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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This is Book 2 of the "New Reality" Series; reading 'Re-Birth', Book 1, is highly recommended.

Re-Forging - 3. Chapter 3

My head whipped around to look at James so fast I swear I heard a crack. I knew my mouth was hanging open, and I could feel my eyes trying to pop from their sockets. This had to be a joke. James and Donna came up with this as a way to help me relax and adjust to being a vampire. That had to be it. I have to admit, getting everyone to go along with it so quickly showed a lot of organizational skills. As if he were reading my mind, James slowly shook his head.

“This is not a joke, Greg. I like a good prank just like you and your friends, but to make a joke of nobility would be treason.”

“How did you—”

“Know about the bubbles?” He grinned as I gaped at him. “You forget; I drained you to change you. In doing so, I saw every memory, every thought, every feeling. I now know you like I know myself. Because of that, I know that the gods have chosen well. I also know you can do this with a little guidance; that’s my job. Your job is to learn, to grow, and soon, to lead.”

I was about to argue when James’ phone rang. After glancing at it, he answered. “Good afternoon, Highness.” Pause. “Yes, Sire, I’ve just told him. He is, surprised would be the best word, I think.” Pause. “Understood, Sire. We’ll be expecting him.” Pause. “I’ll have him do that as soon as I get your email, Sire.” Pause. “I am honored, Sire; I will do my best. I’m sure he’ll be relieved to hear that.” Pause. “We’ll see you then.”

After disconnecting, he dialed another number. “Duane, this is James. I need you to send either the S or the Escalade to Butler Airport to meet Thomas McNiel and bring him to my home. He should be landing around five.” Pause. “Private. You’ll need to arrange to pick up your driver here; I’ll be keeping the car for a week or two. Thank you.”

Turning to us, James explained, “Prince George is sending security for you, Greg. The first will be here after dinner. The second is packing, and will follow in a few days. On that same subject, you and I need to choose your new car.”

“I already…” I stopped as the first part of his statement hit me. “Security? I don’t need security; I’m just a kid.”

Before James could reply, Billy said, “No, My Lord, you are a Baron, and a Baron has security.”

I turned to him and snapped, “I told you not to call me that.”

Scott took my hand, and I turned to him as he said, “Get used to it, Greg. Be happy things were modernized. Three hundred years ago, Barons were called ‘Excellency’. For vampires, that’s reserved for Viscounts and Counts.”

Shocked, I turned to James, who gently nodded. I turned back to Billy and said, “I’m sorry for snapping, Billy. I’m starting to understand your reaction.”

“It’s ok, My…, er, Greg. We both have a bit of adjusting to do.”

Turning back to James, I took a moment to breathe, then said, “What’s this about a car?”

“George is emailing me a list of approved builders of armored vehicles, Greg. We are to choose one that they have in stock and ready. Once you’ve chosen, the council will arrange to have it delivered. Your security detail will double as your drivers.”

“Drivers? I can’t have a driver; how will I explain that to Dad? Or Jake? Or the whole school, for that matter?” I paused, and as I realized several things, I started to panic. “Am I even going back to school? Or do I have to go run a Barony somewhere?”

“Right now, you are simply an unseated Baron. George is giving you time to adjust and has asked me to prepare you. As to the issue of school and your father, well, we’ll deal with that when he gets home. For now, I think we should do as George has asked and look at vehicles.” Turning to Billy, he said, “My Lord, would you tell Mary to expect a guest? Two actually, but they’re mated, so ask her to put them in the southern large suite?”

Billy flinched when James called him ‘My Lord.’ He stood and said, “I know that’s what you’re supposed to call me, James, but I need time to get used to it. I’ll go tell Grandma.”

As Billy left, James stood and went to the cabinet behind his desk. As he opened it, I saw that it was a credenza built to match the bookshelves. He logged into his email, opened the one from Prince George, and then opened the links. There were only two approved companies: one in Virginia and the other in Toronto.

As Scott and I looked at the sites, James explained, “Remember, you have to choose from what they show as available for immediate delivery.”

Scrolling through the inventory for both companies, I saw large sedans by Mercedes, Lexus, Lincoln, Cadillac, BMW, Rolls Royce, and Bentley. There were also SUVs by these same manufacturers, as well as Land Rover and Toyota. As I looked through various vehicle types, I realized they made armored pickup trucks and was excited to see they even had one identical to the one I had planned on buying.

“You’re not going to like a pickup truck, babe. We’ll be riding in the back, and that seat doesn’t look comfortable.” Scott said as he pulled up the image of the back seat of the Sierra. “The one we looked at seemed fine for a short trip, but I don’t know about all the time.”

“And I would assume that you’ll want Billy along, so you’ll need room for five,” James added.

“Five?” I asked.

“You, Scott, Billy, your driver, and the second security person,” he explained.

I sighed and nodded. “Very good point, James, thanks. That rules out all of the sedans and most of the SUVs.”

Scott scrolled through the list again and said, “That narrows it down to the three by GM, the Lincoln, the Range Rover, the Mercedes GL, and the BMW.”

I pointed at the screen and said, “The Mercedes is available for five or seven passengers, but I only saw one back seat in the one in stock, so that’s out.”

Scott checked the photos and nodded. Then said, “It’s bad enough we’ll have a driver; I can’t imagine pulling up to school in a Lincoln or Caddy, let alone a Mercedes.”

“I agree. Same with the Range Rover. Well, if it’s a choice between the Suburban and the GMC, I like the look of the Denali. And this one’s in the blue we like. I mean, a black Suburban? Really?”

Billy walked in as I was saying this. He smirked and said, “If you have a black Suburban and two men in black, people will think you’re an alien.”

I rolled my eyes at him, then turned back to watch as James sent an email to Prince George to share our choice of vehicles. Just as he hit send, his phone rang. “Hello, Mike.” Pause. “Yes, that’s right, take the next left. In just under a mile, you’ll see the road on your left. The gate code is 33928. We’ll see you soon.” Glancing at us, he said, “Mike will be here soon. Go get some clothes on. I’ll tell Mary.”

Confused, I followed Scott to our room. As we climbed the stairs, I asked, “Exactly why are we getting dressed? We sat Sunday evening and talked with Mike and didn’t bother with clothes.”

Handing me a pair of dress pants and a shirt, Scott explained, “In this house, Dad is Baronet Warnick; in that one, he’s James. Here, we usually wear something from breakfast until dinner in case any humans drop by for business. It’s just easier. Right now, everyone local thinks we’re still out of town, so I figured no one would just drop by.”

I saw holes in his logic, but I didn’t argue. As I was buttoning up my shirt, a panicked Billy came running in. “You’ve met this Mike before?” When I nodded, he said, “We need to teach him to hide his eyes, Scott.”

I glanced in the mirror to see that my eyes were now the same shade of emerald green as Scott’s. As my panic started to rise, Scott calmly said, “Mike knows about us, Billy, relax. He and his family were hired as our donors for when we’re at the other house.”

I quickly turned to stare at Scott. I wasn’t sure which part of that I wanted to address first, but my mouth decided for me. “Donors?”

“We, um, we pay humans to feed us,” Scott said, abashed.

“You pay them; you don’t force them, right?” I clarified.

“Oh, no! Dad says that stopped centuries ago. And the need for live donors went way down when we developed the blood banks the humans use. Now, only the nobles feed from live humans, and we pay them quite well,” he explained.

“And before the blood banks?”

“Some of the shite in the books is true, or close to it. We can hypnotize humans and make them willingly let us feed, then forget all about ever meeting us,” Billy said. “I haven’t been taught how to control it yet, but Sire, er, James said he would after my birthday in August.”

I considered this for a minute, then asked, “And no one does that any longer?”

Scott shook his head as he said, “The Council encouraged everyone to switch to donated blood after World War Two. They outlawed the unwilling harvesting of blood in their 1965 declarations. The blood banks were up and running strong around the world, so there was no longer the need.”

“So everyone just quit hypnotizing humans and switched to bags of blood?” I asked, suspicious.

“First offense for violating this results in a ban on renewal. A second offense is a death sentence.” Billy explained in a stern tone.

“Of course, those of us who can afford it still prefer live blood, so we pay humans. They’re fully aware of what they’re doing. The only time we hypnotize them is if they freak out when we first breach the subject; we wipe their memory of the request. They go through the rest of their lives completely unaware we exist,” Scott added.

As I thought about this, something was bothering me, but I wasn’t sure what. My thoughts were interrupted by James. “Your Lordships? Mike just came through the gate. Come down and greet him with me, please?”

I glanced at Billy, who just gave me a shrug and gestured for me to lead the way. As we came down the stairs, I said, “If it’s alright with you, James, can you please not call me that? Or are you required to?”

Smiling, James replied, “I’ll do my best, Greg, but it’s something you’ll have to get used to. Even Scott is supposed to address you in that way.”

I smirked at Scott as he tied my tie. “I could get used to that,” I said. He gave me a playful swat before I could continue. “But until we're out of high school, I think it's best if we don’t. We don't need him slipping up at school.”

“I think we can make the effort, at least when we’re alone,” James said, leading us out the front door and into the courtyard. As Mike’s car pulled up, he added, “Greg, you have to pass for human by Friday morning. This will be your first test, and it’s going to be a tough one.”

I looked up and saw why he had said this. Sitting beside Mike was his son, Chris. When the car stopped, Chris jumped out and ran to me, asking, “Dad said you were hurt. You look fine to me; what happened? Are you ok?”

“I, um, I fell. In that barn behind the old farmhouse. It seemed a lot worse than it was, though. I’m fine,” I said, looking anywhere but his face.

Grabbing me by the shoulders, Chris looked me up and down, turning me around like he was examining me for bullet holes. When he grabbed my chin, I knew I was in trouble. He forced my face up and looked me in the eyes, saying, “Well, I don’t see anything wrong, so it must not have been as bad as Dad made it sound. Bet ya got some nasty bruises, though.”

I was surprised he didn’t notice my eyes, but I needed to think of a story he would believe. Scott saved me by saying, “He almost fell off the loft but caught himself by one hand. I climbed down and helped him down before he fell the rest of the way down. We were worried he might have twisted his back or pulled his shoulder out, but everything seems fine.”

Turning to Mike, “Any updates on anything I need to hear?” I asked.

He looked at Chris and said, “Remember our talk about client confidentiality?” When Chris nodded, Mike turned back to me. “Your dad overnighted a notarized statement in support of your petition. I don’t expect any problems with it; you’ll be eighteen in less than six months. Judge Nelson might not seem like it, but he’s a smart man; he should approve the emancipation. I brought the incorporation paperwork for you and Scott to read over. I’ll file them after you sign them Friday.”

When he said this, I realized something. “Why aren’t we filing for Scott to be emancipated? How can he sign the papers without that?”

Mike looked at James, who explained, “We haven’t had a chance to explain that yet, Greg. Scott holds a diplomatic passport from Dracul. At his age, he is recognized as an adult there, and that will suffice.”

Even more confused, I wanted to ask where Dracul was, but before I could, James suggested we head inside as Mary had dinner on the table. As we approached the table, James took his seat at the head with Donna opposite him. Scott and I, of course, chose seats next to each other, but there was an awkward moment as Billy and Chris both tried to take the chair to my left. The impasse was finally broken when I glanced at Billy and nodded to the chair opposite me, beside Mike. As he moved away, I swear I heard him growl.

Mary brought in salads and placed them in front of each of us, then returned carrying dark blue crystal goblets. As she placed one in front of me, I caught the scent of stag’s blood and quickly glanced at the one in front of Chris, relieved to find it contained red wine. I quickly emptied my goblet and asked Mary for more wine, emphasizing the word. She caught my meaning and refilled my goblet with wine. The main course was a very tender venison steak, small red potatoes, and broccoli covered with cheese sauce. I was ravenous, quickly emptying my plate and even stealing a few bites from Scott’s. I couldn’t seem to sate my hunger, then I realized why. I could smell the blood flowing through the veins to my left, and I wanted it; I needed it.

The conversation during dinner had moved from topics that spanned a wide range. From Mike, Scott, and I discussing the incorporation of GSE to James and Mike discussing the dealership to me and Chris telling Scott about what to expect at his first wrestling practice. It was during this exchange that something odd happened. I was looking at Chris while he talked about his first practice when his eyes met mine, and he fell silent. Scott was asking for more detail, but Chris was focused on my gaze. After a brief moment, he raised his arm, bringing his wrist toward my mouth. I was opening my mouth when James shouted.

“Greg! No!”

Chris didn’t move; he just sat there, offering his wrist to me. I looked around and found everyone staring at me. When I reflexively licked my lips, I felt it, er, them. My fangs had descended, preparing to pierce the wrist that was being offered to me. I turned back to Chris to see him mesmerized, patiently waiting for me to feed. I didn’t know what was going on, and I had no idea what to do. Panic rising, I turned to James.

“I don’t know what happened. We were talking and—” I stopped, realizing several things at once. One, my fangs were still down, making talking difficult. Two, I needed to ask James for guidance on issues that probably shouldn’t be discussed in front of Mike. And three, one of my best friends was still sitting there, transfixed, offering his wrist to me. I took his wrist and gently lowered his arm, then looked at James, seeking his advice using all the non-verbal communication skills I could muster.

“First things first, Greg. Your fangs have dropped due to hunger; they won’t retract until you feed. Come here, son.” James said as he turned his chair and rolled up his sleeve. As I stood, I glanced at Chris; James assured me, “He’ll be fine. He should come out of it shortly.”

I stepped to face James, then knelt. Unlike the last time, he didn’t drop his own fangs to open his wrist; he simply held his wrist out and said, “You should instinctively know where to position your fangs. Bite quickly; when you taste the blood, they should retract and allow you to feed. Don’t worry that you’ll hurt me; just bite.”

I did as he instructed, and he was correct. As I put my mouth to his wrist, the placement felt wrong, so I gave it a slight twist, repositioning my fangs until it felt right. I quickly bit down, and, as he had said, when the blood started to flow, I felt my fangs retract. As I fed, I once again felt that mental connection. With a better understanding of this, I didn’t wait for James to send me his thoughts; rather, I consciously sought out knowledge that I lacked. I can’t really explain it, but my mind searched for and found his language base, and as I fed, I absorbed every bit I could find in the short ten minutes we were connected. As I did this, I could feel his reactions. First, he was surprised, then intrigued, then finally relaxed as I disconnected the mental connection and stopped feeding.

As soon as I was sated, I stopped feeding. Lifting slightly from his wrist, I licked the last drops from the quickly closing skin. Looking around, I saw Mike finishing his dinner like this was perfectly normal. Donna and Mary were, likewise, ignoring what I was doing and having a quiet conversation. Scott and Billy were looking at me with a combination of concern and confusion. When I looked into James’ face, I saw that same fatherly love mixed with concern.

“Did you intend to enthrall Chris, Greg?” James asked as I stood.

“No, Sir. I… I don’t really know what happened,” I said sheepishly.

“Have a seat and tell me what you do know, son. You’re not in trouble.”

Feeling a mixture of uncertainty about what had happened and concern for Chris, I returned to my seat, where Scott took my hand and squeezed it. His touch calmed my fears somewhat. I looked at Chris to see that he had turned his head forward and was lightly dozing in his seat. I looked at James, seeking answers to the many questions in my head.

“As I’ve told you, Greg, I don’t know much about changelings, so I can’t tell you if what just happened is typical or not; I do think I can tell you what happened. First, tell me everything that you can about what happened up to the point that I stopped you.”

I took a moment to gather my thoughts, then said, “The first thing I noticed was how hungry I was. That meal would normally have been enough, but even after stealing some of Scott’s food, I was still hungry. While we were talking, I noticed the scent of—” embarrassed, I looked at Mike, “Sorry, Mike.”

“It’s fine, Greg. This is your new nature. No harm done,” Mike said casually.

I took a deep breath and blew it out, then continued. “I noticed the scent of Chris’ blood, and I realized that I could hear it flowing through his veins. I could hear his heartbeat, and subconsciously, I knew I needed to feed. I remember our eyes meeting, and the next thing I knew, he was lifting his hand toward my mouth. That’s when you shouted at me, James.”

“Just so we’re clear, you didn’t intend to enthrall Chris or feed from him. You felt the hunger, sensed his blood, and everything just happened?” James inquired.

“Is that what I did?” I asked, incredulous.

“It would seem so. And you’re saying there was no conscious thought put into enthralling him?”

I slowly shook my head, “There was no thinking involved, James. One second we were talking about wrestling, and the next, Chris was offering his wrist to me. How did I do that? And how did my fangs drop?”

James sighed and said, “I can’t give you any answers right now, Greg. I need to speak to George and ask for his guidance. So far, you’ve disguised your vampire eye color, enthralled a human, and dropped your fangs without shifting. The eyes might be a natural ability of changelings, but Scott and Billy are still struggling with partial shifts.” He noticed my confusion and explained, “Partial shifting means just dropping your fangs or changing just your eyes without going to your full beast form. Few vampires know how, but my father taught me, and I’ve been teaching the boys. Right now, I think Scott and Billy should take you upstairs and see if they can talk you through—”

The doorbell interrupted James mid-sentence. A moment later, Mary came in, saying, “Duane with Regent is here with a Thomas McNiel to see you, Sire?”

James stood and said, “Give us a chance to get in there, then show them to my office.” He then turned to us and said, “Greg, Scott, Billy, follow me, please.” James turned and led us through the entrance to the master suite, but rather than turning right into the room, he turned left, leading us through the dressing area, into the bar, and into his study through a back door.

“Your first lesson in leadership; where you are when you greet someone matters. For this meeting, I think we should be standing. Greg, stand in front of my desk; Billy, you should—” Billy moved immediately to my right side and ever so slightly behind me. “Yes, exactly; well done, Billy. Now, Scott, you can mirror Billy on the other side or stand even with Greg. That’s something the two of you will have to discuss and decide. If you’re behind him, people will assume that Greg is the solitary leader; if you’re beside him, people will look to you for leadership in Greg’s absence.”

Scott moved to mirror Billy’s position, but I reached out to pull him up to my side. “We are equals in all things, forever.”

James examined us and nodded, saying, “Looks good, My Lord. I will stand in front and introduce you, acting as what we used to call your herald.”

James turned to face the door just as Mary knocked once and entered, saying, “My Lords, Thomas McNiel and Duane Kerns, to speak to the Baron.”

She stepped aside to allow the two men to enter. Both were dressed in black business suits, white shirts, and black ties. The older of the two looked at James, confused, and asked, “Did she say Baron, Sire?”

“She did, Duane, but not me. I’ll explain it another time. What did you bring? And is your ride here yet?”

Quickly regaining his composure, Duane bowed from the neck and said, “Sire, My Lords, I brought the Escalade, and yes, my ride is waiting.”

“Very good. We will talk when I’m done with it.” James replied.

Knowing this was his dismissal, Duane again bowed from the neck and exited, walking backward. Once he was out of the room, Mary gently closed the door behind him.

While James was speaking to Duane, I took the opportunity to size up Thomas. He looked to be in his late twenties and was a bit taller than me; I'd guess around six foot four. Built like a linebacker with broad shoulders and a wide chest, his abdomen narrowed to a waist that was twelve to eighteen inches smaller than his chest. His clean-shaven face showcased a square jaw, and his black hair was cut in a flattop that would make any Marine proud. His brown eyes seemed to take in everything around him.

“Baron Gregory Fowler, Baron Consort Scott Warnick, and Lord Steward William White, may I present Mr. McNiel. My Lords, Mr. Thomas McNiel.” James said formally as he stepped aside.

"I am Thomas McNiel, My Lord; I have been assigned as Chief Marshal of your Baronial Guard. You may, of course, reject me and choose another,” he said, bowing from the neck.

I didn’t know the formal rules, but I knew I didn’t want to have those nearest me constantly using ‘My Lord’. I stepped forward and offered my hand as I said, “Nice to meet you, Thomas. And please, unless it’s forbidden, call me Greg.”

To this point, his face had shown no emotion. Now he broke into a wide smile, shaking my hand as he said, “I’ll try, My Lord. But in most situations, it would be inappropriate. You may, of course, call me Thomas, but my friends call me Tommy.”

“Have you eaten, Tommy? We just finished dinner, but I’m sure Mary can get something together for you if you like. A drink? Wine? Blood?” I offered. Then added, “Forgive my lack of manners. This is Baronet James Warnick, Scott’s father and my maker. James, may I present Tommy, my, um, what was it again, Tommy?”

Laughing, Tommy offered his hand to James as he said, “Officially, it’s Chief Marshal of the Baronial Guard, but ‘head of security’ or simply Marshal is fine. It’s nice to meet you, Sire.”

As he shook the offered hand, James said, “I’m with Greg; behind closed doors, I’m James. Although, his offer of a drink reminded me of something I should do.” Turning to face me, James said, “Your Lordship, until such time that a Barony is found for you, please use my home as your own; this includes this office. I’m sure we can share for a short time.”

I almost corrected him, then realized that this situation was similar to our business and James was just adapting the rules. I nodded and said, “I thank you, Baronet. Until I am seated, I don’t see there being the need often, but it is nice to know.” I then physically relaxed and said, “Unless you object, James, I think we should return to the table?”

James nodded, gesturing for us to take the lead. We exited the study and made our way across the foyer. Just as I stepped into the dining room, chaos erupted. Chris charged at me, yelling, "You could have told me, you asshole!" Before I could even react, Tommy seized Chris by the throat, lifting him off the ground so that his feet dangled helplessly in the air.

Copyright © 2023 Justin4Fun; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Excellent chapter, lot's of information provided and we are getting a look at more of the players.  I think that Greg is absorbing what he needs to know rather well, but there are going to be issues that pop up that are going to throw him for a loop.  

I am going to have to make a scorecard to try and keep everyone and everything straight.  

Well, at least we know that Thomas is up to the job.  LOL

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All is going well with Greg's security, a new armoured car, and the ability to partially change.  He does need to learn how to control, but that is why he is at James' estate.  It was interesting that Greg was able to assimilate a new language while feeding on James for only 10 minutes.  Chris' outburst has him hanging by the neck, but Thomas has shown he knows how to do his job as chief of security.  I think Chris may be shocked, but not hurt when his feet next touch the floor.  Fun chapter.

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Well that was a lot to absorb and what is up with Chris? That sure was ugly!

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