Read Christmas Healing Online

Authors: Morris Fenris,Jasmine Bowen

Christmas Healing (3 page)

Here she was, having flown across the country in comfort, not blinking twice at the planes or cars or cell phones. The
Initials had no reason really to hurt her or kill her. All they wanted was comfort for their brother who looked ready to expire from fear at any moment. Her eyes softened, and she took a small step, her hand out. She missed home, and she wanted to go back as soon as possible. However, that didn’t mean that she couldn’t at least try to talk some sense into this one.

Arthur,” she said, softly, pointing to him. “Annalise,” she said pointing to herself, a Tarzan and Jane moment.

Perhaps it was because
Annalise was half a foot shorter than Diana, and 30 lbs lighter. Perhaps it was because her blood didn’t smell like a buffet, or her eyes weren’t jaded and fierce. Whatever it was, Arthur’s muscles relaxed, although he didn’t move from the spot. He said something in Latin, and Diana turned to Gregory with a smirk.

“He says your law has gone soft, there are humans everywhere who know of his existence.”

Gregory looked annoyed. “Tell him Annalise evokes the law of deliverance.”

“What’s that?”
Annalise asked, but Gregory waived his hand, indicating she should be quiet. The girl didn’t need to know that the law said that those dying would be allowed to know of their existence. She would be unmotivated then.

Initials are the most feared and most irrational of all vampires. They rule by absolute law, and it’s built into all of us to obey. Sometimes they are reasonable, some of them more than others, but it comes down to the fact that, like a domesticated tiger, they can kill at any moment and not a thing could be done about it.”

’s words echoed in her head. She had pictured them as animals, but they seemed so civilized here in the house.

“Shall we get to it?”
Diana said, clearly over whatever outburst Arthur had. “You only have me for another three weeks and we are making no progress.”

“If progress is not made, I can assure you that your contract is extended,”
Gregory replied, with a hint of a growl. Diana seemed unafraid and rolled her eyes, gesturing to the couch.

Annalise, welcome to purgatory. Please, sit.”

… I uh …” her bag was still in her hands. “Are you teaching language? I don’t need to …”

“On the
contrary, it’d be better if you could communicate with Arthur once Diana leaves us,” Gregory replied.

…” Annalise put her bag down, daring not to ask for a shower or a nap, and leaned back against the couch. After a few moments of intense standoff, Arthur settled in the arm chair and Diana on the couch beside him.

“How do you know Latin?”
Annalise asked, curious, looking around for Diana’s books or tools. But the girl had nothing on hand.

“I’m a translator, professionally. My boyfriend used to give me shit for blowing thousands of dollars on ancient language courses, but this is coming in handy. Otherwise, I just use it for texts and old tombs.”

“Right,” Annalise nodded. “I don’t even speak Spanish, so I’m not sure I’m going to be able to learn anything.”

“You will,”
Diana smiled. “This isn’t school, I’m not going to test you. The best way is practice, so we just have conversations.” Her head swiveled to Arthur, who was glaring at her. Annalise understood, in a way. The last time this vampire had walked the earth, he had been a prince, second only to his brother, the king. He had also made up his mind to die. And now, here he was, being treated like a child and awake against his will. She could certainly understand that.

There were times in the hospital when she just wanted to be left alone, to not have chemo forced upon her, to not be asked again and again ‘did you take your meds’.
And sometimes, in the worst of it, to not take them at all. Annalise believed in natural death, believed in heaven, and wanted to see it someday. Unlike other humans who worked alongside vampires, it wouldn’t be a lifestyle she chose when the time came. She was curious to know the next step, beyond life here.

Arthur, Annalise is going to teach you 1000 years worth of history,” Diana said, calmly, in English, as if he hadn’t just spent time screaming at her. “What do you think has changed the most?”

He cocked his head at her like a dog, and
Annalise giggled a bit. Arthur turned to her, staying silent, and her eyes lit up. She reached into her bag, pulling out the only thing she had brought on the plane as useful, her 10
grade history textbook. Opening at the first page, a fully colorful picture of a 11
century painting, she passed it over to him.

The book only went as far back as 1050, so he wouldn’t quite remember it, but the meaning was clear. There was a church, the star of
Bethlehem painted high in the night sky, and Mary on a donkey with the baby Jesus.

Annalise said, meeting his eyes as his finger traced the picture.

“Christmas,” he repeated, clearly enough, and then
hesitantly, not taking his eyes off Annalise, angled the book towards her. “Yes, the same.”

furrowed her brow, turning to Diana.

“He remembers?”

“The painting is something he remembers, the tradition as it was then,” she said, as if she could read his brain. “You could try explaining it to him, and I could translate. Obviously, Latin didn’t have words for everything, but we’ll see what we can do.”

“Is that the
… best way?” Annalise asked, and Diana nodded.

“Sure. Conversation is the most important form of communication. Go ahead.”

“Um …” Annalise wasn’t quite sure where to start. With the Hevers, it was easier. They understood her perfectly, except for slang, and they had only spent 50 years living in the wilderness, waiting for a time to return to the world when no one would remember them. But this was so different. Despite having spent hours teaching culture, she felt lost. But she started talking anyways.

“So Mary and
Joseph went to the Inn, you must know that, and it was full, so they had to sleep in the barn and she had baby Jesus there, the Son of God. And lots of people visited with presents and blessings. Three Wise Men and people came from really far. Today, on the day of Jesus’ birth, to celebrate him, people put up decorations and give each other presents and cards and candy.”

paused at candy, and then tried a different word. Arthur looked confused and Annalise reached into her purse again, pulling out the ginger wrapped candies she used for nausea. They weren’t the best introduction to the world of sugar, but it was something. She handed one to each of them and unwrapped it.

“Candy,” she said, with a grin and
popped it in her mouth. Diana did the same, making a bit of a face. Arthur was more hesitant, watching to see if the girls were going to drop dead, if they were trying to poison him. When neither of those things happened, he placed the ginger sugar on his tongue and bit into it. And then, for the first time, he smiled. He had a beautiful smile that went all the way to the crinkles in his eyes, and it was just for a moment, but it made Annalise realize that perhaps this wasn’t as hopeless as she had thought.

“What the hell are these?”
Diana asked, unimpressed. Annalise was already pulling out two more, cherry lifesavers that she had in case she was with vampires who didn’t have food.

“How do you say different?”
Annalise asked, handing one of the red candies to Arthur. “Different candies.”

Diversae dulcis,” Diana said with a shrug. “Different sweet, really.”

Diversae,” Annalise repeated, her accent off, as she handed one to Arthur. She was glad he ate. It was something they could share together. Some vampires, needing only to exist on blood, didn’t bother in the pleasure of meals anymore. But some quite enjoyed the different tastes and smells and ate as often as humans did. It wasn’t necessarily for nourishment, although it could quell a craving for a little bit if needed.

Melius,” said Arthur after a moment and Diana snorted, nodding.

“Yes, those ones are better.”

Annalise only had one other type of candy in her bag, a yellow jawbreaker, but she figured that was a whole lesson in itself. Arthur had smiled twice at her now, which was a damn site better than when she had come in earlier. The jet lag was getting to her, and she yawned hugely.

“We can be done for the day,”
Diana said. “Finitoque, Arthur.”

, he didn’t need to be told twice. He stood immediately. The girls may not have any power, but he was there under his brother’s orders. And whether or not the power of obeying the vampire king flowed through his blood, Annalise had a feeling that he obeyed anyway, out of duty. It was such a different time back then, when nobody really thought for themselves, or considered thinking outside the box.

Once gone,
Diana offered to help her take her stuff upstairs.

“You’re dating a vampire, right?”
Annalise asked, as they brought the bags upstairs from the hallway, no boys in sight.

“Yep, for a few years now.
I’ve done a few translation gigs, mostly for traveling vampires, so I’m safe from the law. What about you? You have a boyfriend back home?”

“Uh, not really,”
Annalise shook her head. “My best friend is a guy … and sometimes it gets … I don’t know, awkward. But he’s married and happy.”

“But do you like him?”

“I don’t know,” Annalise shrugged. “I teach them all, the whole family. Nothing like this though.”

“You only live once,”
Diana grinned as they got to the top of the stairs and she pushed open a door.

The room was more
luxurious than anything Annalise had ever seen with a four poster king bed, candles on the wall, and a velvety soft rug. It looked like it was made for a Princess.

“Wow,” she breathed
in, looking around.

“I’m going to head into town,”
Diana said, breaking her moment of awe. “Do you need anything?”

… uh …” Annalise tried to make her brain work. “Is there anything I should know about Arthur? What were you fighting about, when we came in?”

’s face darkened as she thought.

Arthur doesn’t want to be alive now anymore than he did before. But Torpor is not happening for him and he’s immortal, and bound by his brother’s rule. So he’s essentially a pouting camper.”

“And the
Initials?” Annalise was almost afraid to ask. “Are they really as dangerous as everyone says? I mean … if I do my job, do you think they will let me go home?”

Diana replied. “They aren’t savages. If you keep your word, Gregory will keep his. He’s a man of honor. I don’t think being a king is easy, and he certainly prefers Tyran would have done it.”

Tyran?” Annalise cocked her head, having never heard this name before

Tyran was the oldest brother, before they were turned into vampires, back when they were just actual princes and lords. He died as a human, and so all of a sudden, everyone moves one step up. Arthur remembers him clearly, obviously, and he’ll talk about him a lot.”

“Right, ok. Thanks. For everything,” she smiled at the other girl, who shrugged.

“Sure. Dinner’s at 7. They still dress all fancy, and don’t be alarmed by Rosa, she’s just annoying.”

Rosa?” There were too many people in this house. Annalise felt crowded, even though they were all alone.

Gregory’s slutty girlfriend thing. Don’t look so surprised, a king has to have a harem. See you at 7.”

left the room, thumping down the stairs. Annalise heard the front door slam.

Finally alone, she shut the door, flopped on the bed, and pulled out her cell phone. She closed her eyes as it
rang, her head spinning.

Annalise?” Tony answered, his voice comforting despite the miles that separated them. “Are you alright?”

“So far,” she replied.
“Just tired. I got here, safe, and we already did a bit of a lesson.”

“Are you sure you’re alright? Have they hurt you? If anything is wrong at all, you just tell me and I will come right there and

Tony,” she smiled briefly. “I’m ok. I think it’s going to be alright. Hopefully, if I just do my job and Arthur corroborates, then I’ll be out of here and home before Christmas.”

“Take care of
yourself,” he said. “And tell them if you don’t feel well. Supposedly, Dr. Hever struck up a deal that if your health begins to deteriorate, you are released from the contract.”

was silent a moment.

“It’s going to
deteriorate one way or another, Tony. You know that.”

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