Free Chapters – Introduction, 1-5

Chapter 2

 

It was quiet in the penthouse suite he shared with Ellis Duban.  Currently his recently reunited lover was somewhere out in the city doing whatever it was she had been busying herself with lately.  The quiver of her aura was still and her voice had been quiet for some time.  Whatever she was doing, she did it far enough away so that they could both have their privacy.  He fully expected jealousy to snap its jaws, but instead Simon Huntington just took a deep breath and listened to the sounds of the hotel beneath him.

 

The lone heartbeat came into range quite suddenly.  It sounded healthy and strong, if not pacing a little faster than what he’d consider normal.  It was familiar, as well.  Closing his eyes, Simon sat on the living room couch in front of his windowed wall with the outstanding view and listened carefully to the beating heart.

 

It fluttered weirdly and quickly, or maybe that was just another heartbeat nearby.  He focused in on the strong heartbeat and tried to recall its familiar beat.  After a moment he smiled.  Now what were the odds of that, he wondered.  Standing slowly, he wiped at his worn jeans and looked for his shoes.

 

When in the suite he dressed casually; no tailored suits, Italian leather dress shoes or minimalist adornments.  He wore a pair of comfortable jeans and either t-shirts or button-ups.  That night it was a soft striped button up that was just barely entering the last leg of its journey – the edges of his rolled up cuffs beginning to wear through and shirt tails untucked.  He found a pair of soft, canvas boat shoes and exited the suite.

 

He had long ago procured a manager’s key that opened any door in the hotel; maybe out of habit, but probably curiosity, seeing if he actually could.  He flicked the card with his fingers as he walked slowly down the hall, past the elevator, and toward the other end of the penthouse floor.  Stopping in front of the neighboring suite’s front door, he listened quietly to the heartbeat as it slowed to a rhythmic, steady beat that suggested sleep.  If he didn’t recognize the heartbeat before, he certainly did now.  Simon slipped the card key in and the door softly opened, as if sighing.  He pushed the door with his fingertips, but stayed just outside the threshold.  It wasn’t like he needed permission; he just didn’t want the occupant shooting his face off.

 

The hallway was identical to his, but he could see the design of the space was completely different.  Beyond that his eyes focused in on Vivienne Sena’s head laid back on the couch, his vampire eyes not even needing the barest hint of light that there was in the space.  Closing the door silently behind him, he walked down the hallway till it opened up, showing an identical space as large as his own, and Vivienne in the same exact spot he was in on his side of the penthouse.  He wondered now if she knew he and Ellis were next door to her that one day they saw her rushing out of the elevator, almost bumping Ellis, which in turn garnered his lover’s attention.  It wasn’t smart of him to be there now; a good hiding place wasn’t easy to find and one with room service was exceptional.  He wouldn’t allow Ellis back on clan property – it was bad enough he was back with her in the first place.  Simon unfocused his eyes as he listened to Vivienne’s long and relaxed breathing below his vantage point behind her couch.

 

He had wondered what it was like, having your sense of smell color everything you come in contact with; a room must’ve been a confusing mess of sensations.  What did it tell them?  Rather, what did it show Vivienne about him?

 

“You have a very distinct scent,” she had said after speaking to him for only the second time.  He had meant to ask her about it then, but admittedly the snipers she had covertly positioned around their meet had distracted him.

 

Simon walked closer to Vivienne, employing all his abilities so not to stir her sleep in the slightest.  The air around her barely moved as he leaned forward and put his hands on either side of her shoulders, and then he lowered his face down to hers.  Vivienne had laid her head back and it rolled to her left side slightly, exposing the side of her jaw line and creamy brown skin along her neck.   Temptation to taste beneath her skin was conflicting – Ellis’ reaction to werewolf blood had been disgusting, throwing up violently what she had taken from them.  Still, he lowered his face to within an inch of hers and inhaled deeply, smelling the coppery sweetness of her blood.

 

Simon looked over at her face as her eyes began to flutter and he watched as they rolled beneath the darkened lids with vivacious REM activity.  She was already dreaming.  Pulling his stare away, he slowly burned a trail down her throat and beyond her collarbone.  Her blouse beneath her wool pea coat was an unbuttoned striped shirt, opened down to her cleavage and showing off more than he knew she’d want him to see.  The urge to run his hands down the soft skin of her breasts and into her shirt was suddenly overwhelming.  His fangs pulsed achingly, despite himself.

 

Vivienne’s eyes continued fluttering and she sighed, licking her lips in her sleep.  Simon swallowed and smiled.  Parting his lips, he let his hot breath bathe her skin, wondering if it was affecting her dream at all.

 

Simon knew she would not taste as good as she smelled, but he could not resist the lure of what lay beneath her bronzed skin.  His fangs ached painfully in his mouth as he gripped the couch with his hands, balling the material up into his fists.  The curve of her collarbones, the slope of her neck – feeding should always be like this, he thought to himself.  The ache of want not purely sexual but instinctual, Simon stupidly ran his lips gently over the swell of her cheek where he knew her dimples to be and he felt his lip quiver over his fangs.  Werewolves should not smell so good if they weren’t palatable.  What a magnificent defense mechanism, he thought.

 

Vivienne’s body never pulled away from his scent; in fact, she reacted to it more than he thought she should.  What was she dreaming about, he wondered as his eyes kept returning to the slope of her neck?  He’d give anything for dream walking right then.  Licking his lips, Simon shut his eyes tight and resisted the urge to sink his teeth into her flesh.  Willing his body to move away, he slowly released his grip on the couch, pulling his hands back, accidentally brushing his fingers against her arms.  Vivienne rolled her head to the right, brushing up against his stubble, moving her lips in line with his…and kissed him.

 

He froze.  His heart began to race as he waited for her to wake up and things to undoubtedly get ugly.  Leaving right then was the prudent idea, to slip away with his innate speed and be out before she even opened her eyes.  But a kiss was a kiss and who was he to miss out on an opportunity like this with someone who smelled so delicious?

 

Besides, she kissed him.

 

Simon parted his lips and pushed his tongue gently into her mouth, encouraging the kiss while deepening it at the same time.  From his vantage point, it was an upside down kiss; its positioning was slightly awkward and it only made the kiss more unique.  Vivienne’s heart rate began to race and her breathing was shallow – indicators, at least to him, that she was enjoying the kiss.  She reached up with her hand and dug deep into his hair, scratching his scalp with her nails.  Just what the hell was she dreaming about?

 

His right hand came up and touched her throat, pressing his thumb along her jaw while his other gripped the couch again.  One hand on her he could control, but not both.  He teased her tongue with his; scraping his teeth along her lips as his hand began to travel down her throat, into the opening of her shirt.  She still hadn’t woken up and the handful of hair she was grabbing sent a shivering tingle down his spine, so he pushed the kiss deeper, feeling her cleavage with his fingertips when she ran her tongue over his fang.  The sensation never failed to send an electric bolt through his body and her reaction was instantaneous and unexpected, to say the least.

 

 

~~

Brig’s kiss was different, as was his touch.  Her mind was trying to comprehend the difference she was feeling when he kissed her so hard and deep that Viv felt it down into her core.  His breath, his taste…it was so different.  So different…

 

Wake up.

 

Brig’s fingers ran down her throat, leaving his scent that was both pleasing but wrong.  Their kiss deepened and her arms felt like lead weight against the couch, but she managed to lift her right hand and dig her fingers into his thick, soft hair.

 

Wake up.

 

Again the textures perplexed her, the length of his hair was longer than she remembered and his scent.  His kiss was so penetrating and erotic, doing things to her tongue and lips that made her toes curl inside her shoes and thighs squeeze together with intense desire.  Her tongue touched his and she felt his teeth graze her lips, pulling at them, biting them softly, making her hand ball up and grab a fistful of his hair.  Viv ran her tongue along his and touched his teeth, when suddenly she realized what was so different.

 

Viv’s tongue touched the tip of a very distinct, very sharp point, and the owner of it was not Brig, because he didn’t have fangs.

 

WAKE UP!  WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP!!!!!

 

Viv opened her eyes and let go of her handful of hair, pushing the face away from her as she slid down the couch to the ground in terror.  Her mind was screaming at her – this wasn’t a dream and this sure as shit was not Brig.

 

“What the-,” Viv half yelled as she backed up on the living room floor, her dreamy blurred vision looking directly at Simon Huntington.  Immediately her shoulders tightened and she felt the awakened ache of her transformation at the sight of the vampire who she just finished kissing.

 

“Wait, Vivienne.  Wait!”

 

Simon held his hands up as she pulled away from their kiss and scurried across the floor, putting as much distance between them as possible.  Her eyes were wide and her irises nonexistent.  He climbed over the couch, talking as fast as possible.

 

“This isn’t what it looks like.”

 

Suddenly she sprang forward, hunched over he could see her transformation begin as her mouth became abnormally large and long.  Digging into the pockets of his jeans, he reached for something he had kept on him since seeing Ellis make use of her silver brass knuckles.  Luck favored the prepared and he immediately slipped the small, pure silver ring over his middle finger and held his ground as Vivienne, half transformed now, ripped her pea coat off and lurched at him with her fangs bared.

 

Immediately Simon held out the hand with the silver ring and grappled with Vivienne as she tried to snap at him with her now horribly deformed mandibles.  If he didn’t do something right that second, he would have to hurt her and that wasn’t the point of him coming to see her, despite what just happened.  She snapped her jaws at his face, just missing him, when he reached for her throat and touched her with the silver.

 

He saw an immediate reaction, her jaws returning to its normal human shape and her painful wail pierced his ears as she tried to pull away from him.  Instead, he grabbed her one arm tightly with his other still on her throat and pushed her back against the windowed-wall.  The sizzle of the silver against her skin had a disgustingly burnt smell and he grimaced.

 

“Stop, STOP!” Vivienne yelled and he lifted his ringed finger off her neck and grabbed her arms, the cloth protecting her from the silver.

 

“Are you going to calm down?”

 

Apparently not because just then Vivienne kneed him as hard as humanly possible, right in the groin.  His entire body stiffened with a swift pain, but his grip remained painfully tight.  Simon pushed up against her body, pinning her to the window and sneered into her face, revealing his fangs.

 

“I can take a gunshot to the chest and barely feel it, but it still hurts getting kneed in the nuts.”  Her eyes were dark circles, the gold a thin ring around her huge pupils, and he could see the sweat running down the sides of her face.  “Are you going to calm down?”

 

Vivienne took a deep breath and attempted one more push against his body, but his vampire strength overpowered her easily.  He could see the intense hate in her eyes, but he admired her tenacity.

 

“I’m going to let you go.  All right?”  He loosened his grip on her arms and her eyes flicked down, watching his hands before looking back up at him, hate still intact.  It took him a full ten seconds to release her.  He took one step back, their eye contact never wavering.  He took another full step back and he lowered his hands slowly.

 

“What do you want?” Vivienne asked slowly, her top lip sneering.

 

“I was about to ask you the same thing.”

 

“I’m not here for you,” she said maintaining as much disgust as possible.  Viv watched as Simon relaxed his shoulders and simply looked at her.

 

Simon Huntington was a tall drink of water.  At least six foot four, he was as tall as Brig, but not quite as tall as Hammer.  His body was lithe and his shoulders were wide with muscles, as well as his arms, right down to the fingertips.  Looking at him now ignited that desire in her, but repulsion quickly followed suit.  Everything about him was made to lure humans and the werewolf in her was disgusted by it, but the woman in her reacted to his light brown hair, angular shaped face, and hazel brown eyes.  They did not make them like Simon anymore.

 

He returned a similarly appraising look and it made her body flush with embarrassment and anger.

 

“Then what are you here for?”

 

“Not for that!” Viv yelled back at him, unable to control the rage she was feeling.  She felt completely violated and any attraction she may have had for him had dissipated at the thought of him kissing her.  He shrugged at her, daring her fury with a smile.

 

“That was all you, Miss Sena.”

 

“Oh for…I was dreaming.”

 

“About me?”

 

Again that impetuous smile; she wanted to smack it off his face.  “Be serious,” Viv rolled her eyes and looked around the room.  If he were there, then his woman wouldn’t be far.  “I don’t smell her.”  She felt her nostrils flare, the hate still bubbling in her, threatening to spill over again.

 

“Her?  You mean Ellis?  She’s not with me.”

 

Viv closed her eyes and shook her head slightly, “Then what were you doing coming into my suite, watching me sleep?”

 

“I came to talk to you, actually.  I heard you come in.”

 

“How?” she asked incredulously.  Then she realized it must have been one of his abilities.  “How’d you know it was me?”

 

“You have a very distinct heartbeat,” he said, reminding her of what she said to him.  His smile didn’t help, either.  “Do you have a heart murmur?”

 

“No, I do not have a fucking heart murmur,” she snapped back at him.  Taking a deep breath, Viv tried to regain her control, but she couldn’t help her racing heart.  He had touched her with silver, no doubt leaving a mark that would take at least a couple days to fade.  Viv reached up and touched her throat.

 

“Sorry about that.”

 

“No you’re not,” she mumbled as she turned away and walked to the bathroom.  The living room was a sunken pit and took up a good portion of the living area.  Taking three steps back up to the ground level, she entered the bathroom located off to the right of the door and flipped the light on.  She peered at her throat, touching the silver burn.

 

“Damn it,” Viv muttered, wincing at the residual pain.

 

 

 

~

 

Simon could not help but grin at Vivienne’s indignation.  Slowly he followed her out of the sunken living room and lingered by the bathroom door as she cursed not very quietly at him.  Leaning against the doorframe, he looked down at his hands and slipped the silver ring off his finger and back into his jeans.  When she came out, she nearly bounced off the opposite side of the doorframe, surprised again by his presence.

 

“Want me to wear a bell?” he asked, entwining his fingers in front of him and touching his thumbs together.

 

“What did you want to talk to me about?” she asked, changing the subject, but relaxed against the door frame with her hands behind her.

 

Simon looked at her body as he formed his answer.  She looked flushed, but more from anger than anything else.  His eyes lingered on her lips, trying to remember the taste when she cleared her throat.  Looking back into her eyes, he grinned and shrugged.

 

“You’re Vivienne Sena born 1944 in Antalya, Turkey.  Your father’s name is Lorenso and your mother’s name is Marie.  You have two younger siblings and one older sister.”

 

“Was and had, Mr. Huntington,” she corrected him quietly.  “All past tense.”

 

Simon paused, looking at the blank expression on her face.  If she felt anything about her family, he couldn’t see it.  Even her heartbeat had slowed down.

 

“Sorry.  I suppose that explains why there’s no record of them past nineteen fifty five.”

 

“I’m surprised you found anything at all.”

 

“Told you I had resources,” he said smugly.

 

“Right,” she mumbled.

 

Simon looked at the ground and made a face.  “There’s nothing else on you until the past ten years: there are variations of your name and your likeness, especially in 2006, Johannesburg.”  He pointed at her, narrowing his hazel eyes.  “Now, that part wasn’t hard.  It’s where I started, actually.  Marthinus was in Johannesburg to talk to your Pack’s corporate entity, but weirdly enough, the building was attacked, forcing a daring escape.”

 

Marthinus T. Steyn.  Simon’s blood relative, grandson, and new Piper recruit.  Through uncontrollable circumstances, Marthinus placed his life in the hands of the werewolves and made a choice that still confused Simon to that very day.  But he did not hold it against the old man for choosing life over a certain death.

 

“I was there after they left.”  Viv glared at him with suspicious eyes.  “Took a lot of work to clean up.”

 

“And money, I would imagine.  You left a lot of key witnesses alive though.  Poor job at covering tracks.”

 

“I fix things, Mr. Huntington.  I don’t kill people.  Not like you.”

 

Simon raised his eyebrows with mock indignation, “I haven’t killed anyone in a little while.”

 

“A little while, right.  That’s your business, though?  Hired killers?  That isn’t cliché to you at all?”

 

“It’s a living,” Simon replied with a shrug.  They remained silent for a few moments, standing in the doorway of the bathroom when finally Vivienne pushed off the frame and returned to the sunken living room.  She picked up her coat and folded it neatly, setting it on the couch.  His eyes watched her with raptorial delight.  Quietly he moved to the steps, standing on the top he grinned down at her.

 

“You don’t like me, do you?” he said slowly.

 

Viv sat down on the couch with a huff and rested her arms along the back of it.  “God, I really do not.”

 

Simon crossed his arms and stepped down to the living room floor.  He shook his head and laughed, “That’s not nice.  I like you.”

 

“No you don’t,” Viv said in a humored yet monotone voice.  “And it’s for the same reasons.  Everything about me is insulting to you – I’m beneath you on the food chain and class.  You’re just curious.”

 

Simon tilted his head to the side, “You could dress a little better.”

 

Viv narrowed her eyes, appraising him.  “You’re not like this.  This sarcastic charm.  This is probably the most talking you’ve done in months.”

 

Simon dropped his arms.  “I don’t like it when you act like you know me.”

 

“I know your type, Simon.  Can I call you Simon?  I’m going to call you Simon.”  Viv settled into the couch and crossed her legs, tucking her hands in between her thighs.  “Marthinus seems to think that’s Ellis’ influence on you.”

 

“Does he,” he asked in a monotone voice.

 

Viv watched Simon with a wary eye.  His body language went from friendly to rigid in a heartbeat.  He really did not like people assuming anything about him, which led her to believe that the role he played before this one wasn’t by choice.

 

“So,” Viv started with a large sigh, “quid pro quo?”

 

It was Simon’s turn to look wary.  “You first.”

 

“I need to know you can actually help me.”

 

“I’ve offered twice.”

 

And he had – the first time they met at the city’s museum and again during their first and only private meet not several days before their conversation taking place at that very moment.  That meeting had been the reason Brig and Hammer had come down on her.  It was an unsanctioned and unauthorized meet with the focus of their Blood Memory.  Aside from using three off duty Pipers and artillery without authorization, Brig was jealous that she had been within a foot of Huntington.  The Alpha in him had reacted accordingly and it pissed her off.

 

“And I will accept as soon as you give a little something,” Viv held a hand up, stopping him from replying.  “I know how that sounds so don’t bother.”  Simon’s hard mask softened into a sly grin.  Viv took a deep breath and then motioned to the spot next to her on the couch.

 

The sunken living room floor had a semi-circle couch that faced the twenty-foot high windowed wall looking out at the skyline.  The couch was a soft white leather made of loose cushion back pillows as well as the seats.  It was at least fifteen feet long, but Simon chose to sit not two feet away from Vivienne.

 

“What do you want to know?” Simon asked as he sat down to the left of her, resting his right arm on the cushion pillows.  Viv’s forehead crinkled in thought – for as relaxed as his pose was, it was just that – a pose.  He didn’t do nonchalant as well as he’d like to think, but then Viv was going out of her way to read his body language, more than likely miscalculating his motives.  Still, he didn’t look comfortable and she said so.

 

“You learned this from Ellis.  She must do calculated nonchalance like a pro.  It’s not you though, at least, it didn’t used to be.”

 

“Was there a question there?”  His tone was just slightly insulted.

 

Viv pursed her lips together and nodded.  “She led up until recently and that’s not a guess, that’s common knowledge with you folks.”

 

“Folks,” Simon repeated.

 

Viv bit the inside of her bottom lip, “You use this charm as a crutch and I don’t think it’s necessary.”

 

“You’re assuming again.”

 

“Yeah but am I wrong?”

 

Simon was quiet for a moment, looking down at his hands folded in his lap.  His expression was pensive, but when he looked back up at her again, the emotion in his face was gone.

 

“You’re not like the others,” he said.

 

“Other werewolves?”

 

“Hammerthynn.  That young kid, Lothias.”

 

Viv snorted, “I am nothing like them.  And that’s pretty smooth, how you changed the subject there.”

 

“Was it?  I thought maybe it was too obvious.”

 

“No, very impressive.”

 

There was another short pause in their conversation.  Simon looked at her openly, his eyes searching her face and, of course, they dropped lower.  You’d think she’d be used to it now.  She cleared her throat and his eyes flicked back up.

 

“I’m from England, originally,” he said leaning forward slightly.

 

“You’ve lost your accent.”

 

“No, it’s still there.”  And it was just then.  It made the soft baritone of his voice even more liquid smooth.  Wasn’t too high bred, Viv decided, so she rethought her estimation of him.  He continued, “I was born in Circenster, the year 570.”

 

“You were about forty when she turned you.”

 

“Forty one.”

 

“That’s kind old for back then, isn’t it?”

 

Simon looked down at himself.  “I did all right for myself.  Care to guess my profession?”

 

“Military.”

 

“Constable, actually.  I had one son and I fell in love with Ellis the very first time I saw her.”

 

“Has it always been just her?”

 

The look that crossed Simon’s face was intriguing as well as heart wrenching.  There had definitely been someone else other than Ellis, but whoever that was, she was long gone.  According to Marthinus, Ellis had been presumed dead for over a year.  Must have been then, Viv decided.

 

With his right arm still on the back of the couch, he clasped his hands together again and completely changed the subject.

 

“Anantya is the oldest clan we have.  They might have an idea on whether implanting a memory through a dream could be sustained this long is even possible.  Could give us an idea who has those abilities, as well.”

 

Viv nodded slowly, pushing her lips to the side.  Simon was done trading; that personal damage was not completely healed, apparently.  She’d reopen that wound later.

 

“You smell like wheat fields and tall, dry grass.”

 

Simon’s mouth gaped open slightly and his face colored with unashamed awe.  “Really?” he asked slowly, his eyes dropping to her lips.  “Anything else?”

 

“Yeah,” Viv said plainly.  Bringing her arms forward, she reached for her jacket and then sat up.  Simon’s eyes followed her as she pulled on her jacket.  “Let’s go.”

 

“Go where?”

 

“To Antablahblah.”

 

“Anantya.  And I said they probably had an idea, I didn’t say they would tell you.”

 

“Not me.  You.  You’re the Elder of your gang, right?”

 

“Clan.  I’m leader, not Elder.  There’s a difference.”

 

“Well in my world, Elders run specific families, minor Alphas run the group of families, and THE Alpha runs the entire pack.  What’s the difference?”

 

“Tacharan isn’t recognized.”

 

Viv pulled her hair out of her jacket as she looked down at Simon still on the couch.  “Doesn’t Tacharan mean orphan in Gaelic?”  Simon raised his eyebrows and nodded.  “So Anantya, they’re in charge. “  Simon nodded again.  “They’re the ones that refuse to acknowledge your clan, right?”

 

“It bothered Ellis to no end.”

 

Viv shrugged, “So what if they don’t.  Marthinus said your clans have particular skill sets, right?  Tacharan has specific abilities.  Anantya doesn’t need to recognize you, evolution already has and I’d say that’s plenty enough.”

 

Simon put his hands on his knees and stood to his full height.  “Ok,” he said raising his eyebrows.  “Let me change first.”

 

Viv held her hand out toward the door.  “Go ahead.”

 

Simon walked past her, again his scent filtering into her brain and conjured up a vision warm English summers when he stopped and pointed at her.  “You’re changing too, right?”

 

“Does it look like I brought luggage?”  She looked down at her clothes.  “Why?  What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

 

“Are those Keds?”

 

“Oh man, that is just snotty.”  Viv snorted and pushed Simon toward the door.

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