Home > Gypsy Moon (All The Pretty Monsters #4)(14)

Gypsy Moon (All The Pretty Monsters #4)(14)
Author: Kristy Cunning

“Don’t people notice you don’t age?” I decide to ask. “I mean, I know you have powerful people in powerful places, letting in the other powerful humans and all that other elaborate stuff. But for all intents and purposes, you clearly still live like a secret society. Only the crazy, paranoid, or superstitious believe you exist.”

He shrugs a shoulder. “We don’t interact in town very often. People sign on for a low profile. We have a system that gets upended from time to time, but teams are in place to eradicate the errant infections. Like with your store, we only deal with gypsies or monsters. Less hassle that way. Even the unknowing gypsies still have enough superstition to make them carry on and not make waves,” he explains like it was another prepared delivery.

I’m apparently getting predictable to him.

“Can I ask a somewhat personal question about Arion?”

His eyebrows lift, and for the first time today, a prepared answer or nonchalant reaction isn’t at his ready.

“Sure,” he finally says, though he sits up straighter. “Arion doesn’t have many secrets I can probably tell you,” he adds.

“Did Arion drink human blood before he found a taste for vampire blood? If so, when was the first time?”

He blinks, opens his mouth and closes it, and clears his throat a few times, as he fumbles with his tie.

“Forgive me, Violet, but sometimes I think you zig just because I’ve started expecting your zag, and you want me to chase you down a new path. I know you enjoy being chased, but sometimes it feels like you do it for fun,” he says, giving me a pointed look.

My eyes roll before I can stop them, but I smile to diminish the reaction, so as not to be too rude. “I had a very weird dream where I made up my own scenario with bits and pieces of information I’ve collected, stringing together my own version of his story. Anyway, it made me curious.”

He nods like that makes perfect sense. “Arion drank a lot of blood from you. It’s only natural to be curious. You’re still processing, I imagine,” he goes on a little sadly, as if he pities me.

I bristle. “I’m fine, Vance. It’s not Arion’s fault. I did it on purpose, and it worked, so all’s good.”

“Yet you don’t even really seem to like him,” he points out.

I lean back, just staring at him for a second.

They don’t keep my secrets.

I could tell that Arion knew what I was. He wasn’t worried about the amount of blood I was losing, because they’ve clearly told him. There’s no other explanation.

He monitors me like I’m fragile under normal circumstances.

“I’m Idun’s replacement to Arion, and I’m not okay with that. She’s coming back, and I don’t want to have to fight for someone who only wants me because I’m this fairytale solution for the four of you. Aside from that, Arion is too complicated for me to decide how I feel about him.”

He’s the one to bristle this time.

“A comment was made about how the three of you started circling me, and when Arion rose, you started pushing me from one to the other, playing a game that kept me at a similar pace with all of you. Arion kept making comments about how he was farther ahead,” I continue, causing him to tug at his collar as his eyes narrow.

“The three of you claim to hate Idun, yet you also claim to hate each other. However, you and Damien shared me like it was second nature,” I add, feeling my cheeks burn a little, which is slightly mortifying, since I’m trying to be calm, cool, and mature right now.

He doesn’t seem to mind the red cheeks, because there’s no amusement on his face.

I have his full attention, as his look grows cold.

“I wonder what happens when she returns. Do you hate her like you hate Damien or like you hate Arion?” I ask in closing.

“You feel the word hate has lost its meaning,” he supplies as he sits back.

“I think it has a broad meaning, and I don’t really know what I’m doing, aside from metaphorically rolling downhill. Be honest with me right now, Vance. Idun’s returning, so what does that really mean for the mon-star quad?”

He snorts to that, apparently by mistake, because he shakes his head like he’s irritated with himself. He levels me with a glare, as if punishing me for making him almost laugh at a bad joke during a serious time.

He finally scrubs a hand over his face, eyeing me as the hand lowers. He rocks forward, and then leans back and starts swirling the wine in his glass.

I resume eating breakfast, while he comes up with an answer he thinks will suffice, I’m sure.

“It took a while to really explore our new selves and our chain of unfolding curses,” he states abruptly, confusing me with the turn. “I sold thirty silver swords to Ivan Petrovich’s family of soldiers at a steal of a price to essentially make allies with them, per Idun’s request. Because the small price was a gift, the metal didn’t turn back into a rusted heap, until they were in the middle of using them in a battle,” he tells me, causing me to sit up a little straighter, since it sort of reflects my dream. “The curse is a little too complicated to try to easily explain it.”

He stares down at his wine, swirling it once more.

“Ivan was a proud man, and he felt conned by gypsies he was already loath to ally himself with. But fine-crafted weapons like I forged? He decided it was worth the bother, and his archers were the absolute best to have as friends, rather than foes. They rarely missed.”

I swallow thickly after he adds that, because the memory of all those arrows jutting out of him flashes through my mind. It makes me want to forgo my morning breath concerns and kiss every spot I saw aching.

“He came to kill the dirty gypsy who had pulled a fast one on him, as far as he was concerned,” he goes on, looking away. “I held a lot of respect for him and his family, even when he left me no choice but to defend my camp.”

He makes a small sound of frustration.

“That’s a lie, I suppose. I didn’t feel that way then. I hated and enjoyed killing him just because he challenged me. The ability to respect one’s adversary and their reasoning comes much later on in life for the common man,” he adds quietly.

His eyes slowly lock onto mine again, before he gives me a tight smile.

“That’s the day Arion first fed. He led the entire House of Vampyre to the human blood fest,” he tells me as he leans forward.

I keep eating, having already seen this in gory detail and finding it less disturbing on verbal replay.

Just as I swallow my bite and start to try and see if my dream is somehow a true window into the past, he adds, “Idun returned from foraging in the forest, something she did while she was allowing herself time to think.”

His smile turns bitter instead of tight.

“She found me just finishing up removing all the arrows that Ivan’s exceptional archers had shot through me. Once she decided the entire mess was somehow my fault, she lost her temper and there went my head before I could even react.”

I blink a few times, lowering the glass of water back to the table on my side.

“It’s how we learned we reincarnate and become immortal on the exact same age we were when we completed the sacrifices. New parents, new life, new realizations, and slowly returning memories,” he goes on.

“She thought chopping off your head—”

“She sewed my head back on three days later, not realizing I’d died, according to Damien. They all thought my eyes would open and I’d be horrified by my smell of decay. For whatever reason, removing my bloody head wasn’t such a big deal.”

“But you were already dead,” I say softly.

“It was something new we learned about our curses. Idun’s family were the only ones who couldn’t die, even for a little while,” he finishes, staring at me. “I forgave her, because she didn’t know the first time she cut my head off. As though that was somehow a legitimate excuse. The second time she did it during a tantrum, I realized she may as well have been a cruel child with too much power.”

Putting my fork down, I try to decide what to do or say about that.

“Hating Idun is different than hating Damien. It’s different from hating Arion. It’s different from hating Emit.” He clears his throat, settling back in his seat.

I still don’t really know what to say to any of that.

I don’t particularly enjoy the distant, darkened look in his eyes.

“Can I ask about the temporary parents? Who are they and what happens to them after you hit your immortality age?” I ask, wanting away from the topic of Idun.

He doesn’t look surprised about that question, but his lips twitch in amusement once again.

“It depends on how open-minded they are. Two of Emit’s best, most loyal betas are a set of parents he carried back with him after one life. He turned them, and they do more than any other betas to get the wolves under control.”

“Does he ever see them?”

He shakes his head. “It was important that no one ever link them to him, because they would become targets for some of the many mutinies he faces.” He quickly adds, “Sometimes, the parents just get left behind, thinking their child is dead or simply gone. It depends on the circumstances.”

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