Home > Gypsy Freak (All The Pretty Monsters #2)(16)

Gypsy Freak (All The Pretty Monsters #2)(16)
Author: Kristy Cunning

Arion is on stage one second, and in the next he’s right behind me. My breath staggers when I feel him pushing my hair aside, leaning down to brush his lips against my ear.

“You look stunning,” he murmurs, eliciting a small shiver from me.

I should have remembered that he’s one of the few people to actually pay me compliments that sound so real.

Little by little, all the memories continue to return, even though I didn’t realize there were more left hidden.

“I take it you’ve visited Emit recently?” he asks, sniffing me once.

“It’s getting unnerving to be sniffed so much,” I tell him, feeling his grin at my ear as he moves.

There’s a chill and a bereft feeling left in the absence of his proximity. He slowly circles to be in front of me, standing at his full, intimidating height, as he stares down at my eyes.

“This doesn’t have to be an unpleasant evening, Violet,” he says, sounding more amused than annoyed.

“You shouldn’t start a date with lethal blackmail if you expect pleasant,” I dutifully point out, only causing his smile to grow.

“It’s more fun to do this when I’m actually standing here in front of you,” he says, his voice barely reaching me over the music that is way too loud this close to the stage.

He seems to notice me straining, because he turns us, his hand suddenly at the small of my back, and starts guiding us through the rave. We walk through a second set of doors, and violin music assaults me as the heavy rock back there fades with the new room.

I look around, confused by all the people in here wearing t-shirts and jeans, waltzing to the fancy music as waiters in tuxes carry around champagne and food.

It’s like atmospheric whiplash.

“This is VIP,” he tells me, grinning. “Heard every important party has a section for that.”

“Sure. This is just like all the parties I’ve been to,” I mutter, glancing at the gold fountains next to us that are drizzling the blood like a chocolate fountain would.

Why couldn’t they be chocolate eating vampires?

Shera did all this in a day?

“Of course it is,” he says with a smirk.

No one approaches him, I notice. If anything, everyone seems to avoid making eye contact at all, as if they’re celebrating his return, but hoping to avoid his attention.

“They’re scared of you,” I say quietly, looking around.

He snorts. “Of course they are. Any good alpha knows how to instill fear into the monsters under him. Otherwise, the monsters forget their place in an order we’ve barely established.”

He casually moves his hand to my hip instead of my back, walking leisurely with his arm around me and making this definitely feel more like a date again.

When he turns and puts out his hand like he’s expecting me to dance with him, I get really nervous. Fun fact: Fish out of water have better rhythm than I do.

“Is it some sort of grave insult to turn down a dance with the host if it’s because I simply don’t want to draw attention to myself from all the other vampires?” I ask him very seriously.

His lips twitch with amusement instead of ire, so I’m hoping that means we can skip the dancing portion of the evening.

“You’re here with me. You’ve been seen with me. In my home. Trust me when I say no one here would dare touch you now. Hence the reason you’re my date for the evening.”

I frown, and then I glance around at everyone. He seems to get the fact I’m about to broach private information, and he starts guiding me toward a more secluded corner far away from prying eyes and ears. It’s a table for two, like he knew this was coming.

There are two glasses of champagne, and two covered dishes flanking a single lit candle in the center of the table.

A few rose petals decorate the table, and I can’t help but smile a little. It’s weird that the first semi-romantic thing anyone has ever done for me is coming from a psychotic vampire who initially gave me dead bodies as roses.

“I assumed this evening was part of your elaborate chapter-after-the-epilogue plan,” I say as he reaches over and uncovers both our dishes.

I have no idea what kind of soup smells so good, but suddenly this night sucks a little less.

I can’t even remember the last time I’ve eaten.

He’s lucky I don’t mind people watching me eat, because he does exactly that when I whimper around the first bite of soup. It’s some sort of lobster heaven, and my stomach releases a really embarrassing growl like it’s demanding more.

“This is amazing,” I say after swallowing another bite, as he continues to simply watch me like he’s entertained. “Do vampires eat real food or do they just watch others eat and live vicariously through their bites the way Damien lives vicariously through someone else having sex?”

His eyes brighten like I’ve asked the right question somehow, when I was just trying to be a deflective smartass. I fail at the simplest of tasks.

“I eat,” he says by way of answering, his lips turning up at the corners in an enigmatic grin. “Damien really watched you have sex? You said that with a bite of attitude,” he goes on.

I swallow the next spoonful of soup a little harder before answering.

“Instead of talking about Damien, why don’t we talk about the fact you threatened to kill a bunch of wolves if I didn’t come on this date.”

“Actually, I offered to spare a bunch of wolves in return for your presence this evening,” he says with a smirk. “Those wolves attacked me in my home. It is within my right to exterminate them all when they’re on my property with malicious intent.”

I just sit still and stare at him for a second, unsure how to really counter that. Just when I’ve prepared my new argument, he continues speaking.

“You’re still upset that I used you, and you’re going to continue holding that against me until I explain what the purpose of rising two years early was,” he says as he puts down his spoon, never taking a bite of this amazing soup that I resume eating while he talks.

“I admit I was a little rash with just doling out those death sentences all those years ago—”

“Why did you do it?” I ask him seriously.

He almost looks surprised to hear me ask that, but smiles as he answers me. “Monsters started off as a curse,” he says with a shrug. “Then we learned we could infect others, and we were…just crazy enough at that point to do it. To change the world. To raise an empire.”

He laughs under his breath, though I’m not sure what is so funny about that. Maybe it’s evil laughter? There’s no dramatic dom dom dom like Anna would provide in the background to steer me toward the appropriate conclusion in a time like this.

I really did grow entirely too reliant on her ghostly cues and tension breakers.

“We were young and naïve, not realizing just how terrible of a plan that was. But freshly turned monsters think differently from seasoned ones.”

When my spoon tries scraping at the last little bit of soup, he swaps our bowls very quickly, the transition so fast and smooth that I miss it. I blink, then decide to eat his full bowl of soup as well, since it’s really good.

He folds his hands in front of him, his eyes dipping to my lips as he picks his story back up.

“Wars started when the Van Helsings decided to cull the flocks of their own accord. You wouldn’t think a small amount of people could make such an impact on such a monstrous number of monsters. You’d be wrong,” he says, smirking. “Certain bloodlines are forbidden to use for turnings. It’s a law now that the wars have ended.”

“Why certain blood lines?” I ask between bites.

“Certain humans can’t eat peanuts. Certain ones can’t eat tomatoes. Same is true for certain ones who can’t be turned without suffering infectious consequences.”

He puts his spoon on the table, and starts drawing an imaginary circle with it.

“Bad blood equals a lot of deaths with vampire turnings. Bloodthirst is a nasty infection. While some learn to cope with the thirst without slaughtering hundreds of people every couple of months, most don’t. And often times they end up turning all those people they’ve drained because they’re so infectious. Boom.” The vampire pauses to give me jazz hands. “Hundreds of new vampires from one single vampire within a matter of months. See the problem?”

I nod slowly as the soup loses its appeal.

“With werewolves, it’s less dire, but still crucial. A bad-blood wolf gets enraged at the smallest frustration and can turn at any time. They also lose themselves completely to the wolf when in fur. They could easily infect an entire roomful of mortals if they turn in public.”

I nod like I understand, and he continues moving the spoon in a circle like he’s showing me the small impact just one bad-blood monster can have. It makes me wonder if I’m a bad-blood monster of some sort, even though I don’t infect people.

“Succubae and incubuses are different—”

“Damien’s creations,” I surmise.

“Morpheous family creations,” he corrects, winking at me. “There’s more than just Damien. The Morpheous family tree is even larger than the Van Helsings’ tree.”

I nod like that makes perfect sense.

“Bad-bloods for them either kill everyone they bed—unlike Damien, who only kills when he takes his pleasure—or they turn everyone they bed. Regardless, a lot of bodies draw a lot of attention. While we can’t die, all of our omegas and betas can, and all of the humans could decide we’re too much of a threat. They can’t fear us. Fear incites panic. Panic incites war. By the end of those wars, it would leave us to start from scratch all over again. It’s not easy to build our empires.”

“Why build empires of monsters if this all started as a curse? And Damien said he had to sacrifice things for immortality, so how is this all a curse?”

“Fair question,” he says with a shrug. “Sometimes you want things no matter the cost. Then you learn the cost and it’s too late to change your mind. Or maybe you’re just truly willing to pay the final price because you’ve already sacrificed so much. As far as the empires go, it’s a necessary evil. Once we disturbed the natural order of things, we created chaos. Wolves, vampires, and all the other monsters are now a part of the natural order the world needs. Some of the worst monsters have made the largest medical advancements for mankind. Not to mention the disease control.”

“Disease control?” I ask, really confused.

He just grins. “Pandemics once spread across every continent, leaving thousands dead in its wake in far less populated areas than the world has today. It’s nature’s way of…culling the herd, so to speak. Keeping population in check. Even with medical advancements, should those diseases return, it could mean eventual global extinction. Now, only the continents we can’t find hospitality in suffer those waves of deadly diseases. You see, we upset the natural balance, and nature considers us a disease. It expects us to cull the crop, but we try to do it without deadly infection so that our purpose doesn’t expire.”

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