Monday, October 17, 2016

Ramji stretches. He is stiff and in pain, but that is better than the alternative. Guunnar's tripping was the best thing that happened. At least his head is still attached. The Croatian moves slowly, not just to avoid more pain, but mostly to avoid waking the woman cuddled against his side. Breathing deeply, Ramji rises quietly from the bed. Basil and Mint. He struggles one handed, trying to slip into his jeans. He mutters under his breath to keep from cursing out loud.

"What are you doing?"

The Rider stills instantly. Looking over his shoulder he whispers, "Going to get coffee...?"

"I'm awake Ramji. I've been awake for the last half hour. I just didn't want to wake you." Laila shakes her head. "Sit down. I will help you."

Ramji drops onto the edge of the bed, knowing not to argue with her when she is using that tone. He smiles at the top of her head as Laila kneels before him to ease the pants over his lower legs.

"Stand up.... and just WHAT are you smiling at?"

"Nothing. I missed you." She raises a brow at him. He stands and she helps him pull up the jeans, buttoning his fly. Her fingers linger over the fabric, gently stroking. He captures her hand in his good one. Bringing them to his lips, he kisses the tips. "Do your hands still hurt?"

"Sometimes. Weather like this," She glances out the window at the gently falling snow. "Oh yes. Star keeps me supplied with the ointment." She touches his cheek, just below a wicked scratch. "I was thinking, maybe you could use some..."

He grins, his eyes dancing. "As you wish." At her frown, he chuckles. "I am not blonde and handsome." She opens her mouth to speak and he touches her lips, shaking his head. "Laila, I am well aware I am a forbidding looking man with my tattooed face and grim expressions. Dmitri tells me that often. He really is amazed that you did not run screaming from me."

The corners of her eyes crinkle as she covers her mouth with her hand to keep from laughing, "Why would you want to be blonde? You are dark and dangerous." She kisses him lightly. "Besides, I prefer Inigo to Westley." She grabs a robe as she darts from the room, Ramji on her heels.

"Laila! when did you see the movie? And, WHERE are you going?"

She laughs, pulling her robe over her flannel nightgown as she reaches the top of the stairs. " I am Nanny to Alise and Stoney's children. Movies are a given, especially movies with swords, princesses, and warriors. And... I thought you wanted coffee, My Inigo."

Ramji laughs, a sound that has become more common the longer he is with Laila.

The sound of a clearing throat interrupts the couple before they can head down the stairs. They turn to see Guunnar leaning against the doorframe of his room.The giant is holding his head looking pained.

*"Ach, nicht so laut. Mein kopf feels as if Andvari's smitheries are recreating Valhalla's armory." He holds a finger to his lips. "Shhhh. Kvietly. I tink I might... explode."

Laila giggles, and murmurs to Ramji. "Ala mode."

Guunnar peers blearily at the couple. "Vat?"

"Ever see 'The Princess Bride', Guun?"

Guunnar sighs. "Ramji, Ich hast known many princesses who haff become brides. Vat does dat haff to do mit ice cream?"

The Rider shakes his head. "No Guunnar, a movie. Come ^moj prijatelj, let's get some coffee and we will tell you about it."

Guunnar pushes away from the door frame and lumbers toward the couple. "Ja, Koffee ist gut idea. Ramji, du needs shirt. Might be chill in bar." Guunnar drops his robe over Ramji's shoulders. The smaller man looks like a toddler playing dressup. "~Ja, ist gut genug. Come tell me of dis movie... and vy Ich bin Fezzik." The Viking lumbers down the stairs followed by Lalia and Ramji.

Laila looks at her lover in surprise. Ramji shrugs. "Guunn?"


"I thought you didn't know the movie."

Guunnar just smiles and continues down the stairs.

*"Ah, not so loud. My head feels as if Andarvi's smitheries are recreating Valhalla's armory."

^my friend.

~Yes, is good enough.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stoney watches his wife as she moves among their friends and family. His mind touches hers gently and he asks her to come sit beside him at the keyboard. She smiles and moves in his direction. The sight of her takes away his breath. His long fingers stroke over the ivories, picking out notes.

Alise smiles at him as he shakes his hair forward. She knows that move. He is hiding his face so she doesn't see, or perhaps others won't see, the emotions he can't hide.

What would I do without your smart mouth
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
Got my head spinning, no kidding, I can’t pin you down
What’s going on in that beautiful mind

I’m on your magical mystery ride
And I’m so dizzy, don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright
My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

Tori smiles as Tannr draws her into his lap. He whispers in her ear.
"I heard Stoney working on this a few weeks ago. It fits us too."

Stoney turns his head slightly, looking at Alise through a fall of his hair. She smiles and tucks it out of the way so she can kiss his cheek.

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning

'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you oh.

Tannr's hand follows Tori's spare curves, teasing along her ribs. He hums in her ear, nipping it gently. "I do loves those curves and edges."

She moves back, glaring at him. "Whose curves?"

He pulls her back against his chest. "Yours, Red. Every muscular, limber..." She raises a fist and he laughs. "My feisty wench..." As she swings, he moves forward, suddenly kissing her. With a sigh, her arm drapes around hisshoulders. "All of me... Red.. all of" She shuts him up with another kiss.

How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every move
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse

My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you

Laila watches the couple on the stage. She glances toward the back hall. Still no Ramji. Worry weighs heavy as she thinks over what Guunnar said. He didn't see him. What did that mean?

My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

Keon leans close to Eite, summarizing Stoney and Alise' trials for their love. He tells her of the decades spent believing she was not lost to Stoney, of his faith he would find her one day, and when he finally did it was to find she was a ghost. They had found a spell, bringing her back among the living.Then they nearly lost each other again. Laila had heard the stories, but hearing them again as the man spills his love into a song for his beloved has her bowing her head to wipe away tears.

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning

'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you
Give me all of you oh

Cards on the table, we’re both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it’s hard
'Cause all of me
Loves all of you

Voices join Stoney's. Alise looks around, seeing so many holding others close. Theirs is not an easy life, so many dangers being just who, what, they were.Yet.... She turns back to her husband. Her mind strokes his gently, letting him feel the strength of her love.

Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning

'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

I give you all, all of me
And you give me all of you oh

The last of the notes drift away in a gentle silence. Laila opens her eyes, having closed them to better listen to the song. The soft stroke of fingers in her hair startles her and Laila jerks away from the unexpected touch. She nearly knocks Ramji over with her chair as she tries to stand. She grabs his arm, to keep herself from falling and flinches away when he curses. It is only then her mind registers the sling and bandages on his neck and face.

"I am sorry I am late, *moja slatka janjetina. Can you forgive..." He never finishes his sentence. Ramji finds himself pushed into her chair as Laila tries to inspect the bruises on his face. He captures her hands in his one good hand. He raises them to his lips.

"I am fine. Laila.. I am fine. Bruised and a few broken bones. But if Guunnar hadn't tripped over me, we'd both be worse." She tries to free her hands. Ramji holds on a little longer, pressing them to his cheek. He breathes deep, a peaceful smile dispelling some of his lines of pain. "^Bosiljak i menta, You are still using the lotion..."

*my sweet lamb

^Basil and mint

Delphine watches her submissives mingle with the Taverners. She smiles to herself. Nothing is regular about these people, even the Humsns are more, definitely not your average everyday mortal. She, Herself, may be the only "non-gifted one here. Then again, considering this is Exton, should she be surprised?

The atmosphere is relaxed.  There is no air of discomfort, and she knows she would be able to tell if there was, afterall reading levels of discomfort is all part of her business. She watches the snow fall through the magical wall. Two men mount the porch steps, both shrouded in dark cloaks and scarves. Behind them  comes a motley crew. The cloaked men move, stepping aside to watch the night as the group passes between them. The cold blast from the open door turns heads.

The werewolf bouncer is suddenly there, holding a crate. Delphine blinks. She never saw the man move. His appearance is not unexpected though. The group moves aside to allow their last members inside as they divest themselves of weapons and outerwear. The two cloaked men wait until everyone else has moved to the bar before they place their own weapons in the crate and push back their hoods. Only then is one revealed to be a woman. Cloaks hung by the door, the pair makes their way to where the Dark Elf sits with a large man, his fair-haired Fae wife, and a striking woman with blue tinged hair.

The Dark Elf rises from his chair, only to instantly drop to one knee. Delphine watches with interest as the woman murrmurrs a few words and the Elf rises to his full height. He kisses the woman's hand and motions to two others who are getting ready to head out into the storm. There is a short conversation and the newy cloaked pair joins a group heading out into the storm. The Dark Elf holds a chair for the woman and her companion heads to the bar for refreshments. The woman says something to the people at her table and Pandora's husband is quickly on his feet, laughing as he offers the woman his hand. She shoos him away, calling him a fool, and the gargoyle drops into his chair with a grin.

Maxwell bows before his Mistress, holding a pot of coffee. She nods and he fills her mug.


She watches him lower his eyes and she smiles, turning her attention to the group at the family table.

"The dark haired woman with the exotic eyes is Lady Silk, or to the warriors here, Mistress Leather. She is..." He presses his lips together, thinking for a moment. "She is a cousin Mistress Pandora's husband, but not a Gargoyle. She is a respected fighter and extremely skilled. The people where we are sitting say she is Domme, but plays with few. She has deep ties to Lord Keon of the Unseelie Courts and her chosen mate whom they would only call "The Good Doctor".

Delphine raises an eyebrow slightly. "Hmmmmm. So the dark elf is a true Sidhe, interesting that he bows to one not of his race." Maxwell glances up at his Mistress and she frowns. He quickly lowers his eyes. "Thanks you Maxwell. That will be all for now. You may go... socialize."

As he turns to go, she calls his name. "Maxwell, one more thing." The young man bows slightly in her direction, eyes averted but listening intently. "The group of people who just left, and the group that came in earlier.... what is that about?"

The young man swallows hard before answering. "A patrol of some type Mistress. I.. I did not think to ask..."

"You know how best to ask, Maxwell. I really do not like unanswered questions you know."

"Yes Mistress."

She makes a small shooing motion with her fingers and the man disappears among the patrons. Feeling eyes on her, Delphine glances up, meeting the gaze of the woman. The appraise each other and Lady Silk nods and raises her mug. Delphine does the same. Only one word comes to mind as Delphine turns back to her list of phone numbers.


Quiet time.

At least... quieter than the Tavern usually is at this hour. Technically the place is closed, but a few intrepid souls, or perhaps idiots? have ventured out in the storm. Stoney picks out the notes of a half forgotten song as he listens to the sound of soft conversations. A cold blast washes across his back as Jeb opens the door. Feet stomp and there is the rustle of coats as they are removed and hung on the rack.

The awed “WOW… Cool effect!” brings a smile to his lips. He knows that voice. Ron. The Fox calls a hello to Stoney as he and his friends grab a table. “Pandora’s doing?” Stoney nods. Monty stops by their table to direct the guys to the bar. He also offers the shivering Ty a blanket. The Tiger accepts gratefully.

Monty had set up platters of food and carafes of hot drinks after a discussion  with Pandora and Ob. More people had ventured out in the storm than expected, and so many were ending up on their doorstep. The Tavern was fast becoming a welcome stop before people ventured on to their destination.

The crisp click of heels draws eyes to the back hallway. A petite woman strides to a booth, a long red nailed finger tapping the bluetooth in her left ear as she scrolls through an electronic appointment book. It isn't until she slides into the end of a privacy booth that anyone notices the couple who follow her, quiet as shadows. When she motions to the other bench, the pair slips onto the seat. They fold their hands and keep their eyes downcast as she speaks to them. Pandora touches Ob's hand and leaves the family table. The woman smiles at the Witch's approach and rises to shake hands.

Ob grins and raises a glass in the woman's direction. She nods back and speaks to the young man when Pandora points at the layout on the bar. As the couple glides to the food, Pandora brings the woman to meet the others at the table.

"Mistress, You remember my husband from our visit to Your Domain. You also know Ike, Patti, and Monty. Everyone else here is Kith and Kin, as my husband says. This lovely Lady is Mistress Delphine, our downstairs tenant. Her domain is the Dungeon. Maxwell and Julia are her inhouse submissives."

After a round of introductions, Delphine and her people are invited to sit with the family. With a small smile the woman declines. "I am afraid I have client calls to return, but after W/we eat, I will allow the children to socialize." She bows her head and returns to the booth where Maxwell and Julia have laid out food and drink. They wait until she is seated and then serve their Mistress before sitting down to their own plates.

Tori had stared after the petite woman as she walked away. She sighs. At glances from the others she shrugs. "What? I mean look at her. So self possessed, straight dark brown hair pulled back tight in a bun. The perfect "vampire" widow's peak. Perfect bow shaped mouth. Short stature, but a full figure with a narrow waist." She grins. "Is it just me, or does she remind anyone else of a modern Lily Munster?"

Dinner was done, plates cleared away, and surprisingly, Monty was free to have time with Kith and Kin of the Tavern. Tori's street kids had insisted on cleaning up in return for warm rooms. As warm as the Warehouse was, it was still chilly when the temperatures dipped below freezing. He sat with Ike, chatting with Family as they watched the snow fall.

Sometime during the meal, the fine snow had turned into large fluffy clusters of snowflakes. Pandora had cast a spell to turn a small portion of the front wall into a one way mirror. It worked, but not quite as expected. The group was discussing what made the spell turn the whole front wall into a window and not just a small section. The most probable reason seemed to be the possible inadvertent channeling of the casting by all four Gargoyles and their offspring.

Ob rests his arm across the back of Pandora's chair. "Mi amor, Bruha. Stop. All it has done is given us a beautiful view of the storm. It is... It is like watching a giant snowball."

Pandora frowns. He shakes his head and looks at the others. "Por favor... someone tell her."

Tori leans back laughing. "Good Lord and Lady! Pandora, look around you. People are fascinated and that isn't part of the spell. Look at the kids. Hell, look at Keon."

Keon had flipped a table on its side and piled pillows against it. More pillows were scattered on the blanket on which he sat. Leaning against the tabletop, Keon talks quietly with Eite. The woman had finally relaxed, helped by the fact that they could see out, but no one could see in. Mera lay beside her, cuddled between the pair with her head on her father's leg. The Dark Lord strokes his daughter's blueblack curls as she dozes. Gracie, Ru, and Teri are curled among the pillows, eyes nearly closed as they watched the drifting snow.

Laila sighs as she looks to the back hallway. Still no Ramji. She rises from her seat and speaks quietly to Tara and Chloe, suggesting bedtime. The girls pout, but their mothers agree and send the girls to the Nursery.

Tomas and Ryan were last seen listening to stories from Guunnar and Dmitri. Both the boys and Guunnar are missing, at least until Dmitri points out the giant's feet sticking out from behind Keon's tipped table. Laughter and smiles are difficult to suppress when they find all three fast asleep under another blanket. As the boys are lifted, Guunnar surges awake, fists raised.

Dmitri hushes the Viking. "SSSSHHHHH, *Parakaló_, Guunnar. The boys are sleeping. They are only being taken to bed."

The giant blinks several times, finally focusing on his friend. "Ach... gut... Ja, gut. I tink.. I tink must geh alzo."

"Yes my friend. You need to go to bed as well. Come, leave the boys to there family. I will get you settled for the night." Dmitri smiles at the others. "He has not slept much since..." Dmitri shakes his head. "The children have been good for him tonight." He leads the big man toward the stairs.

Guunnar follows, obviously asleep on his feet. "Dmi... tell Ram... am sorry... ^mir lied... didn't see him..." His words were mumbled but loud enough to stir worry in Laila's mind.

The children are gathered and tucked in their beds in the nursery. Nanny settles in the glider with Nadia. Star kisses the baby's nose and she smiles. When Nadia reaches for Erik, he kisses one of her small hands and tells her it is time to sleep. The baby sniffles and Erik leans close to kiss her forehead. He whispers something and the baby yawns. The adults slip from the room as Nanny sings softly to Nadia.


^am sorry

The snow is a curtain of small furious flakes. The houseboat rocks gently, safely moored in place. There is no fear of damage thanks to Ron and his friends. The four Weres had spent a great amount of time readying the boat for Winter. The dock itself had been buffered to keep the hull safe. Of course it wasn't for nothing, Keon had paid the boys well for their efforts. Eite sighs, Wondering how long the storm would last. She sips from the steaming mug she holds cupped in her hands. Tao raises his grizzled head and cocks an ear. When she merely sips her tea, the HellHound drops his head on his paws and closes his eyes.

Moments later Tao slips from the couch and pads to through the kitchen. The sound of his nails clicking on the pale blue tile floor suddenly stops. Eite sets her mug on the small side table and slips her feet into a pair of fluffy slippers. Her steps are quiet as she moves into the kitchen. She glances back at the couch once, regretting the fact she had not grabbed the knife hidden under the throw pillow. Keeping out of sight, Eite eases a knife from the block on the counter. She watches Tao, readying the blade. She hears voices, but the sounds are muffled. Tao cocks his ears forward. But it isn't until the HellHound's tail begins a slow sweep of the floor that the Half-Drow Siren breathes easier. Knife still held at ready, she moves door, crouching next to a cabinet.

Tao huffs, raising his head to turn it into a full throated howl. He is answered in kind. A familiar voice calls out, "*Dia duit an bád! Tao, Eite! Dinner at the Tavern?"

Keon. Tao moves back from the door letting it open. Trooper greets his packmate as the Dark Lord slips inside, Mera in his arms. Keon quickly closes the door, leaning against it with a merry laugh. "'Tis a right frigid blast out there. Star says to pack a bag, we'll be staying for a few days." He helps Mera take off her coat."Monty says dinner is soon. So hurry, less ye want ta stay here." He turns at her silence. A puzzled expression meets his gaze. "Ach lass... I dinna think ye might... Eite, what is wrong?"

She stares at him, then looks out the window, then back at the Unseelie Sidhe. "You want to... You brought Mera out in..." She glances at the pair of HellHounds. Both had lain down, waiting patiently. She hesitates a moment more.

His voice is gentle as he takes the knife from Eite's hand. "'Tis safe enow here, but twill be safer among others. Between the Mer and me own spells, naught will befall what is left here. Pack a bag lass. an we'll be off. Will take but a wee bit ta get ta the Tavern, so dress warmly. I promise ye, an ye know We nae make promises easily... Come with us ta the tavern." Mera takes her hand, tugging until Eite looks down. "Please Eite? Everyone will be there."

Eite smile hesitantly at the little girl. "There's lots of room."

The woman sighs and lets the little girl follow her to her room. Mera chatters away the whole time Eite puts clothes in a bag. Keon pops his head in the door to see if she is ready. She has almost no time to breathe as he whisks her out the door to a waiting sleigh. As he tosses her bag in, Eite turns back to the houseboat. He helps her onto the bench seat beside Mera and tucks a blanket around their legs. He smiles at her as he climbs in and takes up the reigns.

"Relax Eite. Yer mug was rinsed and is in ta sink. Lights are on a timer. Windows and doors are warded. Trooper and Tao are coming w' us, Twillon and Weebit are waiting on ta Path."

As Eite settles back against the cushions, Keon nods to the Hounds. With a flick of his wrists, the group is off. As they pass through the Veil, Eite glances back one last time, sure she felt someone watching. They are on the Shadow Path in the next moment.

Hood back, Twillon stands next to his mount, laughing up at Weebit and Tork. As Keon's sleigh slides onto Path, the Blonde Sidhe surges up into his saddle. "About time!" He calls. "Monty said dinner would be soon? Well, let's get there before Guunnar eats it all!"

In no time at all, the group gallops through a Gate into the back lot of the Twisted Tit Tavern. Weebit flits to Twillon's shoulder, burying herself beneath his hair against the warmth of her lover's neck. Tork lands on the Sidhe's other shoulder. Keon unharnesses the horse, covers the sleigh with a tarp from the and ushers everyone through the backdoor of the Tavern. He turns back once, casting a spell to protect the sleigh and to watch the horses slip back through the Gate. As the door closes behind him, the comfort of the Tavern settles around him. He inhales deeply and smiles. The aromas of Monty's cooking, the sound of music and happy voices help him  drop the protective air that he kept in place on the ride here. He too had felt as if the boat were being watched.

*Hello the boat!

An hour later Monty announces dinner will be served in a little bit. Parents corral their offspring, getting them to settle a bit before making them sit down. Stoney promises them more music after dinner, but only if they are good. Gracie pulls herself up straight and looks solemnly at her father. "Papa', you told Mama' we are always good. That it is... rel-uh-tif."

A booming voice echoes up the hallway. "Ja, Kinder sind alvays gut. Eben ven nicht so gut. Ist chust deir vay."

"UNCLE GUNNAR!" The children rush enmass to the giant as he hangs up his dark cloak. Mera wraps her arms around a leg and hugs him, but peers past him down the hall. The Viking lays a hand on her head, tousling her blue black curls.

"He ist coming little vone. He hast missed his *kleine monde. Ach, vho ist diss strapping jung man!" He raises Ryan up to his shoulder, settling the little fae on the broad perch. "Kviet Ryan. OY, Du hast grown little varrior!." He slaps a large hand to his forehead and huffs through his bushy moustache. "Nein, nicht kinder! Ist such a handsome band uf Varrior Lads and Shield Maidens." He leans down, balancing Ryan easily, and whispers loudly, knowing all the parents will hear him. "Vat say du. Ve pester deine parents und you feast mit Oncle Gunnar tonight?"

The children put hands over their mouths and nod ecstatically, all except Mera who watches down the back hall. A cloaked figure emerges and the little girl's eyes light up, only to sadden when Dmitri pushes back his hood. The Greek smiles at her and winks. Mera sighs and Graci takes her hand, tugging her along with the others to ask their parents' permission. Gunnar commandeers a table and gets Monty's attention.

"A round uf chiuce und milch for my Varriors, mein gut man!"

Mera climbs into a chair and bites her lip, eyes still on the hallway. Gracie touches Mera's hand and tara's voice murrmurrs softly in the little halffae's mind. Oncle Gunnar said he's coming. Don't cry Merri. She nods and takes a sip of her juice.

Large hands cup her shoulders and a soft voice whispers in her ear."Did ye miss yer old Da, Little Moon?"

Mera scrambles out of the chair, nearly spilling her cup. Keon scoops her up in his arms, wincing slightly under the force of her hug. "I'll take that as an Aye."