Vampire Queen 8 - Bound by the Vampire Queen - Joey W Hill, page 44
“I’d try my best to change your mind about that, but it’s one of the reasons I asked Ingram to bring Gideon here,” he said.
She was being eased down into a chair.
Someone had brought it to her in a blink, which meant Daegan. She wanted to be gracious, but she was angry. She wanted to hold her son.
“In just a moment, my lady. Let Gideon feed you.” Four words she never would have expected to hear. He’s all right with this?
The message I asked Keldwyn to convey to Ingram was that you would need more blood upon arrival. When he was arranging for Kane’s arrival, he mentioned it to Gideon, and he volunteered.
Other than his Master and Mistress, I think you’re the only one to whom he’d ever willingly give his blood.
Gideon had handed Kane to Daegan, who cradled him with surprising expertise and gentleness. From the vampire’s relaxed attitude, she knew he had no problem with her feeding from Gideon, but she wasn’t expecting any issues to come from him.
As a much older and far more powerful vampire than a fledgling like Anwyn, she had every right to drink from Gideon, even if Gideon or Anwyn opposed it, though Daegan was a different matter.
While Anwyn was aware that this might happen, accepting it in concept was a little different from facing the reality of another female vampire taking her servant’s blood, an intimate exchange.
Before she’d been forcibly turned to a vampire, Anwyn had been owner and Mistress of a BDSM club, one she still managed. A Dominant’s possessiveness had already been strong in her veins before she’d ever grown fangs. While Lyssa wouldn’t ask permission, there was a fine line between exercising the rights of a more powerful vampire and courtesy. She met the other woman’s gaze. “Thank you for the use of your servant.” In the corner of her eye, she noted Ingram shepherding John discreetly back into the house.
Ingram had been around them enough to know when things might become an adults-only situation.
With no self-consciousness, Gideon dropped to one knee, leaning forward to press a kiss high on his Mistress’s thigh. He waited for the touch of her hand on his head before he looked up at her. When he turned his face into her wrist, put another kiss there, her expression eased somewhat. Lyssa suspected it had as much to do with whatever he’d said in her mind as well as the gesture.
In a more formal setting, soliciting permission from his lower-ranking vampire Mistress to obey a higher ranking vampire, even silently, would have been an offense. However, Gideon was not the most polished of servants. He acted on his feelings, and they were all driven by his bond with his two vampires.
More than that, Anwyn was a more unstable fledgling than most because of her brutal siring. She contended with seizures during volatile moments. As such, Lyssa knew Gideon was not deliberately perpetuating an act of insolence, but offering needed reassurance. It was the same reason Daegan had shifted to stand at Anwyn’s back now, so close he brushed her shoulder as he held Kane. While it obviously discomfited Anwyn to need such support in front of another strong female vampire, she apparently accepted it as a necessity.
Gideon rose then. Moving to Lyssa, he again dropped to a knee. Like Jacob, he was a tall man, so the position put them eye to eye. Stress and violence had hardened his expression over time, but there was a sensual softness to his mouth, a different quality in his blue gaze. Small but significant indications of the changes Daegan and Anwyn’s presence had made in his life.
“I seem to remember a time when you were very opposed to being bitten.”
“Things change,” Gideon grunted. “Some people change every damn minute. Vamp one minute, a fairy the next. Flip flopping like a trout. And that doesn’t even cover him.” He glanced toward Jacob.
“Human to vamp, then back to human again.
’Course, that means I can beat on his pretty face without him cheating with that super-fanged strength.”
“You can try,” Jacob replied.
Despite the banter, Lyssa felt the same intense yearning from him she was feeling toward their son.
Go hold him, Jacob.
He gets to see his mother first. That’s what I promised. I told him I’d bring you back to him. And like his mother, he’s terrifying to face when he’s not given what he wants.
“Where do you want it?” Gideon asked. “Wrist or neck? I know there are other places, but if you want it from my thigh, you’re going to have to wrestle me on that one. I don’t think you’re up to that.” He shot Daegan a cocky look, apparently in response to something his vampire master had said in his mind. “Blow me.”
Daegan gave him a look of predatory amusement, suggesting such repartee was a form of male bonding. Or provocative foreplay. Returning his attention to Lyssa, Gideon explained, “He said if he was close enough, he’d slap my head for being insolent.”
She accommodated, a halfhearted thwack behind his ear that earned a grin. “You hit like a girl,” he noted.
“After I take your blood, I'll put you through the garage wall.”
“That’s a hell of an incentive for a good Samaritan.” Then he sobered and his voice softened, showing he could be as intuitive as his brother. “Let’s get this done so the little man can see his mom. What will work best?”
Nodding, he shifted closer. As he did, he lifted her hand to his shoulder, near that juncture with the throat so she could direct him as she wished. It was so different from the first night she’d met Gideon. Angry, defensive, determined to convince his brother she was a monster. This side of him, the vampire servant and yet still so much the lethal vampire hunter, was quite appealing. As he moved his touch to her wrist to hold her steady, she leaned in and touched her mouth to the strong, corded throat. Daegan moved even closer to Anwyn, his hand on her shoulder as well, though it was a different form of guidance.
She expected Daegan had told Anwyn to go in the house, for she seemed to be visibly taking a firmer stance, her jaw tight, refusing to leave or look away from another vampire female taking blood from her servant. Lyssa didn’t blame her. Under similar circumstances, she wouldn’t let Jacob out of her sight, either.
While Daegan didn’t seem perturbed, she expected it would have been quite different if it was a male vampire drinking from Gideon. Vampires were curious in their jealousies. She didn’t expect to see that situation ever happen, regardless. No vampire she knew, male or female, would dare to take something that belonged to Daegan Rei. Not without his full , unequivocal consent. In writing.
It was important not to coddle Anwyn too much, though, because the woman was a Mistress, and had her pride. Being a third-marked servant with that nearly limitless well of sexual response, Gideon could be aroused by Lyssa putting her mouth on his throat, even without enhancement. However, she slipped in a small dose of pheromones. The sensation of her pulling at his throat went straight to his cock.
Anwyn had trained her alpha hunter very well, so he maximized the pain and pleasure response.
Though he made a strangled noise of protest, he remained where he was. Lowering her other hand, Lyssa grazed his chest with her fingertips and cruised down to the waistband of his jeans, teasing over his hip bone.
“You’re trying to get me in trouble,” he muttered.
Lyssa gave Anwyn a gleaming look that didn’t convey challenge, but conspiracy. A true Mistress, Anwyn picked up on it. Her tension eased, the beautiful lips curving.
“She wants me to get you in trouble, Gideon.” Lyssa licked the flow of blood. It carried an appealing taste, the familial bond with her servant.
“It’s more pleasurable to punish you.”
“Damn vampires.” He caught a breath as she closed her hand over him beneath the straining jeans. He was hard and thick, eliciting a little purr in her throat.
“Just as nice as I remember it.”
Jacob was a weighted, silent force in her mind.
He’d tamped down his reaction with effort because he’d been her servant long enoug
At least I got to choose the donor, my lady.
She gave the challenging thought the narrow look it deserved. Still, he’d been kind enough to arrange for his brother to be here for her, and she wouldn’t goad him past bearing. Done with her teasing, she returned to drinking, pulling strong and deep. It felt good to have all those expected compulsions… to assert her dominance over other vampires present, to ease that sting with some playful eroticism, to feel the blood strengthening her so quickly she had to relax the grip on Gideon’s biceps so she didn’t cause him the wrong kind of pain.
She also had to force herself not to rush it, because Kane was waking up. Moving to Daegan at last, Jacob took the baby from him. As Kane recognized his father, his cries became the textbook baby response to an unexpected surprise. He started wailing his lungs out.
It was all show, however. He settled after Jacob gave him a gentle bob in his arms, wagged a finger at the tip of his nose. “What’s all this about? A vampire doesn’t cry. Your mother’s told you that.” As she finished drinking, Gideon was so heavily aroused that standing was somewhat awkward.
Leaving him in that state was her gift to Anwyn and a volley back to
Daegan, as effective an admonishment as the head slap. Daegan’s gaze coursed over Gideon as he turned, heat flickering in his eye. He nodded to Lyssa, tacit appreciation.
Gideon sent her a wry look, well aware of the manipulation. “Still one scary, irresistible bitch.” Though she saw Anwyn’s alarmed glance snap from him to Daegan, Lyssa gave the vampire hunter a feral smile. In Gideon’s way, he’d just paid her a supreme compliment and reassured her at once.
Her momentary weakness due to a need for blood did not diminish her strength in his eyes in any way.
And he had very clear-seeing, unsentimental eyes.
Then that was all past. Kane saw her.
He went up several decibels, an ear splitting cry that had his uncle wincing good-naturedly. Leaning down, Jacob put the child in her lap. Kane’s little fists immediately closed on her hair, and he leaned back against that hold. His arms spread wide as he swayed, his scream turning to a giggle of delight.
“I suppose you have been a great deal of trouble?” she asked, suffering the yanking with great delight.
Mr. Ingram had returned, having left John occupied in the house. “Not as much as you’d expect, ma’am.
All you really need is his uncle. The little man comes to him in a heartbeat and does whatever he tell's him to do.”
“Big softy,” Jacob told his brother.
Anwyn shook her head then. “I suspect part of it is Gideon reminds him of you, Jacob. But Gideon is a very good parent. Very no-nonsense.”
“Zero tolerance for bullshit,” Ingram added with a faint smile. “Begging the ladies’ pardon.” Gideon rolled his eyes. “These vampires are wishy-washy as hell, bro. They spoil the kid rotten if you don’t watch them every minute.” He jerked his head toward Daegan. “He’s the absolute worst.
Would probably let the kid get away with actual murder.”
“It depends on whether or not the target deserves it,” Daegan responded, unruffled.
Gideon scoffed at that. “Before Mason and Jess left for their Council meeting, I told both Mason and Daegan they shouldn’t reproduce. They’d have the kind of obnoxious, spoiled kids no one wants to be around.”
Jacob’s smile turned instantly to a frown. “Mason took Jess to Council? She has no business being there. Has he lost his fucking mind?” Gideon held up a quelling hand. “Don’t jump my ass about it. She made a deal with the devil or something. She gave him those girly doe eyes and said in that sweet-as-a-sugarcoated-knife voice: ‘My lord, who is more qualified than you to protect me?
And you can’t leave Lady Lyssa undefended at Council.’ He couldn’t argue with either point. The girl has guts and brains.”
“I would be very upset if championing my cause endangered her—” Lyssa began, but Gideon immediately shook his head.
“Not like that. She’s right, if you think about it. The Council’s done wanting to harm her, and Mason is the most qualified to protect her, with the possible exception of you and Daegan. The main reason he didn’t want her going was because of her past baggage, her fear of dealing with group vampire situations. But he’s helped her heal, helped her be stronger, and now she wants the chance to meet those fears head on. Since he loves her, he can’t really disagree with that.”
“Jesus, my brother has become Dr. Phil,” Jacob snorted.
Anwyn chuckled. “He’s just repeating what he’s heard me say. Like a trained monkey. No real comprehension, just regurgitation. Of course, monkeys actually do comprehend…” Lyssa let the inevitable banter that followed wash over her as she gazed down into Kane’s blue eyes.
Her heart turned over when he offered a small smile, laughing at all of them. It seemed to her he’d grown exponentially. He’d been doing a little walking before they left, in fits and spurts. Now his legs looked much stronger, sturdier.
She resented having to deal with Council. She wanted to tell them all to go to hell ; if they wanted her, they could come find her, and pay the consequences.
She’d thought a lot about that Council missive.
She’d also thought about her father, dying in a rose bush in the desert. She wished he could have met his grandchild. She thought about Rhoswen, the way she commanded her world, her strengths and weaknesses. A thousand years had taught her that every challenging situation held a lesson to be learned. Having that confidence required taking huge risks, but sometimes, to secure the future, risk was necessary.
“Kane is going to go with us to Council,” she said out loud. “But not because of Council’s demands.” Jacob turned toward her. As her servant, he might not always be privy to her mind. But this was not one of those times. In this, he was Kane’s father, and she let him fully into her head, let him see what she was thinking. A shadow closed over his face as he considered it, but she also saw him go through the same quick analysis she did. There weren’t too many variables to consider. She’d said it in the Fae world. She was done running, and that meant they had to confront the Council as a unit.
He reached into the pack they’d brought, took out Keldwyn’s pendant. The stone glowed amber and chocolate brown in the dim light from the garage.
Bringing it to her, he knelt at her feet, gave Kane a smile and pressed foreheads to him in playful affection as he let the baby touch the pendant. Then he placed it around Kane’s neck. As he did, the cord glowed, a warmth that shone over Kane’s fair cheeks a moment before the necklace became an imprint in the child’s skin, like a permanent tattoo.
Jacob looked up at Lyssa. “Okay,” he said.
Despite his initial surprise, he didn’t look as if her plan was too unexpected. And then she realized that was the other reason he’d summoned Gideon. Her servant had anticipated her, as he often did, and brought her potential reinforcements.
She glanced at Daegan Rei. Like the others, he was watching them curiously. While she didn’t know exactly where his loyalties lay, she knew he’d been at odds with Council directives over the recent year, right before Mason stepped into his position on it.
She couldn’t imagine Gideon bonding with someone who was dedicated to the current Council’s objectives, so she took a chance there as well.
“Lord Daegan, I plan to go into the Council meeting directly opposed to their plans. But I have a proposal for them that I think will be better for us all.
Though I do not command your loyalties, would you be willing to attend the Council meeting with us and stand at my back, against them as necessary?” The powerful vampire studied her. “I don’t play politics, Lady Lyssa.”
She inclined her head. “I believe you support the vision of Council that I have always had. But I can’t stand against you, nor would I. However, if I speak of my plan toni
Daegan lifted a hand. “With respect, please let me finish, Lady Lyssa. We are not a democracy, nor even a republic. Council is an oligarchy. However, any governing body making critical, frequent mistakes, the way this Council is, is creating an environment for change. Out of all the vampires I have met through the centuries, I trust your motives as a leader in that regard more than any other.” He gave her a bow. “You have my services and guidance, however you may need them.”
“Does this mean I get to use explosives again?” Gideon asked.
“Only if we shove them up your ass first,” Jacob noted.
“Nice. That’s brotherly love for you.” Kane put his mouth to Lyssa’s breast, trying to gnaw through the fabric. Holding him close, she nodded to the others.
“I’m going to retire for a while, but later tonight we'll meet and discuss my proposal.”
As she received polite acknowledgments from the others, Jacob caressed her shoulder, putting a kiss on Kane’s waving fist as he met her green eyes. “I'll be right down.”
You are going to tell Gideon about your parents.
Yes. And the other thing.
Her eyes warmed on him, though her hand tightened on his an extra moment as if a concern lay behind it. But whatever the concern was, she didn’t voice it. “Take your time,” she murmured. “But don’t be long.”
Jacob smiled at the conflicting commands, typical of his lady. “Count on it.”
“Lady Lyssa.” Daegan stepped forward. “However you choose to approach the Council, I would appreciate it if Anwyn and Gideon could stay here while we’re gone.”
“Of course, my lord. They are always welcome here, as are you.”
“As kind as that is”—Anwyn directed that polite tone toward Lyssa, though something else entirely entered her voice as she shifted her attention to Daegan—“we’re going with you.”