Hudson makes a promise and a demand.
“I need to talk to Anna.” She said hurriedly.
He took a step back to allow her to enter, “Sure. Is something wrong?”
Christa didn’t answer; her eyes were scanning the room for Anna. She spotted her sitting on the sofa and hurried to her side. “I just talked to Hudson.”
Anna nodded for her to take a seat.
“Shit Anna I didn’t know what to say. Of fuck I hope I didn’t screw anything up.”
“Calm down.” Anna said kindly. “Tell me what happened.”
Gerard joined them taking a seat in the leather chair across from the woman.
“He said he stopped by to talk to Ray about some music project. As soon as I saw him I felt nervous, he kept staring at me.”
“Didn’t Ray notice?” Gerard asked.
Christa shook her head, “I don’t think so. He didn’t seem to.”
“If Hudson did not want Ray to notice then Ray would not notice.” Anna explained her voice sounding tired. “He is very adept at controlling mortals.”
“What?” Gerard asked not understanding.
“Glamour.” Christa whispered.
Anna nodded. “Yes, he uses it often. Now tell me exactly what happened.”
Christa took a deep breath, “He and Ray were talking and then Ray got a call from his mom and went to answer it. As soon as he was gone Hudson asked me if I was going to continue staring at my drink. I mean, yeah I was doing that because I didn’t wanna look at him, you know?”
Anna reached over and touched her arm. “Take a deep breath.” She said kindly.
“Sorry.” Christa said realizing that she was blathering. “Okay. When he said that I looked up that’s when he said something like she was wise to do what she did.”
“He knows I blood bonded you to me.”
Christa’s face feel, “Is that bad?”
“No, not at all.” Anna reassured her. “Of course he knows, he can smell the bond.”
“Then he added that you were thinking ahead. Shit, I didn’t know what to say so I just stared at him.”
Anna thought a moment, “Like me he must have realized the first time he met you that you are different. He is assuming I bonded you to me for that reason.”
“But does he know you don’t control my mind? I mean I know it’s bad that you don’t according to them and I didn’t think we wanted anyone to know that.”
“He knows I do not control Claire or Gerard so I am assuming he believes I am not controlling yours either.”
“So you’re not in trouble?” Christa whispered.
“Did he say anything else?” Anna asked.
Christa nodded, “Yeah he said that you had placed great trust in me and that I should take care not to do anything to lose that trust. Shit, it sounded like a warning and it scared me.”
“He can be a scary guy.” Gerard muttered.
Anna gave her arm a light squeeze, “Do not worry. He has vowed to help protect Gerard and I and I believe the warning was because of that fact. Hudson realizes the choices I make are dangerous.”
“Anna I don’t wanna cause you any trouble.” Christa said sadly.
“Do not worry. To any other of my kind who did not know the truth you would simply appear to be another mortal who is blood bonded. However be wary of Hudson. While I do believe he will keep his word to Jacob to help protect me he does like to play with mortals. He likes to set them on edge.”
“Fuck yeah, he does.” Gerard added darkly.
Anna looked over at him and smiled, “Just be grateful he was in a good mood earlier.” She remarked recalling Hudson’s earlier visit.
Gerard’s eyes narrowed. “Son of a bitch wasn’t kidding was he?” He asked Anna referring to Hudson’s request to ‘join’ them in the pool.
Anna shook her head sadly, “No he was not joking. But he honored your request.” She paused a moment looking directly into Gerard’s eyes, “However the way you worded your request was disrespectful. He may have been in a good mood today but that will not always be the case.”
Gerard understood her warning.
The Fontana was crowded and security was in full force for Hudson Evan’s party. As soon as Gerard and Anna walked in they spotted several celebrities.
“Shit, I hate these things.” Gerard muttered tightening his hold on Anna’s hand.
She smiled slightly, “I have never attended a party of this caliber before.” She admitted. “I see there are several well known press people in attendance.”
Gerard followed her gaze, “Yeah, I recognize that woman. She works for AP.”
At that moment the woman looked up and spotted Gerard. Slowly she began to make her way towards them. “Shit.” Gerard muttered knowing there was no way to escape.
“Gerard.” The tall blond woman said reaching them. “Good to see you.”
“Hey, Holly.” Gerard greeted her with a fake smile, “Good to see you too.”
Holly Kline smiled then looked over at Anna. “You must be Annabelle Lewis. Wow you look so different from the photo on you book covers.”
Anna smiled but remained silent for the moment.
“I love your books.” Holly said leaning closer to be heard over all the noise. “I guess congratulations are in order?”
Gerard tensed wondering how to handle the situation.
It was Anna who answered. “Yes, thank you.”
Holly beamed anticipating a potential story, “So have you two set a date?”
“Well you know we are touring right now.” Gerard said smoothly, “So we really haven’t had time to plan.”
Holly nodded, “Of course. You know if you get a chance I would love to do an interview with you two. I know our readers are curious as to how you two met. Annabelle is known to be something of a recluse. I have to admit I was surprised when I heard you were engaged Gerard and when I learned your fiancée was Annabelle Lewis I was shocked.”
Anna could sense Gerard’s growing impatience so she spoke, “Actually we met because I am writing a book about the band.” She had given it thought and decided telling the truth about some things would make the situation easier.
“A book about My Chem?” Holly’s tone made it apparent she was surprised. “I didn’t know you wrote non-fiction.”
“This will be my first attempt.” Anna admitted.
“Wow so I have to ask is it okay if I break that story?”
Anna looked deeply into Gerard’s eyes a moment then turned back to the reporter, “Yes of course. Until now no one but a select few knew of my plans but now that Gerard and I are together I see no reason it should be kept secret.”
“Thanks.” Holly beamed.
Gerard noticed that Ray was standing not far from them trying to get their attention. “Well nice seeing you again.” Gerard said kindly.
Holly understood they were impatient to move on. “You too and thanks.” She leaned over and spoke softly to Anna. “Really I mean it and I wish you and Gerard every happiness.”
Anna smiled, “Thank you.” As Gerard gently pulled her through the crowd.
Before they reached Ray he stopped and whispered in Anna’s ear, “I didn’t think you wanted anyone to know about the book.”
“It explains how we met.”
He leaned down and kissed her lips impulsively.
Ray growing impatient for them had made his way to where they stood. “This is fuckin’ insane.” He said in greeting. “There are so many famous people here I’ve lost count.” He grinned “I talked to Bono a few minutes ago.”
Gerard smiled trying to share his enthusiasm. “Cool.”
“Oh, I talked to Hudson earlier when he came by our villa.” Ray started to explain obviously not knowing Christa informed them of that fact. “He’s working on putting together a project with a bunch of bands and wants us involved. I told him I’d talk to the rest of you guys but that I was sure we’d be interested. Fuck, he’s even talking about doing a tour together.”
“He’s getting ready to start a tour of Europe.” Gerard reminded him.
“Yeah this would be after that. He’s only gonna be out five months and he knows we’re touring now too.” Ray explained while his eyes searched the room. “Hey you haven’t seen Frank have you?”
“We just got here.” Gerard answered, “Why has the gnome gone missing?”
Ray laughed, “Nope I’m just sorta worried about him. Christa talked to Jamia when we first got here and said she could tell something is wrong. I think they had a fight.”
“Frank and Jamia?” Gerard was surprised.
Ray shrugged, “Yeah, I think so.”
Anna was listening while her eyes scanned the crowed. Suddenly she saw Jamia standing talking with Christa. “Be right back.” She said then walked towards the women before Gerard could object.
Jamia and Christa stopped talking as soon as Anna neared.
“Hello.” Anna greeted them.
“Hey.” Christa smiled. Jamia smiled then looked away.
“Have you seen Claire and Bob?” Anna asked.
“They’re here somewhere.” Christa answered, “I can’t believe this party. I’ve never been around so many famous people at one time.”
“Hudson does know how to throw a party.” Anna answered dryly.
Jamia took a drink from her glass, “I’m gonna go see if I can find Frank. Catch you guys later.”
Anna waited until she’d disappeared into the crowd to ask, “Is something wrong? She does not seem to be having a good time.”
Christa’s face took on an uncomfortable look, ‘Uh kind of.”
Anna moved closer, “Ray said that you believe she and Frank had an argument.”
“It’s really nothing important.”
Anna smiled, “You do realize I can gauge your moods and I realize you are trying to hide something from me.”
Christa looked shocked, “Oh shit.”
“If you do not wish to tell me I understand you keeping Jamia’s confidence.”
Christa took a sip of her champagne before answering, “It’s not that exactly and maybe I should tell you.” She paused a moment, “See Frank is upset because he thinks the only reason Hudson is interested in the group is because of you.”
Anna had half expected something like this. “And he and Jamia argued about that?”
“She’s mad because she says he worries too much about Gerard and she’s tired of it.”
“Frank still believes that I am wrong for Gerard.” Anna said sadly.
“I don’t think that’s really true. He likes you but I think he’s worried that Gerard will get hurt.”
“Because of me.”
“Well yeah but oh hell.” Christa sighed, “And now with Hudson suddenly showing so much interest in the band he’s thinking that you and Hudson have some sort of past and that Gerard will get hurt.”
“Oh shit.” Anna muttered.
Christa looked shocked a moment than laughed, “Sorry, it’s just weird when you say things like that.”
“I am just tired of all the lies.” Anna said softly. “And I am saddened that Frank continues to believe I will hurt Gerard.”
Taking another drink Christa asked softly, “Do you and Hudson have some sort of past?”
“Yes but not in the way Frank believes. The only man I love is Gerard.” Suddenly her eyes landed on Hudson who was across the room surrounded by people. “Perhaps I can do something to ease Frank’s mind.” She walked away leaving Christa confused. Her eyes watched as Anna moved towards Hudson. Almost as if drawn by and invisible magnet he stopped speaking and his eyes zeroed in on Anna. As Christa watched Hudson said something to those around him then walked directly over to Anna.
“Annabelle, you wish to speak to me?” Hudson said in a low smooth tone.
“Yes.” She nodded.
He took her arm and led her across the room. Soon they were standing outside by the railing where others watched the famous dancing waters of the Balligo. Several people acknowledged Hudson but he smiled keeping his attention on Anna.
“So darlin’ what can I do for you?” He asked.
Anna took a deep breath, “I wish to ask a favor of you.”
His eyes danced, “Oh a favor. What kind of favor?”
She tried to control her emotions but the blood bond she now shared with Hudson gave her an uneasy feeling. “First I must ask a question. Are you truly interested in doing a project with MCR?”
Hudson grinned, “Well I did invite them here so I could discuss that with them.”
“Besides what other reason would I have to invite them? You don’t believe I did it just to get you here, do you?”
His nearness was beginning to present problems. She took a step back and sighed, “Must we play this game?” She asked boldly.
Hudson threw back his head and laughed, “Annabelle you have changed so much from that meek little girl I met years ago. Do you remember that night?”
“You know that I do.” Anna answered shortly.
“As do I. You were such a scared little thing hiding behind Jacob. Now look at you.” He took a step closer to her, “Such a beautiful woman. You have no idea how hard it was to deny myself this afternoon when I saw you naked in that pool.” His voice was hypnotic, “I have not wanted another like that in a very long time.”
“Please.” Anna whispered, “Stop.” She could feel his heat and hunger.
“Perhaps we should continue this conversation in private?” He reached out and touched her cheek with his fingertip. A smile appeared on his face when she looked away but not before he saw her eyes flash.
“Hey.” Gerard said sliding up to Christa and Ray. “Have you seen Anna?”
Christa didn’t answer but Ray did.
“Yeah, I saw her heading outside to the balcony with Hudson.”
Anna gripped the railing tightly trying to fight the part of her true nature she could not contain. The blood bond she shared with Hudson was being fueled by his passion and hers. “Do not do this.” She whispered.
“Why?” He asked truly not understanding. “The bond we share is beautiful.”
“You know I love him.” Anna whispered.
“And I love her.” Gerard’s voice was low and determined.
Hudson looked over at him and smiled, “Hello Gerard. I assume you believe you are here to rescue Annabelle from evil me?”
“But I am not evil.” Hudson said looking deeply into Gerard’s eyes, “And I know that deep down you understand that fact. I am what I am. Different than you but not evil.”
Gerard felt trapped by his gaze. His mind was suddenly filled with images of Hudson’s nude body that shocked him.
Hudson smiled, “You want to hate the fact that you aren’t appalled, don’t you?”
Anna reached over and took Gerard’s hand.
Gerard fought for control by looking away.
“Won’t work.” Hudson laughed, “I can feel your emotions. You underestimate the power of the bond. Both of you want to hate the truth, the truth that you want me as much as I want the two of you.”
“No.” Gerard said shaking his head.
“Yes.” Hudson said softly, “Don’t you see? My blood that runs through your veins is giving you a unique glimpse at what it is like to be me. There is no right or wrong it just is. For a moment let go of your mortal self and feel what it is like to be a Healer.”
“Vampire.” Gerard hissed angrily.
Beside him Anna dropped his hand and turned her back to both men.
Gerard realized his words had hurt her deeply, “Sugar, I’m sorry.” He said taking a step closer to her.
Hudson sighed, “What you hate about me, you hate about her. It is what she is, Gerard.”
“I hate nothing about her.’ Gerard answered angrily turning back to Hudson, “Nothing.”
Suddenly the expression on Hudson’s face changed and he smiled, “I really must mingle with my guests. Annabelle what favor did you wish to ask?”
Anna couldn’t find the strength to face him again.
“I am assuming by your earlier question that someone is questioning my motives about working with the band. Since I have spoke to everyone but Frank I assume it is him?’
Anna nodded slightly, still facing the water show.
“Annabelle, look at me when I talk to you.’ Hudson commanded.
She turned but her face remained blank.
“I do have great respect for their music. However I will not lie, the fact that inviting the group meant seeing you and Gerard again was a bonus. I will speak to Frank and he will believe my desire to work with the group is true.”
“Thank you.” Anna whispered.
Hudson looked at both of them a minute then sighed, “Both of you try my patience. After the party tonight I want you both to come to my villa.” With that he strode off without a backwards glance.