Ravyn's Nights - Book 2

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Chapter 17

After Aidan officially presented himself to Haven, announcing his presence in Haven’s territory, the two sat in his living room chatting for only a few moments before being interrupted. At the sound of Awsha gliding down the stairs, both men turned their eyes in her direction.

“Well, there’s a beautiful face I haven’t seen in quite some time” Aidan greeted her with another slight smile as he rose from his seat, bowing his head politely.

“Surprised you remember a ‘passing fancy’ like myself” was her return greeting, as she offered no smile of her own, simply allowing her dark eyes to move over him.

“Oh darling, that was nearly forty years ago, and I think you have acquired even more allure since then” he allowed another smile as he moved to gently lift her hand to his face, though his eyes stayed on her as his lips grazed her now equally cool skin. Finally relinquishing her hand, he couldn’t help adding “and that last stage performance of yours was indeed, quite memorable.”

“At least one of you enjoyed it” she returned, casting a glance at where Haven sighed in response to the mention of the very thing that planted all those seeds of distrust in the first place.

Aidan glanced back at Haven questioningly, “yes most of my family seemed to disappear after that. I never did quite get the full story from any of you” he added as he turned back to her.

“Oh it’s quite the interesting story. Allow me to tell you all about it” Awsha added as she grasped his wrist and began leading him up the stairs with her, leaving Haven behind with another shake of his long blonde locks before disappearing back to his study.

“You plan to tell me this story in your boudoir?” Aidan couldn’t help his smile as she led him to her own quarters, letting the door fall shut behind them. Then when she took a seat on the bed with a sigh, he had to add “does this story include a reenactment of some sort?” he teased as his eyes moved over her.

“So, what have you heard? You know, since our performance” she added smartly.

“Very little” he confessed as he took a moment to warily take his own seat several inches from where she now sat at the end of her bed “all I know is that Griffyn was there, and then all of you seemed to disappear. Honestly wasn’t sure what happened.”

“Griffyn ordered me out of his territory. And Haven brought me back here since he felt like I was his mess to clean up” she added, though her eyes stayed on the floor, her tone emotionless.

“Well you are quite the beautiful mess” he teased again, though she offered no response but a scowl “I heard that Sean himself suffered a somewhat different, and briefer, sort or banishment.”

“I never heard that” she returned, her eyes finally coming back to his face.

“Well, it was years later when I ran into he and Claire again, and they gave me a very short summary of Sean not being allowed to interact with the mortal world for at least a year, I think they said” he offered what little information he had gotten from his sire and grandsire the one time he had come across them in London since they had originally been made to leave their theatre” he paused only a moment “given, I may have missed parts of their story as I was quite distracted when I did come across them again.”

“Meaning?” Awsha pressed.

“It was sometime during James II’s very short three years on the throne. Sean and Claire were then running some new business, of sorts. I heard it was actually sanctioned by not only London’s new Prince, your grandsire Hollister, but James himself” he supplied her with a bit more information.

“And why were you too distracted to get all the details of what had become of our so-called family?” Awsha asked.

“Well, their little establishment was quite distracting” he smirked as he looked away only a moment “and I thought you were going to tell me about your little adventures here in the new world since that fateful day.”

“Well I sure as hell didn’t have any Princes or kings kissing my behind after that performance” she returned bitterly.

“Their loss” Aidan smiled as he pointedly moved his eyes over her backside.

Though Awsha did not acknowledge his flirtations as she stood and crossed her arms over the breasts that were just barely contained behind her corset that night “so Sean wasn’t allowed to be near mortals for one measly year? Then what happened? You said you didn’t run into them ‘til much later” she pressed as she looked back at him.

Aidan couldn’t help another questioning look “let me understand this; you’ve been living here on the western coast of the new world for twenty years, mere walking distance from Sean and Claire. Correct?” he had to get clarification.

“I suppose” she mumbled her response “though, half of that time I was a bit indisposed” she added bitterly.

“So, if you’ve been here, and they’ve been here, and I’ve only seen them once in nearly forty years…” he shook his head “why am I the one you’re asking for information from?” he finished.

Awsha scoffed “because, they don’t really speak to me. Haven barely speaks to me” she informed, though with the same quiet bitterness to her tone.

“You’re living here in his home; the Prince’s home. I assumed that meant that you and he were rather close.”

“I’m his responsibility” she bit out Haven’s own description “they all hate me though. Sean claims I ruined his life. Yet here I am now hearing about how decidedly unruined his life has actually been. And hearing it from someone who is apparently closer to them than me, despite only seeing them once in four decades” she added with the same repressed anger just barely coloring her tone.

“I feel I’ve missed quite a bit of this story” Aidan said warily, causing yet another scoff from her.

“I’m a pariah that they all just endure. That’s the short version” she returned, forcing further emotion from her voice.

“I do believe I may require more of an explanation than that” Aidan replied, though gently, as her upset was obvious.

“You used to sleep with Claire, right?” she asked, finally turning back to him again.

Aidan looked a little surprised by that statement, but still offered a response “the only way I could assure her a place at court with Sean and I was by making her my mistress” he confirmed “which I did in the hopes of getting close enough to her to convince her to embrace me” he added.

Awsha scoffed again “and I assume you did actually fuck her? Most likely more than once.”

“She lived in my quarters for ten years” Aidan admitted as he only allowed the slightest smile as he looked down.

“So that’s a yes?” Awsha continued without pause.

“Yes, that would be a yes” he admitted with another shake of his head as he narrowed his eyes at that line of questioning.

Awsha just shook her own head with a flash of emotion just barely dancing across her beautiful features “and I was with Sean exactly once, and I’m somehow unforgivable? How does that make sense in any world?” she asked more loudly.

“Have you asked Claire to explain that?” Aidan dared, knowing firsthand that Sean’s and Claire’s relationship was among one of the most difficult things to explain in the world.

“Please” she scoffed again, then finally was forced to admit “they all think that I used our powers to manipulate Sean into being with me that one time” she managed.

“And did you?” Aidan had to ask.

“That’s beside the point” Awsha mumbled as she turned away again, which only caused a chuckle from Aidan in response.

“I’m pretty sure, in their eyes that would be the main point” he had to add.

“Great, so now you’re on their side too?” she asked, biting back more emotion.

“I wasn’t aware that I was being required to choose a side” he told her bluntly. Though she made no response other than another sound of discontent “but I can’t help noticing that you are still here living among them, so they must not hate you that much.”

That was when she turned back to him, obviously still upset “they locked me in a coffin, unconscious, for nearly a decade. And then, when I finally got out…” she just looked down again.

“Ok, that’s a bit rough as far as punishments, but they did let you out, right?”

“Not exactly” she stated quietly as she turned away again.

“And yet, here you are, decidedly not in a box” Aidan attempted.

“I convinced that little mortal to let me out” she confessed, still making no more eye contact.

“So, after using your powers on Sean, and ending up in a coffin because of it, for the better part of a decade; you then used them again on his mortal ward…” Aidan spoke the words slowly and pointedly.

“It’s not like they left me any other choice!” she defended.

“And yet they somehow don’t seem to be holding that against you either. Rather lucky for you, I’d say” Aidan replied quietly.

Another sound of disbelief from her as she turned her angry gaze back to him “this is the worst punishment yet!”

Aidan looked around the room questioningly “what punishment would that be?” he asked slowly.

Then Awsha looked down to hide further emotion “they told me that either I’d have to leave, and never come back if I wanted to live…or else…” she sighed “agree to be bound to Haven.”

“Not quite sure what to say to that” Aidan returned after a long silence.

“We’re Kindred. We know what the bond really is. It’s a million times worse for us than it even is for mortals. Because we know what it is and what it means. It’s like being allowed to live, knowing you have all kinds of power, but being forced to be a slave instead. It’s horrible” she stressed, trying to force back tears.

“But you still chose it over leaving?” he asked quietly.

“I chose it so I could stay here. But if being here means feeling like I love one man while I really love another, who will never love me back anyway…. Maybe death would be better” she added in a tearful whisper.

Aidan swallowed, trying to find any words of comfort as he finally moved to place a hand on her shoulder “fortunately, creatures like us have an awfully long time for our situations to improve. Maybe, just possibly, if you decide to be the brilliant actress you are, one day he’ll release you from that bond. That would be one thing to hope for, wouldn’t it?” he added softly.

Instead of answering with words, Awsha moved to cover his mouth with hers. She pressed herself against him, desperately moving her lips against his as his arms easily came up to wrap around her as well. At that point, all Awsha wanted was to feel anything other than anger and hopelessness; and Aidan seemed more than willing to oblige her, even if no one else would.

When Aidan returned downstairs again, it was already past four a.m. He found Haven just finishing feeding on one of his current servants before the handsome young man left the room shakily, obviously still recovering from the intensity of the Kiss.

“Time for breakfast, is it?” Aidan asked with a wry smile as he took a seat next to Haven who was rather flushed himself.

“I imagine you must be a bit hungry yourself” Haven returned pointedly.

“The poor girl was quite upset. I had to find some way to comfort her” Aidan replied.

“Poor girl?” Haven raised a brow “And here I thought you were with Awsha.”

Aidan allowed a smirk “well she did seem to be telling the truth about her black sheep status in this family.”

“Probably the only thing she did tell the truth about” Haven returned flatly.

“Well she has no choice but to tell the truth now. Does she?” Aidan pressed, watching the elder vampire for his reactions.

“Unless I have some need of her deception” Haven admitted “which I doubt I will. I’ve had plenty of it already.”

“So her story goes; they all hate me now because I like Sean so they locked me in a box and made me get bound to my sire and Prince” Aidan informed as he reached for a glass of red that Haven had discarded earlier in exchange for the much more satisfying meal his servant provided.

“And I’m sure you can imagine the plethora of details she chose not to include in that version of the story” Haven stated plainly.

“Oh I’m sure she left out plenty” Aidan agreed as he took a sip.

“That of course didn’t stop you from taking her to bed” Haven replied with the slightest smirk.

“What can I say? We all are a bit of a close knit family by now, aren’t we?”

“I’m pretty sure that Claire still has yet to go to bed with her wayward aunt Awsha” Haven couldn’t help another smirk at the thought.

“Now, that would definitely be a show to put in the history books” Aidan chuckled.

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