Chapter 24: Karma man, karma
I frowned and looked between the eight vampires questioningly, raising an eyebrow disbelievingly, “So you guys actually do normal family stuff?”
Heskel shrugged, “Yeah, I mean, we get bored too so we need to do things to keep us busy.”
I stared at him, analysing him for a moment before I said, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s true.” I turned around when someone wrapped something around my neck. I studied it for a moment, “Why on earth do I need a scarf in this hot weather?”
Cherise grinned mysteriously and handed me a jacket which I took hesitantly, “You’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you? Alex is doing this as a surprise for you and I will not ruin it.”
I was already sweating and we weren’t even outside, so why would I need the jacket and scarf? I grumbled unhappily, “Fine, let’s just get this over with.”
“No.” Cherise said firmly stepping in front of me, “You need to be positive, I’m sure you’ll love this surprise.”
I sighed again, “Fine.”
Cherise narrowed her eyes at me and lightly punched me in the shoulder, “Come on! Cheer up! You don’t have to wear those items…”
I smiled in relief, “Oh thank-“
“Yet.” She continued evilly before running out the front door in a blur.
I groaned and went outside where all the vampires except Alexander were waiting.
“What’s taking that dolphin so long?” Neculai grumbled unhappily.
I did a double take, “Dolphin? I questioned with a laugh, “Why dolphin?”
“Well, you see, Alex had this-“
Alexander was suddenly sanding with his hands over Neculai’s mouth, “I really do not think Ashira needs to hear that story.”
Neculai ripped Alexander’s hand off of his mouth, grinning wickedly, “But she’s-” Alexander scooped me up in his arms before Neculai could continue and I couldn’t hear what he was going to say over the wind that whipped past my ears.
I screamed like a little girl until Alexander stopped running and put me down. “Never listen to what Neculai tells you, alright?” He ordered me seriously.
“Why? He was only going to tell me about you, dolphin.” I winked playfully.
Alexander groaned loudly, “Please, don’t ever call me that again and please, don’t ask to hear that story. Ever.” He stressed.
I giggled, “Fine, they get to keep that little secret of you and I get to keep the one with your flaming talent, smoky”
“Don’t start.” Alexander threatened, “I might just end up taking you here in the middle of the field because I love it when you tease me.”
My cheeks flamed, “You wouldn’t.”
Alexander took a step towards me, “Is that a challenge my little Ashira?”
My mouth was dry and my palms were clammy. We didn’t once break eye contact, “Well that depends on-” I abruptly stopped talking when I realised the rest had caught up to us. “Oh, good, you’re all here.” I swung my hands together to clap them awkwardly, “Now we can all get going to wherever we’re going together.” I laughed nervously. “Speaking of which,” I said firmly, “You,” I said firmly, poking Alexander in the chest, “Have to tell me where we’re going.”
He grinned down at me, “I don’t have to do anything for you.”
“But will you?”
He pursed his lips, “I hate it when you use my own words against me… Yes fine, I will do anything for you.”
“Then tell me why I’m going to need these.” I said sweetly and held up the warm clothing.
“Well obviously because it’s going to be cold where we’re going, love.”
“Which is, where?”
Alexander sighed, “We’re going ice skating.”
“We’re going ice skating.” He repeated slowly. “You know, frozen water, shoes with blades, that kind of thing.”
“Girls with tight, half see through, short dresses.” Heskel added helpfully with a goofy grin on his face and Cerise hit him over the head.
“Keep perverted thoughts like that to yourself please.” She scolded him but it looked like she was trying to suppress a smile.
“Ice skating?” I asked again, “Here? But it’s so hot.”
“Well,” Norabo watched me measuredly, “Have you ever heard of an ice skating rink?”
I hesitated, “I’ve seen them in the movies before.”
“There are no more ice rinks in North America because I took away the electricity so I suppose it makes sense that you’ve never seen one in real life before.” Viktor said with a little shrug.
Alexander’s grip on my hand tightened slightly and I looked at him questioningly and tried to distract him by saying, “Well, I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun… not that I can skate… you’ll have to hold my hand.” I said and gently nudged him with my arm.
His eyes softened when he looked at me, “Or I could just carry you.”
I clicked my tongue playfully, “You take the fun out of everything.”
His eyes flashed yellow dangerously, “Well, not everything. We’ll continue our previous discussion at home… tonight.”
What was our previous- oh… that… “Fine.” I said softly trying not to blush in front of his family because that would practically give away what we’d been talking about.
The ice skating rink was a bit farther than I would have thought at first but it still only took us about seven minutes to get there with their vampire speed.
The skating rink was located in a huge mall filled with loads of people, humans and vampires alike. Only a few passed out humans were propped up against the walls and everyone bowed and greeted when Alexander passed. They eyed the rest of us with caution and steered clear of his brothers who had a threatening aura around them.
“I really don’t understand why you are so close to the humans, Alex.” Viktor commented.
Alexander shrugged, “Their blood tastes better when they’re happy and feel safe.”
Viktor grumbled something under his breath and didn’t talk to Alexander about that again.
We strode right past the line for the skating rink and no one dared stop us. It was amazing really. Once we were inside the cool air hit me like a speeding train and shivers erupted across my bare arms and legs. “It’s-s f-freezing in h-here.” I said with a shaky voice.
Alexander chuckled and handed me my jacket he’d been carrying. I’d tried to talk him out of it but he’d insisted to carry the clothes. Very sweet.
“Aren’t you grateful for those warm clothes now?” Cherise asked happily.
I smiled sheepishly, “Yeah, thanks Cherise.”
She laughed and linked our arms, “I still remember the cold girl and I know, that you most certainly don’t want to catch a cold, definitely not in the summer.”
“Yeah, that’s the worst.” I agreed with her.
Alexander pulled me closer to him and frowned at Cherise, “Ashira stays in my arms.” He told her stubbornly.
She waved him off like he was no more than a troublesome child, which he was given the way he was acting. “I think Ashira can choose where she wants to be and right now I don’t think she really wants you close.” She stated as-a-matter-of-factly. “And I need to spend some quality time with my new friend whom I’m sure will one day be my sister.” She pulled my away from Alexander and back to her side.
Needless to say I turned a darker shade of red. She’d basically just insinuated that Alexander and I will get married one day. Not that I was against the idea but I was still… hesitant. Nothing had changed since the day we’d first met; he was still a vampire and I was still human. He was still the lion and I was still the sheep who was waiting to be eaten.
“So what do you say Ash?” Cherice asked me abruptly, “Will you?”
“Hu?” I said stupidly, “Did you ask something? I’m sorry I must have zoned out for a second there.” I barely noticed that Alexander was looking at me with a slight frown, but I did and it confused me as to what question I’d missed.
“Oh, well pay attention girl, this is important stuff we’re talking about,” Cherice scolded playfully, “I asked if you’ve ever thought of getting married to Alex.”
My breathing halted in my throat and I was sure they both noticed because both their expressions shifted a little, “I-I d-don’t know…” I sighed wondering if this was really something I wanted to acknowledge, “I have thought about it.” I finally admitted.
Alexander’s eye brows shot up, “You have?”
I shrugged and looked away from him, “Yeah…”
“And?” Cherice asked excitedly like a three year old on Christmas morning.
“Will you marry him if he asks you?”
My eyes slowly went to Alexander who was watching me like the fate of the world depended on my answer. I smiled softly at him, “I guess he’ll have to ask me to find out.” I winked at him playfully and linked arms with Cherice, “Now let’s go! I’ve always wanted to go ice skating.”
Cherise and I walked to the counter where you hired your skates and after I gave them my shoes they gave me my skates. I was a little hesitant to leave my shoes there but Cherice assured me that they would be safe and that they only took them so they can be sure you bring the skates back. Basically it was just a more advanced version of blackmail, with shoes of course.
Alexander followed behind us quietly and I wondered if my answer had been a mistake. Was he mad at me now or something? Did he even want to marry me? Did vampires even get married or did the females have to force the males?
After a moment’s hesitation I put on the blue skates with a pair of socks Cherice had magically conjured up. Standing up and walking on the skates wasn’t as hard as I’d anticipated it to be, but then again, I wasn’t on the ice yet. The floor where we walked was topped with a layer of black rubber that ensured you didn’t break your skates when you walked and with Cherice next to me and Alexander behind me I walked to the entrance to the ice.
Cherice easily stepped onto the ice and gracefully skated to Oberon who was leisurely skating in circles.
I stared at the ice while I rubbed my hands together nervously and glanced at Alexander with a pleading look. He stepped out onto the ice and skated off before I could stop him. He sped around the rink once. I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and I watched his mesmerising moves until he came to a stop in front of me. He held out his hand towards me and gave me a reassuring smile. “I won’t let you fall, Ashira, I promise.”
I nodded and grasped his hand firmly in mine and took my first wonky step onto the slippery ice. When I was standing on the ice a whole line of impatient humans had formed behind me and they were shouting at me to get a move on so I tried gliding forward, like I’d seen Alexander do so professionally. I grinned when I moved forwards a little and Alexander skated backwards to give me some space.
I pushed myself forward a little more, “This isn’t as hard as I-” I fell into grooves in the ice someone else’s skates had made and before I knew it I was following the path they’d taken. All would have been well if the two grooves didn’t lead away from each other and I started splitting in the middle of nowhere. “Alexander!” I screamed, panicked. “Help me! I’m going to-” I screamed bloody murder and fell forwards.
Alexander took hold of both my arms and pulled me up before I hit the ice floor, “There you go my love,” he said with half a laugh, “Apparently you need some more practice.”
I glared at him and gripped his hand tightly, “Don’t let go of my hand.” I ordered him sternly.
“Whatever you ask.” Alexander slowly started skating forwards and I followed behind him. Everything was going fairly well until Heskel zoomed past us and Alexander had to yank me out of the way. This didn’t really seem to work because he lost his balance and be both went crashing down onto the ice with tremendous force. I yelped in shock when we went down and Alexander hissed when his tailbone made contact with the ice.
He growled and before I was even finished rubbing my sore butt he pulled me up and tightly against him. It took me a moment to realise we were both standing again and I looked at him questioningly only to see his glare aimed at Heskel.
Heskel merely laughed it off and went straight at some random human girl. She screamed and somehow managed to get out of his way in time.
I frowned, “What’s he doing?”
“He’s chasing the humans away.” Alexander answered in a hiss, “He always does this so we can have the place to ourselves. Not that I approve of course.”
I nodded seriously, “I see.” I pulled myself closer to his side, “Hold me, will you?”
Alexander’s glare in Heskel’s direction softened when he looked at me, “Al right.”
The next half an hour passed without incident and by the end of that time I had become somewhat good at ice skating, providing Alexander was at my side of course. I grinned wickedly when I saw Heskel leisurely skating in front of me and I sped at him as fast as I could go. He turned unexpectedly and I shot right past him, slamming into the barrier. “Ouch.” I muttered to myself. I looked at Heskel who didn’t even look like he’d seen my failed attempt at revenge.
Alexander suddenly appeared next to me, “Are you alright?” he asked with concerned eyes and he cupped my chin caringly, his eyes scanning my body for any injuries. “Are you hurt?”
I gave I’m half a smile, “I’m fine.” I pushed myself away from the barrier and muttered in a low voice, “But Heskel won’t be when I knock him down.”
Alexander’s whole body froze and he looked at me, analysing me, “So that’s what you were trying to do…” He trailed off thoughtfully and then his expression brightened, “I’ll help you.” He said eagerly.
“What can I say?” Alexander gave a casual shrug, “He’s my annoying little brother who needs to be taught a lesson.”
I grinned widely, “Let’s do it!”
Cherise and Oberon made their way towards us so I assumed they’d heard what we were talking about and Oberon looked rather uncharacteristically enthusiastic when he spoke, “If we’re teaming up to take Heskel down count us in.”
Cherise nodded vigorously at what he was saying, “That twit needs to get a taste of his own medicine.”
“Count me in too!” Neculai exclaimed suddenly from all the way across the ice and he charged at us. Damn their hearing.
Alexander smiled and looked to Viktor, “What about you?”
Viktor grinned, “Sure, that sounds like fun and something that should have been done ages ago.”
Alexander nodded, “Jagger?”
Jagger shook his head, “I’m not letting him stand against you guys alone. That would be unfair and make this game far too easy.”
“I’m with Heskel.” Norabo stated.
“So am I.” Neculai said and all three of them came to a stop behind Heskel who looked around questioningly.
Cherise clapped her hands happily, “Equal teams.”
I tried not to feel offended by the fact that she hadn’t counted me as having any value. But I didn’t so maybe I shouldn’t feel too bad.
“Uh…” Heskel said hesitantly, “What’s going on?”
Neculai rolled his eyes and told him what was going on. “He has the worst hearing of the family.” Alexander explained and I nodded in understanding.
After a while Heskel understood and he turned to look at me, “As I understand it you have declared full out war against me, Ash.”
“You got that right buddy. My team is going to take yours down!” I screamed back at him with a wide smile.
“Ashira,” Alexander said, “I want you to get off of the ice so I know you’re safe.” I was about to give him a piece of my mind when he added very softly, “And when he skates past you I want you to knock him down.”
I grinned and skated to the exit happily. Goodness, the stupid things I did for that man.
“So what are the rules?” Viktor asked.
“If you fall you stay down and you are dead to your team.” I stated plainly, “Winning team is the one left standing. It’s simple really… oh and you guys are not allowed to kill each other. That’s very important: absolutely no killing.”
“Very well.” Oberon said and before I could even comprehend what was happening he grabbed hold of both of Cherise’s hands and threw her over the ice at the ‘enemy’. The rest of Alexander’s team shot after her. My eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets when it looked like she’d been completely prepared for something like being thrown to gain speed to happen and she sped over the ice, catching poor Norabo off guard at that speed and sending him flying across the ice. She stopped and smirked, “One down.” Norabo landed flat of his stomach with a smack, “Three to go.”
Jagger crouched low and went at Alexander so fast I nearly had a heart attack. They were skating so they couldn’t really use their full speed but I still struggled to see what was going on. Alexander couldn’t dodge Jagger and they collided with so much force I heard something break. I let out a breath I hadn’t even noticed I’d been holding when I saw Alexander was still standing and that’d he’d met Jagger head on.
My eyes went from them to where Cherise was being chased by Heskel with Oberon right on his tail. Heskel was clearly the fastest of all the brothers and he grinned wickedly when he grabbed hold of Cherise’s hand and threw her at unsuspecting Oberon. They both went down when they tripped over one another and my hopes crashed to the ground along them.
Only Viktor and Alexander remained.
Someone fell to the ice.
I took a deep breath to look at who it was and I saw that Neculai had managed to trip Alexander with Jagger holding him. Alexander was a goner, but a least he’d managed to drag Jagger down with him.
Now Neculai and Heskel were the only ones standing between Viktor and victory. I edged closer to the ice. If Heskel would just come a little closer I could jump him when he wasn’t expecting it.
Neculai and Heskel set after poor Viktor and he skated around the rink twice before they caught up with him and before I even knew it they had him cornered.
“This must not be going the way you thought it would, or is it Ash?” Heskel asked.
Honestly? No, everything was going down in flames, “Of course it is, everything is going according to plan.” I lied.
“Liar.” Neculai sang happily and Viktor took that as his chance to move forward. As he passed Neculai he punched him in the chest and Neculai fell backwards.
Half a cheer had already escaped my mouth when I realised Neculai was still standing. Well, sort of, he was bent over backwards with his palms on the ice and skates still vertical so technically he was still standing. Very technical though.
“Well that’s just-” the sentence had not even left my mouth before Viktor had turned around and hit Neculai on the stomach and his unstable pose had caused him to collapse.
I cheered loudly.
This was it. Now it was just Viktor and Heskel. A fight to the death, no wait that wasn’t right…. A fight to the fall. Viktor had to win, he just had to.
This was the final round.
One on one.
I frowned. Why was he sprawled out on the ice?
I blinked and looked again. What the hell? When did he fall?
Heskel was happily doing a round of the rink singing that he’d won, “I won, you didn’t. Who’s the best? I am.” He laughed and continued to sing.
I pursed my lips and pushed the sleeves of the jacket up to my elbows.
And when Heskel cockily came past me, not suspecting a thing I tackled him like a mad woman with enough force to kill a human.
And yes, I did take him down.
“Karma is a witch, Heskel.” I said with a laugh. “I win.”