I remember an old song by Bill Whithers called, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” I think that song is one of the saddest yet profound ever created. It shows how a man acknowledges that without his true love, he’s just a hot mess!
So this week’s Snippet Saturday theme…well, it kind of speaks for itself. Enjoy the Snippet and then visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post.
Late one night after falling asleep in Bix and Carin’s living room, Shinju woke to find her friend sitting at the kitchen table staring down at the polished wood surface with a dazed look on her face, grinning. Shin lay on the couch watching for a moment, expecting Carin to simply snap out of whatever she was thinking about, get up and head to bed.
After about ten minutes, the woman hadn’t moved, but the smile was bigger and her skin appeared somewhat flushed. Was she ill? No, probably not. She certainly wouldn’t be showing that many teeth with such a happy expression if she didn’t feel well.
Shinju rose slowly, careful not to startle the other woman, and moved toward the breakfast area.
“Carin?” she called softly. No answer. “Carin, you all right?”
After a second or two, the good doctor blinked rapidly and swiveled her gaze toward Shinju, goofy display of teeth still in place.
Okaaay? This was weird.
A big contented sigh filled Carin’s chest, then came out a satisfied whoosh.
“Hey, Shin. What’s up?”
“Uh, I was going to ask you the same question.”
“Oh, nothing much. I was just talking to Bix.”
Huh? Talking to Bix? Shinju looked around but didn’t see or hear anyone. Not to mention Jon Bixler was a big-n-tall, dark-haired, distinctive-looking man. Definitely hard to miss.
“Carin, should I call Dr. Lyons or someone?”
“Girlfriend, I’m not sick. I was talking to my man.”
“But, uh…” Shinju said warily, still looking around the huge apartment. Maybe he was in the bathroom and they were speaking psychically? If that was the case then Kenoe must be back in their apartment waiting for her! She needed to go.
“Shin, are you telling me you haven’t talked to Kenoe since he left to go hunting?” Carin’s expression morphed from dreamy to incredulous.
“Of course, I have. He calls me on my cell every evening.”
“Cell?” Carin chuckled. Shinju didn’t see what was so damned funny. She was miserable without Kenoe’s presence, little more than a dim light in the corner of her mind rather than the vivid companion who accompanied her when he was close by.
“Shinju, I thought you and Kenoe had mated and bonded already?”
“What does that have to do with it?” She hadn’t meant to snap but this was a subject she so didn’t want to talk about right now. Not when uncharacteristic tears were so close to the surface at the thought of Kenoe in possible danger so far away. Before Kenoe had gone to hunt Dan the Mouse, she hadn’t mentioned completing the bond and he hadn’t asked. Could that be why he was barely a blip on her radar? She closed her eyes in regret at having avoided the subject of bonding.
“When a vampire mates, the couple shares a certain connection. Wait, Kenoe explained this part to you, right?”
“Yeah. We can speak when Kenoe is close by. But you said you were talking to Bix, who happens to be with Kenoe halfway around the world. That doesn’t seem to qualify as close by.”
“Duh.” Carin sighed. “Back to the point. When you find a bondmate and accept the bond, the connection is profound, much deeper than a mating. Bix and I are bondmates and I can talk to him as clearly as I’m talking to you no matter where he is. The only thing we’ve found that can keep us from communicating is a special neuron-inhibitor that acts as—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! First off, it makes my eyeballs cross when you and Kenoe launch into the biotech stuff. And second, you mean that once you made a commitment to the bond you could talk to Bix anywhere?”
At Carin’s nod, a hole formed in Shinju’s stomach, turned into a lead ball and fell out the bottom. She’d been the one putting off the whole bond thing. And, patient as he was, Kenoe hadn’t pressed her about it. And what had been her reason for avoiding the whole magical business when she wanted nothing more than Kenoe anyway? There were plenty of grounds before. Now, she couldn’t think of a single one. What if something happened to him? She wouldn’t know where he was or what was going on. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
She went back to her cocoon on the couch and slipped into a fitful sleep filled with all kinds of gory possibilities involving Kenoe.
The next day, the members of the Council who planned to spend the rest of the summer there at the V.C.O.E. estate showed up in one fell swoop. Shinju found herself walking on eggshells except around Carin and Bix’s children. Everyone was cordial and welcoming, but she was still finding her place as part of this vast household.
As for the children, Alaina was a three-year-old “old lady”, a mini-brainiac version of her mother with her father’s dark good looks. The child was, in a word, sharp as a blade and had a real knack for talking her way out of trouble. What three-year-old had a vocabulary that included the word “peptides”? And little Russian Bixler was the fattest, happiest baby Shinju had ever met. He wasn’t much for sleeping when he should, but at barely a year old, the kid could put away steak and eggs for breakfast if Carin let him have it. Not to mention he was into everything, almost walking like a pro and had several teeth already. Must be the vampire genes.
Both of them were too cute for words and occasionally playing with them gave Shinju an outlet for her teaching skills and kept her mind off of other things, like missing a certain Hatsept.
If she let them, the events of the past months sent her into a tailspin funk. First, discovering the man of her dreams was a vampire, then her brother and his Second had dabbled with their own genes by doing business with a human that trafficked vampire drugs, then almost getting herself killed by sheer stubbornness, and seeing both herself and her brother brought back from the brink of death only to watch Kenoe waltz off to take down rogues as if he were going to a Sunday tea. Not to mention leaving her behind when she definitely had a dog in this fight.
Then there was going to bed alone at night in a suite of apartments bigger than her whole house in Japan. Sleeping alone was something she’d been doing since she was a toddler, but now it felt downright lonely and wrong without that damned debonair and dangerous white-haired vamp of hers. The man had been correct—they called to each other, spirit, soul and body.
At least Max’s secret didn’t have to be a secret any longer. Kenoe knew all about, and accepted, her family. As long as Max stayed clear of vampire criminals, he was safe from V.C.O.E. law enforcement.
However, there was one thing Shinju still hadn’t shared with Kenoe—her knowledge of the butt-kicking arts. She wasn’t deliberately hiding it, but somehow after all they’d recently been through, it just didn’t seem as important as it had before. Now, something else consumed her thoughts, something she absolutely must find a way to accomplish. And that something was number two on her list of things to do. Number one was jump Kenoe and keep him ensconced in their apartments for at least three days after he returned.
In the meantime, the daily occurrence of breakfast was something to look forward to with Carin, and Carin’s adopted mother, Alaana Serati, the Matriarch of Clan Serati. The history of vampires and their contributions to various societies and cultures down through the ages was quite interesting. Though learning that some of the people around her had been teenagers during the French and Indian Wars was a bit disconcerting. And the stories Ms. Alaana’s bodyguard and second bondmate, Jaidyn, told about the Musketeers? Forget about it!
Snippet Saturday Authors
Megan Hart:Read in bed!
Mandy M Roth