Lightening streaked across the skies, skipping from one thick dark cloud to another while rain lashed in heavy sheets while thunder rumbled till the ground shook. Monsoon season had hit Colorado with a vengeance, flooding areas while tornadoes ravaged others and rain pounded the valley city of Evermore in a series of storms that seemed to have no end. The river that flowed down from the Mountain, aptly nicknamed Pompeii by the Phoenix, rose more and more each day raging with more power through the Diviner territories. The streets in the city itself were over brimming, forcing citizens to stay in doors or slosh through deluge. After the relatively mild winter Spring was making a statement, an entrance that would not be ignored.

Deep in the heart of the storm, sitting on a wicker swing within the glass confines of the rooftop garden a dark male figure sat staring out at the fury of the wind and rain. Lightening flashed, highlighting his proud visage, expressionless as his mind drifted on thoughts unknown. Something about the downpour soothed him, the ancient taking refuge among the blooming roses and fragrant spices that were grown within the greenhouse. While his kind didn’t particularly need to eat they did enjoy the occasional meal and fresh ingredients were a necessary component to any recipe and a staple in the self respecting chefs kitchen.

As it stood he hadn’t been in the kitchen for quite some time and didn’t have any ambition to be there. If he was honest with himself, he was hiding. Yes, he, Gideon Ashworth King of the Vampires and Ambassador in Evermore, was hiding. Who from? Well himself and the world. He’d lost count of how long exactly he’d been up here on the roof of the castle, but his place of solitude must have been a good idea for no one had come to disturb him. At present he wasn’t in any particular state of mind to be around civilization so he was staying right where he was. With the greenery silent sentinels and the storm matching the melancholy that raged inside.

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His head came up as the door opened, wind and rain blowing into the space for the span of a few moments until it closed once more. Gideon blinked a few times, taking in the familiar face as his lungs dragged in her scent. Idly he realized he should have sensed her coming, felt her dark signature the moment she stepped foot inside the castle and yet he hadn’t. Even now he was ignoring the dozens of dark points that were roaming the grounds of his domain. Unfortunately he couldn’t quite bring himself to care, his mind already slipping back into the depressive, pensive state he’d been in for the past few weeks.

Actually he was glad it was Victoria that had found him and not Cecilia, or Delilah. Or any of the Bastion for the matter. He wasn’t up for any more of their chatter and censure. He’d had enough of that to last him a lifetime. Several in fact. As his hazel eyes regarded her he gave a nod of his head, scooting over on the swing he was occupying to give her room to sit. A streak of lightning shot across the sky, lighting up the interior of the greenhouse, the silvery light brightening up her face. She was wet, her hair clinging to her cheeks and her neck, though the effect was oddly pleasant rather than detracting. The tone of her voice as she asked if she could stay was slightly out of character for her and yet so was him sitting alone on the roof, hiding from the world.

After she got herself settled they sat in comfortable silence for a while, one of his long legs extended out as an anchor to rock the swing back and forth in a slow rhythm. Finally he glanced over at her, heaving a sigh as the rain continued to lash at the panes of glass. “So you found me, have you come to lecture me as well?” His brow rose, the ghost of a smile floating over his hard features before he went back to staring out into the black and turbulent night.

Her denial of the intentions he suspected her of surprised him, probably more than he cared to admit. Celia had already raked him over the coals, Dastan couldn’t hide the looks, and Kosta was treating him like a ticking time bomb set to go off at any moment. The rest of the Bastion had wisely kept their opinions to themselves but were foolishly trying to bring him out of his funk, which was the main reason for his self appointed exile to the roof. The rain storm was just a bonus, a true reflection of his mood and thanks to the season they were lasting for quite a while.

Gideon almost chastised himself for bringing it up, her statements following a reaction he should have been expecting before he’d even opened his mouth. Victoria knew better than anyone the sting of misplaced affections and had he been in his right mind he might have remembered not to bring it up. Silently he mourned for her, ached for the vibrant woman she had once been, before her husband had betrayed them all. A swell of affection filled his chest as the monarch realized once more how big of a sacrifice she had made for her people, for him. Her loyalty was unquestionable, tried and tested beyond even a shadow of a doubt and it humbled him that she was still with him.

“I know it doesn’t help, or make it any easier to bear...but thank you. For being my friend and for looking out for our people.” Chuckling with very little humor his eyes went back to the black void outside the panes of glass, watching yet another streak of lightning zigzag it’s way across the sky. “Small consolation I know, but it’s the best I have to offer.” Reaching out he took her hand and gave it a brief squeeze, running his thumb against her soft skin in a gesture meant to be calming and affectionate.

Her scent suddenly enveloped him, like blooming flowers it hit him right square in the senses until he felt like he was swimming in her. She smelled amazing, like a field of wildflowers with a hint of cinnamon and some other spice he couldn’t name. Unbidden his fangs slid down, the burn in the back of his throat growing more insistent with her being so near. Cursing the King rose in one smooth motion and stalked across the room, putting distance between them. He hadn’t fed, that was his problem and with her around it was becoming harder to resist. This was the first time in a while he’d purposely ignored his needs but in all honesty he wasn’t interested in feeding, and yet the faint hints of Victoria’s scent was driving him to distraction.

Damn it, he cursed inwardly, blanching at the hard note in her voice. Of course she’d noticed the slide of his fangs, his quick withdraw from her no doubt giving her more evidence that was blatantly clear to anyone with half a brain cell. Not to mention Victoria had always been observant, it was part had been a major part of her training as personal bodyguard to the queen. This was the exact reason he’d been in the green house to begin with, for the privacy and to prevent an inquisition to explain his actions. Or lack thereof.

Scrubbing a hand over his face Gideon turned to provide some sort of explanation, his expression souring as she insulted him with a vehement hiss. Opening his mouth to respond his lips snapped shut as she thrust a mug into his hands and explained what was in it. Wrinkling his nose he brought the white ceramic container up to his nose taking a deep breath of the odd concoction. The scent of the coffee beans wafted up laced with the metallic notes of the blood, AB+ if his senses were to be trusted.

Gideon’s hazel eyes flickered up to the brunette’s face as he lowered the mug, letting out a small disgusted sound. Fingers gingerly gripping the rim the King set the white cup down on the ledge with a small shake of his head. Dusting his hands off his gaze went to staring out the glass enclosure, watching as the rain lashed against the sides of the greenhouse. “I have a perfectly level head thank you. I do believe after nearly seven millenium I can handle a little blood starvation.”

His tone was droll as his brought a hand up to rest against the cool glass, not deigning to cast her a glance. He knew he was pushing it, but at the moment he didn’t much care. The responsibilities upon his shoulders mixed with the recent upset in his personal life had made set him on edge, albeit he had been too busy to notice. It had taken an off hand comment from one of his guards to make him realize what the date was. Thinking about his parents and the anniversary of their mating had brought the world around him to a grinding halt, nearly bringing him to his knees with melancholy.

Here he was, nearly three times the age of his parents and still ruling as King of the Vampires with no mate and progeny in sight. Much like his parents had the ancient held to the idea of soulmate, a person or two who the universe had brought into being specifically for another. The world was too big for there to be just one so perhaps three or four people were created to be able to intermingle and mix depending on who they found first. Nearly 7,000 years later and countless more people crossing his path and he was still alone. The more he had thought about it, it wasn’t that he was alone that bothered him so much, but the idea that he was somehow letting his parents down.

Okay, so maybe he was lonely. After traversing the globe as many times as he had, living through history itself and still he had yet to find a match was extremely depressing. A bit cliche but what could one do?

“Yes yes yes. I’m an idiot. I’m short sighted. Selfish. Delusional. Pathetic I believe was my favorite. Am I leaving anything out?” His voice was equal parts sarcasm and anger and exasperation as he responded to her, rolling his eyes as he moved away from her. Running his hand through his thick shock of hair he gave her a wry smile, “Stupid is a new one, though a little redundant at this point.” Victoria didn’t seem in the least bit amused by his candor or his sense of humor if her expression was anything to go by.

Shrugging he let the pair of them lapse into silence, both resigned to their own thoughts and feelings but neither giving quarter. In that moment he had to muse over how many times they had been in this very situation. One fussing at the other over something that leads to a firm disagreement, neither conceding their side until they finally just lapse into silence. In fact the majority of their time together was most often spent in silence, not uncomfortable or strain just a companionable agreement to disagree. In all the time they had known one another, even in their squabbles Gideon felt most like himself when he was with Vic.

A flash of light caught his attention, brighter than the rest that had come so far it darted across the sky in a violent and uncontrollable burst. Realization hit him a split second before the bolt of energy struck the glass dome of the greenhouse, creating a mini-explosion of sound and light. The ancient acted on instinct darting across the distance to wrap his arms around Victoria and jerking them both out of the way.

The bolt struck the seat she had been sitting on, reducing the bench swing to a pile cinders as broken glass joined the rain now eagerly soaking everything that had been protected a moment before. His body created a barrier between her and the damage, his breathing heavy as his heart clenched. There weren’t many things that could kill a vampire but he doubted even Victoria would have survived being struck by lightning. Pulling back his hazel eyes darted over her rapidly searching for signs of trauma, his hands framing her face. “Are you okay?” Being this close to her she was all he could smell, the warmth of her body pressed against his own awakening something as he waited for her to answer him.

“Yes yes yes. I’m an idiot. I’m short sighted. Selfish. Delusional. Pathetic I believe was my favorite. Am I leaving anything out?” His voice was equal parts sarcasm and anger and exasperation as he responded to her, rolling his eyes as he moved away from her. Running his hand through his thick shock of hair he gave her a wry smile, “Stupid is a new one, though a little redundant at this point.” Victoria didn’t seem in the least bit amused by his candor or his sense of humor if her expression was anything to go by.

Shrugging he let the pair of them lapse into silence, both resigned to their own thoughts and feelings but neither giving quarter. In that moment he had to muse over how many times they had been in this very situation. One fussing at the other over something that leads to a firm disagreement, neither conceding their side until they finally just lapse into silence. In fact the majority of their time together was most often spent in silence, not uncomfortable or strain just a companionable agreement to disagree. In all the time they had known one another, even in their squabbles Gideon felt most like himself when he was with Vic.

A flash of light caught his attention, brighter than the rest that had come so far it darted across the sky in a violent and uncontrollable burst. Realization hit him a split second before the bolt of energy struck the glass dome of the greenhouse, creating a mini-explosion of sound and light. The ancient acted on instinct darting across the distance to wrap his arms around Victoria and jerking them both out of the way.

The bolt struck the seat she had been sitting on, reducing the bench swing to a pile cinders as broken glass joined the rain now eagerly soaking everything that had been protected a moment before. His body created a barrier between her and the damage, his breathing heavy as his heart clenched. There weren’t many things that could kill a vampire but he doubted even Victoria would have survived being struck by lightning. Pulling back his hazel eyes darted over her rapidly searching for signs of trauma, his hands framing her face. “Are you okay?” Being this close to her she was all he could smell, the warmth of her body pressed against his own awakening something as he waited for her to answer him.

He heard her voice from far away, as if she were yelling through a long tunnel as opposed to lying just under him. Or perhaps that was the roaring in his ears, his every instinct and point of self narrowed to a slight nick along her slender throat. With more than a little fascination he watched a small rivulet of crimson bead up through the sliced opening, welling until it could no longer take the heavy nectar and began sliding down towards her collarbone. It’s progress was slow, weaving ever downward in a path that only it knew towards a destination unknown.

Gideon licked his lips, his hunger spiking in the proximity of such a tempting and powerful blood source. Pupils dilated, expanding until they nearly ate up all of the hazel coloring as his gaze met and held with Victoria’s. She felt soft and supple beneath him and yet he knew the power held within the elegant and cold outer covering. In that moment he felt a pull, a connection blossom in the pit of his stomach that defied everything he’d been holding onto so desperately within his mind. Intellectually he knew she was safe and sound, her wound would heal in a few more moments and yet he couldn’t bring himself to leave her.

In an effort to conjure the strength to remove himself from over her, the ancient took a deep breath which proved to be a mistake. Her scent, the scent of her blood laced with a curiosity that was mirrored in himself assaulted his senses. Burrowing deep into his sinuses, past his self control the sweet scent snapped all vestiges of the civil King bringing forth a full blooded warrior male in search of blood. Dipping his head towards her throat his mind only urged him to take a taste, just a small taste. Extending his tongue he followed the trail of crimson upward, a low growl rumbling through his chest as he got the first taste of her.

Without warning he struck, teeth sinking deep into her neck until the tips of his fangs tapped her vein. She was sweet and spicy, strong as a fine wine and hot as a living fire that followed from her and into him with each strong pull. He drank deeply, all instinct and need as his body settled completely over hers, his arms tightening around her body to press her close. He was greedy, the power and flavor of her making him drunk as every nerve in his body burst into flame, sizzling with attraction as her life force poured into him. Another growl, this one deeper and more feral, shook the remaining glass walls as a bond began to form between the pair of them.

Memories, feelings, thoughts, desires, and emotions flowed into him just as his own flowed out, passing down the link that now bound the two vampires together. There wasn’t a whole lot that would have been able to pull him off of her vein but her quiet voice drew him back to reality.Just as suddenly as he had struck Gideon pulled back, swiping his tongue over the bite marks to close to the wounds and in a moment he had them both back on their feet.

Widening the space between them he took a moment to compose himself, running a hand through his soaked hair as he tried to get himself back under control. He could feel her anger, laced with fear, beating at him. The male in him wanted to go to her, take her in his arms and make everything go away and yet the rational part of his mind knew she didn’t want that. She didn’t want him. Granted she didn’t want anybody but it still stung all the same. Licking his lips as his breathing became more even he couldn’t bring himself to meet her eyes, ashamed of his lack of control and scared at what he would find lurking in the depths of her beautiful eyes. “I’m sorry.” He stated, the words barely heard above the steady pattering of the rain.

Sliding his hands into his pockets he stood there, unable to move away from her but also unable to bridge the gap that felt as if it were spanning the world. He’d made a huge mistake and couldn’t take it back, couldn’t go back in time to fix it either. His lapse in control might have cost him her friendship, and most certainly had cost him her trust. For some odd reason that realization cut him to the bone, his heart clenching painfully in a way it hadn’t in a very long time.

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