Chapter 13: Death by mortification
In the dream I had that morning, Rustin and I were dancing on deck and he asked me to be his girlfriend while dramatically kneeling in front of me. I took the hand he was holding out to me and twirled onto his lap. We walked to the front of the ship and there we stood like Rose and Jack- titanic style.
I blamed Nadine and her forcing me to watch that movie with her for such random dreams.
Anyway, back in the dream Rustin and I were dancing through the coffee that was filling up the ship and we laughed loudly at the vampires who were dissolving into the coffee because in the dream they were allergic to it.
Unknowing, in the real world, I chuckled out loud and curled up closer to the person lying next to me.
Nadine was being saved by Leonardo DiCaprio and Rose from the movie and real Rose were cheering them on. Rustin’s two friends were swimming laps in the coffee while Rustin and I floated past them on my bed. We sang row, row your bed through the coffee on the original song’s tune.
I rolled over in bed and peacefully drifted out of the dream. My mind slowly became a void, sane place again. A few minutes later the real world started to take shape again inside my head and I slowly opened my eyes. I looked out the sliding doors only to see the sun was still high up in the sky. I was exhausted.
I groaned and turned away from the bright sun, planning to continue sleeping for a few more hours. It wasn’t like I had anything else to do anyway.
I was just getting comfy again and halfway into the process of falling asleep when a strong arm wrapped around my waist and my eyes popped wide open.
I was looking right into Alexander’s bright green eyes that were glinting amusedly. For a moment of shock I was completely entranced by the beautiful creature and I stared at him just as he stared at me.
“Ashira.” He said happily and pressed his forehead to mine. He closed his eyes, “Good afternoon.” He added huskily and my heart soared into the sky.
Oh. My. Freaking. Soul.
I stared at him with my eyes still wide as saucers. My mind was completely blank. He was so damn beautiful and he was so close to me. He was the enemy, I reminded myself firmly, the incredibly hot enemy… His jaw was so sharp and his lips that were only inches from my own looked very kissable.
I had to speak.
I had to say something to the jerk.
He was a hot and beautiful jerk though…
Focus Ashira! Words! You need to say something. “W-w-what a-are you doing here?” Smooth. Real smooth. Stutter like some idiot and ask the most obvious thing. Real nice.
“Hmmm?” Alexander asked as he pulled away with a confused look on his face, like he hadn’t heard what I’d said, “Please repeat that, love, I was momentarily distracted.”
What did he call me? I blinked twice and wondered if my ears were playing tricks on me. Even after five blinks the words that I’d first heard from his mouth didn’t change. He’d called me love and it didn’t look like he’d even noticed it.
After enjoying the sound of that for a brief moment I decided that it was time I took control of the conversation again but I got lost in his eyes once more. They were so green, like a maze that I couldn’t escape. I wanted to groan at my own thoughts, something was definitely wrong with me.
“Are you crazy?” I finally asked Alexander, “What the hell is going on? Why are you here? Why are you in my bed? Why-“
Alexander put a hand over my mouth to stop the stream of questions that were suddenly tumbling out. He chuckled lightly, “All in good time, curious one.” He removed his hand from my mouth and turned serious, “There have been some… things… rumours mostly, that are going around.”
“Rumours?” I asked him sceptically, “What kind of rumour gives you the right to invade my personal space like this.” I gestured to the little amount of space between us and accidently touched his rock hard chest. That simple touch caused my mind to start singing and sent my heart racing forward.
He propped his head up on one of his arms and without his eyes leaving me spoke calmly, “They say that there’s a rogue on the ship who’s been draining some of the humans.” Alexander finally looked away and I relaxed, “Zaiden was worried, so here I am, keeping an eye on you.” He grinned at me and winked.
His hair half fell over his face at the angle he was watching me and I found it immensely irritating. Without using even half of my logical brain I brushed the hair out of his face and pursed my lips, “You need to do something about that.”
Alexander snorted, “What? You want me to wear it in a ponytail or something? Braid it?”
I grinned at him evilly, “You should totally try braiding it.” I laughed as I tried to picture it, “I can’t see you in a braid at all.” Silence fell over us again and after a moment and I sighed, “So you’re my bodyguard now, hu?”
“In a way, I suppose.”
“Well, do you need to be so close to me?” I asked him, my thoughts a bit clearer, “Can’t you just go sit in the far corner and be your irritating self from there? Maybe hang yourself from the ceiling while you’re at it?”
Alexander shook his head and pulled me tightly against his chest, “It’s not safe for you. You belong to a noble and I’m sure whoever the rogue is will want to kill people like you first just to piss them off.”
I didn’t move a muscle. He wasn’t as cold as I thought he’d be, he was actually room temperature and I was sure he was getting warmer. It was so strange.
I stiffened when I realised what he’d said to me, “What about the children?”
“What children?” Alexander asked with his face buried somewhere beneath my hair in my neck.
I sighed at his incompetence, “The royal vampire’s blood supply, idiot. Won’t they be in danger too?”
“No. The rogues don’t mind getting on the bad side of the nobles, but I’m sure even they will think twice before crossing a royal.” Alexander breathed in deeply and nudged his nose against my neck.
I watched what he was doing curiously, “What exactly are you doing?”
“Memorising your scent for when I might need to find you.” Alexander said as-a-matter-of-factly.
I rolled my eyes, closed them and sighed peacefully when I thought of the new life I was leading. “How long have I been on this ship?” I finally asked Alexander.
I felt him shift his weight and his mouth was right next to my ear when he spoke, “Two weeks.”
I groaned, “It feels like it’s been forever.” I looked at him seriously, “I feel like I’ve known all of you for years.”
Alexander shrugged nonchalantly, “Time does sometimes seem to drag on forever, even for a human.” He paused, “Tell me about your date.” His voice was ominously dark and hesitant.
My eyes snapped open and I punched him as hard as I could, “It wasn’t a date!”
He let out the unneeded breath that he’d taken and pushed me back into the mattress, “You were less petulant when you were asleep, go back to sleep, Ashira.”
I growled, “I’m not going to sleep with you so close to me, you jerk!”
“Ashira.” Alexander’s voice warned me, “If you don’t go to sleep we’re talking about your date with that… child.” He said darkly and cursed something I couldn’t make out.
“Be nice, you can’t judge someone you’ve never met.” I said quietly.
Alexander pushed me away from him and looked me right in the eyes with a wild look in his eyes, “Then introduce me to the bastard so I can kill him.”
I sighed “You’re such a vampire.” I turned onto my back and stared up at the ceiling while all too aware of Alexander’s eyes on me. I smiled “I mean, he’s super cute and really funny and kind and thoughtful…” I sighed and turned to look at Alexander with a bright smile. He watched me with sad eyes that somehow seemed void of any real emotion and I frowned, “What’s wrong?”
“Is that love?” he asked me simply.
I laughed at Alexander’s seriousness, “I just met him, I seriously doubt I love him. It’s just too soon. “
“But you like him, don’t you?” Alexander clenched his jaw and his shoulders tensed in anticipation of my answer.
I was confused by his body language but I answered truthfully, “Yeah, I suppose I do like him.”
Instead of going off like the ticking time bomb I’d taken him for, Alexander relaxed. He smiled grimly as he looked at me “I thought so.” He pulled me closer to him again, “At least I know you think my kisses are a blessing.”
I blushed scarlet, “I do not think that! I was just throwing around ideas when I said that!” I turned away from him and put my cold hands on my hot cheeks.
Alexander chuckled and the vibrations pulled through my body. “Don’t blush so much if it’s untrue then, Ashira.” I blushed even more and he poked my left cheek softly with his index finger, “See, it is true that you think my kisses are a blessing.” He smirked happily, “And I’m sure you’re not the only one.”
I muttered a string of curse words under my breath and scowled, “I don’t think that, what’s her name and what’s her face must be the only ones who really think that, because I certainly don’t.”
Alexander propped himself up on his elbows and peered at me from above, “Who’s what’s her face and what’s her name?” he enquired.
I bit my tongue, I really shouldn’t have said that to him, he was probably going to hang that over my head for the rest of my life and chant it on my death bed, “What’s her name again… Therese or something like that…”
Alexander’s eyes lit up, “It’s Theresa actually.”
I had actually known that and his bright eyes made me sad for some reason. “Yes her and that other… vampire girl.”
Alexander frowned, “You’re going to have to be more specific than ‘that other vampire girl’. There are a lot of vampire females here.”
“Well, how many of them do you make out with?” I questioned him.
He laughed, “Oh! I see now.” he grinned mischievously, “You’re jealous.”
I crossed my arms, “I am not jealous, I’m just curious about how vampires live.” I paused for a moment and Alexander almost looked disappointed in my lack of jealousy, “So are they like your wives or something?”
“Girlfriends?” I tried.
I pursed my lip and scolded him, “What are they to you then? Acquaintances you use for your own personal amusement?”
“To be fair they don’t amuse me at all, I amuse them.” He huffed out a breath, “We live forever you know, life gets boring after a few millennia. I let them do as they please if it will keep peace that I’ve grown fold of.”
“Well, please don’t ever let me see anything like that disturbing make out session again,” I told him with a shiver, “I thought I was going to have to gouge my eyes out.”
Alexander picked up a strand of my hair and rubbed it between his fingers, “So innocent.”
I shot his cocky face a hard glare and changed the subject, “So don’t vampires get married?”
He let my hair drop back to the pillow and shrugged, “I suppose you could marry, if you wanted to… but it gets complicated if the person isn’t your soul mate.”
I groaned loudly, “What’s all this crap you’re talking about now? It almost sounds like one of those stupid vampire human love stories.”
Alexander frowned and the lines wrinkled his forehead, “You don’t believe that you have a soul mate? A perfect match?”
“Of course not,” I said blandly, “That stupid and untrue. I mean, if everyone is supposedly unique then it should be impossible to find someone you’re compatible with because you will never find someone who understands you completely. People tend not to accept people who are different from them.” I said softly.
“But your soul mate accepts your soul, your true being.” Alexander said with a small nod of his head, “It doesn’t matter how different you are, they’ll love you anyway.” He turned his head away from me, “That’s how it is for vampires at least, I don’t know about humans.”
“Then I will tell you now that humans do not have soul mates.” I stated defiantly. I watched Alexander carefully, “So you haven’t met your soul mate yet?” I asked and he shook his head.
“I highly doubt that I have someone like that.” He muttered.
“So even you have trouble believing in that.” I said happily and grinned at him feeling triumphal, “Have you ever actually seen this whole ‘soul mate’ thing in action?”
Alexander wasn’t fazed by any of my accusations or questions and answered without a pause, “Sure, Oberon met his soul mate in the first hundred years of his lifetime.”
I looked around awkwardly as I waited for him to say something else. When he didn’t speak again I cleared my throat, “Remind me of who Oberon is again, please?”
“Oberon is the eldest son of the demon.”
“Oh, I see.” I said, making the atmosphere even more awkward than it already was.
Alexander sounded surprised, “You know the story of the demon and his sons?”
“Yeah,” I said nonchalantly, “Zaiden told me about them.”
“And your reaction to it?” he asked carefully.
I scoffed in fury as I thought about the sisters again, “The demon was a sick bastard who had absolutely no right to kill his daughters and make his sons’ nephews their brothers as well.”
Alexander sucked in a stiff breath and muttered to himself, “He really did tell you everything.”
“Is that illegal or something?” I asked, “Because if it is Mr doom and gloom was the one who told me, not Zaiden.” I hurried on to saved Zaiden’s behind.
Alexander sniggered, “Mr doom and gloom…” he trailed off, “I don’t know about things like that, but I don’t think it’s illegal.”
I let out a sigh of relief, “That’s good.”
Alexander seemed surprised, “You care about Zaiden, don’t you?”
I was taken aback by the realisation, I did care for him, in some weird way, “In a way.”
“What about me?” Alexander asked almost immediately.
“What about you?”
He sighed and traced his index finger along my jaw. Bright green eyes met mine and my heart missed a beat, “Do you care about me?”
“Well…” I said thoughtfully, “You work for him so… in some indirect way, yes I do care for you.”
Alexander’s face fell,, “What if I didn’t work for him?”
I hesitated, mostly because I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, “I don’t know.”
He sounded a bit let down, “Oh.”
“But then again…” I continued, “I haven’t kicked you out of my room yet so I must not hate you.” I patted his arm, “Congratulations, I don’t hate you.”
He grinned, “That’s good to know.”
For the rest of that week I woke up with Alexander lying beside me, holding me tightly in his arms. ‘Protecting’ me, ‘watching over’ me.
When I asked Zaiden about it he said that it was definitely safer that I had Alexander around when I was sleeping and told me to put up with it. So that had been the end of it. At night I wasn’t allowed to leave my room but it was safer in the daytime so that was when I made my escape.
Alexander didn’t sleep so I wasn’t sure what he did while I dreamt my morning away. Maybe he watched television, maybe he read a book, maybe he stared at me sleeping like some creepy stalker, I wasn’t sure. When I’d asked his about it he’d merely shrugged and I hadn’t touched the subject since.
I woke up a bit earlier than usual that afternoon. I didn’t know why, maybe it was because I was excited to go shopping with Nadine and Rose and the boys or something. We’d all agreed that it was time to find some more books and movies since we’d run out of entertainment in the past three weeks.
I’d been on the ship for three weeks. Three whole weeks that felt like forever.
In a mere week we would be arriving in Africa where I would be spending the rest of my days. I wasn’t sure if I was happy that I would be leaving the ship or sad. I mean, here I had electricity. Nadine didn’t know whether or not she would have to stay on the ship or leave and Rose and I would likely rarely see each other since the nobles didn’t live together.
I was sure I was in for a life of loneliness once we arrived in Africa.
And then there was Rustin. Cute, caring, flirty Rustin who I’d managed to find myself in a relationship with.
I wasn’t sure what the status of our relationship was but there was definitely some form of a relationship between us. Were we dating? Well, he hadn’t asked me to be his girlfriend so I didn’t think so. Were we just friends? I wasn’t sure of that either, I mean we openly flirted with one another so maybe we were stuck somewhere in between relationship statuses at the moment.
Anyway, when I woke up earlier than normal that afternoon I was surprised to find myself face to face with Alexander. Usually he was behind me because he said he wanted to ‘watch my back’.
I sucked in a sudden breath at his proximity and let it out slowly.
His eyes were closed, like he was sleeping, and one of his arms were casually shrug around my waist. Vampires didn’t sleep, did they? So if they didn’t sleep, why were his eyes closed?
He looked so peaceful. For once he wasn’t cockily grinning, or amused by my antics, or frowning in concern, or looking like he was about to rip someone’s head off, he was just… lying there.
I swallowed hard as I observed his calm face and resisted the urge to move closer to him. I stiffened when he took an unneeded breath and slowly let it out again. He soon settled down again and stayed deadly still, as he should be.
He really was sleeping, or something. I mean, surely he would have opened his eyes the moment I woke up if he was aware of it.
His jaw was very angled and the more I looked at his face the more I admired it. He had a single freckle below the left side of his right eye and his hair looked very soft. I bit my lip in frustration until I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I softly placed my hand against the side of his face and slowly traced his jaw all the way to his chin. His pale skin was cold under my touch and yet not deathly cold, just cool.
I picked up a strand of his hair and moved it away from his face.
I intently looked at him, frowning.
My searching eyes had just moved to admire how thick his lashes seemed to be when his eyes flew open.
I stiffened, my hand still on the side of his face and I turned scarlet. I had been staring at him ‘sleeping’ like some creepy stalker and been caught red handed.
Alexander smiled a bit, that darn smug smile of his. His eyes glinted amusedly in that way they always did when he looked at me. His grip around my waist tightened, “What are you doing, love?” he whispered huskily.
And that’s the story of how my heart ran away from my body while I died of mortification.