. I was unharmed and that was all that mattered. I stood pulling Rick to his knees and two officers stepped forward to take him off my hands.
"I didn't expect you to be up here so soon." I smiled at him. Edward was easy on the eyes, but he was engaged. 5'10 he was dwarfed by Olaf, but whereas Olaf looked like a monster Edward was the complete opposite, blonde haired, blue eyed, a smile to die for. But his eyes if you knew what you were looking at showed that he was more of a stone cold killer than Olaf would ever be. Edward didn't look dangerous, but that's where his enemies usually met there end. By thinking he looked harmless.
"Well I got transferred." I replied placing my guns back in their holsters finally breathing easy. "I didn't expect to see you here." He smiled back, his smile reaching his eyes, which it did a lot since he got with Donna.
"I'm just passing through from a hunt with Anita. Come on it's about time you two met."
Chapter 2: Tiger Stalking
Just a little note for anyone not familiar with the terms or the anitaverse. Koning is Afrikaans for King and Koningin as for Queen. A Pard is a group of Wereleopard's, a Coalition is a group of Werecheetah's, a Pride is a group of Werelion's, a Pack is Werewolf and a Clan is a group of Weretiger's.
I somehow found myself in another vampire establishment this time a strip club called Guilty Pleasures. Apparently Anita's main vampire squeeze, the master of the city Jean-Claude ran both places. She also felt this was a better place to sit and talk, but I knew it was more that the Circus of the Damned was Jean-Claude's resting place and that she didn't want Edward knowing, in case he was ever asked to take him out or me for that matter.
Anita was short like me, with long curling black hair and when I say long I mean past the ass long. Her eyes were dark brown almost black and intense, but as one Wereleopard Nathaniel walked by her I saw the love and adoration flood in, then again with a man like that who wouldn't. He was a submissive as in shouldn't appeal to a dominant powerful Leopard like mine, but he did. He was broad shouldered maybe four inches taller than me. He wasn't handsome, more pretty, but all male. His eyes were an amazing colour, lavender and absolutely beautiful. His hair was his second best feature, a gorgeous auburn colour, exceptionally long in a braid that reached his ankles. And even though he was a good four feet away from me, I couldn't mistake the scent of vanilla that wafted from him. As he sat down my eyes went back to Anita noting the impressive scar that ran along her collar bone, rumour had it, it was were a vampire had gnawed on her in a frenzy. I had my own scars, it came with the territory. I had almost an indentation in my side were the panwere had taken a chunk of me. My ex had said there was nothing there except the scars, but I could feel it and it made me concious of what I wore. Along with that I had numerous knife and claw marks up my arm all from various confrontations with vampires and shapeshifter's.
"So what does it feel like having 5 strains?" Anita asked, Edward was sat by me and I knew without looking he was smiling. Anita and I were definitely one of the guys, but we were women and we liked to know about feelings and stuff. And because we were both women there was no harm in asking.
"It's like I can feel them inside me, moving around. Like I used my Lioness to track down Rick as I could sense all the wolves in the club. But when I lost my temper for a second and took in a deep breath I could smell your lioness and a very dominant Lion. It felt like if I didn't find a way to shove her back that she'd come further forward and I'd shift, though of course I've never shifted." I smiled, I didn't want to shift, but I quite liked the feeling of when one of my strains pushed forward.
"Well I can say I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels like that. I can see them almost like they're in their natural habitat. I can see them and I guess what they look like to me, is what they would look like if I changed." I nodded I knew what she meant. My Leopard was your typical spotted one, but on either side of its eyes it had a spot shaped in a crescent moon, she was slim, but carried an air of pride and elegance in her step. My Lioness was a beautiful tawny with shimmers of gold throughout, she was more muscular and was my most aggressive beast inside. My cheetah had two markings that came down from her eyes and surrounded her muzzle, both fine, but startling deep shade of black. She was built purely for speed and you could see it in the way she paced, that she was just waiting to speed forth. My wolf was a pure brilliant white, with startling blue eyes. She was calm and patient, but I could feel the caged fierceness inside her every step. But my Blue tiger was pure unadulterated power. Big and ferocious but it was from her that I found my protectiveness and need to protect was doubled by her want to protect the weak as well as my lionesses need to protect. She was a gorgeous deep blue with deep dark grey stripes. "How long have you known Edward?"
"About 6 years?" I looked to Edward and he nodded.
"How come you never mentioned you knew her? Harbinger." Anita asked. I knew that he'd worked with her. "Or bring her on our most recent hunts?" Her tone was almost accusatory.
"Because Rylie prefers to work alone. Anyone with her is just another body she needs to look out for. And I'm pretty sure that you two would get on extremely well." I noted the tone in his voice and smiled.
"Aww Edward are you worried that me and Anita would team up and that would be the end of Death?" I teased. Anita looked between us, I wondered if she ever teased him the way I did. But I knew he would love nothing more than to go up against me, a fight to the death to see who would come out on top.
"I think I could take you." He replied.
"Oh you think, well that's simply not good enough." I smirked as my cell went off. Looking I saw it was Cobi, the Koning of the coalition back in San Bernardino. I stood and moved to the doorway a little, I knew it wouldn't help any as all, but Edward would easily be able to hear. "Cobi? What's up?"
"Rylie, Aydan and James have left. They refused to stay without you in the city."
"What?! Cobi you were supposed to take care of them!" I snapped, Aydan and James were both cheetahs due to vicious attacks that were meant to leave them dead Aydan had been saved by the coalition, James I had saved myself. Cobi as Koning of the San Bernardino coalition was meant to look after them. I could feel my Lioness and Tiger stirring with my maternal instincts towards the pair.
"Rylie I could not stop them, they wanted to be where you were. I gave them your address they should be there when you get home." And with that he hung up. Stupid man, I wanted to wring his neck for just letting them go and giving them my address like that. With the sudden rush of anger I had, my lioness pushed out a little more and when I turned I found myself facing a solid mass. I slowly looked up into a pair of light blue eyes that I could feel myself getting lost in. My lioness pushed against me sensing his lion, his very dominant lion. A pair of black jeans hugged his waist and a tight white vest hugged his chest, showing off how toned he was, his hair was a multi-hue of blues, dyed, but the many shades gave it a realistic look. I could hear the growl, the rumble in his chest and it sent a shiver through me. I could feel my lioness pushing even more, wanting me to rub myself all over him. Before I could do anything Anita and Nathaniel were there.
"Haven, back off. " Anita commanded as Nathaniel pulled me gently from in front of the man, Haven.
"Come on Marshal Renner, let's go over here. Hey Jean Claude." I looked to where he said and saw the most gorgeous vampire I had ever laid eyes on. Tall, pale alabaster skin, midnight blue eyes and long soft curling black hair. His face was strikingly handsome and I immediately felt my lioness recede.
"Better?" And his voice was like sex, so seductive, so soft, promising of so many things. Tightening things low in my body. And all he asked was if that was better. I shook myself, I was a US Marshal, Harbinger, Famine and I would not let myself be pulled in by a vampire even if he was trying to help me.
"Much." I turned back to Haven and Anita and saw him look at her longingly. I turned away, how many men did she have? "Well we'll have to catch up more tomorrow. It seems I have two runaway Cheetahs at home waiting on me."
"Oh really? Why have they come to you?" Anita asked I heard Nathaniel think tactless and couldn't help smile.
"Yeah, one I saved and the other grew attached after I was attacked myself. Seems neither wanted to stay with the Koning. It was good meeting you." And with that I headed out nodding to the others as I went.
"Rylie! Wait I'll drive you." Edward said as he came out moments later.
"Yeah sure. "
"What was that in there with the Werelion?" He asked. I sighed pulling the band out of my hair and running my hands through it.
"Seems my lioness really liked him. She wanted out at him. I most likely wouldn't have had the problem if Cobi hadn't wound me up." We sat in silence only speaking when I needed to tell him to turn the car. That was a real good thing about Edward, he didn't feel the need to fill silences.
"Nice place." He said as we pulled up outside. On the doorstep sat the two runaway cheetahs. "Those the two?" I nodded. Unbuckling and climbing out.
"Aydan, James what were you thinking?" James came straight to me, hugging himself to me. He was taller by a good couple of inches which made it seem to me like I was a teddy bear and he need to hold me for security. He always took great care and attention in the way he presented himself possibly to make-up for his submissiveness. His hair was short and styled in a faux hawk, blonde like a child's that very few adults managed to keep. Sapphire blue eyes and the cutest little smile ever. At 24 years old you'd think he'd be out going and confident and maybe he was before he was attacked, but since then he was so afraid and was a comfort thing for most shapeshifter's. The need to touch wasn't sexual, but more like a security blanket especially for the more submissive shifters. I put an arm round him and looked to Aydan the more dominant of the two. Aydan was 25 years old and always trying to be the grown up, but the fact remained she was a submissive and if she was told to do something she'd do it. She was a pretty little thing, with waist length hair dyed purple always up in a ponytail with her bangs hanging loose. Her eyes were an interesting sky blue colour and when the sunlight hit them you could see flecks of purple almost swirling in them.
"I was thinking it was safer with you. It's not like anyone was going to disagree or stop us. You're the best there is. I can look after myself if that's what you're worried about. We just need somewhere to stay. Cobi didn't want us. He only wants dominants. And we aren't. We want to stay with you Rylie. Please don't make us go back." How could I refuse that, her own submissive nature slipping through at the end.
"Fine, but you do as I say at all times." James squeezed me tighter and let out a breath I didn't realise he was holding.
"Thank you Rylie! And we'll be good! Maybe we could start our own coalition?!" Aydan shouted giddy with the idea.
"No." James said softly.
"And Rylie can be our Koningin." She finished happily.
"Rylie, doesn't have the time to watch over a coalition Aydan. She works." James said, I pulled away from him and he took a hold of my hand, it wasn't something he did unless he was exceptionally nervous, then I realised he was and it was because of Edward.
"Look we'll talk about it some other time Aydan. James, this is E-Ted, a friend and he works for the Marshals office to." James grip on my hand loosened a little as he nodded at Edward.
"Howdy there James, Marshal Ted Forrester at your service." I was thankful that Edward had chosen to go all good ol'boy with James and Aydan and he even let the smile reach his eyes. To which James let go of my hand and smiled back a little shyly.
"Hi." Edward smiled wider. *God they're both so nervous Rylie, are you sure you want them in the house? What happens if you get attacked? They can't defend you.* I heard Edward's thoughts loud and clear because he intended it so. I threw the house keys to Aydan and motioned for James to follow her in. I got back in the car and waited for Edward.
"And what would you have me do? I can't throw them out. They have nowhere to go. There are no coalitions in St Louis." I kept my voice quiet and even, knowing that Aydan at least would be trying to hear what was being said.
"I've seen what's happened when Anita has had shifter's that couldn't protect themselves in the house. When it comes to it they run, leave you in the dust. But they'd be eaten alive if you tried to set them up with any of the other Shifter's in this town." He rubbed at his eyes and for the first time I noticed that Edward looked tired. I bit my lip to refrain from asking.
"Exactly. Maybe I should look for other cheetahs that need a group, look for some dominants as well, maybe find a Koning or Koningin that could run it. I know I'm dominant enough, but…" I thought about it, Anita had made Haven back off, she was a dominant and I think I heard the word Nimir-Raj which would mean that Anita is the queen of the local leopard Pard. So if she could do it why couldn't I?
"You're going to do it aren't you?"
"Yes, yes I am." I smiled. "Say hello to Donna and the kids for me will you?"
"Will do, we'll be sticking round for a little while, Olaf as well, be careful." And I heard the concern, Edward was definitely going soft, Donna and the kids were making him soft, but I wouldn't settle for anyone else but Edward at my back.
"Always." I smiled and got out walking into my new home. Most things were still packed up, James went to work making us some dinner as Aydan and I began unpacking things we needed, like a TV and DVD player as well as movies. Tonight was going to be an easy night. I chased a cheetah all the way here, had my lioness ready to rip out of me twice and found out that Anita Blake has taken all the yummy men in town. I just wanted to relax.
We'd eaten all that James had put in front of us. He was a terrific cook and had made a delicious curry and now the house was filled with spices as we all curled up on the sofa, James on my right hugging me to him and Aydan on my left curled in a ball her head on my lap and watching the TV. It was Marley and Me. The only good thing about it was Owen Wilson. I had been out voted by the two cheetahs so I had to sit and endure it. It was just as poor Marley was dying that I heard it. Just a slight noise that didn't fit. I made my excuses with the two cheetahs and made to the kitchen, I knew I should have got all my guns sorted and put in strategic places should I need them, but no I wanted to lounge around my first night. I picked up the 6inch kitchen knife and hoped I was just being paranoid. But paranoia had kept me alive for a long time. I crept round the house searching. I was sure that someone was here, there was a faint scent in the air as I traced it to an open window I heard Aydan scream. I ran back to the living room no longer concerned with my own safety. Due to my enhanced speed from my lycanthropy I was in the living room in mere seconds. James lay across the floor as Olaf advanced on Aydan who was already sporting a split lip, maybe even a broken jaw judging by the state of her mouth. I used the back of the sofa to propel myself up and over. I wasn't big nor heavy, but when something comes out of nowhere at speed you're going to stumble if not fall. And today was my lucky day as Olaf crashed to the floor me on top. I had the knife by his throat ready to slice into his jugular if he so much as looked at me funny, then I felt something in my side. A knife of his own that I hadn't seen in his hand.
"I slit your throat Otto you die. You stab me, I'm out of action for a few days maybe a week if you're lucky." I seethed. He looked up at me blankly, his eyes slowly roving over to Aydan as she hugged her knees to herself. My anger brought out my beasts all vying to get at him, but that big powerful beast came forth, deep blue with dark grey stripes eyes burning an intense amber. I felt like I was burning inside, fine tremors went through my body. I felt like I was under water sounds not coming through clearly. It felt like my tigers claws were trying to break through my skin. Abruptly I was pinned to the floor. The scent of cheetah flooding my senses. The pain in my hands receded and my tiger slinked back. I could finally focus, I could hear Edward and I knew by the tone of his voice that Olaf was in serious trouble. James was with Aydan. Anita and the new cheetah, were with me. The man was above me pinning me to the floor Anita looking down from just behind him. The man's skin was olive in colour and his hair a deep black. His hazel eyes stared down at me his nose flaring as my cheetah came forward. The man was of Italian decent and when I'd finished scrutinising and scenting my cheetah not interested even though he was dominant backing down I realised Anita was asking if I was alright.
"Yeah…I am now." The man stood holding out his hand for me to take.
"Well now Otto has gone, this is Julian Victor De Angelo. As you know he's a Werecheetah. I was going to bring him round tomorrow, but Ted was uneasy about Otto." I looked at Julian and nodded my thanks to both of them before turning to Aydan and James, this was my own stupidity Edward had warned me had I been thinking the first thing I should have done was arm myself or at least have weapons to hand. I went to both of them and wrapped my arms as best I could around them.
"I'm so sorry." I muttered. Aydan turned and clung to me crying softly. James moved and pulled me into him trembling. Then I felt another pair of arms go round us. I looked up to see Julian. In the big warm embrace, I felt James' trembling stop and Aydan's tears subside. The front door opened and closed and we four were left there in one big kitty pile on the floor.
Chapter 3: King and Queen of the Cheetahs
I woke up with the warmth of other bodies pressed to mine. It was blissful. At first when I caught lycanthropy the thought of lying in a bed with so many others didn't seem right, but after Aydan and James, I relished it. It was so comforting and cosy and just right.
"Are you awake Rylie?" The only thing keeping me from lashing out was that the voice sounded vaguely familiar and I realised quickly it was the voice of the Werecheetah Julian from last night.
"Yes." At my word he moved pulling his arm from under me. I unhooked my arm from Aydan's grip and stood. I was still in my clothes from the night before. I didn't recall ever coming up to my bedroom. Julian looked over the sleeping forms of James and Aydan concern and care showing on his face then left the room. I guess it was time I figured out what he was doing here. I walked into the kitchen seeing him fish out four mugs and the kettle as well as coffee and sugar. I sat down at the island and just watched him. He was younger than I had thought last night, maybe only 20.
"How many sugars do you have?" His question was simple, but it took me a second to reply as I had been scrutinising him. He dressed impeccably and if I wasn't mistake his black suit was Armani.
"Two thank you. Why did Anita bring you?" He carried on making coffee his back to me.
"Ted had mentioned that you were looking for dominants possibly even a Koning for your coalition. I'm dominant, I've been in St Louis almost 6 months now. Cheetahs are rare here. And you should now yourself most females are solitary, but us male Cheetahs prefer groups." His voice held a strong Italian accent that was beautiful and at any other time I would have enjoyed listening to him speak.
"I know, the coalition in San Bernardino was mostly male populated. And I know it's the other beasts that make my cheetah okay with groups." I said sipping the coffee as Julian set it down in front of me.
"Well if its okay with you, I'd like to stay with your coalition, at least for a little while. I can look into other cheetahs in the area looking for a coalition to join." I nodded it sounded good and if Anita and Edward had brought him, then he was good, he was safe.
"I guess I best look for a bigger place, that or try to start out some kind of extension." I voiced partially in jest, I had no desire to move nor to have a group of cheetahs living with me.
"Well the location here is quite safe, I can fund the extension. It wouldn't be much." I blinked, I couldn't have heard him right.
"I'm sorry what?"
"If I stay then it is only fair that I contribute in some way." He smiled.
"No you," But he cut across me.
"Really its fine. I have a considerable sized inheritance and nowhere for the money to go. Why not invest it in what could be a home for me and my fellow cheetahs?." Part of my brain said don't accept anything from him. I didn't know him and just because Edward and Anita thought he was okay didn't mean that I should. But my heart and cheetah said yes let him pay, let him stay. I could taste his power, just a flicker of it as all powerful shifters try to hide their power unless they're arrogant or have to. And I believed he was dominant enough to be able to protect Aydan and James when I wasn't here. The look of concern he had as he looked at the two cheetahs snuggled up on my bed decided for me.
"Julian you are more than welcome to stay as long as you want….Not because of your money, I'll be able to afford it in a few months. But because of how dominant your beast is. Those two need a dominant, but one that cares…And I think you are just that." He smiled at me showing off a beautiful smile that could melt any heart.
"Thank you Rylie I appreciate it." He sipped at his coffee, his hands wrapped around the mug. "So Aydan tells me that essentially you're the Koningin for this coalition?" I nodded.
"Well yeah I guess I am. I'm the only dominant female. And I'd fight tooth and nail to protect the pair of them." He smiled warmly at me as if I had given not just the right answer, but an answer he expected to hear.
"She also says you want a Koning, as the only male dominant you have I'd be willing to be your Koning, but in title and duties to the coalition only." I didn't quite understand what he meant at first, but then it clicked Julian didn't swing my way.
"That suits me fine." But I noticed he was no longer looking at me. I felt more than anything James presence in the door way. I turned to look at him, he stood there in a pair of loose light blue boxers. His hair flattened from sleep. He rubbed his eyes and stretched out his long torso if it was anyone else I would say they were showing off wanting us to admire his slim and toned body that even I had to admit was a sight to behold. But it was James and it was just him stretching like a kitten not fully awake yet.
"Morning Rylie." He yawned before sitting down beside me at the island rubbing his head on my shoulder like the big kitty he is. "Oh," I felt him tense and reach for my hand. "Morning." I rubbed my thumb across his hand to help relieve his nervousness.
"Good morning James." Julian smiled drinking in James appearance.
"James you remember Julian. He came last night he was with Anita and Ted." He nodded his grip loosening. "Julian is going to be the Koning…as long as you and Aydan are okay with that?" James was unsure, I had been round him long enough to know his emotions.
"I guess I don't mind Rylie…but are you still our Koningin? You are? Right?" I smiled and gave his arm a little squeeze.
"Of course I am and I will be as long as you want me to be." He wrapped his arms around me and rested his head on my shoulders.
"Rylie why did that man attack Aydan? I tried to help, but he was so big…" He trembled and held me tighter.
"I would quite like to know that, he is a marshal isn't he?" Julian asked. I could lie, but what was the point? I needed them to be aware, I knew Edward wouldn't have killed Olaf, he was too good to just kill him…yet.
"Yes he is…as Otto Jefferies. But his real name is Olaf Gunderson, serial murderer and a rapist. His victim type is short dark haired females, he prefers pale women most, but short and dark hair in general. Aydan and I both fit that profile. He came for me, but seeing Aydan so weak so submissive with only you there James he went for her." And as I said it I hated myself for not preparing them, for not having weapon to hand.
"Then why didn't Marshal Forrester arrest him?" James asked confused. I sighed if only I had waited a week or a few days before coming I wouldn't be having this problem.
"Marshal Forrester is actually called Edward…You know how the vampires call me Harbinger?" Both Julian and James nodded. "Well Ted…Edward is Death. And Olaf is one of his back-ups on serious cases, he doesn't approve of what he does, but he's good at getting the job done. Though Olaf as part of his bargain with the government isn't allowed to get his jollies in this country." Aydan was listening I hadn't realised she was up yet.
"What if he comes back Rylie? He could come get me…" She panicked. James made a whining noise almost a whimper and clung tighter to me so I couldn't go to Aydan, but Julian moved to her wrapping her in his arms.
"Then I will be here to stop him. Rylie and I will let no harm come to either of you." And in that moment I knew I really knew that just accepting Julian was the best thing I could have done. But it was that moment my cell rang.
"Marshal Renner." I answered once I wriggled an arm free from James.
"Hey this is Sergeant Zerbrowski. From RPIT, we need ya down at the Laughing Corpse. I'll brief ya the second ya get here." The Laughing Corpse was a comedy club for vampire comedians and I was guessing from all the vampire establishments in town that I was going to be a very busy Marshal.
"Okay Sergeant. I'll be there ASAP." I hung up and took off to change quickly and grab my gear as I ran back down I spoke quickly. "I'll be back as soon as its over." James came and hugged me.
"Be careful Rylie."
"I will." I smiled hugging him back, before hugging Aydan quickly and nodding to Julian before running out to my car. Twenty minutes later I pulled up just down from the Laughing Corpse.
"Marshal Renner, Zerbrowski. Sorry I'd have called in Anita as this is one of Jean-Claude's places, but she's dealing with her own situation. Wereleopard inside, young female. She has a hold of a Werelion apparently, name of Noel Gooch. Says she wants the short vamp killer or he dies." I looked at him puzzled.
"Well few know I'm here and I know no Werelion's that would just be taken….She wants Anita doesn't she?" He nodded.
"Yeah, but I figure you're short and dark haired, she'll think you're Anita. Plus as far as anyone is aware Anita barely knows this Noel." I nodded.
"Okay then well I best go play Anita. Good job my gear doesn't have my name on it and I carry similar strains to Anita." it was well documented that Anita carried different strains and some times a bone of contention depending on who you were dealing with.
"Oh yeah and you're a sexy little thing too." I looked at Zerbrowski, he was in his late thirties with thick rimmed glasses, his hair was curly black with streaks of grey throughout. He was putting on a middle aged spread and he was a cheerful sort of guy. Looking up at him and his attempt at hitting on me I realised he didn't mean it that this lecherous persona was his poker face and this was probably how he acted around suspects. I noted the wedding ring and guessed he was actually a happily married man.
"I'll take that as the compliment it is and take my sexy little self inside and take down the bad guy." I winked and moved off. I heard the comments that came from officers within hearing range about me being small and new and shouldn't be going in alone, but Zerbrowski silenced them. I moved into the darkened building aware of a few people scattered here and there focusing on the Wereleopard and lion near the stage.
"Okay you want me you got me!" I shouted moving over to them. The girl was taller than me, 5'5 at best, dark red hair and honey highlights that were reflected from the few lights on at the stage. She was a beautiful woman one that you could just tell would have a truly elegant leopard form.
"You!" She growled hitting and tossing Noel to the side and in the next second she was on me, knocking me to the floor. "You killed my brother!" I rolled putting myself on top, but she flipped me off her and came at me again knocking me into the wall. I managed to grab a silver blade from my boot and sink it in her arm as S.W.A.T and Zerbrowski's men charged in hearing the commotion, she backed off immediately the silver burning her flesh. Other Lions were in the room from the rear exit now, but the woman whose name I learnt was Gabby from the glimpse I got of her mind was lighting fast and easily dodged S.W.A.T who chased off after her. I shook my head if they hadn't have come in I could have dealt with her.
"I'm good Zerbrowski." And with that he left outside to confer as the Lions that had arrived had gone to Noel. Things certainly worked differently here than in San Bernardino. I picked myself up and moved over to the Lions as I could feel the power levels rising. One in particular caught my own Lionesses interest and it was Haven. I took a deep breath and calmed my Lioness. There were four other lion's besides Noel and I moved between them all to Noel.
"Noel?" The young Lion looked up at me almost frightened. "It's okay Noel…I'm Marshal Rylie Renner. How are you feeling? Are you hurt?" I asked my lioness could sense how weak and submissive he was and all she wanted to do was hold him, which wouldn't look good if my fellow officers walked in.
"He's fine." I looked to the voice to see it was one of the muscular Lion's. Tall and dark, his feature's too harsh to be considered handsome. His voice dripped with arrogance and Noel flinched.
"I don't believe I was talking to you."
"Well I'm talking to you kitty." I stood not that it helped as he dwarfed me.
"Look here douche bag, I ain't kitty. I am Marshal Renner and you can get out of my crime scene before I arrest you for interfering in an on-going investigation" He laughed.
"And how do you intend to make me?" My lioness didn't like him one bit and she pushed hell I pulled some of my power together and a growl just a trickle of one left my lips just as Haven spoke.
"Show some respect Jesse. She's doing her job and doesn't want to hear you running your mouth." Jesse actually sulked at Haven's words, but backed down nonetheless.
"Thanks." I tossed over my shoulder at Haven as I pushed my lioness back again before that urge to rub myself all over Haven took over. "Noel, are you hurt?"
"No." He said quietly huddled in on himself. I touched his arm to pull him to his feet and his eyes went wide. I was still oozing power and hadn't realised it. It had made his lion react and before I knew it he was trembling all over I had time to turn my back on him before he shifted covering me in an explosion of bodily fluid as he changed, I turned back round cringing ever so slightly as fluids dripped from my back. And on the floor was a Lion and even for a Lion Noel looked weak and almost helpless as he whined.
"Shit. Noel I'm sorry." I said softly, I knew it was painful to be forced to shift and although I hadn't done it on purpose I had caused him to shift with armed officers outside. I reached my hand out and Noel rubbed his huge Lion head against it. I turned back round to see Zerbrowski in the door way and Jesse back up as if afraid I'd force him to change as well.
"Wow…you been having an orgy in here without me?" He asked, I couldn't help it I burst out laughing.
"If only." I managed to get out and then blushed as my eyes darted to Haven. I shouldn't be thinking of him like that. He was with Anita and I wasn't looking for a relationship. I quickly moved on. "Did you catch her? Gabby?" Zerbrowski cocked his head to the side and the realised I was referring to the Wereleopard.
"No she was long gone, think she shifted. Speaking of shifted you may want to get him out of here before S.W.A.T comes back in here." I turned to the Werelion's ignoring Jesse and the other two I looked up into Haven's eyes feeling my lioness purr and inch forward wanting to get at him.
"Is there anywhere you can take Noel, just until he shifts back?" Noel brushed his head against my thigh.
"No afraid not." And I saw the look of disdain pass over his handsome face as he looked at Noel. I threw my keys to Zerbrowski.
"Bring my car outside, its big enough in the back to fit him. I'll take him to mine he can sleep it off and I can get a change of clothes."
"He can stay with us." Haven said, it sounded like the idea of me taking Noel didn't appeal to him, but he already told me no and I had no patience to be messed around with.
"With S.W.A.T about to come in and no way out? I don't think so Haven." I felt his beast flare with anger directed at Noel. I moved myself so I was protecting Noel putting myself between him and the anger rolling off of Haven. I didn't know what Haven's problem was with Noel, but I felt that Noel coming with me was the best idea. I hadn't seen Zerbrowski leave, but he was suddenly back and tossing me my keys.
"Come on Rylie, backs open just get him in." I nodded and walked towards him Noel following.
I pulled up at my home after promising I'd email my report. Noel still hadn't changed back so I had to open the back of my Tahoe. Noel jumped out and sat waiting expectantly for me as I closed the door.
"Come on Noel, let's go meet some people." I walked into the house immediately scenting an unfamiliar cheetah. Aydan skidded into the hallway.
"Rylie we have…." She froze as she saw Noel behind me. I could see the scream building.
"Aydan, it's okay! This is Noel, a Werelion, I accidentally made him shift. He's safe and I promise he won't hurt you. He's just going to rest here till he changes back." She nodded and watched cautiously as Noel slowly lowered himself to the floor lying down looking up at her. It was a very submissive gesture and one that made Aydan feel safe. She went to him and ran her hand through his mane a soft smile curling her lips.
"Okay come on Noel you can come sleep in here." She took him off completely forgetting she was about to tell me something. I walked into the kitchen finding Julian, James and the new Werecheetah I could smell the instant I walked in. She was a young girl, big golden eyes as if she spent too much time in her animal form. Short dark brown hair framed her heart shaped face.
"Rylie!" James smiled getting up and hugging me. "You smell of lion. I got bored and unpacked most of the things while you were gone." I smiled and hugged him back.
"Yeah there's a lion called Noel with me, Aydan is taking him somewhere to sleep." I looked at Julian.
"Rylie…this is Danikha, she's only 16 an orphan. She was attacked on her way home from the movies with friends. Since then she's been shoved from pillar to post no one wants a young shifter in their homes." Danikha smiled up at me brightly and hopefully. I could hear her and knew she was desperate for me to accept her, to want to keep her, but I wasn't sure I could cope with such a young girl, a school girl at that. I sat down opposite her and smiled as I thought it over.
Chapter 4: Regina?
I looked at her, Danikha, Dani. So small, so fragile and helpless and I just couldn't throw her out.
"Ok Dani you can stay here." She smiled even wider and James hugged her happy I had let her, then I heard her. *Thank god she didn't ask about the control of my shifting.* Then I caught glimpses of times when she was sad or angry and she shifted, not being able to control it. "Damn it. You're going to have to be home schooled, Julian would you be able to teach her how to control her emotions so they don't make her shift?" I'd have asked James or Aydan, but it was better if a dominant taught her.
"Yeah and then I can tutor her!" James smiled happy to have something else to do in the house.
"Sounds like a brilliant idea, but how did you know that?" Julian asked a crease furrowing his brow, clearly he already knew she struggled.
"Rylie's telepathic, aren't you?" I nodded before I began to explain.
"Yes, though it's mostly one way. I can 'hear' others thoughts and you could say something to me in your head and I'd hear it, but for it to work the other way is a rare thing." Julian seemed surprised by it.
"Well…I guess that comes in handy in interrogations." I nodded it did, I knew when they were lying and could usually figure out how to make them crack, though that was a lot harder with vampires, especially now all the new laws had come into protect and we had to treat them almost like a human. Though the same couldn't be said for shifters as many States still had shoot on sight orders, especially further south.
"So Dani, you don't mind if I call you Dani do you?" She shook her head. "Well Dani, when do you wanna get the rest of your stuff?" She fidgeted uneasily in her seat.
"Dani what's wrong?" Julian asked her softly.
"That's all I have, in that bag." I looked to where she pointed to see a small backpack, that couldn't possibly hold more than two sets of clothes and underwear. I wondered if any of my stuff would fit or Aydan's but Julian had the solution.
"Well I guess it's a trip to the mall for us then." He smiled and she looked up as if shocked by his kindness, he was going to pay for the extension to the house buying some clothes for her would be nothing. And if we kept collecting people at the rate we were, we'd need that extension pretty soon.
"Oh can I come too?!" James asked excitedly.
"Sure you can." Julian smiled happily an almost dreamy look on his face as he watched James leave to change into more suitable clothes. Julian was crushing badly on James, it was pretty obvious.
I'd settled on the sofa, thankful James had put almost everything away so we weren't living out of boxes. I was just finishing my report when I heard someone in the living room behind me. I clicked send and turned to see Noel. He was completely naked and I cursed Aydan in my head, I thought she would have borrowed some of James' clothes for Noel.
"You okay there Noel?" He nodded. The fact that he was naked didn't bother me, I knew most shifters preferred to walk around naked especially in their homes, but I didn't know Noel and that made me feel a tad bit uncomfortable. It was a reason James and Aydan didn't walk around naked. I had been uncomfortable with it to begin with so they both always wore clothes, though James having realised I was more at ease with it now, often walked round in boxers that left little to the imagination, Aydan was happy to stay in her clothes though. "Would you like me to fetch you some clothes?"
"If you wouldn't mind?" I could hear him and could tell he was even more uncomfortable than I was at him being naked in front of me, but it had more to do with the fact my Lioness was dominant and he felt it was disrespectful to walk around my home in the nude. I stood and went to James room fishing out some of his old clothes to lend to Noel.
"Noel what is Haven's problem with you?" I asked as he pulled on the jogging bottoms and t-shirt.
"I'm too submissive. He killed the original Rex of our Pride because he was weak. Anita brought him in to take over. But he doesn't like me and a few of the other weaker members. Especially me and Travis. Our old Rex, Joseph had brought me and Travis to be fed to Anita's Ardeur as a show of allegiance to her and Jean-Claude, but she wouldn't have us, said we were sexually too young. But Haven has it in his head that we're sleeping with Anita on a regular basis." He said so matter-of-factly.
So that was where the anger came from. He thought that by me wanting Noel to come with me that I wanted him too. Well he couldn't be further from the truth if he tried. But the Ardeur intrigued me. I had heard about it rumours mostly. That Anita was sort of a living vampire, that she fed through sex like a succubus and it seems it was true judging by what Noel had said.
"Hmm, well Noel, here's my number, if you have any problems with Haven call me, night or day I'll come get you."
"Could you take over? Be the Regina?" I blinked was he actually serious? "I felt your power, you're at least as powerful as Haven and the others would follow you, maybe not Payne and Jesse, but everyone else would." I wasn't ready to start causing trouble in a new city, but then there was the fact that I wanted Haven, I wanted him badly or at least my Lioness did and taking his Pride from him wasn't going to make me his favourite person. Luckily I was saved by my cell ringing.
"Rylie, it's Anita are you alright? I heard just know that you went into the Laughing Corpse pretending to be me." She sounded more annoyed than concerned for my safety, which brought a smile to my face.
"Yeah it's okay, it was a young Wereleopard by the name of Gabby, she said something about you having killed her brother?"
"Rylie you have no idea how many I've killed."
"Well if it's anything like my kill list it's too bloody long." She laughed in agreement. Then it sounded like the phone was being passed to someone.
"Marshal, I'm Claudia, a Wererat I head security for Jean-Claude. This Wereleopard worries me and I would like to know if you would be willing to play along as Anita for a while, just until she is caught or killed. I know it would mean spending a lot of time over here, but we'll make it as accommodating for you as possible." I thought about it over there would mean more Haven more than likely, but it would mean leaving Aydan and James with a new Koning that was promising the world and a young shifter that was an emotional wreck and more than likely unpredictable.
"I would do it, but I have responsibilities as Koningin of the Verwoesters clan." Verwoesters was the name that Aydan and James had chosen for the clan, it meant Destroyers and although it made me want to laugh, I had gone with it.
"I see perhaps… how many of you are there?"
"Five of us altogether, why?" There was silence for a few moments.
"We can put all of you up for the time being. Till she's caught." It was then that Julian and the others came back.
"Can you hold for a moment I need to confer with my Koning." I didn't wait just put her on hold. "Julian…" He came to me quickly as James and Aydan began telling Noel about their shopping trip. "Anita's lot want me at theirs to lure that Leopard in and they have offered to put us all up so I won't be separated from all of you. But that's only if you're happy to do it."
"It's a good idea, I've sorted out contractors to begin work on the house day after tomorrow. So it'll be better if we had some place else to go and we can just have the one room if the beds are big enough." I nodded.
"Claudia? We'll come, but we only need one room if you have one with a bed large enough."
"We do, thank you. If you could come to the Circus after sun down."
"We'll be there." Then she hung up. "You sure this is alright Julian, you've all hardly had time to settle and we're traipsing off to live with Anita and her lovers."
"Don't worry we'll all be fine." Dani came in to the kitchen then twirling around in her new clothes.
"Look what Julian bought me!" She grinned and flung herself at me hugging herself to my waist. "Thank you so much! For letting me stay with you! I know you won't let anything bad happen to me!" Her words had me wondering what happened to her before coming to us. But I knew if she wanted us to know she'd tell us.
Chapter 5: What Just Happened?
On my first visit to The Circus of the Damned, I didn't have time to check it out. Now I did and standing outside the place gave me the creeps. It was all bright flashing lights the name written in multi-coloured lights, a top the building were fanged clowns that looked purely demonic. Aydan loved it as we exited the car, she was smiling brightly as she looked up at them. James stuck to me and Dani clung to Julian's arm avoiding looking up at them. Noel had asked to be dropped off in town so it was just me and my coalition now. Walking inside was like walking into an indoor carnival. Game booths ran along the walls offering, fanged teddies, mummies, zombies and the occasional Count Dracula teddy. There was a freak show holding mostly mythical creatures, one in particular that caught my eye was a Lamia. I had thought all Lamia's were extinct. I was intrigued by her half human, half snake body and the way she moved so fluidly in her gilded cage. Further back was a huge blue circus tent that I could only assume held a circus ring.
"Rylie where are we meeting them?" Julian asked having gotten so far in without anyone approaching us. I quickly scanned the area again my eyes settling on a guy in a red t-shirt, he had to be 6 feet tall, broad shoulders, with short black hair, he had an oriental look to his facial features and by the way he scanned the crowd I knew he was security.
"They didn't say. We'll go to them." I walked towards the man leaving James with Julian and when the guy saw me coming an easy smile fell to his lips.
"You all right there ma'am?" He asked, his muscle's flexed, I wasn't sure if he was showing off or if he couldn't help it. The smile was very flirtatious as he looked me up and down. I got straight to it.
"We're here to see Marshal Blake, Claudia knows who I am, Marshal Renner."
"We?" He asked just as Julian and the others joined me. He looked at them suspiciously, but didn't say anything until Dani started to whine and whimper trying to pull Julian away.
"Dani?" She scrunched up her nose panic filtering on to her face. I could sense the guard behind me, wolf, he picked up on how panicked Dani had just become.
"Danikha, it's alright. Just breathe." Julian coached as her body started to tremble, the tremors of a shift starting. She was breathing heavy panicking. The guard stepped forward and her struggles to get away from Julian became more frantic.
"Don't…No! Don't let him hurt me!" She cried redoubling her efforts to get away this time away from Julian instead of trying to get him to move with her. I grabbed her face and made her look me in the eyes.
"Danikha." I commanded, letting my cheetah's power stroke her gently, soothingly and waited till she held my gaze. "Dani, no one is going to hurt you. He isn't going to hurt you. I would shoot him before the thought had finished forming in his head. Do you understand? While you are with me and Julian no one will ever hurt you." The tremors relaxed her eyes still darted and she cast furtive glances at the guard. Then she let go of Julian and wrapped her arms around my waist resting her head on my chest. She snuggled in close as if trying to actually wrap herself around me.
"Don't let them get me Rylie." I wrapped my arms round her and promised I wouldn't. I turned back round to see a 6 foot 6, well-muscled woman. She was bigger and more menacing than the guard next to her, but unlike him she wore a black t-shirt. But even with her muscles, height and demeanour she was more beautiful than most models.
"Marshal Renner, I'm Claudia we spoke on the phone, this is Graham, you might need to learn the guard's names." She was the kind of woman I liked to work with, no nonsense straight to it and not messing with anything that didn't concern her. She looked at Dani in my arms, but didn't ask just motioned us to follow her. We went through a set of doors that opened from the inside only, then through another door and descended into the lower levels of the Circus that the patrons didn't get to see. Once away from Graham, Dani began to relax. Stone cold walls greeted us like something from a medieval castle. At the bottom of the stairs laid a huge dark oak wood door. Claudia pushed through moving a curtain aside to reveal a cavernous room fitted out like a living room. Then she left us with our hosts. Three huge couches were angled in the room and the walls were all draped in curtains to hide the stone. Sat on one of the couches was Anita, Jean-Claude and another vampire. I could only see one side of his face of the other vampires face as the right side of his face was hidden behind his gloriously long and beautifully coloured hair, it was almost a metallic gold and his eyes were a soul capturing beautiful sky blue. Just looking at him made me want to agree to anything he wanted. Dani must have sensed something as she squeezed me and broke my eye contact with the golden haired vampire. I realised then that he had been trying to roll me with his eyes, manipulate me with just a look. A small flair of power, anger rose from me, but I squashed it quickly. On the second couch was Nathaniel that I had already met, he smiled up at me and I smiled back, next to him was another man holding his hand. He was small like Anita and I, slim like a swimmer, but the shirt he wore showed he wasn't dainty, but outlined every muscle he had. His hair was a rich dark brown, long and wavy, his eyes were captivating as they seemed to be stuck in a chartreuse green colour like a cats. My leopard padded forward sniffing the air and I knew immediately he was a leopard, but not just any he was Anita's Nimir Ra, her King. I wasn't sure how I knew it, but I did.
"Rylie." Anita nodded to me and motioned to the other couch. Some guards came and took the bags we had from Julian. I sat down, Julian sitting next to me. Dani curled up on the couch by my other side resting her head in my lap. Aydan sat by Julian who wrapped an arm round her shoulders and James came and sat by mine and Julian's feet leaning back so he was touching both of us. "So you met Jean-Claude and Nathaniel, but this is Asher," She motioned to the golden haired vampire. "And this is Micah my Nimir Ra." She motioned to the man with the cat eyes. I nodded and smiled at Micah. Anita certainly knew how to pick'em all the men were either incredibly beautiful or strikingly handsome.
"Well you know Julian, I've accepted him as my Koning. And for everyone else this James and Aydan, the cheetah's from San Bernardino and this Danikha." I left it at that.
"I don't remember Danikha the other night."
"No Julian bought her to us this afternoon." Again I left it at that, I didn't want to talk to her about Dani, especially as I didn't know much about her myself. "So you want me to pretend to be you. At least until we catch Gabby." I stated.
"Yes." Anita replied and then I heard her. *Why does she keep skirting round the young girl? And what if she gets killed?* Then Jean-Claude's thoughts broke through and I realised they could communicate with each-other. *I rather it her than you Ma Petite, the young girl maybe a problem…*
"Danikha is of no concern of yours. You wanted me to help, so I am, but if you keep going I'll be taking my coalition and leaving." I said my anger bubbling.
"I never," Anita began. But Jean-Claude stepped in.
"Marshal Renner is a telepath isn't that so?" Jean-Claude asked. "We meant nothing. Danikha is welcome to stay as she is yours. Though you understand Ma Petite means more than you know to me and the men in this room. And between losing you or her I would rather it you." I smiled appreciating his frank confession.
"We'll stay, I said I would help so I will. I'm aware of the risks and Danikha will be no problem, I assure you." Claudia stepped back in then.
"Anita, Haven is here." A little flutter started in my chest. I tried not to make it obvious I wanted to see him, but I think my lioness did that for me as she came sniffing along excitedly. I slowly looked up to see him come in with Jesse and the other Lion, the one that was with him before, he was built like Jesse, but were as Jesse was dark this man…Payne was pale, but handsome with sandy hair and model looks, though looking at his eyes you could tell he would sooner kill you than shake your hand. With them was Noel and the second Aydan laid eyes on him she jumped up and went to him. Jesse growled at her, it was threatening, warning her to stay away and then I moved. I was up and in between them gun out and pointed at his chest before I could blink and register I'd moved that fast.
"Touch her and I end you. Simple." I growled. My lioness's interest in Haven had evaporated with the possible, more than likely threat Jesse posed to Aydan. Jesse growled at me then his dominance and arrogance coming through as he looked down on me with disdain. His lion came and his power pushed along my skin, but he served nothing more than to piss me and my lioness off, his power feeding mine. I didn't want to attack as I wasn't sure whose side everyone would take, I was only guaranteed my coalition and only Julian could possibly defend himself. Then Anita broke through into my thoughts. *I have your back.* Simple four words and that was it. I struck out hitting Jesse in the head with the butt of my gun and then spun kicking as hard as I could visualising my foot not just hitting him in the abdomen, but kicking through him. He stumbled backwards and ended up on his ass clutching his chest. Aydan having seen that the threat was neutralised hugged my arm. "Don't ever try to intimidate me or threaten my coalition." Jesse slowly picked himself up off the floor and as Noel stood there looking in shock he back handed him. Aydan whimpered and Anita shot up from her seat.
"Aydan go to Noel." I said and then positioned myself so if Jesse wanted at them he'd have to go through me.
"Jesse that was uncalled for." Anita spat.
"It's none of your business you aren't the Regina." Jesse hissed. "So go back to your vampire fuck friends. Noel here now!" I could hear Noel moving behind me and knew that Aydan would try to keep him with her.
"No, Noel will stay with us." Anita said.
"You're fucking him?" Haven growled out. I couldn't understand where he got this idea from, nothing Anita had said or done even remotely suggested it.
"No I have not, nor do I have any intention of sleeping with Noel or Travis." And she was telling the truth I could see that plain and clear.
"You expect me to believe that when you defend him?" His anger was getting the better of him I could feel his power and as it wasn't aimed at me it felt like I was being caressed. I shook myself, I needed to get a grip, stay focused on what was happening.
"Haven!" He turned his oh so blue eyes on me. "She's telling you the truth. You should know the lioness protects her pride." I reasoned. It was true Lionesses were known to band together to protect their pride from being taken over by another male.
"Like Jesse said she isn't my Regina, what I do with my pride members is my own business. Noel get here now."
"Rylie! Don't make Noel go." Aydan pleaded. Julian was considering intervening especially if Haven made a move.
"I can't allow that Haven. Noel do you seek my protection?" He didn't answer verbally, but crawled from his spot by Aydan and wrapped an arm round my leg. It was a universal gesture throughout all shifter races. If a submissive reached out and touched you when challenged or threatened by a more dominant member they could seek protection from another dominant. If that dominant then touched back they were effectively telling all others that the submissive was under their protection. I let my hand rest on Noel's head and gave him my protection. Haven could back down or challenge me. Julian was on the edge of his seat just waiting for Haven to make a move to harm me, it was at times like this that I wish I could communicate more effectively mind to mind. I could feel his power and it took everything I had not to let his power affect me. Even though he was angry my body and lioness yearned to touch him. But slowly he reined his power in. I could hear him and he didn't want to have to fight a woman. He wouldn't fight Anita because he deemed her weak in that aspect and although I was sure that Anita and I were evenly matched, he seemed to hold me with a little more respect as I had beaten down Jesse. He growled incoherently and left.
"Perhaps Marshal Renner you should see if you can talk some sense into the Rex? No?" Jean-Claude asked and I could tell he knew how my beast felt about Haven. I gave him a look that said I would appreciate it if he kept that to himself.
"I'll see what I can do."
"No!" Jesse said making to block my path.
"Back off Jesse, before you embarrass yourself further." Payne snarled then nodded to me as if giving me his permission.
"Julian watch Noel please?" I knew he didn't have to, Lion's were of no concern to cheetah's, but he was my Koning and he wanted to help.
"Of course Rylie." I nodded to Anita, Jean-Claude and Asher then left after Haven. I found him out in the circus.
"Haven!" I shouted at his retreating form. But he ignored me and carried on outside into the night. I followed him not put off. He walked into an alley and kicked a trash can all the way down to the bottom. "Haven…" He turned, his eyes glowing that amber of a lion's eye almost like he was considering shifting.
"What do you want?" He snarled out. I didn't stop, if I stopped it made me look weak. So I moved to him, standing in front of him.
"Just talk. Anita isn't sleeping with Noel or Travis. I know…I'm a telepath so I know."
"Like I give a fuck. Why should I trust you?" He seemed confused.
"Do I have a reason to lie? I barely know Anita, I know of her and her reputation, but I don't know her."
"She doesn't understand the need for a strong dominant Pride. Those two are weak and pathetic. They'll die eventually….better the devil you know than the one you don't." He replied, but there was a lack of conviction as if he didn't fully believe what he was saying.
"A strong dominant pride is all well and good, but what happens when one of them sees you as weak? They'll challenge you for dominance of the Pride and take your place as Rex. If you have weaker members and train them to fight and be stronger, they're more likely to stick by you. To side with the Rex that protected and trained them." I had closed the gap between us and stupidly placed my hand on his muscled forearm. My heart skipped a beat and then went in to over time. My Lioness padded her way forward eager to get at him, my power flowing from me to dance along his skin. I knew it hit his lion when suddenly I could feel his power and the scent of sun burnt grass, dust and Lion filled my senses. Something felt strange, a sensation I'd never felt before. Everything shut down around me except me and Haven. Then it was like my Lioness was suddenly there on the outside of my body hovering and Haven's too it was a beautiful sight to behold. They seemed to move towards each other and I felt that if they touched the sensations would be amazing. But it didn't get that far. I was suddenly moving and on my back, Gabby above me snarling and snapping at my face.
"I told you I'd kill you Anita Blake!" Her hands closed around my throat. I struggled furiously and heard Haven coming to me. He was about to call my name, but I thought hard and it stopped him my telepathy working the other way for once. He stopped bewildered for a moment then moved. Gabby sensed him behind her and moved from me jumping back.
"Anita are you alright?" Haven asked, but I was more concerned with the leopard in front of me. I charged going to grab her, but she moved, shifted and took off. I realised why when I turned to see Haven about to shift. My throat was sore from where she had tried to crush my throat. I coughed and smiled up at Haven. "You okay?" There was a softness in his tone, almost caring?
"Yes, thanks." I didn't touch him this time. The moment had passed and I wasn't sure I wanted it to happen again. Not when he was in love with Anita. A side door opened and Anita, Claudia and another man, a Werelion burst out. "Looks like you missed the party." I smiled.
"We felt the flare of power and a leopard's too that wasn't yours." Anita said, concern lacing her voice.
"Yeah it was Gabby. She attacked me, seems she isn't happy I killed her brother."
"And what was he doing?" Claudia asked, she didn't like Haven that was clear to see it made me defensive of him.
"He was coming to my aid. It was thanks to Haven she took off." I snapped.
"We were supposed to….Okay we'll come back inside and talk about things." Anita said, I had heard she was one of the most unreasonable people you could ever meet, I didn't think that right now. She had stopped herself from causing an argument. I went to go and felt for my gun, but I'd lost it when Gabby attacked.
"I'll be with you shortly, I gotta get my gun." They nodded and Haven told them to send Jesse and the others up. I found my gun under a dumpster and when I turned from picking it up Haven was right there again.
"What happened? Before that Leopard came?"
"I…I don't know. It was new to me to Haven." That feeling started to build again as I stared up into his eyes. I leaned up closing the gap between us and kissed him. Then the smell of other lions hit me signalling Jesse and Payne were there with Noel and I quickly pulled back and moved away from him. It was a stupid thing to do, but as I kept trying to tell myself I didn't want a relationship I found myself falling more for Haven even if he was a jerk. I moved past Noel and turned to Jesse. "If anything happens to Noel, I'll hold you responsible." Then I headed back into the Circus and back to my Koning and Coalition.
Chapter 6: My Angel
Just a small warning, there is some smut at the end of this chapter. But this is an Anitaverse fic, there was always going to be smut at some point, right?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
I really needed to figure out what had happened outside with me and Haven, but for now I had other things to do. I walked back through and was let into the back stairwell and down to the living area. All but Julian, Anita, Jean-Claude and Nathaniel had gone.
"The kids have been shown to our room." Julian smiled as I came and sat by him. It made me smile how he said the kids. They really were like my children especially Aydan and James.
"So Ma Chère, if you are to pass for Anita you will have to dress more like her. You will have to spend time, your free time in all the places Anita frequents." Jean-Claude said turning quickly to business and the real reason I was here.
"I know this will get on your nerves trust me it does mine. But you'll have to have body guards when you aren't on the job. And it would be best if whoever I'm not with that you are seen with them. Asher will be with you at night, but I've told him he's not to try and roll you." Anita said as she lounged next to Jean-Claude.
"I'm going to pick your outfits for when you aren't working so from a far you'll definitely look like Anita." Nathaniel smiled. "Also either me or Micah will be with you as we're usually with Anita when she isn't working. And seen as you two will be working different shifts, it'll be easier to do."
"I also think it would be prudent Ma Chère if you were to convince our local Rex to help you. Many know he is here as a possible interest for Ma Petite he would also be able to spare one of his dominants as a guard." I nodded I knew why Jean-Claude was doing it and I should be offended that he wanted me to distract Haven and or make him want me. Jean-Claude felt that Haven wasn't in love with Anita, but obsessed with her even if their beasts craved for each other. He had sensed how mine reacted to Haven's.
"Well if we convince Haven then I think Nathaniel can go with you sometimes." Anita added. I could see that she didn't really want Nathaniel or Micah with me purely as she felt that I would be in a lot of danger and as it was because I'm pretending to be her they would more than likely try to protect me. As for Haven she seemed to lust after him and her Lioness wanted him, but she didn't love him like the others or at least that was what I could tell from the small bits I was picking up from her mind.
"Okay that's fine. So lets see these clothes I'm supposed to wear." Nathaniel smiled broadly.
"Come on you're going to love it Rylie! Julian you're more than welcome to come with us." Nathaniel stood and pulled me up linking our arms. Julian stood and Nathaniel took his arm too.
"I wouldn't mind seeing these outfits. Plus it will give me a chance to look around." He smiled, I liked how Julian thought, he was already mapping out exits in his mind.
I ended up in a spare room Nathaniel passing me in my new work wear and day wear. For work it was black pants and a loose fitting jacket to be able to hide my guns as well as a tight fitting red silk shirt. Ankle boots with a chunky heel, a front holster and thigh holster for guns as well as several knives. He made me strap everything on just to make sure it fitted right and I had no mobility problems. I walked out and Nathaniel looked me up and down smiling.
"You look good Rylie." Julian noted. admittedly it wasn't half bad, but I felt uncomfortable.
"Good? Julian she looks great! Now come on the other outfit! You'll love it I promise!" I rolled my eyes and walked back in stripping quickly. I opened up the bag pulling out first a pair of stockings a black strapless bra with a pocket inside, which could come in very handy and…a pair of crotch-less panties. Why on earth they were supplying underwear was beyond me, but I drew a line at this. I pulled on the robe not bothering to fasten it, Nathaniel was with Anita and a shifter, nudity didn't bother him. And Julian was gay so he wouldn't care. No the robe was more to just cover the scar tissue on my side.
"Nathaniel? Care to explain these?" I said holding them up to him.
"Rylie, haven't you ever seen,"
"I know what they are, but why are they in the bag of stuff for day wear?" I asked.
"Well, with the Ardeur and Anita's numerous boyfriends. Sometimes sex is needed quickly and to stop from ripping underwear and tights, we sorted out stockings and crotch-less panties. That way all you need to do is hitch the skirt up and voila."
"Okay makes sense Nathaniel, especially if I was Anita, but I seriously don't think I'm going to be sleeping with any of you. So I don't need them. I got my own underwear that will go fine." I smiled.
"Nope, you gotta have the full outfit!"
"I am not wearing crotch-less pants." I said folding my arms. But he looked at me with those gorgeous lavender eyes and pouted. I threw my hands up and went back inside. "How on earth does Anita do it?!" I exclaimed. No way could I deal with men like that. I'd never win an argument. I pulled out the rest of the outfit and boy was I not impressed. I put it all on and looked at myself. An ivory corset with black embroidery, a tight fitting black leather skirt that came just above my knees. Then of course the ridiculous crotch-less pants matching suspender belt and stockings. My shoes were 5inch ivory Louboutin heels. Then there was the lace ruffled bolero jacket that didn't cover anything except for the top of my back.
"Are you ready Rylie? Asher wants to take you to see Haven."
"I am not coming out!"
"Why not?" Nathaniel asked coming to the door.
"I feel like a damned hooker!" I growled. He opened the door and pulled me out. Julian and Asher both in the hallway waiting patiently. I blushed furiously as I was pulled out to them.
"I think you look ravishing." Asher smiled, only half of his angelic face showing his smile.
"I would have to agree you look perfectly fine Rylie." I grumbled and thanked them, both Julian and Asher for the complements.
"Alright, let's just go. Once I'm back I can get back in my own stuff." Julian just laughed. "Oh I gotta pick up some of my weapons. I'll meet you upstairs Asher."
"As you wish Ma jolie." I smiled not actually understanding what he had just called me.
I walked with Julian to our room and asked him if he knew what Asher had called me, he said it meant pretty in French. Walking into to our room Aydan was sat on the floor blaring music in her ears from her Ipod and James was showing Dani some of the texts books he had bought on the trip to the mall.
"Wow Rylie you look…different." James said noting that I wasn't happy in my outfit.
"I think you look pretty and sophisticated." Dani smiled. Aydan sat up looked at me and started laughing purely because I didn't like my outfit.
"Thanks Dani. James could you get me that set of silver daggers please?" I asked as Aydan went back to her music and the game she was playing on her phone. I wanted to know why Dani had reacted the way she had to the Werewolf guard upstairs. "Dani, has a werewolf ever hurt you before?" I asked as I sat down and wrapped an arm round her. She trembled, but it wasn't from a shift, but from fear.
"Danikha, you are safe here. We just want to understand what happened to you sweet heart." Julian asked taking her hands. But I didn't need to hear it. Some people's thoughts are more image based than words. And Dani was both. I could see what she had gone through. Beatings, starvation, stripped and made to stand out in the cold and rain without being allowed to shift. Raped. Forced into her beasts form for days at a time which was why her eyes were the way they were, big and golden, filled of a deep sadness that a child, as that is what she is, shouldn't have. She started to speak, but I didn't want to hear it, I didn't want her to relieve it more than she just had. I wrapped her up in my arms and let my power sweep over her gently. Wrapping her up in my power promising her protection, love and care.
"No one will ever hurt you again." I stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head. James had come back in and climbed on to the bed along with Aydan both of them hugging me and Dani, then Julian wrapped us all up. Julian was right these were mine…our children we were a family and I would do everything to protect them.
I was in the car with Asher, we had decided to head to Richard Zeeman's and his Pack. Richard was the Ulfric of the Thronnos Rokke Clan and Anita was his Lupa, I had heard she was also the Bolverk for the clan. Though if she was as squeamish as I had heard about torture how she could be Bolverk was beyond me.
"Is everything alright Ma jolie?" Asher asked as Graham the werewolf from earlier drove us.
"Fine thank you."
"No you are not. What is wrong?" I looked at him and he turned his sky blue eyes on me, but this time he didn't try to roll me, he wanted to know on my terms.
"Danikha. I assume Graham and Claudia told you how she reacted?" He nodded. "Well I know why. Someone as young as her should never have had to go through what she did. And when I find the vile excuse for a shifter that did it, I will kill him slowly and painfully." Asher smiled and his hair shifted revealing a sliver of a scar on his beautiful face. Clearly it was done by holy water as it looked like a burn, I wondered if he'd killed those that had done it.
"You're staring." He said quickly shifting so that his hair covered the scar on the right side of his face.
"I'm sorry. I just wondered if you had killed those who did it?" I immediately regretted it as he started thinking about how he looked, how his perfection had been ruined. "Asher…don't you are the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes. Don't think that about yourself ever."
"And why do you care what I think about myself?" He demanded. I was thankful I had put on the strapless bra as I unclipped the corset revealing my left side and the horrible scarring where the Panwere in his Lion form had bit in and ravished my side before Edward could get in and kill him.
"Because I know how you feel. People tell me all the time that it's nothing. That my side doesn't dip in, but I feel it and I see it every time I look in the mirror. But looking at you, seeing you scarred, but still beautiful makes me see their point." He looked at me and slowly moved his fingers brushing my side, tracing all the different off runnings of my scar.
"I guess Ma jolie I cannot argue with that." That feeling you get before sex, when you know its going to happen started to creep in that warmth of expectation filling me up. Asher leaned in close and then the car jolted to a stop. I started to fasten up the corset, when Asher's delicate hands took over. "Allow me." He did it slowly his hand brushing my back almost savouring the feel of my skin. Graham got out and opened my door, but Asher was there to offer me his hand placing a gentle kiss to the back of mine as I stood from the car.
About the time Asher thought it would be prudent for me to allow my wolf to make its presence felt, she was already coming. The smell of wolf, woods and earth surrounding me, I felt quite at home. The Lunatic Café was where we were to meet Richard and as we walked through my arm linked with Asher's we were directed to the back and to large circular booth. I sat somewhat uncomfortably and Asher slid in smoothly next to me. We weren't waiting long when a woman with short curly brown hair slid in opposite us. She was pretty, but powerful. I felt it flood over me as she looked at me. She wasn't being rude, just pointing out she was a dominant. So I returned in kind, but I was gentler about it letting it out slowly allowing it to build up. I smiled when she realised that my wolf was more powerful and dominant than hers. Then who could only be Richard arrived at the table flanked by two guards. One was a man of oriental descent, tall and stern, but he dressed elegantly to say he was a body guard, possibly the Hati or Sköll. He had close cropped black hair and an unwavering gaze. He also carried a gun which was unusual for shifters. The other was a slender black man, there was a gracefulness to his movements and his power seemed to shimmer around him. His hair was shoulder length in cornrows highlighted with coloured beads. But my eyes slowly settled on Richard. He was tall, not that it was hard when I was only 5'3, but he was stunningly handsome. Asher was like an Angel in his beauty, but Richard was all man and he knew it. His eyes were the colour of rich chocolate and I could feel his power swirling in them. His hair was shoulder length and wavy, with highlights of gold, bronze, copper and honey.
"Are we secure here?" Asher asked.
"Of course we are. Only wolves are in here tonight Asher." Richards tone was harsh and dismissive. I could feel Asher prickle next to me.
"We only ask because of the circumstances I am coming to you. If Gabby was to realise that I'm not who she thinks I am then she'll go for Anita. So if it's safe I'm Rylie. But it's best if we just go with Anita for now."
"Precisely, we are here to ask if you could possibly lend a guard to…Anita, Graham is going to be one and we would be gracious if you could lend another." Asher smiled and looked up at the two guards with Richard.
"Shang-da and Jamil are my Hati and Sköll, so don't think about it Asher. I'm sorry Marshal, but there's nothing I can do." I looked at him annoyed, but Asher stood angry that Richard would brush us aside when Anita, the woman he supposedly love was in danger.
"Asher its fine." I stood taking his arm. "The Ulfric, clearly thinks little to the protection of his Lupa."
"I never said that." I smiled to myself, I had hit that right cord. "Maybe I could spare someone." I knew I would get this reaction from him, he was to much of a boy scout from what I could hear from those in the room.
"I'll do it." The woman said.
"Sylvie are you sure?" The woman, Sylvie nodded.
"Yes, but…Anita would it be fine with you if I came tomorrow?" I smiled at her.
"Sylvie that would be fine. I'll see you tomorrow then." I nodded at her. "Goodbye Ulfric." We headed to the door and had just stepped out when Asher stopped.
"What's wrong?" I asked looking up at him.
"Wait here while I get Graham." He walked back in and looking I could see Graham wasn't at his post. I lifted my face to the breeze letting it caress my face, I was getting such a head ache. There were so many shifters around that I never realised she was there until I felt her anger and I was on my back. I was winded and couldn't move. Gabby raised her hand, it turning into a claw of her beast like only the most powerful shifters could do. And as she went to slash at me, I felt something that shouldn't be there. She was knocked from me, but she still clawed my neck. My hands went up as I felt the blood flow. Asher was suddenly above me, lifting me into his arms as Richard, Shang-da and Jamil ran out. I didn't know where Gabby was, but I was acutely aware that the blood, my blood was seeping through my fingers. I was back inside the café in a back room. It felt like I lost minutes. I couldn't understand why the bleeding hadn't slowed with my Lycanthropy healing me faster than a human.
"Do it Asher, it could be the only way to save her. There's no guarantee she'll shift. Then once she's connected you can heal her." I had a rough idea what was going on, but I wasn't entirely sure. Asher's face came down to me and he let his hair drape round me showing his beautiful scarred face.
"S'il vous plaît pardonnez-moi, c'est la seule façon de ma jolie." He locked those sky blue eyes on mine and I fell, fell into them completely. I felt lighter than air. Where my hand was pressed against my neck I could feel the blood slow. I had a moment to wonder if I was dying when two spots of flame the colour of Asher's eyes floated into my vision. By the time I realised what he was doing the flames over lapped my eyes and I was lost in a world of blue flames. The bleeding seemed to slow more as my vision returned to normal. *Rylie, Ma jolie…I'm going to heal you the only way that is possible for those of my bloodline.* Asher thought at me.
He edged my skirt up, spreading my legs apart as he positioned himself between them. I felt the tip of him brush at my opening and suddenly I was overcome with lust and need. He came down to me pressing a gentle kiss, but I wanted more. I locked my arms around his neck and kissed him with everything I could muster. Even though I felt incredibly weak, he didn't break my hold, just took it as permission to push in deep. Part of my brain was trying to tell me to stop, but everything else wanted to feel nothing but Asher, to touch every inch of him to kiss, nibble and suck everything I could. He lifted me up and I wrapped my legs round him feeling him go deeper hitting that spot inside that made my knees tremble. He moved slowly pushing in and out holding the kiss, till he suddenly broke it and shifted to my neck licking up the blood there that was still seeping from the wound. His pace began to quicken, shoving in deeper, faster and harder. I could feel myself ready to come, warmth spreading throughout my body.
"Feed, Rylie, feed." The orgasm hit me like a hurricane ripping through my body as I screamed Asher's name, gripping his arms as I bucked against him. Then a strange sensation filled my body and seemed to travel to my wounded neck. As Asher pulled out I felt sleep pulling try to take me. I struggled to keep my eyes open as I looked up at the Angel in front of me.
"Sleep, Ma jolie, sleep." And so I did.
Also just in case you forgot the meaning or have actually never read an Anita Blake book, here are the meaning of some of the terms I used. Hati and Sköll are enforcers/bodyguards to the Ulfric (king) of a wolf pack and comes from Norse mythology. Sköll is the head enforcer and Hati is the second. Ulfric is a derivative of the Norse "ulfr," meaning "wolf". Lupa is the queen/mate to the Ulfric. Bolverk is someone who does the Ulfric's evil work. Anything from lies, trickery to murder. Thronnos Rokke Clan translates to Rock Throne Clan. Also the French is google translated so sorry if its wrong.
S'il vous plaît pardonnez-moi, c'est la seule façon de ma jolie - Please forgive me, it's the only way my lovely
I woke feeling groggy, warmth all around me. I breathed in deeply and the scent of cheetahs, my cheetahs filled my senses. I didn't want to move, but someone, Dani, was resting against my breast shifted and tilted her head back to look up at me.
"Rylie, you're awake." She smiled through her yawn. "Do you feel okay? Asher said you lost a lot of blood." She let go of my arm as I felt at my neck. There was no bandage, but I could feel a scar. It travelled down my neck and on to my collar bone.
"I'm okay." I assured her as James yawned behind me and buried his head in my hair.
"You were so pale Rylie." He said and then Aydan sat up hugging her knees and Julian sat up rubbing her back.
"I guess I was, but I'm okay now…Asher…he…" I started, but couldn't finish it. I couldn't believe it had happened.
"Yes he gave you two of the marks. It was the only way Rylie, you were going to die." Julian finished sympathy in his voice. My blood ran cold. Dani didn't like it and shifted from me. I climbed off the bed slipping on a pair of jogging bottoms and a tank top. Even though I had lost a lot of blood I didn't feel weak. No if anything I felt stronger because of those damn marks. Two more and I became Asher's Human Servant.
The first Mark was him sharing his essence, making me stronger, faster, more durable and able to heal quicker. The second gave him the ability to drain my powers, to help him heal, through the second mark he could enter my dreams and taste the food I ate through a metaphysical connection. The third mark the vampire or Asher would drink my blood, I would gain more power and be even harder to kill, I would be able to communicate completely with him mind to mind and I would also be able to share all his memories and we could tell how each other felt. Then the fourth mark, as far as I knew Anita only had 3 with Jean-Claude. But the fourth mark I would have to drink Asher's blood while he said the ritual words. Through the fourth mark I would become almost immortal, I wouldn't age. And I couldn't be killed by disease or poison, to kill me would, unless Asher was powerful enough, would kill him too and more often than not vice versa, though if the servant is still young and powerful in their own right their chance of survival is very high. I refused to be linked to a vampire through the marks. I pulled out my gun checked it was loaded and stalked out of the room I was in.
I quickly found Asher, possibly due to the marks I seemed to be drawn to where he was. I barged into the room finding him sleeping, it confirmed that it was daytime. I pulled up my gun and aimed it at his head.
"Rylie!" Anita was there and I could hear the terror in her voice that I might kill Asher, she knew I was as fast as her and she'd never stop me. But as I looked at Asher my finger tightening on the trigger. I couldn't do it. And it had nothing to do with him having given me the marks. It was seeing him there so helpless, so vulnerable. His hair had shifted showing the scarring on his face his silk bed shirt was open and it revealed his slim and toned body with horrific scarring all down the right side. It looked as if whoever did it had started on his face, but couldn't bear to mar it any more than they had. So instead they had poured holy water on his torso, but the scarring disappeared below the silk bottoms. And I wanted him to feel accepted, to feel loved and I didn't know if it was the marks or just me. I put the safety back on and shoved the gun in my pocket.
"I'm sorry Anita." I breathed out shakily.
"It's okay. I didn't want the marks either. But if I'd have had the chance like you had just now, I probably would have killed him. Not now I feel differently, but back then I'd have done it in a heartbeat."
"I don't know why I can't, it just seems wrong." She squeezed my arm and I followed her out feeling almost guilty that I was going to kill Asher. We walked along and Nathaniel came walking towards us his eyes only for Anita.
"Hey, everything okay?" He asked, he was very perky I couldn't deal with perky this soon after waking up.
"Yes it is. I think if you're feeling up to it Rylie, you. Graham and Sylvie can visit Haven see if you can get him to help." I nodded and watched as James came jogging down to us and hugged me.
"You didn't kill him did you? He saved you."
"I didn't don't worry. And that's fine Anita I feel great." And that was all it took for Nathaniel to drag me off to change complaining about the joggers I was in and that I looked like a total slob.
I ended up in a pair of black high waisted shorts, a red ruched vest with a lace back, a black cropped blazer. A pair of knee high suede black boots covered most of my legs. The jacket though cropped allowed me to carry a gun at my back and Nathaniel insisted he do my hair curled like Anita's and even add a touch of make-up as Anita had started to wear it more. And if I was honest I didn't mind how I looked. The outfit was much more to my taste though I wouldn't pick this out for myself.
When we finally set off to Haven's I ended up with Aydan coming with me as she wanted to see Noel. Sylvie was up front and Graham drove again.
"Hey I'm sorry for last night." Graham started.
"So you should be idiot. You were her protection detail, your protection sucks." Sylvie growled at him her power trickling out.
"Sylvie it's okay. Just relax about it, I'm alive and that's what counts."
"Yeah, but now you're half way to becoming Sulky Sue's Human Servant." She sighed I didn't say anything though Asher had yet to sulk in front of me. "Anyway what's with her?" She pointed to Aydan.
"She wanted to see Noel. Didn't you Aydan." I smiled and hugged her.
"And I wanted to make sure he was okay."
"And if he ain't I'll castrate Jesse." Sylvie smiled over at me. We pulled up and walked in unhindered, Graham was almost glued to me making sure I was safe and that no one came to me. Haven was at a desk feet up watching as we walked in. Jesse was at his back and Payne was stood off to the side. Payne nodded in acknowledgement of my arrival, Jesse flat out ignored me while Haven smiled up at me. Aydan went with Noel laughing and joking happily when she saw he was okay.
"Anita here wants you to provide her security as you want to take her as your Regina." Sylvie said crossing her arms and staring down Haven. I suddenly didn't think having Sylvie here was a good idea. Haven was dominant, extremely in the sense that he felt women were weak, unless proven otherwise, like in my case he'd seen I wasn't all talk when I floored Jesse.
"Sylvie, Graham can you wait outside please."
"R-Anita I don't think that's a good idea, Jean-Claude wouldn't be happy if I left you again after last night." I looked at Graham.
"I don't think I'm in any danger here. There are four dominants in this room, ones me, one doesn't like me and the other two are currently impartial. If Gabby were to attack me here and they didn't act it would make them all look weak." Sylvie nodded she knew I made sense and she pulled Graham from the room. I didn't wait to be asked to take a seat, just pulled up a chair.
"So what is it exactly you want?" Haven asked staring at me.
"Your cooperation and hopefully you'll lend me a dominant to guard me, replacing Graham." He looked at me and then sent Jesse and Payne out.
"So say I do, what do I get out of it?" I had to smile as at first he thought sex and then to my amazement he thought about me being his Regina, but that thought was squashed when he thought of Anita. So I offered him what I was willing.
"I'll owe you. What I'm doing is for her, but you'd be helping me. So I'd owe you." He shifted so he was leaning on the desk.
"I like that, a Marshal owing me one." He mused, before his eyes came back to me. "What happened last night? Why do you want to remove the wolf male from your protection detail?" I relayed to him what had happened last night, from speaking with Richard, to finding Graham not at his post and Gabby attacking me. That's when I remembered something hadn't felt right. Something was there in her head that shouldn't have been. But I couldn't remember what it was. "Anita…Anita….Rylie." I looked up at Haven who'd moved in front of me with what I'd have liked to think of as concern in his azure eyes.
"It's okay, like you said Jesse doesn't like you, so I can spare Payne. He's excellent at what he does. He'll guard you twenty-four seven. That leopard won't get anywhere near you." He'd leaned in closer, we were so close and I wanted nothing more than to wrap myself around him and he felt the same, though he was fighting it because of Anita. We never heard the door open.
"Haven! Honey bunny!" I watched as his face fell at the squeal of delight from the woman. I turned to look up at her. "Who is she?" She asked as she came and put possessive hands on Haven. I could hear her, she was married to him and his Regina. Which didn't make sense, I had thought he wanted Anita, Noel wanted me as his Regina, Haven had fleetingly thought about taking me as his Regina. But I picked the answer up from Haven. He had used this woman to make Anita jealous. I don't think it had worked, but I was. She wasn't good enough, strong enough or capable enough to run a Pride.
"Well thank you for lending me Payne. As I said I owe you." I stood to leave and Haven reached out to me, but I shrugged it off walking out the door. "Payne you're with me. My new protection."
"Of course Anita." I smiled at him for remembering to call me Anita.
"Sylvie, Graham lets go. Where's Aydan?"
"She went with that boy. Headed to town I think for a movie." I smiled again. I had never seen Aydan come out of her shell so quickly around others. "Graham you'll be the driver from now on. Sylvie you and Payne will be my main guard." I felt angry about the Lioness that he had brought in, there was no way she'd give up her position even if it was a lie.
I spent the rest of the day in the gym that Anita and Jean-Claude had built in under the Circus. All I could think about was that something was up with Gabby trying to kill Anita and then Haven. By all accounts Gabriel, Gabby's brother had been the Alpha of the St. Louis Pard, not the Nimir Ra as he wasn't strong or capable enough for that. He was an evil bastard, having pimped Nathaniel out. Nathaniel use to be beaten and tortured regularly for money in BDSM sessions. Gabriel never let him be killed, but it had come close. And Gabriel's wildest fantasy was to rape Anita while she tried to kill him. Only thing was she got there first. She killed him while he attempted to rape her. But this was almost 5 years ago. So why only now did Gabby want to seek revenge for her brother's death?
"You still going at it? What did that punch bag ever do to you?" I stopped and looked at Payne who was watching me intently. Payne must have only just come back as while in the Circus I said I would only need one guard at a time with how heavily guarded the Circus already was. Sylvie must be taking her break.
"Yep…I'm trying to figure out what is actually going on."
"What do you mean?" He asked coming to me and passing me a bottle of water. I started to drink only just realising how thirsty I actually was. As I drained the bottle I looked at Payne. He really was extremely good looking. His Lion wasn't as powerful as Haven's but it was just as dominant. I started to wonder what it would be like to make love to him. I stopped the thought at that. I wasn't that kinda girl. I never had been, so why did I suddenly want to screw him? I pushed the thought and urge to the back of my mind and answered him.
"Gabby…" I told him what I thought, what I had felt when I got a peek at her thoughts before she cut me.
"Well it could always be a vampire. A smart one too. Most people know Anita is virtually untouchable. And anyone with half a brain would get someone to do it for them. And if a vampire found someone who already held a grudge against Anita, they'd be that much easier to manipulate, to control or roll them." And he was right. Why hadn't I thought of that? I needed to go find Gabby with some man power that could keep her put.
"You are an absolute genius Payne!" He smiled and I quickly pressed a kiss to his cheek before running out of the gym.
"Rylie! Wait!" He shouted and ran after me. I burst into the living to find Anita, Haven, Nathaniel and Micah.
"Now isn't the time, Rylie." Haven snapped not looking at me his eyes only for Anita.
"No Rylie stay." Anita ordered. Payne was behind me and he placed a hand on my arm. He wanted me to walk out and leave them till this argument was over with. "You want me to be your Regina, you want in my bed, but you can't share."
"I shouldn't have to share. Sharing with other dominants is one thing, but another Lion or them. No." Haven growled.
"Micah is my Nimir Ra and Nathaniel is my Leopard to call. I love them and if you can't deal with that or share then there will never be an us. You tried to attack Nathaniel." I saw then that Nathaniel had touched Haven while they tried to have sex, Nathaniel had touched him not sexual, but as if moving him and he flipped at him and Micah. I understood Haven's view to an extent. He was to macho, anything close to homosexuality repulsed him, because that was just how he was. And Anita knew he wanted a monogamous relationship which she couldn't give him yet still wanted him. But Haven knew Anita was polygamous how could he expect her to ditch all the men in her life.
"But you're mine!"
"I'm my own, no one owns me." She hissed at him. He was going to bring up their beasts and how they reacted to each other, but stopped.
"You want me."
"I want a lot of things Haven and I go without them. Doesn't matter how much my Lioness wants you. You attack the men I love, you attack Noel and Travis because you have it in your head that I'm sleeping with them. You're just a thug. And one day you're going to cross a line." It was pretty much an empty threat, but I knew if he did cross that line she would end him her…I bit me lip to stop from laughing as I heard her nickname for him. Her Cookie Monster. But I suppose it made sense, with his blue hair and the Sesame street tattoos that I could see in her head. Bert and Ernie on his left shoulder, Oscar on his right hip and of course the Cookie Monster on the back of his right shoulder. My Cookie Monster.
"What about Rylie's Lioness? Even I can feel the sexual tension between the two of you." Nathaniel's words snapped me back to what was happening in front of me. Haven looked over at me and my Lioness came again. I beat her back down with my Leopard, there were more leopards in the room than Lions. I ignored the entire conversation acting like I hadn't heard Nathaniel.
"I think Gabby is being controlled by a vampire. I felt something strange last night and Payne made a very good point on it." All eyes turned to me now and I was surprised the arguing stopped completely.
"Are you sure?"
"All I know Anita is that something was in her head that shouldn't be. I felt it right before she slashed me. But then she was gone when Richard and Asher chased her off. It's been bugging me all day and Payne suggested it might be a vampire as no one would come and try to kill you unless they had a death wish or were under control or they were certain they could kill you. If she had a death wish she'd have took another swipe at me last night killed me and then let Asher and Richard kill her. But she fled."
"I think Rylie's right and it's worth looking into at least." Payne offered.
"They could be right Anita. It's a very logical explanation. And something some of the vampires you've pissed off might do." Micah stated, I wondered if Anita's list of enemies was longer than mine, as it sure sounded that way.
"Either way. I don't know about you Anita, but I'm not one to hide behind guards or away from people who want me dead. I'm going up and I'm going to grab her and find out if she has been rolled." I turned to move and Payne grabbed my arm.
"I'm guarding you and you aren't going up to get yourself killed." I smiled at him, he cared, he didn't want me hurt.
"No you're guarding Anita and I'm going up there as Rylie, Harbinger and doing what I do best." Anita was smiling she found it amusing.
"Oh and what's that?" Haven asked.
"Getting information and killing bad guys. Anyone's welcome to come, but I'm doing it now." Haven's Lion flared out with excitement and it made me want to jump him there and then.
"If it's a vampire Rylie, he's going to be rising soon." Anita cautioned.
"Well then I'll have that much more fun hunting him down. I do like a challenge on my hunts."
I had geared up and was ready to go when Asher walked into my room. Aydan had yet to come back, James and Julian had gone out though I wasn't sure where and Nathaniel had offered to stay with Dani so she wasn't alone. Plus Nathaniel was just as if not more motherly than I was. And Dani was quite smitten with him.
"Rylie, Ma jolie I don't think this is wise. Only last night you nearly died." I wasn't sure how I felt about him I had intended to kill him earlier, but now I couldn't. Looking at him awake brought back images of last night, sex in the Lunatic café that I had forgotten until now.
"Why did we have sex?"
"I am of Belle Morte's blood line. Beauty, love and lust essentially sex. With my connections to Anita and Jean-Claude through the sex I was able to heal you. But I had to make you my Servant or at least take the first two steps to it. I am sorry if you would not want to be associated with one with my disfiguration." I wondered if this was what Sylvie had meant, by him being sulky, but he genuinely felt that way about himself. I holstered the gun I was loading and crossed to Asher. I tucked the hair on the right side of his face behind his ear before running my thumb across the scarring gently, then I kissed his cheek.
"There is nothing wrong with you Asher. Nothing at all and if I have to be tied to a vampire, become a Human Servant I'd rather it you than any other." He smiled at me, really smiled and it was like looking upon heaven. He pulled me into him and kissed down the scar I now had on my neck.
"I am so very sorry that I couldn't rid you of this Ma amour." I sighed contently at his touch and realised I was side tracked from what I needed to do.
"It's fine Asher one more to add to my collection. But I have to go. I need to capture Gabby and find out if she has been rolled by a vampire." But he didn't let go.
"Stay Ma amour…" But as I just looked at him he stopped. "I will come with you then. I do not want you to come to harm." He was surprised himself that he felt so strongly about me. Asher was Bisexual, but preferred men to women and he was confused by the strong attraction to me.
"Okay, but please, I don't mean to sound harsh, but stay out of my way when she comes."
I was stood by Danse Macabre another club of Jean-Claude' were people could pay to dance with vampires and shifters. Asher and Payne were closest to me. Asher was a top the building looking down as he was one of few vampires that could fly. Payne was lounging outside a bar across the street. Anita, Haven, Sylvie and Graham were scattered about. I brought forth my cheetah as much as I dared to help me move faster when she attacked. I heard her first, I was waiting to hear her thoughts and I did, they didn't make sense it was just a jumble of many different things. Then she suddenly came flying at me. She had every intention of slamming my head into the wall behind me, but Asher's Marks had given me the edge, made me just that little bit faster, that little bit stronger and I pinned her to the wall instead by her throat. Payne and Asher were by my side a second later. The others quickly coming to us.
"You're going to tell me everything." I stated my power trickling out with the adrenaline pumping through me.
"Whose orders are you following?" Payne growled. Gabby continued to struggle and Payne helped me hold her still. She growled, hissed and snapped trying to break free. And then I felt the connection in her mind. She had most definitely been rolled by a vampire. I could see him, what he looked like. I turned to Anita to see if she knew who he was.
Just to clarify there are 6 vampire bloodlines, each with their own, abilities and heads of line or Sourdre de Sang's (google translates this as blood welling, I think basically it means source of blood) all blood lines originate from the Mother of Darkness. Jean Claude also becomes powerful enough to become his own Sourdre de Sang. Though originally he came from Belle Morte. Belle Morte is also known as Beautiful Death, she too carries the Ardeur and she only turns vampires that are beautiful to the extreme or create beautiful things. She's shallow what can I say? She also has the ability to call/control all shifters of the big cat variety.
Chapter 8: Famine
From my description of the vampire I could see in Gabby's head Anita identified him as Blayne a vampire that had once belonged to the guard of Padma, another vampire master. Padma could call and control all beasts, but was relatively weak compared to all the other master vampires. Anita had burnt Blayne's face off leaving a contorted almost death mask behind. Asher felt the slight scarring on his face made him hideous, but this was hideous.
"So we kill her and then get him?" Graham suggested looking to Anita as Gabby continued to snap and growl.
"Mine and Rylie's Marshal status allows us to kill hostiles like her." Anita said pulling up her gun a Browning BDM. But I couldn't allow that, Gabby would never have acted on her feelings had this Blayne not rolled her. She was innocent in this.
"Anita perhaps we should just wipe what he has done." Asher suggested and I realised he had felt my reluctance to kill Gabby. There was a burst of power from Anita she was trying to release the control Blayne had over Gabby.
"It's not working I can't seem to break the control. She'll have to die before she tries to kill us again or any one else for that matter." She raised her gun again and I felt the fear roll from Gabby and I just couldn't let her do it.
"No." I moved in front of her, turning to Gabby and taking her face in my hands. "Gabriela, look at me. Look me in the eyes." I commanded. Slowly and unwillingly she did. I focused my power, my energy into searching for the link in Gabby's mind. Asher slid his hands on top of mine and suddenly everything seemed much clearer in her mind. I snaked along till I found the link. But I didn't know what to do to break it.
"Just concentrate Ma amour." Asher breathed in my ear. I did I concentrated my power at the link and Asher used it to break it. The second we broke it Gabby stopped struggling, stopped fighting, stopped growling. She slumped against Payne and broke down crying. Payne looked to me not knowing what to do with her so I stepped closer to comfort her and she threw her arms around my waist. I ended up on the floor holding her as she cried.
"I'm so sorry." She sniffled. "I never wanted to." She hiccuped. Then her words came out a jumble as she choked back sobs, but I could hear it. Anita looked at me to explain.
"She said that she had lost contact with Gabriel a while ago, but when she heard you killed him she was angry about it, because he was her only family. But she never would have tried to kill you, Blayne said you deserved to die."
"I don't trust her."
"No one said you had to Anita. But what happened was all on Blayne."
Anita wouldn't listen. She was all set on killing Gabby. So was Graham, though purely as he wanted to get in Anita's pants. Asher to Anita's surprise sided with me as did Sylvie, Haven and Payne stayed out of it. But Anita agreed she would back off at least until we had Blayne. And surprise, surprise we ended up in the warehouse district. The drive there I was in the back of one car with Asher and Gabby with me, Sylvie and Graham up front. Asher rested his hand on my thigh and after a while Gabby leaned into me. She was sorry and felt guilty that she'd been rolled and used to do what Blayne wanted. The second we pulled up though and the door opened I could feel all the vampires nearby. Anita looked over to me.
"You hear them?"
"Yes, I guess you can feel them?" She nodded.
"There's been a spate of killings, vampire killings all around Missouri. None of those vampires in there are blood oathed to Jean-Claude." Most Masters of the City required any and all vampires living with in their districts to take a blood oath it allows the Master to have a measure of control over the vampires, to know what they are doing and where they are.
"I think we might need back-up." I knew Anita and the others wouldn't leave me to deal with it. So better to have someone I could definitely trust at my back.
"Well who do you suggest?" I smiled and it was none to pleasant.
"Death. Round up three of the four horsemen." I smiled.
"He'll have gone by now." But I still pulled out my phone. Edward had a knack of being there when I needed him.
"Rylie?" He asked not to confirm it was me, but in what do I need.
"Want in on a hunt? Over twenty vampires, quite a few want Anita dead."
"And when they realise you're Famine they'll want you dead."
"We can't all be popular, Edward." I laughed, but as always Edward was all business.
"Gimmie thirty minutes, I'll be there, Olaf to. Sounds like we'll need the help." Then he hung up before I could protest. Gabby made to get out of the car and I pushed her back in. She was Olaf's victim type too, like Anita and I.
"Nope, you stay here. There's someone coming that would love to kill you among other things. You stay in here so I can focus."
"But I could help! What if he kills you, I can't begin to make-up for trying to kill you Anita…"
"That's sweet, but one I'm Rylie and two you'll distract me so stay put." I closed the door on her and turned back round. Asher was with Anita and she kissed him. I knew that he was a ménage trois with Anita and Jean-Claude, but I couldn't help the flame of jealousy that licked its way through me.
"That's why Anita doesn't have too many female friends. For some it's not too bad, depending on the guy they're okay to give up Anita for someone else, but a lot of them aren't. And Asher never will not while Anita is with Jean-Claude." Payne placed a hand on my arm comfortingly so I smiled up at him. He really was amazing to look at. And he was sweet despite the fact that he was a killer and he would very much like to make love to me. I mentally shook myself, I hated when this happened. I delved too far and caught things that I shouldn't or things that should be left to intimate moments.
"Thanks Payne." He smiled down and said no more as we waited for Edward and Olaf. I heard Edward even before the car was here so I moved to the trunk and started adding to my arsenal. Grabbing my Micro-Tavor assault rifle and my mini Uzi that Edward had given as a gift. I strapped a kukri, one to each thigh and called myself good to go.
Olaf eyed me suspiciously from the moment he exited the car. I pondered if I could kill him during this hunt and blame a vampire for it. Edward strapped up and I tried not to laugh as he contemplated taking in his flamethrower. He decided against it and after making the decision to leave Sylvie, Graham and Jesse, who had arrived moments after Edward, at the cars to kill off any vampires that got past us. We moved off into the warehouse. It was a maze of crates inside and it was decided to split into groups. But we were an odd number. So as they tried to decide who should go alone, Edward suggesting me, I made the choice for them as I climbed up some of the crates to cover from above.
"I got this. Go." Then I moved stealthy across the tops. I heard scuffles break out all around so I tightened my grip on my assault rifle. It seemed everyone realised Anita was on the ground and were working their way to her. As I was unhindered all the way to the back where I found Blayne. He was sat human bodies drained of their blood scattered about him. If there was ever a reason to just kill a vampire this was it. There'd be no questions asked about the death of these vampires when the human body count was seen. I knew he'd sensed me, but he waited till I dropped down in front of him.
"Ah the woman pretending to be Anita. Well isn't that nice. I suppose you're going to kill me? Or would that be try to kill me." He mused and I shot him in the shoulder.
"No I'm pretty sure I am. Wait let me think about it….yeah I am." I shot him again in the chest as he flew at me. He back handed me and I moved with it rolling and springing back to my feet.
"You are of no concern to me. Leave." He hissed out.
"Oh I think I am." I smirked. Another vampire came out of the shadows.
"Master she is Famine. Run." I laughed I knew I shouldn't have let Harold go. He was a pathetic excuse of a vampire, but he hadn't actually killed anyone when I crossed his path in San Bernardino and S.W.A.T was present so I couldn't out right kill him, without an investigation which I didn't have time for.
"No stay fight." I cooed. Harold ran and I knew Edward was down that way so he was going to be dead pretty soon. Blayne came at me again and as I moved to avoid a punch he caught me with another and I lost my Micro-Tavor. I sprang back and gripped one of my kukri's. Blayne came at me again and I thrust my kukri up and towards his heart, but it didn't seem to stop him. Anita ran towards us and he went into a frenzy trying to attack Anita who was completely unprepared for the attack. One kukri was still in his chest the other was still attached to my thigh. I pulled it out and ran forward swinging the kukri with all my might it chopped into Blayne's neck ripping through sinew and bone to come through spraying both Anita and I with the blood of his most recent victims. He dropped and Anita looked at me. I smiled.
When the others reached us I was busy carving out Blayne's heart, the only sure fire way to make sure a vampire was dead was to carve their heart out and blow their brains out. Olaf had ahard on a mile long he wanted to join me in carving the heart out among other things.
"You get those thoughts out of your head right now Olaf, I won't hesitate in killing you, actually I'd rather enjoy it. You still need to pay for what you did to Aydan. I will end you for it, sooner or later." Asher and Payne both moved nearer to me just in case Olaf tried anything, but the only one Olaf took note of was Payne as he felt Asher was weak. I pulled the heart out and Anita held out a bag to put it in. But as I stood it was Haven that pulled me to him and not Payne.
"He is your lover?" Olaf asked. If Haven was he would back down, but to simply say yes he was he wouldn't believe it.
"I am, what of it?" Haven growled his power trickling out to wrap around me in a warmth and scent of lions. He put an arm around my waist and the other across my shoulders his hand as if carelessly done was resting on my left breast it was a very possessive gesture and I let myself lean into him. He bent his head and I could feel his breath on the side of my neck then he pressed a kiss to my temple. My eyes closed and my body relaxed. Olaf backed down and Asher looked on a moment before turning to face Anita. To keep it up I ended up in a car with Payne, Haven, Jesse and Gabby. Jesse and Payne sat up front and again I was in the middle. Gabby was uncomfortable with all the men in the car especially with the hostility rolling off of Jesse so I wrapped an arm around her shoulders. I ended up at Haven's place. He wasn't too bothered by Gabby, he barely paid attention.
"I know what I want you to do for me." Haven said as we walked inside. Jesse up front and Payne flanking us. But I didn't listen to him as I saw the woman that was "with" Haven beating on Noel.
"Why can't you do anything right?! You're pathetic and weak!" She growled at him as he cowered on the floor beaten and bloodied.
"Haven, are you going to do something?" He just looked at what was happening un-fazed. Noel raised his hand to me as he heard my voice and she, Lola kicked his hand out of the way. "He has my protection. What gives you right?" I growled as I moved in between them.
"I'm Regina, I'll do what I want. Now bow to your Queen." I stepped up to her toe-to-toe and she tried to stare me down. I locked my eyes on hers and head butted her.
"Bow to that bitch." Her eyes watered and her nose spilled blood, but quickly stopped from her enhanced healing. She whined over to Haven and I knew I had a few moments before she came at me so I dropped beside Noel. "You alright?" I asked stroking his fringe from his face. He nodded, but I knew he wasn't. I was up on my feet as she came at me again and with her own momentum I helped throw her into the wall behind me. "Carry on and I'll end you."
"Haven's mine you can't have him! I'm Regina, me, I am, no one else!" She screeched. And extended her claws. I was surprised a little that she had enough power to do that. I didn't have that advantage, but I could hear her thoughts see her moves before she even did them. I blocked every one of her attacks. Her claws skimming past my face as I dodged. As she stumbled past me I grabbed her arms wrenching them back till she screamed and I'd dislocated them. Then I pushed running forward ramming her into the wall.
"Now are you going to back down?" She screamed no so I let go of her arms and quickly grabbed her head twisting violently till I was sure I'd pulled her skull from her spine, then I pulled the silver knife I had on a wrist strap and plunged it through her back to where I knew her heart would be. Then I let her fall to the floor. I knew I shouldn't have killed her, but this was a Pride matter. If I ever did like Noel wanted none would follow me if backed down from her and let her live.
"Jesse get rid of her body. You don't owe me a thing now Rylie." Haven smiled. But I was in no mood for him. I crossed to Noel and helped him stand wrapping my arm around his waist draping one of his arms across my shoulders. Gabby came to his other side and did the same. Without a word we left heading to the car and taking off to the Circus.
Chapter 9: Payne is Good
Okay warning! Sex towards the end of the chapter girl on guy and just after it girl on girl so if it's not your kind of thing feel free to not finish the end of the chapter :D
Gabby knew where she was going so she drove as I sat in the back with Noel his head on my lap. He was shaking ever so slightly and he was in so much pain. All I could do until we got to the Circus was to stroke his head. It wasn't my car so I had limited resources inside. We pulled up at the back and knocked on the door. Bram a Wereleopard I had seen in passing opened the door.
"Renner…" He spoke into his head piece asking permission and telling whoever was on the other end that I was with an injured Noel and Gabby. "You and the lion can come in, but she stays out." I glared at him and then turned back to Gabby.
"Stay in my car Gabby. I'll sort things here and you can stay at ours." She nodded looking nervously at Bram before taking my keys and heading back to my car. Noel was still struggling so Claudia appeared and helped me support Noel down to the living room.
"What did Haven do?" Anita snapped the second she set eyes on us.
"It wasn't Haven. It was the old Regina." Shock crossed Anita's face.
"No some ditz called Lola. She found herself with a broken neck and a silver blade through her heart. I warned her Noel had my protection."
"Rylie was brilliant." Noel smiled up from the sofa. "She told her she was Regina and to bow. Rylie head butted her and said bow to that." Then he started coughing and spat up blood.
"Noel you gotta shift."
"Rylie? What happened to Noel?" Aydan asked coming into the room. She came and sat by him wrapping her arms around him carefully.
"You kill who did it?" I nodded and she smiled kissing Noel softly who looked surprised for a moment before smiling. As I stood with them I sensed Dani come in when I turned she was in her beast form. A black cheetah with spots a dark reddish colour and her eyes looked even bigger. Beautiful and golden. She was the strangest colouring I had ever seen on any shifter. I sat down and held out a hand. She was nervous. I found it harder to read when they had shifted, but I could pick up her nervousness and it had to do with the wolf that had her before. She slowly crept towards me before nuzzling my hand. She came closer rubbing her head on my hand before settling down beside me purring as I stroked her fur.
"What are you going to do with Gabby?" Anita asked.
"She can stay with us if no one has a problem. No I can hear her thoughts Anita she doesn't mean any harm." She felt that Gabby was playing us, but I had no indications of that. I saw Noel and Aydan stand then Noel shifted shaking out his mane. He would heal quicker like this. Dani sat up and followed after Noel and Aydan as they went to our room. "Where's Asher?"
"Up top he's the Ring Master. " I nodded.
"You best change so you blend in better up there." So I followed Anita. As she was with Jean-Claude his businesses were hers to and she wanted them to succeed. As a guest I had to do as she wanted. Plus I was covered in blood and I would stick out like a sore thumb especially with the amount of shifters and vampires up there. I walked out past Graham as I entered the Circus. He acknowledged me and that was it, not that I cared. I weaved through the bodies and made my way to the bright blue big top. As I stepped through I saw Asher finishing up his set as Ring Master.
"Rylie." Was all he said as he brushed past me.
"Asher?" I followed him into a back area. "What's wrong?"
"What is wrong Ma Cherie?! Is the way you so willingly went to the Rex. How content you were with him. I was nothing to you not even an afterthought."
"I'm sorry…Haven pulled me to him and Olaf wanted proof. He saw you as weak. The only ones he was paying attention to were Haven and Payne."
"Excuses, you are like the others, power hungry." I looked at him in disbelief.
"Power hungry? You were the one who made me your Human Servant." He huffed and sat on a couch almost posing, under a different situation I'd say he was teasing and tempting me. "You're jealous."
"I am not. What do I have to be jealous about or over?"
"I don't know why you'd be jealous over me, but you're jealous Haven held me." He turned his head away from me. Now I was getting what Sylvie meant. "But you wanna talk jealousy? How do you think I felt right before we went in to the warehouse? You were with Anita, you didn't even spare me a glance." His demeanour changed and he sat up straight on the sofa.
"You were jealous?" I had been, even if it was ridiculous feeling that for that moment, when everything could go wrong I meant nothing to him.
"Yes." I murmured not looking at him. He was suddenly there in front of me tilting my chin up.
"Rylie…Ma amour. I did not think…" He pulled me into him and went to kiss me but I pulled back. "What is wrong?"
"It doesn't matter if I feel jealous about you and Anita, because you'll always be with her. I want to be with someone that wants me and no one else." I wasn't sure where this had come from. I barely knew Asher.
"I can not leave Anita, you must know how I love Jean-Claude." I nodded.
"Exactly why I wouldn't dream of asking you to leave them." He pulled me to him again and wrapped me up in his arms. I slid my arms round his bare waist under his ring masters jacket. It felt right being held by him and touching him, I knew it was partly because of the marks, but I didn't care.
"Rylie Ma amour your cell is ringing." Asher said. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I hadn't heard my cell ringing. I smiled up sheepishly at Asher and pulled out my cell.
"Renner." My call was quick and straight to it. When I had found out what had happened to Dani I wanted to get the wolf that had hurt her. And thankfully someone had found him for me at last.
"Rylie are you sure this is a good idea?" Asher asked after following me down to my guest room below the Circus.
"I have to. Asher when you know me a while longer you'll learn I don't forgive and forget when it comes to those I care about or those that depend on me. I didn't have to kill Lola, I could have beat her senseless, but she hurt Noel and he had my protection. He depended on me to look out for him. So she had to die." I said as if it was the only way to go about it. Then I could see Asher comparing me to Anita and how he thought we were so a like, but now he could see we weren't. Essentially we were the same, but Anita killed when it was necessary I killed if you crossed a line. Anita didn't do revenge, she killed you there and then or killed you if you crossed paths again. If I was really going to kill someone I didn't stop till they were dead.
"Perhaps you should take someone with you?"
"Like who? Dawn will have come before we got back here. I don't want Graham at my back and Sylvie is with her girlfriend."
"Take Payne. I'm sure you're Rex will allow it."
"Haven isn't my Rex and he would want something in return." I sighed fastening my knives in place.
"Then we'll both go and get him to let you take one." In the end I had to agree otherwise I wouldn't have gotten anywhere. We dropped Gabby off at my home and told her to make herself comfy as I wasn't sure when I would be back. I found myself back at Haven and the Pride's main house. A lot of the different groups had a main house that they used for any and all of their members to be able to stay at, king and queen usually lived there permanently and the rest came and went. In the smaller groups like my Verwoesters coalition everyone stayed permanently.
"Rylie." Haven smiled as I walked through into his little office again. His smile sent little butterflies somersaulting through my stomach.
"Haven." I breathed and mentally shook myself. "I was wondering if I could lend Payne again,"
"Ma amour is going after a werewolf that attacked a young member of her coalition. I do not want harm to befall her. Lending Payne would ensure her safety I'm sure." Haven stood, I could see he wasn't too fond of Asher.
"I'll go if you are that concerned about her." I felt Asher tense and though I did like the idea of Haven coming with me, I'd have preferred Payne or no one so that Asher wouldn't get all jealous. Contrary to how people think a little jealousy is cute, it isn't. It's ugly no two ways about it. And jealousy really didn't suit Asher. But Asher didn't have to worry long as Jesse came through with a call from Anita. And suddenly I didn't seem to matter to Haven.
"Come on let's just get Payne." I said trying to hide the hurt I suddenly felt.
"What do you want me for?" He asked as I turned seeing him stood in the door way.
"Wondered if you wouldn't mind coming with as I go kill a Werewolf." I smiled up at him.
"It's more for my piece of mind. She is my Human Servant and I want no harm to come to her." Asher added.
"Sure I don't see why not. It's not like I got anything else to do." Payne moved off down the hall. He was getting his things and would meet us outside.
"You want us to drop you off Asher?"
"No Ma amour. I'll be fine. I only ask for you to be careful." Before I could react he pressed his lips to mine and was gone. I felt my whole body heat up and quickly squashed it down with what I had planned for the werewolf Dmitri. I sat in my car and waited for Payne. When he finally came I quickly drove off, it was a peaceful silence in the journey. The only questions Payne asked were what this wolf had done to so royally piss me off. By the time I had finished explaining, Payne wanted to rip his head off as much as I did.
It was late when we rolled up. I knew what I was doing was completely illegal, but I didn't care. I had always been this way and always would be. Payne circled to the back of the house as I moved up the front steps. I knew when Payne had reached the back and I kicked in the door at the same time as him. There was a gun shot and when I ran into the kitchen Payne was down on the floor. I saw blood but I couldn't tell where it was coming from and the wolf I was after Dmitri was stood with his gun up. I quickly put two bullets in his back. He turned, but fell before he could raise his gun at me. I stood over him my gun pointing between his eyes.
"Not the way I wanted this at all, you hurt Dani beyond belief and now you shoot my friend. I can't take my time because I gotta make sure he's okay." Then I pulled the trigger. I shoved my gun back in its holster and went to Payne. His eyes were closed, but he was breathing.
"Payne….can you hear me?" I asked running my hands across his chest trying to find were the blood was coming from. His hands wrapped around mine and his eyes suddenly opened. They were dark, but they were darker than usual, it wasn't his beast but something more basic more human. It was lust. He pulled me down to him kissing me pushing his tongue into my mouth. "Payne there's a dead guy on the floor." I said as I pulled away. Though I knew better. Shifters found blood to be quite sensual and most found fear and gore to be a bit of a turn on. I on the other hand didn't it weirded me out that Payne would so willingly have sex with a dead body mere inches away from us. But it didn't stop him as he released my hand and let it wonder up my shirt kissing a fiery trail along my neck. "Payne." It was meant to be commanding, but it came out breathy, I was losing all rational thought consumed by Payne's wandering hands. But a flickering of someone else's thoughts broke through and I grabbed for my gun. Payne froze beneath me.
"Rylie?" I looked at Dmitri, but he wasn't moving. "What's wrong?"
"Someone's here…." Immediately Payne had me on my feet and his own gun out. We found the other person, a boy actually in a bed room upstairs he was chained with silver, the chains burnt into his flesh and well on his way to being malnourished. Payne let a growl escape him and the boy scrambled back and yelped.
"Payne." I scolded and dropped down beside the boy. "Hi," He looked up at me slowly. "I'm Rylie Renner, a Federal Marshal." He backed away again when I held out my hand. "It's okay. I won't hurt you, Dmitri is dead. Here let me take off these chains." I hadn't realised that Payne had left and had come back with the keys for the locks until he dangled them in front of me. "There we go see, you're free." I smiled softly at the boy.
"Thank you…" He looked at me shyly and then up at Payne. He stood shakily and I motioned for him to follow us. I would get him cleaned and fed then see if Richard Zeeman the Ulfric was able to home him. But there was a thud the boy had fallen down and was out cold.
"Shit." I picked up a blanket and Payne lifted him so I could wrap him in the blanket then Payne lifted him up fully and carried him down stairs into my car. "Thanks." I smiled up at Payne as he closed the back door with our passenger safely secured and as comfortable as he could be. Payne's hand trailed down my cheek. And my body tingled at his touch, my skin pricked with goose bumps. His lips hovered above mine, but then he smiled and got in the car leaving me standing.
The whole drive to my home I could feel Payne's eyes on me roaming every curve of my body. Payne took the boy who was still passed out into the house and into one of the bed rooms as I walked inside and rested against the back of the sofa debating how morally wrong it was for me to sleep with Payne just because he was extremely good looking and more than willing. And whether it would affect my chances with Haven. But my debate ended when I heard the rustle of clothes and looked up to see Payne stepping out of his pants. Like I said I didn't have much of a problem with nudity any more as it was natural for shifters, but Payne wasn't intending on any kind of kitty pile with the boy wolf upstairs, the lust and hunger was back in his eyes making them darker with every step closer to me he made. My eyes darted down my mouth watering at the size of him. He wasn't too long or to thick he was perfect and I couldn't wait.
He pressed up against me his dick pointing into my hip. I chewed my lip trying to think rationally trying to think of a way to stop this, but the second his lips met my mine all thoughts went out the window. I fiddled with the buttons on my top, but I wasn't fast enough for Payne as he plunged his hand down the front of my shirt and pulled spilling the buttons onto my floor and drawing a gasp from me as he kissed and nipped the parts of my breast that had been exposed. I ran a hand through his hair short hair and with my free hand I unclasped my bra. His hands were there to hold my breasts running his tongue teasingly over my nipples his hand digging into my breast and releasing it was just on that line of being painful, but his tongue and mouth working my nipple tipped it back in to pleasure. I braced myself on the back of the sofa and wrapped my legs around his waist. He gasped as I ground myself on to his bare cock. But went back to my breast with more fervour. I tossed my head back and his hand was there to steady me or else I'd have fallen back onto the sofa not that it would have stopped us. Suddenly we were moving I happened to look up into his eyes the playfulness in his eyes had gone and I knew he wouldn't make love to me that he would simply fuck me and it sent a rush of warmth through me. Payne dropped me onto the sofa while I unbuttoned my pants only for him to yank them off. He crawled up my body raining down kisses as he went, but when he came to my panties a pure animalistic growl sounded in his throat reverberating through my body and in the next second he'd ripped them from me. My panties dug into my side leaving red lines on either side. He kissed up between my breasts and kissed me as he pushed inside me teasingly. I squirmed beneath him pushing up trying to get him to go deeper. He grinned down at me and then pushed in deep before beginning to pound into me hard and fast. I clawed at his back making low eager noises with every thrust. He came inside me, but kept his pace slowing down with every thrust. I kissed him and heard his thoughts. He was ready to go again and this time he wanted to take it easy, he wanted to make love to me and make me come for him. He wanted to hear me scream his name. But he stopped when his cell rang.
"Damn it." His call was quick and I could tell he wasn't happy. I sat up and wrapped my arms around my legs. He crouched down in front of me moving hair from my face. "Rylie…I gotta go back Haven wants me." He felt guilty and he didn't want me to think he was using me. But then again I was to an extent as I still wanted Haven. He wanted to ask if we could finish this off later, but didn't know how to word it. So I leaned forward and kissed him.
"Yes you can come back and we'll finish this. I want more." He pulled me to him and kissed me again before getting up and changing leaving me naked on the sofa. "Well then now what am I gunna do?" I said out loud. I was horny as hell and no one, but myself to finish off what Payne had started. I rubbed at my face and was deciding to go and wash up when I felt a hand on my knee. I opened my eyes to see Gabby's hazel orbs. My stomach did flip flops and before I could speak she gently pressed her lips to mine. I didn't know what to do. I'd been curious sexually and had been with women on more than one occasion. A female partner wasn't something I actively sought out.
"I'm sorry." She whispered backing away. I hadn't spoken, hadn't responded to her kiss and had taken it as I was angry or shocked. She was beautiful like I had said. And very tempting only in her underwear, she'd been meaning to take a shower when we came back, but had not wanted to make any noise and disturb us. My Cheetah wanted her like my Lion had wanted Haven and Payne. And coupled with the fact I was left unsatisfied by Payne, I wanted her bad. I bobbed my head to hers and kissed her my arms going around her to unclasp her bra, her plump and perky breasts spilling out. I ran my hands down her back to cup her ass lifting her so she sat on my lap her legs wrapping around me. This was the only thing I missed when with a man. I loved soft tender skin, the curves of a woman. A female lover never had to be with you a few times before knowing what really got you going like a man did. I caressed her sides lavished her breasts with my lips and tongue taking my time to enjoy her. I was thankful that being a carrier boosted my strength I easily lifted Gabby and stood laying her on the sofa and peeled off her panties. I kissed my way up between her thighs and placed a kiss at her entrance before letting my tongue flick out making her whine. I worked her with my tongue and fingers treasuring the feel of her skin beneath my fingers. She arched up as I replaced my tongue with my fingers and she finally came screaming my name her nails digging into my back. I crawled up so I was level with her and kissed her softly.
She flipped us over and worked my breasts with her tongue her fingers trailing down my stomach to rub and pinch me. Gabby kissed down my body her hands gripping my ass lifting me to plunge her tongue inside. I wriggled and moaned as she twirled and tasted with her tongue. When I felt I couldn't take any more she pushed in her fingers and the warmth built again spreading from my stomach to the ends of my fingers and toes until I finally came screaming bucking beneath her as she pressed a hand to my stomach pinning me to the couch. I had one final thought of whether I had made a huge mistake in sleeping with someone who had been trying to kill me and if the boy was okay then I drifted off into nothingness.
Chapter 10: Mistakes?
I woke up to the smell of food cooking and sat up. I was in my house instead of at the Circus and I was naked. Payne. No Gabby. I had just slept with Gabby. What was I god damn thinking? Payne was one thing, but Gabby? She could have killed me. But she hadn't. I looked myself over and I had no damage to me. I was so wrapped up in sex with both of them that I didn't even worry about the scarring on my side. I pulled on some black joggers and a loose t-shirt making sure my gun fitted in my waist band before I headed to the kitchen.
"Oh…hi. I um was making you breakfast. I didn't know what you liked, but there was eggs and bacon in the fridge." She was uneasy and worried I would kick her out. I relaxed somewhat seeing this was awkward for both of us.
"It's okay. And sure sounds good to me." I smiled lightly and sat at the island. I was sure that Julian had said the contractors would have started work yesterday, but there was no one here last night and there was no one here yet either and it was 11 am. "I'll have to speak with Julian and the others as to whether you can stay here or not. They may not want you here." I realised a second to late how harsh that sounded.
"It's okay…Rylie. If you don't want me here I can leave. I've caused enough problems as it is." I stood meaning to comfort her when I heard someone in the hall. The boy.
"And where do you think you're going?" He froze and turned slowly fear on his face which suddenly turned cocky.
"And what are you going to do to stop me chica?" I smiled shaking my head, it was his way of covering how he felt.
"What's your name kid?" He wouldn't answer, but I picked it out if his head. "Mezzo where do you think you're going?" He froze again his hand on the door knob.
"How do you know my name?"
"Nothing sinister. I'm a telepath. Look I took you from Dmitri's place last night. You're obviously an orphan so you have nowhere to go. Don't try and lie I can tell. You can stay here until I've sorted something with the Ulfric here. Maybe one of the families can take you in. For now come and get some food. You look half starved." His tongue slid across his lips and he took a step towards me.
"I can leave whenever I want?"
"I'm afraid not. I'm a US Marshal I have a legal obligation to take you in to care, but I'm going to get someone to look after you."
"And if I want to stay here?" He asked looking up through his dark hair, my heart twinged I'd have taken him if not for Dani.
"That's not possible I'm afraid. One of my Cheetah's is terribly afraid of Werewolves I can't possibly put her through it." His head dropped and I felt bad, he thought he wasn't wanted yet again.
"Fine! Just give me some money and I'll go and not bother anyone!" He held his hand out.
"No Mezzo. It's not that I don't want you, but that my cheetah terrified of werewolves... Because of what Dmitri did to her." I took his hand and gently pulled him into the kitchen. "Now come on sit. Gabby has cooked some breakfast." He said nothing but came and sat eating everything on the plate that Gabby put in front of him, he devoured everything in mere seconds.
"I guess you're hungry." Gabby smiled at him amusedly. He grinned back up at her and gave her a cheeky wink making me laugh.
"So are you lesbians?" I nearly choked on my coffee. "Cos like I can smell sex and that man you were with yesterday isn't here."
"Oh so you're both Bi then? So I got a shot?" This time I laughed, I laughed so hard I had to put my coffee down.
"Listen Mezzo you're what 15? 16? You haven't got a snowballs chance in hell with me. You're far too young." I finally managed to say.
"Don't look at me kid, I'm with Rylie." Gabby said shaking her head. The contractors turned up just after and Gabby offered to stay with Mezzo and keep an eye on the contractors. I changed clothes and left I wanted to check on my coalition that I had all but abandoned at the Circus.
I wandered down slowly to my guest room. Aydan and Noel had left together, apparently she was thinking of enrolling in the college that Noel was at. I was wondering if I could help put her through college when I walked into my room seeing James and Julian together. I froze praying they hadn't noticed me and backed out slowly. It seemed I had managed to get out without them realising. They made a cute couple, but it wasn't my thing to kind of stand there and watch them go at it. Nathaniel was teaching Dani and I daren't bring up a wolf being at home. But she had told Nathaniel about the contractors and he had spoken to Anita and Jean-Claude both had offered for us to stay here till the build was finished.
"Oh there she is." I turned at the sound of Haven's voice and smiled.
"Looking for me?"
"Yeah," His face twisted into an angry mask. "What the fuck were you doing screwing him?!" He moved and I saw Jesse was holding up Payne beaten and unconscious which would explain why I hadn't realised he was there.
"Payne? What did you do to him?" Jesse smiled and let him go, Payne fell forward and I tried to catch him the best I could slipping to the floor with him. "Payne? Can you hear me?"
"He's alive for now. Now what were you doing fucking him?" Haven demanded standing over me.
"What the fuck does it matter to you? You want in Anita's pants. I'm free to sleep with who I want when I want." I snapped cradling Payne's head in my lap. And for that Haven had no answer, but a sense of relief slipped into me when I saw in Haven's head that Jesse had attacked Payne and brought him to Haven looking for favour with his Rex. I placed Payne's head carefully on the floor and stood. I brushed myself off casually and Haven turned to look at Jesse and that's when I flew at Jesse knocking him down. I didn't get to do much as Haven lifted me. "You piece of shit, you good for nothing waste of space. I will end you." I growled not able to control myself as my power flooded out from me.
"Rylie stop." Haven growled in my ear his power pressing against me, but it served nothing more than to spur me on. My Lioness was coming I could feel it, but all rational thought in stopping her was gone. She was angry Payne was hers, ours and Jesse had hurt him. Haven's power pressed down harder against me, but instead of backing down my power seemed to meld with his. I could see my Lioness and his Lion and the second they touched it was ecstasy. My thoughts of hurting, killing Jesse were crushed with the need to rub myself all over Haven. But my Lioness kept coming she was filling me up and I knew if she continued I'd shift. My head felt like it would explode and the ecstasy I felt moments ago was replaced with pain. Pain so deep and throbbing it felt like my Lioness would burst from my body at any second. I hadn't realised I was thrashing and flailing until I was aware Haven had me pinned to the floor.
"Rylie?" Julian gasped.
"Rylie? Julian help her!" James pleaded, but their voices started to fade as the pain got worse. It felt like knives were trying to break through the palms of my hand. Suddenly cheetah filled my senses and my Lioness receded bit by bit until the pain was but a distant ache.
"Rylie, be okay please." James pleaded. I could feel Dani nearby and I knew her emotions were all over, but everyone was focused on me.
"D-Dani someone." I managed to get out. Julian moved, but she was a sudden explosion of fur and bodily fluid and she shifted lowering herself to the floor whimpering. I tried to turn to her, but didn't have the energy. Haven and Julian were there to help me move. I ended up leaning against Haven sat between his legs on the floor. I held my hand out to Dani and she slowly came to me.
"It's okay sweetheart." I cooed stroking her fur. James was crouched a little way from us and he was covered head to toe from the spray when Dani shifted. "Kitten we are gonna have to help you with these shifts." Julian smiled at me and motioned for James to take Dani to our room.
"How do you feel?" He asked looking at me and Haven's arms tightened round me possessively.
"I ache everywhere it felt like she was trying to rip me to pieces." I looked at my arms and there were four marks running down my arms as if my Lioness had actually tried to claw her way out of me. Haven ran a hand down the marks and I could feel his puzzlement. "Also the contractors have started work today, Anita and Jean-Claude have said we can stay till the works done." It came out rather mused and a little breathy almost like I was coming down from a high. Julian nodded and sensing Haven's power flaring out as if marking his territory he backed up.
"That's great. We will have to thank them. But for now I'll check with Dani and make sure she is alright." I smiled and then turned in Haven' arms.
"You know he's gay right? He has no interest in me other than the fact I am Koningin to his Koning." I smirked as he shrugged uncomfortably. "Payne…where is he? Is he alright?" Haven's shoulders tightened and he frowned.
"He's in the infirmary. Anita and the others came. Took him while Julian stopped your shift."
"Why did you let Jesse do that to him?" I asked looking him dead in the eye. I knew he wanted to break away but he couldn't he was as captivated by my eyes as I was his.
"I didn't let him. Jesse somehow found out what you'd done. Confronted him and then well they started fighting. Jesse fights dirty and he got the upper hand. Then he dragged him to me and then I found you." And he was telling the truth. My telepathy couldn't be fooled, but you could hide things if you knew what you were doing. But like a vampire, eye contact made that damn near impossible.
"Okay." I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his softly then stood. He grabbed my hand.
"Stay with me. We can rule the Devourer of Mans pride together." I shook my head. "You felt what our power did together. It'd be like Anita and Micah a true king and queen." I shook my head.
"You're obsessed with Anita. And until you get over her you'll always go running when she calls." I smiled sadly I wanted him so bad it ached inside, but while he obsessed over Anita I couldn't be with him.
"Hey." I said quietly from the door way looking in at Payne as he laid there looking up at the ceiling. His head turned to me.
"Rylie…you okay?" He meant had Haven hurt me and with me almost shifting.
"Yeah, Haven didn't hurt me and I didn't shift. I…I'm sorry."
"What are you sorry for?" He asked sitting up.
"For what happened to you." I'd moved further in and he pulled me to him. Holding my hands in his. Since when did my life become a soap opera?
"Forget about it. I'd do it again if you gave me the chance and still take a beating. Though this time Jesse would come off worse." He smiled meaning to reassure me. But it didn't especially as I could hear him he didn't just want sex again he wanted more from it. Everything was becoming far too complicated. Asher, Haven, Payne, Gabby a house full of submissive Cheetahs not to mention a young wolf that I needed to re-home.
Chapter 11: Trouble
I couldn't stay at the Circus. I needed time to myself, but I had nowhere to go. I needed to think things through, but I didn't know this city well enough to have a place to go to think and have a little peace. But then I needed to call Richard and see if anyone could home Mezzo. So I decided I should go home and pick up Mezzo and take him to see Richard. If Richard couldn't home him I wasn't sure what I'd do as state care was no kind of care at all for a young shifter.
It was late afternoon when I finally pulled up outside my home another hour or so and darkness would fall. Nights were starting to draw in and it was getting colder. The contractors had been busy having already erected the wooden framing for the extension. I walked in through the front door seeing Mezzo lounging on the sofa with the TV on.
"Hey Mezzo." He jumped turning the TV off and standing up like he'd been shocked. Dmitri never allowed him to watch TV and if he was caught watching it he got a beating. "It's okay, you can watch it, I don't mind at all." He looked as if he would cry and as maternal as I was I went to him and wrapped my arms around him. He stiffened and was unmoving, but slowly he relaxed and hugged me back. I knew he was trying hard to control his tears. He was short for a 16 year old his head resting against my breast. He slowly pulled back making sure there were no signs of the tears he just cried then looked up at me a smirk on his face.
"You have real nice soft boobs." I rolled my eyes but laughed.
"Yeah kid and that is as close as you'll ever get to them. Where's Gabby?" I asked looking round.
"In one of the bedrooms sleeping." He smiled and jumped back onto the sofa. I found Gabby in my room, but she wasn't sleeping.
"You okay Gabby?" She sat up pawing at her eyes and I felt sympathy wash through me. I sat down next to her and held her. Unlike Mezzo she immediately wrapped her arms around me and sobbed. I let her cry and held her close. She'd tried to kill me, but only because she thought I was Anita. And she really did want to make up for the hurt she had tried to cause. So I held her while she cried her heart out over her brother. Over him being turned into a Wereleopard, how because he felt so alone he attacked Gabby so he wouldn't be alone. But then he left her and she was alone only hearing from Gabriel her brother occasionally. But then Anita killed him and she felt lost and completely alone. Angry that someone took her brother's life. Then she met Blayne who promised her the earth, promised to make everything better, but he only made it worse, by using her to get to Anita. Now he was dead and she was all alone again.
I'd make it work. Aydan and James would understand. And this was my home at the end of the day so if I wanted her here then she could stay.
"Gabby you can stay here. We'll make it work." She held me closer and pressed her lips to my collar bone trailing up my neck. She didn't know how else to thank me. I stopped her pulling away and holding her face in my hands. "You don't need to do that. My life is complicated right now. You can stay here as long as you want."
"You don't need to be sorry. It's just…" I sighed.
"You can talk to me, who am I going to tell?" She smiled softly, encouragingly.
"I just…Asher he confuses me. He's in love with Anita and Jean-Claude yet he wants me. Then I think I'm in love with Haven and he well I don't know but he wants Anita. Payne it was kinda just sex, but then now he wants more. Then there's you…" She blushed as if amazed I would consider her in my relationships. "Then I seem to be collecting submissive shifters like accessories. Aydan and James, Dani who shifts whenever she freaks who is an emotional wreck because of Dmitri the same son of a bitch that hurt Mezzo. And as much as I would love to keep Mezzo here and take care of him Dani would freak." She hugged me again.
"You'll end up doing the right thing Rylie. So don't worry."
After finally coaxing Mezzo into my car I was heading to the Lunatic Café.
"Is Richard like Dmitri?"
"No, well I don't know him that well, but from what I've been told and seen myself he's decent guy. And I'm sure he'll want to help you." I pulled up across the street and realised that Dani was in the car. In the back under a blanket. She was still asleep, she'd somehow got into my car. "Mezzo I need you to step out the car." He looked at me confused, but it was too late as Dani sat up the blanket covering her modesty, she scented the air and then screamed. I scrambled over the back of the seats to her. "Dani, Dani! It's okay he won't hurt you!" Mezzo backed up as far away as he could from her in the car.
"I'm sorry Rylie, I didn't mean to scare her." Mezzo whispered. Dani was crying and then suddenly so was Mezzo.
"Mezzo," I went to comfort him, but couldn't as I was still holding Dani. Her tears stopped as she looked at Mezzo crying. She looked up at me her head cocked to the side her golden eyes confused as Mezzo rocked himself quietly. "Dmitri hurt him too and he doesn't want you to be afraid of him like he was Dmitri." She looked back at him and inch by inch she moved till she was in easy reaching distance of him with the blanket wrapped as firmly round her as she could get. She sat there for a moment as Mezzo cried silently. I dare hardly breathe as I knew she was gathering her courage and squashing her fears so she could touch him, comfort him. Then so suddenly she wrapped her arms around him and he her and they both sobbed. Two peas in a battered pod. They'd both endured so much hurt and anger, but that was what let Dani touch him even though she was so fearful of wolves. Mezzo pulled back first rubbing at his face, his eyes red and his nose stuffy as he looked at Dani.
"Hi." He croaked out.
"Hi." She smiled back tentatively.
"Mezzo we need to go in if we're to talk to Richard." I said softly.
"Why are you going to Richard?" Dani asked using the end of the blanket to wipe her face.
"I need to find someone that will home him." I said smiling sadly, though I knew almost immediately that she was going to say let him stay.
"Can't he stay with us?" She asked looking between him and me.
"I don't know Dani. Can he?" She realised that the only reason we were here was because I wanted her to feel safe, for her not to have to relive in her mind what Dmitri did to her every time she came across a Werewolf.
"Mezzo you can stay with us." Dani almost whispered. Mezzo hiccoughed and looked at Dani. And it was just then that you could see just how vulnerable, how hurt and afraid he really was.
Dani was curled up in the blanket next Mezzo when I pulled back up at the house. I needed to drop Mezzo off and I might as well introduce Dani to Gabby.
"Dani sweetie?" she looked up at me smiling. "There is a woman in the house, a Wereleopard. If it's okay with you and everyone else she'll be staying with us."
"Like Mezzo will be?" She asked looking up at Mezzo.
"No cos she's screwing Gabby." Mezzo smirked.
"One time. And like I said Dani only if you and the others are comfortable with her." I assured Dani.
"Can I meet her?" I smiled.
"Of course and we can grab something for you to wear." I said taking the key from the ignition and climbing out.
Mezzo dived on the sofa the second he was inside making Dani giggle. It was sweet how she instantly took to liking him. I guess she felt, I don't know a kinship to him, having both been at the mercy of Dmitri. Gabby came through in a pair of leggings and one of my old baggy tops, her hair thrown up in a scrunchie, I looked at her amusedly for making herself right at home.
"Gabby this is Dani, Dani this is Gabby." Gabby smiled and held her hand out.
"Hi sweet heart." Dani looked at her, evaluating and sniffing the air as if that would tell her if she could trust her. Then finally she took Gabby's hand.
"Nice to meet you." Then she looked at me. "I don't mind if she stays Rylie." Then she walked away to get changed leaving Gabby smiling and happy.
"Who else is left? I mean who else has to be okay with me being here? Sorry that sounds bad."
"No it's alright, just Aydan, James and Julian." I smiled. Then Dani did the first teenage thing I'd ever seen her do, she ran and jumped over the back of the sofa landing on Mezzo. She was trying bless her. Really trying hard to put her past behind her and her first step was to start acting like the teenager she was.
"Is Mezzo coming back to the Circus with us?" Dani asked.
"Yeah and Gabby to and I can have all the hot chicks." Mezzo added with a cheeky smile.
"Well," I started but Gabby cut across.
"I can't I need to stay here. Someone's gotta make sure the contractors are doing their job right." I smiled sadly at her annoyed with Anita and reached out to take Gabby's hand comfortingly.
"Well I'm staying too." Mezzo said and Dani looked at Gabby and sensed there was more to it.
"Me too. If Gabby and Mezzo stay here then I wanna stay too."
Driving back to the Circus I couldn't help but smile. Home at least everything was going well. I was pretty sure that Aydan and James wouldn't mind and that Julian would then easily agree so Gabby could now stay with us.
I wasn't far from the Circus when I saw a lump in the middle of the road. I couldn't hear anything so I stepped out with my gun at hand. I crouched down beside the young woman. She was dead, bites all over her, on every inch of skin I could see. I sensed him sooner than he had hoped and dived out of the way, but he came at me gain and as I struggled against him another came behind me and something sharp pierced my neck. The world went fuzzy, my limbs numb and then it went black.
It was cold and dark when I woke up. Chains held me in place, my arms held up and I was on my knees.
"Rylie…glad your awake I wouldn't want you to miss this."
Chapter 12: Triumvirate
"I just don't know and besides she's just as bad as Anita." I said, Jesse's only response was to frown. "She screwed Asher, she's screwed Payne and we could all smell that leopard had been all over her." That weak lion Noel that Rylie had given her protection to moved uncomfortably. "What?!"
"It's well Rylie…Asher slept with her to heal her and she turned him down. Told him she wouldn't share. And well Aydan says that Rylie likes….wants you." I shook my head and he flinched.
"She can't want me that much, she refused me, she didn't want to be Regina of this Pride."
"But Haven," I glared at Jesse. "Rex she said she wouldn't until you stopped obsessing over Anita."
"I am not obsessed! I'm…." But I didn't know how to finish that. Did I love Anita? Or was it just an obsession, was I obsessed with her power? Or even the Ardeur? My beast reacted to Anita, wanted her, but it was never anything like it was with Rylie. I scented the cheetahs from Rylie's coalition coming towards us, the submissives. Aydan and what was his name? James? They both stood there uncomfortable, weak and pathetic. The girl stepped forward she seemed more confident, but they were both just so pitiful.
"Rex of the Devour of Man." She bobbed her head, I had to smile, it felt good to have them quell in fear from me.
"What do you want?" She flinched and clung to the other cheetah.
"I, we wondered if you had seen our Koningin." I looked up at her, I could scent the worry coming from her.
"I haven't seen her since she left. Why do you ask?" I stood and she whimpered as if I would strike her.
"She was supposed to be heading back. We called at the house and Danikha told us she'd left hours ago. But we can't find her and her car isn't in the lot. We tried to call her, but she isn't answering." James said. I sneered at both of them.
"And what do you expect me to do? Why not speak to her vampire master?"
"Because he is…busy with Anita. And we thought after earlier that perhaps she might have come to you." I wondered why he had thought that, had she said something about becoming my Regina. "We just thought maybe you'd help us look for Rylie." I was curious as to why they looked at her with such reverence.
"Rylie is missing?" Payne asked walking in changed and back to full health from earlier. Both Aydan and James turned.
"Help us, we can't find her." Aydan pleaded. I moved forward I was Rex and I would be the one to decide what would happen.
"Payne, Jesse check the roads find her car. Jesse, he comes back how he left." I warned Jesse, she thought I had ordered him to be beaten the first time, this time I'd prevent it, maybe she'd like that. They left and I turned to her cheetahs. "You two," Aydan was holding Noel's hand, I tried to keep the look of disdain from my face. "You three can come with me. We'll get Asher to find her he's supposed to be linked to her metaphysically."
We arrived at the Circus as quickly as we could and headed to the doors to get down into the living quarters, when that stupid guard Graham who had allowed Rylie to be attacked stopped me.
"You three are good to go through, you have to wait." I could feel my anger bubbling over, I could easily kill him, but Aydan moved forward.
"Rylie is missing he's helping us find her. We need Asher." He passed the message on and we were allowed entry, I growled at him letting him know he was dead, if this wait had cost Rylie her life. We walked into the living room and found Asher and Anita. Anita, so small like Rylie and beautiful seeing her I just wanted to pin her to the floor and fuck her, make her mine.
"Haven." Was all she said in way of greeting.
"Anita….Asher, where is she?"
"What has happened?" The Koning asked crossing to Aydan and James. He held James their fingers entwining. James quickly filled his king in on what was happening.
"I have no idea, why would I?" Asher asked.
"Because she is your Servant! You are linked to her, find her!" I demanded and felt Anita go on the defensive.
"Please Asher, she's missing. She left home hours ago to come here and hasn't arrived." Asher's face dropped ever so slightly and then concentration filled his face.
"She's shielding. Blocking me from her mind." My cell went and I answered.
"Rex we've got her car. There's something that smells like her and Anita, the mix of scents, perhaps another panwere? And a vampire as well, they left a woman's body covered in bite marks."
"Do you have a trail?"
"No there was another car, can't track it."
"Get back here Payne." I growled closing my cell. "She was taken maybe by another panwere and a vampire."
"We have to get her back!" Asher panicked. "Anita she can't die."
"Asher it'll be fine, if it comes to that Jean-Claude and I will keep you safe seal you from the marks." I was for the first time angry, really angry with Anita, for her to just cast aside Rylie.
"No! I do not care. She needs to live Anita!" Asher almost screamed, I must admit I had new found respect for the vampire.
"He's right, but we need to know where she is. We can't just run around hoping to sniff her out." Anita looked shocked, not just with me and Asher, but with herself.
"Of course…Asher." She held her hand out and he took it and everyone in the room could feel the flare of power and I suddenly didn't care if I found Rylie, I had Anita, or I would have her sooner or later. I wanted to rip Anita's clothes of and feel her flesh beneath mine. Aydan brushed past me and broke my thoughts. What had I been thinking? Rylie's life was in danger and I wanted to screw Anita.
"I have her!" Asher shouted.
I found myself in a car with Asher, James and Julian the cheetahs Koning. Anita was in the other car with Jesse, Payne and Claudia. Rylie was being held in another underground section of St. Louis similar to that of the Circus, but on the other side of town. When we arrived at the only entrance we could find we all agreed that James and Julian should stay with the cars. If we lost Rylie the Cheetahs couldn't afford to lose their Koning and James was no fighter. I went with Jesse, Anita went with Claudia and Asher and Payne went together. Asher knew she was in here, but didn't know which tunnel would take us to her, so we split each taking one of the three tunnels.
Sebastian hit out again this time his hand clawed. Slashing above my breasts. Cutting the strap on one side of my bra, I was left only in my underwear. He wanted me to be his queen as I held every strain that he did. If I hadn't have been dying I would have checked to make sure that Edward had indeed killed him. Sebastian was the panwere that had infected me with Lycanthropy. But I was rushed to hospital and had to assume Edward had killed him, but as the saying goes to assume makes and ass out of you and me.
"Why are you doing this to me Rylie?! We can be good, great! Rule over all the big cats!" He smiled looking at me with longing.
"Fuck you." He kicked me in the stomach winding me momentarily then I spat up blood.
"That's not very nice."
"What can I say I'm not a very nice person. You might as well kill me as you're not going to get what you want." I didn't want to die, but I couldn't keep taking these hits and the longer I was here the more likely that someone would be stupid and play hero.
"But I have so much I want to do, so many ways I can hurt you." His hand caressed down my side, I knew his intentions once he'd beat me enough he intended to rape me. See if that would work. His hand caressed my face a finger tracing my lip. And as quickly as I could I bit him, bit him hard crunching through his bone and spitting out part of his finger. He screamed and hit me over and over again.
"Master she'll die you won't be able to have your fun." The vampire said scurrying out of his corner. I didn't hear what else he had to say as I blacked out again. When I woke moments later I felt them, Asher, Haven and Payne. They were here to save me. Idiots, they could get themselves killed. I tried to lift my head, but I ached everywhere. I opened my eyes but my vision was blurred. Asher and Payne were closest to me and I could hear a scuffle one of them was fighting with the vampire. It was Asher as Payne suddenly burst into the room. But Sebastian was there, I tried to lift my head tried to form words, to make him hear me somehow, but Payne was more concerned with me hanging here bloody and beaten than his own safety. Sebastian lunged out at him, Payne screamed in agony and I saw blood everywhere. I had to get to him, I had to get free I had to help him, but I couldn't possibly break free of the chains that held me. But Payne wasn't fighting any more and panic over took me, an almost crippling fear as tears blurred my vision.
"Payne! No!" Sebastian looked up just as a burst of power came from me and slammed him against the wall. My arms fell to my side and I fell to the floor. I had somehow managed to break my chains. I pulled myself up and crawled to him just as Asher came through. Asher took in the room and moved towards Sebastian. But my only thoughts were for Payne. "Payne….Payne can you hear me." My voice sounded defeated and broken. Sebastian had shoved his claws into Payne's chest and clawed at his neck, the blood was bubbling there and I knew he was still breathing for the time being.
"Asher help me! I don't know what to do!" He was there in an instant his hands covered in blood, Sebastian's blood.
"Ma Jolie, what would you have me do?"
"Heal him, help me, do something!" My heart was pounding in my chest so hard I gathered up as much power as I could and tried to force it into Payne, tried to force it to heal him, but I wasn't a healer. Asher's power washed over me and I didn't think it just happened. My power warm like any human, but Asher's was like a cooling breeze slipping through me mingling with my own and as it mingled with mine it followed the power I pushed into Payne. Asher's power was cooling and caressing. But then Payne's power slammed into me hot and powerful seeking. It made me scream in pain, their different energies, Asher's the cool of the dead and Payne's the heat of the lycanthropes whirled and fought inside me.
"Rylie?" I heard Haven distantly as the powers fought and began to meld inside me. "Anita what's happening to them?" He demanded as the power inside me changed almost caressing me inside, touching places that no lover should ever be able to touch. I couldn't see anything I was in ecstasy and it was as if a bright light was burning behind my eyes.
"I think…I think they've formed a triumvirate." I heard her faintly as the light began to fade and I could see the dark room we were in. I realised I was on the floor sandwiched between Payne and Asher. I sighed contentedly it felt almost as if I had the best sex ever and I was bathing in its afterglow.
"Payne," It came out whispered.
"Rylie?" He moved his hand to my arm.
"You okay?" He nodded his dark brown eyes locked with mine.
"Are you alright Ma Jolie?" Asher asked moving closer behind me.
"Yes." I sat up aware of Jesse, Anita and Claudia in the room and Haven was there to offer me his jacket. I pulled it on and touched my face, I didn't feel anything except dried blood and the gash across my chest was gone so all that was left was dried blood. Anita and Asher were talking in hushed tones and everything that was happening around me was slowly coming to me as if I was only getting half the picture. I was the only one that seemed to see him another vampire creeping up on Haven and Anita. "Look out!" I shouted just as a blur of fur careened into the vampire ripping at its throat. I knew straight away it was James with the big black patch on his right hind leg. Anita moved as I shot to my feet and stumbled only for Haven to catch me holding me to him.
"James," I gasped as he moved back and Anita finished off the vampire that had tried to kill her. James padded to me. I slipped down to my knees Haven crouching with me. "What were you thinking?" I asked hugging James to me. "I knew you had it in you, I knew you were braver than you made out." I whispered into his fur. He brushed his head against me and shockingly Haven stroked his head, in an unspoken thank you.
"James!" Julian shouted running into the room. "My god what happened? Rylie?"
"It's okay, James is a little hero took down that vampire." James padded over to Julian rubbing himself against him. Julian bent and James rubbed his head against Julian's.
"I love you James." He smiled and James licked his face. Anita stood smiling at them and then looked at us, as Payne had moved closer to us with Asher as well. Jesse stood off in the corner uncertain and uncomfortable with what was happening.
"Come on we should get out of here and then we can discuss what just happened." Anita said.
Chapter 13: Wanting Him
I sat on the couch in the living room at The Circus of the Damned in Asher's deep blue velvet bathrobe. Once we got back Anita insisted that Dr Lillian a Wererat look both me and Payne over to make sure we were in fact both okay,especially considering how Payne had almost died. When Dr Lillian allowed us to go I went straight to bathe, washing away the dried blood and hoping to ease away the stress from the nights events. Asher and Payne stayed outside the whole time. And as weird as I thought it was I felt comforted by their nearness. So on the couch I sat between Asher and Payne, Asher insisted he held my hand while Payne had his arm over the back of the couch the line of his body pressed up against me. I could feel that Haven didn't like it, but it was tough all I wanted to do was convince both of them to come to bed and curl up between them both and sleep whether Haven liked it or not. It wasn't as if he had a choice in the matter, though I was interested in why he was suddenly paying more attention to me what with Anita in the room.
Jean-Claude and Anita sat opposite us with Nathaniel. Jean-Claude seemed to be evaluating I could feel his power pushing against me and as testament to how exhausted I felt, I didn't try to stop him, didn't argue just let him.
"It seems Ma Cherie you have indeed formed a Triumvirate, but I believe that Asher is the head of it, controls the Triumvirate." Which was a relief to me as Anita was part of two Triumvirates and apparently her second one hadn't gone so well with her as the head having almost completely sent the vampire Damien insane and on more than a few occasions almost killed Nathaniel and Damien.
"And there's no way to remove it or disband the Triumvirate?" Payne asked.
"No I am afraid not, at least we have yet to discover a way of removing a Triumvirate. As far as we are aware everything we have found has indicated to a Triumvirate being unbreakable except by death, but that could very well kill everyone." Asher's hand tightened round mine he feared Payne would try to kill one of us to be free of the Triumvirate and through the Marks and the new bonds of the Triumvirate I assured him Payne wouldn't.
"Okay, but Rylie how did you get free?" Payne asked. "I came in you were chained up, Asher didn't get the Panwere away from me." I sat and thought about it. I hadn't given myself a moment to process what happened between Payne entering and forming the Triumvirate. After a moment of pause and thinking about it I replied sleepily.
"I think that was me becoming stronger, my telepathic ability evolving into kinetic form." I yawned. To me it made sense Anita's abilities had evolved and through her Asher had gained the ability to call Werehyena's and from my connection from him I seemed to have developed latent telekinetic ability.
I drifted off while they were all talking and woke sometime later curled up next to Payne his arm wrapped round me.
"You can talk to her when she wakes."
"I'm your Rex, and if I tell you to do something Payne you do it." Haven growled.
"Just back off she's sleeping, she's had a rough time and I'm not waking her just so you can end up arguing or upsetting her." Payne stressed. Payne tensed and I wondered what Haven was doing. I placed my hand on his leg slowly opening my eyes before sitting up, Payne's arm still around me.
"What do you want to talk about Haven?" Payne's arm tightened almost possessively.
"Can we talk privately?" He didn't intend harm or to upset me. I sighed.
"Payne, I'll be fine. Can you give us a minute?" He pulled away a little looking me in the eyes. He wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. I nodded and he quickly pressed his lips to mine before standing and leaving. My lips tingled and I was not shocked, but maybe a little surprised that he kissed me. I broke from my thoughts feeling Haven's annoyance.
"So what you're dating him?" He asked anger in voice, his light blue eyes held his anger.
"No. Yes...look Haven you have no right to be mad at him, he's done nothing except be there when I need him. He's concerned for my well-being, doesn't judge me or mine. You on the other hand, are a possessive, egotistical, arrogant asshole who can't stop obsessing over Anita." I let some of my own anger slip out. But I softened quickly. "But when you want to be, you can be sweet even caring." He went to his knees in front of me putting his hands on my thighs. His touch even through the bathrobe sent shivers through out my body, made me ache, crave his touch.
"Be mine Rylie…Let me be your Rex, be my Regina." He pleaded his hands going around my waist his head resting in my lap. My hand went to his head letting my fingers run through his blue hair. "I need you Rylie…the Pride needs you." He was rubbing his head against my legs I didn't realise till his skin touched my thigh that the robe had slowly moved his lips grazing over my thighs. I trembled at his touch, but I knew I couldn't let things get any further. At least not until I was sure he wasn't obsessing over Anita. His obsession made him cruel and I needed him to understand the value of the weaker members of his Pride. But I couldn't move it felt so good. He pulled me into his lap and my mind screamed to stop him, but my body wanted him. My Lioness wanted him. His lips found my neck and I reached out to Asher to help me just as my mind finally took control of my body, as Haven's hands began to wonder.
"No Haven, stop we can't do this. I won't do this." He held me to him then his arms loosened so I could stand. His arms slid down as I stood.
"Ma Jolie? Is everything alright?" Asher asked striding into the room.
"Yes…" I looked down at Haven and knew that it didn't matter how much I wanted him if he was still obsessed with Anita, but it was Anita too. While she held hope for Haven joining her harem of men or group of lovers Haven would still hold on to a chance with her.
I took Asher's offered hand and left Haven in the living room. Asher didn't need to ask what had happened or what was wrong as he freely could access my memories and thoughts. He lifted my hand placing a kiss on my knuckles. I had planned on crawling in to my guest bed with my coalition, but as I came to the door I saw the bed was very full already. Aydan and Noel, James and Julian as well another Werelion, Travis. The bed was very full.
"Come Ma Jolie, you can sleep in my bed." I wasn't sure how I felt about sharing a bed with Asher. I knew in the morning when I woke he would be dead. Not just dead to the world, but dead. His heart wouldn't beat, his body would be cold and lifeless until night fell again. But I was too tired right now to argue or pick at it and knew that deep down I really wouldn't mind as I'd be with him. So I simply followed Asher to his room. As Asher changed I let his robe fall to the floor and crawled into his bed naked. I had slept with Asher and I had nothing to be shy about. I smiled as Asher walked to the side of the bed in just his blue silk bottoms. I was laid on my left side the side with the scars, but with Asher I didn't feel the need to hide my scarring. Instead I admired his beautiful scarred body. He felt insecure, but I let him feel, let him know he didn't need to. Movement at the door made us both look and we both felt that we were missing something, but that something was Payne. His presence in the room was comforting. He shut the door stripping from his clothing and walking towards the bed. Asher watched him with longing as he climbed in next to me. He was a warm reassuring presence behind me his arm going around my waist. Asher still stood there, but finally he slipped gracefully into the bed next to me, but not touching. He didn't want me to panic when he died for the day. But I needed to feel him, need to touch him. And as one Payne and I moved so could rest my head on Asher's shoulder and drape my arm across him.
Chapter 14: For The Pride
These past few months Haven had begun to control himself. He was listening to me when I told him that the way he was running his Pride was wrong. That he needed to protect not punish the weaker members of the Pride. Me and my Coalition had moved back to my home and thankfully all were accepting of Gabby and Mezzo. Dani was coming out of her shell more and more each day. And James, bless his soul was spending time in the gym at the Circus training with some of the body guards there.
Though at first I had considered Anita's multiple relationships to be unusual to say the least I now found myself in the same boat. Three nights a week I spent at home, two were spent in the Circus so I could be with Asher and two I spent with Payne, unless he was staying at mine or was with me and Asher. And though at first I didn't think the relationship was sustainable, as the days turned to weeks I found it was. Gabby and I both slept with Payne and it was always amazing. Payne would happily be in the room when I was with Asher and would join in but he wouldn't let Asher touch him sexually, not that Asher particularly minded as he had Anita and her men, those that would like Nathaniel which was also were he could act out his dominate and submissiveness. Life was good. In fact it was the best it had been in a long time.
I was currently on a plane back to St Louis. Gabby was with me to keep me company as I had spent two weeks back in San Bernardino in a case prosecuting a paedophile that just happened to be a Werehyena too. I had helped apprehend him originally and they requested I gave my account, but ended up having to stay right up until the jury was ready to hand down its sentencing. I wasn't needed for that so I was free to head on home.
"Rylie…what are you going to do with Haven?" Gabby asked as I drove towards the house.
"I don't know."
"You still want him though. I know you do. Maybe even you love him."
"Doesn't matter. He won't share with Anita, so even if he were to stop obsessing with her, I can't expect him to share me. And I won't give up Payne or Asher." I hadn't said Gabby because I knew Haven liked the idea of all three of us in bed. But I heard Gabby's thoughts and I reached out to take her hand. "I wouldn't give you up either, but Haven would share with you." I smiled reassuringly. As we pulled up outside the house Mezzo, James and Julian were there to grab our bags and lead us inside.
"Ah Rylie can I speak with you privately?" Julian asked. I was confused, what could he have to say that couldn't be said in front of the rest of the coalition?
"What's wrong Julian?" I asked as we sat back inside my car.
"Haven may have gone overboard. Payne called and said to send you straight to the Circus, damage control at least. I think he may have hurt Noel and Travis."
"No, no he wouldn't have he promised me." I slammed my hands on the steering wheel. Why would he do this? I had my gun and I had a knife on my wrist and that would have to do. "Julian keep everyone here, please." He nodded and climbed out no sooner had he shut the door than I was reversing and spinning the wheel to speed out of there and to the Circus. I pulled up and the sun was fully up. I ran from my car and into the Circus. The door to the underground was open. That wasn't right, it should always be manned and closed. My imagination went into overdrive, what if they were all dead? I calmed myself and reached out I could feel Payne and Asher and knew they were ok. But all around were bodies on the floor they were all alive, but the place stank of sweat and sex. I could feel Haven and made my way straight to him. As I got closer I could make out what had happened. Haven had beaten Noel and Travis stepped in. But again it was because he thought Anita was screwing them. It was by no means an excuse, but it involved Anita. Haven was going to shoot to kill someone. I wasn't sure who. But as I burst in the room shouting his name just as Anita was he stopped.
"Haven! Put the gun down, Anita please!" I begged she couldn't shoot him. He looked over at me gun in hand.
"No what the hell are you doing? Just put the gun down." He was stood naked in the room bodies strewn all over. Noel and Nathaniel stood over by two women I had never seen. Travis was behind them. Claudia was on the floor, she was badly if not fatally injured on the floor. Haven's body was battered and cut up. Noel and Travis both looked healthy and fine which was a relief, but at the same time I was pissed because of the state Haven was in. My Lioness was rising angry as hell. "Haven please, just put it down and come with me, look at the state you're in." I pleaded. "Anita don't you dare." I knew she was thinking it and I'd be damned if she shot him. I moved slowly towards Haven my hand outstretched I was hoping the second I touched him he'd listen, he'd relax. I got to him and rested my hand on his arm looking up at him. I shook my head and I could hear him he was struggling a part of him wanted to shoot them all of them. With my other hand I touched his cheek gently. "Don't do this Haven." His eyes closed and he breathed in deeply. I smiled softly I knew he was going to drop it. When the gun hit the floor a gunshot echoed through the room. Haven's arm slammed into my side and sent me sailing. I registered Nathaniel dropping. He'd been shot, but before I could do anything else more guns were going off and Haven slumped to the floor.
"HAVEN!" I screamed as Anita spun to Nathaniel, guards spilled through the door as I crawled to Haven's side. His beautiful body was a red bloody mess. But thankfully he was still breathing. "Haven, you're going to be ok." Just as I touched him I was pulled back by someone and Dr Lillian dropped to his side. It was Jesse.
"Let the Doc work." I nodded, I think it was the first time I was ok with Jesse. But as more and more guards piled into the room I didn't care about Jesse or anyone just Haven. When I heard Dr Lillian thinking he would heal I began to relax and then turned to Nathaniel. He was ok, he'd live, but why wasn't Anita with him? No she wouldn't, but she was she, she was going to kill him. I rammed my way through the guards and got there a moment before Anita and put myself between her and Haven.
"Move out of the way Rylie." She spat with venom.
"No Anita. That was an accident." I reasoned.
"He shot Nathaniel. He could have killed him, look what he's done to Claudia." She growled and her Lioness came forth with all her anger. My own Lioness came forth she saw it as a challenge, she'd claimed Haven as her own and she, we wouldn't allow Anita to take him.
"You want to kill him you've got to kill me." Part of me was wondering why I was doing this. Haven had been a pain in the ass since day one. And that maybe he deserved it if he had beaten Travis and Noel. But I couldn't my Lioness, my Tiger and even my wolf wanted to protect him because he was ours. She growled at me her Lionesses power coming forth and slamming against me. My lip quirked up in a vicious little smile and I slammed my power back at her making her stumble. The two new women, Werelion's gasped at the force of my power. Anita may have a stronger Leopard, but my Lioness had her hands down.
"You really want to do this? You want to hurt your Coalition?"
"Well that's cheap, threatening my Coalition now. That's pretty low Anita."
"I am your Nimir Raj,"
"And this is a Pride matter and you aren't my Regina." I snapped.
"Nor are you mine. But I'll fight for it." She was clearly mistaking me for someone that couldn't read minds. She was hoping I would back down.
"Well fight me Anita. Because I will fight for control of the Pride, to save Haven and protect all of them." I moved from a defensive stance in front of Haven to an offensive stance. I would fight her and I would win. Little did she know I was mastering my new found kinetic ability. And as it was a part of me there were no rules against using it in a fight. A new wave of anger crossed Anita's face.
"Fine take him. Get him out of my sight!" She whirled and left presumably to be by Nathaniel. I turned and went back to Haven. He coughed and blood came from his mouth as well as something meaty that I could only assume was a bit of torn up lung. His blue eyes were more startling than usual with the blood. I felt Payne move in to the room.
"Jesse, Payne help him up,"
"Ma Cherie, if you could take him to your guest room?" I nodded my thanks and Jean-Claude, Payne and Jesse lifted Haven and took him away. "I will talk to Ma Petite, but it would be prudent that when our Rex is healthy enough that he leaves."
"Thank you Jean-Claude." He left me and I found I was left with the two female Werelion's. Dr Lillian assured me Haven would be fine for the time being while she saw to Claudia and then left. Just as I reached my room Payne stepped out and wrapped his arms around me.
"Rylie are you ok?" He pulled back his hands holding my face and then his lips were on mine.
"I'm ok. I missed you. But what happened?"
"Haven, he thought Noel, well he wound himself up convinced himself Noel was sleeping with Anita. He attacked him and Travis tried to prevent. If I'd have been there I'd have stopped it. But they both ended up beaten no one else stepped in. I was called and escorted them here. Some vampire tried to get us all to kill each other but they, Anita and Jean-Claude turned it to sex. It was a huge mess. I should have," He was blaming himself. I stroked his cheek then wrapped my arms around him.
"It wasn't your fault. Payne don't blame yourself."
"Rylie we need a new King or Queen."
"Haven won't accept a new king and after saving him, I don't want to have to kill him." He looked at me pointedly.
"You said you'd fight Anita to be Regina." Jesse said as he stepped out. "Be our Regina. I've given you enough problems, but you're a worthy Queen." I nodded and offered a small smile to Jesse.
"I'd need for everyone to be happy with it. I don't want to have to cull any of the Pride members." But how could I go speak to them when I didn't know if Anita may send someone to kill Haven while I spoke to them?
"Me and Jesse will stay here and watch him. Anita won't risk attacking me, she'll anger Asher and you're a vengeful little thing." He smiled and kissed my cheek.
"Ok, I'll start with,"
"Rylie!" Noel rounded the corner going to his knees to hug my waist. "Is it true? Are you really our Regina now?"
"Yes, but I'm not removing Haven's status as Rex, if he listens and works, then he can stay Rex, but if he can't…I'll decide later. Now come on stand up." He did as he was told. "Right lets go find Travis and see if he's ok with it." I found Travis with the two new females, Travis smiled over at me and Noel, but the females were angry?
"Travis, Rylie is gunna be our Regina!" Noel beamed.
"Only if you will accept me as Regina Travis." Before Travis could reply the short blonde female spoke.
"You saved, the piece of shit that tried to kill them and then expect us to take you as our Regina?" Her name was Kelly, I had just picked it out of her head and the other female with short brown hair was Rosamond.
"I don't expect anything, Kelly. But this Pride needs a leader that will care for it, that will protect and nurture it, whether they be weak or powerful. Haven may live, but I'll be the head of the Pride. And he will learn that his way was wrong, barbaric and I will not tolerate it."
"Big words were's your proof?" Rosamond asked.
"Rylie doesn't need proof, I trust her. I know she will protect us. She's intervened before. This wouldn't have happened if she was here. Anita and Haven together is bad. He won't share, she won't commit just to him. But he didn't love her, he was obsessed and Anita didn't help stop the obsession."
"Noel's right. Rylie has given us her protection plenty of times and Haven had been better since. But who knows what made him snap last night. But either way, I'll take Rylie as our Regina." So now I had four of the Pride on my side.
"I can promise you this, Haven will do no more harm to this Pride and that while I am here, I will do everything in my power to protect the Pride." Both women looked at me they could hear the passion and determination in my voice and it swayed them.
"Ok we'll stay for now. But any trouble what so ever I'll help Anita bring you down." Kelly growled.
"Thank you, I need someone like you at my back to help enforce the new rules." She nodded.
"Rylie you don't have to worry about everyone else, they'll be happy to have you as Regina. I'll call round me and Travis let'em all know."
"I appreciate that Noel. I need to go tell Haven how things are going to be from now on." I headed back to the room. Jesse was stationed outside and he smiled opening the door so I could go in. Payne was leaning against the wall watching Haven who laid there unmoving, but alive. "Payne I need to talk to him." He pushed off from the wall he placed a hand on my hip before bending a pressing a kiss to my cheek.
"Be careful, please." I smiled up at him softly. I had no intentions of this turning into a fight of any kind. He moved swiftly and gracefully to the door and left. I moved to Haven and crouched by the side of the bed. His chest was all scabbed over and his breathing was soft. It hurt to see him like this. I placed my hand in his and his fingers closed gently round mine. Now that I had time to think I realised if Haven hadn't have shoved me out of the way that I may have been shot too. Slowly his eyes opened and focused on me.
"I'm here Haven. You're going to be ok." He smiled and brought my hand up to kiss my knuckles. "Haven I've taken over as Regina. Not just till you've recovered, but until I see that you're fit to run the Pride. I've been accepted as Regina by the Pride. It doesn't matter if you agree or not because this is my Pride." He nodded slowly and reached for my hand again. Where he touched me my skin started to tingle. "You're still Rex, but only in name."
"Do I have you?" My throat felt dry, here he was naked in bed and actually looking vulnerable all I wanted to do was curl up next to him.
"I don't know…I can't and won't give up Payne or Asher." He looked so defeated I felt for him I did.
"I can try…can we try?" I smiled, I could try and I knew both my men would let me as they knew how I felt about Haven. I reached down that metaphysical link to Asher and let him know what was happening. He was angry with Haven, but he trusted my choice. He suggested I test Haven's words by Payne and me sleeping in the same bed as him. Haven had refused to share Anita's bed with any other Lion. Payne heard the question and walked back into the room. Sleeping in naked kitty piles wasn't just comfort or in some cases sexual, but the heat and energies helped heal any injuries. I stripped leaving on just my knife in its wrist sheaf. Haven watched me hungrily as I climbed on to the bed and laid down by him. He reached for me and I moved to his side. His eyes darted to Payne as he too stripped a look of anger and annoyance crossed his handsome face.
"If you can't deal with this, then there's no point in trying." I said softly. His eyes darted to my face and he pulled me closer wincing as it pulled tight his abdomen. Payne moved on to the bed to lay at the other side of me. Slowly Payne's arm went round my waist and Haven moved so I could rest my head on his shoulder. Haven to my surprise fell asleep again immediately and not long after so did I, but Payne was still awake watchful and protective of me.
Chapter 15: Lion To Call?
I woke with Haven's arms tightly wrapped around me, his breath tickling the back of my neck. I opened my eyes slowly expecting Payne to still be asleep, but found him staring at me. I smiled softly and moved to touch him only to find Haven's arms tighten. I frowned, I didn't think he was awake. I reached my hand out and Payne took it.
"What's wrong?" I asked pushing into his head, though he hardly stopped me.
"Him, he hasn't released you all night. I didn't want to wake you by pulling you from him." I didn't want Payne to feel that being with Haven, if I was, changed my relationship at all with him, Asher or Gabby. I gripped his arm and pulled him to me, kissing him when he got close enough. He started to wrap his arm around my waist when a faint growl came from behind me.
"Haven." I moved a little, but his arms tightened. "I warned you last night." The faint growling stopped and his arms loosened so I could move into Payne's embrace. A purr built in Payne's throat as he held me. I turned on my side so I was in between the two. Haven laid propped up on his elbow as Payne laid his arm across my stomach. "I meant what I said last night. If you want an us, then you have to be willing to accept I'm with Payne, Asher and Gabby too, I love them. Being with you doesn't change that." He nodded slowly.
"But I have you and I'm still Rex." He stated.
"In name yes, but I run the Pride, I'm Regina and what I say goes. But you have me as long as you can accept everyone else." And with that Payne moved closer his head on my shoulder looking at Haven. I watched him and saw the anger flit across his face, but then he looked at me and it was gone.
There was a knock on the door and Noel came through. He looked uncomfortable and sheepish in the doorway looking at the three of us. I felt the tension, anger come from Haven and Noel decided to back out.
"Noel it's ok, come here." He stopped and I sat up wriggling free from Payne and Haven. Both men sat up beside me, Payne was ok with it, but I could tell by the set in Noel's shoulders, in the way his eyes flickered from my face to Haven's that he was afraid.
"Rylie, let Noel on the bed with us." I knew Payne wanted to test Haven, but I was worried he'd react badly and Payne felt it. "It's better to find out now than later when/if you fall in love with him. It'll hurt less now."
"Come on Noel, come here. Is anything wrong?" His eyes flickered to Haven, who was deadly quiet beside me. "Ignore him, I'm your Regina, he will not hurt you." I held my hand out, beckoning him to come and in a silent promise of protection. He slowly edged to the bed and crawled towards us. Haven suddenly stood.
"I…I need to shower." He said and walked away to the bathroom that adjoined the room. I let out a sigh as Noel curled up at my side, Haven's vacated spot.
"It's going to take time Rylie." Payne said lifting my chin to look at him. "He's trying I'll give him that." He pressed his lips to mine softly and Noel nudged my hand with his head. I stroked his cheek.
"Is everything ok Noel?" He nodded.
"Travis and I spoke to the Pride, everyone seems happy with you taking over. Though a lot would have preferred you kill Haven." I nodded. I knew it would take time before any trusted him and the back lash should he do anything against my wishes would be immense.
"Well they're just going to have to trust me. I will do what I can to make this Pride work." It was all I could say, all I could promise.
I was in Asher's office, trying to decide how to make things better between me and Anita. I knew things would be hard for Asher as he loved her and Jean-Claude. But I also needed to see out how it would all work, my time needed to be split between my Coalition, Pride and my Marshal job. My home wasn't big enough to house everyone nor was the Pride's place big enough to house my Coalition. And then there was Haven. I needed a way to prove he was genuine, that he was trying to change and wouldn't hurt anyone unless he was protecting the Pride. The harsh way and one I knew Payne and Asher were leaning towards, was sticking me, Haven and Asher in a room. With Asher's penchant for always pushing too far with the extremely masculine men it would severely test Haven's will to change, but if he snapped I didn't want him hurting Asher. Though it was cruel as well, no one could be expected to change who they are like that so quickly.
"Ma amour, what is wrong?" Asher asked walking in. He concentrated for a second then took my hand kissing it. "Do not worry about it. If Haven is changing it will happen. If he doesn't then we will deal with it when the time comes." I smiled softly and he kissed me. "It'll all be ok."
"What about Anita? I don't want to fall out with her, but I can't let her kill Haven."
"She won't kill him. Just give her time, she will see that you meant well. Just think if….when Haven does change that will make her think twice." He kissed my forehead and stood. "Come ma amour, we need to go. Jean-Claude and the Furry Coalition," He smirked, for some reason the nickname tickled him. "want to hear what you have planned for the Pride, treaties need to be made." I nodded and stood taking Asher's offered arm.
"Have I told you I love you today?" I asked as we walked through the big top.
"You need not tell me, I can feel it." I smiled warmth spreading through me. Then the strangest thing, I could smell jasmine and rain like a tropical storm.
"Asher do you smell that?"
"Smell what?" Then he froze panic etched on his angelic face. He started to move pulling me but darkness seemed to swell and rise above me like a tidal wave threatening to drown me. I could feel Asher and his fear, whatever this was seemed interested in only me so I shut down my metaphysical connection to Asher and Payne. The smell of jasmine came stronger and then I saw it in the darkness far away a figure of a woman and it was then I knew who was before me, who had invaded my head. Marmee Noir, the Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire.
"Ah, friend of the Necromancer. You could be quite useful to me." Her voice seemed to echo in the vast darkness. "Yes…will you do what I want? Or will I have to force you?"
"I won't do anything for you, it's about time you curled up and died." I tried to hide my fear, but you she was a creature that preyed on fear.
"Oh I think you will. You carry so many cats, I control all big cats and you have no one to help you." I felt her power push against me. But it wasn't attacking it was enticing, pulling my lioness forth. I felt it pad along that path inside me that only I could see. She meant to make me shift. I thought of wolf my only none cat form and my lioness paused. I smiled for only a moment thinking I had stopped her, but she was merely teasing me. She pulled again and I felt it like the day I had lost my temper with Jesse and my lioness had tried to come forth. I gasped as my lioness began to fill me, pushing out through my skin. I felt like I was being torn apart. I dropped to the floor in pain. I could no longer hold up my metaphysical shield that was blocking Asher and Payne from what was happening. Both their voices filled my head. Payne was coming to me as fast as he could while Asher was trying to get help. The pain was so immense that I soon couldn't focus on anything, but the pain. I was going to explode.
In the next instance I could no longer feel myself. I wasn't me. The world was viewed from a different angle. Things seemed sharper more detailed. Then I heard them as Marmee Noir laughed.
"What happened Asher?!"
"She…I don't know she shifted! Ma amour can you hear me?"
"She can't shift, she's like Anita," I tried to move and they gasped.
"You will dance for me my new puppet." Marmee laughed. I growled at her in whatever dream like world I was in then roared. I wouldn't be controlled by her. I got to my feet all four of them, it was a strange sensation. As she continued to laugh I did all I could and roared again, running towards her I had every intention of ripping her to pieces be it in this dream world or not. But I was suddenly in crippling pain forced to bow before her. Then I smelt wolf, woods, earth and air. I clung to it, I needed to shift back. She controlled all the cats and wolf was all I could hope to cling to. I pushed and egged on my she-wolf.
"You cannot hope to escape me." I felt a hand touch me and the scent of wolf intensified. I thought of nothing, but wolf of the pack in St. Louis even though I didn't belong to it and in a rippling wave I was suddenly covered in white fur, my sense of smell had intensified, but the pain from this forced shift, was crippling as I whimpered and whined on the floor.
"I can cause you so much more pain. Do my bidding telepath." Marmee Noir demanded. I staggered to my feet and growled in defiance. I wouldn't betray Anita, I wouldn't work for this hag. "Strong willed I see, but I will break you." And with that my Leopard sprang forth racing down that line and in the next second I was a leopard.
"Oh god what's happening to her?" Payne's voice reached my ears. "Where's Anita? Or Jean-Claude?"
"Your lovers, your friends cannot help you. You will do my bidding or die." And as the pain receded from my shift to Leopard form it was replaced by a shift into my Cheetah. I screamed and cried out the pain unbearable. I tried to form a sentence, tried to tell Asher to get wolves, strong dominant ones as that was my only chance.
"Why aren't you helping her?" I heard Haven's voice felt his power as it spilled out with his anger. "Move out of the way!" He shouted shoving Asher, Payne was no longer there he'd moved perhaps he'd heard me. "You have to help her into the change. Rylie listen to me, don't fight the change let it come naturally, just flow with it." I tried to listen and as Marmee Noir began to call my Tiger I did as he said, I didn't fight I let her pull it forward. It still hurt to be wrenched into a change, but nowhere near as debilitating as it had been. She was angry I could feel the anger roll from her as she began to call my beasts again.
Seeing how much pain Rylie was in and not being able to do anything was terrifying, I felt so helpless. But I was determined to do what I could. I heard her faintly, wolf, she needed wolves and fast. I took off into the underground of the Circus to the meeting finding Anita, Jean-Claude and many other leaders awaiting Rylie.
"Have none of you felt what is happening!" I shouted at them.
"Haven trying to kill someone?" Anita remarked.
"The Mother of All Darkness is trying to take over Rylie!" That got their attention. "I need wolves, dominant ones, it's the only thing that will stop it." Richard motioned to his Hati and Sköll as well as Sylvie, Anita and Jean-Claude following me. "Its not pretty, she brought most of Rylie's beasts."
"What?" Anita asked dumbfounded.
"She forced Rylie to shift." I shouted back as I raced into the big top. Everyone who had been following me had frozen once they had caught sight of Rylie, but Richard was the quickest to respond. He had prevented Anita shifting when the Dark Mother had tried to force a shift. He touched her side as Rylie laid on the floor currently in her Blue Tiger form, her side raised up and down quickly and whimpers escaped through her muzzle.
"Come on Rylie," Richard was channelling his power into her, trying to force her into wolf form. Sylvie and Shang Da dropped beside their Ulfric and helped feed him power. Anita and Jean-Claude were talking quickly trying to see if they could force the Dark Mother out of Rylie's head.
Another explosion of fur and bodily fluid signalled Rylie's shift in to wolf form as Richard tried to cradle her in his lap. Anita and Jean-Claude moved as one kneeling beside Rylie. The second Anita touched Rylie she shifted back to human form, quivering and panting. I wasn't sure what Anita intended to do as she leaned in and kissed Rylie. It was awkward, but from the moment their lips met everyone in the room could feel the power that built up to a crescendo and at its peak the smell of jasmine seized to be there. As the power dissipated everyone seemed to relax. Marmee Noir had been fought off again, but Rylie laid in Richards arm's limp exhausted from the amount of pain she had just endured.
"Come on let's take her down she needs to rest." Anita said stroking Rylie's hair from her face as Richard stood with her naked form curled against his chest. I realised then that Anita had claimed Rylie as her Lion to call
Chapter 16: Confused
So this is very much a filler chapter. Rylie just trying to figure out what's going and what it all means for her now.
I stirred slowly, every inch of my body had a dull ache to it as if I'd spent the day at the gym. I could feel the warmth of a body laid beside me, arm draped over my side. Allowing my eyes to slowly flutter open I was presented with the sight of a naked Sylvie sound asleep. I couldn't understand why.
Not wanting to wake Sylvie I reached down my metaphysical link to Payne, but stopped as I felt another connection almost as strong as my link to Asher. Focusing on it, trying to figure out who it was in my head I found the barrier slammed down abruptly, startling me.
The arm around my own naked form moved slightly giving me the freedom to move. Carefully turning, still aware of Sylvie I found the whiskey coloured orbs of the Ulfric, Richard Zeeman staring at me with concern.
“How do you feel Rylie?” His voice was low and full of the concern his eyes held.
My throat felt dry, my lips chapped, slowly swiping my tongue between my lips I nodded. “I ache, what's happened? Is everyone alright?” What I really wanted to know was what the hell I was doing in a naked doggy pile with the Ulfric and his second, but I didn't feel I was in a position to ask.
“Do you not remember what happened last night?” Again the concern, I tried to think of the last thing I could remember. I'd been with Asher, we were on our way to a meeting, then the smell of jasmine. The memory of the scent flooded me with the memory of what happened.
A strangled croak escaped me as I tried to comprehend. “I- I shifted? How? What did that bitch do to me?” My fear woke Sylvie, who tried to embrace and calm me.
“I don't know Rylie, I'm sorry. Do you remember how we stopped it?” I shook my head I was so far gone, so exhausted, I remembered nothing after trying to get the others to find wolves. “Sylvie, Shang Da and I channeled energy into you to force you to shift back to your wolf, Anita and Jean-Claude had no choice, Marmee Noir would have continued till you died or gave in.” The concern shifted to pity, I couldn't understand.
“But I'm fine? I mean, my career is over now, but I'm alive-”
Sylvie cut me off. “Anita had to roll you, Nicky may be her Bride, but you're her Lion to Call now. I'm sorry Rylie.” I could feel the colour drain from my cheeks. I loved Asher more than I could have thought possible, but after everything with Anita, fear gripped me, fear as her ‘pet’ I could be forced to do whatever she wanted including getting rid of Haven. My thoughts were broke off when I felt Payne press against my shielding, opening up to him I felt I could breath a little.
“Rylie you're going to be okay. And don't think that, Anita is a lot of things but she has never forced one of her people to do anything they didn't want to do. This changes nothing. It just makes you stronger, you and Anita. It's going to be okay. I love you.” There was nothing I could say, no argument I could make, he was right or he was wrong. Only time would tell.
“Love you too.” Payne was so calm, so reassuring, Richard knew what I had just done and wrapped an arm around my shoulders, pulling me against his chest.
“You’ll be okay. And you're part of my pack, part of Thronnos Rokke now. Hopefully that connection will help you if ever anything like this happens again.” I nodded swallowing. I had wanted to make things right with Anita, but this wasn't what I wanted, not at all.
“So- what does this all mean? My job is out the window now. And I'm going to have to learn.” Sylvie fingers trailed my side, trying to keep me calm. It helped, a little. Richards hand cupped my face, there was still concern there, maybe even pity as he smiled sadly at me.
“We help you as much as we can. Payne, Sylvie and I, we'll teach you to control your shifts, your urges and I'm sure your coalition will help as well.”
It was a lot to take in. I had gone from having all the advantages without the shifting and being able to keep living my life as I had. But now it was all changed, that bitch had taken the last drop of normalcy from me. If I ever tracked her down I would kill her.
“Thank you. And thank you for last night.” I patted the hand on my face and he let it slip away, just as my stomach rumbled. When had I last eaten? “I think that's my cue to get up.” The sad smile was replaced by warmth, I saw then why Anita had loved him as she did.
“Might be a good idea, last night drained you and put strain on Asher and Payne.” Guilt washed through me but Payne reached out letting me know it was alright, that he and Asher were fine.
I hadn't realised that Sylvie had slipped from the bed till I sat up, the sheets falling from my naked body. For once I didn't feel uncomfortable bearing my scarring. Sylvie held out a royal blue silk robe for me. “Thank you Sylvie.”
“You had a rough night. But you'll be alright, you're tough and you have a lot of people to support you.” I could feel Richard's eyes on my naked form as I rose and slipped into the robe. Was it lust I could feel? Or was he just tracing my various scars?
“Thank you Sylvie, I appreciate knowing I have all of your help and support.” I turned back to Richard to find him stood, stretching before slipping on a pair of sweatpants. They fit snug to his behind. The little triangle of dark hair peeked over the band of the pants, tanned toned skin led upwards -I stopped there was no harm in looking but he was with Anita. Breathing deeply I shook my head and reached for the door finding Payne on the other side. How had I not realised he was there?
“Rylie.” He breathed out reaching for me as I did him, wrapping my arms around him and just breathing in his scent, feeling his warm power flow over me. I felt everything in that moment, his fear for me last night, his guilt at not being able to help me, fear at not knowing what had happened to me really and then an edge of anger at being kept as I'd slept and rested with Richard and Sylvie at Anita and Jean-Claude behest.
“I'm okay. It's okay. I promise.” I tilted my head back seeking a kiss. He pressed a sweet and chaste kiss to my lips before resting his forehead against mine.
“I should have tried -” I shook my head.
“You got help, you brought Richard and Anita, you saved me.” I assured him.
“Come on, Rylie really needs to eat something.” Came Richards voice. I felt Payne tense, but he said nothing reaching for my hand before leading me down the hallway, Richard and Sylvie following behind.
Chapter 17: A Freak
Okay back again. I know they aren't as long as they use to be, but at least I'm updating! Hope you all are still enjoying the story.
Sat eating in the guards common room, I felt for the first time since I was a child, like a freak. I could sense the fear of those in the room, even hear it in others. The distrust of me, the distrust of what I was. Was I one of them now rather than like Anita or was I something else? That uncertainty worried them.
I was on the verge of leaving when Payne's hand wrapped around mine under the table.
“ It's okay. When the full moon comes they'll see you're one of them. Just like me. But they aren't worth a second of your time.” I offered Payne a small smile, squeezing his hand which he returned.
“I think when the full moon rises tomorrow night you should come with me. Some of the pack will be there and it'll be good to interact with them when you shift.” Richard spoke before sipping his coffee. I felt Payne bristle beside me, I understood why, my Lioness was more dominant than my wolf and I would feel safer with Payne, but not only that I'd have Haven, no doubt that Noel and Travis would want to be there too so they could interact with me in beast form.
“Richards right we have a lot of experience with helping new shifters shift for the first time and we have safe spots where you can shift back and rest.” Sylvie offered and Payne reluctantly relaxed a little. They were right the pack was the largest in the state and they had people whose sole role was to help new shifters into their first shifts by the New Moon.
“Yeah okay. Sounds like a good idea.” I tried to sound positive but everything was changing so fast, changing in ways I hadn't thought possible.
As I absentmindedly picked at my food I felt a tug, metaphysically at least. It was unfamiliar, yet gentle not like the Mother of Darkness and her brutal entry into my mind. Feeling my way down it I realised it was Anita. I wasn't sure I was prepared to face her at least not yet. We had yet to make amends truly over Haven, but she had saved me and I was now bound to her.
“Anita wants to see me.” I stood as Payne grabbed my hand again, offering him a half hearted smile I bent and kissed him.
“You'll be fine Riley, you're connected now and honestly Anita is probably as concerned by all this as much as you are.” I glanced over to Richard as he spoke and simply nodded, I wasn't concerned I was angry, worried and more than anything I wanted to take down Marme Noir for what she had done.
Knocking on her door I waited a moment before entering. It was clear to see who had decorated this room and it certainly wasn't Anita.
“Riley.” She looked up at me from her seat at the end of the bed. I wasn't sure what to make of it and as she had her shields firmly in place I couldn't read her.
“Anita.” I glanced to the side and sat at would could only be called a vanity table, made of a dark almost black mahogany was Micah no doubt here to mediate as day time meant neither Jean-Claude or Asher were awake.
Licking my lips I breathed in. “Thank you. For last night. For getting her out of my head.” Though genuinely thankful I didn't like the idea of being bound to her.
“Riley just know if there had been any other way I’d have taken it. I'll also try not to call you unless it's absolutely necessary. I-” She sighed and I noticed she looked exhausted, not just looked it but I felt it through our new connection. “I want this to be as easy for both of us as possible.” I nodded a little speechless. Why was she being so accommodating, so calm, so unlike herself? Was she picking up on how I felt?
“I appreciate that Anita I really do. I hope we can put everything behind us- I don't mean forgive Haven, but at least move past it.” I gripped my hands, unsure of myself. “I guess I also need to call the Marshal’s office and report-”
“That's not why I called you and honestly it can wait.” She replied this time I knew she could feel how I felt.
“Anita is right. This is a lot for you to take in. You've become a true panwere, you were brutally attacked by the Mother of Darkness and made Anita’s lion to call. You need time to adjust to it all. To learn how to control your shifts and power. The Ulfric told us last night that he would do what he could to help you. So I would utilise all that he offers.” I nodded at Micah as he spoke so calmly, he left me with little doubt that I had nothing to fear, that everything would progress at my own speed.
Leaving the room I still didn't know what the future now held for me.
Chapter 18: Full Moon
Stood in the clearing rocking back and forth on the balls of my feet I watched as the submissive's of the pack all began to shift under the gaze of the full moon. Jamil had already changed, he was a ball of energy and he matched his wolf completely. Graceful and bouncy he soon disappeared into the woods, but Richard, Shang-Da and Sylvie stayed at my side. As the most powerful in the pack they could stay in human form under the full moon longer than most. But I could see Sylvie was ready to go, her power shimmering around her.
“How do you feel?” Richard asked turning his attention from some of the younger members scraping near a large oak tree.
“I don't know? Like myself. Should I have some kind of urge?” I wasn't sure how I should feel. I'd never thought to ask what it felt like knowing you would need to shift under the full moon.
“You don't feel your wolf? Or any of your other beasts pushing against you?” Richard asked calmly, but I could see the curiosity burning. I shook my head at his question and wrapped my arms around myself, the cool night air brushing against my skin didn't bother me it was more for my own comfort.
“Sylvie don't let me hold you back get out there.” I smiled. I knew there was no point in telling Shang-Da to go he wouldn't listen to me and wouldn't abandon his Ulfric. Sylvie offered me a smile back before ridding herself of her clothes and shifting in to her wolf form.
Minutes ticked by and I could feel the energy from Shang-Da and Richard building they needed to shift and I wasn't sure how much longer they could last. The more their need to change grew the clearer and louder their thoughts became. Both men were concerned now with how the moon seemed to not be affecting me and both felt the call of the moon, beckoning them to change.
“I don't think this is happening Richard. You two shouldn't force yourself to wait. I can make my way back-” By the look on his face Richard didn't want me to go alone. “-or I can call Asher to pick me up. Its 2 am and I don't feel anything.” Richard nodded to Shang-Da who began to walk away stripping as he went before shifting elegantly into his wolf form. Richard moved in front of me then, he smiled a little sadly as he rested his hands on my shoulders. This close I was forced to look up at him to meet his gaze. His eyes swirled more fiercely than usual with his power under the full moon.
“I admit this is unusual. But then we don't exactly know how a panwere works. In theory you should have the same need to shift as us, but in reality the only two panweres that could tell you are dead.”
“I know. I'll just have to take it in my stride. Maybe the next moon or maybe it's only on a moonless night. Who knows.” I sighed and rubbed at my eyes before reaching down that metaphysical line to Asher. * Come get me. I haven't shifted and it doesn't look like I will be tonight.*
*As you wish Mon Amour I will be with you soon.*
“Asher is on his way. If I do shift at least he should be able to help me get back here in a hurry.’ I smiled warmly at Richard. Resting his hand on my shoulder he squeezed gently.
“Good. Look just because it didn't happen tonight doesn't mean it wont on the next full moon. If you need me or want to talk- just come down to the café I'll be there.”
“I will. Thank you, now get going I've kept you long enough.” Squeezing his hand back I let him go watching as he rid himself of his jogging bottoms and t-shirt before shifting.
It was another ten minutes of sitting it the dark before Asher arrived. I sat on the hood of the car arms wrapped around myself. I didn't feel any different and the fact that I was sat here in the dark waiting to shift made me feel useless, helpless.
“Mon Amour?” At his touch I startled, so lost in my helplessness.
“Asher… I’m sorry-I” His hands cupped my face as he settled between my knees.
“It's alright. You have nothing to be sorry for. It has been a difficult time. Now come, home is where you should be.” He leaned in placing a soft kiss to my forehead before wrapping his arms around me. Leaning into him he lifted me up taking me back to the circus.