Family Ties - (Book 3 of the Marvelous 3 Saga)

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24 - Interview with a Vampire

Kiara let out a deep sigh as Leo pulled over to a convenience store on the highway. “...Leo... Why are we stopping… again?” Kiara asked.

“Because I’m angry as fuck. I’m heated. And I need to stay hydrated to keep my temperature down,” he grumbled as he hopped off the bike.

She watched the muscles in his jaw tense as he helped her off of his bike. “..Leo..”

“Just don’t, Kiara,” he said abruptly as he stormed into the store.

Kiara groaned as she ran her hand over her face. Those were the most words Leo had said to her since they left his house. He was still reeling after he blew up on her for having the audacity to ask him about being in love with two people.

“What do you mean two fucking people?!” he blurted.

“I-...”

“Don’t tell me you’re referring to that goddamn bloodsucker!”

“..Leo..”

“Fucking shit, Kiara!”

She had never seen Leo lose his stiffy so quickly in all her time knowing him. He was so angry that his eyes were glowing amber for a good 3 hours, and that was after she had already taken a nap. To make matters worse, Marshala was held up with Nick on campus handling an emergency, leaving Leo responsible to take Kiara back to the Blackbournes. She swore he was about to morph right then and there. If Nick hadn’t threatened him, he might have kept Kiara locked up in his room with him for the rest of the week.

Kiara followed Leo into the store to see him standing near one of the open fridges. She walked up to him, but he kept his angry gaze on the drinks. “...Leo?” she said softly.

“What, Angel.” His voice was tense and strained. But at least he was calling her ‘Angel’ again.

“I know you’re upset with me,” she said.

“That’s the understatement of the century,” he said, reaching for a large bottle of water.

“I can’t help how I feel, Leo...”

“So you’ve said over and over and over again,” he said with irritation in his voice.

Kiara sighed as she crossed her arms, hugging herself and looked ahead of her to the cashier watching them. “Could you please at least try to be more understanding, Leo?” she asked. “I mean I didn’t plan this. I can’t help my feelings for Alexander anymore than I can help the ones I have for you.”

“Please don’t say his fucking name,” Leo said tensely as he closed the refrigerator door.

She followed him to the cash register. “Why do you hate them so much, Leo? Is it really because of some stupid age-old rule that says you have to hate each other?”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s much deeper than that,” Leo grumbled as he pulled cash out of his wallet.

“You guys are hardly that different.”

“We’re nothing like those damn vampires,” he snapped angrily. “We’re not fucking murderers!”

Kiara could sense Leo’s anger rising again until she noticed the cashier looking at them quite confused. “We’re talking about the uh... latest episode of... True Blood... vampires and what not... My friend here really gets into the show, right Leo?” she said with a fake smile. Leo merely sneered as he cussed under his breath.

“Will that be all?” the cashier asked.

Leo glanced at Kiara and softened his tone. “...Do you want anything, Angel…?” There was much reluctance in his voice, but she loved that he was still thinking of her needs despite being angry as hell. She grabbed a Snickers bar.

Leo placed a 20 on the counter. “And I’m her mate. Not her friend,” Leo said to the cashier before strolling out of the store. Kiara gawked in shock before she ran after him.

“So are we just completely throwing discretion out of the window now?” Kiara said, following him outside.

“Mortals don’t even know what mates are,” Leo said, grabbing his helmet and handing it to her. “Would you have preferred if I said ‘boyfriend’? ‘Fiance’? ‘Future husband’? Or is that something reserved for the monster waiting to kill you in your sleep?”

She grabbed the helmet and frowned. “Leo... I told you that I loved you... that I’m in love with you.”

“Yea, Angel. And it will go down as one of the best moments of my life. But just a mere few seconds later my joy came crashing down when you told me you were in love with the very creature I’m trying to protect you from.”

“Alexander has never hurt me...”

“Yet,” Leo grumbled as he mounted his bike. “Get on, Angel.”

Kiara sighed wearily and mounted his bike. She wrapped her arms tightly around his muscular waist and lay her head against his broad back, reveling in his warmth. Despite how angry he was with her, he felt good in her arms, and his scent only relaxed her nerves.

Kiara’s soft embrace was the only thing that managed to keep Leo from flipping out. He loved her scent, her voice, her body heat that meshed so well with his own. He wished he could turn back around, bring her home, and make love to her in his room again. But he had a job to do. He started up his bike, and reluctantly set off towards the Blackbourne Manor.

~

Leo helped Kiara off his bike and looked up at the manor. His face tensed up with angst. “Hey...” she said, grabbing his face between her hands. He looked down at her to see a warm smile on her face. “Thank you for bringing me,” she said.

He grabbed her hand on his cheek and kissed it over and over again. “I’d do anything for you, Angel...”

“Like make nice with the Blackbournes?” she asked sweetly.

“Don’t push your luck, babe...” he muttered. He looked up at the manor again. “You sure you don’t wanna just stay with me? It’s not too late for me to bring you back...”

Kiara chuckled. “I need to train so I can, you know... not die...”

Leo frowned. “I would protect you with my life.”

“Leo, we’ve been through this.”

He let out a deep sigh, feeling beyond frustrated. “Fine...” He took her hand and followed her down the pathway. His eyes were on full alert. He hadn’t been this close to the Blackbourne Manor since the war.

Elijah opened the door just as the two of them approached. “Elijah!” she said with a bright smile on her face.

“Kiara,” Elijah smiled back. He glanced at Leo who had the most unfriendly look on his face. “...Leonardo.”

‘Leo’ is just fine,” Leo said quickly. “Only my parents call me ‘Leonardo’.”

Elijah could sense a bit of pain in Leo’s voice at the mention of his parents. He immediately remembered how quickly the young Volkov wolf was able to bounce back on his feet and help the other witches, despite watching his mother die before his eyes. Despite their stark differences, he couldn’t deny he had some respect for their tenacity in the face of such plight. One of the many distinct traits of the famous Volkov warriors.

“Of course... my apologies,” Elijah said calmly. “Thank you for bringing Kiara back to us safely.”

Leo eyed Elijah suspiciously. “Just... make sure she stays that way...safe.”

“You have my word,” Elijah assured him.

Leo softened his anger when he felt Kiara squeeze his hand. “You’ll call me if you need me?” Leo said, turning to her. “Anything at all. I’ll be there, Angel.”

“I have you on speed dial, Leo,” she chuckled.

Leo paid no mind to the elder vampire watching him as he wrapped his arms around Kiara’s waist. He pulled her body flushed against his and entangled his fingers in her hair. Pressing his lips firmly against hers in a ferocious kiss, he completely took her breath away. He erotically nibbled on her bottom lip and squeezed her ass possessively before he finally let her go.

Elijah quirked a brow as he watched them. The scene looked all too familiar. Leo had similar tendencies to his brother. The same hopeless, protective, self-sacrificial love. There was no doubting his love for Kiara. He couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of the similarity of their situations. He was only grateful that Alexander was still out with Cole.

“Leo...” Kiara grumbled embarrassed as she stumbled out of Leo’s arms. “You’re giving Elijah a damn show.”

“That was for me not for him,” Leo said, giving her a peck on the cheek. “I’ll see you later, Angel.” Leo glanced one last time at Elijah who nodded at him reassuringly. Leo grunted before heading back to his bike. He started the engine and reluctantly took off.

~*~

“I’m sorry about that,” Kiara said. She sat at the kitchen table with a box of cereal, milk, and a bowl in her hands. “Leo is such a sweet guy but... he can be a lil cray cray.”

“Well, he cares about you. It only makes sense,” Elijah said, sitting across from her, watching her pour cereal into the bowl.

“Why do they hate you guys so much? I really don’t understand,” she said, munching on her cereal. “You guys are so sweet. Especially you.”

Elijah gave her a warm smile and averted his gaze. “I wasn’t always, Kiara,” he said. “I’ve... hurt many people. Especially those who are dear to me.”

Kiara watched his face. “...Like Marshala?” she asked softly.

Elijah immediately frowned as he felt his heart sink. “...yes...”

Kiara looked into her bowl. “Marshala told me you guys were engaged...”

Elijah looked up at her surprised. He instinctively played with the ring on his finger as his eyes glazed over. “We were... I proposed to her on our trip to Paris. She was still a student at the time.”

Kiara looked at him curiously. “What happened between you two?”

Elijah tried to swallow down his sadness. “Death happened, Kiara. Death... and violence.” Kiara assumed she wasn’t going to get more out of him. He seemed as closed off about the subject as Marshala was. She’d have to figure out how to pry it out of them one day.

“KIARA!” She looked behind her to see Peter running towards her with a bouquet of lavender in his hands.

“Hey, Peter!” she said, reaching down to hug him. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too,” Peter said, hugging her. He pulled back and looked up at her with a smile. “Evangeline talked to me today!”

Kiara looked at him startled. “She did?”

“She’s conscious,” Elijah added. “But only for a few brief seconds.”

“That’s fantastic!” Kiara said. She eyed the flowers in his hands. “Is that for Evangeline?” she asked.

Peter nodded. “I’m going to visit her now. You should come!”

“Kiara has work to do, Peter,” Elijah said. Peter immediately frowned.

“I’ll come visit afterward, okay?” she said quickly.

Peter immediately brightened up. “Okay!” She watched him as he quickly bounded out of the kitchen.

“Elijah,” Kiara said. “I imagine you all are fairly... older.”

“Very,” he said.

“Including Peter?”

“Peter is older than both Alexander and Cole.”

Kiara looked at him shocked. “Shouldn’t he speak like a philosopher or something if he’s been alive that long?”

Elijah smiled sadly. “The only thing worse than becoming a vampire, Kiara... is becoming a vampire... as a child...” Kiara looked at Elijah confused. “Take my hand,” Elijah said, offering her his hand. “Let’s exercise your magic a bit more.”

“You know how to use magic?” she asked.

“I am not a witch... but I have worked with many of them for centuries and have picked up a few things,” he said. “Your hand...” he persisted. Kiara hesitated before taking his hand and her mind immediately flashed.

~

“Are you sure she’ll be here,” Elijah said, pacing in front of a large quiet house.

“She said she would,” Evangeline said sternly, keeping her eyes on the door she eagerly waited to open.

Elijah tapped his foot impatiently. “I just-... she seemed so unsure last time you spoke.”

“Are you questioning me, Elijah?” Evangeline said, looking at him sharply.

Elijah sighed. “Of course not... but I don’t want to get Peter’s hopes up again just to leave him disappointed. You remember what happened last time.”

“Obviously, I remember, Elijah. I’m still recovering from his tantrum.”

“I CAN HEAR YOU BOTH!” Peter said loudly. Elijah and Evangeline glanced at Peter leaning against the wall with a book in his hands. He looked up at them with an angry glare in his cold blue eyes. “I appreciate the…’effort’. But kindly do me the favor of NOT speaking to each other as if I am not in your presence,” Peter snapped at them. “I may look like a child but that doesn’t mean you have to treat me like one!”

“Peter,” Elijah started.

“I’ll hear none of it, Elijah,” Peter said coldly as he looked back down at his book. “See if mother’s fickle friends make good on their promises for once. It’ll be a miracle, indeed.” Elijah looked at Evangeline who had an exasperated look on her face.

“Fickle, am I, Peter?” Melissa’s voice abruptly rang from inside the house. The three of them looked up completely startled by the beautiful dark-skinned witch standing in the window. “I’m the mortal here,” she chuckled. “How on earth do I manage to startle 3 old vampires?”

“Mellie,” Evangeline smiled relieved.

Melissa eyed Evangeline with a smirk on her face. She disappeared from the window before quietly stepping out of the house through the back door. “Follow me,” she waved. The three of them followed her as she led them to the stables. The horses neighed at the presence of the 3 strange creatures that accompanied the lone witch. “Hush now…” Melissa said, stroking the head of a black horse. “They are friends. Be still.”

“It seems we repulse all living creatures,” Elijah said, walking into the stable. He eyed the horses that frantically moved back away from him.

“Just the ones you eat,” Mellisa teased.

Evangeline shook her head with a chuckle. “Is it alright for us to be here?”

Melissa nodded as she led them to the far end of the stable. “Master Martin is out for the day... I have the house to myself...” she said, looking at Evangeline suggestively. Evangeline smirked at her. Her blue eyes darkened as she watched Melissa sensually bite her bottom lip. Elijah abruptly cleared his throat, ending their flirtation. “Right,” Melissa said, redirecting her attention. “Where are your other two sons? Alexander and Cole.”

“Running an errand,” Evangeline said quickly. “Mellie, the reason I came is because of... Peter...” Evangeline said, looking at him. “He... his body is...”

“I’m a 150-year-old vampire in the body of a child,” Peter quipped. “It’s a wonder that I haven’t gone entirely mad already.”

Melissa looked at him curiously. “And what do you want me for?”

“We were hoping you had some type of magic or... potion to help with the aging process?” Elijah spoke up.

“You’re already immortal,” Melissa said. “Your condition is a solution to the aging process.”

“It’s not a solution, it’s a curse!” Peter snapped.

“Peter...” Evangeline started.

“No!” Peter shouted. “Do you have any idea what it is like to have the mind, the knowledge, the needs of a century-old adult but relegated to the body of a toddler? My childhood was already stolen from me when that madman kidnapped me, murdered my entire family, and forced me to roam this earth, held for ransom in this god-forsaken body! I beg of you! Release me from this prison!”

Melissa could see Peter’s small frail body was shaking with anger and desperation. Her heart ached for how he felt. She looked up to see the same look of worry and anguish in Evangeline and Elijah’s faces. “I... cannot change your body, Peter...” she said sadly. “That kind of magic... I.. I don’t..”

Peter looked at her incredulously. His eyes immediately bled red and his fangs quickly descended. In seconds, he broke the leg off of a wooden stool and pushed it into his chest, just piercing the skin.

“PETER!” Evangeline screeched.

“THEN END ME!” he shouted angrily. “I WOULD RATHER DIE!”

“PETER, NO!” Elijah said, rushing to grab the wood from him. He quickly threw the piece of wood as Peter collapsed in his arms, crying hysterically.

“I CANNOT LIVE LIKE THIS! I CANNOT! KILL ME! PLEASE, KILL ME!” Peter cried as blood tears streamed down his pale, petite face.

Evangeline quickly met Elijah and Peter on the floor as she embraced them both in her arms. “Oh... my dear Peter...” she whimpered.

Melissa watched helplessly as the three of them broke down together, trying desperately to comfort a distraught Peter. She furrowed her brow, seriously pondering, before finally speaking up. “I... I cannot fix your body, Peter... but perhaps... I can fix your mind...” she said, catching their attention.

Evangeline looked at her curiously. “What do you mean?”

“I can deconstruct Peter’s mind... to that of a child. Years will go on... his mind will remain the same,” Melissa explained.

Evangeline looked at her surprised. “Will it impede his knowledge? His ability to learn?”

“No,” Melissa said, shaking her head. “He will still learn, still have the same brain functionality, but his mind will remain in a childlike state.”

“That’s preposterous!” Elijah said.

“It’s the only other way,” Melissa insisted. “As long as you treat him as such. Be his mother, his brother. He won’t just have the mind of a child but he will have the same needs and not those of an adult. I will have to... remove some of his memories...”

“That’s out of the question,” Elijah said. “That’s changing everything about who he is-”

“I’ll do it,” Peter said quickly.

They all looked at him startled as he wiped the bloodstains from his cheeks. “Peter...” Elijah said softly.

“You are not the one who has to live this way, brother,” Peter said. “You, Alexander, and Cole. You are free to move about this earth as you see fit, masquerading as something you are not. And no mortal bats an eye when you indulge. I do not have the same luxury. I would rather have the mind of a child, free from life’s worst sins than to live the rest of my days hating who and what I am.” Peter looked at Melissa with determination in his eyes. “Do it.”

Elijah and Evangeline watched as Melissa sat down on the floor in front of Peter. She sprinkled something on his forehead before dabbing oil around his face, neck, and wrists. She touched her fingertips to his temples and closed her eyes as she began to chant. Peter’s eyes shut tight as he began to tremble. The horses neighed, moving further away from them. Peter let out a bloodcurdling scream before he immediately passed out.

“Is he alright?!” Evangeline panicked, rushing to his side.

“He will be,” Melissa said, standing to her feet.

“Elijah, come pick up your brother. Bring him back to the carriage,” Evangeline said.

Elijah quickly walked over and crouched down to pick Peter up in his arms. “Thank you, Melissa,” Elijah nodded before he quickly disappeared with Peter.

Evangeline looked at Melissa somberly. “What would I ever do without you, Mellie?”

“Probably spend your days lonely and vastly unsatisfied,” Melissa teased.

Evangeline smirked as she stepped closer to Melissa and cupped her cheek. “I’ll come back to see you later. I promise,” Evangeline said.

“You and your promises, Evangeline...” Melissa said, as her breathing shortened. She watched as Evangeline leaned in and gave her a tender kiss on the lips.

“MELISSA!” Came a harsh abrupt voice from the house.

Melissa quickly pushed Evangeline back. “Master Martin is here. Go, quickly,” Melissa said. Evangeline looked at her sadly before rushing out of the stables.

~

Kiara slowly opened her eyes to see blood tear stains on Elijah’s cheeks as his blue eyes peered back at her. “Elijah?”

“Forgive me,” he said, quickly wiping his face.

Kiara looked at him sadly before lowering her head. Her eyes darted, trying to think. “That was... wow...” she said. “So Peter... is under a spell or something?”

“Bound by magic rather,” Elijah said. “It’s for his own good... and by his own choice.”

“Is there never the possibility of helping him to become a full adult?” she asked.

“To be a vampire is to remain in the same body forever. Frozen. Like a photograph. If such magic does exist, I know not of it,” Elijah said. Kiara frowned, feeling heartbroken over Peter. They heard voices outside when Cole and Alexander walked through the door.

“I’m telling you, brother. Just one damn night and I swear it will change your fucking life,” Cole said.

“You always say that and you’re always wrong,” Alexander scoffed.

“Just give it a chance,” Cole protested.

“I already did! I told you I’m not into it. Besides, I have Kiara for thaaa- hiii...” Alexander said, walking into the kitchen. His eyes widened when he saw Kiara sitting at the table with Elijah.

“Hey, Alexander,” she said with a curious smile. “You have me for what?”

Alexander’s eyes bulged as he swallowed hard. “Go on, Alexander,” Cole smirked. “Finish your sentence. You have Kiara for what?” Alexander gave Cole an evil glare that set Cole into a fit of laughter.

“For... attractions to visit... when we have spare time,” Alexander fumbled. “You always have the best ideas.” She looked at him confused.

“I was trying to get Alexander to come out to one of my concerts,” Cole smirked. “For some reason... he’s just so adamantly against it. I wonder why, brother.”

Alexander was ready to rip Cole’s head off before Kiara spoke up. “That sounds like fun! We should go!” she said.

“That’s a bad idea,” Elijah said quickly.

“That’s a very bad idea,” Alexander protested simultaneously.

“Why?” she asked. “I’d love to see Cole in action.”

“Oh, would you now?” Cole smirked suggestively. “I could always just give you a private show, little thing.”

“COLE!” Alexander snarled angrily.

“Well, I’m glad you’re both here,” Elijah said, quickly standing up. “Let’s begin Kiara on her training, shall we? We haven’t got all day.” Elijah gave Cole a hard glare before escorting Kiara outside.

~*~

“So... how exactly should we go about this?” Alexander said, watching Kiara stretch. “Should we start with prepping for speed or being on the alert for stealth?”

“Have you hit it from the back yet?” Cole said abruptly as he stared at Kiara.

Alexander nearly choked as he shoved Cole hard in the shoulder. “What the fuck is actually wrong with you, Cole?!”

“It’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, Alexander. How are you gonna make yourself loyal to one chick, and a mortal one at that, and not hit it from all angles?” Cole scoffed.

“This has nothing to do with her training and it’s none of your damn business,” Alexander said.

“It’s a different kind of training. You can help her be more... limber...” Cole smirked as Alexander groaned in frustration.

“Alright, Kiara,” Elijah said, walking towards her. “When it comes to vampires, there are two main things you need to be aware of: speed and stealth. Vampires can move at a speed that makes us almost invisible to the mortal eye. Take Cole for example.” Elijah beckoned Cole who appeared in front of them in mere seconds. “Cole is one of the fastest... though not faster than me,” Elijah smirked.

“Oh fuck off, Elijah!” Cole snarked as Elijah chuckled.

“A vampire as fast as Cole can cover the entire expansion of these forests in 60 seconds,” Elijah continued.

“30 if I’ve eaten,” Cole smirked. “But who’s counting...”

“On the other hand, there’s stealth. Vampires often go undetected because of how quiet they are,” Elijah said. “Alexander is especially good at this. You can barely hear him by the time he’s reached you.”

“Hi, Kiara-”

“AH!” Kiara jumped startled when she looked to see Alexander standing right next to her. “Holy crap! You nearly gave me a heart attack!” she said, grabbing her chest.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” Alexander smirked. “Just proving the point.” Alexander backed up next to Cole as Elijah continued.

“Coupled together, speed and stealth are lethal. You’ll have to know how to counteract them if you want to survive. As a mortal, you will never be able to outrun a vampire, nor will you really be able to detect them in time. But what you can do... is out-think and outmaneuver them.” Elijah walked behind her and held both her wrists within his cold hands. “Remember the fire that you can conjure?” Elijah asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“You need to learn to focus on channeling that into a specific target rather than shooting it aimlessly,” Elijah instructed.

“But how can I do that if I don’t know when they’re coming?” she asked.

“You are a witch, Kiara,” Elijah said. “Your advantage over vampires is your connection to this planet. The grass, the trees, the wind, the water. You can sense the movement or presence of a vampire a few feet away and channel that power before they’ve reached you.”

“That... sounds impossible,” she said exasperated.

“If it were impossible, half of your family bloodline would have never been born,” Elijah said. “It’s a skill Melissa mastered rather early.” Elijah gestured to the boys, signaling for them to spread out. “Close your eyes... use the elements around you to distinguish what doesn’t belong... before it’s too late.”

Elijah backed away and disappeared completely from her as Kiara closed her eyes. She breathed deeply as she tried to focus on the elements around her. The flutter of the leaves, the swashing of the lake nearby. The howling of the wind. Her ears twitched when she felt something. She went to move but felt something push her back and found herself on the ground. She looked up to see Cole smirking as he walked around her. “Gotta be quicker than that, little thing.”

She rolled her eyes as she stood back on her feet and Cole immediately disappeared. She closed her eyes again when she felt a kiss on her cheek. She opened her eyes to see Alexander right in front of her, smiling. “Alexander!”

“Sorry... you looked so cute... I couldn’t help myself,” he smirked.

“I barely sensed you,” she frowned.

“In time, iubita mea...” he said, gently wrapping a hand around her waist. “Just need practice...” Kiara felt her skin heat up against Alexander’s cold touch as his lips brushed against hers. He immediately grabbed the back of her head, intensifying their kiss as his other hand started to work its way up her shirt.

“Alexander...” she moaned out as he pushed her back against a tree. His lips descended to her neck as he squeezed her plumpness underneath her shirt.

“I don’t remember this being part of the training,” Elijah said, startling them both.

Alexander quickly scrambled off of her as Kiara pulled her shirt down. “Is this what we’re doing now? Someone should have told me,” Cole smirked with his arms folded across his chest.

“Alexander,” Elijah said sternly. “A word.”

Alexander deeply sighed as he left Kiara with Cole to go talk to Elijah. “I already know what you’re going to say,” Alexander said.

“You know and yet you do the exact opposite,” Elijah scolded. “This is not how you will keep her alive, Alexander. We, vampires, are her biggest threat. She is in this position because of us!”

“I know, Elijah, I know,” Alexander said exasperated as he ran his fingers through his hair.

Elijah eyed him curiously. “Are you acting out because of what today is?”

“No!” Alexander said sharply. “And I’m not acting out.”

“Alexander, you tend not to be yourself around this time of-”

“I said I’m not, Elijah!” Alexander snapped. Elijah looked at him sharply and Alexander’s eyes fell. “I’m fine, alright?” Alexander said. “It’s not an issue anymore. And it’s not the same with Kiara. It’s just... I can’t help myself around her sometimes.”

“Well then learn. Discipline yourself to maintain control.”

“The way you learned to control yourself with Marshala?” Alexander quipped.

Elijah looked at him startled, caught off guard by the question. “That’s not the same thing, Alexander. Marshala has already mastered her powers.”

“So, you agree... you don’t control yourself with her...” Alexander said.

Elijah gave Alexander a hard look. “Continue to work with Kiara... I’m going to check on Evangeline...”

Alexander knew he had hit a sore spot with Elijah. He wasn’t trying to be a smart ass, but he didn’t like the way Elijah came at him. Especially concerning what today was. He looked behind him when he heard Kiara laughing. Cole had her pinned to the ground as his body hovered over her. Alexander immediately felt his anger flare up as he headed straight for them.

“Cole, stop!” Kiara laughed.

“Give in, little thing!” Cole teased. “Just admit that-” Cole quickly felt his body being hauled into the air before Alexander roughly tossed him to the ground.

“Alexander!” Kiara said, surprised. “We were just joking around!”

Alexander mumbled under his breath. Cole laughed hysterically as he stood to his feet, shaking his head. He walked behind Alexander and whispered in his ear. “If I didn’t know any better... I’d think you were jealous, brother...” Cole taunted.

“I’m not... jealous...” Alexander muttered.

“Well, it’s either that... or you’re really letting this day get to you,” Cole said. “I can see it. Elijah can see it... shit, Kiara can probably see it too...” Alexander watched as Cole casually walked up to Kiara. “Ready to go again, little thing?” Cole said, helping her up.

~

Kiara lay on the grass, breathing heavily, trying to catch her breath. She looked up to see Cole chilling in a high branch of the tree in front of her. “Aww, little thing, you look tired,” he smirked mockingly.

“I AM TIRED!” she growled at him. “Oh, my god, and I’m starving. I want food. So badly. Like a hamburger with extra cheese. And maybe some fries. Is there a McDonald’s around here? Burger King maybe? Five Guys? Wendy’s? Let me get that fo fa fo!”

“All of that sounds gross,” Cole said, making a face.

“Here,” Alexander said. He crouched down next to her and handed her a sandwich.

“Oh thank God! Thank you, Alexander! Wait... did you make this?” she said, looking at it suspiciously.

Alexander smirked. “What exactly are you trying to imply?”

“Y’all don’t have taste buds! Excuse me for being a little wary since last time y’all made me food, I almost died from food poisoning.”

Cole laughed. “And the Oscar for best actress goes to!” She stuck her middle finger up at Cole and he laughed hysterically.

“I bought it, Kiara,” Alexander said flatly. “We went shopping for you yesterday while you were with...”

Kiara looked up at him to see the tense look on his face as his words trailed off. “Well, thank you, Alexander,” she said, sitting up as she unwrapped the sandwich. “I appreciate it.” She frowned, noting his closed-off demeanor and the way his eyes diverted from hers.

“I forget how quickly mortals get tired,” Cole said, jumping from branch to branch before landing on the ground. “It must suck to have such a weak immune system.”

“Well excuse the hell out of me for being human!” she said, stuffing her face. “Maybe if I were a vampire, I’d-”

“NO!” Alexander snapped abruptly. Kiara looked at him startled. “S-sorry,” Alexander said, quickly looking away. “I didn’t mean to yell. I...” He looked at Cole who gave him a knowing look. Alexander heavily sighed before standing to his feet and walking away. Cole watched him disappear into the house before he shook his head.

“Did I say something wrong?” she asked.

“Eh... he’s just touchy...” Cole said.

Kiara frowned. “He does seem a bit... off today...”

“He always gets this way around this time of year,” Cole said.

Kiara looked at Cole curiously. “What’s this time of year?”

“Around the time that Lisa died.”

Kiara looked at him surprised. “Lisa? Who’s Lisa?”

Cole looked at her. “The last woman he loved before you.”

~*~

Kiara knocked on Alexander’s door and walked in when he didn’t answer. “Alexander?” She saw him sitting on his bed, staring out the window.

“I’m sorry, Kiara,” he said softly. “I know I’ve been kinda... cold to you today. It wasn’t intentional...”

Kiara frowned as she walked over to sit next to him on the bed. “Cole told me it might be about... Lisa?” Alexander immediately tensed up at the name. “It’s okay, Alexander,” she said, putting her hand on his shoulder.

“No... it’s not,” Alexander said lowly. “Cause I’m the reason she’s dead.” Kiara looked at him surprised as Alexander reflected back:

I met Lisa in New York during the roaring 20s. The US economy was at its peak. And the music... so beautiful… Soulful jazz was the music of the era. It was often the inspiration for my art.

That’s what I was at the time. A traveling artist. It was the perfect time for creatives like myself to really make a name for ourselves. And to meet other creatives... like Lisa.

Lisa was a product of her time. A stage performer. She loved to dance. And boy did the audience love her. She had the voice of an angel that stirred any man who heard her.

The first time I saw her was at a nightclub where I was showcasing my art. She was performing the same night. She really knew how to work her audience. They were in an uproar as she teased and titillated not just the mortal men but the immortal ones as well.

Her beauty was undeniable but I paid no notice. I knew I was no good to any mortal woman. So I minded my business. But that didn’t stop her from approaching me. Out of all the men that propositioned her, for some reason, I caught her eye.

It only took one drink. One night. And she was mine.

With a love like ours, I couldn’t keep my... condition... a secret. When I first told Lisa that I was a vampire, I thought that would be the end of us. That she would fear me. But it had the exact opposite effect. It emboldened her. She became obsessed with vampires. She would ask me to drink from her which I had sworn off feeding from mortals but... she begged me. Claimed it would strengthen our relationship, so... it became a part of how we made love...

It’s not unusual for vampires to feed from their lovers, but I was always a bit... wary. I became addicted to her, and she to me. We became each other’s life source.

What I hadn’t known was that Lisa was wrapped up in the dealings of American gangsters, so prevalent in the 1920s. A significant portion of her earnings would go to them. They were running her life. Her obsession with vampires morphed into her wanting to become one to escape that life altogether. Every day she would ask me to turn her. But I absolutely could not. I refused to let her ruin her life like that. I convinced her that becoming a vampire was not the way. That we should just run away together instead. Away from this life and start our own.

The day we were supposed to leave was the last day of her performance. She came to visit me at the art studio. Caught me rather off guard. She looked out of it. Her appearance was perfect as always but her eyes reflected turmoil. I should have known then...

I thought she visited to give me a good luck kiss as she always did. But there was something desperate about the way she kissed me. There was pain... hopelessness... Like she was kissing me for the last time.

I decided to see her earlier than usual just to make sure she was okay. But when I found her in her dressing room she held a knife in her stomach. She had stabbed herself and was bleeding out. There was blood everywhere, but she was still alive. She begged for me to turn her. Told me that if I truly loved her, then I would.

But I... I couldn’t... she had no idea that being a vampire was a fate worse than death.

I’ll never forget the look in her eyes when she realized I wouldn’t do it. It broke my heart. And I... I let her die...

Kiara watched as blood tears streaked down Alexander’s face. “Alexander, that’s not your fault,” Kiara said, holding his hand. “If she really loved you, she wouldn’t have put you in that position.”

“I should have never gotten involved with her in the first place...”

“But she pursued you,” Kiara insisted. “You can’t blame yourself for the choices other people make. You tried to protect her. It was her decision to approach you that night. And her decision to stab herself. Not yours.”

Alexander looked at Kiara and considered her words. “I’ve spent years blaming myself for her death...”

“You gotta let it go, Alexander. You can’t carry that sort of weight on yourself.”

“Her death is not the only one, Kiara,” Alexander said sharply. “If you only knew... about my family... my parents... my little sist-” Alexander faltered as he choked up, trying to hold back his sobs.

Kiara looked at him sadly. She could tell the pain of his past ran deep and he was still healing from it. She wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him tightly. “We don’t have to talk about it right now, Alexander,” she said into his chest. “I’m here for you regardless.”

Alexander calmed his tears as he wrapped an arm around Kiara and kissed the top of her head. She sighed against his chest when she felt the vibrations against her cheek from his low voice as he spoke. “Are you here for me, Kiara…?” he said softly.

She felt his finger lift her chin up until she met his gaze. She searched his eyes that roamed her face, taking in every little detail. “You trust me despite what I am…” he said, staring at her mouth.

Kiara swallowed hard and nodded. “Of course, I do, Alexander.”

Alexander sensually licked his bottom lip as his light blue eyes locked her in a gaze. There was so much emotion in his eyes as he quickly pressed his lips against hers. She closed her eyes and allowed his tongue to explore her mouth. His kiss started slow and soft before he firmly gripped her neck and deepened their passion. Kiara could feel the switch in Alexander’s mood as a low growl escaped his lips. His grip on her tightened and she felt her heart rate speed up.

In seconds, she found herself lying flat on the bed before her shirt was whipped off of her. Her pants soon went flying in the air before Alexander was tugging her panties down with his fangs. “Alexander?” she said startled. She heard the sound of a tear before she saw her panties go flying as well. “Did you just rip-?!”

“Sorry. I didn’t think it would be so delicate,” he said from between her legs.

“Alexander, wai-” She let out a loud gasp as he buried his face between her legs, immediately plunging his tongue into her core. She instinctively grabbed the back of his head as she felt his tongue trace along her folds before flicking her clit. “Alexander,” she panted. “You’re moving a little fast, baby.”

“Kiara, this is my normal speed,” he moaned. He gripped her thighs, pulling her further down onto his mouth.

“Well, your ‘normal speed’ is way too fast for me- oh fuck!” she squealed as he plunged two fingers into her cunt as his lips claimed her nub. She had no idea what came over him to make him go from sad and emotional to horny as hell. Her gasps came out short and erratic and before she knew it, she was already coming hard. She quickly grabbed his pillow to cover her mouth and muffle her moans.

“I hate seeing his mark,” she heard him say from below. “I should leave my own...”

“Can we opt for tattoos instead of bite marks?!” she grumbled.

She heard him chuckle as he ran his tongue along the soft skin of her inner thigh. “I’m going to make you come again, Kiara,” he said, kissing her thigh as he gently ran his fingers along her hip. “And again... and again... and again... because I love hearing the beautiful sounds you make when I touch you...”

“Alexander, we don’t have time for that.”

“We have time if you can keep up.”

She looked down at him incredulously. “Okay, how about my body doesn’t have the stamina for that!”

He chuckled as he crawled up and lay down beside her. “I have desperately wanted you since we first made love, Kiara,” he said, tracing his finger down her stomach. “I miss your taste. Your warmth...” He nuzzled the side of her face as he kissed her neck. “And now that I know I can be intimate with you without hurting you, I want you all the time.”

She pushed him back and looked at him confused. “Hurting me?”

Alexander sighed. “I... sometimes have trouble with my hunger.”

She furrowed her brow. “But didn’t you say you fed from Lisa when you guys made love?”

“Well, yes, but-”

“Have you ever wanted to do that with me?”

He looked at her startled. “Why are you asking that?”

“I’m just curious...”

He averted his gaze before speaking. “...I used to think about it constantly...”

Kiara stared at him before turning on her side to face him. “What does it feel like?”

He looked at her warily. “It’s... intense. It heightens your senses... the sensation you’re feeling... can make the orgasms stronger, last longer..”

“I see...”

Alexander looked at her sharply. “I don’t feed from mortals, Kiara.”

“I didn’t say anything!”

“I can see it on your face,” he said.

Kiara rolled on her back. “I was just wondering...”

Alexander wrapped a hand around her waist and pulled her half naked body flushed to his. “I don’t need to feed from you to give you an amazing orgasm, iubita mea,” he said, kissing her neck.

“Cocky...” she smirked.

“I’m about to be,” he said, mounting her.

“Wait, Alexander,” she said apprehensively. “I need to be honest and transparent with you about something...”

He looked at her confused. “About what?”

Kiara swallowed hard as she searched his eyes. “I… I told Leo that I was in love with him...” Alexander felt his throat dry up and immediately rolled off of her. “And... I told him that... I was in love with you as well...”

Alexander quickly turned his head and looked at her with wide eyes. “...you-you’re in love with me?”

She nodded. “I know it’s stran-”

Alexander immediately grabbed her face and hungrily pressed his lips against hers. He kissed her so intensely he forgot to let her come up for air. Kiara pinched Alexander multiple times in the arm to signal that she needed to breathe. “Shit... sorry, Kiara,” he said embarrassed as she gasped. “I forget sometimes that you need to... breathe... I got caught up in the moment...”

“It’s okay,” she said, panting. “Jeezus...”

“I know that your heart is divided, Kiara,” he said, looking at her intently. “But that doesn’t change how I feel about you...”

She looked at him surprised. “It doesn’t bother you that... I’m in love with Leo too?”

“Of course, it bothers me. I can’t stand the Volkovs, and I want you all to myself. But, if you’re willing to love me despite the fact that I’m a vampire then... well that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?”

Kiara smiled at him, completely moved by his words. He read her emotions and leaned in to kiss her again. But there was a quick knock on the door that interrupted followed by Cole barging into the room. Kiara squealed, trying to hide her naked body under the covers as Alexander quickly blocked her.

“Cole, what the fuck?!” Alexander said angrily.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Catch you at a bad time?” Cole smirked.

“Get the fuck out!” Alexander demanded.

Cole rolled his eyes. “Elijah wants you both downstairs. Marshala and the Volkov are here. Some shit about another student dead on campus.”

Kiara’s eyes widened in shock. “What?! Who?!”

“The campus librarian I think,” Cole said.

Kiara gawked. “Sarah?! But when? How? I just saw her the other day!”

“I don’t know, little thing. But her killer left a message... a message for you..”

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