Chapter 13 - A Date in the Park
Due to the nature of my work and my complete lack of morals, I had been asked to do some truly reprehensible things in my life but this was the first time anyone asked me to do something this awful to a female Valkyrie. The request almost gave me pause, until I saw what they were willing to pay to deal out this sort of pain. Once the offer was presented to me, all of my doubts faded away. If I didn’t do it, they would just find someone else, so I might as well get paid if the outcome was inevitable anyway.
Plus, I didn’t know this female from Eve, what did I care if she was going to get roughed up a little. The instructions were explicit that I was to Compel one of her clan to hurt and humiliate her, but make sure no permanent damage was done. They wanted to destroy any trust she felt with her current clan. They wanted to ensure that Delia Ray Olsen was vulnerable and seeking help. They didn’t actually want the poor girl dead.
I pondered how to word my instructions to ensure that exact outcome as I stalked the Oakland Clan, looking for the best target to Compel to enact my employer’s terrible wishes.
I spent a good amount of time in the blue guest room decompressing and trying to get a grip on my swinging emotions and before I knew it, Jonas texted that he was on his way to come to pick me up. Tonight we were going to the Blade Clan barbeque and I was pretty sure this was our first official date.
I mean, he did say he wasn’t interested in only having a fling with me and Jonas went out of his way to personally ask me to come with him tonight. Not that I had any previous dating experience, but this felt like a date. At least the butterflies within my stomach and my sudden awareness of my lack of a cool outfit made me think that this was most certainly a date. Why in the world did our first date have to be with the large and powerful Blade Clan. Why couldn’t have been somewhere where I could let my guard down and relax.
Who was I kidding? This was my first date ever... I was so not going to be able to relax.
Before I was really ready, because I had spent a stupid amount of time locked in the bathroom trying to use my fingers to comb through the mess that my hair had become after fighting, I heard Jonas’ deep voice and knew he was here to pick me up. I ventured out into the living room to find both Mathis and Elijah questioning Jonas about where he was taking me and when he was going to have me back by.
Jonas was standing with hunched shoulders and kept his hands deep within his front jean pockets. I immediately Cloaked Mathis’ and Elijah’s minds and watched as Jonas relaxed and glanced at me with obvious relief in his gaze. It was then that I realized the possibility that Jonas was attracted to me was simply because I could offer him this sort of protection from his own Empathy Gift. Not that I minded giving him what relief I could, but a small part of me cried out that my first relationship should be because the guy thought that I was special and interesting, not that my Gifts were.
When Jonas straightened and told Elijah and Mathis that we were headed to a Blade event, a whole new set of questions were volleyed through the air and I knew that I had to put a stop to this. I might look to Elijah as a leader and am starting to trust Mathis enough to take his advice, but neither of them was allowed to have any say on what I decided to do with my personal life.
Instead of trying to explain my choices, I decided that actions would speak louder than words. I simply grasped Jonas’ elbow and pulled him out the door before he had a chance to answer any more questions. Sean stopped us at the door and I thought that we might have to have another confrontation, but my uncle simply handed me the brand new phone and told me that he had entered everyone’s phone numbers. I appreciated that he didn’t try to give me any directives on time to be back and resolved to check in with the guys every once in a while so that they didn’t worry.
Jonas had ridden his bike here. I was grateful that I could sit back and enjoy the ride, continuing to let my frayed nerves settle instead of having to engage in small talk. Once again, it felt incredible to be pressed up against Jonas’ warm, broad back and I got lost in the clan bond that traveled between us.
After what felt like only a short amount of time, Jonas slowed and pulled up to a gated community that was manned by a serious-looking man with attentive eyes that gave us a thorough looking over before he waved us in. Through the gate were rows of similar-looking houses that lined a street. Jonas slowly rode through the winding drive until he pulled up to a massive park that took up the far end of the gated community. Even though the parking lot was practically empty, the park was packed with at least thirty men of various ages. They were spread out between picnic tables, Adirondack chairs arranged in loose circles, and many were playing frisbee or corn hole in the neatly mowed grass.
Jonas held out a hand for me and I climbed off the bike before pulling off my helmet. Jonas mirrored my actions and then gently grasped my shoulders and bent to look into my eyes.
“As I said before, this is a family event and really casual. I am sure that most of the guys will want to meet you, but please don’t be nervous. They are good people and these barbecues are always my favorite because everyone is in a good mood. Just try to relax and soak up the good vibes,” he told me in a soft voice before leaning down and pressing his lips to mine in a light reassuring kiss.
His lips on mine did work to distract me, right up until the moment I looked up and saw that we had the attention of nearly everyone in eyesight. Immediately, I blushed a deep red and sidestepped so that I was partially hidden away behind Jonas’ back. Hiding and being shy were not my normal go-to reactions, but I was really not used to this whole being kissed in public thing.
Jonas turned and gave me a slight smirk, clearly finding my embarrassment amusing, and then linked his hand with mine and pulled me over to a table laden with food. As we both went about picking out various foods, the people around us slowly stopped watching our every move and returned to whatever they were doing before we pulled up and gave them a little show.
Jonas picked a picnic table to sit at that was already occupied by two people playing a game of chess. He nonchalantly introduced them as his father, Arthur, and his brother, Mason. Both looked up and studied me as I awkwardly took a seat and introduced myself in return. I expected them to jump into some sort of conversation with me, but after an initial hello they returned to their game, basically ignoring us beside them. Mason was only about eight or nine years old and Jonas explained that he had the Gift of Communication and would move to go live in the Americas South when Princess Pricilla Norwood turned twelve. The little boy’s concentration on the game didn’t waver even as we discussed his future and I wondered he felt about being basically sold to a royal family for his translation skills.
At first, I felt slightly awkward just sitting and eating without talking to Jonas’ family, but then I noticed that Jonas had assumed the same persona and finally understood that this was just how his family was. Maybe they had trained themselves to act this way to ensure that Jonas didn’t have to deal with any of their overly strong emotions.
After we finished eating, a little boy who couldn’t have been more than four approached and gently tugged on my sleeve before nervously asking if I wanted to play tag with them. I grinned at the idea, jumped to my feet, and started chasing the little boy. His playful squeal brought a smile to my face and I relaxed into the game with about eight kids ages ranging from three to ten or eleven.
Before too long the kids started using their Gifts and I was taken by surprise when I tripped over a tree branch that a little boy with bright red hair had moved telekinetically in front of my feet. When I hit the ground all of the kids froze and looked at me with small fear-filled faces. I glanced around to see that several of the watching dads also looked worried and one even started to step forward to protect his child. I hated that they were even a little afraid of me.
I forced a playful smile on my lips before declaring “It’s on now!” and used my Cloaking Gift to disappear from sight. I used the void to move next to the kid that had tripped me and then pushed into the physical realm and playfully tossed him into the air. His light-hearted giggles broke the tension in the air and the kids all crowded around asking me to disappear on them again. This morphed into an exhausting game of peek-a-boo tag and after running around for another thirty minutes, I dropped into the seat next to Jonas and tried to catch my breath.
“Your turn,” I declared and tagged his shoulder silently signaling that he was now it. Jonas just gave me a half-smile before rushing after the first kid that ventured too close to where we were sitting. I spent several minutes with my eyes glued to Jonas and loved the light simple smile that graced his lips as he patiently played with the children, ensuring to include even the smallest of them. I liked him like this. It was much better than the distant, independent person he had to assume to avoid the crush of everyone else’s emotions.
“You’re really good with kids,” a voice said to my left and I looked to find that Tobias Eldridge was taking the seat that Jonas had vacated. Tobias was an older man and was less formidable than most of the Valkyries I met, but I knew that he was the official Blade Clan Arbiter. He acted as judge and jury during supernatural tribunals, thus he had considerable power. He was also a very strong telepath and shamelessly used his Gift to try to learn as many secrets as he could.
“Kids are easy,” I replied while returning my gaze to the game before me. “They always say exactly what they want and don’t try to hide their real motives.”
Tobias chuckled at my passive-aggressive statement. “My goodness, you are a breath of fresh air. Do me a favor and try to never change,” Tobias said surprising me enough that I looked over at him with clear questions in my eyes. I had been working under the impression that the Blade Clan was frustrated that I didn’t act like they were accustomed to female Valkyries acting.
“Oh child, you are going to have to let go of the couple of tense interactions you have had with our clan. You are new and we men are always slow to accept change. Now that you are actually giving us a chance to get to know you, I am sure you will discover that we are not all that different from your Oakland Clan. There are just more of us to go around. Relax. Have fun and try to make some friends.”
Tobias then reached over and squeezed my shoulder before getting up and walking over to the next picnic table of people that seemed pleased to greet him. The kids were like energizer bunnies, still running circles around Jonas and a cheer to my right got me curious enough that I left the table to explore. I felt a couple of people watching me as I moved, but no one said anything as I rounded a stand of trees. I found a clearing with five adult Valkyries standing around what looked like an automatic tennis ball serving machine. The guy standing slightly in front of the others was someone I recognized. His name was Noland Smith, had bleach blonde hair, and I knew for a fact that he had magazine-worthy abs.
As I watched, the machine started flinging bright yellow tennis balls high into the air and away from the group. Noland braced in a fighting stance and then moved his hands in a kind of throwing motion. Balls of bright blue-white energy released from his palms and precisely hit each of the aloft balls and the others observing cheered. Noland turned with an easy smile on his lips and found me watching from behind the rest. His eyes zeroed in on me and his smile faltered slightly. I had never really talked to Noland, but he had been the one who tried to keep me from painfully giving my life force to Max so he could heal Connor in the moondust factory.
“Care to give it a try,” Noland asked with a sight challenge in his voice. He had to know that I didn’t have an Energy Gift as he did, but I wasn’t going to let that small fact stop me. I grinned back at him and nodded my head. The others had fallen quiet and were watching me with careful expressions of curiosity on their faces. I stepped up to the serving machine and stood with my arms loosely at my sides, not needing to assume a fighting stance like Noland had.
“Ready?” one of the watching men called and I looked over and nodded my head. He looked unsure that I was indeed ready but pushed the button and the machine shot out two bright yellow balls into the air. I tracked them for a moment, gauging their movement, and then slightly bent my knees and threw two of my throwing stars in a low arching sweep, like one would toss a flat stone to skip it across the lake. As the balls fell towards the ground, both of my stars found their targets and they dropped straight to the ground. I turned to face the now silent group of watchers and smirked at their looks of shock.
“Again,” I called and after a moment the man pushed the button, and three balls burst from the machine. This time I called throwing knives and let them fly immediately after the balls left the machine and caught them before they reached their natural apex. Some of the watchers started clapping and I turned to give them a slightly warmer smile. Noland however, had a determined set to his jaw and he walked over and pulled the controller from the other man before holding it out to me in a clear challenge.
I couldn’t really tell if this little game was losing its playfulness or not, but I wasn’t one to back down. I nodded my head and he didn’t hesitate to press the button. Balls started flying out of the machine and didn’t stop. I started throwing stars with my left hand and knives with my right in rapid-fire and only barely managed to keep up with the volley of balls running out of the machine. I had to start to lunge and spin to make sure I got the right angles and several almost reached the ground before I was able to target them. My whole world narrowed down to gauging the flight of bright yellow balls and I have no idea how much time passed before there was a clicking sound and the barrage of tennis balls finally stopped.
I turned, slightly out of breath, and saw that the recently full hopper of balls was now empty and a scan of the area revealed the entire area in front of us littered with tennis balls that were stabbed through with either small knives or throwing stars. For the second time today, I felt amazing. Loose and relaxed with subtle adrenaline running through my system that sharped everything. It was like the high that one felt when they finally reached the summit of a mountain and my power quietly rippled under my skin letting me know that it was ready for even more. I couldn’t help the wide grin plastered to my face as I turned towards the group of onlookers that was now significantly larger than before.
The group looked a little shocked, but when I smiled at them they broke out into loud applause and cheers that brought color to my cheeks. I looked through the faces until I spotted Jonas at the edge looking happy. I guess he didn’t mind strong emotions when they were the good ones. I wanted to walk up to him, but before I could make it to his I was bombarded with excited Valkyries all congratulating me or asking me questions.
When one asked how I was able to keep the knives solid after they hit their targets, I realized that none of my blades had dematerialized. I must have thrown nearly thirty knives and stars, yet I had no doubt that I could call more if I needed to. I grinned at the knowledge and recalled my weapons causing some of the balls to move thus starting the barrage of questions all over again. I didn’t mind these questions because they were asked with a good nature and no one was looking at me like I was a prize or possession. They were welcoming, and it felt amazing to be included in a group where I could talk about and show off my Gifts.
For once in my life, I didn’t feel like an outsider.
The next couple of hours passed in a haze of happy excitement and I met more people in one day than I had for an entire year before the guys discovered me. There were a couple of tense moments between me and Edison and Ransom, the twins’ father, but I had a great time. I even had a conversation with Tobias about what it was like to live in such a big clan for nearly fifty years. He had witnessed the Blade Clan grow in members and power and commented how every new generation of Vals that joined their family would subtly change the entire dynamic. It was clear that he dearly loved his clan, and most of their members looked up to him as a favorite grandfather.
When the sun started to set, Jonas and I walked hand in hand through the small community. He explained that the entire gated subdivision was owned by the Blade Clan and a couple of the houses had been converted to communal places where they could hang out in big groups, but that the park was the best when everyone gathered. We were halfway back to the front gate when Jonas led me up a walkway and opened the unlocked front door of a medium-sized beige house with red shutters. Inside were a lot of white walls and beige furniture and nearly every room had a large flat screen T.V. hanging on a wall. Jonas pulled me up a flight of stairs and into the first room on the right.
I paused in the doorway for a moment to take in the stark differences of this room when compared to the rest of the house. The walls were plastered with large glossy photographs and were practically layered on top of each other there were so many. I slowly walked around the room taking in the beautiful images, finally recognizing some of the faces and places within their depths.
“Did you take these?” I asked in an awed whisper and turned to see that Jonas was still standing in the doorway with an apprehensive look on his face. He studied my face for a moment and then gave the slightest incline of his head. For some reason, he was nervous to have me looking this closely at his art. I looked into his eyes so he could understand that I was telling him the truth when I said, “They are beautiful.”
He held my eyes and tension started to build between us in an almost tangible way. Butterflies slowly awakened in my belly and I had to slightly part my lips as my breath started to pick up. His eyes dropped to my lips as he pulled his own bottom lip between his teeth and bit down. I don’t know who moved first, but in one moment we were staring at each other across the room and the next we were in each other’s arms and his lips were crashing down onto mine. His hands roamed my body fervently and the clan bond sparked to life everywhere our bodies touched, only adding to the excitement I was feeling. My hands snuck under his loose t-shirt and I rested my palms against his warm chest, feeling his muscle move beneath my fingers. He let out a low moan that ignited my entire body and I gasped out in response.
The next thing I know I am flat on my back on his bed with his body hovering inches above my own. I looked up into Jonas’ eyes and loved the fire and passion I saw within their depths. Jonas slowly slid one of his arms over my head and dropped his hips until they made contact with mine, never looking away from my eyes. I felt his arousal against my lower belly and my stomach did a low hard flip as my breath caught in my throat. Jonas reached up and gently swept a strand of loose hair off my forehead before caressing my cheek in a tender gesture. Then he brought his lips to mine in a slower and much more intimate kiss that I felt all the way down to my toes. I brought my hands up under his shirt until I was holding onto his broad shoulders and pulled him closer to my own body.
Jonas was careful to keep the slow pace and the fire between us slowly grew until I was convinced I was going to be consumed by it. I had never felt anything like this and I sensed that Jonas was slowly coaxing me to a ledge that would change my life when I fell off into the abyss. Gradually, Jonas started exploring different parts of my body, starting with my stomach extending up to my breasts and now he was slowly inching lower.
Somehow he knew that I wasn’t ready for him to touch my skin below my waist and he switched to exploring above my worn blue jeans. He pulled away from kissing me and looked into my eyes once more, ensuring that I was comfortable with where things were going as he tentatively brushed his fingers along the seam of my jeans causing me to jump with sensation.
He let me recenter myself and repeated the motion. This time, I was more ready and moaned with the onslaught of feelings that exploded within me. Jonas brought his mouth to my neck and started to suck on the sensitive skin there as he rocked his body into mine and fully palmed my most sensitive area. The friction from his hand felt amazing and I let out another guttural moan that I felt more than heard Jonas reciprocate. I completely lost myself the hurricane of feelings building inside of me and found myself pushing myself back into his hard body above mine. I didn’t just fall off my climatic cliff but flung myself off and nearly went blind with sensation and euphoria. Jonas swallowed my moans and moved his hand so that our hips could join and he started a new, faster paced rhythm with his hips.
Just as I was starting to get into the new feeling of moving with him and building up a different type of friction, Jonas’ hands grasped my right shoulder and he flipped me until I was lying on my stomach underneath his large frame. I felt completely covered by him and for a moment I started to panic at the feeling of control he had over me like this, but then he started to move against my slightly raised hips and moaned headily into my ear. My trepidation faded away as one of his hands came around to cup my breast and gently played with my sensitive nipple. I jerked and he ground his now prominent erection into my ass as I panted with need into the comforter. His movements came faster and faster and he clamped down harshly on my nipple as he let out a low moan. I turned my head into the bed and screamed as the slight pain morphed into pleasure and another orgasm rocked through me.
It took me a moment to come back to reality after that one and when I did, Jonas was collapsed beside me on the bed, still breathing just as heavy as I was. Holy bananas! I just had two orgasms! My first two orgasms that I hadn’t given myself. And my God, were these so much better. I was lost in a drift of sensations and memories and nearly jumped out of my skin when Jonas traced the side of my face with his finger. I turned on my side so that I could fully focus on him and gave him a sated smile.
“Hey,” I murmured to him and searched his eyes. I was a little surprised to find that he looked troubled about something and it did a lot to crush the high I was feeling. “You okay?” I asked in a small voice.
What if that hadn’t been as good for him as it was for me? What if I had done something wrong? I mean, I didn’t really do much of anything. Maybe he was upset that I hadn’t done more to reciprocate. He leaned in, kissed my forehead, and responded with feeling, “I’m amazing. That was just so different than anything I have ever felt before. It took me off guard.”
He was telling the truth and I buried my head into his chest as I snuggled my body into his. Jonas held me within his arms and I basked in the feeling of his embrace. This had been one of the best days I can ever remember having, and I didn’t want it to end.
We laid like that for a good hour before my phone started buzzing in my back pocket and I knew that our time together was coming to an end. I checked my phone and saw that the guys were all checking in and starting to get worried because they hadn’t heard anything from me in a while. I had been periodically texting them during the barbeque but had obviously been silent during the last two hours or so. Jonas must have understood because he wordlessly started getting ready to take me back home and it wasn’t long until we were back on his bike. The ride back settled my nerves, just as they had before, and I enjoyed the night air on my face.
Jonas walked me to the door and did an excellent job of waking up every single one of my butterflies before Mathis came stomping out onto the porch and shooed him away. I could feel my face deepen into a dark red and rushed into the house to escape from my grandfather’s piercing glare. Jack was sitting on the couch watching T.V. when I walked in and he told me that Amy was up in her room when I asked. I sat down next to my best friend and he silently evaluated me before he finally said, “You really like him, don’t you?”
I thought about that for a moment before answering. I thought about Jonas’ upfront attitude and his light playfulness about life. I thought about everything that he made me feel tonight and how much I liked to help him cope with his Empathy Gift. I thought about how he didn’t try to shield me from things and his steady confidence in my abilities. I thought about the feel of his body as he pressed me into the mattress and explored my body with his fingertips. I thought about all of these things and found myself smiling.
“Yes,” I told Jack honestly. “I really like him.”