There are times when you think you know and then there are times when you are fucking certain…and this was a time that I was very fucking certain that my ass was on fire and whoever was on the other side of that door was dead. Tate was terrified. His eyes were wide and he brought the cover up to his chin with a shiver as I looked at the door like I could see through it---hissing through my teeth in a world of hurt.
“Olly, I’m so sorry,” he whimpered and I turned to him and kissed his cheek.
“Not your fault baby.” I assured him before grimacing my way off the bed and groaning as I bent over to pull my pants on. The knocking persisted and I flicked my extremely pissed off face up to the door. Straightening awkwardly, I buttoned my slacks and marched through the pain in my ass to the other side of the room. The next minute went rather quickly in my growing rage. I unlocked the door, flung it open, and closed my fist---connecting it to Yuri’s face with a loud smack.
A collective gasp went up in the sitting room and Yuri fell back onto his ass. “Who died? Huh you dumbass motherfucker? Who the fuck died? Because that is the only reason you fucking knocked on that god damn door!”
“Oliver.” Isaac rose from the round table by the window with wide eyes. He placed his drink on the table and took a step closer.
“No. Isaac.” I pointed a finger at him. “I’m stressed out, I’m tired, someone’s trying to kill me and my boyfriend, and then this asshole tries to fuck with me when I’m getting some? Yeah, fuck you. The only reason I’m here is because I have no other choice, otherwise I would stay as far as fuck away from you and this machine gun toting rat pack you got going on here as I could. And while we’re on the subject…what the fuck is up with that, Hightower? When did you suddenly become the next John Gotti?” My chest heaved with hot air---in and out, in and out like a power house of pissed.
“That is none of your concern.” Yuri rose from the floor and wiped the blood from his nose.
“None of my concern?” I screamed---feeling my face flush with the strain of my muscles.
Yuri started to walk towards to me, trying to back me into the bedroom. Which was where Tate was and that set me off again---this time in a way that even surprised me. The giant bald gunslinger stood right in front of me, trying to intimidate me with a few extra inches of height but I didn’t care and like a cobra with a momma bear complex for my boyfriend, my hand reached out and snagged his gun from his belt---his eyes widened with disbelief.
“You will back the fuck up. If anyone sets foot in that room or go nears him, I will blow your damn head off. We clear?” I backed up my words with a click and a full extension of my arm---pointing the piece right at Yuri’s forehead.
“I’m not sure how you managed that Oliver but I will say I am most impressed. All praises aside though, no one will come between you and your mate. I mean Tate. You have my word. Yuri was just going to shut the door so as not frighten him. Isn’t that right Yuri?” Isaac laid his gray jacket down, the expensive material reflecting a metallic sheen and reminding me of the fucker’s eyes.
“I would never bring harm to your mate.” Yuri bowed his head and sucked through his nose with a sickly bubbling sound. The guy was completely unfazed with the blood now running down his face. In fact, the more that I looked at the wound, the more his nose seemed to straighten from its currently crooked angle---even the red swelling that had been immediate was fading a bit around the bridge.
“What the fuck?” I gripped the gun with both hands and kept it directed at Yuri. “Your face is…holy…”
“Isaac, he’s gonna tweak,” Yuri murmured to his boss without ever leaving my gaze. With a pop Yuri’s nose straightened, all the irritation and puffiness disappearing before my eyes.
“Oh my God.” A hushed exclamation breathed against my arm and Tate wrapped his shaking arms around me from behind.
“Jacob? Micah, could you come in here please?” Isaac called calmly to the hallway and my mouth tried to move but it was like I was numb and my hands were stuck with a gun in midair. His nose just healed…like magic. His nose…oh what the…
“Fuck,” Yuri lisped and it was then that I saw…
“Holy shit!” The words that I had been thinking finally managed to come out. Two white fangs grew from his gums and showed between his lips and Yuri sighed.
“It happens when I heal,” he offered. Tate sighed like a southern belle and fell to the ground in a faint.
Looking between the supernatural freak with fangs, my father appearing out of nowhere and entering the room, and my boyfriend on the ground in a traumatized coma, I tried to keep breathing. My ass still hurt, now my fist was flaring with pain, but none of that mattered as I dropped to my knees to deal with the most important of all the drama wracking my world.
“Tate? Oh my God. Hey,” I whispered and brushed hair out of his face---pulling him into my lap like a doll. I heard the rustling near me and a hand digging around in ice but I didn’t look away from Tate. I had to make sure he was okay.
“Hi.” Micah---Isaac’s assistant---dropped to his knees next to us and offered me a small smile. One of which I did not return. “Here.” He held out a damp towel from a champagne bucket on the table and I took it with a shaking hand---the gun still firmly gripped in the other and ready to go at a second’s notice.
“Do you…are you one of…do you have uh…” I was still trying to form complete sentences and I didn’t even realize I was shaking all over until now. The situation put me into emotionally uncharted territory. My body didn’t know how to react and my brain was trying to figure out a way to get us past survival autopilot. I was in shock. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t speak properly, and I couldn’t even scream. All I could do was look at this beautifully large man in front of me and listen for a minute, hold on to my boyfriend, and grip the gun for all I was worth.
“Fangs?” Micah asked and I nodded slowly. He shook his head. “Not yet. But eventually I will.”
“Yet? What…” I finally managed and looked around---noticing for the first time how different everyone in the room really was. They were all different in appearance because no one was the same---the guards, the suits, the muscle--- but…they all had this likeness about them, something undeniably unnatural---alluring and smooth, dangerously beautiful even. And then there was their eyes…they were like…Isaac’s eyes...you just wanted to stare for a while. It wasn’t my imagination earlier was it? Were they aliens? Was Micah under some spell of theirs? Did they brainwash him?
“What are they?” I looked back and asked Micah, pulling Tate fully into my arms to protect him from the unknown.
Deep breath. Micah smiled a little and looked back to Isaac who strangely patted my father on the back and nodded to his assistant as if giving him permission. Turning back to me, the dark haired model for sex looked me dead in the eye. “Vampires. They’re all…vampires.”
“They’re fucking nuts Olly! Vampires? Are you crazy? Yeah, you’d have to be crazy to put your fist in that behemoth’s face. Oh God. I want to go home Olly,” Tate cried, pacing back and forth in our bedroom suite. He shot a look of disgust to my father who sat quietly in the corner.
“I don’t think we can baby. I don’t know what’s happening but I think they’re for real Tate. Would you just hold up there for a second. Please come sit with me?” He was scaring me a little. After he woke up, Tate had ran in the bedroom and locked us in here away from the rest of them, claiming that my father could come in if he explained what the fuck was happening. So far, my father had sat and looked at his feet in thought. He had yet to actually start explaining anything.
“Not until he starts talking! I’m done with all this. I want some damn answers. This is getting out of hand. Well, ha ha,” Tate laughed like a lunatic. “Not like it wasn’t out of hand around the time that you put your dick…”
“Okay! You are gonna sit down and control yourself. Got it?” I rose and planted his ass on the bed. He crossed his arms and shot imaginary eye lasers at my father. “That is not a public conversation and you are not going to start taking this out on me. I know your scared baby and truthfully…so am I but you flying off the handle is not helping.”
“Whatever,” he huffed like a child and narrowed his eyes.
“Hey. You gonna start talking or what?” I barked at my old man who lifted his…teary eyes? He was crying? “Uh...ok…” What did you do with that?
“Isaac and I have been friends for a very long time Oliver.” My father began and took a deep breath. “Since I was in college and he was my mentor, we have always stayed close. But after being around someone for so long.” He paused and looked up at me. “You know everything about them, do you not?”
“Well, yeah,” I agreed and he nodded a little looking at the ground in a trance.
“The little things and the big stuff---you know it all. Like marital issues, kid’s birthdays, the way they take their coffee…or the fact that they haven’t aged in a while, or that they color their hair grey at the temples on purpose. That they’re eyes sometime look like liquid metal…unnatural and scary.”
I silently sat next to Tate and he sidled up next to me---his anger forgotten-- molding our sides together. His fingers found mine and I twined them together. That is not what we thought was coming.
“I found out his secret Oliver. Who Isaac was, what he and Melaina were…but I hid that from him for a long time because I was scared but I still trusted him as my friend.” He wiped his eyes and shuddered. “ I never said a word. Even though I held the world’s most dangerous secret in my heart, I still felt that couldn’t betray him. He had done nothing wrong to me or mine and yes I was terrified by the fact that there were things out there in the world that were creatures of the night. But, the more I started to learn in secret, the more I saw them as normal. They were people just like you and I. So I never said a thing until...” He cracked and more tears rolled down his face. “Until I found out I was dying.”
“What?” I breathed and Tate tightened his hand within mine. I felt my heart stutter in my chest as I searched his face for something more.
“Last year, I was diagnosed with stage three Prostate Cancer. It spread quickly after that and the doctors gave me only months because of how invested it had become in my body. I knew I wasn’t going to have much longer and they told me to put my affairs in order. I…I… I tried to see you,” he whispered and he sucked in a sobbing breath. “…but your assistant refused my messages. I wanted to tell you how sorry…how stupid I was…oh I don’t even deserve it…I wanted your forgiveness before I died because I had been a horrible father, a horrible person to the most beautiful boy in the world. My own son…” Jacob sighed and threaded his hands together in his lap.
“Father…” I tried but he shook his head.
“I hid it from everyone except your mother and my staff because I needed your personal records to transfer everything into your name for afterwards. Even though I tried to be confidential, one of Melaina’s friends was in the same wing as me for chemo and told Mrs. Caldwell about my condition. Of course then Isaac came to see me during one of my treatments. He was furious that I would keep it from him. It was then that I told him that I knew about him and I broke down. Me, the power executive who belittled weakness and tears…I lost it Oliver. After that, I begged him to help me…so I would have more time to gain your...anything.”
“More time…how could he?” Then it hit me. Vampire’s lived for a while…didn’t they?
Seeing the light go off in my eyes, he nodded and was silent for a minute; probably trying to think of how to continue after that. My father was dying? I swallowed and kept my eyes on his. My chest hurt with the knowledge that I could feel how much this affected me. Even though he had denied me the normal ‘father son bond’ my entire life and I had accepted that, this hurt. To know that even though he had never cared… I cared so much for him and finally realizing it made my heart beat faster. I looked up to him, I had wanted to be him my entire life and did anything I could to make him notice me. Then one day, I had stopped caring because I realized he would never notice me…he would never care. But to know that all this time he really did and that now I would never get to know him like I had always wanted to…that he was just going to die. I sucked in a ragged breath---almost a sob---and looked at my lap.
“He helped me Oliver.” Soft Italian loafers padded softly across the floor and my father knelt in front of me. “He helped me.” I looked up with tears to see my father’s dark eyes swirling with gold, tiny peaks of fang protruding from his mouth. “I won’t ever be sick again Olly and I will use every day of my eternity to earn your forgiveness. Will you let me try? Will you give me that at least?” I was terrified. He looked like the man I had always known, he sounded like him, but was he him? Knowing I would never get another chance like this, I exhaled and straightened.
“Yes.” The answer was immediate, the need so great, the fear still there at the creature before me. But the need to be loved by him was overwhelming and I thought to Isaac and whatever he had done to make my father into this. Isaac was a man who knew the meaning of family---he loved his son Cadence like the air he breathed and for him to save my father so we could have a something close to what he had was priceless. I would be in his debt forever but I would never tell him that. I was too proud.
Tate let me go and my father slipped his arms around me immediately. I suddenly felt small even though we were the same size, I felt his tears on my neck as he buried his face there, and I heard his soft I’m sorry over and over in my ear. My eyes flicked over to my boyfriend who had a hand over his mouth with tears running down his cheeks. This was officially the sappiest moment of my life---it was like my big gay lifetime special where I was the star of the show.
“Okay,” I rapsed and pushed against his chest. “Okay.” I nodded and quickly wiped my eyes as he stood again and did the same.
“Good then?” My father looked down at me and covered a sniffle with a snort, both of us trying to retain our former macho guy personas. He straightening his jacket and turning his head away and me acting like my nose itched in the crook of my elbow---avoiding my boyfriend’s stare.
“Oh that was just…so beautiful.” Tate sniffled and both of us turned to look at him---our identically dark brows raised. “Oh ok.” He turned to my father after glaring at me. “So you can tell us you were cured of cancer by becoming a vampire and I can’t say anything? Really?” He huffed and got off the bed---covering his bare chest with his arms and going into the bathroom.
“Tate,” I called but he slammed the door shut.
“He’s just scared Oliver. And he has every right to be.” My father sighed and sat back down in his chair, rubbing his temples. “I know this is well, fucked up but it’s real. Alexander is starting to fuck with some of the wrong people and somehow he’s getting away with it. This is bigger than you think and I’ve wanted nothing more than to keep you safe this entire time. That’s why when the deal is done tomorrow night and after you draw Alex into the open, Micah will be boarding a plane with you and Tate to Europe immediately. There will be an aftermath if this is more twisted than we expect and you will not be in the middle of it.”
“Excuse me?” I stood--- my formerly back burner like anger lighting back to a flaming inferno. “Fanged thing or not, you can’t tell me what to do. I have a business to run and people who depend on me. Just because you ask for forgiveness and we cry a little doesn’t give you power of attorney over my life you arrogant shit.”
“Oliver, think about Tate. What would you do if something happened to him because you were being stubborn? Be mad at me all you want because I fucking deserve it but don’t let that blind you. You’re right, people do depend on you. He depends on you…” He paused and cocked his head and frowned. “You’re mate is unwell.”
“Huh? Mate?” And then I heard the muffled hurling sound from the bathroom. “Fuck.”
“Go take care of him and then we’ll run through what you’ll be doing tomorrow night while we’re at the charity gala. Can we at least agree on that?” Jacob Caldwell flicked his dark eyes to me and I saw myself reflected in them. He didn’t want me to end up like him, even though I’d tried so hard too.
“Yeah whatever,” I mumbled before shit got deep like Oprah again.
“We’ll be outside. No rush,” he replied, turning to leave the room.
Once he had shut the door behind him, I quickly waddled across the floor---my ass screaming in pain now---and cracked open the bathroom door. Tate was kneeling on the cool tile floor over the toilet---his hair hiding his face until he shuddered and threw up again.
I hated vomit. It was one of the reasons I never drank over my limit, so I’d never have to deal with the taste or smell or---I shuddered---look at it. If Tate was the man that I claimed to love so much though, I had to help him out. He was literally sick to his stomach from stress and I think that in some fucked up way something just clicked. The gravity of our situation, the existence of vampires, us fighting so badly last night---all of it was too much for him.
I pulled a rag from the shelf under the sink and wet it before kneeling behind him and pulling his hair back off his face---running the rag over his neck and around his hairline while rubbing his back slowly. This was going to be a long night. But I had a lot of things to think about. First being how to deal with all this and stay strong when my shock actually wore off like Tate’s had. What would I do then? Would I be the one puking my guts into the toilet because I saw some guy’s nose heal from a clean break within seconds? Would I scream until my eyes rolled back into my head because my father was now a…vampire?
The thought alone was nuts. If I hadn’t seen his fangs grow from his gums with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. I had little to logically argue against their race now. They were real. Yuri, Isaac, my father…they were vampires. Tate groaned and laid his head on the seat. On instinct and because I needed to feel him too, I laid my head on his back and just stared at the tile wall---completely numb yet wondering what the vampires wanted with me and Tate in the end game. There was always a game to be played.
When I was seven my grandmother passed away and I remembered every detail about the day we buried her. My mother had laid out an expensive suit tailored just for me and I had sat rubbing my fingers over the buttons on my jacket for over an hour---thinking how my life would be different now. How gran had been the last person that would ever get me and now that she was gone, things would really be just…different.
After dressing and my mother fussing over me, we’d walked down the hall---my feet heavy and the hallways longer than usual. Even holding my mother’s hand wasn’t a comfort to me because I knew even as a child that she didn’t care about my gran. She’d never liked my father’s mother because my mother was a hateful individual and she would die that way.
I remember the smell of all the cigars outside of the church when we got out of the limo. I remember the smell and feel of the flowers they had set up---all of them white. She had loved white flowers. I remember the texture of the fabric on the pew as we sat down and the glossy white coffin lined in silver that they had put gran in. But the thing I will remember the most---above the feeling of utter despair and my itchy suit---was the look on my father’s face.
My father had three expressions that I had been aware of; smug, all business, and angry. That day I saw something different. He’d looked at me and smoothed a hand over my hair with broken eyes. He had loved his mother like I had and it was the only moment I could remember in my entire life that I felt like my father and I had truly connected. In death we had a moment between us.
Now as I smoothed my palms down the front of my suit and fingered the platinum cufflinks at my wrists, I felt like that little boy again as my father stood behind me---our eyes locked in the mirror with that same sadness---with broken eyes. Why did this feel like a funeral? Why did it feel like someone was dying? Everyone was somber and silent. Yuri’s wife Katrina and Isaac’s wife Melaina had swept through earlier with trays of food for everyone before going to get glammed for this evening’s event.
Everyone seemed to be wearing something rather dressy just for sitting around in a hotel room and the feel of this place, of this very room was smothering. Just like a funeral. I glanced down at my watch and noted we had less than hour until show time. My stomach was in knots, my ass was still a sore subject, and I wouldn’t let Tate out my sight. I was in a room full of fucking vampires too---the idea further shutting me down to life. I still didn’t fucking believe it.
“Hey,” Tate greeted me and pulled me with him into the bathroom for some privacy. Clicking the door shut, I slid down the wall and hissed as I gently lowered my ass onto the floor. He knelt between my legs and put his head on my chest. “It’s going to be okay. It’s just a phone call right? They can’t do anything to us Olly.”
“Tate, after that phone call…I have to walk out into the middle of the open and face God knows what. I could die. They could put a bullet in me on sight. Don’t you get that?” And there it was. I was the one who felt like death because it could come knocking on my door at any moment. Over a stupid conference call but in reality I felt like I was some illegitimate superhero playing a round of batman versus the evil villain. Batman wasn’t immortal, he could die.
“Baby, Alex doesn’t have a pack of vampires protecting him. You’ll be fine. We just have to get through this night and then it’s over. No more of this non-sense. How about when we finish this up and hop that plane, we have them take us somewhere warm? Hm. Somewhere hot where neither of us have to wear clothes. We could just lay around all day with pretty drinks and eat cake. I love cake.” He smiled. “And there would be lots of sex. In the pool and on the patio and in the kitchen and in the bed…” Tate murmured and as much as I liked the idea of what he was suggesting, something he said before that was repeating in my head.
My father’s words...he just gets away with it, Isaac’s brunch speech…he’s trying to take out the big wigs all over the city like it’s his territory, and then Tate… Alex doesn’t have a pack of vampires protecting him.
“What if he did? What if Alex does have vampires on his side Tate? Holy shit…” I whispered. “That’s it Tate. That’s how he’s doing it.” Tate stared at me as the evidence added up. We’d seen the mind trick shit from the vampires with the hotel staff already and with enough of them it would be rather easy to start taking what you wanted. But on the other hand…wouldn’t Isaac---the fanged godfather--- know if he had a bad vamp in town?
A light knock sounded on the door and Tate reached over and unlocked it. Yuri peeked through and looked down at us. “We’d like to go over everything one last time. So if you two are ready then we need to head down to the other suite.”
We both let out a breath at the same time and I looked up at the giant vamp. “Yuri, I think there’s something you should know…”
TO BE CONTINUED….