A Fang in the Sass: BBW Paranormal Shape Shifter Romance (Sassy Ever After Book 6) (2 page)

BOOK: A Fang in the Sass: BBW Paranormal Shape Shifter Romance (Sassy Ever After Book 6)
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THREE

 

Aria stared out the SUV’s side rear window while Marxius drove—a second guard, Wynther, sat shotgun—from the private airport to the South clan’s house. It had been around eighty years since she’d visited last. Her grandparents and parents were alive then. She remembered how excited she was when getting to see her grandpa.

Her dad’s dad was an old man. Aged enough to where he looked old. With vampires, that’s saying something. But he drank human blood from the source for several hundred years when he was younger, so it was as nature intended with him.

The part of town most the clan inhabited had grown quite a bit. Every metropolitan area either grew, or became a ghost town. And there were probably several ghosts still hanging around this side, pissed that their lives were suddenly ended long ago.

The South clan had been around longer than the North clan by a couple centuries. The southern group was started by her grandfather after he came to America from Europe to escape persecution in the early 1700s. America at that time was nothing but a few settlers along the East Coast and a shit load of natives.

By this time, he had a diet strictly of animal blood. He didn’t want to believe in the theory that human blood made vampires age and stay susceptible to the sun. But upon meeting Julian, he had to believe. And he wanted this for his people, too. Granting the sun to a vampire was beyond the ultimate gift. As well as immortality.

Again, she didn’t know why her grandfather never shared that knowledge with anyone. He simply had the rule of no drinking from humans.

Back in those early years, every night a ship came in he would stand off the pier and watch as each person disembarked, hoping to find another of his kind had made it. Crossing the sea as a vampire was very difficult. Unless considered cargo, everything onboard was subjected to sunlight periodically.

Hiding away in a wooden crate, feeding off rats for the duration of the two-month cruise, was debilitating for even an old vampire. But he kept hope others would arrive.

Many supernaturals did make it over. Most were shifters, witches, and warlocks also escaping persecution from the Catholics. He saw and smelled different types of creatures, but had no experience with their kind. He was surprised how little he knew of other beings.

With lack of supplicants, her grandfather decided this would be the perfect opportunity to build his own clan, his own family, from scratch. And having no “bad blood” in their new systems, they would be able to live long, fantastic lives like Julian.

Slowly through the years, he created and welcomed others into his clan. Before they became too noticeable in the small town, he moved them farther south and west of the Appalachians where there were more animals and less humans. There he was to begin his own utopia.

Aria snorted unladylike. Utopia my ass.

Marxius called from the driver’s seat, “We should be there shortly. These damn hilly and curvy roads take forever to drive, especially at night.”

“Thanks, Marxius,” she said. “But no need to hurry. Knowing Damon, he’ll be as thrilled to see me as I am him.” She really should look into videoconferencing. She hated coming down here. The place felt so…in the past. Why Filip, enamored with fine clothes and the best of everything, wanted to remain leader was beyond her. Yet, he was at Embraced quite a bit. Maybe he was more into being a figurehead.

By all blood rights, this clan belonged to her. She was a direct descendant from the original queen of the night, Miralla Abarca. No other blood-born vampires lived on the continent. Technically, she owned every clan in North American who had any Abarca blood in it, but she wasn’t crazy. Hell, two clans were more than enough for her.

Maybe she should take inspiration from her grandfather. Maybe this was her opportunity to remake the clan the way he wanted it to be. A people living with high morals who believed in helping each other when down and celebrating when up.

A big smile brightened her face. Nope. Damon wasn’t going to be happy to see her.

 

 

 

FOUR

 

Finally, the SUV stopped in front of the clan house. Aria had sat for hours and was ready to walk around. Several members came out of the house to welcome her. The people here were nice; she had no problem admitting that. It was just…spooky.

From the group standing on the front porch to greet them, she heard a tiny voice firmly say, “Move it. Step aside, sonny, or I’ll pinch your cute ass.” One of the men yelped and jumped to the side. “Not fast enough, boy. On my way back, get in front of me again so I can spank those tight cheeks. They real nice, they are.”

Aria let out a laugh. Maree was her favorite person here. She went back to her grandfather’s time with the clan. She sorely missed the spunky old lady. Maybe she’d come up north for a while. Aria hurried to the wooden steps.

Maree wobbled to the front of the group to meet Aria already standing on the porch. “Bend down here and give me sugar. Shit, woman, them pants is so tight, I can see your religion. And those high-heels come clear up to my boobs. How tall you gotta be?” Aria giggled and hugged the feisty vampire.

“High enough for everyone else to remember who’s in charge.” The woman smelled like freshly baked bread. One of her favorite scents.

“Damn straight. If it takes those torture devices to do that, then hunker down and get ‘er done.” Aria laughed again. She’d forgotten about Maree’s southern charm and way of speaking. She’d need someone to translate half of what she said. “Now come inside. It’s cold enough to freeze a tit off a frog.” Maree had her hand, dragging her toward door.

At the edge of the group, she noticed Damon tell Marxius and Wynther to put their things in the guest house off to the side. She liked that much better than staying in the house with semi-strangers.

The old woman sat them on the sofa. “There now. Much better.” She snuggled into the cushion. Aria worried that she was so small, she’d disappear down a crack. When she looked up, her old eyes shined. “When I heard Damon say you’re comin’ to town, that just dilled my pickle.”

Aria looked around for help deciphering. Someone mouthed
made her happy
. “I’m thrilled to be here, too, Maree. I’ve missed your zest for life.”

“Oh, pshaw, child. Your problem is you’re holding out on your mate.” Aria startled, sitting up straight.

“How did you know that?” she whispered to the old woman.

“This ain’t my first rodeo, girl. I know that smell. And that’s why you’re not happy.” She pointed a gnarly finger at her. “Just screw him and get on with your lives.” Responses ranged from gasps to belly laughter. “I mean, really. If you don’t like each other after that, then go your separate ways.” Maree rolled her eyes. “You’re treating this as if it’s life or death. It’s not. I assure you.” The woman’s fingers patted her hand.

“I can always count on you giving it straight up, Maree.”

The elder rose from the couch. “You got that right. I don’t crap talk well.” Maree waved her arm through the air. “Come on, everyone. We gotta leave them alone to bullshit before the meeting in thirty minutes.” Bullshit was right. She doubted Damon had anything useful to share with her.

Everyone slowly left the house, leaving her two guards, the South clan’s second-in-charge, and her. Damon shook her hand now that there weren’t a hundred people between them.

“Hello, Aria. Nice to see you again.”

“Good to see you, Damon.”

Yup, bullshit all right.

He gestured toward a room with shelves packed with books. White French doors separated the living area from the working. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Thank you, no. I had a couple glasses on the flight down.” He nodded and followed her into the room. Behind them, Marxius and Wynther stood outside, one at each door.

She took a seat on a plush leather chair in front of his desk. She sank into the soft cushions. Filip would like this arrangement. It made him taller behind the desk. She held off her look of disgust for Damon’s sake.

“To what do we owe this pleasure, my Queen?”

On second thought, she would let the look of disgust along with irritation shine through. “Damon, there is no need for such formalities. Call me Aria like everyone else. If you must call me queen, then etiquette says I should call you by your title, also. I don’t think you want to be called
Number Two
.” She laughed to herself. “Filip, although Number One, was more like Number Two. He was always shit on a stick.” She was starting to feel better. A smile spread on her face.

Damon didn’t look too happy, though.

“Okay,” she said, “I’m just joking.” Her smile widened to show she was telling the truth, even though she wasn’t. She tried to sit up higher, but the damn cushion had sucked her ass to the ground. Holding her upper body as still as she could, she wiggled her ass, hoping to break the suction the leather had on her hips. Not working. Well, fuck it.

“Aria,” Damon started.

She looked up from her wriggling. “Yes?”

“Is there anything you wish to discuss before you meet with the clan? The meeting is in twenty minutes.”

“Ah, okay. It’s time to bring the clan into the twenty-first century. I’ve spent a lot of time with a wolf pack lately, and realize we can continue our secrecy and live in the modern world.”

Damon’s brows bowed down. “What changes would you like to make?”

He wasn’t going to like this, but it was what it was. “Instead of a single leader, there will a council of five members to make decisions for the clan.” Damon didn’t blink or even move. He must’ve been pissed. “I think that’s the most democratic and fair thing to do. Don’t you?”

He licked his lips and folded his hands on the desk. “The thought had
not
crossed my mind. I’m happy with how things have always been. I’m sure many others will agree with me.”

“Of course you like the old way. That puts you at the top. But I don’t care if you are the President of the United States. One man should not hold ultimate power over the people. What if that one leader goes insane and lets everyone drink human blood from the source?” She watched his reaction carefully. “Or worse yet, kidnaps and keeps blood slaves? We couldn’t have that, could we?”

The stink of sweat came from the man. Fucking A. She knew he was onboard with Filip. There was no way he could not have known about the human trafficking Filip had going on. Question was how long had it been happening?

Number Two sat back in his executive chair. “Are you accusing us of breaking the No Human Blood rule, Aria?”

Hmm. How far did she want to go with this? She could be totally wrong and Filip was doing his own thing at Embraced. Or she could be right and risk an uprising of an entire clan against her. That option wasn’t appealing, either. She’d keep it neutral.

“Damon, has anyone broken the rule?” she asked.

He leaned forward, bringing his chair down with a solid thud. Hands flat on the desk, he looked her in the eye and said, “No. Not anyone I know of.”

Her smile came back. “Great!” She pried her ass from the cushion and stood. “Let’s go to the meeting and talk to everyone. You have a great group of people here.”

Damon joined her on the way out of the study and clan house. He didn’t say one word. That worried her. The man was plotting. What? She didn’t know. But he was plotting and that was enough to remind her she needed to be on guard at all times.

 

 

FIVE

 

Aria hadn’t realized the southern clan had grown so much. Vamps kept coming through the community center’s front door. Most looked healthy and happy. At least Filip wasn’t starving them or treating them badly, on the outside, anyway.

When Damon stood at the podium to start the meeting, the room packed in around two hundred vamps from young to old. That was way too many to stay under the radar. Since all had a diet of animal blood, the species in the area must’ve declined drastically. When shit like that happens, national park people start investigating and setting up cameras and a whole shitload of other things that could out the clan.

Fuck. She didn’t have time to deal with something that involved. She had her own shit going on, like the High Council indicting her on murder charges, finding two, maybe three new advisors to take the place of Chantal and Anton, and a missing Claude. Not to mention a no-show doggy mate.

The last time she’d seen him was the night of the Wolfe alpha challenge. He was as gorgeous a wolf as he was a man. Without him knowing, she kept an eye on him, and anyone who got close to him, she ripped their heads off. Maybe she did have a bit of pent up aggression.

What did she care, anyway? He was out of her life and moved on to wherever wolves like him go. He was a nomad, couldn’t keep his feet too long in one place. But, oh, those beautiful blue eyes. The color of deep Caribbean waters. He was powerful. More so than any other wolf she’d met. And she wanted him. Fuck!

There was something about him. It felt like he would be the answer to everything that troubled her. With him, utopia was possible. But that was all horse hockey. Had to be. Vamps and wolves didn’t mix. Ever. What kind of kids would they have? Wolfe shifters that drank blood? A shudder of disgust rolled through her. Not happening. Not that her ovaries seemed to care. They were more than happy to create some hybrid babies with hot-as-hell wolfie.

The applause of the audience snapped her out of her inward contemplation. Damon gestured for her to come on stage. Shit. She’d missed his entire introduction. Hopefully he hadn’t asked her to answer some question she didn’t hear.

She stood behind the podium, then took the mic from the stand and stepped to the side. She couldn’t stand still and talk. She had to be moving.

Looking over the crowd, she began, “Thank you, everybody, for coming on such short notice. I know how hard it is to drop everything to attend some meeting. But I hope to make this more than just ‘some meeting.’

“As most of you know, your leader, Filip Ataturk, has been killed. And yes, by me. And that’s why I’m here. I want you to hear the truth firsthand. I want you to know what happened so the current rumors stop. Some are pretty wild, by the way. I especially like the one about aliens abducting Filip and submitting him to numerous anal probes.” The crowd rumbled with light laughter.

“But the truth is that Filip and two of my advisors had been running a human trafficking scheme for blood slaves.” The audience gasped as one. Almost comical, in a way. Like a comic strip with one dialog bubble for everyone in the box.

“He broke the biggest rule next to don’t show your fangs on TV.” The light humor she wanted wasn’t happening. Okay then.

“So after I made the discovery, I had to put an end to the behavior. Not only was he jeopardizing the clan’s unknown status by bringing humans into our world, but he agreed to fight a wolf pack.” A mumble rolled through the crowd.

“So you see, I had reasons to do what I did. And for those of you who don’t know, Embraced has been burned down. When my parents built it forever ago, it was contemporary and cool. So they tell me, anyway.” She tried to smile but failed. Damn, she hated this. Hated telling people about decisions she’d had to make for their own safety. For their wellbeing.

“But over time, it got worn and beaten up. But don’t worry. I will build a new and improved Embraced to once again be contemporary and cool. There will be different rooms with different music and events. And contests and stuff to keep it fun. There will also be rooms to rent for those needing to stay over. For a price, of course.” She raised a brow and made sure to glance around the audience, making eye contact with the ones giving her angry looks. “I’m not your mother’s home.”

She thought about exposing the truth behind the reason for why human blood directly from the human was forbidden. What harm could it possibly cause? None she saw. She squared herself with the crowd. This was her time. She knew what was best for her people.

“I’m going to tell you something only a handful of old vamps know.” The room fell to a perfect silence. “One of our scholarly vamp elders discovered an enzyme in human blood that basically keeps the vampire aging and helpless from the sun.” By the confused looks, many didn’t get what she said.

“Let me try this a different way. I think everyone here has heard of Julian the Elder, yes?” Heads nodded. “Good. Do you know how old he is?” Heads shook. Here it was. “Three
thousand
years old.” Once again, gasps came from the audience along with disbelieving mumbles and “impossible” declarations.

Aria raised her hands. “It is the truth. Ask him. Send him an email. He might get it when he remembers to log in and check them.” Julian had the habit of ignoring the real world. He said in his own world, everyone there knew him. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at his comment.

“And he’s a daywalker like I am.” An eruption of voices bombarded the stage. People came out of their chairs.
How can that be
, she heard. She replied, “I’ll tell you how that can be. He didn’t drink directly from a human. That enzyme never entered his body.”

“How is he a daywalker?” came from the crowd.

Oh, shit. They were getting into the technical crap now. She tried to remember what Julian told the Wolfe family a couple months back. “I’ll tell you after everyone takes a seat and quiets down.” The group settled enough for her to continue.

“I don’t know the scientific details, you’ll have to ask him. But it’s basically like this: after many years of building up layer under layer of skin, the flesh exposed to the air turns leathery and tough and thickens. This makes it resistant to the sun and hard to cut, thus unlikely to be badly injured.”

From the crowd a voice raised. “And this is because he didn’t drink human blood.”

“He didn’t drink it from a human. After the blood is exposed to elements outside the body, the enzyme quickly dies, rendering the remaining liquid safe.”

Another voice from the audience said, “Why can’t we drink that, then?”

She really should’ve thought out this sharing of info idea more. “I’m not really sure of Grandpa’s reasoning, but I’d think drinking exposed blood would be too much of a temptation for some, and they would eventually go straight to the source.” She wouldn’t tell them that packaged human blood had been served at Embraced for a long time. What they didn’t know, wouldn’t blah, blah, blah and all.

She worried about the next surprise she had for them. That could cause a full-out riot and she wasn’t ready for that.

BOOK: A Fang in the Sass: BBW Paranormal Shape Shifter Romance (Sassy Ever After Book 6)
7.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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