Is this chapter late? Yes. I said I was back on my bullshit, remember? I probably need a week and a half between chapters given how busy work is now. Oh, and this chapter is a good time remind you that this story has adult language and adult themes, including sex so you know…be warned.
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
— Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein
Sulani – Amisyia’s Beach Rental
“Are you trying to kill me?” Caleb moaned, his body at war with itself as he attempted to slip out of Amisyia’s grip. “I need a break.”
“You do not,” she tutted, “You are an immortal creature and barely a century into your prime. Again.”
“No,” he laughed as she shoved him back on the bed and straddled him, “I cannot go again.” He was an immortal creature, true, but immortal did not mean immune to sore muscles. “Let’s go to the festival,” he begged her, “Feed me, let me replenish my strength, and then I promise you another round.”
“You do not keep your promises, Caleb Vatore.” She grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked on it in a way that almost made him rethink his declaration.
“I keep my promises to you.”
And he did—keep them. They might be carefully worded to allow multiple interpretations, but he never actually left her hanging. Not even that one time in Selvadorada when they had been dangling over a cliffside and he had to choose between her, and the trunk of gold Vlad sent him to collect.
The siren pursed her lips, but clearly, she was going to capitulate. “Two rounds,” she huffed, rolling onto her side.
Amused and content with his small win, Caleb tucked a pillow beneath his head, “Can a vampire not take a vacation?”
She gave him a solemn look. “No.”
The crowd was small since the festival was just beginning. Though Amisyia’s beach rental offered every comfort, the islands of Sulani still fascinated Caleb. Ages ago, he’d nearly given his mother a heart attack by threatening to move here. Her worldview was small—his father saw to that—and she was sickly. Looking back, he couldn’t imagine what caused him to lash out and give her such a fright. The cruelty of being a teenager? Anger at his father? Lady Vatore had been a saint and Caleb had been—
He cut the memory off at the knees. Forcing himself to refocus on the present, he watched as Deacon swirled ropes of flame and moved his hips in time with the music. A few weeks ago, Caleb would’ve called him an idiot and demanded the zombie settle down. But that was the old Caleb—judgmental, over involved. The new Caleb’s motto was “live and let live.”
“I’m getting more kalua pork!” he shouted as he headed towards the food stand.
After tossing a few simoleans at the salesperson, the vampire eagerly filled his plate. For centuries he’d eschewed food, but now, Caleb delighted in every morsel. There was no island delicacy that didn’t pass his lips—poke bowls, pork adobo, coconut cake.
Amisyia motioned for him to speed up. You’re going to need your strength, she mouthed.
He laughed, feeling light-hearted. He wanted to do everything he could to protect this new sense of peace.
Soon you’ll have to look for Lilith.
With a start, Caleb smothered the traitorous thought.
“Hey,” Deacon called out as he jogged over, “I was trying to tell you earlier, I can get in touch with Grim. We can check on Alice and Mr. Death, see if everyone is okay.”
“No,” Caleb replied, still focused on Amisyia. He blew her a kiss.
“Uhhhh…no?” the zombie scratched the side of his head. “But like…what if they need you?”
Caleb did not want to be needed. The thought sent a shiver down his spine, and despite not needing to breathe, his throat began to close up.
Soon you’ll have to search for Lilith.
“No!” Caleb shouted. A few heads turned, and Amisyia and Deacon looked stunned. He forced himself to take a deep breath and soften his voice. “I mean no, they’re fine. Besides, I’m on vacation.”
Oh, Caleb. Running away from what’s on your mind to the point of getting angry over even the mention of things you haven’t dealed with is not growth. It’s running away and burying your head in the sand. I suppose he did pick the ideal location for that. Maybe temporarily playing ostrich isn’t such a bad thing, though. They’ve all been through a lot and I understand the mood of wanting to press pause on it all. Amisyia definitely helps with the distraction.
I wonder why Alice is so determined to take the blame for everything that’s happening in the underworld. She’s been the god of death for all of five minutes compared to Ben. What happened here is the equivalent of her inheriting a mansion from her rich relative that was an absolute slob and didn’t do any maintenance for two decades on top of holding house parties every week. That it’s in a horrible state does not in any way reflect badly on Alice, but on Ben. But she can’t seem to see that 🤔
LOL did Titania and Lilith just go from inches away from killing each other to almost sorta friends in two seconds over bonding about how men suck? 😆
Morgyn is out of line with Alice, but they do have a point regarding Ben’s preparation. He just saddled her with a run-down house in terrible condition – they wouldn’t need construction projects if Ben had kept the place up to snuff. Now they have two problems instead of one x.x that last line though. “In others, they were a liability” Pfffff, like they’re not a liability to other people when you keep them, Morgyn. Introspection is not their strong suit is it 😆
Consume her? 😨 Magic to eat? Oh gods. Not sane sounds about right. 😦
Hahaha let me start from your best observation, “oh gods” is right: Transmutation is not even the least bit sane.
Morgyn and Caleb need a very big dose of introspection. I mean, I know *I* did this to them, but whew, are those two determined to miss the forest for the trees.
Morgyn is not the type to think about other people’s feelings, and I’m sure they are feeding into Alice’s self-loathing. She hasn’t really had a chance to absorb everything that’s happened and I think she’s just feeling a bit…vulnerable.
Thank you for pointing out who should be taking the blame: BEN WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING FOR ALL THIS TIME?
Listen, if it’s one thing Titania and Lilith can agree on it’s that men are the worst lolololol. I really love everything that is in store for these two….
YES BEN YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD. He doesn’t feel bad at all does he. Why is this guy so whimsical and irresponsible and argh 🤣
I am legitimately hyped for what’s coming for Lilith and Titania, lol. Do I ship it? … … naw, not yet. Need to get to know Lilith a bit more first.
Hehe ooohhh I like to hear about the ships early on. We shall see where these two end up…
Ben is so frustrating and so fun!
Oh, hey, a mid-week update!
Horrifying as it is to imagine Caleb as a teenager, I don’t think I have it in me to judge him for being self involved. He did a bunch of stuff. He has a lot of trauma to process. I talked to a street preacher and got so embarrassed I ended up hiding in my cave for 3 weeks, so I’m not giving him any grief for wanting to break on a tropical island after handling lethal god-and-vampire business.
At first I was going to warn B’Oomersoccermom to keep it in his pants regarding Discord, but later in the chapter decided he was probably sucking up to her on account of all the secrets. There’s no way she’s not revealing them to the worst possible person at the worst possible time. There’s no way. Also noticed the naming conventions with B’Urningmancoupon, that is, with the old gods calling him B’RokenFamicom and the newer gang-of-lunatic members calling him Ben.
At least Gwendolyn has lots of spiders to play with!
The look on William’s face as he remembers when his mom smacked him with a spoon. Speaking of, you know Carousel? Fuck Carousel. “It is possible, dear – for someone to hit you—hit you hard—and not hurt at all.” UGGGHHH. Also, “Real Nice Clambake” is probably the song they choose to play nonstop in hell. Is that what Bernard’s room is like? Is that why he’s as far away from the underworld as possible?
Man, Alice gets major credit for realizing that death is a form of traumatic event. And—someone needs to say it because of current fanfic standards—Vlad also gets major credit for not touching her when she doesn’t want to be touched! But back to death. I can certainly see having to grapple with heightened consequences and inadvertently harming loved ones as emotional roadblocks for a new God of Death.
Comedy bits here are a tie between the cut to Alice as Morgyn and B’Oytoyganglion argue over her training, and Penny’s bemused look when told that days are an arbitrary construct. And I FORGOT THAT THEY TOOK JIMMY HAHAHAHAHA.
If you think for one second that B’Oomersoccermom is not burned into my brain as the most perfect name ever, then you are sadly mistaken. What would make you think Discord would do something so terrible as to reveal Ben’s most dangerous secrets at the worst time? Is it…is it something in her name? LOLOLOLOL. Yes, Ben is definitely trying to keep Discord happy and get her out of the room as soon as possible. I think his “entanglement” with Omar and Elmyra is enough for him to handle.
Yeah, to be fair to Caleb, he’s been through a lot. I mean they all have, and it would be fair if everyone in BBD just wanted to take a few weeks off for vacation. Unfortunately, they are all broken people who don’t know how to practice self-care so full steam ahead it is! But you know, Caleb doesn’t do anything by halves so it will be interesting to see how this “break” plays out.
(hiding in a cave for three weeks is better than changing your name and moving to a new town to just start a new life)
CAROUSEL. DO YOU MEAN WHERE SHIRLEY JONES IS “ACTING” WITH A CAPITAL A? Lololol Yeah, first of all, how dare you get that song stuck in my head. If I’m going to have a Rodgers and Hammerstein playing in my brain all day, it’s going to be “Do Re Mi” and nothing else damn it. Yeah, I like that with William, you can never tell if the thing he is lovely or awful memory.
Yes! Alice is definitely processing some realizations about life and death and it’s throwing her for a loop. It doesn’t help that she feels vulnerable and insecure and she won’t slow down enough to deal with either of those feelings properly. Oh, and having Morgyn be the out-loud version of your terrible inner voice is certainly going to have an effect.
Thank you for peeping that moment with Vlad. I don’t yuck anyone’s yum, and I’m not worried about people confusing fictional relationships with real-life (I ship Reylo and I’m not interested in star wars bros telling me about how my small female mind can’t possibly grapple with the nuance of his villainry). But I am TIRED of reading that trope where the heroine is always having her bodily autonomy violated, especially when she says “no” and but “her body says yes” and the hero always knows what her body wants. :: long, direct stare into the camera::
I just wanted to prove that you could write a vampire villain dude without the toxicity. Vlad may be a murderbro, but he believes in consent and I don’t think it makes him any less interesting or the romance any good because he asks Alice first.
OF COURSE THEY BROUGHT JIMMY, VLAD IS A CRAZY PERSON.
Rest assured, I’ll be keeping a close eye on Discord.
Caleb’s re-introduction to Lilith totally isn’t going to be colored by his guilt here and the high expectations he’s set for their first meeting, that’s for sure. But now it looks like there’ll be a bunch of fairies and one zombie getting in the way of this intimate family moment! Yay! Sensory overload for Caleb!
And Morgyn’s concerns are legit—I was questioning B’Evangelion’s pedagogical choices myself—but they’re not framing them in a constructive manner. New prediction: Caleb has had ENOUGH during a climactic battle and the next shot is the whole found family sitting down with his therapist.
For sure, that is what we love about Vlad. He’s Murder Papi but he understands consent, household management, childhood nutrition, plus all that good stuff (btw if you’re looking to waste time you could be spending on better things, there’s still Interdimensional Dinner Party: Vlad Inadvertently Grows His GBF Army while Alice has to Deal with One Person Who Knows 35827647236254 Super Special Magical Dinner Rules and Does Not Care about Any of Them, and the Other Tries to Get Everyone to Do Shots of Paint Thinner Every Half Hour). If the male lead in a romance doesn’t take any inspiration from Gomez Addams then what is the author even doing?