Ravyn's Nights - Book 2

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Chapter 24

There was another moment of silence before the clock struck two and brought them each back to a moment wherein Claire had been lost in thought and Avan had been lost gazing at Claire “well, I suppose I should get started on sorting through these” she finally spoke up.

“At this hour?” Avan returned, her voice quickly pulling his eyes back to her face from where he had let them travel more openly over her upon noticing her own distraction.

Claire looked down again “I guess I’m more of a night person. Probably won’t be going to sleep for hours still” she added more quietly as she moved her hand to one of the crates.

Avan swallowed a bit before mustering the bravery to voice his next question “won’t your husband miss you?”

Claire couldn’t help looking down to hide her own reaction to that question “he’s a night person as well” she offered, though the sound of Avan’s breath being released after apparently being held for way too long, did cause her to glance up at his rather suddenly darkened expression.

“I see” was all Avan managed to reply, looking away again “I should…”

“Thought I was a widow, did you?” she interrupted his own scrambling to find a way to cover the mood that knowledge of the continued presence of a husband had so obviously put him in.

“I just…” Avan was caught for a moment too “when I saw you saying goodbye to that man on the dock, and when you said he wasn’t your husband… I really should go” he managed quickly.

Claire allowed the slightest smile again “you don’t have to. You could stay and help me look through the crates” she offered, to which she received a look from him that was equal parts hopeful and wary “though it is rather late, like you said. So, if you have to get home, I understand” she added, remembering that he was most likely not accustomed to the schedule Claire and her kin kept.

“I’m not very tired this evening, myself.” Avan returned with another nervous glance which he broke off quickly “I just wouldn’t want to impose on… anyone” he decided on “or upset Lord Haven” he then quickly tacked on “he said he was a relative of yours?”

Another small smile “we’re not technically blood-related” she offered, telling herself it wasn’t truly a lie in the human sense of the term “but our families do go back a long way” she attempted to clarify.

Before Avan could ask for any further clarification, Claire pulled the top of the wooden crate loose. Avan blinked slightly as most often a metal bar was needed to loosen the crate tops “I apologize. That really should have been on tighter.”

Claire looked down again, but could offer no return answer just yet as she set aside the wood and moved to push away the packing inside the crate. Soon she uncovered a cache of wine bottles “well, that is a lot of wine” she smiled over at him once more.

“It was a bit heavy” Avan concurred with his own slight smile.

“Would you like some?” she asked suddenly.

“I’m sure Lord Haven would not…”

“Care” she finished his sentence for him as she reached to hold a bottle out to him.

Avan allowed another nervous smile as he shakily took the bottle from her hand “wealthy Americans are really quite different than wealthy English” he couldn’t help voicing his surprise at how neither Haven nor Claire had spoken to him as though they acknowledged how much lower his station was than theirs.

“I think that was a compliment?” she smiled at him again.

“It was” he assured “it’s just not what I expected” he added as he dragged his eyes away from her and focused them on the wine bottle in his hand once again.

“Please, have some wine. As much as you want” she added as she let her eyes move over him thoughtfully. She then gestured for him to take a seat on the couch as she moved toward it.

“You’re not having any?” he asked warily, though allowed his feet to follow her across the room where she had already claimed her own seat upon the middle cushion.

“Perhaps later” she smiled as he took a deep breath and awkwardly sat, looking around at what were much more extravagant surroundings than he was obviously accustomed to.

“It feels rather strange to sit here and drink your wine, especially here in my employer’s home” he added in the same nervous tone.

“It’s been a rather strange few days” she added with a touch of sadness “losing people tends to make you place a higher value on those who are still living; whoever they may be” she added more quietly.

Touched by her sadness, he found himself easily wanting to give into her wishes, as strange as they were. He nodded to her and took a breath as he opened the bottle “To those lost” he stated quietly as he took the sip.

Claire kept Avan engaged in small talk about his trips to and from England while he continued to work his way through the bottle of wine. Eventually the effects of the alcohol were sufficient enough to cause him to drift off, the bottle sliding from his hand. Upon the sound of the bottle falling to the wooden floor in front of the couch, Claire looked over at him and thought only for a brief moment. Of course, thinking led to grieving, and that was something she no longer could bear to feel for another second. With that, she moved to lean over where he was blissfully unaware and unconscious, and moved to sink her fangs deeply into his neck, the pleasure of the Kiss as well as the dizzying effect of all of that alcohol both doing their part to fill the emptiness that had been left inside her once more.

As the clock chimed four, Sean finally made his way out of the studio, intending to find his own sustenance for the night. He somehow had been too distracted by his own grief to even think of feeding earlier in the evening. Upon stepping into the living room, he found Claire and Avan still on the couch. Avan was still quite unconscious as Claire lay across where his chest slowly rose and fell with each shallow breath. Her hand was tangling in his hair as she wore a wistful, distant expression as though she were not quite aware of her surroundings right then either.

Sean was caught a moment by the presence of this unknown, unconscious mortal in their home, as well as that faraway look in his wife’s eyes, as she did not even look up to acknowledge his arrival in the room. Once Sean stepped closer, that was when he noted that there were still two bloody fang marks on the boy’s neck; when normally they always licked the wound shut any time they fed. Especially if their meal happened to come from anyone unaware of their true natures.

Sean simply shook his head as he now stood behind the couch where Claire still made no acknowledgment of his presence “You left the marks, Claire” he told her with attempted gentleness, and a tone that he hoped was too quiet to wake the young man.

“Sorry” she added with a small unconcerned giggle. That was when Sean noted the strange cadence to her tone, the discarded wine bottle, and the inebriation that was made even more obvious when he adjusted his sight to see her aura.

Putting all the factors together, he knew then that the entire scene was some sort of attempt to escape her own grief. And careless though she had been, he somehow inherently understood that need, considering his own equal amounts of such grief. He then sighed a moment as he leaned down to lick away the remaining blood on the boy’s neck and heal the evidence of Claire having fed upon him.

“Was he still awake when you bit him?” Sean asked her quietly.

“Hmm?” she asked, finally casting the tiniest look up at her husband “I don’t think so. It’s a bit blurry though” she added with another giggle as she pushed herself up off of young man’s chest only to give into the dizziness that was so foreign to her, and moved to curl herself around a cushion at the other end of the couch instead.

Sean simply shook his head again, casting another glance at the clock. He then moved to easily lift the young man into his arms and start toward the front door.

“You’re taking him from me?” she called after him with another giggle that was still somehow sad.

“It’s almost morning, Claire. He can’t be in the house when the sun comes up. You know that” he added with as much gentleness as he could.

“No fun at all” she sniffled as she curled herself more tightly around the cushion. Another shake of his head as Sean returned to his task of removing the young man from their home in order to keep their existences safe and unknown.

When Sean returned to the house several minutes later, Claire was still there hugging the couch cushion tightly to her body as though afraid to let go of it “That was a little careless, Claire” he stated, though softly. As he received no real response from her, he sighed and moved to take a seat next to her, his hand instinctively coming to rest against the small of her back “did it at least make you feel any better?” he asked, seeming desperate to find anything that would make him feel better as well.

Claire just scoffed, which was enough of an answer. When Sean sighed again, she finally shakily pushed herself up, another wave of dizziness halting her for the moment it took to regain her bearings. Then she finally looked over at him, her sadness still managing to peek out through all of that alcohol that Avan’s blood had delivered to her system that night.

“I wish something would” she whispered her answer before moving to crawl on top of him, her hands desperately moving to undo his trousers as a lone tear slid from her cheek.

“Claire” Sean whispered as his eyes moved quickly toward the stairs before being pulled back to where her hands were now nearly ripping at his clothing.

“Make me feel better” she pleaded as she finished releasing him from his clothing and yanked her skirts upward, immediately moving to press her hips against him. Touched by both her sadness and her desire, Sean forced away worries about their current location and let his body harden against her; hoping upon hope that they could somehow both make each other feel better.

When their lovemaking ended and they had managed to compose themselves as much as possible, Sean and Claire slowly made their way to the cellar to prepare for the day’s slumber. It was shortly after their departure that Haven also exited his study with the same intention. Only he was halted slightly as he took a few steps across the living room only to note Awsha sitting somberly upon the stairs, her cheeks streaked red.

“Awsha?” he greeted her as he peered up the staircase at where she quickly wiped tears away. Haven swallowed a bit at her obvious despair “it’s nearly morning” he added gently.

“I know” she sniffled as she forced herself to her feet “I was just waiting.”

“Waiting on what, exactly?” Haven asked her as she took slow deliberate steps down the rest of the stairs.

“’Til they were done” she added in a barely audible whisper, her dark eyes locked to the floor.

“’Til who was done with what?” he questioned, having been too caught up in his own thoughts in the study that night to have noted much of what was going on in the rest of the house.

“Doesn’t matter” was her only quickly spoken response as she turned even more quickly to force her feet to carry her toward the cellar stairs. Haven simply sighed a moment and then moved to follow her from the room as well.

The hour was nearing nine that morning when one of Haven’s servants stepped outside, propping the front door open as she did. The girl looked to be no older than eighteen though she was statuesque, standing at 5’11” with shocking long red locks and ice blue eyes that accented the skin that was nearly as alabaster as her Kindred regnant.

At that hour, Avan was seated on the beach near the pier, watching the waves lap at his feet. He then eagerly turned his eyes back toward the home of his employer at the sound of the door. Though he was disappointed that it was not Claire who had exited the home that morning, he was still a bit caught by the beauty that did. She wore much plainer clothes than Haven or Claire, which would indicate that she was of a lower station, and perhaps someone who it would be more acceptable for him to attempt a conversation with.

He pushed himself up from the sand and took a few steps closer as she disappeared through that still open doorway, only to reappear a few moments later, lugging one of the previous evening’s cargo crates through the door behind her.

Surprised to see her even managing to get the heavy crate to budge at all, he quickly moved to help her “you look like you might want some assistance” he smiled as he reached her.

She simply looked up at him with a smile, though the desires Haven’s blood forced on her did cause her to take notice of his own attractiveness quite easily as well “I usually manage well enough, but help is always appreciated” she returned with another smile.

“You live here as well?” he asked once they had combined their efforts into getting most of the crates outside to be picked up by the merchants Haven supplied.

“Yes” she smiled again “I’m Deborah” she added as she offered her hand.

“Avan” he returned her smile “and how did you get the unlucky task of bringing these heavy crates back outside. You do look a little delicate for such labor” he returned, his eyes not helping the way they constantly moved to the inside of the house.

“I’m stronger than I look” she allowed a sweet smile.

“Apparently” he then glanced back at the house once more “so Lord Haven did say he had a rather large household. I’ve met two of that household already, aside from Haven, himself” he pressed for any other information he could get “how many do live here?” he asked curiously.

Deborah looked down slightly, not sure why this young man seemed so interested, but she did not want to appear rude, so allowed an answer “Well, there’s Haven of course” she began, not helping the grin that touched her lips as she spoke his name lovingly “and then there’s Awsha” she added, her voice dropping a bit on that name, before continuing “and now Sean and Claire too, and about ten of us servants” she added.

“Fourteen people?” he repeated with a slight smile of disbelief “no wonder the house is rather large” he added as he allowed another glance inside the open door they stood near “And I’ve only met Haven, yourself, and Claire” he returned “Seems rather quiet for such a full household though.”

“Everyone’s still a bit upset and keeping to themselves” she attempted an explanation.

“Yes, I heard” Avan stated quietly “so Haven said Claire was a relative and Claire said that they were not actually relatives, but that their families had known each other for ages” he attempted “so, who does that make Awsha and Sean?”

“A very long story” was the only answer Deborah felt comfortable supplying. She then quickly added “I really should get back to my duties. Pleasure making your acquaintance though” she added politely before hurrying back inside, letting the door fall shut behind her before he could offer any more questions that had answers that would never make sense to anyone outside of their strange household.

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