Elian woke up with a headache. He wasn’t sure why he had woken up with one but he just wanted it to go away. He heard noise in his kitchen and quietly climbed out and looking around the room, all he had was his dagger and he would have to get just as close to use it and he would just beating the shit out of whoever it was. He crept down the stairs and turned into the kitchen to be floored by the sight of James in his underwear, pressing someone up against the counter. The smell of coffee and food was all over the kitchen as well as the smell of sex. The smell of sex was faint like it was lingering to the James and the person.
“James, stop,” the girl said and it took only a few seconds to figure out who it was. It was Charity Shadow, in James’s shirt and what looked like little else.
Backing out of the room, Elian leaned against the wall. Did all the Mystics just fuck around whenever they wanted? He knew that there were not as many Mystics as humans in the world but still did everyone fuck everyone?
“You can come in now Elian,” Charity said as she rounded the corner. She gave Elian a smile and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. When she pulled back she linked arms with him and pulled him with her into the kitchen. There were four places set at the table and three of them had coffee and the other had some kind of tea. Charity pushed him into one of the seats and then moved back to the stove. “How do you like your eggs?”
“I’d like scrambled today, please?” Elian asked. He looked at what James was doing and saw that he was preparing toast and keeping an eye on the oven. “Who is joining us?”
James looked up at him and pointed out the backdoor. Elian could just make out the shape of Raven sitting in the garden. She had something in her lap and was writing in it.
“She’s been out there since last night. She’s been writing nonstop in that notebook.”
“It’s not one of her journals?” Elian asked.
“Journals?” Charity turned and looked at him. “What do you know of those journals?”
“I found them, well the ones that she wasn’t using. I got them off a lady who I suspect is a witch. I…it took me a long time to figure out that Raven was secretive even in the journals.”
“Yes, she is. I remember reading her first one when we were younger. There was no much that wasn’t in it. I have no clue but I don’t think she’s writing in a journal right now. When I went out to give her tea when I found her this morning she was muttering to herself about stupid Mystics. I think she’s writing down about all the races, I saw the words Witch and Immortal on the page.” Charity scooped a plate of eggs out of the frying pan and James set a platter of toast down. A pan of some kind of cheesy potatoes were next.
“Should I?” Elian asked as he made ready to get up but Charity just shook her head and held up two fingers to her mouth. Elian had just seconds to cover his ears before a skull splitting whistle came out of her mouth. Elian watched as Raven closed up the book she was writing in and set it on the bench she had been sitting on and moved inside with a mug hanging from one finger. She opened the door and moved to place her mug in the sink before sitting down. She looked at the food and inhaled.
“Figured you hadn’t ate all night. You need to hunt.” Charity said as she shoved a plate of bacon and sausage over to Raven before she started to plate up the eggs for herself.
“I hunted last night before coming here. I’ll be fine. I just haven’t filled my belly in any other ways since yesterday. I wasn’t really that hungry for human food till I smelled this all upon entering.” Raven took a few pieces of each of the meat and then passed them to Elian. He knew that someone had to have gone shopping because he knew he didn’t have this much of any of this in his house. He took what he wanted of the meat and then was being passed the potatoes. Around the table it went until everyone had a full plate.
“So how did your first day of Court hold up to what you thought it was going to be?” Raven asked as she started to eat.
“It’s different than human. Very different.”
“Mystics are different. We can kill each other with little trouble and so we needed a Court that could reflect that. I have been inside rooms like that more than I can count. There are some where just meeting there is a formality of handing over papers. There is such a great deal made of the opinion of the people who are our peers but that the Matians escalated it to the Court and then just handed over papers…that troubles me. I wonder why they did that?”
“Cynthia Lake’s death was kept secret,” Charity offered. She chewed the food in her mouth and washed it down before she started to speak again. “That Jasmyn was going to take her place no one but us knew until they entered the Court. We know that she was in their pocket; it makes me wonder if they have had people in their pockets for hundreds of years. The day that we took them to Court and lost, that comes to mind. We have to trust that will see past all of the Matian’s lies and subterfuge.”
“I agree,” Elian said. He watched Raven out of the corner of his eye. She was eating slowly. She was thinking about a lot of things. Her eyes were far away and when he looked up and looked at Charity, he saw that she was staring and worried.
“What were you working on?” James asked.
Raven looked up at him and gave him a coy smile. “I think I’ll keep that a secret for now.”
Elian saw the writing on the outside of the book, it wasn’t a language that he recognized. He had never seen the alphabet arranged like that before. He looked up at James and the lawyer didn’t know it either but the look on Charity’s face. She knew what it was but she wasn’t surprised or upset. There was something more about that language than what Elian even knew. He stared at it on the notebook to burn it into his mind. He was going to find it and he was going to figure it out.
“You two and your secrets,” James said as he leaned over and whispered something in her ear. Charity giggled and Raven sighed.
“Really?” Raven asked as she threw a wadded up napkin at her sister’s face. Charity caught it and stuck her tongue out at her sister. “The two of you fucked on every single surface of the two houses last night…”
“WHAT?” Elian blurted as he spit a little bit of coffee out of his mouth. He looked at the offending wolf and Vampire. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know surfaces they had sex on but that they had done it in both houses multiple times was… Elian wasn’t even sure what the words for it were.
“Don’t worry, it was just the guest room where you let me stay,” James said but he hadn’t taken his eyes off of Charity at all. It was then that Elian saw it. James was in love with her. He wasn’t sure if she was in love with him or not. He knew of Charity from the talking that he and Raven had done. Elian looked at Raven and saw that she wasn’t watching James and Charity but him.
“So, how is the shop coming?” Raven asked. It pulled Elian from his thinking and he shook his head to clear it.
“It’s going well. I’ve got the tables and the chairs and things like that inside. It’s the kitchen stuff we are mainly waiting on.”
“It went up quickly,” Charity said as she went back to eating. James pulled his eyes from her and turned back to eat as well. They were probably going to go back and fuck as soon as they were done eating. “Really quickly.”
“Money buys a lot of things,” James said as he pushed his plate back a little and he relaxed back into the chair. “It was easy to pay the construction people to get everything up quickly. The winter was rather mild and once the outer wall went up, it was easy to get quicker with the other. The hardest part was the two fire places in the main area of the building. The codes for those were murder.”
“Murder?” Raven asked with a smile. James picked up a small piece of bacon off his plate and threw it at her. Raven batted it down to the table with a smile. “Do I need to call the Court about another matter?”
“Oh, ha ha, Miss Shadow. Charity and I have some more work…” Raven snorted at the comment. “Work to do, so we need to get going on it.” James stood, placing a hand on Charity’s shoulder and waiting until she stood before tucking her into his side and they started up the stairs.
“That relationship is interesting,” Elian stated as he started to clean up from breakfast. He hadn’t paid attention but everyone had eaten all the food that had been put out. The plates were empty. Raven moved quickly and gathered up all of the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. “I could have…”
“It’s fine,” Raven said as she moved over and grabbed a bag from the front door. “Why don’t you know me around your café?” She grabbed him by the arm and pulled in out the door with him. Elian barely had time to grab his keys from the table at the door and shut it. “They won’t come out for at least an hour.”
“It’s not done,” Elian protested as he tried to pull his arm from her. The second he did, Raven turned and looked at him, pouting. There was something in her eyes that Elian couldn’t place. She was worried, he could tell that but there was something else as well. There was something else that Elian found shocked him to his core in her eyes.
“That’s fine. I’ve been looking at it while I’m looking over the final touches on the college.”
“How is that coming?” Elian asked as he relinked his arm with Raven’s and let her lead him across the street to the café. He looked up the road to where he could see part of the college and smiled. He was still looking forward to taking a few classes there. The whole world was open to him now and he knew that while he liked being a librarian, he was sure he didn’t want to do it forever. The café was a nice backup but again, he could only run it for so long before people would notice that he wasn’t aging. He could play around with jobs until he found the one he wanted to do forever.
“It’s good. We have most of the professors on board and they are helping us get the curriculum set up for fall classes.” Raven let go of his arm so that he could let them in. The contractors weren’t there yet. It was a day that they were on a small job that popped up. Elian understood. Raven was silent as she took in the décor and all the things in the main area of the café.
“It’s a little small,” Raven said as she sat down at one of the tables and looked around from that angle.
“Yes, this floor is.”
“I wondered with it being so tall.” Raven stood up and looked but Elian knew that she didn’t see the stairs. Along the left was a hallway that had the doorway to the upstairs and the basement as well as the bathrooms. She saw the hallway and moved to it. As soon as she passed the men’s restroom, she looked in the stairway and Elian watched her head go down. She smiled at him and started down the stairs. “What’s down here?”
“Stage. It’s small but its sound proof. The only time that sound comes up is when the door opens and then it shouldn’t be that much sound. I think that the students will like it maybe even some of the residents of the neighboring towns. We can get bands and such in.”
“Thought of a lot of things didn’t you?”
“Some of it is things that my mom complained she couldn’t do at her place. No room to expand and such so I figured, I have the money and with the college going in, as long as the college is there, there is no way that I can fail.”
“You won’t fail. The college won’t fail either.”
“How can you be so sure?” Elian asked. He pointed at one of the tables and Raven sat down. She leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs, setting up a visible distance between them. “Anything in this day can fail…with the economy.”
“Yes, well. We have many guaranteed students for RCC.”
“Really?” Elian looked at her. She was dodging something. Elian leaned back in his chair and stared at her. There was a lot about the college that had piqued his interest over the past year. “Why is there housing?”
Raven looked at him in a little shock.
“I’ve been to other community colleges on trips and such, none of them have housing because it’s the community that goes there and they already have houses or apartments.”
“A great deal of our students will be coming from other cities and those that do live in this area…other students can be mean and if one wants to make friends, they need to be like the other students.”
Elian looked at her. She was dancing around the subject. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to tell him, she wanted him to figure it out himself. He kept staring at her face. Raven cared little for humans. She worked with them when she needed but she never really made friends. She hated loss of life but to want a place for humans to go in the small town of Belpre. There was Washington State Community College, Marietta College, and two others in Parkersburg and another in Athens. There was no need for a college in the area. He was sure that there would be people for it.
Elian wanted to take classes from the college. He hadn’t really seen all of the final class lists but it seemed like it was going to have a lot of classes.
It was a college for Mystics. A place for them to come and live and get an education in a college that was built for them. Raven would be able to turn the place into a refuge for Mystics who had little life outside of covens, packs, and whatever Vampires called groups of themselves. He knew especially with Werewolves, there were some that couldn’t live among humans because they have never lived among them. The college would be a wonderful place for them. Belpre was a perfect place for a college like that. A small town where anyone coming to the college would be new. It was small enough that they wouldn’t be overwhelmed with a change in life. He had no clue if the Fae even would come to a thing like that.
“What about the Fae?”
“This area would be hard to get some Fae to live in but I can make it worth it for those who want to live among the humans. Forest, Water, and Cave Fae will be willing to come here. Desert and Arctic Fae will be less willing.”
“What about Elves?” Elian knew little of them except for the fact that Elves were the offspring of Fae and the other Mystics. He was sure that he had never really seen one.
“Elves will flock here like crazy. I think that Elves will be about a quarter of the students.”
“What about the Immortals?” Elian slipped it in because he wanted to know more about them.
“I doubt any of the five will come but their kids will.”
“Alexis hasn’t had a child in about two hundred years but the others have a kid nearly every fifty years.”
“Are the kids like them?” Elian hadn’t heard of that before. He didn’t even know that they could have kids.
“Oh they are nothing like their Immortal parents. The kids only live about five hundred years before they pass but it’s long enough. They age like normal up until they hit about twenty five and then they slow down until they hit about four hundred and fifty and they look about forty. Then it’s like a rapid aging for them, they age like they should. I have files on them that are separate from what I have given you. I’ve talked with Alexis and he agrees that you are going to be thrown into politics. With the Court going on, after it’s done, you will be a celebrity. There will be no more hiding of you but the good thing is that it will be hard for the Matians to kill you without retribution. They will be easier to watch.”
“So all the stuff that’s been kept from me?”
“Will be available to you. I’ll get you some of the stuff that you have been lacking. There is a great deal on the Immortals and a lot of the other races. Werewolf stuff has never been limited to you. I have never kept information from you that I thought you needed. I have never kept anything about your race from you that you needed to know. Sometimes I think that we have been giving you too much information. When a wolf or a Vampire is created, they spend years learning about themselves from the person who created them. A newly turned can spend a decade before finding out about the other races other than knowing that they exist.”
“That long but you don’t have that time. The Darkan heir is a celebrity and you have a learning curve of minus two years. Why do you think I stayed? Why do you think the Court came to you?”
“What?” Elian looked at her in shock. He knew little about the Court, even now. Just what they had told him. “What do you mean come to me?”
“The Court usually finds a base in a city and stays there until the members get board. They switched about a year ago. London. Madeleine really loved it there. Now they are staying in Marietta for the time being. All of them are finding a house to stay in. The men are getting a house and the girls are getting one. Marietta is a smaller town than they are used to living in and they feel that numbers are better.”
“The Court is scared of the Matians?”
Raven looked at him like she was proud of him. Elian figured that she was happy that he was catching on with subterfuge needed to live with the Mystics, especially so high in the Mystics. It was a sharp learning curve for him.
“The Court is always careful. I could never serve on the Court as it stands right now. I have too much invested here to leave for periods of time.” Raven stood up from her chair and moved back to the stairway and she went all the way up the stairs to the upstairs. She took in the large windows and Elian knew the exact moment that she saw that it was going to be a deck going around the whole upper area. It wouldn’t be usable for quite a few months of the year because it was visible to the humans but he was sure that he could have a Witch spell the place to make it so that humans couldn’t see it. He hadn’t talked to anyone about it but he wanted to wait until the human inspections were all done before he started to mess with the place for the Mystics.
“So what do you think?” Elian asked as he held his arms out wide.
“It’s nice. I see why the students human and Mystic would like it. Add in dark lighting and chairs up here and it would be a nice spot.” Raven grabbed him by his hands and pulled him close. For a few seconds he was afraid that she was going to kiss him. Instead she placed one of his hands on her side and held the other up. It was when she started to move that he figured it out. He let her lead him across the floor to a soundtrack that only she could hear in her head.
After about thirty seconds, she started to hum and it wasn’t song that he was used to hearing. He figured out the steps after the third turn around the floor and he took over leading and Raven let her head drop down to rest on his shoulder. Elian then noticed that she was closer to him than she had been before. It was a distance that many would call intimate but Elian didn’t let that distract him.
With her head on his shoulder, Raven let him lead her across the floor for nearly an hour. With no tables in the place it would be easy to turn this into a dance floor. There wouldn’t be that many people fitting on the floor but it would be nice for small little get togethers. He could rent the upper floor for parties and such and get more money that way. He’d planned on doing it for the basement but he could do it with this space as well.
The sound of a violin broke through the sound of Raven humming and their soft steps on the floor. Elian pulled back from Raven as she pulled her phone from her pocket. She looked at it for a few seconds in shock.
“Court is back in session tomorrow. We are to report at nine am. The Court wants to talk to us alone then. The Matians are being called in at noon and the findings will be read then. That’s all Alexis is giving me. I…”
“Court decisions through texting?” Elian asked.
“It’s more secure than talking right now. Alexis is worried that they are being wire tapped or eavesdropped on. His phone and mine are secure and there is no chance of the texts being intercepted.”
“What about up here?”
“No one that has been around a Matian has been here.” Raven stayed back several inches and Elian missed the warmth of her body on his. He wanted to reach out and pull her close again but he was sure that she wouldn’t like it. “No one had smelled like smoke that came to work here that didn’t smoke.”
“I’ve been checking everything out. I…may have gotten a cop to go through with a bug checker.”
“No. the one from Marietta. You know I can never remember his name. The wolf. I…” Raven’s phone went off again and she looked down at it. “Charity has some thing for me to look over and James wants to talk to you. They both promise to be dressed.”
The laugh escaped before Elian really knew it and Raven gave a snort. She turned towards the doorway and started down the steps before Elian had really noticed what she was doing. He ran to catch up with her. She kept right on going out the front door and she was across the street before Elian had the placed locked up again.
Elian wondered if she felt strange about the dance. It had been personal on a level that she had never been with him. Raven had sex with Alexis and Bryar but slow dancing like that and it not being at a dance and with no one else around, it seemed like something that she had never really done with anyone.
Raven was still on her phone when Elian entered the house to find James sitting in the kitchen at the table with papers everywhere. Charity was outside in the backyard and Raven had stopped in the living room, just looking at her phone. Elian wasn’t sure what James wanted but he would see.
To call a Vampire a crazy is the greatest insult one can deliver to them. There has been entire human families wiped out for the accusation of a crazy in the blood. Vampires consider their turned children, children still but if a child, whether turned or born becomes a crazy, it is a shame on the family.