Chapter 8: Things going AWOL
My face was still on fire when I sat down next to Zaiden in the cinema fifteen minutes later.
He looked at me and smiled but it faded quickly when he really looked at me, “What’s up with you? You look like a tomato.”
I frowned as my brain fabricated a lie, “I… have a fever.” I said and I heard Alexander chuckle in the row directly behind us.
I wanted to tell him to go to hell.
“Are you alright?” Zaiden questioned as he carefully placed an arm around my shoulders and pressed my hot face into his cool neck.
I merely groaned a reply as I snuggled closer to him and closed my eyes, “You’re so nice and cool.”
He put a hand on my cheek that wasn’t on his neck, “And you’re hot.”
“Thanks.” I said carelessly, “I always thought so to.” I opened my eyes and Zaiden grinned at me, “So what are we watching?”
“I have no idea.”
Just then the room darkened and the movie began with chirpy music and singing people. I sighed heavily. Oh great, i thought sarcastically, it was a musical, I absolutely loved musicals.
Through about a quarter of the movie Zaiden felt my head again, “You’re less hot now.”
“Ouch.” I replied lamely.
Zaiden chuckled lightly, “But you still look beautiful.”
I smiled bashfully, “Thanks.” I sighed, “I’m dying of boredom here.”
“I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’ve never been much of a movie guy.” He admitted softly.
“Then why are we even here?” I asked.
“I thought you might like it.”
I was silent for a moment as I stared at him blankly and I put my head back on his shoulder, “At least you had good intentions.”
“See how much good that brought us in the end.” He muttered, “You know,” he said, “Strange as it may sound, but I’ve missed your company.”
“It’s been known to happen to the best of people.” I told him reassuringly, “You’re not the only one.”
He rolled his eyes, “Hilarious. Seriously though, I’ve missed your sass and that got me thinking how much your boyfriend must miss you. I’m sorry I took you away from him.” Zaiden looked towards the screen thoughtfully.
“I told you before, he is not my boyfriend.”
“Yeah, but he was before you left.” Zaiden resorted, “I mean you smelled like him so much the first time I bit you, you could have been sleeping in the same room!”
I awkwardly scratched my neck and laughed nervously, “Well…”
Zaiden’s mouth fell open in shock, “Oh my sweet potatoes!” he exclaimed loudly and every head in the theatre turned towards us curiously.
I shushed Zaiden, “He isn’t my boyfriend, he’s more like a brother.”
“Oh yeah?” He challenged me in a whisper, “Did he know that? When I ripped you out of his arms he looked like he was going to try to kill me.”
“Ripped me out of his arms?” I asked and thought back to the day we met until realisation kicked in, “He was holding my hand!”
“Very tightly I might add.” Zaiden said intently as he wagged a finger at me. He laughed at my unimpressed expression, “I’m kidding, kid.” He patted my head.
“Why do you do that?” I asked him while fixing my hair, “I’m not a dog.”
“But you are my little pet.” He said with a wide grin.
“Whoopee.” I said sarcastically and rolled my eyes. I looked back towards the screen. Once I’d gotten used to the spontaneous bursts of song the movie wasn’t all bad. It was entertaining and funny.
When it ended I stood up and stretched my arms above my head. I moaned as my stiff muscles loosened again and my bones put themselves back in the correct position.
Zaiden watched me amusedly and then looked down sadly, “I remember that feeling.”
“What feeling?” I asked as I trailed after him out of the theatre. Humans and vampires were all trying to squash through a single door as fast as they could and I assumed it was some stupid vampire ‘I am better than you so I get to go first’ thing.
Zaiden took my hand and pulled me out of the bundle of people, “Getting stiff from sitting in the same position for too long, but that hasn’t happened since I became a vampire.”
“You were a human once?” I asked with wide eyes. Thinking about it, it seemed obvious that he had to have been human somewhere in the past since vampires couldn’t have children.
“Of course.” He said and laughed at my bewildered expression, “But when I was a human things were a lot different.”
“How old are you?” I blurted without thinking and immediately blushed, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to ask that. I just wondered how things were different.”
“You can ask how old I am, I don’t mind.” He said and I opened my mouth to ask but he placed a hand over my mouth, “But I think it’ll be more interesting if you guess.”
He took his hands off my mouth and I pouted as I looked at him, “Well at least tell me if you’re as old as you look.”
“Nope.” He said and we continued to walk.
“Where are we going?” I asked with a frown when I didn’t recognise our surroundings.
“You must be starving so I thought we could go to a restaurant.” He lowered his voice, “I know I’m starving.” He grinned again, “But seriously now, guess my age.”
“A hundred and fifty.” I guessed confidently.
Zaiden snorted, “Not even close, try aiming a bit higher.”
“Five hundred.” I tried again.
“A bit higher.”
“Seven hundred?” I hoped I was close.
“Now just add a thousand or so.” Zaiden said cockily with a wink.
“One thousand seven hundred!” I exclaimed, completely blown away. He did look a day older than twenty four and he was over a thousand years old.
“Well, technically I’m only one thousand six hundred and some number in the forties old.” He admitted, “It was not as easy to tell time back then as it is today.”
“What the hell?” I half screamed at him excitedly, “That’s amazing!” I beamed at him and he proudly puffed out his chest.
“I try to survive for as long as I can.” He said mightily. “Of course there are vampires who are a lot older than me.
“Really?” I asked excitedly and I clung onto his hand even tighter. I was gaining a lot of information tonight, I was close to being ecstatic. Not to mention everything he was telling me was very interesting, “Who?”
“The royals are older than all the other vampires. They are the most powerful vampires because they were born the way they are, not turned.” I looked at him with a confused expression and he continued, “I’m not sure about this story myself, but the one all the vampires know, is that the royal’s father was a demon and he had an affair with a human female. She had twins, a boy and a girl. The demon waited until the two of them had come of age before he appeared again and took his son away.”
“But aren’t there seven brothers?”
“Listen carefully now,” Zaiden said intently, “This is where it gets disturbing and complicated. Time passed and as the boy grew older the demon decided that the boy couldn’t rule over the world on his own. So he found the boy’s sister again, still not ageing because of what she was, and made her the mother of his second son.”
I slammed my hand over my mouth to control my disgust. I felt nauseous and sick, “That’s sick.”
Zaiden nodded ruefully, “She gave birth to a boy and a girl - just like her mother- and as soon as the demon saw the pattern, he followed it over and over until he had seven sons.”
“What happened to the seven sisters?” I asked. “Are they still alive? Do they rule over all the other vampires with their brothers?”
“They’re dead.” Zaiden said simply, “The demon killed them when they were of no more use to him.”
“That bastard!” I said angrily. “But why didn’t he just find another human? Why did it have to be his…” I felt nauseated to even just say it, “His daughter?”
“Think about it like this.” Zaiden said, “He wanted all his sons to have the same mother and technically they did.”
I shivered, “You weren’t alive when all of this was happening were you?” I raised a brow suspiciously.
Zaiden patted my head again, “Not even close, kid.”
I fixed my hair again while glaring at him, “Stop doing that. Why are you calling me kid all of a sudden?”
“Because compared to me you are just a kid.” He said and stuck out his tongue. We stopped in front of a desk at a door and Zaiden simply said, “Hello,” before dragging me through the doors.
Once we stepped inside a wonderful wave of food smells hit me and my mouth started to water. It looked like a normal restaurant but the tables were huge and all of them were surrounded by large comfy looking couches.
A few humans sat quietly and unmoving as vampires drank from them and I stared. Zaiden quickly took hold of my chin and turned my face so I was looking at him. He must have seen the horror in my eyes because he said, “Don’t worry about them, they’ll be fine. All the humans on the ship have to help feed us at some point so they make turns coming here. Where it’s safe to be fed from.” He added as an afterthought.
I nodded and allowed him to guide me to the back of the restaurant where a table full of nobles already sat. They smiled when they saw him and even more when they saw me at his side, “Hey!” Mr sadistic said and he probed poor Fabian in the ribs, “It’s that girl!”
I smiled at them and nodded my greeting. He seemed to be in a cheerful mood today and I’d best not ruin it. The human girls who sat with them were different than those I’d seen the night before and they merely looked at me quizzing. They were probably hatching theories as to why their masters seemed so glad to see me.
Zaiden looked up at me questioningly as he took his seat and I sat down next to me, “That girl?” he asked.
I grinned at him and glanced to see how many other nobles from last night were here. Luckily it was only the two of them and the woman, “It’s a long story.”
“We’ve got all night.” Zaiden told me with a stern look and I laughed nervously under his intense gaze.
“Well, your girl over there can’t play pool to save her life.” Mr sadistic said cockily and I glared at him.
“Sebastian, was it?” I asked him.
“Samael, actually.” He said and grinned like the Cheshire cat.
Damn it! I knew it was something with an ‘S’. “Oh,” I said awkwardly and the woman smiled a creepy smile at me. I shivered, “Anyway,” I looked back to Zaiden, “I was playing pool with my friend and Fabian was helping us and Samael,” I shot him a quick glare, “was glaring at us because all the attention was on us and not the poker game he was winning and as it turns out I suck at pool but I kept on playing anyway because it was fun.” I told him in one big breath. “And there you have it.” I said, feeling triumphal and crossed my arms.
Zaiden lifted a brow, “Fascinating, how bad were you exactly?”
I opened my mouth but Fabian beat me to it, “She was holding the cue like a baseball bat.”
“And then when she was holding it the right way she completely missed at ball.” Sabastian -I mean Samael added enthusiastically.
Zaiden laughed and patted my head, again, “That sounds just like you, kid.”
I frowned at all of them and then glared at Zaiden, “Is that going to become like a thing now? Because I don’t like it.”
He patted my head again, “Accept it, kid.”
I snapped completely and I squirmed out from under his hand, but no matter where I went his hand was still there and I was squealing and cursing him while he laughed wildly along with the rest of the table.
Someone cleared their throat behind me and I nearly jumped three feet in the air. Zaiden stopped patting my head and he pulled me closer to him again as he turned to look at the vampire.
Alexander smiled charmingly at the table full of nobles, “May I join you?” He asked.
“Of course, Alex.” Zaiden said casually and my mouth fell open. I gaped at both of them. So they did know each other! My doubts were confirmed, Alexander did work for Zaiden!
Alexander sat down next to me and I consciously moved closer to Zaiden whose grip around my waist tightened.
“So what brings you here, Alex?” The female noble asked flirtatiously and I gagged.
I hoped no one saw that reflexive move.
Alexander smiled back at her, “I was just looking for some company and I saw you all sitting here.” propped his elbows up on the table and leaned on his hands. And damn, did he look fine.
Very fine indeed…
I cursed myself under my breath and purposefully hit my head on the back of the couch. It didn’t even hurt that much but it knocked my common sense back into place. What the hell was I thinking! He was the enemy here!
“So Noyb,” Alexander said looking directly at me, “What do you plan on ordering?” he smiled a little bit.
My irritation was boiling underneath my skin, “I don’t know.” I said as calmly as possible.
“I’d recommend the steak, but not the small one because then the plate looks naked. You should order the big one where you’ll need a towel to clean yourself with afterwards.” Alexander smiled at me innocently.
There was only one thing on my mind in that moment. What. The. Actual. Hell.
I knew what he was talking about, he knew what he was talking about and the rest of the vampires thought he actually cared about what I was going to order. It was far from it. I hadn’t been sure at the ‘naked’ comment but the ‘towel’ comment confirmed it.
Zaiden gently put a hand on my forehead again, “Your fever is coming back.”
I turned away from Alexander and buried my face in Zaiden’s neck, “Just hide me.” I said quietly while I let the embarrassment flood my face and I could hear Alexander stifling a laugh.
The other humans ordered their food but Zaiden only got me a milkshake that he said could help with my ‘fever’. Fever my ass, but I was glad he was buying my lie.
I sipped at the milkshake absentmindedly while half listening to what the nobles and Alexander were saying. The other humans’ food arrived and to my surprise a steak landed in front of me.
I glared at Alexander, “I ordered for you since you must be starving.”
“So thoughtful.” I said plainly, “Now butt out.”
A quiet hush fell over the table, like they were afraid of what would happen next.
Alexander smiled at me like he hadn’t even noticed the temperature in the room drop several degrees, “Whatever you ask.”
There was something in his tone of voice that made my toes curl in delight and made me want to believe them. I picked up my fork and my knife to distract me and was about to start eating when Zaiden asked, “Do the two of you know each other?”
“Sure.” Alexander said casually, “Noyb and I go way back.”
I snorted, “Like a week back.”
“A week?” Zaiden asked looking at us both strangely, “Who’s Noyb?”
“That would be her.” Alexander said and pointed at me with a straw.
“Hey!” I said as I grabbed for the straw in his hand, “That’s mine!” I snatched it out of his hand and rubbed it clean of his cooties in my hands before I stuck it back into the glass and sucked my milkshake. I didn’t even want to start wondering what he’d been doing with my straw in the first place.
“Why Noyb?” Zaiden asked after my little outburst.
I chuckled as I elbowed him in the ribs, “Because I told him my name was ‘none of your business’. Get it?”
Zaiden looked between the two of us disbelievingly, “So this is the company you put up with, eh Alex?”
Alexander sighed heavily, “The burdens I have to bear are heavy.” He looked at Zaiden with a light in his eyes, “So what is her real name?”
“You don’t know?” Zaiden asked sounding highly amused by our whole situation, “Why it’s A-“
“No!” I slammed both my hands over Zaiden’s mouth just in time “Don’t tell him,” I said, “He’s the enemy.” I glared at Alexander over my shoulder. He was still wearing his ‘I find you highly amusing’ smirk.
“Oh for goodness sakes.” Samael said sounding irritated, “Her name’s Ash.”
A silence thundered over the table as I glared at Mr sadistic angrily.
“Ash.” Alexander said slowly while looking me square in the eyes. He finally smiled, “What is that short for? Ashley?”
His voice was so unusually tender I was having a hard time focussing on the words. I shook my head, “Nope.”
Alexander crossed his arms, “Does anyone on this ship know your full name?” he asked.
I thought about it for a minute before I smiled, “Nope, just me.”
“Then I’ll just wait for you to tell me yourself.” He said confidently.
I snorted, “That’s never going to happen.” I became aware of Zaiden taking my hands off his mouth and when I looked at him I knew he was starving. Without making him wait for it any longer I tilted my head to the side. He looked at my neck but then down at my hand he was still holding and he brought it to his lips.
He bit into my wrist and I stiffened at the expected pain.
He drank my blood greedily but I was so entranced by watching him do it I barely felt my life draining away. His eyes flickered up to meet mine and he held my gaze. We just stared at each other as he drank. His eyes flashed purple and I gasped, “Your eyes do have purple in them.” There was a note of awe in my voice and that made Zaiden smirk. Smirking would have been fine if he hadn’t been drinking my blood but since he was his fangs moved around and tore at my flesh. I let out an involuntary sound of strangled pain.
A low growl came from behind me and Zaiden quickly let go of my wrist. He wiped his mouth, “Sorry about that, Ash. But you really shouldn’t make witty remarks at a time like that.”
I looked behind me to see where the growl had come from but saw only Alexander’s burning eyes. He glared at Zaiden and said, “Be careful, Zaiden you know you aren’t allowed to make humans pass out from blood loss anymore.”
Zaiden nodded and ripped off a piece of the table cloth like it was made of cotton candy. He held it out to me, “Here,” he said, “To stop the bleeding.”
I took the torn cloth and pressed it against my wrist. I hissed in pain and pulled it away again. With some of the access blood gone I could see the awful looking wound. It was torn at the edges and I pursed my lips, “Well, that’s going to leave a scar.”
“Sorry.” Zaiden apologised again.
“Allow me.” Alexander said and he held out a hand to me.
I gave him my blood oozing right hand, “What? You’re going to heal me with your magic spit?”
He smiled at me in wonder, “I was wondering if you’d noticed that.” He lifted up my hand to his mouth and I knew all the eyes at the table, if not the whole restaurant, were on us.
“Alex, you don’t have to-” Zaiden started but he shut up when Alexander held up a hand to silence him. I was impressed that a commoner like him with healing spit could shut up a noble so easily.
Alexander licked the wound tenderly and then proceeded to licking off all the blood surrounding the wound. At first nothing happened, but then that same searing pain I felt the first time he’d healed me burned through my wrist.
I took in short ragged breaths as I waited for it to stop. Alexander had just licked my whole hand clean when the pain dulled and faded away.
He looked right at me and placed a soft kiss on my wrist and my heart flew into a frenzy at the feeling on his lips against my skin without that terrible pain distracting me. I was sure every vampire on the ship could hear my wildly pounding heart.
Alexander’s eyes smiled at my reaction, “I thought you’d be used to it by now.”
I couldn’t line the words up in my head to reply to him so I just stared.
He lifted up my hand and placed it against his cold cheek, “So what is your full name? You have to thank me for healing you in some way and I’d like to hear your full name.”
My mind was going AWOL on me when I needed it most. What was my full name again? I could have sworn I was supposed to know that…
“Ash?” he asked softly, sounding concerned.
Ash, that was me, wasn’t it? My thoughts cleared the moment I took a breath “Ashira.” I said with a shaky voice, “My name is Ashira.”
“Ashira.” He said huskily and my mind went AWOL again.
That damn Alexander.