“You here for a reason?” Lucien prodded, hoping his thoughts weren’t clearly written on his face. Instead he concentrated on trying to keep amusement at her presence out of his voice. It seemed to annoy her when she thought he was laughing at her.
Finally Caia looked up, stopping and sitting in one of the dining room chairs. She halted abruptly and flushed. “Do you mind?” she asked.
“No.” He smiled. “It’s what it’s there for.”
She relaxed and eased back into the chair. “I’m actually here about the car.”
Lucien groaned. She was keeping the damn car. He was about to tell her so when she lifted her hand up to stop him from saying anything.
“I’m keeping the car.”
It was his turn to relax. “OK. Good.”
“But on one condition.”
His eyes narrowed. He was used to giving the orders around here and setting the conditions. Usually, that would be his reply to such a statement, but it caught in the back of his throat. He cleared it. “What condition?”
“That you let me get a job.”
That wasn’t what he expected.
No. He had the luxury of being able to take care of his kinswomen. His mother didn’t have to work, and he hadn’t demanded Irini get a job when she’d come home because she’d been working her ass off all the time she’d been gone. Now, he wasn’t some old-fashioned chauvinist, but the women of his family only worked if they wanted to, but if they didn’t need to, then he didn’t want to make them. Besides, Caia was too young for a job. She should be concentrating on school.
“I don’t think so.”
She smiled that crazy sweet smile that seemed to work its charm on all the men in the pack. Magnus and Ryder crumbled under it.
“I thought you would say that. So, I was thinking that I could work for you here, at the weekends or something.”
“For me?” he asked incredulously.
He watched as her expression turned unsure. “Well… I just thought you know… you don’t have anyone manning the store front, and you can get busy at the weekends…”
Lucien grinned. He was sold. “I think it’s a great idea.”
Caia grinned back at him. “You do?”
“Sure. This Saturday OK?”
She nodded happily, and he realized she was just glad to be contributing something to the family. He understood that. But for him, it was a perfect opportunity to keep an eye on her.
12 – Witches, Vampyres and Faeries, Oh My
Jaeden couldn’t help herself. She told everyone at lunch the next day that Caia was working for Lucien. Alexa’s reply had been to cause a scene by storming away from the table. The humans had watched them for the rest of the lunch period, wondering what an earth had happened at the ‘pretty people’ table. Caia knew Jaeden was just as pissed as she was that Alexa and Dana wouldn’t get off her back, but really, telling Alexa that she was going to be spending even more quality time with Lucien was just asking for the girl to tear her apart. For the rest of the week she was met with icy resentment, which as far as Caia was concerned was better than the girl actually speaking to her.
It was with a huge sigh of relief that Saturday rolled around quickly. She hadn’t seen much of Lucien lately, and although it had been her intention (before she went and asked him for a job working beside him) to avoid him, she was missing him a little. Moreover, she was more than a little relieved to be getting out of the house. She assumed she hadn’t seen much of Lucien because, what with Irini and Aidan’s mating only a week away, Ella had turned the house into party planning central.
As Lucien always left for a work a few hours before the store actually opened so he could get a start on his furniture before the interruptions began, Caia didn’t arrive for her first day until eight forty-five. She was surprised to see Ryder was already there. He smiled teasingly at her as Lucien gave her a run through of her duties. There was nothing major to undertake – the cash register seemed easy enough to understand, and besides, he had told her if she was asked any questions she couldn’t answer to just give him a shout.
“I can’t believe you’re working here.” Ryder smirked, settling into a rocking chair as Lucien departed into his work room.
“Should you be doing that?” Caia asked, sliding onto the stool behind the front counter.
Ryder chuckled and shrugged. “Dunno, you tell me. You work here now.”
Caia laughed. “Why is that so amazing to you?”
His eyes twinkled but he shook his head, refusing to say anything. She felt her stomach flip. Ryder didn’t suspect her feelings, did he? Holy Artemis, that would be awful. Worse than awful. Utter mortification was in sight. “You haven’t had a job lately,” she stated, trying to turn the conversation away from her.
He nodded. “True. Things have been quiet for a while.”
She leaned against the counter, her eyes wide as she asked, “So you must have come across other supernaturals on all your trips, right?”
“I haven’t met any.” She sighed, thinking of all the creatures out there that shared their world, and she had no idea what any of them were like.
Ryder frowned. “What about Marion?”
“The magik who put the protection spell up around me?”
It was her turn to shrug. “I never met her.”
Ryder grinned. “I can’t believe that. Marion is great. You’ll really like her. Powerful witch too. You know her sister is the Head of the Daylight Coven?”
Caia shook her head. She had had no idea. That meant that for ten years she had had actual royalty looking after her, watching and protecting. Wow, the pack really did have connections in high places. “How do you know a witch that high up in the circle?”
He winked. “How else?”
She shook her head. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I keep forgetting you’re only seventeen. Mind you when I was seventeen I knew-”
Caia frowned. “Ryder, the point?”
The hunter laughed at her impatience. “OK, OK. The pack is good friends with Marion because once, a long time ago, Magnus was really good friends with Marion.”
It took a moment for that to sink in, and then she gasped, “Magnus was with a magik?”
“Hey, there is nothing wrong with a little variety in life.”
The leer on his face made her ask quietly, so that her voice wouldn’t carry through to Lucien, “Have you ever…?”
Ryder seemed to be enjoying her awkwardness. “What? Enjoyed some vanilla instead of chocolate?”
She rolled her eyes at his metaphor. “Yes.”
He nodded, taking his turn to glance through to the work shop to make sure Lucien wasn’t paying attention. “Many times. You know there are some lykans who have mated with other supernaturals.”
Her mind whirled with the revelation. She had had no idea that was possible. She brightened; suddenly her options were a little less confining. “Really?”
“Sure. I have a friend from another pack. David. He mated with a faerie.”
“One and only.”
“You really didn’t know that was possible?” Ryder queried leaning his elbows on his knees. “Your education is kind of spotty.”
She twisted her lips peevishly. “Tell me about it.” Then she frowned. “But they can’t actually mate, right? Ella said that you can’t have children unless you mate, and you can’t mate unless the gods bless the union so…”
Ryder nodded. “And what goddess should bless a union between a lykan and a faerie, Artemis or Hemera?”
“Hemera.” He smiled. “She has precedent, since she’s all primordial and shi-”
“So they can have children?” Caia interrupted, amazed.
“They’ll have faeries for children in that case.”
Caia’s mind hurt with how many scenarios this new situation created. “But, if a vampyre and a lykan mate, then who-”
“Well there’s the thing. Vampyres can only have kids with their own kind. And to be honest they don’t view mating the same way we do. Hades doesn’t bless the union or anything you know. He didn’t exactly expect his nasty little undead to refine their ways and start living like humans. Apparently, the story goes that Demeter, the Goddess of Fertility, granted the vampyres the ability to give birth to their own kind in vengeance against Hades for kidnapping her daughter Persephone and making her Queen of the Underworld. With this gift, vampyres became even more human.”
Caia shook her head, astounded by all the new information. Ryder grinned at her.
“You want to hear some of my personal stories?”
Caia nodded her head enthusiastically and leaned back to enjoy Ryder’s colorful storytelling. They were interrupted a few times as customers came in, but for most of the morning he held her enthralled. He told her about a group of vampyre hunters he’d stayed with for a few weeks; how, although many vampyres were able to sustain themselves on the blood they bought from butchers and slaughterhouses, these hunters preyed on animals to hone their skills for hunting the rogue vampyres that killed humans for pleasure.
“So,” Caia searched for clarification, “It’s against the law to hunt a supernatural that isn’t of your own race?”
“Completely,” Ryder told her, his eyes serious. “If I were caught hunting a rogue vampyre I could be pulled up before the Council. It’s a huge breech of Coven laws.”
“So vampyres,” Caia went on, “What are they like? I mean, we don’t die by silver bullets so what’s the true story behind them? Do they sleep in coffins?”
Ryder smiled at her innocence. “No. They walk in daylight, they’re not afraid of crosses or holy water-”
“I didn’t think they were, considering they’re pre-Christian.”READ MORE >>