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Ethan Connor, Vampire Prince and total douche bag, had been back in Royal Oak for less than an hour, and already he was pissing me off. It may have been a new record, even for him.
I watched him run his fingers through his jet black hair for the fifth time in as many minutes and contemplated going over to him and punching him in the face. I knew it would make me feel better, no matter how childish.
"Jamie, if you don't stop staring at him, people are going to think you don't hate him as much as you claim to." My sister Beth dropped another mead off in front of me on her way down the bar to take care of other patrons.
She enjoyed shooting barbs at me while she was working, it made it harder for me to retort. When we were kids, she did the same thing, running up into my group of friends, with her green eyes shining brightly, and telling them a horrifically embarrassing story, then off she went again too quick to catch. If I didn't love her so much, I probably would have staked her in her sleep years ago.
Draining the mead in a few swallows helped take off the edge. You could almost feel the pulse throughout the clan at Ethan's return. I'd heard he'd fallen for a mortal and followed him to Chicago. Apparently, it hadn't worked out. Too bad.
I motioned for Beth to bring me another drink. She shook her head at me but dropped it on her way by me anyway. She hated when I got drunk, not that I blamed her. Even I know I can be a dick when I've had too much. But she didn't have much recourse since I'd bought into The Kiss a few months ago. I was a silent partner which pretty much just meant I drank up the inventory, and no one could call me on it, while Beth took careof the actual running of the pub.
Ethan looked as if he were working on a good drunk, too. His laughter grew in volume with every mug he drained, the sound of it giving me goose bumps for no good reason. I knew I had to get out of there. I didn't want him to decide it was a good time to fight with me again as he had the night he'd left town. We had managed to beat the piss out of each other before his mortal boy toy rescued him from me and our 'barbaric clan of vampiric idiots'.
As far as I could remember, it was the only time Ethan had willingly left the clan. Like most vampires, he seemed more comfortable around his own kind. I wondered what the mortal had offered to make him go but then decided I didn't really care that much. I would much rather find out what had made him come home.
I checked to see where Beth had gone and, of course, found her busy at Ethan's end of the bar. She flipped her long auburn hair over her shoulder and laughed with the rest of his court. I grabbed a bottle of Absinthe from behind the bar and started to walk out.
I turned to see Sasha, one of the waitresses running towards me.
"Don't call me that," I said with a sigh. "What do you need?"
"Well, I was just wondering if you needed a glass or any sugar for your drink, sir."
"Jamie. My name is Jamie. And no, thank you, the bottle will be fine."
I walked out into the cool night air, shaking my head. Most people had stopped calling me by that title years earlier, but there were still a few who had problems adjusting to Ethan being the Vampire Prince, even after fifteen years. Usually it didn't bother me, I would correct them and move on. But just being around Ethan had gotten me in such a foul mood that it stung to be reminded of my past.
I'd been Prince, but the death of my parents had ended the short lived role. Ethan's parents had taken over the clan and, in the eyes of their subjects, had saved us all from certain death, so the heroes' son now held the title. Good for Ethan.
I headed for the town square, knowing it would be pretty empty with the impending storm growling overhead. Most people would be in their homes, avoiding the rain. I loved the rain, had loved it since I was a child. Sitting in the park, drinking with the thunder sounded like Heaven.
I lay on the cool grass, head propped up on my jacket while I drank the Absinthe. The harsh liquorice flavour wasn't my favourite, but it would do in a pinch. I heard people out on the streets now and realised that the bars must have closed.
I heard singing growing louder and cursed to myself. Someone was coming to the square. I wasn't ready to leave. I was quite enjoying the crisp autumn air and the smell and sounds of the impending storm. I could only hope that whoever was coming over would shut the hell up and let me be.
"Jamie McHale? Jamie, you son-of-a-bitch, is that you?"
Fuck. Of course, it was Ethan. Who else could it have been?
"Ethan, go home." My voice was slow and careful. I didn't want to start a fight with him if I could help it. I just wanted him gone.
Unfortunately, Ethan was even drunker than I was. He dropped to the ground next to me, grabbed the bottle from my hand and drank deeply from it. He made a pained face and handed it back, coughing.
"Why are you drinking that garbage? Ugh, tastes like ... like ... gross."
I laughed, sitting up and clapping my hand over my mouth quickly, but he heard it. He grinned broadly at me, showing his perfect teeth, fangs safely retracted away. He slapped me on the back, a little harder than was comfortable, but I wasn't sure he'd meant to hurt me.
"You're a funny guy, Jamie, and I think your eyes are the same green as this booze. And you have great hair, all dark and red and shiny. You're like ... I don't know. How's come we don't like each other?" He was even drunker than I'd thought he was.
"'Cause you're an asshole," I said, shrugging his hand from my shoulder.
"Hmm, well that certainly sounds like me. But what did I ever do to you and your pointy cheekbones?" He took the bottle again, and I let him. I was confused by the situation, but as I wasn't eager to get my ass kicked I figured I would let it go as peaceably as possible.
"We have done a lot of terrible things to each other, Ethan," I blew out a sigh, snatching my bottle back for a quick drink. "I would say you probably started it by stealing Jeremiah Sorenson from me, and it just got worse from there."
Worse in the sense that I was pretty sure his family had hired the hunters who had murdered my parents. Though the investigators for the clan had completely cleared the Connors of any wrongdoing, I'd never been able to let go of the theory. The whole situation just seemed too damned convenient--the hunters finding my parents on vacation in another state, the Connors' quick rise to take over the clan before the elders began fighting amongst themselves. Everything had clicked into place so easily for them, it had just never sat well with me.