"Is everyone ready to face the music?" Stevie Rae questioned.
Aphrodite snorted. "Hardly. Thanatos isn't a choir teacher."
"I kinda like that saying," Z said, grinning at her. "It's like we're about to dance with Darkness."
"Well, Darkness isn't exactly a Broadway dancer," Nicole pointed out. "It's badass, but in a bad way."
"Darkness is certainly a force to be reckoned with," Rephaim agreed softly. "I know from personal experience."
Kalona and Thanatos strode into the exit room. Thanatos had a cute little cup of Starbucks' coffee in her hand, with an awesome dress from Little Black Dress. Her hair shined as though she'd washed it, and redone it. It wasn't in its usual simple waterfall down her back; it was curled tightly, and looked actually very beautiful on her. "Let's get going," she said. "We have times that need to be made."
"Don't need to tell me twice," Aphrodite said, smiling. "This place looks like two versions of terrible. I can't wait to do some renovating. Or at least have someone else do some renovating."
"I agree," Shaylin agreed. "It's like Gotham City down here."
"Grandma just texted me and said she's at Street Cats," Zoey said.
"Okay," Thanatos replied. "Zoey, you and Stevie Rae and your Warriors may leave. Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again."
"Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again," she and Stevie Rae repeated. Z turned around and looked awkwardly between Aurox and Stark, then threaded her fingers through Stark's and wrapped her arm around Aurox's shoulder, deciding on both of them. Stevie Rae knew she was torn between Aurox and Stark- to the point of pain. Personally, she wanted Zoey to choose Stark, just 'cause Z and her Warrior fit together like puzzle pieces. But she would've said Heath if Heath had still been alive. This was all really confusing.
She decided not to get involved in Zoey's business. That was something that the Fledgling High Priestess would have to handle on her own. She had her own problems to worry about- and one of those problems was learning how to be a proper High Priestess to her red fledgling family.
She knew she'd been chosen as the red vampyre High Priestess, but she also knew that she was the first. There had never been any other High Priestesses like her. She was original, as her mom would have said. What went along with that title was what she had to figure out.
She brushed the hair from her eyes as Rephaim threaded his fingers through hers. She hadn't completely forgotten he was there, but it had been so easy to get caught up in the pattern her thoughts had taken that it wasn't hard to let her mind drift. "What are you thinking about?" he asked.
"Nothin' much," she sighed. "Just all this High Priestess stuff. It's kinda irritating."
"Well, you have me, of course." He grinned at her as they walked to Zoey's Bug. "I'm here for you."
"I know I have you," she reassured him, smiling back. "You're the only thing keepin' me sane."
"Sanity is valued around here," he agreed.
"Very." Stevie Rae climbed into the car and sat across from Stark and Rephaim, who was grinning in a very attractive way. It made her want to grin along with him. Just his presence could bring her mood up.
Zoey drove the car through the city, determined to reach their destination. They finally parked when they reached the parking lot of Street Cats. Stark looked pissed, as if he wanted to choke someone. Not Aurox- his anger couldn't be directed at Aurox; the two were friends. His anger seemed to be directed at Zoey.
They reached the inside of the building, and walked to the reception desk. "Hello," Z said. "Can we talk to Sister Mary Angela?"
"Right this way, please," the nun ordered in a commanding voice, standing up and turning around, her wimple almost jerking with the motion. Stevie Rae bit her lip to keep from laughing but followed the rest of the gang and the nun.
The nun led her down a long hallway full of cats, cats, and more cats. Stevie Rae thought she was going to be driven nuts. It wasn't that she didn't like cats, it was just that she was sick of seeing them everywhere. When they finally reached Sister Mary Angela's office, Stevie Rae thought she was going to gag.
They strode in with determined strides. Sister Mary Angela was sitting at her desk. She looked the same as Stevie Rae remembered her, maybe a little older than before. Her eyes still shone with the same kindness and wisdom as before. "Hello, Zoey Redbird," she breathed as they walked into the office. "Hello, Stark. Hello, Stevie Rae. And who is this?"
"I am Rephaim," he said softly. "I'm Stevie Rae's Consort. I was originally one of Kalona, the fallen angel's, sons, but I turned from him for her." He touched her face lovingly.
"Hello, Rephaim," she said, smiling at him and ignoring the fact that he'd just said he was previously a Raven Mocker.
Stevie Rae's eyes widened as Rephaim continued. "So you don't care that before I was a monster? That I took endless lives and didn't care about the result of that? That I raped and killed senselessly and purposelessly, just to please my father?"
Sister Mary Angela's face was the mask of calm when she continued. "I care nothing about your past sins. It's only what you can make of your life now that holds my interest. And, my dearest Rephaim, if you can turn from Darkness, surely you can make something of your life."
Rephaim smiled and nodded at her. "I can. And I will," he vowed.
"We will see." She smiled back. "I can see, Stevie Rae, that the boy does love you. Don't let him down. Now, what is it you have come to visit me for?"
"We actually came to see if Street Cats could visit our bake sale," Z said. "In a... rather unfortunate accident, the House of Night was burned down. Our new school is underground, in the old Prohibition tunnels. As an endorsement for the new school, we're having a bake sale and an open house. Our House of Night will be the first to allow human professors."
"That's wonderful," Sister Mary Angela breathed. "Humans and vampyres coexisting is what could save us all."
A chill rolled down Stevie Rae's spine. "What do you mean?" she asked, thinking that the words sounded reminiscent of what Thanatos had said earlier.
"You haven't seen the news? Citizens all over Oklahoma have been rioting, protesting. They want war with vampyres. They don't even want to consider coexistence. They just want the vampyres to be destroyed. It's as if someone is making them act this way." Sister Mary Angela's dark eyes found Zoey's. "You are still fighting the evil woman and her mate, are you not?"
"Well, the evil woman's name is Neferet, for one," Z said. "And we're not fighting her mate. He's not her mate anymore."
"He's chosen Light," Aurox said quietly. "He's on our side now. He's pledged to be the Sword Master of the House of Night and is Oathbound to our new High Priestess, Thanatos."
"Ah, it was her who called me and told me you were coming. I can sense that a lot has happened since I saw you last, Zoey," Sister Mary Angela said softly.
"Yes. More than we can go into," Z said. "But the bake sale actually could help us a lot. If humans see that vampyres want to coexist with them, maybe they'll stop their riots."
"Those tunnels are so old and dilapidated. I'm assuming you're remodeling them?"
"Yes," Aurox said quietly. "We are."
"And you are?" Sister Mary Angela raised an eyebrow.
"I'm Aurox," he said. "I'm Zoey's Consort."
"But aren't..." Sister Mary Angela looked at Zoey, then back at Aurox, then at Stark, then back to Zoey. "Ah, I see." She smiled, and winked at Zoey.
"We're gettin' a bunch of new stuff added to them, and improving the rooms we already have," Stevie Rae said. "The tunnels are huge, and they almost cover all of Tulsa- and more. We were looking at a floor plan and were thinking about separating the tunnels into two halves, one the dormitory and one the school."
"That isn't a bad idea," Sister Mary Angela agreed. "Hmm... You could hold the open house in your biggest room. That actually sounds nice. What presence do you want us to have there?"
"You've been our only charity, so you could be there to offer cats up for adoption," Z said. "Or to give out cards and other pet stuff."
"That's a good idea," Stark said, surprising everyone. "And you could have other varieties of pets too."
"That's certainly something to be considered," Sister Mary Angela agreed.
"Sister!" A voice from outside the door jarred them. It was familiar to Stevie Rae. As Sister Mary Angela's head nodded and the nun came in, she recognized Sister Bianca. The nun was holding a cat carrier with a pretty white cat inside. The cat was like the cat her dad had bought her when she was little- Fluffy. Stevie Rae instantly got a feeling, strong and clear. She stood and walked to the cat.
"New cat," Bianca explained. "We got her in a couple of minutes ago."
"Ohmygoodness, she's so pretty," Stevie Rae gushed as she petted the cat's fur. The cat rubbed its head against her fingers, and for once she liked it- liked it even better than when Nala petted her.
"Oh my Goddess!" Z ran to Stevie Rae. "Sister Bianca, what's that cat's name?"
"The cat hasn't a name," Sister Bianca said.
"I'm gonna call her Fluffy." Stevie Rae smiled.
"Well, Stevie Rae, I think Fluffy just chose you," Z said, grinning at her.
"Really? A cat chose me?" Stevie Rae blinked. She hadn't expected a cat to choose her, but there were a lot of unexpected things happening. Still, this felt so new to her, like something completely different and unexpected. She grinned. "A cat chose me!" she repeated.
"Well, if the cat has chosen you, I guess she is yours." Sister Bianca opened the cat carrier and placed Fluffy in Stevie Rae's arms.
"Aww, you're so cute," she cooed, scratching between her ears. "It's a she?"
"It is a she," Sister Bianca agreed.
"I'm so glad I have her!"
"I'm glad too." Stevie Rae met Zoey's eyes and they both smiled, for once feeling a piece of happiness that they could both hold on to for as long as they lived.
But it was only a fleeting moment.
Kramisha just could NOT get rid of Jordan, and she didn't really know how to react to that.
In some ways he intrigued her. Ever since she'd Imprinted with him, a practice that she'd kept mostly to herself, she'd found herself intrigued by his dark curly hair, those big, juicy lips, that muscular body, and that sexy smile. And of course the warm, Imprinted blood that ran through his veins. But there was a part of her that was extremely pissed off by him. And that part was growing larger, even though the other part was too in a way. It seemed like she just kept running into him.
It was obvious that Nyx had a plan for the boy. He would just randomly bump into her and tell her what the voices had said about him. And of course they'd been designated to clean their wing of the tunnels together. So not only was she scrubbing showers, knee-deep in Comet, but he was only a room away from her, so she couldn't exactly hum her favorite song, which was "Lick Lick Lick" by Pleasure P.
She grinned as she looked down at her phone and restarted the song. Since she'd heard it on the radio this morning, it had been stuck in her head, so she'd downloaded it, and had had it on repeat ever since. It was just so catchy. It wasn't overly sexual, only if you wanted it to be. All in all, it was a tasteful song.
And I just so happened to hear the damn song when I was in the car with him. Kramisha had been going to look for decorations for the big bake sale, and Jordan, automatically assigned as her Warrior just because the two were so close, had gone with her. The kid had actually been kind of amusing. Until he'd accidentally called her a bitch, and they'd gotten into that big argument. Kramisha winced as she remembered the fury of his words.
But he'd sang along. Kramisha remembered that one of the sexiest things about him was his voice. It was like he became a different person when he sang. That had to be attractive.
So, of course there was this big, powerful, grown Poet Laureate inside her, who was telling her that her and Jordan were bound somehow. Even before she'd Imprinted with him, she'd felt some sort of connection to him, a connection that was beyond the norm. That girl was the one who was so intrigued by him and attracted to him. But then there was that other girl, who was just a normal little kid, who was really annoyed by the boy.
Sometimes she felt torn with herself. Part of her wanted to forget all her worries and kiss the boy. Part of her wanted to choke him until he was dead. But she knew that would hurt her. Later. Maybe. Ugh.
Kramisha finished the showers. They were sparkling clean now, and she could almost see her reflection in them. She grinned at herself. Her yellow hair had been dyed to a more neutral blonde type of color, and it fell in tight curls to her back. She looked pretty for-
No! No way! Had that thought really been about to come from her brain? She grimaced and bit her lip. She had to keep the woman in her under control.
But then again... why should she? If she was attracted to someone, why shouldn't she let herself like them?
This was all too much.
This was all increasingly becoming bullshit.
This was all making her head hurt.
This was all so... intriguing.
Kramisha turned from the bathroom, done with her task, turned around, walked out, and of course bumped right into Jordan. She didn't even jump- that was how used she was to running into him. "Goddess, watch where you going," she snapped.
"Sorry, lady." He smiled sexily at her. "I didn't see you there."
"I bet," she muttered, trying to contain herself. But he was just so attractive. He was pressed up against her- his ridiculous muscles were against her chest so tightly and yet, she wanted it to be tighter. His lips were only inches away from hers, and they were moving... so perfectly...
Kramisha didn't know what she was doing. She didn't know why her body wasn't screaming for her to stop this. But what she did know was the passion she was feeling. She did know how much she cared for Jordan, even if she didn't know him. She did know that they were bound and they were bound in ways she would never understand, and she did know that when you loved someone, you shouldn't ever hide that love- if it's real love.
So all she did was stop hiding it.
And she pressed her lips to his.
The kiss was so beautiful before it even started, so timed in her head. Everything was just right. It was short and sweet, their lips clicking right together like a puzzle piece. Everything was under control and okay- at first.
What neither of them was prepared for was her response.
Blood boiled hot and sweet through his body, and she moved her lips from his. Without even thinking about the consequences of her actions, she sank her teeth into his throat- hard. They were hard enough that they pierced the skin, leaving an angry red mark that wept blood. That blood satisfied her need, her longing. And so Kramisha drank from Jordan in an air of passion and confusion.
When she finally broke from him, she was gasping for air. Had the slutty hormones within her taken over for a second, or was she really losing grip over the vestiges of control within her? She gulped at the thought of being attracted to Jordan.
She was already halfway there.
"Kramisha," he whispered, making the moment even worse. "I feel somethin' between us, somethin' that we both know ain't normal. It's even more not normal than this Imprint. What in the hell is it?"
"I don't know," she answered honestly. "But I know it's weird. It's making me kiss you and I barely know you."
He grinned. "I'm not so sure that was it."
"Shut up!" she said, smiling and hitting him. "I don't like you, Jordan."
"If you didn't like me, why the fuck would you kiss me?"
He had a point.
"I don't know. I don't know shit around here," she admitted. "All I know is I want to kiss you again and you make me feel so hot and I like the feeling and part of me hates you and I don't know why."
"Part of me kinda hated you too at first," he said softly. The look in his eyes made her freeze with desire. "But then I stopped holding on to what could have been and just let myself feel what is. And this is what is."
It was at that moment that he pressed his lips to hers. This kiss was still brief and sweet, but it was more passionate. This time, she knotted her fingers in his air and pulled herself tighter to him. And when they parted, he grinned at her before walking away.
Kramisha stared after him for a long moment. "Shit," she muttered as she pulled out the poem she'd written last. She stared at it, then looked back in the direction he'd gone.
He is yours, Prophetess
He is your key, your savior
Use his blood as a tool
To ensure that your doom will not become.
Kramisha didn't know what the poem meant, but she knew that Jordan was now a part of her life. She also knew that though she didn't know him, whatever connection they had was more than love. And the last thing she knew was that she was deeply and irredeemably in love with him.
As Zoey would say, ah, hell.