Ashley and I sat in a restaurant at our weekly get-together. Every Friday, she dragged me out of the office to make sure I had some kind of fun. Today, though, she had some news for me. She could barely sit still during our meal. We finished eating and leaned back in our chairs. “So what did you have to tell me? You’re still able to come on our trip to Riel’s next week, right?” I asked.
“Oh, I’ll definitely be there. I can’t wait to meet Sam in person. He is a riot!” Her hand fluttered as she sipped her water. “No, this is good news. Very good news. As you know I’ve been working with Amada studying and cataloguing containers’ abilities. In a little side project we’ve been working with Jack and Jesse trying to pinpoint and analyze the unique nature of their bond. We formulated a series of exercises for them and they’ve been practicing using Queen Aeryn as the, uh, test subject.” She paused to eat a fry that had somehow evaded notice until now.
“So how did it go? What did you find out?” I questioned.
“Well, I’m very pleased to announce that Jesse and Jack can now control their bond. They can mute it and amplify it. The trick was getting them to treat it more like their regular container emotional sense. They combine it with mind-blocking techniques as well. It takes a lot more concentration but it’s very effective. If they’re incredibly excited or incredibly dead of energy then it can still break through. But since those are likely to occur in emergency situations that actually works to their benefit,” she informed me, beaming.
“Are you serious? Oh, that’s excellent!” I gushed.
“There’s more.” She waved her hand excitedly.
“We found some information for Evin… Turns out there are some freaky ass forums out there for colds. You’re not the first cold to want to get it on with your ghost,” she giggled.
“Is that why you borrowed my charm? To ask pervy paranormal questions?” I raised an eyebrow at her.
She shrugged innocently. “Hey, I know you’d have been too embarrassed to ask or you’d have done it already.”
“I didn’t want everyone to know. Especially with so many ghosts missing. Plus, Davis is so famous and they know I’m his girlfriend now. Too much attention,” I defended myself.
“Whatever. The point is this: it’s a lot like travelling through the realms. That is to say, in a way the ghost has to come more into our realm. The more rational they are the better it will work. It’s exactly like lucid dreaming,” she went on.
I blinked and thought about that. Evin and I did copulate in dreams. Apparently he simply needed to extend that to the waking world. “Is it really that simple?”
“Depends on the ghost. But Evin’s pretty talented already. And quite rational, even though he uses it for perversion. It shouldn’t take him too much time to get used to it. Um, he can make it as realistic as he wants.” She made a mischievous face.
“What is that supposed to-” I stopped and choked when I read her mind. “Oh, my! Okay. Well, thank you for letting me know. That’s all fantastic news, really.”
“Sure. I wanted to tell you myself before the boys mobbed you.”
“I definitely appreciate that… How’s the DNA project going?”
Her expression grew somber. “Um, there have been rumors going around… See, Mark Ashton is currently in charge of the largest container population. Ultimately, it’s up to him how many are needed.”
My skin prickled. “What do you mean?” I asked hoarsely.
“I mean, in a few years there are going to be a lot fewer containers. Only those that are loyal to the queen will be left alive.”
“Does she know?”
Ashley shook her head. “She can’t know. Not yet.”
“Scott’s stamps!” I exclaimed quietly. “Why is he doing this?”
“You’ll have to ask him. He’ll be there next week.”
I gulped. “Everything I hear about him makes him more and more terrifying. He’s killed over 10,000 people, you know,” I shivered.
“Be sure not to piss him off,” she stated dryly and we both laughed. “Say, how’s your aversion therapy coming along? You’ve been working on it since Davis got back, yeah?”
I nodded. “He’s been such good help. I don’t care what’s going on; I’ll never avoid him again. I only twitch now when I see pink. Which definitely helps in the container realm. Davis, ahem, is very pink.”
Ashley chuckled. “Pink is lust, right? Hilarious. You guys really call it the container realm?”
“Sure. I took Jesse there once and he swore it was pretty damn close to what containers experience. It’s not exactly visual for them. Most of them tend to feel the shape of it, like a sixth sense. But the effect is pretty much the same,” I explained.
“Cool. I’ll run that by Amada the next time we talk. And I know Sam will get a kick out of it.” Ashley gathered her things, preparing to leave.
For a brief few moments I debated whether or not to tell her that Sam had raped Aeryn. On the one hand I trusted Aeryn would inform anyone that wanted to be with Sam and I believed her when she’d said he’d never do anything like it again. On the other hand I felt as if Ashley was smitten with him and I wanted her to have an accurate picture of who he was. I ended up sighing. I’d have to ask Aeryn about it. I packed my things and prepared to go back to work. Sometimes it felt as if we were on this event horizon of morality. Outside of the horizon were the black and white crystal clear laws of regular behavior. But inside: who really knew what happened there? I had long thought things were simple. Yet the more I learned about Aeryn and the others, the more I began to understand there was a much deeper level to discover. Theirs was a morality that dug to the very core of being, the very ground of reality. It wasn’t always pretty. And it wasn’t always apparent on the surface. But it was ever-present and all-consuming. It touched their every action. Queen Aeryn was here first and foremost as judge. Somewhere along the line Others had been tainted. She was here to set us all right.
I couldn’t wait to see her again. I was addicted to talking to her. It was always my favorite day of the week. She was hands down the most fascinating person I’d ever met. To be able to see her in person was beyond eagerly anticipated. And Riel…that tall hunk of awesome had yet to explain to me what a Sex God was. Sometimes, if Aeryn couldn’t make our date he’d call to let me know why. He was such a damn flirt! Mark was, too. If Aeryn had to check on something either he or Sam would sit and talk with me. Hell, okay, practically everyone in Aeryn’s circle was flirtatious. They were all so high-energy and excitable. Granted, a lot of that seemed to be natural for scaroth vampires. Due to their large appetites and free nature Davis, Evin, Jack, Jesse, and I all agreed it would be a Vegas style situation: what happened in Nevada stayed in Nevada. We weren’t required to plan anything out or to give a heads’ up. We would if we could but these were vampires we’d be staying with. They could seduce people in the blink of an eye!
I hugged Ashley goodbye and then jogged back to work, which proved to be a wonderful distraction until Jesse showed up to drive me home. “Hey, Ani. How’s it going?” he greeted me as I exited the building. It was much easier to tell the twins apart now, at least in person. They had slightly different smells, I’d noticed.
“Hi, Jesse. Things are going very well. Ashley had some fantastic news for me at lunch today. How did you guys manage to keep it secret for so long?” I asked as we slid into the car.
“Oh, we’ve had lots of practice being devious. So what do you think?” He smiled broadly at me.
“I’m delighted. It’ll definitely make next week easier,” I remarked.
He chuckled. “Mm, not just next week. I can still feel it every time you and Jack have sex. That’s why it bothered me a bit when he moved in with you two months ago. I know that technically his room is the old guest room but more often than not you two are sleeping together, euphemistically-speaking.”
I blushed. “He’s…persuasive. I thought it was just his way of making you feel what he felt so often whenever you talked to Queen Aeryn. Or all the times you jumped me in public,” I stated pointedly.
“Honestly, I’d like to jump you right now,” he admitted. “But it’s not a revenge thing with him. It’s something else.” Jesse grew quiet. He pulled into my driveway and turned off the car.
“What is it, Jesse?” I inquired, touching his arm.
“Part of the reason we had to learn to control and tweak our link is because…his emotions were overwhelming me-and not only his physical desire for you. I know it’s not as easy for you to read our deeper thoughts but we’ve always been in sync with one another.”
“Jesse…” I smoothed his brown hair away from his face so I could see his eyes.
“Ani, Jack’s fallen for you. Hard. Completely. I could feel it all. Part of my passion for you was coming from him,” he sighed, leaning his head back. “I think he eventually wants to marry you.”
“M…marry? Are you sure?” I sputtered.
Jesse looked into my eyes, amused. “Of course I’m sure; I can feel everything he does.”
“What about you? Does that bother you? Is it something you ever picture for you and me?” I asked quietly.
“I think it’s great. And I’m glad I can give you two privacy now as well as vice versa. As far as marriage…I didn’t really think about it until I felt his desire for it. The truth is I don’t know what all I want with you, Aniella. I know I want to enjoy you and enjoy our time. I have no expectations about where it goes.” He reached out to hold my hand. “What I do know is that I’m your friend for life.”
“And I’m yours,” I smiled at him.
“You know, we haven’t consecrated the driveway in a while,” he mentioned.
I guffawed. “You’d better hurry. Jack will be home in a half-hour.”
“I’d better get started then.” He grinned and pulled me into his lap after leaning the seat back. I kissed him and ran my hands through his hair, soaking up his presence. He ran his fingers over my chest, grabbing my breast. I slipped a hand to his chest to make a few specific requests. He moaned and spoke huskily, “Damn, Ani, you little freak. I’m not sure how easy all that will be in a car but I’ll sure try.”
“Mm, good. I love it when you do it. You get me so blazed,” I cooed, unbuckling his pants.
“I love turning you on. You’re so sexy and I love the fire in your eyes. And I especially love it when you torture me. We should do that more often. There’s nothing I enjoy more than knowing I can’t have you, feeling your delight and joy and pleasure, watching you get off just out of my reach.” Jesse sucked in a breath. “One of these days I want to see you bound while Davis takes his pleasure. I want to fight to try to save you. I want to fail and be punished for being so weak.”
I giggled. “I think we can arrange that. He’s normally not dominant but I think he’d like playing the villain if I beat him afterwards for his transgressions.”
“Ooh, yeah. Maybe Jack can save you and be rewarded for it. That’d be a lovely slap in the face for me,” he went on. “Oh, Ani, you must really love that idea. I think even my pants are wet.”
“I’m going to have to change clothes,” I mused, sucking on his earlobe.
“I will, too, if you keep stroking me like that,” he panted.
We were so engrossed with each other that we both jumped when there was a bang on the passenger side window. Matt stood there with a disgusted expression on his face. “I really don’t need or want to see this. I suggest you get your horny butts inside before I throw up.” He pretended to gag.
“Sorry, Matt. I forgot you’d be home early today,” I said sheepishly, fixing my clothes.
“Uh huh. Go on with you. Shoo!” he scolded us, opening the car door and ushering us out. We cracked up as we ran indoors.
“One of these days you’ll find us in your room,” Jesse taunted him.
“Ugh! I’ll set the whole house on fire,” Matt vowed, heading next door. “Catch you on Sunday,” he called back cheerily before we shut the door.
“So much for getting in a quickie,” I huffed as I went into the bathroom to wash up.
“You’re telling me. I was enjoying myself nearly as much as you were,” Evin shared, popping up behind me.
“I’m shocked you didn’t appear in the car,” Jesse pointed out, poking his head in.
“I wanted to maintain the illusion that I was a good boy waiting patiently for his lover to return home,” Evin replied.
I tsked. “For shame… Mind putting the kettle on? I have an announcement to make,” I requested.
“Sure thing, ma coeur.” Evin glided towards the kitchen, mumbling to Jesse on his way that I’d made him a butler. Jesse smirked and went to help him. I ran upstairs to my room to change and then did some floor exercises in the living room. Jack pulled in before long and came in the front door. “Welcome home, Jack,” Evin greeted, giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Enough, Evin,” Jack chuckled and pushed him away. “I missed you, too, but let me actually get inside first.”
Evin took a seat while Jack set his materials in his room. He was in charge of one of the upcoming plays for SAAC and was designing a few of the costumes. He wandered back into the living room and sat beside Evin right as Jesse brought out the tea. “Up on the seat with you,” Jesse nodded at me.
I finished my exercise and curled up in my favorite chair, gratefully accepting my cup from him. He served his brother and then posted up on the edge of my chair. “So, Jack, did you feel Jesse and me going at it in the car a short while ago?” I asked nonchalantly.
“No, actually. Did you really?” he wondered.
I nodded. “I learned from Ashley that you two can control your bond now. I wanted to try it out for myself.”
“Hey, wait. I could’ve crashed or something, little ma’am,” he realized, frowning at me.
I snickered. “Blame Jesse. He started it.”
Jack shook his head. “So, so mean,” he declared.
“I wouldn’t ever endanger you, Jack. Not purposely,” I sobered up a bit. “I wanted to say I’m very happy about this. You’re both free now. That opens the door to certain possibilities.”
He studied my face and prompted, “Such as?”
I simply shrugged and said airily, “Oh, nothing in particular. I just meant in general.”
He continued watching me with some suspicion but I gave nothing away. Evin piped up after a short silence with, “You said you had an announcement, cherie. Surely it wasn’t merely that you’re so pleased you can finally be with one twin without inconveniencing the other. It’s great news but not exactly relevant to me.”
“You’re right… Give me a moment, please.” I sipped on my tea and gathered my thoughts. “First, the bad news: on top of Davis and I still not managing to locate the realm the Djinn went to, here on Earth the containers are being pruned. In addition, the colds have temporarily called off the search for the missing ghosts. There are only around 5% left now. Many colds are joining up with the witches to provide protection to the ghosts that are still here. Ramailo’s coven has already spelled this house but you still need to be careful when you go outside. At least until we find a necromancer to bind you to me. Davis is still a bit down about Rose’s disappearance. Try to make sure he has a lot of fun on our trip… The last thing is the best news…” I gazed into Evin’s eyes and my heart thumped. “Evin, for us, making love is a matter of lucid dreaming. Take the skills you’ve developed in my dreams and the realms and simply exercise them in this realm. Concentrate like you’ve never done before. Basically, pretend like you’re alive.”
Evin’s jaw dropped and he was momentarily speechless. “You mean…” he gulped.
“Whenever you’re ready. It can take a number of tries. You can take some time to practice if you need,” I beamed at him.
“Oh, my.” That lovely light came into his eyes. “Jesse, take your brother somewhere for a few hours. I’ve got some concentrating to do,” he ordered.
Jack and Jesse cracked up. “Good luck,” they chorused before heading next door.
Evin snatched me up and dragged me to my room as I laughed.