Chapter 4 Some Family History
Ellen chuckled as she got into bed. Jon sang in the shower. Not exactly recognizing the language, she thought it had Gaelic overtones. Sliding under the covers, it was nice, feeling the weight of the eiderdown and the instant warmth of the feathers.
For a moment she wondered if she would feel Jon’s weight on top of her tonight and let that thought pass. “No need to get your hopes up,” she chided herself. “He said comfort, not sex.” But still, when she heard the water turn off, her heart was beating a little faster.
When he walked out of the bathroom, he was still drying his hair and in the firelight she could see droplets of water that had caught and were still glistening in the hairs on his chest.
Nude, oh yes, please and thank you…whatever he had been before he had been turned…his body had been magnificent.
Well yes, of course, no time to laze about. Hunting and gathering were very real terms during his time as human…still were in some parts of Oklahoma.
“Well hell,” she sighed, “who knows when this will roll around again?” as she turned on her side and propped herself up on one elbow to watch him as he went about the business of preparing for…bed…comfort?
There was something on his skin, right above his heart. Putting on her glasses, she sat up.
There were circles…nested into each other.
“Come here and let me dry your back,” she said softly as she sat up.
Approaching her with a steady step he sat down on the bed next to her. Taking the towel from him, she began towelling off his back.
“Who branded you?” her voice was full of concern as she wrapped her arms around him and placed her head on his shoulder blades.
“Long story,” he sighed. “But in essence, before I woke as vampire, The Council wanted me to be angry. To wake from my first vampire slumber starving and wrathful and in my rage drain my meal. That way they know you have your bona fides and you are the true successor.
I remained silent while they tortured me. When they struck me with the fifth iron and I smelt my flesh sizzle, after I gagged, I gave them what they wanted and screamed down the wrath of the ages on them.”
Ellen was pissed. She had been angry beyond words when Charles had come home with a new bullet hole in his body. Wanting to nuke’m until they glowed who had done this thing to him. Then, when his body had come home in that box…a nuke was too good for them. She had thought something slow and meaningful and delivered personally by her would be a turning point in their child-murdering lives.
And someone had tortured Jon…there were old feeling rising up in her that she had kept in check for the past ten years.
“You are cold,” he smiled at her. “We will leave that in the past for now,” as he pulled her down into the covers.
With his arms around her, she felt the balloon of anger that was getting ready to explode leave her body and drift upward toward the ceiling and then pop. Yes, the past was best left in the past. It had kept her sane. “You are warm,” she said in wonder. “Is that from the shower?”
“No,” he shook his head softly. “That is me. I do not have a maker. I was changed by nature. So I am still warm and my heart still beats.”
That was intriguing. “No maker? Then how?”
His eyes held hers. His hands gently moved over her body. “There was a Supernatural King contest of which I was an unwilling recipient. I drank the poisons in the correct succession under a Blood Moon eclipse, which turned me and here I am. King,” he rolled his eyes.
“You do not sound very pleased about that,” she was looking his face over intently. “And to further punish you, they made Reggie your accountant…?”
“Oh no, that was my idea. He was the one that branded me.”
She could hear the humor in his voice. The same could not be said for hers. “Oh shit, sorry I did not fill his head with silver,” her voice was low and dangerous.
There was a low chuckle that came from him. “You just might get that chance yet,” he laughed out loud. “Gawd, Ellen, I like you,” he rubbed his face in her hair. “I just want to hold you and rest.”
“M-m-m-m, I would like that.” Then she laughed also.
“What?” he smiled at her.
“I told myself not to get my hopes up. You said you were in need of comfort, nothing was said about sex.”
“Oh-h-h-h-h,” he lightly kissed her lips. “Hoping for sex, were we?”
“Well, after seeing you nude, yes.”
“Just keep that thought,” he stroked her face with his hand. “You are still healing. Another week…” he pulled her in closer until he felt her breasts pushed into his chest.
“Sleep,” he whispered. “Sleep now,” his voice was soft and tender as he felt her slip away into the land of dreams. Her heartbeat and her breathing telling him that she felt safe. Someday he wanted them to tell her that she was also loved and cherished.
The shadows of the night and the stench of death that seemed to follow him were pushed out and away from him. There was rest in this house. And quiet. And a warmth to it that he had not felt in the millenniums that had stolen his youth and his heart and at times his will to live.
The cracks and crevices in his soul were being knitted back together. Here, in his arms, this woman, here was a reason to hunt and destroy.
Kissing her on the lips, he was delighted when she smiled at him, briefly opened her eyes, said “Jon,” smiled as she ran her hand down his face and went back to sleep.
Getting up, he pulled on the jeans and shirt she had set out, tossed another log into the fireplace, called up his thanks to the crow that nested next to it and went out to pull the teeth out of the dragon.
Standing at the door looking into the living room, Reginald was reading a book.
“Moby Dick,” he said shifting the book and himself around as he watched Jon walk into the room. “Miss Ellen seems to be attracted to white whales,” Reginald made a face as he put the book down.
“Perhaps that is because she is one herself,” Jon smiled sweetly. “Moby was many things,” Jon eyed his brother. “I believe killer is on that list.”
Reginald snorted through his mirth. “Still white whales,” he chuckled. “Angry at your uniqueness. Powerful, but only in certain elements. Scarred and always raging at that which will eventually overtake you…and you know it will…” Reginald held his brother’s eyes. “And then, just to insult you, eventually comes death. If not a noble death, just that of age. What a horrible way to die,” he groaned. “Peacefully in your sleep,” he shuddered all over. “Floating to the bottom of the ocean and being absorbed by nature, back into the commonality of the living. Nourishing those less than you,” he arched an eyebrow at his brother.
“You truly cannot help yourself, can you?” Jon shook his head in disbelief.
“No,” he sighed. “Apparently I cannot.”
The men sat out in the living room, watching the flames and willing the shadows to take form.
Reginald saw no reason to delay it any longer. “Miss Ellen resembles Drust in many ways.”
“Do not speak of my wife,” Jon said as he sat back into the chair.
Reginald picked at the lint on he slacks. “And it is remarkable at just how much you look like her husband.”
“Do not speak of Charles, either,” Jon put his feet up on the ottoman.
“Am I not to speak of Mother or Father, either?” Reginald eyed his oldest brother.
“No, you are not,” came Jon’s sure reply.
“They wish you would come home. They miss you.”
Jon sat up and hissed. “Miss what? They miss me? Or do they miss living in the King’s castle? Wearing the crown jewels? Having everyone call her the Queen Mother instead of Joniad Whom The Bastard King Cursed?
What is the proper response to that, Reginald? Do you want me to say that I miss them, also?”
The log flamed up and popped, sending sparks flying up the chimney for several seconds. You could hear the rustling of wings coming down the chimney. Jon knew he had powerful allies. Clive was listening. Tomorrow all the birds in the area would know certain truths.
His dearest brother had come prepared to try his hand at philosophy and to remove firing pins. Well that was going to bite him on the ass.
“Nature, not a maker, made you what you are, Jon,” he began, his voice soothing. “You survived the vilest poisons that the natural world could concoct.”
“Do not!” Jon hissed. “Don’t you dare! And who offered me up to nature? It most certainly was not my idea!
I was the oldest and I was a healer,” he stated with authority. “That combination would have excused the family from having to send forth a child to be tested to replace the old king. But no, Mother could not bear the thought of the family not being represented and she wept at dinner that night Reginald, remember, when Father, your father,” he stressed, “which made you the oldest of his house, suggested sending you. The wails of agony that was screeched from that woman’s mouth still collides with the planets in the galaxies.
So I was taken from my family and here I am.”
“Oh please Jon,” Reginald rolled his eyes, “you had a wife who was past the child-bearing age when you mated with her, what hope…”
Reginald was off the floor and once more in Jon’s deadly grip, eye to eye with his oldest brother. “You wish to die this evening?”
“No,” Reginald’s voice was low.
“No what?” Jon hissed with his fangs bared!
“No my king, “ his voice was sincere, “I do not wish to die this evening.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Jon said as he tossed him into a chair. “When you speak to Mother,” his voice was low and vile, “you may tell that old, self-righteous, lying, ambitious witch that her oldest is fine, her middle son is a nit wit and that her youngest son is a serial killer. And when I find Gilly, and I will,” his voice spoke with confidence, a small smile on his face, “there will be nothing there for her to resurrect.
But she knows that, does she not,” Jon sat down opposite Reginald and interlocked his fingers to help fight the urge to strangle his brother. “That is why she sent you. How proud she must be of you Reginald.”
“Stop it,” Reginald sputtered, but felt honored that Jon was capable of acknowledging the truth. “Yes, in her way, she knew Gilly was coming to…visit…you,” he carefully spaced his words. “And he is no longer compelled to stay here for the next two phases of the moon.”
“No-o-o-o-o-o,” Jon yelled. “No! Damn it all to hell! No!”
“Yes,” Reginald replied softly, his eyes closed and his chin resting on his chest.
“Who turned him?” Jon spit out. “What degenerate shit turned an insane warlock to vampire?”
“Father will not tell us. But he made the arrangement,” the middle son whispered and then raised his eyes to watch his oldest brother.
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Jon sat up straighter. “Well, that is good to know, for a while there I thought old Malcolm liked me.”
“He loves you Jon. He considers you his oldest son. Gilly was actively seeking someone to turn him. Father offered some one that he knew to be his maker so Father would have some type of control of him.”
“Well yes,” Jon smiled, “but it helps if they are on the same continent,” his voice was sing-song as he plastered a great…big…fake…smile on his face.
“Jon,” Reginald’s voice was pained. “Gilly was seeking Vlad Drac to do it. With Vlad as his maker, they would try to rule the night. Can you imagine the carnage? Father did what he thought was necessary.”
“I can imagine me killing both of those maniacs with a stake,” Jon snorted as he got up and went to the fireplace. Tossing on another log, he turned to his younger brother. “When does Mother arrive?” he asked.
“What?” Reginald jerked his head up, taken off guard by the question.
“You took the firing pins out of Ellen’s rifles.”
“I…,” for a moment, Reginald knew he looked uncomfortable. Jon would be sure and notice that. Asshole!
Jon was smirking when he began:
“The unholy witch gave birth to three,
Her sons kept their own council and let her be.
Sighting down the barrel you could see
Her blood, her doom and all is now free.
You know what I think, Reginald, I think everything you just told me is a lie. Your love for Mother is legendary. I think you saw the rifles and you are just obsessive compulsive enough, you could not help yourself in case here, the prophecy was fulfilled.
So, the old girl is on her way. That is interesting,” he said with a small smile.
“That Gilly is vampire,” he gave a small shake of his head. “I find that difficult to believe. That our youngest brother would walk away from everything foul and tainted that he stands for to only be able to walk at night. No, I cannot believe that.
Which just leaves the lying, middle brother to deal with.”
“If you kill me,” Reginald smiled at him, “you will have to stay here to guard Ellen and cannot track Gilly.”
Whoops of laughter involuntarily escaped from Jon’s mouth. Bringing himself under control he snickered. “Did you honestly think that I would leave you here to guard her?” Jon said in disgust.
Reginald sighed. “I feel much better now that there is truth between us, my brother. We may come to some type of agreement.”
“Really?” Jon felt his fangs snick down.
“Jon o’ Jon,” Reginald shook his head. “I think you do not have many options, my brother. You are so unforgiving in your approach to how you rule. That humans have value…to whom? I have asked myself that many times. And the lesser Supernaturals?” he scoffed. “Why do you care if they are offered up for amusement or not? And they are always set free and are not permanently damaged,” his voice was sincere.
“With your moral codes and wishful thinking, you have alienated yourself, my brother,” his tone was one of revulsion. “There are not many who have your back,” he smiled at Jon and winked. “No friends, really, to speak of. And especially not Mother.”
Jon could see it, the dreamy, almost sexual predator look that now danced on his middle brother’s face. With repulsion, he pushed those thoughts of incest from his head. He knew Mother would not…but yet from looking at his brother, he wondered how often Reginald had dreamed of it.
“She laced me with a spell,” Reginald’s voice became low and soft, his eyes unfocused and dreamy. “Yes, I know,” he grinned at his brother, “I cannot believe it either. But she did. This is how great her love is for me. She wanted me to be able to escape from you.”
Reginald placed something in his mouth and bit down.
“Yes, the Make-A-Wish bloomed last week. Only, Mother gave the flower that I just swallowed, a bit more. I know you can now feel it pushing against you,” he grinned. “There is nothing, Mother assured me, you,” he stressed with a hiss, “can not over come so that I would have to be quick. I know I cannot kill you outright. However,” he smiled, “if I only manage to slow you down,” he pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Jon’s heart. “Then perhaps I can drain your accounts and tell the world to fuck off.”
Standing in the doorway, Ellen aimed for the back of Reginald’s head and pulled the trigger. Jon hit the floor as his middle brother’s body fell and the…something that looked like a small arrow discharged into the wall.
“You okay?” she asked as she started toward him.
Nodding, he stood up. “How are you?” he asked as he approached her, his hands reaching for her.
“I’m calling 911,” she felt the steel in her voice and in her bones as she placed the pistol on the end table and took out her phone.
“No need,” he walked to her and put his arms around her, his head resting on top of hers.
Jon’s voice pushed past the whirlwind that was forming from the body. “He will be carried home. Back to Mother.”
With their arms around each other, they watched as any trace of Reginald was sucked into the vortex. When the rushing of the wind was gone and all you could hear were the sounds of the fire and the soft caw of Clive, Ellen knew in her heart what was hers to say. “I will always have your back,” she told him as she felt him crush her body to his. “Always.”