Ravyn's Nights - Book 1

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Chapter 60

It had now been slightly over a month since Claire first made the acquaintance of James II of House Stuart: younger brother of the current, and still childless, king of England. Needless to say, Claire’s and Sean’s lives had changed significantly since that meeting.

It was now October and there was already a notable chill in the London air as the sound of hooves approached their home again only a few hours past that night’s sunset. Sean was the one who moved to the door to greet the visitor, who was indeed James.

“Answering the door yourself? Odd; I rarely have ever even see you outside of your studio” was James’ greeting to Sean as he left the royal guards stationed outside as Sean opened the door to him.

“I usually leave Claire to any guests, considering” Sean stated as he couldn’t help noticing the way the younger man’s eyes surveyed him that night.

“Considering what?” James asked as he moved through the door before waiting for an invitation, which was most likely a side effect of his stature as current heir to the throne of England.

“Considering that I’ve been banned from contact with the world of mortals until… whenever Griffyn sees fit” Sean supplied the knowledge the other man already had and then allowed his own slight sigh as he shut the door behind the future king.

“Well, most of us answer to a different ruler” James smiled as he began removing his gloves, and then added “besides, you didn’t seek me out; I came to you in your very home. Hardly like Griffyn could consider that an actual violation” James reasoned, casting Sean another odd glance on the last word.

“Came to me? Aren’t you here to see Claire, who’s not here, by the way” Sean added, his heightened perception easily noting and deciphering each of James’ actions and words.

“Really?” James responded knowingly, as he looked back up at Sean who amazingly only stood a mere four inches taller than James himself, though they both shared the same waiflike figure & pale blonde locks above paler blue eyes.

Though this was the first time Sean had spent more than a moment in the other man’s presence, he already had no surprise in regards to Claire choosing to give her precious and powerful blood to a man who was so similar to Sean himself, at least on a purely physical basis.

“So where is your lovely wife this evening?” James responded as he moved his eyes around the home before coming back to rest on Sean again.

“At the theatre, of course.” Sean answered, though he was sure James had already known that information as well.

“Oh? The theatre I gave back to you?” James replied, never quite able to tamp down that arrogance that seemed to be ingrained in all of those with royal blood.

Sean took pause only a moment to check his words before speaking them, “Technically, you gave it to our servant, Jonathan” Sean reminded.

“Well, I’m not as prone to faking documents like another Prince of yours. However, my documents will hold much more weight with the city’s rulers, I promise. And it was a bit easier to put the theatre in the name of someone who is actually alive, after all” James allowed another smile at his own words.

“Thank you. Is that what you wish to hear? Then so be it; Thank you James, we owe you greatly. Will that be all?” Sean finished a little shortly, his patience always growing short in the face of arrogance, whoever the source.

James couldn’t help smiling back at Sean with mild amusement “Why is it that you don’t seem to like me very much, anyway? I would honestly love to know” James asked him boldly, after all, it was not Sean whose blood was running through James’ veins at the moment.

Sean wasn’t slowed by the other man’s words “I just know that I’ve told you that Claire’s not here, and yet you’re still here, reminding us of the gratitude we should owe you. How should I react?” Sean stated plainly, his own confidence easily matching that of the future king if it needed to.

James was quiet only a moment before he continued on “That wasn’t an answer though.”

“What answer do you want, Your Grace?” Sean added with a bit of bite behind the words.

James couldn’t stop his own wider grin “you’re interesting. We really should get to know one another better” he told him as he began to remove his coat, again, without an invitation to do so. “besides there’s a chill in the air. I’d love to warm myself by your fire a while before heading back out into the night” he stated as he hung up the coat on a nearby hook and headed from the foyer to the living room, leaving Sean to look after him with a shake of his head. Once Sean followed with a sigh and entered the room behind James, the younger man turned back to him “no fire?” he questioned as he looked back from his new location near the fireplace.

“We usually don’t bother when the servants aren’t here” was Sean’s explanation “the cold doesn’t really bother Claire and I” he finished pointedly.

“So it’s not some other reason?” James responded as Sean moved closer while seeming in no real hurry to get there.

“Such as?” Sean asked with a raised brow as he reached the hearth as well.

“Like being afraid of fire or some such thing” James offered with a shrug.

“Afraid of fire?” Sean asked with another skeptical look before moving to toss a few logs into the fireplace and set the kindling alight with a candle from the mantle.

James watched a moment, and then added “thought I heard something like that once.”

Sean couldn’t help smirking as he waited for the fire to slowly come to life as he watched it “I think you need to check your sources” was Sean’s simple response as he moved his hand close to the now adequate flames "and as for being afraid of fire; I doubt there's many mortals who would enjoy being set alight much either, are there?"

"So, no on fire killing your people then?” James returned.

“Some reason you need to know how to kill us?” Sean asked, in a darker tone.

“Well, if I’m going to be king one day, these might be things I need to know. I’m sure there’s a few of your kind who are less accommodating to humans than you and Claire.”

“To say the least” Sean agreed, though gave neither further warning nor consolation.

James waited another moment for Sean to provide any additional information, though Sean’s only further action was to take a seat on the sofa in what almost looked like boredom. That was then followed by Sean simply reaching for the glass of thick red liquid he had been tending to before his visitor had arrived.

James just shook his head after another moment of Sean’s obstinate silence, before continuing “You still haven’t told me why you seem to not like me.”

“I don’t know you: ‘Like’ isn’t really a factor, is it?” was Sean’s latest vague response.

James just scoffed as he too moved to take a seat down the sofa from where Sean continued to sip his drink “Seriously, what is your issue with me?” he pressed, though as he spoke what could have come off as a purely confrontational question, he just curiously turned to watch Sean with those pale eyes, his elbow moving to the back of the couch to rest his head upon his hand as he awaited his answer.

Sean glanced at him from the corner of his own ice blue eyes and took another sip, planning his response “You honestly want my answer?”

“Yes, honestly” James allowed a small laugh.

“You have an extremely bloated sense of entitlement” Sean stated plainly.

James blinked at the statement, “no, tell me what you really think.”

“I suppose it’s most likely not your fault” Sean allowed, “for the last thirteen years you’ve watched your older brother, the king, fail to produce an heir again and again. So, in your mind, you’re sure the throne is as good as yours, so you act as though it already is, and that the world exists for your whims and your whims alone. Added to that, you have youth, beauty and even more power given to you by our kind, which of course just adds to that entitlement that already existed before you ever met us at all” Sean continued his plain-worded analysis of the younger man, “it’s all just a bit off-putting” Sean finished simply, finally turning his eyes back to where James looked a bit like the air had been knocked out of him by being spoken to with such undiluted honesty, most likely for the first time in his forty years of life.

James was quiet a long moment as Sean regarded him over the top of the glass as he took another sip. After another moment, James seemed to finally manage to find his voice again “Just for the record, your kind didn’t give me my beauty” he couldn’t help correcting.

Sean very nearly allowed a smile as he responded, “no, I suppose we just let you keep it for a lot longer than most mortals get to.”

Another pause before James spoke again “it’s surprising that you’re not more like that.”

“Like what?” Sean asked with a raised brow.

“Entitled” James supplied.

“Me?” Sean asked with another skeptical look.

“Well, aren’t you heir to a throne, yourself?” James returned.

“Pardon?” Sean asked as he finally pulled his attention from the drink and back to James.

“Word has it that Haven is going to be given the western territory in your home country as soon as he and his concubine complete the journey across the American wilderness. Haven is the one who made you, correct?” James asked as an afterthought, checking his sources, as it were.

“Yes, he made me, and I wasn’t aware that he was going out west again, or being made Prince… And concubine?” Sean asked, raising his voice a bit on that last part of James’ statements.

“Wow, an heir who didn’t know he was an heir. That’s different” James stated, and then moved on, “And I suppose I should call her his childe, but considering things I’ve heard, concubine seemed more fitting.”

“Awsha is with him?” Sean returned, though his voice did drop a bit on the statement.

“Yes, your lovely little sister. Vampirically speaking, anyway” James had to add, “you seem surprised by that fact as well it appears” James added after taking note of the crack in Sean’s otherwise unshakable composure.

“Considering you mentioned the ‘things you’ve heard’ about Awsha, I’d think my surprise at her continued presence at our sire’s side would be… less surprising to you” Sean said in the same now much quieter tone as he seemed to lose interest in his drink at last.

“Well, obviously I know why you lost the theatre and were given this punishment of isolation, I just don’t know why” James added as he continued to hold Sean in his gaze, though Sean’s own eyes seemed rather distracted.

“Why?” Sean repeated with another swallow, eyes still not moving back to the other man.

“Why you and the concubine did what you did” James supplied bravely.

Sean then looked down again, with what almost looked like hurt, though James couldn’t be sure, as he’d not seen that emotion in the man before “I suppose Claire has informed you of her own theory on the matter?” Sean asked; though his voice sounded as though he didn’t honestly want to hear the answer.

“No, she actually hasn’t” James admitted, “your name has barely ever crossed her lips in my company” he added, “though, I can only imagine what theory she must hold” James allowed, his own tone quieting.

“Claire’s never asked me why I did it, and yet you have, just tonight” Sean stated softly, finally looking back toward the other man.

“I suppose she’s afraid to have you confirm the worst for her” James returned quietly, his eyes now moving downwards.

“I’m sure she is” Sean agreed, eyes down as well.

“So, why did you do it?” James finally dared to pose the question outright.

Sean took another long moment to wrack his brain for that answer, before finally offering the only one he had “I honestly don’t even know why, myself” his voice broke with emotion on admitting that out loud.

“Well, was it actually due to you no longer loving or wanting Claire anymore?”

“That would never be true. She is my other half. She always will be” Sean stated forcefully.

“Then I guess that’s really the important answer, then isn’t it?”

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