An uneasy feeling is felt by those bound to Marcus.
Annie glanced at the book store then back at him. “I just don’t want to mess this up. I know how important this is.”
He smiled, “Yes, it is important but I know you’ll do fine. Now, I’ll wait here. Why don’t you walk over to the window and see if you can spot the Healer’s symbol?”
Annie nodded, “Okay.” She took a deep calming breath then walked slowly to the large glass window. The display was mostly old books in various sizes and conditions. Since Sean had briefly described what she was looking for it was easy for her to spot. She smiled then walked back over to him. “It’s on the old brown leather book near the bottom of the display.”
“Yep.” Sean nodded, “That’s it.”
“And they always use that symbol?”
“Yes, but sometimes in very creative ways according to Gerard. This is the only one I’ve seen.” He paused, “Well no, that’s not right. I have seen another in London. Gerard took me there a couple of months ago. He wanted to get art supplies and he let me tag along. I saw the symbol in the window of a shop there but since he and Anna didn’t need anything at the time I didn’t go in.”
Annie had gone back to twisting her hands nervously. “Okay, so you’re sure the woman inside will know why I’m there?”
Sean placed his hand on her shoulder in a comforting manner. “Annie, stop being nervous. She will immediately sense you are a blood bound. Just look into her eyes and smile. Tell her you are there to pick up a special book. That’s all you need to do.” He removed his hand. “Anna gave you money, right?”
Annie nodded, “Yeah.”
“While I never have to pay because the shop owner knows me and who I am bound to you will pay for your purchase this time. She won’t know who you are bound to.”
“Wait, why don’t you pay?”
“This is a small town and to other mortals I’m simply picking up a book for Mr. Caulfield. He orders rare books a lot and everyone knows that. So when I go in everyone just assumes the book is billed to his account. However since no one know you here, not yet, you must pay.”
“So it looks legitimate?”
Sean grinned, “Yep. Once people start to see you around town with Gerard and Anna you won’t have to do that.”
“Why can’t I just say it’s for Gerard or Anna?”
Even though he knew he’d explained this to her before he understood her nervousness was confusing her. “Because you will never be asked who the synthetic is for and you should never offer that information. If you are asked then something is wrong and you must report that to Anna.”
“Oh yeah.” Annie sighed, “Shit, I forgot that.”
Sean smiled, “Annie, take a deep breath and go in. I know you’ll do just fine.”
She smiled at him. “You really think so?”
He couldn’t stop himself from leaning forward and quickly placing a chaste kiss on her cheek. “I know so.”
Annie blinked in surprise.
“Sorry. Shouldn’t have done that.” Sean said looking away.
This time he was surprised when Annie moved to hug him. “Yes you should have and thank you.” She whispered. She turned towards the shop, stood tall then walked in.
“Wow.” Casey said as Marcus pulled to a stop in front of his London home. “This is beautiful.”
He turned and smiled, “Yeah, it is nice. I’ve owned this place for years. Uh, one of my companies ‘bought’ it from the estate of the late Hudson Evens.”
Casey laughed, “Too bad poor Hudson passed on.”
He nodded, “Yeah, that was a fun life. I still sorta miss performing.”
“You’ll perform again.” Casey said looking into his eyes. “One day you will.”
He blinked, “I haven’t even given doing that any thought.”
She smiled, “I know but someday you will. You have a wonderful voice and you like to share it.”
Marcus frowned, “Not true. I simply liked being a performer because I liked all the attention.”
Casey remembered it was critical he remaining thinking like a Pure. “And you liked at the women and men who were drawn to you.”
“Not gonna lie, that’s true.” He nodded.
Not wanting him to rethink his old ways she smiled then said, “Okay, so let’s get inside. I can’t wait to see the place.”
As they neared the front door Marcus said. “I don’t want you to see the bedrooms yet.”
Casey was hearing his thoughts and what she heard worried her. She knew he was still uneasy with her actually seeing things that were a part of his parties. “But I want to.” She pouted. “And I have to pick out my outfit for tonight.”
Marcus’s eyes flashed at that statement. “Uh, no. You want this to be like all my other parties, right?”
“Yes.” She nodded as she watched him unlock the door.
“Well then you’ll have to wait until tonight when I send the blood bounds and Healers to dress.”
“So Healers dress up too?”
He waited until they were inside and the door was closed to answer. “Yeah, some of the Pures choose to dress up to but they aren’t required to do it.”
“Well then as a good blood bound I won’t see the outfits until it’s time. But I really hope I can find one you’ll like.”
“Fuck.” Marcus’s blood was running hot. He pulled her into his arms kissing her passionately.
Casey smiled when he broke off the kiss, “Does that mean you think I’ll find something to wear that you’ll like?”
His topaz eyes bore into hers. “Tonight I must be the Pure I truly am, you understand that?”
“Yes, of course. And I will be the blood bound that I am. I want this, Marcus. Never for a minute tonight doubt that. I want you to treat me as your blood bound. I know there will be other’s that are bound to you here too. I accept that. At this point in time I am simply a blood bound. I accept that.”
“No you are more. You are Ingredior Utriusque”
She nodded, “Yes, and most of the Healers we’ve met do give me a higher ranking so to speak because of that. But the fact remains I belong to you. I belong to a very old Pure who is respected.”
“Yes, I am.” His Pure blood responded. “You are mine to do with what I want.” To prove his point he pushed her back against a large table in the hallway. Lifting her up he yanked open her blouse sending the buttons sailing to the floor.
Casey was aware they were not alone in the house and she could hear by this thoughts he was testing her. She smiled then raised her hands to unhook the front snap of her bra. Immediately his lips latched on to her nipple. Casey leaned back on her arms allowing him better access. She refused to care if anyone walked by them. It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered to her was this Pure she loved with all her heart. She had to make him understand she accepted what he was and his ways.
“All went well?” Anna asked looking up at Sean and Annie as they walked in. She was seated on the floor playing with Elena who was giggling at the stuffed bunny Anna was making dance before her.
“Piece of cake.” Sean smiled. “Annie handled it perfectly.”
Annie glowed under his praise. “I didn’t act nervous at all.” She wanted Anna to know that she understood it was an honor Anna did not control her mind as most Healers did with their blood bounds.
“Well I better get back to the studio.” Sean said. His eyes lingered on Annie. “Uh see you tonight.”
She smile, “Yep, don’t forget we’re having spaghetti.”
“I won’t.” He grinned then turned to leave.
Anna was watching them closely and what she saw pleased her. Annie and Sean were for were obviously forming a close relationship, something she believed would be good for both of them.
Annie sat down on the floor by Anna and the baby. “Hey Baby Elena.” She said giving the child’s cheek a gentle caress. She was rewarded with a smile.
“She seems to be getting tired.” Anna said looking at the baby. “I think soon it will be time for a nap.”
Annie turned her attention to Anna. “She’s a beautiful baby.”
Anna nodded, “Yes, she is.”
“Why is there sadness in your eyes when you look at her?” Annie asked before she could stop herself.
The question caught Anna off guard. “I did not realize that.”
Now Annie wished she hadn’t pointed out her observation. She could tell Anna was upset. “Sorry.”
Anna sat back and looked at her a moment before speaking. “Do not be sorry for speaking your mind. I have given you the same freedom I gave your grandmother Claire. You may say or ask whatever you wish. I am just surprised by your comment.”
“Well.” Annie began slowly. “I can see how much you love this baby..”
Anna cut her off, “Something you understand I am not supposed to feel.”
“Yes, I understand that. But I don’t think the sadness is because you know a Healer is not supposed to feel love like a mortal. It is deeper than that.”
“It is hard.” Anna spoke softly. “For me to love this baby. And you are right, I do know a correct Healer would not feel what I do. However I think what is the saddest thing for me is knowing she will never feel the same way towards me.” She paused, “And that one day she will simply leave us to begin her life as a Pure.”
“They age until they’re twenty-five, right?”
Anna nodded letting her gaze go back to the baby.
“But right now she needs you to care for her. I’ve watched you hold her and I’ve seen how happy and content she is in your arms.”
Anna nodded but remained silent.
“So in a way what you’re feeling is just like every other mother in the world. They all know that someday their child will grow up and start their own life. But it just seems to me that if you dwell on that you’ll miss this time and this time is good.”
When Anna glanced over at her there were tears in her eyes. “Yes, this time is very good. I am very happy caring for Elena.”
“Then just enjoy it. Don’t worry about the future. Live for today.” Annie said reaching out to touch her arm.
“You are wise for your years.” Anna said softly. “And I know in my heart what you say is true. It just seems that time passes so quickly.”
“Mom always says that too.” Annie whispered.
Anna titled her head, “Do you miss your mother?”
“Of course.” Annie answered. “I miss my family because I love them. But at the same time I knew I had to make a life of my own. And the fact that I couldn’t seem to do that hurt mom and dad. They wanted me to be happy and now I am.”
Both women looked over and saw the baby’s eyes were growing heavy.
“Would you mind putting her down for her nap?” Anna asked.
Annie smiled, “Not at all.”
“I will be in the art studio.” Anna suddenly felt a great desire to paint. It was one thing that seemed to help bring focus to her mind when it was troubled.
“Okay, I’ll just go to my room and read after I get Elena settled down.” Annie said believing Anna wanted some time alone. She was surprised by Anna’s response.
“Do you paint?”
Annie smiled, “The only thing I’ve ever painted was my room.”
“Well then once Elena is down for her nap come to the studio.”
“Are you sure?”
Anna smiled, “I know you believe I want to be alone but that is not true. I would enjoy your company.”
“I understand.” Annie smiled, “Sometimes even if you’re not talking it’s just nice to know someone else is there.”
“Yes.” Anna smiled, “You do understand.”
Marcus led Casey to a small bedroom then opened the door. “Take a nap.” He said roughly. “I’ve got things I need to deal with.”
Casey gave him a surprised look. His Pure blood was running strong right now and it was impossible to hear most of his thoughts. She walked in. “Uh, this looks like a normal bedroom.”
“Not every bedroom in this estate is equipped for pleasure.” He answered impatiently. “This is simply a bedroom.”
Casey smiled, “I don’t know.” She cast a glance at the bed. “I think we could have a lot of pleasure here.”
“Good Lord woman we just had sex in the hallway.” He ground out.
It was on the tip of her tongue to correct him and say they made love but she didn’t. His mind was in turmoil enough already. “What time will they arrive?”
“Seven.” He answered. “I will make sure someone wakes you in plenty of time to get ready.”
Again Casey held back what she truly wanted to say. From the snippets of thoughts she was hearing she understood he did not want to see her again until the party started. “Okay, what do I wear?”
“Just dress normally when you first come down.” He walked over to the bed and threw back the covers.
Casey walked over, slipped off her shoes, and then climbed into the bed. Marcus pulled the blanket over her body.
“Get as much sleep as you can.” He advised. “It will be a long night.”
Marcus looked into her eyes a moment then turned.
Casey smiled hearing the one thought that came through loud and clear. “I feel the same.” She said softly as he reached the door.
He turned, “Tonight I will not be able to show that and you understand?”
She nodded, “Yes, of course.”
He looked as if he was about to say more but suddenly turned and left the room closing the door behind him.
Anna smiled as Gerard slipped his arms around her. “Glad you are home, husband.”
“Glad to be home, wife.” He answered nuzzling her neck. His eyes went to the painting. “That’s beautiful. When it’s done we will hang it in Elena’s room.”
Anna gazed critically at her work taking in the nighttime scene. “Yes, I am painting it for her.”
He kissed her neck again. “I can tell.”
This time Anna put down her brush then turned in his arms. “Because you know me.” She said before pressing her lips against his.
“That I do, my beautiful Anna.” He answered as the kiss ended. “So how was your day?”
Anna smiled, “Very good. I am pleased Annie handled her task so well.”
Gerard grinned, “Yeah, Sean gave me a complete update on that. Uh, did you notice he and Annie seem to be getting along pretty damn well?”
“Does that bother you?” Anna asked searching his eyes for the truth.
“Oh hell no.” He grinned, “I think it’s great. Sean has been lonely a long time. I get the feeling Annie was too.”
Anna nodded. “Yes, that is true. Did Sean tell you he kissed her on the cheek today?”
Gerard laughed, “Yeah, he mentioned that. He was pretty pleased when she hugged him.” He walked across the room to the other painting on a nearby easel. “Annie?”
“Yes.” Anna nodded, “She began working on it today. While she told me the only thing she has ever painted was her room I believe her work shows promise.”
Gerard looked at it closely. “Yeah, definitely for a first time try it’s good. I’m glad you have someone here with you during the day while I’m gone.”
“Because I have been spending too much time alone with the baby?” Anna asked wanting to get his true feelings on the subject.
“Well not that so much but you do need to interact with people more.” He answered hoping she’d understand his concern. “And with Annie here now you’ll be able to come to the studio more.”
“The baby has changed our lives.” Anna said softly. “I am sorry if you feel I am neglecting you.”
“Oh Sugar, that’s not what I mean at all. But I’m not gonna lie I do like having you to myself from time to time.” He grinned then went back to studying Annie’s painting.
“Gee, what is troubling you?” Anna asked suddenly picking up on his emotions.
He turned to her not surprised she was aware of his feelings. “I’m not sure but I do know it has something to do with Marcus.”
“Have you spoken to him?”
“No, you’re not picking up on anything?” He asked.
Anna shook her head, “No, but it would make sense you are since you and Marcus bonded before he left with Casey. I have not bonded with him for some time. Tell me about this feeling? Does it have something to do with her?”
Now he wished he’d kept this to himself because he could tell Anna was worried. “I’m not sure, maybe it’s nothing. Anyway I need to clean up before dinner.’ He said changing the subject. “Can’t wait to taste the spaghetti.”
Anna tried to set aside the worry she was feeling. “Is Sean in the kitchen helping Annie?”
Gerard nodded, “Yep and I was thinking after dinner you and I could go for a nice long walk.”
Anna smiled, “Yes, that sounds lovely.”
Casey was roused from sleep when the covers were thrown back. She opened her eyes to see a beautiful dark haired woman staring at her.
“Marcus sent me to tell you to prepare for the party. The guests will be arriving soon.”
“Okay.” Casey said slowly sitting up. She tried to clear her sleepy mind. “I’m Casey.” She said hoping the woman who she sensed was a Healer would identify herself.
“I am Alice.” Still a completely blank stare.
“Nice to meet you Alice.” Casey said moving to dangle her legs over the side of the bed.
Alice stepped back watching her closely. “You are the Ingredior Utriusque”
“Marcus enjoys having one of your kind bound to him. However I am sure that will pass. He’s often pleased with a new toy.”
Casey suddenly realized by the woman’s tone she was dealing with a Healer who was suffering a bad case of jealousy. “Do you live here?”
Alice nodded, “Yes, I run this estate for Marcus. I have done so for years. Until tonight it would have been my place to act as hostess alongside Marcus however it seems that job tonight will fall to you.”
Now Casey understood more about the jealousy. “Oh.” She struggled for something to say.
“I think it is a foolish idea.” Alice said glaring at Casey. “You are a blood bound who’s mind he can not control.”
“You mean like he controls his other blood bounds?”
“Yes, of course that’s what I mean.” She scoffed. “Marcus is a very powerful Pure. He has many blood bounds who do his bidding.”
Casey reminded herself not to let anger affect her words. “Of course he does.” She answered sweetly.
Alice stared at her. “Do not fail in your duties tonight. I have seen Marcus angry and you wouldn’t like it.”
“Was he angry with you?” Casey couldn’t stop herself from asking.
“No, of course not.” The question further angered Alice, “Marcus and I have a very good relationship. I am speaking of blood bounds.”
Casey stood. “I’ll get ready now.’ She said hoping Alice would take the hint and leave. She didn’t want to deal with this Healers jealousy anymore.
“Yes, try to make yourself presentable.” Alicia said narrowing her blue eyes. “I’m sure with enough makeup you might pull that off.”
“I’ll do my best.” Casey said clinching her fists at her side. “I know it’s important to look my best when I stand at Marcus’s side as his hostess.” She couldn’t stop herself from adding.
Alice’s eyes flashed in anger. She turned and walked from the room but not before saying. “Enjoy it while you can, blood bound.”
“This is so fuckin’ good.” Gerard said after his first bite of spaghetti.
Annie smiled, “Glad you think so. I didn’t add to much garlic to the sauce, did I?’
“You added the prefect amount.” Gerard answered.
“I told you it was just right.” Sean said looking into Annie’s eyes.
Anna took a small slice of garlic bread then broke off a piece. “Hopefully my husband will remember he can not eat too much.”
Gerard laughed, “Yeah I know but damn this is good.” He said taking another bite. “Annie I saw the painting you were working on today.”
“Oh.” She answered looking down, “It’s not very good.”
“I didn’t know you paint.” Sean said looking over at her.
“I don’t.” She smiled, “But Anna said I should try.”
“It’s very good for a first time attempt.” Gerard said, “But can I ask you something?”
“Uh, the painting reminds me of …” He searched his mind, “I guess it reminds me of like an English garden. Is that someplace you’ve been?”
“No.” Annie answered slowly, “But for some reason that place just came to my mind.”
Gerard and Anna exchanged a look that confused the others.
“What is it?” Annie asked.
“Marcus and Casey are in London.” Anna answered.
“Oh.” Annie said slowly, “You think that maybe I’m picking up on that?”
“Well you did bond with him.” Gerard answered taking a slice of garlic bread. “It is possible.”
Annie decided to tell them the truth. “You know as I painted that I sorta got a weird feeling.”
“Weird?” Gerard asked.
She nodded, “Like an uneasy feeling.”
Gerard nodded, “I understand but don’t worry about it.”
“They are okay, aren’t they?” Annie worried.
“I am sure they are.” Anna answered. “Marcus is a very strong Pure. I am sure nothing is wrong.”
Gerard knew she was lying about her true feelings.