Okay, let's do this all in one go, shall we... Hope everyone had a happy and safe Holiday season. My goal was to get this out on my birthday (the 2nd) as a sort of gift to the readers type of thing; but I got derailed... I guess better late then never, right?
As always this plot bunny belongs to me, but anything really important does not.
Jasper was good to his word, he did let me sleep; but as soon as I was awake there was nothing stopping him from reminding me who I belonged to. Not that I was going to stop him. After the second round, I was finally able to remind him that just because he had the weekend off, I did not. That while he might enjoy that I was covered in his scent and smelled like sex, again others might not. Of course that ended up with me, my palms flat against the tile while Jasper took me from behind in the shower. I was clean...sorta.
After the shower there was that round in the kitchen as I attempted to make something for breakfast; which ended up being a late lunch. As I ate, Jasper conceded to let me have a little break. We ended up cuddling on the couch and watching a movie while I finished off my meal. When I finished eating I realized that my cellphone was nowhere to be found, I was a little surprised that it hadn't rung once.
I tried to get into my office, but as soon as I moved from the couch Jasper had pulled me into his lap and wouldn't let go. It was cute at first, but when he tackled me to the floor in front of my office, I had enough. I had to remind him that I had guard out in the field, that I needed to make sure nothing major was happening. It took a rough round on the floor for Jasper to allow me to check my email.
It was all fun and games until he attempted to keep me from my scheduled guard duty in the entrance hall on Sunday night. It ended up with him pinned to the wall of the bedroom by my shield as I took an actual shower and got ready.
"I told you on Friday that I was not off this weekend," I said coming out of the closet, with a towel still wrapped around my body and my clothes for the night in my arms.
"I am sure someone could take your shift tonight," Jasper said from his spot against the wall, his arms crossed as he glared in my direction. "I doubt they expect you to show anyway. I bet we can find something to occupy ourselves instead."
"I'm sure we can," I said with a laugh as I turned my back on him as I got dressed. "I'm sorry you don't like it, but this is the job. You're going to have to share me sometimes," I said pulling on the tight black skinny jeans along with the flowing peacock-blue blouse. "Think of tonight as a dry run."
Even though I was trying to calm us down so I could get ready for my shift, I couldn't help but tease Jasper just a bit; is was the first time that I felt... wanted. Slowly, with my back to him, I bent at the waist to fix the hem on my pant leg. My reward was a low growl and lust slamming against my shield.
With a grin I straightened the looked over my shoulder at my Mate as I said, "Now, if you can behave yourself, I'll let you join me out in the other room. If not," I smiled with a shrug, "then I'll leave you there to calm down."
Jasper's eyes darkened as he growled again and started to struggle against the shield. "You let me out now," he said with a hiss. I just arched an eyebrow at him. He growled again.
"I think you're missing the point."
"Now," he roared at me.
"With that attitude," I questioned, my eyebrow raised higher. "I think not," I finished with a little laugh and started for the other room. As soon as I stepped into the livingroom I was hit with a wave of calm so hard that I had to grab the wall. "The idea is for you to calm down, not me," I said once I was stable again. When I didn't feel him struggling anymore I released him.
He used his full speed to get to me. "That wasn't very nice," he whispered as he nipped at my neck as he wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into his chest.
"I wasn't going for nice," I said angling my neck giving him more access.
"Neither was I," he nipped me one last time before letting me go and stepping back. "Do you have time to eat something," he asked walking around me.
"I'm not sure," I said with a shrug. I never had that inner knowledge of time, or direction, that most other Vampires had. I always had to have a clock, or map, somewhere I could see it. "If I knew where my phone was, I could check," I said sending a glare at Jasper's back. My phone had gone missing sometime yesterday when Jasper realized that I could still send emails from it.
"You have forty-five minutes before you need to be in the entrance hall," Jasper said pulling my attention back to him. There in his hand was my phone.
"Where the hell was it," I asked storming over and snatching it from his hand.
Jasper shrugged one shoulder before heading into the kitchen. "I'm not stupid," he called from the other room. "I told Jane to call if there were any emergencies. It has been on vibrate and close at hand since I took it away from you on Saturday."
"You could have told me," I snapped as I walked into the office and started to organize my bag.
My job for tonight was to be backup for the guard that was already stationed in the entrance hall. Normally, I would change into my human appearance; the one thing that Vampires looking to do something would ignore as normal humans were no threat to Vampires. Tonight though, I was going as myself, a very distracted and not paying attention self; but no matter what, I would never be that sidetracked. I grabbed my laptop, so I could finally check my email. I grabbed the red folder holding information on one Peter Whitlock, for some reason I could not get past the idea that Maria was going to make a move for him. I would keep my promise to Jasper; I would not send for Peter unless I had proof that Maria was close.
I took one last glance around the office looking for anything else that I might need tonight. I was just about to close my bag when my eyes landed on the folder containing the changes for the guard sitting on my desk. The Inner Circle knew there was going to be changes, but they, bar Jasper, didn't know what they would be. They also didn't know that the Circle was going to be assisting more with new guard then what they were use to.
"Might as well tell them tonight," I muttered to myself as I stuffed the folder into the bag and zipping it closed. 'Attention all members of the Inner Circle,' I broadcasted mentally to the Circle. 'There will be an informal meeting in the entrance hall in two hours. There will be no need for cloaks, unless you are on duty this evening. Jane, I would like to see you a half an hour beforehand.'
"What was that," Jasper asked meeting me outside of my office at the same time that I heard everyone elses acknowledgements.
"Think of that as a 'mass email'," I said with a smile as I put my bag on the couch. "I like communicating that way instead of using the phone if I am wanting to reach a group of people at the same time."
"You could have just told me," Jasper said with a roll of his eyes as he guided me to my breakfast bar where he had heated up a meal for me. "I was just in the other room."
I just shrugged as I sat down, "You need to get use to it. You might not be next time."
"Whatever," he said with a sigh. "Eat."
"Sir, yes, Sir," I said giving him a salute with my fork and a smile.
"Smartass," he muttered as he headed into the bathroom, it wasn't long before I heard the water start in the shower.
I had finished eating and was washing my dishes when Jasper stepped out of my bedroom clean and fully clothed. I had to smirk, Jasper was going to have to walk through the halls in the same clothes that he went to the promotion in. There is nothing like having to do the walk of shame in front of beings with perfect memories, or very close to perfect, that could remember exactly what he was wearing and when.
"Are you going to change before coming to the meeting," I asked with a smile as I came to stand in front of him. "Though I really like this color blue on you," I said touching the collar of his shirt.
"Do you think I need to," Jasper asked taking my hand and kissing the palm. "We are all adults, right?"
"Yeah," I said with a snort of laughter, "and so is Emmett, but I'm sure he would have something to say. You have already seen that Felix and Demetri could give your brother a run for his money."
"Our brother is one of a kind," Jasper said with a roll of his eyes, "but those two are close."
"You don't have to change, but you would be leaving yourself open for anything," I said with a shrug. "Though their attention might be pointed elsewhere for a bit," I finished with a grimace. I would take only so much of the teasing before I pulled rank; they needed to have their fun.
"Alright," he said with a sigh, "I'll go change after I walk you to the entrance hall, I'll be back in time for the meeting."
"I can walk there on my own," I said with a shake of my head as Jasper pulled me to the door.
Jasper picked up my bag and swung it on his shoulder before opening the door to the hall. "And I don't care. This is still my time, and I plan to take all of it."
"Whatever," I muttered as I took Jasper's offered arm and let him lead me down the hall.
Jasper was good on his word. He escorted me to the entrance hall, then, after a scorching kiss, he left me on my own. I could feel the eyes of everyone in the room on my back as I set my things up in the darkest corner of the room. I didn't need to read anyone's mind to know what they were all thinking.
"I am saying this one time and only one time," I said not turning around to face anyone. "It is true, Jasper and I are Mates. No, that is not the reason that he is my Second. If anyone had issues with it, at least have the decency to come and speak to me face to face and not behind my back." I turned around then, my eyes scanning the group in the room.
"Anyone," I challenged. No one would make eye contact. "I didn't think so," I said with a shake of my head. "I'm all for light teasing normally, as long as it does not interfere with work; but given the situation we are in, I don't think it is the time. Do you?" Again I scanned the room. When no one said anything I continued, "Then let's get back to work."
"Yes, Mistress," came the sullen reply from the room. I just turned back to my corner and continued to get myself ready for my shift of waiting.
By the time that Jasper returned to me, I had my laptop open and running in my lap, my papers scattered across the coffee table that I had 'borrowed' from another seating section and my fingers wrapped around my hair ready to pull it out. Jasper's response to my stress was to pick me up, laptop and all, then to settle in my seat with me in his lap.
"You really need to learn to relax," Jasper said wrapping an arm around my waist as he pulled open a book that he had brought with him.
I snorted, "As if that could happen."
"You were fine when I left you."
"Yeah, that was until I realized that Quinn still hasn't sent his update," I said with a sigh.
"You haven't heard from him at all," Jasper asked surprised. "Is that something he would normally do?"
"No," I shook my head. "I heard from him when he first arrived, but there were Maria scouts close and he wanted to wait until they passed to send more. I heard the other day that he found her camp and was going to try to get more information."
"And nothing. He had the third in their group send me something saying that everyone was fine, but that's it," I said bringing up the short email before turning the screen so he could read.
"If he's caught, Maria won't hesitate to kill him."
"I am aware of that," I snapped. "I'm not worried really, Quinn is my best scout; with is his ability to cancel his scent and those around him, and the shield that is in his team, he can get anywhere. I just wish I knew what was going on. His information could be the last piece that I am missing."
"There is no other way you can contact him," Jasper asked as he read the report on the computer.
I snorted, "Of course there is. But my mind was otherwise occupied this weekend, so using a mental link was out."
"What is stopping you now?"
"Nothing," I smiled. "Don't get freaked, okay," I said kissing his cheek. Before he could say anything else, I let my eyes glaze over and linked my mind with Quinn's.
'Quinn, it's time to report,' I sent through the new link.
'Did you not get the report sent through email, Mistress,' Quinn questioned back not even bothered by the sudden voice in his head having heard it more than a few times.
'I did, but I want to hear what is going on from you.'
'I have found Maria's camp, but it is not the only one,' he started reporting quickly. 'From what I have found out, she has her army split into at least two other camps plus this one.'
"Great," I muttered out loud as I turned the computer back to face me and opened a blank page.
"What's going on," Jasper asked as he watched my fingers fly across the keys.
"Give me a sec," I said. 'How many are in your camp,' I asked Quinn my fingers paused waiting for his reply.
'There are 15 Vampires in total at this camp. Maria and two that stay, seven newborns with no talents that I can tell, and five others that come and go. I think those five are scouts or messengers for the other camps.'
'How close to the camp are you,' I asked as I added the information to the computer, Jasper reading along with my typing.
'I'm up a tree in the middle of the compound,' Quinn replied quickly.
My body froze for a moment. 'For the love a God, Quinn, tell me that you at least have Faith and her shield. If not, I am coming there personally to kick your-'
'I am gutsy, Mistress,' Quinn cut off my mental rant, 'but I'm not stupid. Faith is sitting next to me, we are both wrapped in her shield.'
'I still don't like it,' I sent him with a sigh. 'I want you out of that camp as soon as you can.'
'Once night falls, we are leaving,' he answered.
'Is there anything else you can tell me? Does she know that we are on to her yet?'
'I have not seen anything that shows she knows; though she's pissed, and has been since we got here.'
I couldn't help the snort at that news. 'Why?'
'From what I have gathered, she is unable to find someone or someones. She beheaded a scout when they returned empty handed.'
I froze in Jasper's lap, this was exactly what I didn't want. 'Any clue on who she is wanting?'
'No, Mistress,' Quinn answered quickly letting me let out the breath I was holding. 'I did catch her saying something to the effect that if they get 'them', that 'he' would come.' I had an idea who she was talking about. Too right she was. If Maria did succeed in capturing Peter and his Mate, then Jasper would stop at nothing to rescue them. 'She did send more scouts out though.'
'Alright,' I sent with a sigh. 'Change of plans for you. I do not want you to do anything stupid and get caught, but I do not want you leaving Maria's main camp. I need you to keep me informed on her movements, who she sends out, if she gets close to get getting who she is looking for, if she gets wind of our movements.'
'We are going to have to hunt soon,' came Quinn's response to his new orders.
'I am going to sent two more teams your way. Once I know who, and their estimated arrival time, I will let you know,' I said as I started to run who I could send in my head, it had to be a team with at least a shield or someone who could go in unnoticed. 'When they get there, I want you to give over your list of contacts to one team and send them in your place, the other team are your backup.'
'As you wish,' came the quick reply.
'Is there anything else that I need to know at present?'
'Have you ever heard of Maria working with someone else?'
'As far as I know, she has always been out for herself. Working with someone would mean she would have to share,' I said. 'Why do you ask?'
There was a pause before Quinn's answer came. 'Well, I accidentally overheard a phone conversation that she had yesterday and it made me think.' I snorted a little, I could almost hear the air quotes in Quinn's thoughts. Jasper gave me a strange look, but I said nothing; at least not to him.
'She seemed to be giving a progress report to someone, tried to explain why she had not made any big moves.'
'Did you get a name? Or a location to this other person?'
'No, Mistress, she never said any names. I think the male on the phone had a Russian accent, or Eastern Europe accent, if that helps any.'
'If you would replay what you heard, that would be great,' I asked with another sigh. My hand moved to hold Jasper's arm that still around my waist. Delving into someone's mind from this distance was always tricky, I was going to need Jasper's strength to keep my mind grounded. Without knowing what was going on, I could feel Jasper sending me confidence; giving me exactly what I needed at that moment.
Not needing to respond Quinn started to replay his memory of the phone call and I was sucked in. Going into one's memory when they stand next to me is one thing, but to do so when the person was so far was another. It took so much more control and strength not to let myself get lost, more power to focus on what I needed and only that. If I wasn't careful not only would I not get the information that I needed, but I could also make myself weaker and hurt with what I was trying to do.
Trying not get to let any of that happen, I focused on one thing and one thing only. Instead of watching the movement of those in the compound with Maria, the maps on the walls, the voices outside, I concentrated on the phone call and the sound of the person on the other end. Being that this was someone else's memory, the words were fuzzy and hard to hear; but the accent was there. I knew that accent.
When the memory stopped I had to laugh, 'Quinn, you might be the best at getting information, but we need to work on your language skills.'
'So, it's not Eastern Europe,' Quinn questioned.
'No,' I sent with a sigh while resting my head on Jasper's shoulder, 'that would be old world Romanian with just a hint of Russian,' I finished as I focused on the few words that were slipped into the conversation in the foreign language.
'So, we have a new player on the board,' Quinn sent simply.
'Not a new player per say, but another player, yes. There are only a handful of Vampires alive that speak that language; three of which I call brother, two others are Mates to the first three. It is the other two that bother me.'
'This is bad, isn't it?'
'I guess that depends on you definition of bad,' I sent with another little laugh. 'I can tell you that it definitely isn't good.'
'What do you need my team and I to do,' Quinn asked quickly.
'Exactly what you are doing now, Quinn. Gather information; without it, I am nothing and can do nothing.'
'Then it will be done.' With that Quinn broke contact with me, there was nothing else that needed to be said. He knew what his mission was, there was no reason for me to repeat it. Nor did he need me to remind him to be safe; my punishment would be worse than almost anything Maria could do to him.
"All is not well," Jasper questioned when my eyes cleared and my body sagged against him.
"Not really," I said taking a moment to breathe in Jasper's scent and allowed it to calm me further. "Quinn is on the inside."
"I got that," Jasper nodded as he tapped the laptop still in my lap.
"I'm not thrilled about it," I said turning to scan the open document before saving it and closing the computer. "However," I moved the computer to the table before turning more into Jasper's arms, "I have a good idea what might be coming our way; in more ways than one."
Jasper grabbed my waist and turned me so I was straddling his lap, forcing me to face him head on. "What do you mean?"
"Ummm well," I said suddenly flustered by his expression, "I have idea on how many numbers she has on her side."
"And...well, itseemsmyfearsthatMariawasworkingwithsomeoneelsepullingthestringswereright," I said very quickly.
"I'm not sure who would have understood that, but I didn't," Jasper said narrowing his eyes at me. "Want to try that again?"
"It seems that my fears that Maria was working with someone else pulling her stings were right," I said more slowly.
"How do you know," Jasper asked calmly.
"Quinn, in performing his duty, has found away into Maria's camp and was able to overhear a conversation with her cohort."
I didn't need to take a breath, but I took it anyway. I wasn't fearful that Jasper would be upset, but just saying it would make it more real. It defiantly changed things. "The Romanians are behind this. They are using Maria, and her skills, to come for us."
"You're sure," Jasper asked after a moment.
"As much as I can be," I said with a nod before resting my head on his chest.
Jasper and I sat in silence for few minutes, just holding each other, being together. "So," Jasper started softly, "how does change the plan?"
"In large part, the plan doesn't really change," I said with a sigh. "The scouts continue to gather information; what are her numbers, how many are talented, where she is heading, how is she going to get our attention. Now though, they are also looking for concrete proof that the Romanians are with her, because an overheard phone conversation isn't going to be enough." I lifted my head to look at him, "The end game is the same. Eliminate the threat. Just now that not only includes ending Maria, but destroying the Romanians as well."
Just wanted to thank everyone that has reviewed the last chapter. I know I suck and haven't replied to any of them... I will though. I love reading what readers have to say, hearing opinions or suggestions. There have been a few that I have thought were really good, and if I have not already planned to add them then I am working on it.