“Thank you. Can we go in? Or is it safer for us out here?” Davis piped up.
“Ah. Well, you can probably come in. But Evin will have to remain out here. Any ghost that comes through has to remain. Only a god can remove Djinn from Djinnestan,” Adelaide explained.
“That sucks. So I can’t even see the promised land?” Evin pouted.
“Not unless you plan on staying permanently,” Adelaide shrugged.
“How is it? We won’t leave Evin alone but if you’ve got time we’d like to hear about your new home. Are all the ghosts here? What happened?” I asked.
“All in good time. Get comfy. How about a round of intros first?” she giggled.
“Sorry. I’m just super excited,” I blushed.
“No worries, mate. I’m Adelaide Jones.” She held out her hand to me.
“Aniella Brewster, Mark Ashton, Davis Overly. My girlfriend and my good friends,” Evin introduced us as we shook hands.
“Nice. She’s a beaut. Nice to meet you all,” she nodded.
“You as well. I’m sorry the vamps weren’t able to help the Djinn this time,” Mark said earnestly.
“Don’t worry about it. I think we’re actually better off here. We’re finally home. The gods shanghaied us millions of years ago to bring us to Earth. It was so messed up how it happened but at least we had a safe place to come back to,” she ruled. “We were also able to save many of the ghosts that were taken by the Shadows. They’d often drag them by here so we’d snatch them up instead.”
“That’s great news. Maybe Rose is in Djinnestan.” Davis perked up.
“Rose Magdalene? Oh, you’re that Davis. Yeah, she’s in there. She’s always going on about the cold she left behind.”
“Do you think I could see her? I never got to say goodbye,” Davis wondered.
“Sure. When I pop off I’ll send her round.”
“I appreciate it.”
“Of course. She’s been well taken care of. And I’m sure she appreciates all the things you’ve done for her.”
Davis’ eyes teared up. “I’m so glad.” He seemed very relieved.
Evin leaned over and rubbed his back. “You make us proud.”
“What’s happening back on Earth?” Adelaide asked.
“War’s about to kick up. You guys made it out just in time,” Mark quipped.
“Nice. Yeah, we’re done protecting you from the Shadows. Deal with it on your own,” she laughed.
“Oi, no fair,” I protested. “Here you all are in your Shangri La and you can’t even throw us a bone?”
“Wish we could,” she shrugged. We all clowned around a bit more. She told us about life on the other side. It did sound quite nice. I certainly hoped Evin and I would wind up there after I died. But not any time soon. As promised, Addy (she insisted on us using her nickname since we were all such good friends now) went to get Rose so that she and Davis could say goodbye. “We’ll see one another again. Come to the door and ask for me. And when you die, you’ll join me,” she told him.
“I’ve missed you so much. Rose. Are you happy?” Davis inquired, stroking her long hair.
“I am. Live well, Davis. You are mine; don’t forget that.”
“I never will. I’m yours forever. Hamaria,” he recited.
“Zeilip,” she replied. “Goodbye, Davis.”
She walked through the door and it shut behind her. Davis, Mark, Evin, and I grounded ourselves. Davis wanted to take some time alone so I sent him off with the biggest hug I could muster. I wanted to do something special for him soon. Maybe a getaway so that he could talk or not talk about it. Something where he could fully relax. Even Evin wasn’t as talkative as usual. He went into Jack’s room to hang out with him. I took Mark to my room and set quiet music playing. He gave me a massage, ridding me of any remaining tension. It’d still be a while 'til I could sleep normally. We all had to pay for the energy we’d used in our own particular ways. Even Mark looked tired. I purred as his hands ran over me. “Are you fully relaxed now?” he asked softly when he was done. I nodded and pulled him down by his vest for a kiss. I didn’t know when I’d see him next. It would be harder for all of us to visit each other with Aeryn marrying Joey. Mark and I took our time, playing with our auras and trying out positions. I asked him to drink from me. He did so with the utmost reverence, treasuring the moment.
It was early morning by the time I pleaded no more and tapped out. He wrapped me up snug and said he had to be going if he wanted to see Jeff before he flew back to Italy. He kissed the space beneath my ear and left out. I shivered a little. A kiss behind the ear meant… I snuggled in, content, and conked out. My roomies let me sleep in late. Soon after I woke up, though, Jack brought me “breakfast” in bed. How did he always know? Did my mood change upon waking? Or was it some other ability of his, one of those secret powers containers had? However he did it, it was wonderful. “Good afternoon, little ma’am. How are you feeling?” he cooed.
“Pretty good, considering. I hope we’re never gone that long again,” I shared as I dug in.
“We were all worried about you. It’s definitely not easy,” he admitted. “For lots of reasons.”
“I can’t imagine,” I sighed. “Going for days and months at a time with no communication, without knowing if we’re safe and okay… How do you and Jesse do it?”
“We stay busy. We spend time with your wonderful family. And I write notes to you,” he said, fiddling with the edge of my blanket.
I’d finished my food by now and set the tray to the side. I smoothed Jack’s hair from his forehead. “You write me notes? How come you’ve never shown them to me?”
He shrugged and stared at his hands. “It’s kind of like self-therapy. I can say all the things I don’t get to say. It’s not kept bottled up inside. Maybe one day I’ll show it to you. While you’re here I just want to focus on being with you instead of bombarding you with all the thoughts I’ve had since you left.”
“But, Jack, I want to know what you’re thinking. It’s important to me. Part of enjoying time is sharing your thoughts.”
“I know. Um, it’s a lot easier to write it down than to say it, is all.”
“Are you shy about it? Or worried about how I’ll react?”
“Not so much that. There’s one thing in particular that I’ve been rehashing to death. I’m not ready to share it yet but it’s on so many pages that I can’t safely share anything else. But there is one thing I can share verbally.” He smiled and looked up at me.
“I see you liked the socks I gave you. I know they had a lot more pink on them than everything else you’ve worn but there’s a reason for that. I realized that I really like how you look in pink. It makes your skin pop.” His brown eyes lit up behind his glasses. He was very excited about this and I didn’t have to be a container to feel it.
“Where are you going with this, babe?” I asked, tickled.
“Come with me. I’ve managed to hide it from Evin for this long. He’s with Davis today so it’s safe to show you.” He hopped to his feet. Eagerly, I jumped out of bed and followed. We raced down to his room and he pulled a box out of his closet. He set it on the bed. I noticed his hands were trembling as he lifted the top off. There was a black bag inside and he gingerly set it on his bedspread. “When you and I go on dates I’d like you to wear as many of these items as you can stomach. It…would delight me to no end, little ma’am,” he preambled. I stood patiently as he laid out the things he’d bought for me. I could hear his heart pounding in his chest. When had he become so nervous around me? As he went over each item, his ears and face turned red. “The…earrings are to signal me that you have on some other items. I’d like to guess which. The belly ring stays hidden. So do the bra and panty sets. I would…love for you to wear these for me under your clothes. There are also the tights and thigh highs, which you can wear under pants or just in the bedroom. And there are these…” He held up a couple of garters in several shades of pink. “I’d love to reach under your skirt and peel one off you.” Some heat entered his expression and voice. “And this…” he finally held up the last pink item, “I want to put this in you… All of this is yours if you want it. You can take or leave any of it. My feelings won’t be hurt, though mini-Jack might protest a bit. I thought it would be fun for us to add this as one of our games. Only if you want-”
I leaped on Jack and knocked him backwards on his bed, on top of all the clothes. “I might want to see you in some of this as well, Jack,” I teased, peeling off his clothes and kissing him.
“Anything for you,” he laughed. We rolled back and forth across the bed, learning one another all over again. We made sure to hide all the goodies before Evin came home. The three of us spent the evening dancing around the house as we tidied up. Life was good. I spent more time finishing up my comics. It was a bit odd because some parts of Clarence Buys Hats included people I knew. It felt right, even though it was unprecedented. Well, the whole premise of the comic was unprecedented. I’d never come across anything else like it. I tried to remember where I’d gotten the idea for it. A dream. An odd dream. About not simply a world out of whack but entire universes. And Clarence tying them all together using music. But the other characters…some of them were creatures I’d learned about after going into the realms. How had I known about them before seeing them? It wasn’t as if I’d only used mythical creatures I’d heard of. I’d written about some beings that I’d thought were completely unique. But then I’d seen some of them. Something odd was happening. I didn’t have foresight, precognition, or visions. Yet I felt as if my comic was a lens into something happening behind the scenes. Evin suggested I find someone to talk to about it, someone who knew more about seeing the future and about other universes.
Davis recommended I talk to his friend. “I think it’s about time you met my vampire,” he decided.
“And afterwards, you and I need to take a trip somewhere. Just us, just to relax. I want to spoil you for days on end. Anywhere you want to go. Anything you want to do,” I promised.
“While you two are talking I’ll start setting up my perfect getaway,” he agreed, kissing the back of my hand. We were driving very far North. Up to what used to be known as Silicon Valley. We pulled into the remains of a gated community. He tucked the car away behind a wall and we hoofed it about a mile or so into the innermost corner of the housing section. “Cel,” he cupped his hands and called out.
There was a bit of rustling from the enormous house we stood in front of. One of the painted-over windows cracked open and the most gorgeous person I’d ever seen stuck their head out. “Davis, I’m so glad to see you!” he gushed. “Just a sec.” He vanished from the window and reappeared in the doorway. I nearly fainted but thankfully Davis caught me. There was no way this dude had ever been human. He had golden skin that shone a bit and this radical-ass hair that changed from black to red to blond as he moved. He had hazel eyes that were heavy on the green and filled with golden flakes that threw off light. He was tall and built like a Greek god and he moved like fluid-like a gengi. He threw off quite an aura, too. Golden Boy, I thought, snickering. “Welcome, welcome. I’m Soleceet but you can call me Cel,” he bowed, lifting my hand to kiss. He did the same to Davis.
“Hey, Cel. This is Aniella, the one I’ve been telling you about,” Davis introduced me.
“Aniella. Interesting name,” Cel noted, eyes brightening. “This way. Fancy a drink?”
“Cel, what exactly are you?” I blurted out as we trailed after him through large hallways lit by candles. The interior of this mansion seemed more like a castle than a regular home. And though it appeared rundown on the outside it was perfectly lovely inside.
As we turned into a sitting room he whirled around and smiled gleefully. “Quite perceptive, Ani. Technically, I’m something called a Seiyan. My dad’s a god and my mom’s a Faerie. Capital F followed by a and e, meaning a certain type of angel. My dad’s also a vampire, most similar to the scaroths. My mom is a fairy, as in the mythical creature with wings,” he revealed. “I’m more vampire than fairy-little f-because I’m male.”
“That’s all possible? And what does your sex have to do with vampirism?” I squinted.
Cel glided around the room making us drinks. As he handed them to us he answered, “It’s generally looked down upon for a god to mate with anyone but another god. It usually results in monsters. But sometimes you get a Hercules.”
“Or a Soleceet,” Davis said under his breath, grinning.
“Or a Soleceet,” Cel agreed. “Anyway, where I come from all vampires are male. All vampires have male children, except in rare cases. And all male children of a vampire are male.”
“Why is that? Where are you from?” I asked, extremely interested. I sipped on the drink he’d given me and leaned forward. “That sounds like something I wrote about.”
“Yes. Davis showed me your comic. I think I can answer some of your questions. But I bet it will bring up so many more… Davis says you’ve already visited the Djinn’s universe so that should make what I’m about to tell you more palatable…” He began his tale. He was originally from another universe. One at the center of a massive breakdown of reality. That universe was very similar to this one, with the timelines being virtually the same up until a certain point. Events had gone awry there and in order to fix it, or even just to save what they could, his group of family and friends jumped into other universes to set it right. All through creation people were falling through universes or having insane and surreal experiences, things that diverted them from the lives they were supposed to live. Many people were dying and being snuffed out. It all sounded very dismal. He revealed that he and two others were now here in our universe to watch out for Queen Aeryn. She was the key to all of this because of who she was and who she used to be. She could release the universes to their respective places.
“Who was she?” Davis inquired.
“The first human,” Cel said quietly.
“Adam?” I wondered.
He smirked. “No. But he is here, too. Not here but alive, I mean. No, I mean the very first.”
“Lilith? But that’s just a-”
“Myth? Just like Adam? Just like the gods and unicorns? The world is so much stranger than you think, Ani. You have a gift. You’ve caught echoes of events that are occurring elsewhere… Not simply that… You seem to have stumbled upon the tales of one of my dearest and oldest friends. You see, Clarence is my best friend. And the Prison of Desolation is a real place. It was designed by the most talented Architect to ever exist. If you’re up for it, one day you can meet her,” Cel beamed.
“I’d be honored. The Prison of Desolation is no joke.”
“Actually, it might be the biggest one of all. But wait 'til you see what else she’s built.”