Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday Briefs - Boys of Belsmeade 20

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs! It's flash fiction, so this story will be presented in 1000(ish)-word chapters. I hope you enjoy it, and check out the many other flashers, whose links are below. You can also check out the Wednesday Briefs Blog for more info and to sign up for email notifications.

Thanks for reading!


Chapter Twenty

Marco's comment had the effect of a bucket of cold water on my father and Benita. They jumped back from each other and both smiled nervously. I looked at Aristes, who was massaging his temples with his thumb and forefinger. Something was definitely up.

Epifanio offered, "Maybe it's the water. Blake, did you drink any water when you got here?"

Blake couldn't answer before Nero laughed and said, "Damn. If it's the water, give me some."

He took my water glass and drank what remained in it. Epp said, "Keep it away from the girls, dude. We have their honor to consider."

Lucia shot him the finger and Aurelia slapped her hand down on the table. "Enough!" she shouted. After she'd regained her composure, she stood and went to the group of vampires who were staring in horror at the scene around them.

Aristes stood and said, "Count Corleanni, it's wonderful to see you again. It has been far too long."

I giggled and whispered to Aramis, "A count? Really?"

He nodded, but remained silent. The count flicked his eyes to me, but looked back to Aristes. "Ah, Ambrogi. It has indeed been too long. I see your children are as… energetic as ever."

Aurelia smiled graciously, "You are too kind."

"Signora Ambrogi, it is a pleasure to see you again," replied the Count in a thick accent. He bowed to Aristes and kissed Aurelia's hand. "You remember the Countess?"

"Countess," Aristes replied, kissing her hand. I thought I saw Aurelia flinch.

The countess laughed, "Oh, Aristes! No need to be so formal. And Aurelia, how do you stay so beautiful at your age?"

Aramis' mother bristled at the implied insult, but her smile remained fixed. "With a mate who loves me and my children by my side, it's easy."

Aristes stood in the middle of the two feuding vamps, looking like a man at a mark. I figured there was a history there, and it was ugly. The count saw the tension and shot his wife a look that would have made me shit my pants. The Countess backed off. Then, the Count turned to me.

We all stood up, and I swallowed hard. The ancient vamp's eyes flashed white, asserting his superiority over me. I understood the meaning and nodded almost imperceptibly. Count Corleanni smiled and said, "So, you are Eliot?"

"Y-yes, sir."

"And this is your father?"

Dad walked around the table and extended his hand. "John Berenz. It's a pleasure to meet you, Count Corleanni."

"Likewise," replied the count, shaking Dad's hand. "May I introduce my wife, Bella?"

"Countess," Dad said. He followed Aristes' lead and kissed the back of her hand. I could tell the Count was impressed by Dad's manners and I was relieved. After all, Dad was the only human in the room.

After the exchange, I noticed my father subtly shifting sideways to stand next to Benita. I opened my mouth to say something, but Aristes cut me off. "And your brothers, Count. It is indeed a pleasure." The other strange vampires nodded, but made no attempt to introduce themselves. Aristes continued, "I must inform you of a… development in the circumstances around young Eliot's transformation."

"Developments?" the count asked skeptically.

A low grumbling came from somewhere in the room. It grew in intensity, and we all looked at Epp. His eyes were black and he shoved Blake behind him. He bared his fangs and spoke in a harsh, feral voice. "Don't touch him," he warned the count. "He's mine."

Everyone gasped. Challenging the head of the Council was apparently a huge no-no. The countess put a hand to her breast as though she'd been slapped. The count's eyes were wide in disbelief at the outrageous behavior. I wondered what would happen next, until Blake put his hand on Epp's arm.

"Calm down, Epp," he said. His mate straightened and nodded. Blake went to stand in front of the count and admitted, "It was my fault that Eliot went to Artery that night. Aramis had nothing to do with it."

"Why did you break our laws?" the count asked.

Blake thought for a moment. "I-I was jealous. You see, I'd known I was gay for many years, but because of my father… I had to hide it. When Aramis found Eliot, I could tell they were mates, and Aramis was so happy and I was miserable."

One of the count's brothers spoke up. "Yours is an offense punishable by death."

"No!" Epp cried, and tried to grab Blake. Nero and Marco held him back.

The count glared at Epp. "You have tested my patience once, Epifanio. Do not let it happen again."

Aurelia clutched her husband's hand, evidently terrified that her son was about to be killed for his disobedience. Aristes smiled at her sadly, then addressed the count. "Of course, your Grace, we do not dispute the laws of the Council. However, I ask you to consider to what Blake has to say."

"Speak," the count said to Blake.

He glanced at Aristes, and then to the Council. "My father has always been clear about his hatred of homosexuals. Two years ago, my brother Galen announced to my parents that he was gay. That night, he disappeared without a trace. He left everything behind." He glanced back at Epp, then squared his shoulders and said, "I am officially accusing my father of killing my brother Galen."

"Oh my God," Aurelia breathed.

The count studied Blake thoughtfully. "How does this excuse your actions toward Eliot?"

Blake sighed. "I'd always thought I was attracted to Aramis, thought he might have been my mate. So when he found his real mate, I was so mad that I took it out on Eliot. Then Aramis challenged me for being nasty to Eliot, and of course I lost. But Aramis' phone dropped out of his pocket, and well, you know what I did."

"Yes," the count said. "But it still does not excuse you."

"No, sir," Blake admitted. "It doesn't. I deserve whatever punishment you deem appropriate. Even if it means death."

Epp whimpered and the count looked up. "Come here, Epifanio." The miserable vampire walked slowly to his mate's side. Blake took his hand and Epp seemed to calm a little. The count looked confused.

Aristes explained, "It turns out that Blake and my son, Epifanio, are fated to be together. You can see how things are complicated. Blake's feelings for Aramis were just displaced longing for my other son."

"Oh, what a mess," the count said.

"Trust me," Blake said. "I know."

Epifanio fell to his knees and begged, "Please, Count Corleanni. Please don't take him away from me!"

The count's brother spoke again. "He should die."

Epp stood and looked at him, "Then you'll have to kill me, too."


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