THEY SAY that a enemy stabs you in the back but a true friend stabs you in the front. Vivienne felt as though she was about to be stabbed as she faced the prospect of going back to Coral City.
As the sun peeped over the horizon, she once again stood at the edge of the Anthias Sea, waiting for the boat that would take her back to that cursed place.
This time, she wasn’t standing there as a vulnerable and naive inductee to be fed to their demons. Now, she stood there ready to bring a purging Strigoi fire to the royal family as they had never seen before. Beside her, stood Blake, her demon love, her childhood friend, and now her loyal servant. Vivienne touched the cameo necklace around her neck as the ugly gray boat came into view. It looked like a floating cage, windowless and stark.
“Is this what vampires travel in?” Vivienne asked. Julian volunteered to answer first. He was one of the royal family’s vampires, perhaps their chattiest one. He was standing to the edge of the pier, waving the boat over with his metallic gold gloved hands.
“No, not always. She sent this prison barge especially for our friend. Hey, Thorne, I think she might be angry at you.”
Blake scoffed at that. He stared mirthlessly as the boat docked at the pier.
“What’s going to happen when we get off that boat?” Vivienne asked Julian. He was wearing a black wool jacket with gold buttons and a high gold brocaded collar. Vivienne assumed he had reverted to the persona of a man about town in Coral City and was dressing for the paparazzi photographers.
“Nothing good,” Julian said. He winked at her under his violet-tinted glasses. “For our friend Blake. For you, probably nothing. She has a soft spot for you. Be apologetic, tell her the big bad vampire led you astray. With some luck, she might welcome you back with open arms.”
“But he didn’t! I kidnapped him,” Vivienne snapped. After the trials of Remin she felt fueled by a new fire. The last thing she wanted was to go crawling back sniffling and simpering.
“Viv,” Blake said, finally speaking up. His eyes, the color of meadows of Remin in the morning dew, held only sad resignation in them. He reached for her hand to lead her above the bleak boat. “Do as he says.”
“Yeah,” Julian said. “You’re not going to achieve anything running into her mansion guns blazing. You have one big bad vampire, she has about a dozen, not to mention armed guards and the Ignias army at her command. Why don’t you start small and try to wrestle Blake from her control? Without that, we might as well all go and drown ourselves in Satan’s Hollow.”
His room on the boat was bare with steel furniture. It wasn’t going to be a long journey from what Vivienne remembered. Crossing the Anthias Sea just took a couple of hours. She wished it would take days. Vivienne found him sitting in a corner hunched over. Even without locks and chains, Blake was beginning to resemble a prisoner.
Vivienne supposed there was no reason to keep him locked up. She had witnessed the fearsome power he possessed. He could transform into a winged beast the height of a house. With the flapping of his wings he had caused a storm that had nearly wiped out an army of demon hunters. Yet, at the same time, despite that fearsome power, he was enslaved to the wills of two teenage girls.
One of those that held his chains was herself, his childhood friend. Around her neck she wore a cameo necklace which served as the chains that bound him to her. The other set of chains, was held by her best friend, Allison whose body was acting as host to the cruel and vicious princess by blood, Lady Maglania. Vivienne wondered what the two of them had planned for Blake. She couldn’t imagine Allison would completely turn her back of their friendship. Aliison’s words echoed in Vivienne’s head. We’ll never let a boy come between us, would we?
But Blake was no ordinary boy. She had only recently allowed herself to feel anything for him. Her relationship with him had been plagued by distrust and suspicion until the end of the trials of Remin when she finally felt as though she saw his true colors. He had been her one true love for as long as she could remember. Vivienne didn’t want to lose him again. She felt the boat start moving.
Vivienne walked over to where he was sitting and lifted his chin with the tips of her fingers. She allowed her long black hair to form a curtain around them, draping over his face and shoulders. Then, she bent down and kissed him softly, gently, on his quickly warming lips. A vampire has no warmth of his own, he drew it from her, from her life force. She felt her desire for him stirring deep inside her. It was a feeling that had gone too long ignored. She entwined her fingers in his and led him to the steel cot.
He seemed surprised by her boldness but made no move to protest as she pulled off his gray jacket and the vest underneath. One by one, she undid the buttons of his black dress shirt. She straddled his lap and continued to kiss his lips. His mouth was warm now. As she thrusted her tongue into his mouth she noticed there were no fangs. He was human momentarily, because of her. That was her power.
Vivienne had never done this before but then again, this had been a week of many firsts. She ripped his shirt off his broad, muscular shoulders. She had never imagined being the aggressor in this sort of situation. Yet, somehow, it came naturally to her. His body was now hers to do as she liked. She continued to kiss him fiercely on his delicious, delicate mouth. His hand found its way to the small of her back and he pulled her nearer. Her hands moved slowly move down the light hair of his chest, over the three raw marks which marked the wounds he had sustained in the caves, down over his flat toned stomach.
Vivienne’s hands reached down and took a hold of his heavy belt buckle. As she struggled to undo it, she wished he hadn’t opted for such a subtle design where the belt was made to look like it disappeared into a recessed loop. Her hand brushed by the hard swelling in his pants. Clearly, his body was more than ready for what she had in mind. However, Blake stopped her as she finally managed to unbuckle his belt.
“Not here, not like this,” he whispered to her, panting with desire. “You can’t have wanted it this way.” Vivienne backed down. Blake turned away from her and started buttoning his shirt back. His eyes were soft and kind as he reached over and squeezed her hand. “When the time is right, I will make you mine.”
Vivienne smiled mischievously at him. “Is that a promise?”
Blake threw his jacket back on and straightened his cuffs. “Believe me, when I say I want you more than anything but when it happens it will be in a place befitting us.” Blake cupped the back of her head and kissed her on her forehead. “And then I will completely ravage every inch of you. That’s a promise, my love.”
“Fine,” Vivienne sighed and straightened up her messy cascade of jet black hair. She eased herself closer to him and laid her head on his shoulder. Sitting there, with his arms around her, Vivienne felt like she could close her eyes and imagine they were sitting under a willow tree in River Way. How often had she thought back to those times and tried to imagine him beside her? It seemed hardly fair that their moments of peace were so few and far apart. “I will fight for you,” Vivienne whispered as she wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. “I won’t let her take you.”
“I meant what I said in the caves,” Blake whispered back as he stroked her hair. “I’ll always be with you. From the beginning I was yours, body and soul.”
As the ship neared shore, Vivienne found Julian standing alone at the bow. She had left Blake because she wanted to clarify their game plan, or rather if there even was a plan. Julian was happily waving to some flashing lights at the shore.
“The cameras, they love me.” Julian said, flashing a dazzling smile. “Who can blame them?” Vivienne wondered if it was inappropriate to stare at his eyes since he was wearing eyeliner. It was too late, he chuckled at her stare. “I’m so secure in my masculinity I can wear whatever I want.”
“I don’t question that,” Vivienne said with a cough. “I was actually just wondering if I get make-up tips from you in the future.”
Julian made at face at her simple outfit of stone-washed jeans and a plain black t-shirt. “I think you need wardrobe advice first. You look like a little boy.” He waved his hand at her absently. “Don’t worry, I’ll take you shopping immediately after we meet with Maglania. If Blake is indisposed, I’ll step in as a good friend should. I can’t let his woman go wandering around town looking like an extra from Les Misérables.”
“What do you mean by indisposed?” Vivienne asked as she leaned against the rail of the boat. The magnificent skyline of Coral City was built to inspire awe but all she felt was dread.
“Well, there’s always the chance Maglania will rip out his heart and eat it.” Julian said, rubbing his chin. “But more likely she’ll just make him wish she had.” Julian’s voice took a darker turn. “You’ll see, princess, no one challenges Maglania. Blake has some balls doing what he did. Though after today, she’ll probably keep his balls in a jar on her bookcase.”
Vivienne made a face. “I just find it hard to believe you’re one of her princes. I guess not being crude isn’t a requirement.”
“Hey!” Julian said, throwing up his hands in protest. “Not everyone can be born into wealth and good breeding. This whole demon thing it comes naturally to Blake. He can transform into a bird, a beast, whatever he wants, any hour of the day. Do you know how hard it was for me to make myself into that tiger demon? I don’t think my shoulder blades will ever recover. Also, those el tigre stripes, they were a work of art weren’t they? Maybe he was born with demonic aptitude but I was born with that sense of style.”
“Yes, the stripes were definitely slimming,” Vivienne said, rolling her eyes. Julian threw his purple scarf over his shoulder again and the wind blew it dramatically behind him.
“Little girl,” Julian said, mockingly. “Down in the demon pits, babe, there are no rich boys or poor boys, there is just death and more death. That’s why I don’t envy him for his money or his class. Once you see him fight, really fight, not play fight like in Remin, you forget he’s some blue-blooded upper cruster. He took three impaling wounds to the chest and walked it off just by drinking some deer blood. That guy is really something else.” Julian nodded at her. “That’s why I don’t think Maglania will kill him. He’s too valuable to her. She’s cruel and vengeful but not stupid.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Don’t interfere. Play along. Maglania is a narcissist. Get on her good side and wait for your time to strike.” Julian smiled wickedly at her. “You’re not ready yet. You think you’ve seen a lot in Remin but that was just training wheels. Blake and I were with you, watching you, at every turn. Now, when this boat docks, so ends our ability to protect you. Time for the real deal now, love.”