Pact with the Devil

Pact With The Devil (Alex)

With Hunter clinging around my neck I followed Vin through the halls and down into the bowels of the Night Life building. “Probably should have left the kid,” the vampire said.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m pretty sure that’s impossible with his dad unconscious and feeling whatever he’s feeling.” Though I was pretty sure Hunter had the dream, and was just terrified for his father. He wasn’t worried from what I could gather in his head, but fear was making him shake almost violently.

Vin shook his head. “I don’t know how you all do it. That’s a lot of people to count on you.”

“So you’ve never made a baby vampire?” I asked curiously, Hunter seemed to listen too.

“I don’t have time to babysit a fledgling, and I work for The son of Il Cane, I can’t exactly sire a childe and then let it roam off and do what it likes. That would be irresponsible.”

“So you would if you weren’t working for Ant?” I asked.

He shrugged. “No. My sire taught me better than that.”

“And your sire is?”

“Aurora DeJesus. The only vampire that can tell Il Cane, ‘No’ and she’ll listen. Even Sal doesn’t have that sort of power over the little assassin anymore.”

“You know I have no idea who you are talking about, right?”

Vin looked at me hard and then he laughed as the elevator continued to descend. It almost felt like we were descending into hell itself. “Aurora DeJesus is one council member, one of Il Cane’s sires, and mother-like to the the vampire herself. She is married to Salvador Einor, another council member. Aurora is head of the shadow bloodline, and Sal is head of the fear-monger bloodline. Two of Il Cane’s top abilities.”

“Still means nothing to me, other than the fact that they were the ones who taught Il Cane as a fledgling.”

“All of them did, the council that is. Some better than others, but they all did. Rumor has it that Il Cane slaughtered a village and her and her lover were banished from each other.”

Hunter spoke quietly against my neck. “It’s true.” He’d seen the images in his head as Vin told the story. We were going to have to talk with someone about this kids images, future, past.

The elevator finally stopped and the doors opened. I had been expecting to see a dungeon like interior but instead it was more like a mental hospital. And just down the hall Sage sat shivering. He was in tears, his body shaking and I was nowhere near capable of knowing how to help him. His fears, his love in a cage. And I was here to interrogate his wife. Fuck!

Vin stood just outside the elevator and watched me walk down the hall. It was awkward having a bodyguard, but it was understandable at this moment, and particularly with a five year old attached to my hip.

Sage looked up and frowned. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened, she just keeps crying and clutching her head.”

I looked into the open window where the woman who did something to the love of my life sat holding her head in a corner of an all white room. I was starting to sound a lot like Nox.

“Why can I read her now?” I asked the ether. I knew Sage didn’t have an answer.

“What?” he asked.

“I can read her thoughts, well I read her, I can’t understand anything. It’s chaos. What’s strange is she’s echoing you, and Vin, and me, and she’s shaking in fear like Hunter.”

From down the hall Vin shouted, “Sounds like an empath.”

“What?” I nodded for him to join us.

And when he was closer he looked into the room. “She’s an empath. But she should know how to shield by now if she was up and walking about without some sort of self induced calming technique – drugs or alcohol usually do the trick.”

“She doesn’t do any of those things,” Sage said.

“I couldn’t read her before Nox fell. Now I can’t read him, and I can read her.” I looked at Sage, “What do you know?” I sat down next to him, but I didn’t touch him. Though I wanted to, and Hunter wanted to but he was too much of a mess to even try. Even Vin stayed his distance.

Sage shook his head. “I don’t know anything.” He looked up at me and sighed. “Her dad might.”

“Can you call him?” I asked him.

“Sure, I can have him meet us upstairs at the coffee shop and tell him Dee’s in a bad way and we need to understand,” Sage said. “He’d come rushing over.”

I nodded. “Sounds fine. Let’s head up while you call. We have a vampire trail by the way.”

Sage looked at Vin and frowned. “He won’t touch me again will he.”

Vin shook his head. “I won’t, I promise.”

The four of us entered the elevator again and we ascended into the lobby and as soon as Sage had signal he was calling his father in law His signal popped up sooner than mine did but as soon as it did I was flooded with text messages from Rider and Laker and Matt all concerned about their brother.

I started a group text so that I could keep them updated all and once.

We were in the lobby ordering coffee when a man in the black officer outfit stopped next to us. His hair was shabby, but he was handsome enough outside of the rugged exterior. He could probably break Nox in half. If Nox weren’t Venatori and possessed a modicum of super strength and his magical ability. e never seemed to mention that when he talked about being abused.

I didn’t want to think about the kinks my pretty boy had. He said he was happy and he didn’t need them. But still I was terrified he’d get bored or I wouldn’t satisfy him. And here I was acting just like him, missing the conversation as I was lost in my head.

“… having a hard time, clutching her head, crying, she can’t focus on anything,” Sage was explaining.

I watched her father pale and his thoughts went round and round, no no no, not again, we had a deal, we had a deal, what happened?

I interrupted, “You had a deal? A deal for what?”

Dee’s father stared at me. Sage spoke loudly, “Mr. Armstrong, Alex is a telepath, if you know what’s going on we need to know. Dee hurt Nox, we need to understand.”

“She would never…” he started to stammer.

I interrupted again, “Well she did. What deal? With who?” I was getting aggravated.

“You better sit down for this,” he said as he hung his head and lead the way to a table in the corner.

The man started talking. “Dee was about four when she started complaining about her head hurting, and I noticed she was always emotional. I didn’t know what to do. The doctors could find nothing wrong with her.”

“One day a man came to me, he worked in the Apex Unlimited Building in their Infirmary. He said he was a specialized psychologist and he could help Dee out.” Dee’s father sighed, “And he did, but it came at a price.”

“What was that price?” I asked as Hunter curled tighter around me. Her soul. was the little boys thought.

The man answered, “Her soul.”

“What the fuck?” Sage shouted, “You sold Dee’s soul to the devil and you never even told her.”

The man shook his head. “Not the devil, he said his name was Phobetor.”

Vin gasped behind them and he grabbed my shoulder. “We must get to him before the demon eats his soul.”

“What?” I said but I didn’t wait for an explanation; I shifted Hunter in my arms and we ran to the elevator.

I’ll Fucking Kill Her

The next few are between Unexpected Guest and Fighting Phobetor.

The bathroom run was not surprising since Nox had been asleep for so long. And leaving him was easier now that I knew he was better. He wasn’t stumbling or wincing when he moved. He had no bruising and I had looked. And he was hungry, I could feel the building pangs. But there was no way I was cooking for him.

It wasn’t long before Nox joined me. He was immediately in the kitchen and I stepped aside. His thoughts were so buried in thanking me later for the help that I hadn’t heard Ant walk in with Sage and his wife. There were no introductions even though I’d never met either of them. Sage grinned at me before he walked around the bar and wrapped his arms around my boyfriend. He wasn’t a threat, Nox was very open about that relationship. Even the snippet I saw about the one night they shared was just a blip. It was a twinge of jealousy until Sage’s own thoughts were just as platonic. There was no sex, no romance, just safety in each other. And I knew Sage had needed Nox, and Nox needed him. Fuck I was being so accepting.

I glanced back at Nox and he was cutting into the cake. “What are you doing?”

“It’s chocolate cake.” Nox laughed.

Dee and Sage both laughed and I didn’t hear anything they said as Nox explained. I like to eat my desert first because I don’t have it very often. It’s sorta a rule of mine.

Nox drooled over the piece Dee almost fed him which almost had me seeing green. She stepped close to him and kissed him and he stumbled back and there was a trail of black smoke between them as he fell to the floor. “Nox!” I was around the bar before anyone else including the vampires.

They were already detaining the woman that was Nox’s bestfriend’s wife. But Nox was lying on ground and I couldn’t reach him. I glared at the woman.

She was struggling against the new vampire’s arms. I yelled, “What did you do?”

Her eyes were wide and she was afraid, but other than the normal cues I couldn’t read her either.

Dee pleaded, “I didn’t do anything.” She looked to Sage. “What are we doing here?”

He was confused, “You suggested we bring Nox the cake you made him.”

“I remember making the cake,” Dee cried.

Fuck!

Ant was taking her away. Sage was following but he was having issues with Vin and he was starting to panic. “Dude, don’t touch him. He doesn’t like people to touch him.”

The vampire held up his hands and backed away. “Sage you okay?” I asked.

He nodded while trying to catch his breathe. “Take care of Nox, I’ll figure this out.” He sounded very brave too. What was it with Nox and his friends.

I tried to reach him again and again, but there was nothing there, even touching him I couldn’t get into his head. It was like there was a shield…

I looked back the way Ant had taken the girl. I saw into her head, she was completely confused, her emotions where everywhere and I couldn’t actually decipher most of her thoughts, they were like Nox’s at times. So all over, so foreign.

I wanted to talk to her but I didn’t want to leave my pretty boy. I so wanted to hurt her for making me lose the connection Nox and I had worked so hard to figure out and now it was gone again. Fuck!

I pushed a message through to Ant. The only fucking person I trusted with Nox. I need you to look after Nox. He gave me a nod and the indication he’d be there as soon as he could. I didn’t stay long enough to figure out what he was doing. I scooped Nox up into my arms – fuck he was heavier than he looked. The hall felt longer than it was carrying my pretty boy back to bed, but I made it. I pushed the door open and laid Nox down on the bed next to the puppy pile that was still in bed.

Cass stirred and was looking at her dad in horror and fear. “Is he dead?”

Those three little words pulled the rest of the kids awake. Everyone was looking at him. Rider the voice of reason took Cass in his arms and spoke softly but not so loud that he startled anyone. “No, he’s alive.” He pointed to the rise and fall of his chest. “See he’s breathing.” He looked at me and frowned. “What happened? I thought he was better.”

“He was. Sage brought his wife here, she kissed him and he fell into whatever this is.”

Hunter took my hand and I pulled him into my arms. He wrapped his arms around me and whispered, “He’s in a dream.” Hunter was shaking. I curled an arm around him protectively and we all watched as Nox looked like he was sleeping peacefully, but Hunter was afraid, so very afraid. Whatever connection Nox had built with his children was in full effect with his son. Cass was scared but she was being comforted by Rider who was keeping everyone else’s sanity.

Matt moved closer through the pile of people and touched Nox and his body convulsed like it was in pain. Hunter screamed in my ear and Matt jerked his hand away “I won’t do it again. I won’t, I promise.” He held his hand like it had hurt him.

“Are you okay, Matt?” I asked even as Laker was taking his hand.

“He burnt me.”

“He didn’t when I touched him.” Rider reached across and ran his fingers down his brother’s cheek. “He’s not hot.”

Matt shook his head. “No, with his power, he burnt my hand. I saw the fire building around my hand but they can’t touch me. Whatever is wrong it’s protecting him from me, which means it’s magical in nature.”

I nodded, more and more I leaned towards the bitch. I was so fucking going to kill her.

Ant walked into the room. “I got him,” he said. The vampire held out his hand for Hunter but the boy clung to me.

I shook my head. “I don’t think he’s leaving my neck while his father is in that dream.”

Ant nodded. “She’s locked up for now Vin will show you the way. He won’t leave your side so don’t ask him to.”

I nodded. “Of course.” Hunter and I left Nox in the capable hands of his family and Doc who was jogging down the hall giving me a nod as he passed us.

Nox’s Recovery

I burst into the room that was to be Nox’s and found a man wearing an old brown leather jacket and a cowboy hat standing over him. Ant had him pressed to the bed. “Good, you’re here. See if you can calm him down.”

The man looked at me and smiled as he moved out of the way. He started telling me what was going on, “He’s panicking. Whatever drugs they had him on to keep him sedated now that they have stopped flowing, he’s feeling whatever he’s feeling and he’s fighting it.”

I moved past the doctor – strange attire for a doctor, but I guess if you were a doctor to a vampire it didn’t really matter. I laid down next to Nox and ran my fingers over his face. Ant laughed and he shook his head and removed his hands from his shoulders.

“I think Alex has it. Can you monitor it from the other room?”

“Honestly, Sage has hooked me up.” He whispered, “Don’t tell Jack but I think Sage is better now.”

Ant nodded. “I’ll be over there.” He nodded to the chair but gave us as much privacy as he could allow. I didn’t blame him; Ant was in protection mode. So was Ryan, he was being vigilant with the kids. When I’d dropped Matt off at the room the kids were all sitting watching TV and the baby faced blonde was standing guard.

Now it was just me and Nox. I looked at him sleeping, there was pain on his face and I couldn’t take it away. I pressed a kiss to his cheek and moved down into the bed and lay with my pretty boy. I closed my eyes, my one hand near his face, fingers caressing his cheek, with the other I took his hand in mine and held it between us. I couldn’t get any closer without being on top of him. I buried my face in his neck and he smelled like him that faint burnt smell I always thought was from cooking.

It wasn’t long before I was in the dream staring out into the expanse of bubbles around me. There weren’t many too close, not a lot sleeping – or those that were were vampires. How the fuck did I get here. But I was surprised to be standing in front of one specific bubble. His shield was a cascade of colors. I hadn’t seen it in years. I ran my fingers over it and I felt nothing. You have to wake up Nox.

I was desperate. I couldn’t enter his dream. It was protected by something, the fog was lifting around me and I could see the varying connections to him. There had once been a big black ugly thing that grew into the cracks, but now it was gone. Well not gone – dying. Black and shrivelled and when I touched it it crumbled into dust.

I sat there just touching the shimmering shield as I walked around it. I didn’t want to remove my hand, even as I looked at all the connections. Some were strong like the ones to the kids, and his brothers. I couldn’t see mine. I hated that. Never saw my own – even when I looked at my mother, so it wasn’t an anomaly, I couldn’t see my own connections.

Come back to me pretty boy. I need you. I said into the ether. I really did need him. I could feel him calling me, but I couldn’t get in, but there was no fucking way I was leaving him until I was sure he was alright.

His body in the real world started to shake again. I felt the ripples along his shield. Nox. It’s okay baby. You have to stay with me. I felt his shaking lessen as weight shifted on the bed. It could only mean that he was convulsing again. I pushed at him, he needed to calm down. I was here. I’m not going anywhere I thought to myself. Calm, baby. I soothed and he settled, I’m here. I kept talking and soothing him from the dream plane. He fell into quiet, I could tell. Ant shifted. And I added to my internal thoughts Ant’s here too. We got this.

I broke from the dream. “Don’t leave him,” I said and Ant sat down and put his hand on Nox’s chest and when I went back into the dream I looked around and saw flames, and rain, and grass covering forever. But I felt Nox. I walked in that direction Wherever I was, Nox was here too, and that was all that mattered.

All According to Plan

The meeting broke up quickly. Each person taking a moment to shake my hand which was perfect for me, I got to feel each of them out. I didn’t dig as they spoke to me but I got to hear their plans for the future how this was perfect opportunity to show just how much they do for Nox. How they could out shine the others. At least that was the Dragons, and the Wolf packs agenda. I couldn’t read Tony or Cari but I was pretty sure they didn’t have ulterior motives, but I was known to be wrong. Adrian only promised we’d sit down and talk, man to man about the boy he once knew. His thoughts were much like Nox’s very truthful, and there wasn’t any thought about how much he missed Nox’s body. Had Nox even meant very much to him?

Sage’s father was the last in the room besides Ant and Ryan. He sat looking at me and frowning and when the room cleared he looked at the phone, “You dragged my son into this?”

“Your son is the one who brought me the information to begin with Agent Morgan.”

“But you hired him to get into the Venatori’s system?”

“Yes. He’s good at what he does.”

“Do you know what this could do to me if the agency found out.”

I sighed. “Agent Morgan don’t you think they’d already have found out your son was a gifted hacker by now. He’s been hacking computers since you gave him his first one when he was 5. He talks to them more than he talks to girls.”

Danny sighed and I added, “You can’t get mad at him because of this, sir. He’s a good kid. And he really is good at what he does He may not have a gift with people, but machines love him. And if it weren’t for him, Nox would still be a lot more damaged than he is.” And I didn’t feel any guilt or jealousy in that statement. If it hadn’t been for all these people who I think I’m jealous of, I wouldn’t have Nox.

“He wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you either Mr. Kennedy. Don’t forget that.”

I didn’t know how Danny Morgan knew about the dreams but he had. Nox talked way too much for him not to know. But it was the sadness that he felt that made me sad for him. He thought he knew his own son, clearly he didn’t. And that hurt him. And I really had nothing to say to fix that.

Ant looked at the book sitting at the table as Ryan lifted it and put it back into the bag it had been in. “You may not be able to read it, but it responds well to you. Do you believe now?”

“I’ve believed in soul mates for a while, Ant, I don’t feel like I’m in love with you until you let your power out. I do feel a draw. I fucking hate it, but it’s not love. Not like what I feel for Nox. Your theory… I don’t know. But if I were you I wouldn’t stop looking for her. I know I would never stop looking for Nox if I didn’t feel the same connection to what I thought might be him.”

“Deep and profound. Who woulda thunk it.” Ryan laughed. “Let’s get your family safe. Benji and his parents each have an apartment on the 45th floor, it’s safer if they stay in human regulated housing and up here like you lot.”

So that’s what we did for the next day. The top floor was amazing. It was a series of rooms like a hotel that each one had their own private roof garden, and their door looked out over a plate glass window in the floor. The ceiling above that floor was thick glass. Special glass Ryan had claimed. Nox was going to freak out.

But each of the older kids were given their own room. Laker and Matt were sharing – mates were mates no matter the age Ryan said. That was pack law. So that’s what happened, Nox could deal with it all later. The three little ones all wanted to share their room and they all piled into one large bed together like it was the most natural thing in the world.

A large room was prepared for Nox’s arrival while the rest of us packed up his things. Ant surprised us all with the stone, he’d seen Nox use it, and it had worked for him, and for me. Fucking magic.

The first night we all slept in Nox’s bed. We all claimed it was so it would smell like home when he got here. But I knew better, they all did too. But we left it all alone. We were about to go to war with a whole fucking race of people who’d been killing our kind since the dawn of time.

And the next morning Sage set up his computer in Nox’s room and went to work. He had the system under his full control by mid afternoon. I went with Matt to the hospital. He said he could do it alone, but it was more of a consistency thing. I’d been going everyday with one kid or another to visit him before they were off to school. Today it was Matt’s turn.

We walked into the Infirmary. We stood in front of the window that looked into Nox’s room. Matt had a moment of grief and he put both hands on the window and leaned his forehead in. There was no visible change but I could tell that Matt was absorbing the magic. He breathed like he was crying, and maybe he was. Did it hurt him? But I couldn’t read him, so I couldn’t help. I put my hand on his back and regretted it the moment I did, but I couldn’t jerk away and risk showing something was wrong. I was empty of all voices. I was alone for the first time since my power came to me. It felt amazing, and terrifying all at the same time.

I watched in the window as Ant slipped in from the shadows. The monitors were all dark but not throwing alarms. He pulled the IV from Nox’s arm and lifted him with care. And that’s when shit fell apart. Nox’s body convulsed but Ant took him anyway. Fuck!

I watched until Ant was back in the shadows and waited a few seconds more before I took Matt’s hand. “Let’s get you back to the rest of them. They’ll need your help.” I said out loud and Matt and I left. Sage was in charge of how long the Venatori were in the dark. The plan was to let us get out of the AU building before they found out. But Sage said he’d keep them in the dark until round change. And at this very moment I hoped it all worked.

Fuck! I wished I could shadow walk, but the Night Life building wasn’t far. Matt and I were at a run as soon as we rounded the corner out of sight of the AU building. Just plain Fuck!

Who Are All These People

Ant and I talked for a little while longer, Ryan left us to do whatever his mistress’ bidding was. He just sort of left, and Nick left when Ant told him too. I was curious about what he saw, but Ant was pulling me along to the conference room down stairs and if I thought what Ant and Ryan had laid on me about soul mates was a lot, I was completely smacked in the face when we pushed the door open and there were more faces than I had thought we’d invited sitting around the table.

I stopped in the door and blinked at all the faces I didn’t know. Fuck the only person I knew was Ant. Thank god the prince of darkness’ presence seemed to calm them and the noise stopped almost immediately and they turned to stare at us. “This is Alex Kennedy, he called this meeting. But since he hasn’t met any of you before I’ll make the introductions first and then he can tell us why we are all here.”

Ant started with his mother. She was a short brunette as pale as the moon she lived under. There was no smile when he introduced her. “This is Cari Giovanni, also known as Il Cane.”

She nodded. “He’s not what I expected, Anthony.”

Ant laughed. “He’s not what anyone expected.” He moved the next person at the table, “This is Adrian Sheridan, pack leader of the Lone Wolf Pack.” The man was tall and strapping, he had a thick goatee and long dark hair, and I knew he was exactly the type of man that Nox used to be with. I didn’t like him at all.

I must have frowned because the man standing in front of me took my hand and shook it and leaned down. “You and I will talk later.” When he stood up he added with a wink, “A pleasure.”

Next around the table was an older man with white hair and a pair of spectacles. Ant introduced him as; “Reginald Silverman, Golden Dragon Clan”. I blinked.

“Dominic Olmos, Manhattan Pack Leader.” The man was a dead ringer for a drug dealer I’d conned once. The whole Hispanic look was stereotypical and I wondered if he really was like that or if it was a show for me.

I knew the man sitting next to the Alpha leader, but not because of who he was. He was Sage’s father, I had seen pictures of him. So I nodded, “Danny Morgan. I know your son.”

The last person at the table looked exactly like Ant, maybe a little older. “This is Tony Giovanni, my father. Now why don’t you tell us all why we are here.”

I took a deep breath and I sat down next to Ant. He put his hand on my shoulder and sat down. I picked up my phone and I dialled Sage’s number again. “I’m bringing in the Wicked Truth to the conversation. He’s a big part of what needs to happen. I don’t know how many of you know that Nox is in the Venatori Infirmary right now in a coma.”

There was a murmur through the table, some knew others didn’t. I could read most of their thoughts, all but the vampires anyway. “Wicked infiltrated the Venatori on a job, and he has gotten me information on what they are doing to Nox there. Most of the report I saw was redacted, but what was there was not good. They are giving him nepenthe ultimately trying to kill him.”

The room went up in a roar. “I have a plan,” I said. And I knew they fucking heard me, but they still kept talking over one another. I stood up and channelled every fucking vibe of Nox I had and just said quietly, “Shut the fuck up. I have a plan.”

I felt Ant more than I saw the smile that I knew was on his lips as he sat there silently watching things unfold. The room did quiet down, and they looked at me. I hadn’t noticed Ryan standing in the corner holding the book. That fucking book. He set it down on the table and it was glowing a rosy pink and it flared softly when I ran my fingers over the cover. Last time I had touched it had burned me. Nox’s magic still radiated off of it. But it knew me.

“Nox is being kept in a magic free room. Ant can’t shadowwalk in unless we can get that spell gone.”

Again the room rose in a clatter. But this time it was the Hound who stood and the room got quiet. She said nothing but sat back down and looked at me waiting patiently. “I have access to a null.” The room stirred but nothing rose and it was like watching things play out I had never seen before, a whole room full of the most powerful people in the world and they were all listening to me without any of my control. Held by the sheer power of the man who I loved, which fucking scared me and made me proud at the same time. I wasn’t a hero, but he was. “Wicked will show them what we want them to see on their equipment. Matt will take out the magic. Leaving Ant free to Shadow walk into the building and leave with Nox. We’ll need someplace safe to keep him; he’s not done healing yet, and the nepenthe needs to get out of his system and the coma…” I started to sound worried even to myself.

“Doc will take care of him. Bring him here,” Cari interjected with a cool harsh voice but it wasn’t angry or upset.

Ant added, “Your family will also need to be relocated. Once you take him the Venatori will cut him off. We will be criminals to them, and Nox will likely be exiled. We are essentially stealing their property.”

I growled at the last word. I didn’t like it but I knew Ant was right. “Where?”

Again Cari offered, “Doc is here, we will set up a room for him with all that he needs. We have extra space upstairs for the rest of his people – your people.”

The murmur in the room grew. They didn’t like the idea of the vampires having unfettered access to Nox. He was all of theirs, not just theirs.

Ant stepped in. “We’ll put him on the top floor. No vampires live there. He can do with it what he wishes.”

Reginald the Dragon spoke loudly for the first time. “I will not allow one of mine to stay here. He is Clan leader of the The Last Phoenix and this is vampire territory.”

“Just calm the fuck down!” I shouted, the book glowed a little and power flared in the room, at least that was what every thought in the room said at the same time as they looked at me. Ant was just smirking.

“When Nox is better, and he can make his own decisions we’ll deal with the permanency of his location. Nox isn’t going to let the vampires take care of him. You know this. You know he won’t take sides, isn’t that his entire point of existence, giving everyone a fair shot at this?”

Reginald nodded grudgingly. “For now, he is in the vampire’s care but only because they have the means to care for him in a way none of us do. Human doctors will know nothing about what he’s going through.”

“So we’re all good?” I asked.

The voice of the line sounded electronic and Ant and I snickered as Sage spoke, “Nox is being held in a magic resistant room for a reason. In his sleep his powers are fluctuating, out of control even. The room is to protect him, and to protect them. I doubt they even realize it’s keeping Del Figlio from shadow walking in and taking him. They don’t think we are stupid enough to do this.”

“We have a null, we’ll figure something out.”

“I can help a little,” Ant said. “I can’t do what he does, but I can protect us from him, but not stall his magic out.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

There was no more words but the man who reminded me of a con stood up and spoke, “If you already had a plan that doesn’t involve us, why are we here?” Dom asked.

There was a round of agreements and I sat down with a sigh. “Nox does things and no one really knows why. He is who he is and he’s made all of you his allies. Allies I didn’t realize were so powerful. If we take him from the Venatori, he needs all the support he can get. And usually not knowing is better than knowing, but in this case I wanted his allies to know what was coming. That it might be an act of war.”

“Against you, and against the vampires, but not us,” the wolf leader said.

Cari laughed. “Pup, you think the Venatori will let you off scott free because you didn’t help. For all they know you did. Nox is your friend. How many pups has he helped you save? More than any of the rest of us. Sheridan’s stay in line because Sheridan’s pack stay off the radar and our of pack business.”

“Guilt by association,” Reginald said. “Yes, that is the Venatori way. We are just as much at risk even if we didn’t know. Now we can prepare.”

Adrian added, “This changes nothing. Whether Nox is part of them or not. He’s the one we trust. He’d go to war for us. And he has. You know he has.”

And in that last bit of solemn words the whole room stood as one, each one stating some oath that was strong, everyone of them swearing loyalty to Nox and he wasn’t even here. He had an army at his beck and call and he lay in a coma waiting for us to come save him. There was hope.

Not What I Bargained For

Ryan moved to the kitchen. “You hungry?”

“Not really, Sage made me eat before I got here.”

“Good kid,” Ant said.

“Your girl leave alright?”

Ant chuckled, “She will leave after Allison brings her a bite to eat.”

“You aren’t feeding her?”

“Allison is a better at it,” Ryan said. “Bre is used to business as usual.”

“I didn’t think he, you, fed on the same person? At least thats what I understood.”

“I don’t have a herd like my mother. I do have regulars who understand my desires and needs.”

“Desires and needs. I like that. I need to make a few calls, that alright?”

“Tell me first, then you can make your calls.”

“Sage got some information from the Infirmary. They are giving Nox lethal doses of nepenthe.”

The look on Ant’s face was angry but his words were not. “That explains the way I feel. Make your calls. We’ll meet in the conference room on the 50th floor in an hour. I will call Allison to get mother here, and do you want me to talk to Dom?”

“He’s?”

Ryan laughed. “He’s the pack leader for the Manhattan clan.”

“Uh, no. I want to do that but through Nox’s channels. He has a guy…” I said hoping they’d help me out.

Ant nodded, “Call Liam, do it right. That’s good. I will send word to Desmond and Marshall but the Creed won’t get involved.”

All these names and I was going to get lost. There was a lot going on in this city Nox didn’t tell me about. Maybe I just didn’t listen? Or listen well enough.

I gave Liam a call, I remembered the weaselly looking wolf but I doubt he’d remember me. He answered quickly, “What?”

“Is that how you answer the call when Nox calls you?”

“What’s it to you? Who the fuck are you?” He growled, literally growled at me.

“My name is Alex Kennedy, we met once, with your wonder boy. I need to speak to your boss, about something concerning Nox. It’s highly important. I’m putting together a meeting with Anthony Giovanni and some others to discuss it. I would really appreciate it if he were in attendance. In one hour in the conference room on the 50th floor of the Night Life building.”

“What’s up with Nox?” I could hear the concern in his voice.

“That’s on a need to know basis right now. Please, it’s important, I wouldn’t be calling, and I sure as fuck wouldn’t be calling his guy if I didn’t want to do this the right way. I need him to hear me out.”

“I’ll make sure he’s there,” the wolf said. Just dropping his name got things done.

Ryan laughed, “It wasn’t just that.”

“What?” I asked looking at the boy in the kitchen of their dojo. Her really didn’t look more than eighteen but I knew he was hundreds of years old.

“It’s not just dropping Nox’s name that gets things done. Most of the higher up people know your name. Mors Praetors ‘targets’ are usually well known. The fact that you were his target for another reason doesn’t escape them.”

I couldn’t wrap my head around it. “Do you have vampire powers or something?”

Ryan smirked. “Or something. Cari is down the hall, her telepathic ability is minimal, but sometimes when the signal is strong she picks it up and I hear it.” He smiled and pushed a plate of pancakes across the bar. “I know you said you weren’t hungry.”

“Do you have ice-cream?”

Ryan chuckled and went to the freezer and pulled out a pint. “Always. \ If you prefer there’s chocolate in there, but that’s usually reserved for meltdowns.”

“Tell me Ant built this room for him?”

Ant came back into the room. “Actually, I built it for Ryan and I, but it’s currently stocked for Nox.”

“Did you get a hold of Dom’s guy?”

“He said he’ll make sure he’s there in an hour.”

“Who else do you want to call?”

“I need to call Adrian back.”

“Allison can do it. Anyone else?”

“Who ever you think needs to know and whoever might help,” I said and sat down at the bar staring at the pancake and ice-cream.

Ant walked past me and put his hand my shoulder. “Nox is fine.”

“You said that drug could kill a human.”

Ant laughed. “It can. Nox isn’t exactly human. I feel lost in my own head. That’s why you can’t get to him, he’s lost. I can’t explain it.”

“Show me.”

The smile from the vampires lips vanished and the room felt colder. “That’s not a good idea.”

“Just show me. Ant, if I can feel it maybe I can reach him. I feel him calling me.”

Ant looked at me like he was boring holes in my skin trying to find something. “You can’t…” he sighed. “Fine.”

“What can’t I do?”

Ant shook his head. “Nothing. It wasn’t you can’t, it’s that I can’t stop you.”

“What can’t you stop me from doing?” I asked curious what had the vampire afraid of me.

“Just do it Alex. You’ll understand.”

Ant let his shields down and I felt an overwhelming feeling of lust and desire and when I stepped into his head, it was almost literal. I could see and feel and I was him. This was something that had never happened before. Anthony Giovanni was an open book. It reminded me of Nox. The thought alone almost had me jumping out of his head. But there was a steady hand on my shoulder in the real world. Ryan whispered, “Just find the bond, you’ll know it when you find it.”

It wasn’t a mess in here like Nox’s head. It was neat and orderly and it was organized. Everything Nox wasn’t. The connection was a thin red line like in the dream world, why I was seeing this instead of reading his thoughts I didn’t know. There was an echo I thought I understood, ‘because you are what you are.’ I didn’t understand, what was I?

But I felt around their connection and it was strong, and it felt like Nox was in a fog, lost in the mist. It wasn’t going to help me. I already knew the mist but maybe next time I could find that bond since I can’t see my own.

I left his mind, I felt strangely alone even with Ryan’s hand steadying me. “What were you afraid of?”

But a voice from the door answered me, “He was afraid you’d see truths in the connections.”

“I only saw neat and orderly and his connection to Nox.”

The man standing in the doorway was tall but gaunt. He wasn’t very attractive yet he drew my eye too him. “Ant’s afraid you’ll figure out that other things happened.”

“What other things?”

Ryan stepped back around the counter to the kitchen side. “This is Nick. He’s an empath but like you he sees the connections others have.”

“The bond between the two of you is weak, new, but integral.”

“What bond?”

Ant sighed, “Nick, shut up and go back to your room. I can tell him.”

“Tell me what?”

“Do you believe in soul mates?”

I opened my mouth to say no, but I closed it quickly before just looking at the vampire. I wasn’t sure I liked where this is going.

“You do. Good. Souls like magic is just energy, we all go back to the same place to be ‘reborn’ again and again, though not all souls are made from the same energy as before. They take a little bit of this, and a little bit of that and make a new soul, but soul energy is uniquely tied to itself. And those like souls despite being separated are what we refer to as soul mates. The more soul energy a person has the stronger the connection. I met a woman once, she was the love of my life. I lost her, vowed to find her. Researched soul mates, learned how to find her generation after generation. I haven’t found her again since her last death. Instead I found Nox, and you. You two are soul mates.”

I didn’t even have to nod he knew the answer but it hadn’t been a question either. “Strong coming into power connection if Nox tells me right. But the moment I met him I knew he possessed a piece of my love. And then I met you.”

“Don’t fucking tell me…”

Ant laughed. “You possess a piece as well. Naturally I’m drawn to you and him. Which is why I can read you and why when I let you in you saw me the way you did If we were to forge a bond like the one I share with Nox, and you and he to form another, the ramifications are unsettling.”

Ryan shook his head. “It’s called a triumvirate of power. It’s a thing of legend and even that legend is so old no one has ever seen one. And Nox can’t know.”

“Why the fuck not? Why are you telling me?”

Ant laughed. “If Nox thinks this is part of destiny he’ll rebel against it, reject it out right. Free will and all, but he’s more than just a simple boy. Tell me you don’t feel it. The book, the shit he lives through, we don’t understand it, we aren’t supposed to. There are prophecies, and he fills each one of them as if he knows it’s written. If he knew he’d rebel.”

“And this triumvirate of power do you want it to happen?”

“That’s not for me to decide.”

“Nox… So you love him?”

“Not like you think,” Ant said. “He’s my master now. I’m drawn to him, but I’m not inclined to sleep with him. Just be the friend he needs. It’s not the first time she’s been a man. But the first she’s split between two.”

“Did you love him then?” I asked.

Ant laughed. “Not in the way you think. We were friends, good ones, but there was no sex between us, no touching, nothing more than a great friendship.”

“You know that’s kinda sad.”

“It is. But it is what it is. I’m glad it’s Nox. And I’m sure I’ll be glad to know you too.”

Holy fuck that was a lot to take in.