Ravyn's Nights - Book 2

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Chapter 42

Despite the fact that February’s meeting was meant to start between nine and ten that night, it was barely nine-thirty when Sean returned to his house. After the news of the attack on Minna’s home and the consequential release of Awsha from the mental prison she had been placed in six months prior; Haven cancelled the meeting and instructed the Primogen to go and prepare their homes and clans for the worst. Upon returning home, Sean sighed slightly as he forced his feet to carry him toward his cellar stairs for the first time in half a year.

In Claire’s bedroom, she and Aidan sat atop the bed together once again. Her legs were on either side of him as he lay back against her breasts allowing her fingers to tangle in those black curls of his as he spoke quietly about his time back in England. Their conversation then halted a bit upon hearing footsteps descending the stairs. It was only another moment before Sean had appeared in the doorway of the room that he had previously thought of as his and Claire’s, rather than just Claire’s, as he had begun to in recent nights.

Aidan slowly pushed himself up off of Claire with a concerned sideways glance back at her while keeping his dark eyes mostly on Sean “as strange as this visit is, I must ask you Claire; did you sense him before he appeared in the doorway?”

“Yes, it’s actually me, Aidan” Sean answered for her.

Aidan only looked back at Claire another moment to see that her expression confirmed such before dropping her eyes to the bed. Aidan allowed a sigh as he looked back at Sean and slowly moved from the bed “I’ll be… somewhere” he decided on, not wanting to bother right then with finding an appropriate excuse with which to make his exit.

Once Aidan’s footsteps retreated back up the stairs, Sean sighed heavily once more as he moved his eyes to where Claire’s were still fixed silently on the mattress before her “Awsha’s awake again” he decided to immediately get to the point “and mentally bound to the serpent” he added, as both his statements caused Claire to quickly look up at him.

“Now what do we…?” she began though her voice shook too much to make it to the end of the sentence.

“We have no idea where she is, but it’s most likely with him. So now all we can do is wait for the inevitable and try to be prepared for it, somehow” Sean managed with his voice a bit quiet as well.

“The inevitable?” was the only response Claire could manage as she looked up at him with fear and questions both on her beautiful face.

“The inevitable meaning Haven being likely to die soon. And then I’ll be Prince” Sean forced the words through his lips. Though his tone held no joy whatsoever in it at that prospect, and nearly as much fear as that in Claire’s green eyes.

Claire took a moment to try to find her voice then “and then snakes will come to devour love, right?” she whispered, forcefully closing her eyes at having to voice those words when they now seemed so much closer to coming true.

Sean had to bite back his own emotions as well, further proving that he did indeed still have them. He took another long moment to try and find any comforting words at all, before he spoke “maybe this is the only good thing about what has happened.”

Claire looked up again “sorry, what’s the good thing?” she asked as her voice broke again.

“Now, the prophecy most likely wasn’t talking about you at all” he gave her an answer, pained as it was.

Claire looked a bit more than confused at that statement “how do you figure?” she had to know.

Another long moment before Sean could speak again. Then he seemed to have another sudden, sad realization “or that part actually has already happened too” he finished in that same broken whisper.

“What?” Claire asked, looking at him with even more questions in her eyes then.

“Awsha has already been corrupted by the snake. And what I did with her; it’s already eaten away all the love you ever had for me. Looks like we could already be past that one after all” he finished, quickly casting his eyes downwards to hide the tears he claimed he no longer had at all.

Claire closed her eyes against tears as well “you’re wrong, Sean” she managed, which did cause him to look back at her then “if I no longer loved you, would I be this broken at all?”

Sean took another moment to find the strength to ask “you now telling me that you still love me?”

“You’ve always known that answer, Sean” Claire paused “it’s the same answer you gave me when I asked how you could still love me” she finished.

“But I hurt you in the worst possible way, with the worst possible person. And you had it wrong too; I’m the one who doesn’t deserve you. How could I after that?” he finished as all those buried emotions began bubbling to the surface again after so long.

“I somehow don’t think ‘deserve’ even factors in at this point. We’re not even bound to each other anymore; and any time we ever stop being together, like we used to be, neither of us is even a real person anymore. Another person being your other half always sounded ridiculous to me. Then I met you. And I know that it is so completely true” Claire finished with another sniffle, eyes down once again.

Sean took another moment to find his voice again “I don’t know how one sentence can make me so happy and so sad at the exact same time” he added as he stifled his own sob, now so beyond terrified of that next part of the prophecy ever coming to pass at all.

That was when Claire somehow became the strong one and pushed herself up off the bed. In the same moment she was next to him, wrapping her arms around him, burying her face in his chest for the first time in so very long; nearly sobbing in relief as she felt his arms wrap around her as well.

After what seemed like endless moments of holding one another again, Claire finally found more strength to move back enough look up at him “I think all we can do now is try to stop hurting each other for as long as we still even have left” she whispered as they resumed that embrace once again, clinging to each other desperately.

That entire week came and went without any catastrophes befalling Haven’s people. Though all of those involved were of the opinion that it was just Baron’s way of lulling them into some kind of false sense of security. After all, Haven had taken one of the serpent’s more valuable playing pieces off of the board for over six months by having Minna place Awsha in that prison of the mind. And no one there believed that that would go unpunished by creatures such as Awsha or her new master.

The week following the attack on Minna, Haven’s number of subjects grew once more when two young women rode into the settlement seeking an audience with their Prince. One was a rather pretty young blonde girl who dressed simply enough and went by the name of Freya. The other was a rather tall and beautiful brown-eyed redhead who went by the name of Karin and dressed in a way that proved that she had most likely been of a much higher station than her companion.

“Prince Haven” Karin greeted him with a stunning smile as Freya stood several feet behind the redhead right inside the door to Haven’s home, bowing her head slightly to him in greeting.

“And you are?” Haven asked, immediately adjusting his sight to see her aura, as trusting anyone new was not very likely in those troubled nights.

“I was assuming you received Marcus’ message?” Karin responded, her smile only turning slightly worried.

“Prince Marcus?” Haven questioned, searching his memory for such a message from his vampiric cousin who still ruled his own Princedom back in the colonies.

“That would be the one” Karin smiled again.

“You must be...Karin, was it?” Haven returned as he then recalled the message he had received earlier that month.

“Yes” she beamed back and curtsied slightly “pleased to meet you, cousin.”

“Once removed” Haven allowed the slightest smile as his eyes then turned from the stunning redhead to appraise the shy blonde who still stood nearby, her head bowed in continued reverence.

“This would be my servant, Freya” Karin offered as she gestured for the petite blonde to take a few steps closer.

“Brought your own servant, did you?” Haven returned, his eyes moving over Karin once more.

“It was somewhat of a necessity, considering it was a very long, unpleasant trip from Ohio” she allowed another smile.

“I suppose being the childe of a Prince, it was a bit rougher conditions than you would be used to” Haven allowed as he continued to watch and read both women. They did have colors in their auras, if somewhat less active than most.

“And ones I have no interest in reliving any time soon” Karin smiled again as her own pools of brown moved over her new Prince “so I’m hoping I make a rather good impression on you so I can stay a while” she offered with another smile.

“Well, you may have your work cut out for you, considering others who have attempted to gain my trust in the past” Haven returned, though still managed a smile as his eyes moved over her red hair and pale skin once more.

Karin simply adopted a wider smile “Well, I’m a fellow Toreador; and a member of your own line. How bad could I be?” she chuckled slightly.

“I guess we’ll have to find out, won’t we?” Haven replied, though did manage to hold his smile, despite the very raw memory of one that met both those descriptions and was anything but a peaceful addition to his home and family. He then only paused another moment before moving on “so Marcus didn’t mention in his message how long ago he embraced you” he attempted conversationally as he gestured for her to take a seat on the sofa with him while her servant remained silently poised inside the door, awaiting any orders.

“About fifty years ago” Karin offered “however, I was only his second childe. So I had no real need to stay in his territory. So I decided I may as well meet others of my line and see the rest of this undiscovered new world. If only I had known then how painful that trip was going to be” she allowed a small laugh.

“Well, you are here now, so hopefully you’ll be able to settle in nicely” Haven told her in the same pleasant manner as his eyes moved to her servant once more “there is food in the kitchen if you’d like to have a bite and introduce yourself to some of my servants.”

“Thank you, sire” she returned in a small voice as she turned her nearly gray eyes to see Karin’s nod before shuffling off in the direction Haven had indicated.

“She’s rather well trained” Haven stated with another slight smile as he moved his eyes over the beauty next to him.

“Well, I’m sure the trip was quite exhausting for her too, all things considered” Karin smiled back, noting his eyes on her and allowing hers to move over him as well then.

“So, how did Marcus come to offer you this new life?”

“I was an actress among the ghouls who performed at his court” she offered the short version of her origin.

“Oh joy, another Toreador actress” Haven stated, more to himself.

Karin couldn’t help a slight laugh “I’m sure there’s quite a few of us among the artisans” she smiled over at him.

Haven managed another smile “Artisans? That’s not the nickname we hear most often” he admitted with a slight grin.

“But it’s still true, isn’t it?” Karin replied, allowing her eyes to move more openly over him at the slight reference to their much more usual nickname of degenerates.

“Yes, I suppose that it is” Haven agreed “so you were one of Marcus’ servants before he embraced you?”

“I guess I served him very well” she confirmed with a trace of sultriness to her tone, made that much more distracting to Haven by the very fact that Marcus himself had been one of Haven’s own lovers in years past.

“There’s a hint of that other nickname” Haven couldn’t help teasing “shall we compare notes on what sort of lover Marcus is then?”

Karin couldn’t help allowing another laugh at Haven’s words “it is nice to be around someone I have so much in common with” she added with another chuckle.

“Yes, perhaps you may fit in here after all” Haven allowed a more sincere smile.

“Just let me know if there’s anything I can do to help ‘fit in’” she allowed another grin as she gave Haven’s body another pointed look.

“Oh I’m sure there just may be something I can find for you to do” Haven complied, as his eyes moved over her once more.

It wasn’t much later that night that Karin and Freya left Haven’s home to go and introduce themselves to Karin’s clan Primogen. After all, Sean’s home was where all new Toreador clan members were expected to stay until they could acquire a dwelling of their own.

Once the two women had started quietly making their way from Haven’s home to Sean’s, Freya finally looked up at Karin and spoke “you two looked rather cozy there on the couch together, all things considered” she added as she watched her companion.

“Well I am an actress” Karin returned. She then added “and I do already know plenty about Haven and what he likes and what he wants and needs to hear. I did spend seventy years with him after all” she added before continuing on her way to their new home.

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