Changes in the Stars
Riel and Aeryn stayed with us for a few more days. Then she told Riel that she needed to contact a Mark Ashton to figure out more about the Hunters’ resurgence. I was sad to see them go but she promised they’d be in touch soon. Riel gave us his contact info, explaining that he’d be able to respond quicker than Aeryn since he lived alone. And technically, Aeryn was a minor so it was harder for her to get away. She was already hiding her vampirism by calling it an illness but hiding long trips was a bit more difficult. Her family believed she was currently visiting a blood specialist for tests and treatment under the care of her fake doctor (and actual lover) Mark Ashton. Mark was hanging out at Riel’s home, giving Riel and Aeryn time to catch up. I couldn’t imagine having to hide so much of my life like that. I hoped one day she wouldn’t have to hide. She was too beautiful. I gave her and Riel a big hug, crying a little as they left out the door. I felt like I’d lost something. I went to bed early that day, a bit depressed. The next day we started packing to leave.
“Ani, tonight’s the night. Come to our room,” Jack told me, touching my back.
“Can’t wait,” I replied, watching him closely as he walked away. He was definitely excited. This was going to be very interesting. I held back a laugh as I tidied up. Once everything was packed we fixed an early dinner and set music playing. We danced and howled around the living room and even Jonas loosened up enough to have fun. There was nothing like a tragedy to make people rethink some things. He may not ever rid himself of his deep-seated notions but he’d at least decided we were okay. We gyrated wildly long into the night. Finally, Jack seized me and took me aside. “Yeah, Jack? You boys ready now?” I inquired, flipping my bangs out of my face.
“So ready. You were dancing like a little freak out there, little ma’am. I like it,” Jack informed me.
“Oh. Some moves Aeryn taught me,” I said nonchalantly, though his thoughts had me blushing.
“Uh huh.” His brown eyes peered at me with desire and wonder. “What else did she teach you?”
I stepped forward and drew my pinky down his chest, doing little circles. Then, with the same hand, I lifted his hand and licked his palm. “Let’s go find out, Jackster.”
“Shit, Ani.” He snatched his hand away and licked his lips. “Come on.” He grabbed my hand and dragged me upstairs. Davis was there already, securing Jesse to a chair. “You look good there, Jesse,” Jack taunted him, ruffling his hair.
“Maybe we should reverse positions,” Jesse teased.
“No chance,” Jack scoffed, sitting on the bed.
“Did I miss the show?” Evin wondered, showing up on the other side of Davis.
I tsked. “It’s not a show. Find somewhere to sit. I swear if you say one word…”
He pretended to zip his lips. “Not a peep until you’re done,” he vowed.
I sat down next to Jack while Davis finished up. He patted Jesse on the shoulder and leaned back against the wall. I stared at Jesse, who looked surprisingly comfortable. For now, anyway. I leaned on Jack and lifted his hand, studying it. With his free one he brushed the hair from my face and kissed my temple. “I’m ready when you are, little ma’am,” Jack whispered.
I trembled and turned to face him. “Tap in,” I ordered.
Jack closed his eyes and concentrated on Jesse. I felt a flutter of anticipation. Jesse would send his requests to Jack and Jack would do the vampiric sign for it, pausing to let me say yes or no. We started slow, mostly kisses here or there. It gave us all time to get comfortable and warm up. We’d never all been around during sex before. We’d each prepared ourselves by letting one another know what we were and weren’t comfortable with. And we had our safe words if things got too intense or uncomfortable for us. Jack and I focused on one another, beginning to make out. He paused when Jesse sent him his next mental request. Jack made a little x on my chest with his pinky. I nodded and his hand ran up my back to unhook my bra. I kissed him and took hold of his hand, sliding it around front so he could cup me. He moaned into my mouth as he felt how warm my breast was. Davis had finally taught me how to control my temperature. It would definitely come in handy here.
Davis asked in his quiet way if we could roll towards him. Evin squirmed and I could tell he was biting back on a comment about porn angles. I giggled as we obliged Davis. I pulled off my shirt and Jesse inhaled sharply. He sent another request. Jack chuckled and drew the symbol for it. “Ooh. Sure,” I agreed. My hand slithered into his pants. Jack whispered to me, telling me how he liked to be stroked. He moaned when I did it just right. Like Davis had done with me I sent my temperature up and down, creating a little spark of electricity. Jack humped me and I could hear Jesse’s breathing pick up. I glanced over to see him shifting in his chair. Good. I laid kisses on Jack’s chin, his neck, and moved lover, stripping off his clothes as I went. He held himself up above me, staring down at me with that delicious heat in those chocolate brown eyes. This act wasn’t a request; I’d simply wanted to do it. I ran my hands over his back and chest as I tasted him. Jesse whimpered as I showed off my lack of a gag reflex. Evin was biting his fist to keep from exclaiming something. Shakily, Jack drew Jesse’s latest request. This one circled my crotch. He finished it by tracing the letter D into my hip. It was a much bolder and urgent form of the lick on the palm.
I gave the boys a thumbs up. Davis walked over and tugged down my pants. He kissed my hips and worked his way to the center. “Beautiful Ani,” Jack whispered. He pulled back so he could kiss me while Davis tasted me. His hands explored my body eagerly. I arched my back and pulled his head down closer as I shot over. Perfectly lovely. Jesse lifted his middle as if he could escape that way. Evin laughed at him. “Send the next one,” Davis told Jesse, reading my mind and relaying my thoughts since my lips were otherwise occupied at the moment. Jack grinned against my lips as his fingers drew out the request. I lifted my hips in reply. Davis moved to lay beside me as Jack moved to lay on top of me. I held his face in my hands and kissed him as he pushed in. Jesse wanted to see us in a number of different positions but finally stopped sending Jack requests when I lay facing him with Jack behind me. Davis would reach out every so often to stroke me. Such bliss. I think Jesse was on the verge of crying; his eyes were tearing up as he felt what Jack felt without the satisfaction of release. And then Jack was done and Davis held me. Jack made his own requests now for what he wanted to see us do.
Jesse was actively fighting to get free now as Davis stood in front of him with me in his arms. I winked at Jesse as Davis lowered my body onto his. I was literally just out of reach of Jesse and he couldn’t touch, couldn’t taste, couldn’t take. Davis got a lot rougher with me as our passion mounted. I left nice little marks on his back, letting my nails grow so I could scratch deeper. I bit his neck and left bruises on his neck and chest. Jesse said his safe word finally and Evin cracked up. Davis laid me on the bed and released Jesse. Jesse dashed into the bathroom to relieve himself and Jack smirked. “It’s about damn time it went the other way around,” he said triumphantly. “We should probably use his bathroom to clean up. He might be in there for a bit.”
Evin handed Jack and I robes. Davis still had his pants on so could get away with walking around in that. “Think he’ll do it three times?” I snickered at Jack.
He guffawed. “I’ll tell you when he’s done. Thank goodness I got mine. It normally helps numb any subsequent signals. The other day was a departure from the norm,” he explained.
“That’s useful. Hm. Might be something we can work with, too. We can set up some experiments,” I suggested.
“Don’t turn sex into an experiment,” Evin complained as we went down the hall to Jesse’s room.
“Hey, it might benefit you as well. Don’t knock it,” I argued.
“Fine then, cherie. We’ll do it your way.” He pinched my bottom as I skipped into the bathroom. When we were all clean we headed back to Jack’s room to make sure Jesse was still alive. “Can we all sleep in here?” I asked them as Davis checked Jesse’s circulation. Jack nodded before he laid next to his brother, caressing his face and asking him about how he’d felt, what he’d liked, and what he wanted to try again. As the twins whispered I settled down on the other side of the bed with Evin and Davis. My crazy, rowdy boys. In my dream, Evin and Davis followed a similar line of questioning as Jack, asking me for my views, fears, and joys over our session. I was so glad to know them.
Over the next several months, life changed for everyone. I had a standing video date with Aeryn every week. Sometimes Mark or Sam (one of her other lovers) would interrupt and drag her away or mess with her until she had to hang up or give me a show. It tickled me how rowdy they were. They weren’t always goofy; they were also hard at work searching for the Hunters. Jesse, Jack, Ashley, and Cal all consulted with Amada to build better theories on containers. Jesse and Aeryn made plans to see one another again (we could always tell when Jesse was speaking with her; Jack would come pin me down and make out with me). Thankfully, Ashley had long ago dumped Reggie and she and Cal were going strong. Dad and Momma moved into my room and I moved into their section of the house with Evin. Along with Davis, we travelled the realms and plotted them, marking down which creatures went where. And one day, I sat down with Ramailo to send the other two ghosts in my house on their way.
He set up a circle and various magical items, explaining the purpose of each one. I was only half-listening, though; I couldn’t stop staring at his fudge-chocolate skin. I kept wanting to eat him. He’d always say he’d have to dress in a big cloak so I wouldn’t be distracted. In turn I’d promise to be good. Then ten minutes later I’d be nibbling on his hand. “Don’t make me sic the forces of darkness on you,” he’d threaten and I’d settle down. Today, though, we didn’t play our little game. This was serious business. “We have to ensure that these ghosts end up in the right realm. I’m going to show you how to identify apparitions and determine where they belong,” he was saying. “There’s a special realm witches access to fully see what they’re dealing with. It can be disconcerting because you’ll be able to see all of the phantoms and apparitions around you. We call it ghost world. Sometimes it’s scary as fuck.”
“Sounds like fun,” I said dryly.
He laughed with a low rumble. “I’ve got your back, Aniella. Let’s call up the spirits we’re presently concerned with,” he instructed. We went into a trance together and transported ourselves into the ghost realm. The temperature was much lower here. My breath almost seemed to stick in the air. I glanced out of the window and saw ghosts, spirits, and demons everywhere. It was so crowded. My heart raced as I spied some of the weirder-looking creatures. “Don’t look at them too long. The more attention you pay to them the more they’ll notice you,” Ramailo warned me. I turned away from the window with the quickness. Not that inside was any safer. Ramailo called the inhabitants of the house to the room: one was Evin, one was the ghost that always reenacted their death, and the last one…was some creepy black cloud. The three apparitions didn’t seem to be fully aware. It bothered me to see Evin look so empty. Ram taught me how to dismiss him and I did it rapidly, feeling much better to have him safely out of the way. Ram questioned the second ghost, figuring out how lucid they were and what it was they wanted. They glowed yellow after a while. “Realm of anxiety,” he decided.
He said another spell to create a link between the ghost realm and the realm of anxiety. He had me send the ghost into the light while he inspected the cloud more closely. “I’ve seen a few of these. These are trouble. They’re not supposed to be here,” Ram revealed, performing a binding spell. “Don’t ever touch one if you can avoid it. These black clouds are poisonous. The best you can do is kick them through the Ought Door.”
“The what now?” I squinted.
“The prison of an evil god,” Ram said quietly.
“Did you say? No…gods don’t exist.” I shook my head.
Ram’s dark eyes met mine and my stomach dropped at his grave expression. He made a flicking gesture with his hand and a hole opened up in the floor. The black cloud fell into it and Ram walked around the edge towards me. “Peer in.”
I tiptoed up to the rim and looked down. A massive and pissed-off looking snake was coiled tightly far below in the darkness. One large eye opened and focused on me. His body slowly uncoiled and then picked up speed as he serpentined in our direction. I grew more and more terrified as he grew bigger, and bigger, and even bigger. He was as big as a football field, then big as a forest, then big as a city. I screamed and jumped behind my couch. There was what felt like an earthquake as the snake hit the barrier between realms. I shook and trembled, unable to stop seeing that enormous, angry eye glaring at me. “Close it. Close it. Close it,” I chanted.
Ram sealed the hole and ran over to me. “Get back to your realm. I’ll finish up here. I need to check for cracks,” he ordered.
I chanted the return spell and was tugged back to regular Earth, still curled up on the floor. I just knew I’d have nightmares. I had a (blessedly) fleeting desire to scoop out my eyes. Ram appeared after a few minutes and closed his circle, grounding his power before checking on me. “Who…who is that?” I asked.
“The sun god. A god of war. Marduk. Imprisoned for his crimes against the other gods. I figured he could use some company. Nothing can get out the Ought Door without a very specific talisman. We’re safe from him,” he assured me.
“Marduk,” I repeated woodenly. “Ramailo, please call Evin and Stan.”
“Sure thing. Here, drink this.” He handed me a glass of water. When Evin and Stan arrived I had them both curl up with me on the couch. Ramailo packed up to head out; his coven needed his help with something. I later found out they’d received some big news from the Separated Seven about large amounts of ghosts disappearing; the Seven were sort of like the governing body for witches in the Americas. My brother and boyfriend stayed with me through the night. I was too frightened to sleep at first. “Hey, you are a lucid dreamer, remember? You think your way through it,” Evin urged me.
“He’s right. Dream about something you love, something powerful. Something so good it lifts your spirit. When it gets dark you change it for the better,” Stan backed him up.
“I’ll try,” I told them.
“Love you, lil bit,” Stan kissed my nose. He hadn’t called me that since I was ten.
“Love you, big guy,” I replied. It felt so good to use our old nicknames for one another. I calmed down and Evin massaged my back until I fell asleep. I dreamed that the snake was swallowing up my house. Evin grabbed my hand and pulled me out onto the roof of the collapsing house. “Change it,” Evin directed me. As the jaws of Marduk began to close over us I reached out my pointer finger and touched one of the fangs. It spiraled and transformed into a pole. The roof of the snake’s mouth became a blanket of stars. Evin and I slid down the pole and onto a never-ending mattress. We laid down and watched the stars form into Riel and Aeryn’s shapes. The stars in the sky made love to themselves and I wished that I could join them. Truly, those were two heavenly bodies.