Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 20

"You win," Rafaela said. "You're right and you have been all along. I was a fool for not listening."
Instead of chastising her further, Seth hugged her. "Te quiero, Tía."
"You are my heart, my darling boy."
Dirk stood by, wishing he could be a part of the familial embrace. He suddenly missed his human children with an ache of loneliness he hadn't had in 150 years. As if sensing his distress, Rafaela held out one arm to him, still clinging to Seth. The young Hunter didn't seem very happy to be that near the vampire, but he accepted the group hug stoically. Dirk put his arm around the younger man's shoulders, pulling him close. There was a moment of tenseness before Seth relaxed. He didn't embrace the vampire, but he didn't shove him away either.

By the afternoon, Rafaela felt more like herself. Seth still wasn't sure she was well enough to go on the offensive and, for once, Dirk found himself in perfect agreement with him. As much as she hated to admit it herself, Rafaela silently agreed. She never told them they were right, but she didn't put up more than a token argument when they suggested staying home.
A few hours after sunset, Seth got a text. He read it with a smile.
"It's as well we waited. The Vampire Lord is giving a New Year's Eve ball. All his coven is invited."
"My invitation must have been lost in the ether," Dirk said with a smirk.
"He's not your lord," Rafaela replied.
"No, but it's common courtesy to invite your siblings to a fete."
"Wait a second. He's your brother?" Seth was furious. "You could have said something before this."
"Would it have mattered?" Dirk shot back. "I think it would have made you less likely to trust me, don't you?"
Seth stalked away angrily, heading outside. The door slammed behind him, shaking the wall. Rafaela rose to follow him, but Dirk pressed her down in her seat.
"He's a big boy. He'll get over it."
"You might have told me," Rafaela snapped.
"It didn't seem relevant." He shrugged.
"There's more." She tugged his hand, urging him to sit beside her. "Tell me everything."
Dirk sat slowly, not meeting her penetrating gaze. "The brother who was turned, I lost track of him for many years. By that time, he'd built up quite a following. When I killed our sire, he took over the nest."
"He's your brother-brother? You're planning to kill family?"
Dirk's dark eyes met hers. "He's a horrible man, Rafe. Whatever vestige there was of my human brother has disappeared. The fact he tried to rip me apart with his bare hands, suggests that he's lost any brotherly feelings he might have had for me. I turned his daughter. She died in my nest. We killed his son. To say that he's unhappy with me, would be a gross understatement. His loathing for me is exceeded only by his hatred of you."
"You found this out when you visited him."
"Yes. He was already aware of you. You can't live as long as we have and not know the most infamous Hunter in the world. You've cut quite an impressive swath, my love."
"Seth isn't going to like this."
"He doesn't have to like it to do the job."
She couldn't refute that, but she felt that Seth's enthusiasm would wane once she found out. She was wrong. When he found out it was Dirk's brother, he was almost gleeful.
"Your younger brother is the Vampire Lord of the Southeast? Wow! Fucking awesome, dude, Why not you? After the sire's death, you could have taken over."
"It wasn't a life I wanted," he replied tersely. "I never wanted leadership and power, or all the problems presented by them. I live a quiet life, feed when I need to, go where I like. I invite a few friends to join me from time to time. Then, Rafaela tracks us down and fricassees them."
"I think of it more like barbecue," she replied with a toss of her head.
Seth chuckled. "Cooking is cooking, doesn't matter the technique. The question now, is how do we gate crash this carnival and fry the Vampire Lord?"
"It wouldn't surprise me to find out that Glaive set this up just for us. He'll be expecting an attack."
"Glaive? He's named after a pole arm weapon?" Seth asked, somewhat surprised.
"My brothers and I all bear names like that. Dirk," he pointed to himself, putting out his thumb and counted off his brothers on his fingers. "Glaive, Pike, Lance and Bailey. My father wanted strong names for his sons. Bailey lived to a ripe old age. Glaive and I were turned. Unlike me, he was taken in and fostered by our sire."
© Dellani Oakes 2017

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