This chapter shifts to the point-of-view of Stefan Nilsson.
Danish: Huset til den syvende sang
Sleep came a little easier now that I knew Leila was safe. I don’t mean that it was easy to get to sleep– my bed still felt cold, my room somehow too quiet, even though quiet was all I’d wanted for the previous few nights– but it was still better than when I’d been worried about what the vampires and werewolves planned to do to her. I dreamed of being on the beach with her, sleeping on a blanket on the sand, with only the stars above us. She fell asleep in my arms in that dream, and the next one I remember having involved her dressed as a Celtic queen and riding a unicorn right alongside me as I rode Sleipnir. I wore the clothing of a Viking lord, and had a great-axe at my back.
I woke up and immediately felt lonely. The sun was just starting to come up over the horizon, so I decided not to bother Leila yet, and instead went to take a bath. There were plenty of clothes in my wardrobe to choose from after that; I chose an off-white long-sleeved shirt and a brown leather vest with matching pants and tall, dark boots. It was a cool morning, so I also pulled on a blue suede overcoat.
Someone came to knock on my door soon after that. I thought it might be Larsa, but it turned out to be Justin. He’d changed out of his Terran clothes and put on a doublet made of black and indigo brocade, and form-fitting pants to match.
“Hey, wow, you look nice in period clothes,” I told him.
His chocolatey-brown eyes shown as he smiled up at me. “Thanks… you, too. Umm, so… Blackthorne sent me to get you.”
“Okay, I’m ready to go.” I followed him down the hall a little before asking, “Aren’t we getting Larsa and Killian?”
“Not yet,” he replied, and led me to the stairs. “I don’t think they’ll be ready for a while, anyway.”
“Ah, I get it. How’ve you been doing, seeing him again?”
“It hasn’t been bad, if that’s what you’re worried about. I was surprised, but I’m not mad or jealous.”
“That’s a relief,” I said as we got to the top of those stairs, then headed down the hall to a winding staircase. “Where was your wedding, by the way? And was Lord Thorne able to attend?”
“It was at a vineyard near Silver Star Mountain,” he told me. “It was amazing, Stefan! The house was covered in ivy, and the air was fresh and clean. We had it at night.”
“Of course you did,” I chuckled.
We got to the top of the stairs and went down a little way. Justin opened a pair of dark wooden doors and welcomed me inside. The room was rich with the aromas of incense, and the temperature was just the right balance of the heat from the fire fighting off the morning chill outside.
“This is our tower,” he said, closing the doors once we were in. “Home away from home.”
The main room of their suite was bigger than my entire apartment back in Portland. There were plush couches in dark colors, wooden tables and chairs– probably walnut, judging by the color– carved centuries ago, candelabras of all types, bookshelves, a fireplace, and even an iron chandelier. It spoke of gothic architecture and a little Victorian influence; everything that suited Blackthorne perfectly.
There were only a couple other doors in the room: what I assumed to be a small office, a privy of some kind, a humble pantry and water source (which made sense, being this far up in the castle), and a balcony. There was also another winding stairway, which Justin led me up.
“Our bedroom is up here,” he said, speaking softly. Then he gestured around. “There’s a full bathroom there, and a walk-in closet, and a smaller balcony.”
Their bed was bigger than any king-size bed I’d ever seen on Earth. It was also a four-poster, with heavy curtain in crimson, silver, and black. Blackthorne wasn’t on it, but instead sat in a meditative pose in front of a crackling fire. His eyes were closed, so I stayed quiet, wondering if Justin shouldn’t have spoken either. He knelt down beside his husband and hooked their arms together.
“Welcome back, Little Moon,” Blackthorne said in a velvety voice. He turned and kissed Justin’s forehead, then twisted around to look up at me. “Good morning, Stefan.”
I nodded slowly. “Good morning. I hope we’re not interrupting…”
“Not at all,” he said as he got up. “I sent him to get you, after all. I just meditate to pass the time.”
Blackthorne had on leather pants that hugged his muscular thighs; there were decorative laces running down the sides. his shirt was a soft gray, and the cuffs and collar, while not outright ruffled, had waves of extra fabric. The vest he wore matched Justin’s doublet, and he wore a sapphire brooch on a dark chain.
“Can I offer you tea or coffee?” he asked. “Breakfast is being prepared as we speak, and the staff will show the others the way up here.”
We went back downstairs and sat at the dining table, which had a silver tray on it with the teapot and coffee carafe. Blackthorne set out our cups and saucers and poured Justin a cup of tea.
“We have Earl Grey today,” he said, “but I might be able to request another variety.”
“I’m with with coffee,” I told him. I took a couple of the shortbread cookies to snack on and relax into a chair.
Once he’d poured my coffee and his tea, he sat down next to Justin.
“It really is good to see you again.”
“You, too,” I said. “Oh, Justin was telling me you had your wedding near Silver Star mountain.”
A fond smile crossed Blackthorne’s face, and he took Justin’s hand to kiss his fingers. “We did. It was… It was more enchanting than I could have ever asked for. Grandfather and my mother’s family, my adoptive family, and even Justin’s parents worked together to help us make the ceremony something that we’ll always treasure.”
“I’m so excited to see the pictures!” Justin chimed in. “The photographer even had a drone, and her assistant controlled it and took a bunch of aerial photos.”
“That’s incredible! Congratulations, both of you. Seeing you both happy together…” I shook my head. “Actually, it’s a pretty big coincidence that you were by Silver Star. Leila lives over by Northwoods.”
He nodded. “Yes, she’d have to have inherited Lord Morrigan’s house as part of the catalyst for being able to come here.”
“Wait– did you know Leila got the house?”
“No,” he replied firmly. “Grandfather had told me that Morrigan had passed away– he keeps track of the musicians and their Terrans, seeing as how the shadows need Tierney Ríocht as much as the light does– but I didn’t know that the next Terran had already arrived. You remember how surprised I was to see her yesterday.”
“Heh, okay… So let me ask you this: how well do you know Xanthus?”
He did a double-take when I said that name. “Xanthus? He works for my grandfather, Stefan. He’s incredibly loyal, too. In fact, he helped us when it came time to heal Justin from his near-fatal wounds. Why do you ask?”
He could tell that I wasn’t pleased by the way I was frowning. “He accosted Leila at the club,” I told him. “I don’t know why he was there, but between that and Leila getting kidnapped, I don’t trust him.”
Justin gave Blackthorne a worried look.
“Well…” Blackthorne began as he refilled my coffee, “you know why Grandfather sent for her. I’m sorry it went that way. As for what happened at the club…” He sighed and shook his head. “He’s strange sometimes, especially when he and Erik have been arguing. Satyrs are promiscuous; they can even be unfaithful brats at times. Does Grandfather know about it?”
“Do you really think I’ve had time to submit a complaint card?”
Blackthorne chuckled at that. “I’ll bring it up with him,” he assured me. “I have to admit that I’ve been focused on work and the wedding for the past year, so I may have missed a few details.”
“I can’t think of any excuse for him to be bothering her like that, though,” I pointed out.
He nodded, then watched me for a long moment before he spoke again. “You’re more protective of her than you are of anyone else.”
I shrugged. “Killian and Larsa can take care of themselves.”
“And each other,” he added.
“But you were protective of her in high school, too,” Justin said.
“Not really,” I scoffed.
“You were,” Blackthorne countered. “And you still are. But you’ve never done it in a way that undermines her”
“Okay,” I said, taking another cookie. “So what?”
“Well…” Justin started, then faltered. Then Blackthorne encouraged him to continue. “You seem pretty tense. I mean, I know you act cool and chill, but you looked ready to rip Ingrid off of her yesterday. And then last night… it was just little things, okay? Even with two gay couples in the room, you looked ready to get between her and anyone who bothered her.”
“She’s my best friend, and we’re in a vampire castle in a strange world we can’t get home from. Of course I’m being protective.”
“Grandfather and Erik told me about the way you fought at Jean-Marc’s manor,” Blackthorne said. “You’re beyond protective, Stefan.”
“Heh… okay, but Larsa–“
“Larsa’s magic is really cool!” Justin said. Then he smirked and sat back to focus on his tea.
“Is there a point in all of this?” I asked.
“There is, yes,” Blackthorne said. “I have watched the two of you for less than a day, and I know how fondly she looks at you. I can promise you, Stefan, that if you tell her how much you love her, she’ll confess that she loves you just as much.”