Spoilers: + Blood Works (graphic novel)
This chapter is dedicated to terpsichorean, that busy gal. Still, she found time to pore over my drafts.
Edit: I added some new dialogue to balance off the longer passages. Thanks to Ibskib for reminding me about "show and tell". =P
Sorry for the delay. Thanks to y'all who left feedback/faved/subscribed. To show my appreciation to reviewers, I left a treat in your inbox (outtakes or just plain silliness). Hope you liked it. =] To anonymous readers - sorry you couldn't get a little treat since, well, you're anonymous! My personal thanks to you guys below.
SD - Yes, things are fluctuating and balancing out. I agree, Ivy has a lot of respect for Rachel. They've both grown a lot since the first book, so this is my way of bridging the gap between them.
davinelyfavored69 - Aww. Yeah, this does indeed bring out the romantic in me, hehe. Hmm, to pop or not to pop? LOL. You'll have to wait and see. I promise you'll like it. ;)
donoterase - Huh... haven't I responded to you before to an actual inbox? Anyway, it means a lot to me that you find this story beautiful. =]
princessbuttercup - Yeah, I couldn't resist adding a personal touch. XD Yes! Ivy doesn't botch it up this time. I spent a lot of time researching flower meanings, which made me wonder if KH knew about ivy flowers. If she did, bravo! If not, I claim it! XP
From LJ - Cool, people actually find this at LJ! I'm happy you like my stories. I've got at least a couple more Ravy stories lined up. =]
Pool Table For Two
by Athena, a.k.a. il0vesunfl0wers
Sitting behind Ivy on her bike with my head against her back, I took one last glance at the restaurant and garden of not-quite-Eden (that's a different park altogether, but I digress). Our date so far had been perfect, all of it, from our scrumptious lunch, our romantic stroll in the garden at sunset, and now the night promised so much more.
"So, where are we headed?" I asked over her shoulder, holding my helmet.
"You'll just have to wait and see." She winked then put on hers.
As we cruised away I hugged her tightly from behind, loving the feel of her in my arms and... er... legs. Oh boy. She squeezed my forearm, stroking it a little, letting me know that she enjoyed what I was doing. I certainly enjoyed what I was doing, like when my hand managed to "slip" under her jacket and her shirt. The sudden swerve sent a spike of adrenaline through me. I grinned impishly, but restrained myself from "slipping" again. Though, for once, I didn't mind the harrowing experience of riding Ivy's Death-on-Wheels, I did mind the possibility that I might die before I even got to see her naked.
Truth be told, I actually loved riding motorcycles. Such sexy beasts of raw power! When I was a fresh little I.S. newbie I had an old, beat-up El Camino that Ivy once called a big chocolate bar. The ugly thing was nowhere as sweet as Ivy's bike of course.
"Hey!" I'd groused back then. "It takes me from point A to point B." Even if it conked out sometimes. When it finally died, I started to bum rides from Ivy on her bike and I loved it. I didn't even mind that she drove like a madwoman. It showed me that she wasn't always so uptight and hell bent on following every single law of the universe to the letter.
In retrospect, I realized I'd always found her sexy, looking all badass in leather astride her monster of a bike. I'd always thought it was just, you know, pure aesthetic appreciation. She is quite a sight to behold after all. When I found out later on that the sound of my pounding heart played havoc with Ivy's instincts, however, I decided to only ride with her on a really-need-to-enough-to-risk-being-a-vamp-chew-toy basis. And thus began my love and hate (mostly hate) relationship with Cincinnati's public transit system.
Touching Ivy like this kept me in a state of feverish wanting, and as we cruised along the freeway my mind took a trip of its own down memory lane. I couldn't stop thinking about our kiss in the garden, or the way she kissed me at breakfast, or how she felt in my arms last night as she slept.
In the darkness, I hadn't been able to see her, but I felt the length of her against me. She smelled sooo good, and I desperately wanted to taste her skin. I wanted to run my hands all over her body, to discover the secrets underneath her nightie, and I trembled with the effort of not molesting my new Incredibly Hawt Significant Other in her sleep even as the silk rode up her thighs and the thin, lacy strap fell off her shoulder. She is Temptation personified (with a capital T!) even when unconscious. It was a miracle that I somehow managed to fall asleep, but when I woke up I wanted to ravish her, or more like wake her up so she could ravish me. I didn't trust myself not to, so I forced myself to get up and busied myself in the kitchen instead.
Dear God, when she finally came into the kitchen, she looked absolutely delectable in her short little nightie and loosely tied silk robe, her hair all tousled, the picture of Sin, the kind you wanted to embrace and would willingly go to hell for just to have a little taste. My heart stopped and my jaw unhinged at the sight of her; I thought it might drop off my face and shatter on the kitchen floor. She looked at once innocent and deliciously naughty. Rowwrrr! Needless to say, she stole my breath away, and when she kissed me... I wanted to drag her back to the bedroom... or the couch, or against the counter, the floor, the table, the fridge door, whichever was closest.
I thought our breakfast would be awkward after she'd put a halt on our little hanky-panky, but it turned out sweet. Ivy smiled more, laughed more, and was wonderfully relaxed. We just... talked. Oh, and we held hands, that was nice. Mutually showing affection was something new and exciting for us, which thankfully is getting easier and more comfortable.
"I'll be back before you know it," Ivy had said before she'd left, embracing me for a long moment by the front door. She must have sensed my anxiety since she'd leaned back and cradled my cheeks. Her face, her eyes, held conviction when she declared, "I love you, remember that."
Then she leaned in slowly and brushed my lips with her own. As if her lips were just as reluctant to leave, they retreated gently, never breaking contact before returning with a bit more pressure. The third time, Ivy's tongue traced my bottom lip. My mouth opened to seek her moist heat, but she simply caught my bottom lip and suckled gently. I whimpered. Her tongue finally stroked mine. We both moaned as our tongues swept once, twice, till I greedily suckled hers. She clutched the back of my nape, while I squeezed her back, her shoulders, and fisted my hands in her hair with an answering moan, which reverberated down my throat, made my breasts shiver and my center throb. We parted, breathless. She planted two more smooches and purred.
"Mmmmm. I love you, too," I rasped, my forehead pressed against hers. Then I gazed deeply into her darkened eyes, which smoldered so much that I couldn't help kissing her one more time. I grinned like a fool. "See you soon."
Caught in a daze, my body felt like jelly, and I probably had the silliest expression on my face as I traced my lips, which still tingled. I couldn't wait for her to return.
"My, aren't you guys getting cozy?"
I jumped at the sound of Jenks' voice, suddenly finding myself back in the hallway between our bedrooms when, last I remembered, I had been standing by the front door kissing Ivy goodbye.
"I... we... we were just... uhhh..." Apparently, startling me hadn't been enough to shake me from my Ivy-induced stupor.
Jenks chortled. Jeez, you'd think I'd been caught sneaking into my parents' house at an ungodly hour after a wild night. As he fluttered around me I got increasingly aggravated since I didn't actually have a wild night or morning or whatever, and because for some reason I felt a need to explain. After I obviously had nothing brilliant or coherent to say, he laughed even harder, pointing at me and sprinkling pixy dust as his wings hummed furiously before my face, which felt like a furnace.
"It's okay. I know what's going on," he said with a conspiratorial grin.
"I live here, too, you know. Tink's titties, I smelled you guys all over the living room and... the poooool table!" He cackled, clutching his stomach, when my eyes bulged. "You naughty girls have been quite busy, hmmm?"
"We weren't... We haven't... It wasn't like that!"
"Uh-huh. Suuuure." Arms crossed, he gave me a once over, snickering when I pulled my robe—Ivy's robe—tightly closed. My face flushed anew. I hadn't bothered to change into my own clothes. I had wanted Ivy to stay, and keeping her clothes on me was the closest thing to keeping her with me. Her scent comforted me and, besides, I really enjoyed the feel of silk on my body. It wasn't as heavenly as Ivy's skin, but it felt really nice. I could see why she liked wearing silk all the time. It made me feel sexy and classy at the same time.
He couldn't have smelled anything when there was, you know, nothing to smell! Nothing like that. There were no candles, no open windows, not even an incriminating trail of clothes scattered about. Why was I even bothering to justify what didn't happen? And gee, I really, really appreciated the fabulous reminder that nothing happened, damn him!
I squeezed my eyes shut in a huff, pulling an Ivy and counting to ten. I only got to four, what with Jenks giggling like a little schoolgirl and all. When I opened my eyes, I was met by a lascivious grin. So I followed up with a Glare To End All Glares, and he just laughed at me all over again. I opened my mouth to rip him a new one, but he beat me to the punch.
"It's okay. Your secret's safe with me, sugar lips." He winked and zipped off, dodging my hand and chortling. "Where'd your snuggle bunny go, anyway?"
"She... she left to go break up with Glenn," I grumbled, crossing my arms. "We're trying to do things right before we actually even do anything."
"And that worries you?"
"It's just... He's a good guy. He's my friend and..." I grimaced. I seriously did not want to go there.
"You feel bad 'cause she's leaving him for you?"
At some point as I held Ivy while she slept, an unpleasant thought had slammed into my head. Glenn had seen her scantily clad, naked, had made love to her, and had likely been bitten by her. Ivy was finally mine, and I had never felt so insanely and fiercely possessive in my life. I didn't want anyone else to ever see Ivy like that or to touch her, or for anyone to feel her embrace, her lips or her fangs ever again. Glenn had to leave the picture. In fact, he could screw himself. By himself. Despite that, I felt a tiny stab of guilt for wanting to blast him into the ever-after.
"Is it wrong of me to not give a damn about how he feels? That I'm stealing his girl?"
The pixy threw me a knowing look. "Oh, you mean like is it wrong to want to tear his arms out of their sockets for touching your girl?"
"I've seen that look, the same one you had whenever Skimmer slept over. Like you wanted to claw at her face till she had none." His fingers curled into little claws and swiped at the air, hissing like a cat.
"Or maybe like how you wanted to play Evil Dentist on Cormell every time Ivy came home with his bite marks?"
Okay, I had to give him that. It was an accurate assessment. I didn't want to think about which page on Rynn's stupid dating guide they may have perused before she'd come home.
"You've been gay for Ivy for a long time, missy." He said this with such unnerving seriousness that it gave me pause. "Long before Glenn came along. And she was never really his or Skimmer's or Rynn's to begin with, you know. You always had her heart."
Leave it to Jenks to annoy and reassure me at the same time.
"I don't need to give you the whole speech about breaking her heart, right?" he continued, his eyes glinting dangerously as he slowly drew his sword from the scabbard and tapped the flat side of the blade against his palm menacingly. "I won't need to pix your knicker drawers or worse, will I?" I was a little intimidated. The pixy could actually be quite scary sometimes, but mostly I felt defiant and peeved that he'd actually pulled that on me.
"I love her!" I snapped at him, then mumbled as I stared at the floor, "I really love her. I know that now and, more importantly, so does Ivy." I looked back up at him, feeling the flames of passion burning in my chest as I declared, "I plan to show her just how much everyday for the rest of my life. So you can shove your overbearing father routine where the sun don't shine."
"And miss my chance to threaten you?" he quipped with a smirk, waving his sword in the air. "So touchy. Do you know how long I've waited for this day?"
"Just remember, I know where you live, wench." He made a slashing movement with his sword, like a miniature Zorro sans black mask, hat and cape, before slowly sheathing it at his side. "It's about damn time you owned up to it." He turned and floated away towards the back door that led to the garden. He paused and glanced over his shoulder at me. "And Rache?"
"What now?" I barked.
With a sly smile he said, "Enjoy your honeymoon."
An enormous wooden rollercoaster appeared on the right side of the freeway, bringing me back to the present astride Ivy's bike. That plus her hand stroking my thigh made me snap to attention. She looked over her shoulder at me and pointed to it as if in question. I was tempted to get home and get in her pants instead—that would be one hell of a ride in and of itself. Still, I hadn't been on a rollercoaster for so long. I couldn't resist, so I gave Ivy a thumbs-up. She revved the engine, took the next freeway exit and headed to the parking lot.
When we finally set foot in the amusement park, a wave of excitement surged within me.
"Ivy this is awesome!" I squealed, practically bouncing as I dragged her to the nearest roller coaster.
Never mind that we were about to have a lot of fun riding roller coasters. I strutted around, practically congratulating myself because I had a gorgeous woman on my arm. Actually, I was nestled in her arm, with her hand settled on my waist. Possessive much? Hell, I didn't care. In fact, I reveled in it. I was pretty sure heads turned our way because of her. Okay, that and because we're two women and men in particular found that hot. I couldn't blame them. I wanted to see some girl-on-girl action, too, starring me and my hot new girlfriend behind closed doors. And maybe a floor length mirror. Quite shamelessly I winked at the gaping fools in our path.
As we walked around, or while waiting to board a roller coaster (thankfully, Ivy bought a couple of Fast Passes so we could skip most of the ridiculously long lines), I found myself checking out my date far too often. Her jeans were so damn tight. I was almost jealous that they got to embrace her scrumptious legs so intimately. Her leather jacket sat at the waist and her blouse ended midway down her glorious ass (they're absolutely bootylicious, I tell ya), which gave me a teasing glimpse of the tight, round swells. I swear, I had to stop myself from copping a feel. My hands itched to grab and squeeze them, maybe even spank them. She also wore a scoop neck blouse that gave me a little peek of her cleavage. I think she caught me staring at her a few times, and my cheeks burned like hell as I tried to quickly look away, only to be caught again!
On the line for the third ride, she leaned into my ear. "It's okay if you look, you know," she purred with that gray silk voice that made me tingle all over. Eyes twinkling, the groove on her cheek deepened. "I like it when you do. You can check me out all you want."
Actually, it was more like I wanted to undress her, and not just with my eyes, and then feel her up while I was at it. Down, hormones! Good lord...
"I don't ever remember seeing you this relaxed," I said, wrapping my arms around her waist. "So carefree."
Her mouth quirked. "Maybe I just needed to scream some."
I bet I could make you scream lots, I almost quipped. I giggled instead and pecked her nose. "I guess so. I like this look on you. I love seeing you smile." Which she did just then, and it made my heart flutter.
I'd never seen her smile this much. Ever. And... she teased me! That was new. I mean, it was different from before. She was mostly sarcastic and wry, but this time she was playful and sassy, and she even flirted with me! And... she touched me. It was kind of subtle and sensual, like when she would place her hand on my waist or my hip or the small of my back, brushing her fingers above my clothes, sometimes squeezing lightly. I felt it like a caress, as if she was touching my skin directly. Whenever she stroked my hand, it reminded me of when she'd kissed it at the restaurant. She was driving me mad and kept me humming with desire.
I found myself fantasizing about doing things like dragging Ivy into some secluded corner, pinning her against the wall, kissing her like crazy, and mussing her hair and clothes till we both forgot about everything else. Alas, I wasn't that daring… yet.
Jesus, I have the hots for my house (church) mate. I really had it bad. Will I ever get used to this newfound craving? Somehow, opening myself to love also opened the floodgates that held back a roaring rapid of hormones. Or a tsunami wall at this rate.
Luckily, the roller coaster rides helped to take the edge off. I lived for moments like this, for the thrill of anticipation, simultaneously knowing what was ahead yet not knowing how truly scary it was until that first steep drop. As the car suddenly plunged, I screamed, surrendering to the moment. I let the excitement consume me. The rush of air exhilarated me as we were propelled along more steep slopes, the accompanying drops taking my breath away, followed by twists and turns that were loopier than Newt's brain.
Still, at the end of it all I would still really rather ride Ivy.
Gah! Stop it, witch!
I mentally slapped myself. She had to have smelled how I was feeling the entire time, oh she of the all-knowing olfactory glands. For Ivy not to jump me must really mean that she'd gotten better control of her libido and instincts, and I wasn't sure whether to be relieved or disappointed about that. Seriously, had I really been this pent up with lust for Ivy or what? Where was a shower stall when I needed one? Maybe I should get a bucket of popcorn, empty the damn thing, fill it with ice and then dump it all over me! Or I could hop into one of the giant fountains and jump around like a madwoman, but that would ruin Ivy's leather jacket and my vamp made boots, not to mention make my hair all frizzy. Just the thought of Ivy's leather jacket hugging me and the knowledge that our scents were mixing even more now, marking me, made me flush even more with heat.
I blinked with a start when that silky voice I loved permeated my lust-addled brain. I glanced up at Ivy, feeling sheepish, and found a ghost of a smile on her face.
"Care to play some games?" my vampire asked.
Apparently we were now standing near some booths and the arcade. Perfect! I wouldn't mind kicking her ass before I kiss it, ha. "Sure," I replied, welcoming the distraction. "Which one?"
"How about a shooting game?" Ivy's mouth quirked. "Let's see if carrying your splat gun around has actually made a difference with your aim."
"Psshh! Prepare to be astounded by my brilliant marksmanship."
"Wow, you actually think you have a chance against me?" It wasn't really a question, and Ivy's raised eyebrow said as much, which made me cock a hip to the side and place a hand on top of it.
"Hey, I happen to be very good with my splat gun!"
Ivy snorted. "If you say so." She laughed at my ineffectual attempt to whack her on the arm. "What will I get when I win?"
"Excuse me? You're pretty damn sure of yourself."
"You know I'm right." Ivy chuckled in that self-assured way that used to irritate me and made me want to sass her to annoy her right back. Nowadays it still made me want to sass her, but now we were play fighting, and I had to admit that it was a lot more fun.
"As if. Okay, how about—" An idea formed in my mind. I declared coyly, "Winner gets breakfast in bed for a week."
"In bed, huh?" Ivy's brow arched. "You're on."
"Ready?" I asked as Rachel and I both reached for a gun and aimed. I glanced at her from the corner of my eye. She looked so serious, like she was at a shooting range. She looked so cute concentrating like that, but I doubt it would really help. We both knew that I'm the better sharpshooter.
"Bring it, Fang Girl."
Soon, shots exploded… on zombies. It was ridiculous, really, that humans were afraid of zombies, which weren't real. They really ought to be more afraid of the undead or a great many other Inderlanders that did exist. The notion of a zombie apocalypse was absurd. I once asked Matthew what the big deal was. He said perhaps humans expected to become zombies when the Turn occurred. Ah, best not to think about the guy whose heart I'd left broken...
The first level was slow and instructional, so Miss Antsy Pants, next to me, kept sighing.
"Can't we skip this part?" Rachel whined. "What else is there to know other than point and shoot?"
I chuckled. Typical. "Some of us actually like rules."
"I'd roll my eyes at you, but I might lose track of the zombies on my screen. Oh golly gee, look, more instructions." So my witch made a show of rolling her eyes at me. I just chuckled some more.
Zombies came at us one at a time, lurking in the shadows before jumping out of nowhere to charge at us, arms raised and fingers clawing menacingly. Rachel fired constantly, reloading often, whereas I took my time, my aim measured and precise. Naturally I hit all targets perfectly... until hoards began to attack from every corner on the next level and rushed at us from all directions. Damn, Rachel's mode of attack actually worked to her advantage this time, which I confirmed when I took a quick peek on her screen, where more and more groups of zombies perished.
In a real life situation (if zombies were even real), I would have started kicking and elbowing them aside, grabbed some object to bash them around with, and my vampire speed would ensure they would never even touch me. Alas, this was not real life, so I was rather dismayed to suddenly find my screen getting smashed and spattered with my game character's blood as the zombies clawed and gnashed their rotten teeth. Rachel snickered next to me, which made me frown in ire because soon enough the fourth round ended. I gaped in shock when the screen flashed our scores.
"Ha!" Rachel burst with glee, and perhaps more than a healthy dose of smugness. She turned to me, toy gun pointed upward, and blew imaginary smoke with a cheeky grin.
"Getting cocky, aren't we?" I said, feeling my brow arch upward.
Rachel dusted off her shoulder. "Well, what can I say? I don't carry splat guns for nothin'."
I snorted. I shook my head even as I smiled at her. "Enjoy your little victory now. I won't be so easy on you from here on."
The next round commenced, which involved using sniper rifles while crouching over rooftops. This time it was my turn to snicker. Naturally, I took out every target with ease, gaining more points, and I wouldn't be surprised if Rachel was only ahead by a slim margin now.
"Ha, take that!" Rachel laughed maniacally all of a sudden.
Apparently she found some grenades stashed in random places, and she seemed to be finding them faster than I did judging from the whistling sounds she made, the kind that reminded me of firecrackers launching up into the sky, followed by her rendition of explosions as she took out clusters of zombies. If I wasn't losing, I'd probably find it funny, maybe even cute.
"That's ridiculous!" I huffed. "Who puts grenades on the roof?"
"Aww, is the vampire bitter 'cause she didn't find any?" she cooed.
"Whatever," I said irritably, only to earn giggles. "That's just pure, dumb luck."
"If you say so."
After several more rounds, we finally ran out of coins and our characters finally died. The screen flashed our final scores. Rachel screamed in victory, doing a merry little jig in place.
"What?" I gaped at the screen. Unbelievable.
"Suck it up, Tamwood."
I rolled my eyes, depositing the toy gun back in place, albeit with a little more force than was really necessary. I crossed my arms and turned to face a beaming redhead, who at any other time I'd secretly fawn over. Instead, I sent her a dry stare. "See, if my character had been a vampire, clearly you would have lost to vamp speed and strength, not to mention I'd level up considerably as an undead."
"So? If mine had been a witch, I'd have used my circle to deflect them and then blasted them with ley line energy. So there." Rachel stuck her tongue out at me, then smiled. "Just face it. You owe me breakfast in bed all week. Preferably wearing an apron. That means you'll need to get up early."
Now, a part of me was actually rejoicing because my loss gave me an excuse to pamper her. I would love to see her reaction, whether she waited in her bed or mine, preferably naked, or at least wearing something skimpy. Unfortunately, this took a back seat since the competitor in me just would not let it drop. "Let's make it two out of three."
Rachel laughed. "Such a sore loser, aren't we?"
"Bet you can't beat me at the next game."
"I guess I'll humor you," she said wryly. "I don't want your ego bruising too much and ruining our date."
That last word made me smile. My ire lessened considerably. I couldn't help being competitive anymore than Rachel could, and this situation reminded me of the good old days when we used to be I.S. partners and bickered all the time. I missed those times when Rachel smiled more and sassed at me, even as I chewed her out for not following protocol. As annoying as she was, I grew to love her for her independence and boldness. She was impetuous and predictably unpredictable, but she got the job done. Thanks to Denon, our runs were often perilous and dicey. So despite all my careful planning, in the end a run sometimes called for more... creative measures, and it was during those moments that I grew to appreciate, even admire, Rachel all the more.
Thanks to her, I began to allow myself to leave things to chance sometimes (it's still hard, but I'm still learning), to live in the moment and let situations unfold and take their natural course. Our runs taught me that it was okay to unleash myself and let my instincts take over, and it didn't have to be the biting, vicious kind. I'd always associated my instincts with my vampiric predisposition for savagery, something I was certainly capable of and therefore ashamed of thanks to Piscary. I learned that instincts could also be about talent and aptitude, things I knew I had in spades, and I learned to believe in myself more, which helped me succeed in abstaining from blood.
Rachel accepted me for me, even if what she saw was someone impatient and overbearing. She still treated me as a friend, a comrade, and most importantly, Rachel trusted me, made me feel, no, believe that I was capable of great things, of being a good person who could help others.
I had always wondered what it was about Rachel that made me want to prove myself, that made me want to protect her and (in some cases to show her the error of her ways) to save her. Yet the answer had been there all along. I wanted someone kind and giving, who made me feel alive and believe that life was worth living and fighting for. I hated how those reasons could lead to codependence. I wanted Rachel to want me, truly love me, for the kind of person that she made me feel. Now that Rachel loved me back, I would nurture that love, stoke the fire and keep it burning.
"Okay." Rachel's voice brought me back to the present. "Since I won, I get to pick the next game."
"No way. It's my turn now."
"You got to pick the first one."
I shrugged. "I only made a suggestion."
"Whatever. Let's do this." Rachel stuck out her fist.
I stared at it blankly. "What?"
"Rock-paper-scissors. Winner gets to decide the next game."
Seriously? "Or we can flip a coin."
"But this is more fun." Rachel looked at me expectantly. "Come on!"
A few minutes later...
"Ha, I win!" I proclaimed. "I say we play Go-Kart Racing."
Rachel groaned. "Swell."
Zipping up Ivy's jacket on my chest, I sat on my go-kart, sour faced and wishing I was elsewhere. It was bad enough that I had to wear a helmet smelling of stale sweat from a multitude of strangers. Gross! Ivy was a speed demon, and though these weren't real racecars, she would undoubtedly drive as if they actually were. Hell, they even looked like miniature Formula 1 racecars.
Next to me, Ivy gleefully revved the engine on her go-kart, beaming cheekily, looking as if the smelly helmets didn't bother her one bit. I didn't want to give the vampire any premature ideas about victory, but I knew that Ivy's chances were pretty high since this was a crazy ride and she was a crazy driver. Regardless, I refused to go down without a fight. Oh hell no!
The ride attendant stopped by to check our seat belts to make sure they were all fastened securely. Ivy growled at him when he reached for my seatbelt straps. His eyes bulged upon seeing her glaring at him. He quickly went through the motions and moved on to the next person.
I rolled my eyes. Every damn time, I thought, remembering the rides we were on earlier. "Will you lighten up?" I told Ivy. "The guy was just doing his job."
"Yeah, but he didn't have to look all lecherous about it." Ivy shot the guy one more dirty look for good measure. "He could have fondled you."
I sighed, not because I didn't really have much to fondle on my chest, although that was irritating in itself, but because I really shouldn't have been surprised. Ivy had always been territorial, and it was worse now that we're a couple. She was actually vocal about it this time, going as far as hissing and baring her teeth sometimes when possessiveness reared its ugly head. I'll have to chastise her later about that.
At the starting line Seat Belt Guy waved a black and white, checkered flag. "On your mark," he shouted as he walked towards the curb. "Get set." Engines revved. "Go!" And it was on.
Naturally, Ivy quickly maneuvered around our competition to the inside curves of the racetrack. Earlier she said that the motors sounded like older motorcycle engines, which undoubtedly spurred her on to go as fast as she could make it, despite the many twists and turns.
The go-kart was stiff and the steering wheel was heavy, but it actually moved faster than I expected. I charged on, passing by casual drivers (you'd think they were taking a scenic tour), but there were others who were rather competitive. A few even bumped me and started to get a little nasty, and I was tempted to take off my silver bracelet just to zap them silly.
"Jackass," I yelled, though they probably didn't hear me.
Ivy was now ahead of the pack, and I was somewhat relieved that the nasty drivers overtook me to catch up to her. One such driver bumped Ivy's go-kart from behind and I could have sworn that, after the third time, Ivy's aura came out. She didn't do anything particularly hostile as that would earn an instant disqualification, but it was menacing enough to get others to back off. Seeing my opportunity, I floored it and passed the frightened drivers, tempted to stick my tongue out at them, maybe even give them the finger, but I didn't bother. I had a vamp to catch for a week's worth of breakfast in bed, baby!
At last it was the final lap, with Ivy and me at the lead. Just when I thought I was getting ahead, the track curved sharply. I lost momentum as I swerved to compensate. I let go of the gas pedal, afraid to roll over with the go-kart. Ivy's skidded as she turned, the rubber wheels screeching, totally at ease. As soon as the track straightened, I stomped on the gas pedal with renewed determination. I could have sworn that Ivy slowed down a bit because as I approached her side, Ivy flashed a toothy smile, then suddenly she stormed ahead, leading by a few feet and crossing the finish line in first place.
"You know, that was practically a freebie," Ivy told me later on as she took off her helmet. "I'm not sure if I can accept this as a real victory."
"Psshh, whatever!" I shoved my pathetic excuse of a helmet at Seat Belt Guy, whose eyes bulged as he staggered back.
Ivy snickered at him. She smoothed back her hair, turning to me. "It's a tie, then. What shall we do for a tiebreaker?"
I stuck my fist out at her and looked expectantly, but she just rolled her eyes. Alas, after a few rounds...
"Yeahhh!" I pumped my fist. "My turn."
"This is stupid." Ivy huffed, arms crossed. "How can paper beat rock?"
"Hey, I didn't make the rules. Besides, I thought you liked rules."
"Of course, but that doesn't even make any sense!" She exhaled sharply. "Scissors beating paper makes complete sense, and a huge rock can crush a pair of scissors, sure. But paper beats rock? That's preposterous!"
I could tell her I agreed, but she looked so adorable standing there, pouting and as close to whining as she could get. I'd never seen her like this... and I liked it. Technically, she had yelled at me numerous times, but this time it was different somehow. One thing was for sure: I enjoyed getting her riled up. It secretly thrilled me that I could get to her this much. I just wanted to hug her and squeeze her to bits. Instead, I retorted wryly, "Everyone knows that paper wraps around rock."
"That's like saying an umbrella can ward off an avalanche." Ivy's waved her hands around in exasperation. "And... and rock can pierce through paper!"
"Whatever." I smiled. "Just face it, honey, you lost."
"Humph!" Ivy crossed her arms and looked away, muttering, "Stupid game with stupid rules." She sighed heavily. "What do you want to do for a tiebreaker then?"
I tried not to laugh, I really did. I coughed a bit to stop myself from giggling, which earned a suspicious glance from Ivy. "I haven't decided yet. Whatever it is, no using vampire super powers."
"You know, no going 'Selene' on me."
"From Underworld. Vamp in skintight latex?" I grinned mischievously, hooking my fingers into Ivy's belt hoops and pulling her close, purring. "You know, she reminds me of you actually: über hot, sexy, cool and collected." My hands snaked up Ivy's sides and around her neck. "Strong, fast and deadly."
Ivy blinked a couple times, then gave me a lopsided grin. "You think I'm über hot?"
"Mm-hmm." I squeezed her for emphasis. "You'd make a habanero pepper jealous."
"Mmm." Purring, Ivy leaned down and kissed me languorously, her arms wrapping around my waist. Still, her mind filtered through the praises back to our previous topic. "So you think I'd go 'Selene' on you and cheat?"
"I'm just saying." I leaned in for another kiss, but Ivy pulled back with a frown.
"How do I know you won't use magic?"
"Helloooo." I lifted my wrist and jangled the silver bracelet. "Magically neutered, remember?"
"For all I know you have some spells tucked away under your shirt."
"Hmm, wouldn't you like to know?" I fingered my charm necklace. Ivy's eyes tracked its slow descent from my collarbone to the edge of my blouse. The rest of the necklace was hidden beneath it. Her pupils dilated till they were darker than the midnight sky. Her head darted up at the sound of my throaty chuckle.
It still blows my mind to have such power over Ivy like this. I knew that somehow I always had it, but it was another thing to use it. I realized at some point that when Ivy's eyes turned black, it was due to some powerful emotion she couldn't hide, just as I couldn't hide the scent of my emotions. I supposed we were even; if Ivy could smell my desire, then it was only fair that I could at least see it reflected in her eyes.
Oh, the fun we can have.
Unable to contain the grin threatening to split my face, I let it loose, then started walking backwards, tugging on Ivy's hand. "Come on. Let's find us a tiebreaker."
Ivy dragged me over to play Ball and Bucket Toss. I didn't bother to play. Everyone knew that blasted game was rigged, but she was so determined to impress me with her skills, I guess.
"Hey, the ball keeps bouncing out," Ivy told Booth Boy.
"You ass," she spat. "I said it bounced out. Which means it went in."
Crap, she started pulling an aura on Booth Boy, who looked like he was about to pee in his pants. He was a short little human staring up at about six feet of angry vampire. He practically shoved a teddy bear at her.
"You didn't have to pull an aura on him, you know." Just like everyone else, he was just doing his job. Then again, if he had to get a part time job somewhere, why get one that would piss off customers?
"It was rigged!"
"Hey!" she groused. "I thought I could beat the system."
"Well, it's the thought that counts, I guess." I giggled when she stuck her tongue out at me. I stroked the teddy bear. "I'd never been one for dolls or stuffed animals. They remind me of hospitals as a sickly child, but coming from you, it's okay."
Her face softened. "Really?"
I nodded. It was pretty sweet really, and it was prime material I could use to tease her with later.
Next we approached Ring The Bell where yet another human braved the park. Though he looked like a professional wrestler, he couldn't hit the bell with the mallet if his life depended on it.
"Sorry, sir," said the game attendant, this time a were, "but you might want to try the human version over there."
Macho Wrestler fumed, but the game attendant had a point. This one was catered to Inderlanders who were far stronger, and hence it would be harder to ring the bell.
Ivy paid the were, who leered at her. At that moment, I realized that perhaps Ivy was justified when she had practically snarled at Seat Belt Guy and the ride attendants earlier. I didn't consider myself as the jealous girlfriend type, but for some reason the way the were was openly ogling Ivy really rubbed me the wrong way. To her credit, Ivy didn't seem to notice, or if she did, she paid him no mind.
Ivy grabbed the large mallet and, after throwing me a cocky yet sultry grin, she heaved the mallet in an arching motion and struck the pivot board. Without fail, the indicator shot up and hit the bell hard. Behind me, Macho Wrestler cursed, unable to believe that a delicate looking woman like Ivy could beat him at this game.
If he only knew, I thought smugly.
Although Ivy may look "delicate" with her long, lithe body—a model's body, but athletic and fit, toned and supple with just enough muscle definition—she was very strong. So yummy. I had to admit that besides appreciating the sensual way she moved, Ivy's displays of strength thrilled me.
"Mmm, my mighty warrior princess," I greeted her with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
Laughing, Ivy gestured at the prizes. "What spoils wouldst thou like, my fair lady?"
"Hmm. I'll take the Bite Me Betty doll."
"Aha! Now this is it. This is our tiebreaker."
My eyes followed Rachel's hand as she pointed to a large arching metal structure that rose up to about 17 to 20 stories high. It was essentially a colossal swing for thrill seekers like her. It had two "swings", each accommodating one to two people, swinging up and down like giant pendulums.
"Okay, here's the deal," Rachel said. "We both keep our hands up in the air. First one to take them down loses. First one to scream loses."
I looked skyward in doubt. I also liked excitement (who didn't?), but I also liked being in control. I had no problem whatsoever going at insane speeds on my bike, whizzing and needling through traffic as if it was a game. Was it dangerous? If you weren't careful. Thrilling? Absolutely. But at least I had control of my bike. I knew its limits as much as what it was capable of. If I was about to crash into something, I could always let go of handlebar and jump off if necessary, but this?
This involved being willingly trapped, just like with the roller coaster rides we'd been on, although those had large metal harnesses that strapped you down instead. I'd felt like sheep. At least sheep got to graze in a calm, quiet meadow. Thankfully I wasn't sheep in a massive herd of people waiting in line for at least an hour to get trapped in some stupid ride. I'd seen people get stuck on a roller coaster, sometimes upside down on a looping rail, and they would hang helplessly, waiting for someone to rescue them. I wouldn't be surprised if some vampire got sued for breaking off a metal harness to get free, only to counter-sue for negligence.
"What's wrong?" Rachel asked.
"Nothing," I replied a little too quickly.
Rachel frowned in concern. "You look really tense."
It was no use for me to pretend. Rachel may not be able to smell emotions, but she could sense when I was troubled. "I don't like this. There are a number of ways this could go wrong." I narrowed my eyes at Rachel suspiciously. Her face was twitching, and I had a feeling that she was trying not to laugh at me.
"The people earlier were fine," she said casually. "We'll be fine, don't worry."
I stared at the riders once more. They were screaming like crazy, but they did look like they were having fun. Still...
"Unless of course you want to back out," Rachel added, making my head dart back to her, "and declare me the winner by default."
"What? No! I was just... assessing potential hazards."
"Right," Rachel replied dryly. Then she smiled a little too sweetly. "If it makes you feel better, we can ask for the blueprints and schematics for this thing."
"Hey!" I glowered at her, pouting.
Rachel burst out laughing. Before I could fire a retort, she grabbed my hand and pulled. "Just saying. Now come on!"
Moments later, they had wrapped us in a cocoon-like harness with nothing for us to hold onto. The harness was tethered to two metal cables: one connected to the arch, while the other began to tow us backward to the summit. Soon we were lying parallel with the ground, which was quickly disappearing as we were lifted into the sky. My heart rate sped up, as did Rachel's, only hers was due to excitement and anticipation, whereas my heart pounded with trepidation. I squeezed Rachel's hand, which squeezed mine back.
At last we reached the summit with only each other for company, our arms and feet dangling in the air, the harness suspended by the two cables. The people below looked like ants; some were staring up at us, waiting to see our reactions. It was quiet but for the sound of the breeze and my heartbeat thundering in my ears. I repressed a shudder.
"Relax," Rachel told me in a soothing voice. "It'll be over before you know it."
"I just don't like being wrapped up like this."
Rachel caressed my hand with her thumb. "Pretend we're hang gliding or skydiving with parachutes."
I glanced at her, trying to look cool and collected like Selene indeed. "At least with those you actually have control. We have no control."
"Sure we do. See, I just have to pull this cord here and we're off." Rachel squeezed my hand once more. "Ready?"
I closed my eyes and took a deep, calming breath. "Alright. Let's do this."
"Okay, arms up. Here we go!" I felt a tug as Rachel pulled. "Uh oh."
My eyes shot wide open. "What do you mean, 'uh oh'?"
"I'm not too sure, but..." Her voice sounded strained. "I think we're stuck."
Neither of us said anything after that. All we heard was the sound of the breeze. But not for long.
"What?" Did I just squeak? My eyes widened like saucers.
"The, uh, the release cord thingy won't budge." The harness jerked as Rachel continued to tug at it.
"You're kidding me!" This can't be happening. What the hell!
"I'm serious. Just... relax. Maybe it just takes a while to—"
"Where is it?" I snapped at her.
"On my side," Rachel snapped right back. "Jeez, hold on for a sec."
"Why don't I just pull it myself?"
"I can do this," she said with a sharp exhale. "Just... hang in there."
I tried not to panic, I really did. Okay, think, Tamwood. Think! I closed my eyes and tried to assess our options. I could try yelling and hope that another Inderlander with sensitive hearing would pick up and come to our rescue, but then I would never be able to live that down. I could tear open the harness that enveloped our bodies, but then we would fall to the ground. I felt a little shaky, but in the calmest tone I could muster, I asked, "Does your circle work in mid-air or do we need to have contact with the ground?"
"I dunno. I've never tried." Rachel paused for a second, then resumed tugging on the release cord. "It's okay, just give me a minute."
"For crying out loud, Rachel, will you just give it to meeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!"
We plummeted, as if we were suddenly pushed off from the 17th floor, freefalling at possibly 60 miles per hour. I felt like my heart dropped to my stomach and my chest was going to burst from the pressure. The ground kept coming closer and closer. I squeezed my eyes shut, still screaming. I opened them again just in time to see us skimming just six feet above the ground before we soared upward in an arc. Once we reached the peak, we started freefalling again, only backwards this time. My stomach lurched and I screamed again.
"Wooooooooo!" Rachel howled, then suddenly she was giggling uncontrollably. She brought our clasped hands up. "I'm flyiiiiiiiing! We're flying, Ivy! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"
"You witch! You did that on purpose!" I railed at Rachel after we left that blasted ride. "What if that was a real emergency? You could have died! At least I'd be undead."
Rachel just kept laughing. She'd been laughing since we'd landed and I'd started ranting at the ride attendants about their failed safety inspection. Before I could chew her out some more, Rachel kissed me passionately. I melted instantly, surrendering to the kiss, to the arms that enveloped me. So what if we were giving a free show?
"I'm sorry," Rachel whispered against my cheek, her arms around my neck. "It was just a little prank. I didn't mean to upset you. If it had been a real emergency, I would have yanked off the bracelet and protected you, us. I would never let you get hurt."
For a moment I forgot my ire, loving the fact that Rachel was holding me close with no qualms.
Until Rachel started talking again.
"Still, I guess this means I win, though."
I jerked backward. "But you cheated! You said no cheating!"
"I said no using super powers."
She laughed at me again when I pouted and scowled. Great. She was really ticking me off. My face was burning, and it was probably as red as a tomato. I wouldn't be surprised if steam was coming out of my ears.
"Aww, don't be like that," she tried to pull me closer, but I refused to budge. "I was just trying to break the tension up there. You were so nervous."
"I was not," I sulked. "I was worried about things going wrong."
"You were freaking out."
"Because I thought there was something wrong!"
Rachel winced at my outburst. I looked away, mortified that I was throwing a tantrum in public. She drew my chin to face her and then pulled my head down for another kiss, gently this time. I was unmoving at first, knowing that Rachel was trying to get out of trouble the easy way, but then I realized that there was no point in resisting. I craved her touch, her lips, and her warmth too much. I sighed in surrender.
With one last smooch, Rachel pulled back, smiling as she cradled my face. "I really just wanted to see you in an apron." She said that placatingly, but the way her eyes slowly traveled down my body told me she probably preferred that I wore nothing else underneath. I shivered. Then she looked back up at me with puppy dog eyes. "Can you blame me?"
It was a good thing that I was a quick thinker. Rachel may have won the battle, but the war wasn't over yet. So I played along. I squeezed her waist, mumbling, "I guess I can't, but you're going to have to make it up to me."
"Oh?" Rachel's brows arched. "How?"
"Hmm." I tilted my head in contemplation. The possibilities were endless. I needed a plan, and I needed some time to mull it over so I can exact my revenge flawlessly. I flashed a toothy grin at Rachel, which, to my delight, garnered a sharp intake of breath. It was amazing how Rachel reacted to the sight of my fangs. I loved how much it turned her on, and of course I planned to exploit it in the (hopefully) near future. "I think I'll save it and claim it at a time of my choosing."
I raised my brow at her, effectively shutting her up. Rachel once told me that my brows seemed to have a mind of their own, that somehow they spoke volumes about what I thought or felt. If that was the case, then this one just told Rachel that there was no room for argument.
"Don't worry. I promise you'll enjoy it," I said in a way that made her breath hitch and her pupils dilate. Winking, I turned slowly and sauntered away, leaving a gaping Rachel in my wake.
Rachel and I had dinner at a little after midnight at the food court. Not exactly the most romantic or appetizing place to eat, but we were famished and it was right there. I was about to pay the cashier when Rachel elbowed me aside lightly.
"You've already spent enough tonight, Ivy. Allow me."
"It's okay, don't worry about it. I'll get this."
"No. I'll get it." Rachel took out her wallet.
"You can make me dinner. How's that?"
"You took me to lunch. I'm getting this and that's final."
I couldn't just let her. It was ridiculously expensive for non-gourmet food. I was about to object again, but between her unyielding stare and the cashier's mutterings, plus the hungry mob looming behind us, I started to waver.
"Ivy, don't make me take off my bracelet on you," Rachel said, brows raised and hip cocked to the side.
My tummy growled just then. "Oh, alright. Just this once."
The food was... edible, but otherwise filling. The redhead next to me looked far tastier, but food was food. There's always... dessert. Mmm, I hope so!
We stopped by the gift shops. I got us a couple of coffee mugs to commemorate the occasion. Rachel got a cute little red gemstone for the Bite Me Betty doll. She said it reminded her of me, her eyes twinkling as she glanced at my navel, which sent heat racing to that very spot underneath my shirt. She pinned it on the spot where there would have been a belly button, then winked at me. I turned into mush, all giddy inside because my witchy love apparently had a thing for my belly button ring.
We stopped by a photo booth and made silly poses. She kissed me on the cheek on one of them, and next thing I knew we were making out while the camera flashed.
Holding hands on the way back to the park entrance, Rachel looked up at the gondolas floating above, which glided smoothly from one side of the park to the entrance. She squeezed my hand gently and smiled up at me.
"Hey Ivy, let's ride a gondola. My feet could use a break."
"Sure," I replied. Finally, a ride that was calm and quiet and had no harnesses.
The gondola was shaped like one of those old fashioned carriages, only instead of being pulled by horses, it dangled from steel cables that gently carried it in a linear path high above ground, giving riders a peaceful passage and a view of the amusement park and neighboring cities.
"What are you doing over there?" Rachel asked, staring at me since I was sitting on the opposite seat. She patted the spot next to her. "Sit here with me."
Grinning, I carefully made my way over to do just that. "Don't mind if I do." I settled into her open arms. "I really like this side of you."
"Playful and affectionate."
"Mmm. What can I say?" She squeezed me. "I like holding you."
I wasn't completely surprised. For as long as I could remember, even when we used to be I.S. partners, she had always been the touchy-feely type. Normally I didn't just let anyone touch me unless I was game for seduction, but I always welcomed her touch. More often than not they were casual touches, or she'd lightly squeeze my hand or my arm. There were times when she'd brushed my hair back behind my ear. At other times she was simply being sweet and gregarious. And she liked to ride with me on my bike, her chest rubbing against my back as she held me. It was pure torture, and it drove me crazy for years.
On our first I.S. run she'd even pretended that we were lovers on a date so we could get past the sleazy bouncer and into a nightclub frequented by weres. She had unbuttoned her blouse till her bra was showing, then she'd clung to my arm, her breasts rubbing against me. He'd let us in all right. She didn't let go right away or button up, and for a moment I wasn't sure if we were still pretending. It didn't stop there. She pulled the same trick a few more times at bars, clubs or otherwise since it worked pretty well for us. It was intoxicating. It fanned the flames of lust for years to come.
"I've missed this," I murmured. "You used to touch me more… Till that first night at the church."
Rachel tensed. It all came to a crashing halt that night. "I'm sorry about that. I didn't know—"
"It's okay. I get it. I'm sorry, too. I could barely control myself back then." She'd been sending me mixed signals. Worse, she wasn't even conscious of doing them. I had to give her the vampire dating guide for chrissakes. I held her closer to me and kissed her temple. "You make me lose control."
She giggled, then settled further into me.
I dared to dream that one day she would touch me again without reservation as if it was the most natural thing in the world, the way she used to, but I also hoped she would touch me because she was sending me signals—big flashing ones that said, "Come and get me, tiger!"
Since yesterday she had begun to open herself up to me that way again. Though if I really thought about it, she seemed to have opened up earlier than that, even if she was hesitant and it was random. I should have noticed sooner, but I just didn't want to be disappointed by believing in something that seemed surreal. Hell, she'd let me kiss her—really kiss her—in San Francisco, and boy, did that leave me dizzy.
God, how I craved her. If I hadn't been tired from a run when I got home, and if I hadn't bawled till my energy was sapped, I'd have gotten into a lot of trouble with her in my bed. Which was why I had decided to take the bike, and she responded gloriously. I basked in it, the way she clung to my hand or my arm, or simply pressed against my body. And this entire time, I could smell her desire, stronger than they had ever been now that she had acknowledged her attraction to me. It flowed and ebbed from her in gentle waves, haunting me, sometimes rising like a tide and crashing into shore, only to recede back into an ocean of yearning and tempt me all over again. I smelled it even now, felt it bubbling and fizzing. It was all I could do not to dive in, to grab her and have my way with her, in public no less.
"How long is this ride?" Rachel asked, her head leaning on my shoulder.
"I don't know," I replied huskily. "Maybe ten minutes?"
Rachel gave me her best innocent and forlorn expression. "Golly gee, Miss Tamwood. Whatever shall we do for ten minutes?"
"How about..." I let the last word hang as I glanced at the ceiling and tapped my chin as if thinking hard about our options. "Thumb wrestling?"
She grinned coquettishly. "Orrr some tongue wrestling."
I brightened at that. When it rains, it pours! The signals I longed for couldn't be any clearer now. Halleluiah!
Grinning, we leaned into each other slowly till our lips finally touched. I was thankful for the relative seclusion. At last we could finally kiss each other the way we'd obviously been wanting to throughout the night, languorously at first, till our tongues started battling for dominance.
I squeezed Rachel's waist and she moaned, the sound inflaming the passion I had long denied. Her arms wrapped tightly around my back. Her lips were so soft, and she tasted like sunshine and flowers freshly blooming in the spring. Her scent, which had been mixing with mine, was even stronger now. It made me quake inside, and the beast that rattled its cage purred in anticipation, biding its time till that moment it could pounce with abandon.
Soon, our positions were getting awkward, so I grabbed Rachel's waist and deposited her on my lap. The gondola teetered a little. She made a surprised but delighted sound, especially when she found herself straddling my legs.
"God, you're so hot." She beamed at me then swooped down to claim my lips once more with a fire that blazed through me.
"Mmph," I moaned into her mouth, thrilled at the feel of our breasts mashing together.
Tiger, tiger, burning bright, I thought deliriously. It would be a miracle if we ever made it out of here at this rate. Seriously, this was undoubtedly the best ride of the day. Although I would argue that the best ride ever was yet to come.
I had a lot of fun writing this chap. =] I bumped the rating to M for language and… well, you'll see. ;)
Please do leave a review. It's very encouraging and sometimes quite insightful. Your thoughts are a gift I gladly welcome. So in return I'll leave you a treat to show my appreciation. =] (If you're anonymous, sadly, I'm unable to reply directly to you to leave something before the next chap.) Some reviews/reviewers inspire me to write a spontaneous little scene catered just for you.