4 : The Players

A mere three minutes passed before Ailsa found herself standing face to face with Adolphe. Dark hair, fair skin…he was the stereotypical beta wolf which meant less intervention from her Alphas. Tilting her head at hints of a scent, a sudden smile graced her features, fangs already beginning to descend. With another step she closed their distance she gazed up at him with fire in her eyes. Finally, something fun to do. Just before the young werewolf could manage another move, slender fingers gently squeezed the back of her neck. Ailsa didn’t need to turn to know who it was, yet did so any way out of learned respect. Evangeline stood at her side with a soft smile though her fingers did not leave the girl’s neck. The message was clear: Ailsa would behave while they were on Xiradis property. The older woman then turned her sights on Adolphe with a similar message etched on her face: It was not play time.

Maksim accepted the glass with barely a glance in Taka’s direction. “Pleasant enough.” Allowing himself a generous sip of champagne his gaze flickered to the females Taka was referring to. Hmm…it had been a rather tame night and Seraphina certainly wouldn’t be wandering into any trouble here. “I think I could spare a moment.” Physical contact with Taka wasn’t exactly his a past time, but it was to be tolerated if it was in the pursuit of a more memorable night. A low chuckle escaped him at Takas remark. As if any of these women were the ones who needed to be on a leash. “Good evening, ladies…” Flashing his all too perfected charming smile- by way of his father- he focused his attention on the lovely display before him.

Antoinette twirled around the dance floor without a single care; only looking up to see who caught her after each spin. Most were familiar faces until she found herself in the grasp of Hiroyuki. She knew who he was- she just hadn’t interacted with him much. In fact, she couldn’t remember ever even dancing with him. The blonde gave him a smile and followed his lead. He was quite good! “I didn’t know you could dance.” Much to her surprise she wasn’t twirled away after a few moments and was instead kept for the duration of the dance. As the first song faded into the next she gave him a teasing look before stepping up the skill level. If he wasn’t up to the challenge she would understand of course, but then again he shouldn’t have tried to dance with her in the first place then. After the second dance she placed a kiss on his cheek. “You were great! Who knew you were hiding that talent.” Antoinette was truthfully impressed, but her moment was short lived when someone took her hand and brought her into them. “Tessék!”

Seraphina had watched the interaction between Maksim and Taka in silence, raising a glass of water for a soft sip. Her company for the night was an imposing statue which helped conceal her from the sight of many. Well, almost. Emilie soon arrived with small plate for them to share. “Enjoying the party?” Emilie asked gently. “It’s quite daunting, but nice.” Seraphina gave a nod as she took a small bite. “It’s true, but so are the Draghi events. Just a different kind of daunting.” Emilie mused with a light nudge at her cousin. Seraphina had to crack a smile at the truth of that statement. “Are you returning after the party?” It wasn’t often Seraphina enjoyed Emilie’s company outside of school. “Um, no. An after party has been arranged for the older kids once Stefan and Maris are put to bed.” Emilie explained, realizing Seraphina had not been privy to this information.

Freya sat completely unawares of the man on a beeline to her location. The vampire was lost in thought. Her finger tracing the rim of her glass with idle precision. When the male finally earned her notice, she felt her brother at her side. Her gaze went from distant to sharp at her brother’s voice. It was rare for him to require her at a time like this. After exchanging a brief glance to express her mild apprehension she allowed him to lead her away. Once on the balcony she closed the doors in order to give a better sense of privacy before stepping to face her brother. Although he was quite large with an almost permanent scowl set in his features and seemed to radiate a sheer sense of rage… Freya stood unbothered. After years with her brother she could rarely find herself in a moment of fear with him. If anything, she had grown quite numb to his intimidation. Placing a hand on his shoulder she leaned in to allow a soft sniff at the base of his neck. Her brows knit together in confusion as she pulled back to face him. There was no immediate danger. Freya gave him a question look. Why had he brought her out here?

Damian was quite content with the current state of the event. No one was acting out of line and while there were far too many outsiders presents for his liking…it was allowable for this one single event. In the future he intended to slash the invite list as least thirty percent. Keeping his hand firmly on his wife’s waist as if to keep her place upon his lap, he pulled her tighter against him before realizing his daughters were approaching. He didn’t bother lightening his grip and instead accepted the glass from Akiko with his free hand. “That is the plight of their bloodline.” His tone carried a slight hint of distaste. The Xiradis way was preferable in his mind: to simply command a room through past actions of warfare. It was far less maintenance. “It will be ending soon. Mina wants her children in bed on the next hour.” Handing the glass to his wife he then took the cake though he just held it. In truth he couldn’t recall the last time he’d eaten today, but it required two hands and he preferred keeping Autumn. “Where are your brothers?”

Ana caught a glimpse of Evangeline keeping her youngest daughter in check and merely grew more amused. Turning her head, she immediately spotted her mate who was still perched against the wall like a fixture. It seemed neither of them were in the habit of reigning their children. Luckily Evangeline seemed quite up to the task since…the eldest were no longer present. Removing herself from a collection of females she walked with lazy precision towards her mate until a scent reached her. The woman stopped dead in her tracks, slowly turning her head towards the carrier. It was a Xiradis male. Roughly thirty five years old, type O by human standards but with a little something…extra. A golden hue colored her eyes as cast a glance in her mate’s direction before changing paths.

Niklaus looked over to see what had caught Mairi’s eye and was honestly surprised. Markus Draghi. First son of Evangeline and little brother to Aleera. Those two females alone were enough to drive many away from, but he’d known Markus since he was a cub and he was quite relaxed. Then again, he had been raised under his own mother’s guidance for a portion of his life. By the time Niklaus turned back to Mairi she was already gone. He merely sighed to himself and looked to the table where his sisters had been. Also gone. Ailsa and Rhiagon seemed to be the only ones still present and neither were viable options leading him to merely find an abandoned table.

Rhiagon did not bother addressing Mairi until she handed him something to drink. He wasn’t thirsty. A brow raised at her comparison of him to Aeron. Aeron had already removed himself from the party. “Do I.” A question that was delivered as more of a statement. Watching her lean towards Markus was the cue that he no longer had to engage and could resume his natural state: standing and waiting for this event to end so he could return to his duties.

Markus enjoyed Rhiagon’s company in the sense they both preferred to stay out of the potential tornado of drama always looming at events of these sorts. From the corner of his eye he watched Mairi approach their cousin with some interest. He knew she was the daughter of Laelas and the reputation that was passed down. Other than that, he wasn’t all that familiar, partially because of the tension between their respective families. “Attending my cousin’s birthday. I assume you’re doing the same?” His gaze dipped from her exposed skin to the swell of her breasts as if on instinct. The rumors seemed to be true about her tendencies to entice men. Rhiagan seemed willfully ignorant of the situation leaving Markus to his own devices, but Taka was quick to appear. Whether it was a blessing or a curse…debatable. At Taka’s interrupting Markus merely chuckled and finished his champagne. Watching how easily she sent Taka away with a distraction he was impressed. “Taka must be fond of you.” He admitted, knowing Taka only left his company when it was advantageous for himself.

Aleera fielded compliments from her male admirers with nothing but grace coupled with coquettish skill. There were four in particular who were far above the rest of the lot. Each of them was taller than her with a very flattering build and their ceremonious attire allowed her to confirm their status. Their names were unimportant to Aleera as none of them has done anything worthwhile in earning a place in her memory. Seeing them try to outmaneuver one another was rather entertaining. It was a pity none of them would win her neither in a conquest of bedding her for the night or achieving marriage possibility. The days of marrying in the Xiradis family were suspended and she had no intention of falling in their pit. The most prominent seemed to grow weary of the talking and invited her to dance. “I’d love to.”

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Till The World Ends- Britney Spears

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