Good, because it will never come off, never fade, never alter in any way.
As the Prelate then made some sort of gesture, the guests rose from their seats and clapped. Oh. It was over.
“And now for the feast,” announced Antonio.
The Binding feast was taking place in the grand garden of Antonio’s mansion. The numerous tables circled the space that had been designated to be the ‘dance floor’. Seated with Sam and I on what was the main table were Antonio, Evan, Luther, Sebastian, Wes, and Lena. Although the garden had been decorated beautifully with torches, candles, butterfly lights, and a huge banner, I was too distracted by Sam to truly appreciate any of it.
She was absolutely enchanting, and that was nothing to do with her new Keja allure. It was because she was the most amazing creature ever. I’d felt connected to her before, but now I was linked to her on a whole other level. This new sense I had was totally attuned to her and only her. I couldn’t just feel her emotions, I could feel her − her heartbeat, her general mood, her thirst level, her energy level, and − best of all − I’d always know exactly where she was. No one could steal and hide her from me again. Not ever.
When Antonio slowly rose from his chair, champagne flute in hand, all the chattering stopped. “Firstly, I would like to thank you all for coming and celebrating this glorious night with us. I am sure you will all agree with me that the ceremony was beautiful. I felt honoured to be there. These two people are incredibly special in many ways. Both are independent, strong-willed, inspiring characters who I, just like many others here at The Hollow, have grown extremely fond of. And so, I was more than happy to bless their joining. I would ask you all to raise your glasses.”
As they all did, Antonio looked at us. “To Jared and Sam…May you enrich each other’s lives and find happiness everlasting.” After everyone had sipped some of the champagne flavoured NST from their glasses, he added, “I hope you all enjoy the upcoming feast, but before it begins, I wish to hand you over to Evan.”
Oh, great. When my brother stood wearing one of his smirks, I quietly groaned. So did Sam.
“As it is tradition that a friend of the couple gives a little speech, I thought I’d say a few words.” Turning to us, he flashed us a huge grin. “Sam, I have to say you look beautiful. And Jared…well, you look all right, I guess.” Punk.
Evan included all the guests as he continued. “As most of you know, Sam and Jared didn’t get off to a great start. But a lot of duels and whippings later, here they are…still fighting. But I suppose that means that this big step will suit them, because I’ve always thought that Binding was a bit like a war − both sides think they’re right, and neither wants to back down…the only difference is that you’re sleeping with the enemy.”
Rowan thought that was hilarious. Marcia shot her life-partner a dirty look.
“Despite all the duelling, I truly believe that Sam is perfect for Jared. She has a number of qualities that I could list, but what I really love about her is that she makes my brother smile. Not a lot of people can do that. On that thought” − he looked at me, then − “Jared, you’re a lucky bastard. Sam, take pity on him, he’s only eleven.”
I tried not to smile, but unfortunately it didn’t work, particularly since Sam was laughing.
“It’s no secret that Jared is popular with the females, just as it’s no secret that he once enjoyed that. But as it’s clear that he’s utterly devoted to Sam, I think it would be a good idea if those of you who have a key to his apartment now hand it over.”
I gawked as practically every female rose and came to the main table to place a key in the glass bowl that Evan was holding up. I could feel that Sam was irritated, but when Fletcher skipped over and put a key in the bowl, she realised that Evan was just pissing around and had obviously handed out keys earlier. Laughing, she discretely flipped Evan the finger. I scowled at the jerk.
Once everyone was seated again, Evan smiled at us. “I don’t think I’m in the best position to give either of you any advice since I haven’t yet Bound myself to anyone, but just think of it as a football game: there’ll be a lot of shouting, balls are going to get manhandled, and there’ll be some hard tackles…but if you keep at it and try real hard, there’ll also be smiles and a whole lot of scoring.” Nodding, he then sat again on the seat beside mine as everyone clapped.
“I could hit you for the key stunt,” I told him. He just laughed.
And so the lavish feast began. Rum-flavoured NSTs were passed around as course after course was served − all of which were delicious − while the same band from the yacht played a variety of songs that covered all genres. I had to agree with Sam; Fletcher had most likely chosen the music once again. Most people got up to dance. Chico and Jude danced together a few times, which drew eyes. Sam got up dancing several times but would sit her ass back down the second a ballad started – still not a fan of slow dancing. She was therefore grateful that Binding ceremonies didn’t include a ‘first dance’ like weddings did.
Dancing not far from her were my brother and one of Bran’s consorts − or ‘pretend’ consorts – Alora. As usual for whenever he was close, the redhead slightly resembled a flighty deer. I literally had no idea what her problem was. I’d seen the way she looked at him, seen the deadly looks she had shot any females who went near him. It took a lot to not go over there and ask what had crawled up her ass and died.
The moment the song ended, she scampered. I couldn’t help chuckling. Nor could Evan, who then made his way to me.
“Not so smooth anymore, are you?” I joked.
“Or maybe I’m too smooth and it’s making her flustered.”
“Have you told her about Luther’s vision; that she was in it with you?”
He shook his head. “That would spook her out and send her running.”
“She looks close to running anyway.”
“She has her reasons.”
“And you’re not going to tell me what they are,” I quickly realised.
“Another time,” he promised. “This is your Binding. This is about you and that stunning woman over there who David is drooling over.”
Yeah, I’d noticed that, and I had every intention of whisking her away any second now. I knew from experience that Binding celebrations could go on past dawn and I wanted some time alone with her.