“I hate that you can’t stay for my birthday.” I said as I watched my younger cousin pack his bags.
“As much as I love you Erick, I’m glad that I won’t be staying.” Jordan said as he folded in yet another Eminem t-shirt. “It’s not you, trust me, but if I have to listen to Nile going on about tit sizes for another minute, I just might murder him.”
“Yeah, you’re not the only one,” I rubbed the back of my neck as Jordan gave me an incredulous look. “What?”
“Why are you even friends with them if you can’t stand them?” He asked.
“Because their parents are all powerful politicians and being friends with them helps dad win a large percentage of their votes.” I said. It’s true. Nile’s father especially has the support of a large portion of the vampire population, and they’re helping us enforce the laws more firmly into the minds of some of the oldest of our race.
“But uncle’s the King. He doesn’t need support.” Jordan asks, bag now packed and ready.
“Jordan, you’re still a kid. You have a lot to learn if you’re going to survive in our world.” I motioned for him to sit on the chair across from me.
We were currently in Jordan’s room, which is actually one guestroom in our Castle. Jordan’s mother Kiara and my mother Queen Kenna are sisters from the same parents, which makes Jordan my cousin. But Jordan is actually a year younger than I am. Because of some internal problems in his father’s coven, Aunt Kiara and Jordan have to leave early to tend to the problem. It’s sad really, considering tomorrow is my 21st birthday and having Jordan here would’ve been fun. Young or not, he definitely was the more sensible between us two.
“I’m only a year younger than you. That does not make me a kid!” He frowned, but took the glass of blood I offered him. “By the way, is your fiancé coming?”
I paused with my glass to my lips. Although Alina Deluca was no longer a sore subject, we weren’t exactly best of friends.
And whose fault is that? My conscience reminded me.
True, I haven’t made this any easier for her either. Alina and I were engaged right after she was born. Even though she was born human, her mother, Sheena Deluca, was actually the descendant of the Cain coven of vampires, one of our strongest allies and one of the Noble families, which makes her Noble born. Apart from that, Sheena and my mother had a deep friendship few understood. So Alina was the perfect bride for me in every way. Except, we don’t get along at all.
I’ve always found it hard to believe that my parents had already made the most important decision in my life. But then again, they hadn’t thought of Alina and I are compatible or not, they’d simply thought if Alina would make a good Queen or not. That aspect has never sat well with me and I’m one way or another, I’d grown up to blame her for my miseries. I’d even let my gang of ‘friends’ bully her, even though I knew how harsh they could be. I’d been hostile to her all her life, even though she’s just as helpless in the matter as I am. It has taken me a while to realize that, but once I had, I’d distanced myself from her, giving myself and her enough time to get used to the idea that we’d be spending our lives together no matter how much we want otherwise. But for the last few months, spending the rest of my life together with her doesn’t sound all that bad.
“Earth to Erick!”
Jordan’s exasperated voice broke me out of my trance, and I noticed I was still sitting in the same manner with my glass held to my lips.
“Wow! I only had to bring up her name and my brother starts day-dreaming about her. Is she really that pretty? When can I meet her?” Suddenly, I didn’t like Jordan all that much.
“Shut up, brat!” I took a swig from my glass. “I have other important things to think about.”
“Alright. Now will you tell me if your fiancé is coming or not?” Jordan asked again.
“Probably not. We don’t get along that well.” What an understatement.
“And why is that?” He looked skeptical.
“Just because doesn’t count as a reason. So is what Aunty said true?” He asked.
That got my attention. “What exactly did my mother tell you?”
That brought on a wicked smile. “First, tell me your reason.”
“What are you, five? I want candy in exchange for a secret.” I mocked in a baby voice.
“I did not sound like that!” Jordan snapped. “And I usually had useful information; you have to agree on that.”
“I do.” I sighed. Jordan had always been a mama’s boy, always sticking to his mom like a little piece of chewing gum. Which is exactly why he got to hear most of the conversation the adults were having, and since he was still so young, the adults never paid much attention to him and discussed all sorts of secrets in front of him, which he then dutifully delivered back to me in exchange for any kind of sweets which I teleported in for him from all around the world. “And the reason for us not getting along is the most obvious one on the planet! I’m Vampire Royalty and she’s a human.”
“A human who’s the descendent of a Vampire Nobility and a powerful one at that.” Jordan corrected.
“Still a human,” I retorted.
“Seriously?” Jordan exasperated. “Now who’s the one acting like a five-year-old?”
He had a point, but I also didn’t want to admit in front of my younger brother that my feelings for Alina have been changing for a while now, especially when I have just realized it. I’ve become more aware of her presence, began seeing her as a woman aside from the fact that she’s just a human. As anyone with half a brain could point out at the moment that these feelings didn’t develop overnight; it’s always been me who kept pushing her away because of our differences.
“Can we change the topic? You’re going away for who knows how long, and this isn’t an appropriate time to be discussing my fiancé.” I pointed out inclining my head towards the door as soon as I heard a very familiar laughter in the hallway.
A second later, Nile, Justin, Keith and Jacob entered the guest room, whiskey glasses in hand and laughing about some stupid joke that Nile made. Nile Thunderstorm acted like a leader to our little group, except even he was bound to obey me. He was over six feet tall with dark red hair that looked almost black, and he was a complete man whore with no regard for our rules and regulations. He thought he could compel his way out of any mishap and taught the others to do the same thing. Drinking directly from a human was forbidden by my father because of the risk of exposures, unless you drink from someone who already knows about us and is bound to keep a secret, but there has been several times that I’ve noticed Nile and Jacob drinking from our classmates and to make it even more dangerous, they often did it in places with a high risk of exposure. Nile states that the thrill of nearly getting caught keeps him entertained.
Justin and Keith were a bit… tamer. They too break an awful lot of rules but they try to refrain from doing something a bit too thrilling. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that the only reason they keep me the head of their group is because I’m the future King with the power to demote them from their position if I deem it necessary. They’d rather follow Nile since he’s the much cooler leader.
“Hey Erick!” Nile came over to give me a hug. “Happy Birthday man! Turning sweet twenty one today.”
“Exactly how dumb are you?” Jordan gave a polite smile. “It’s sweet sixteen, not sweet twenty one.”
“Shut up, kid,” Nile smiled back just as politely. “If I say it’s sweet twenty one, then it is sweet twenty one! And Erick, man, you really need to see this.”
I followed Nile and the others out of the guest room with Jordan right behind me, suspicion growing in my mind as to why the boys kept looking back at me and laughing. However, the reason became crystal clear as soon as I reached the main hallway that had a balcony overlooking the grand hall.
“Why the fuck is everything glittering?”
Unable to control themselves anymore, everyone beside me burst out into booming laughter, Jordan included.
“Happy Birthday Erick.” Justin, the black-haired, blue-eyed jock of our group, told me in between his laughter.
Narrowing my eyes at the decorators who were currently stringing up glittering golden curtains, I teleported to the Grand hall, my friend’s laughter clearly audible from this distance. I looked around for the culprit, but it took me a while to spot her.
Hiding behind one of the large pillars on the side of the grand hall, was none other than my second elder sister, Susan Stayton, who took off laughing in the opposite direction as soon as she spotted me.
“Oh no, you don’t!” I teleported right in front of her path, and since she was looking behind her to track my movements, she didn’t notice me in front of her and crashed right into me.
I failed to balance with her weight crashing into me, and we both tumbled into a large box behind us and were instantly covered in more glitter and lights. Susan couldn’t stop laughing while the second culprit, my eldest sister, Athena, came out from behind another pillar, laughing at the state we were in.
“Glitter and fairy lights! Seriously?” I said, spitting out a fairy light strand that had gotten inside my mouth. “And why on Earth did anyone not inform me sooner?”
“Where would be the fun in that?” Athena said, coming up to us and helping Susan out of the box.
“Exactly!” Susan said, smiling. “We wanted to see your face when you’d finally come down for the party. It was going to be Epic!”
“Well, too bad I got to know about it on time.” I got out of the box after Susan and dusted myself off, a pile of glittery stuff falling to the surrounding floor. “Now go change the damn decoration!”
“Hell no!” Athena complained. “Wait till you see the final product. You’ll love it, I promise.”
“Yeah! After all, how often does our brother turn twenty-one?” Susan came and wrapped one arm around my waist while Athena did the same on the other side. “Four more years and you’ll be king! I can’t believe you’ve grown so big already. Can you Athena?”
“Definitely not. To us, you’ll always be our little kiddo!” Athena confirmed.
“You guys sound just like mom right now with that ‘you’ll always be my little baby’ speech.” I told them as we began walking towards the boys who’d just come down the stairs.
“Do not!” both girls said at the same time.
“Hey! Why does Erick get to have all the fun? Pass on the ladies dude!” Who other than Nile could make such a snide comment?
“I would watch my mouth if I were you, little boy.” Athena told him off. “I wouldn’t want to accidentally…” She held out her hands and her palm turned bright red, making Nile jump back from her. Athena had the power to heat anything she touched. It wasn’t exactly a direct expression of firepower, but it was pretty close. And it was pretty cool.
Susan was the exact opposite of Athena. She had the power to freeze water into ice. A vampire’s powers were usually linked to their personality. Athena was the active one, always cheery, always running around, so her being able to heat things up was no surprise. Susan on the other hand was the introvert of the family. She’d rather read a book than gossip about the latest trends in women’s fashion, so her being able to control ice was also acceptable. I somehow seemed to be the odd one out with my gift of teleportation and a minor amount of telekinesis.
“Alright guys, we need to get back with the decoration. The guests are supposed to arrive by 8 in the afternoon.” Susan told us. “Come on Athena, let’s go.”
“See you losers at the party.” Athena told my friends before turning to me and giving me a kiss on the cheek. Then she was off her merry way with Susan.
“Dude, if dating your best friend’s sister wasn’t against the bro code, I’d totally go for Athena.” Justin sighed, ruffling his dirty blonde hair with his hands.
“Dude, stop dreaming, she’s married.” Jordan told him.
“Boys!” We all looked towards the stairs to watch two servants carry some heavy bags towards the front door and my mom and Aunt coming down the stairs. Aunt Kiara was almost a hundred years younger than my mother, but they looked almost like identical twins. The only notable difference between them was the hairstyle. Aunt Kiara liked short hair while my mom preferred it long.
“Leaving already?” I asked as I neared them, followed by Jordan.
“Yes honey,” Aunt came over and engulfed me in a hug. “You know I would’ve stayed if there wasn’t an emergency. Happy Birthday, sweetheart. May you have a long a happy life ahead of you and become a man everyone can be proud of.” She said after she pulled away from me.
“Thank you.” I smiled as we all headed towards the front door.
“Call as soon as you have everything under control. No, scratch that. Call every hour to keep me updated and inform me if you need help.” Mom told Aunt Kiara as we walked down the front steps and towards an awaiting car.
“I will, Kenna. Don’t worry; I’m sure we’ll have the situation under control by next week.” Aunt Kiara got into her car and waved goodbye to mom as she drove away. A second car rounded the driveway and came to a stop before us.
“Take care of your mother for me, alright honey? And be very careful. Don’t go anywhere without a guard, make sure your room is guarded well and―”
“Aunt Kenna, I’ll be fine. Please don’t worry so much. It’s Erick’s birthday and I don’t want you to miss out on the fun.” Jordan hugged my mom before coming over to me.
“Bye, Jordan. I hope to hear from you soon.” I gave him a hug before he got into his own car.
“For sure. I’ll try to contact you as soon as things have settled down a bit.” Jordan waved goodbye as his car drove off down the driveway.
“So Erick,” Nile slapped a hand on my back as he came to stand beside me. “Looks like you’re at our mercy now.” He joked.
I wish that at that time, I would’ve known how true his words were and that the night of my twenty-first birthday would be one that would change mine and Alina’s life forever.