Falling Into Darkness Ch. 04byElianna©
The world was warm and soft. Her limbs were heavy in that comfortable, restful way, and her mind was lingering in the aftermath of pleasant dreams forgotten where the sense of peace was the only memory that remained. The covers felt like a cocoon over her body and the sheets were soft against her sleep-numbed skin. She cooed happily to herself nuzzling into them, and snuggled against the warm flesh that pressed against her from behind holding a possessive arm about her bare middle.
In the back of her mind, a concern pestered her. Something wasn't right, but in her contentment and dream-addled brain she couldn't quite place it. She closed her eyes and tried to ignore the unwelcome sensation, wanting to float on the cloud of bliss for a while longer. However, that little voice, the nag in the back of her mind that was usually right even as unwelcome as it might be, pulled her towards wakefulness. Irritably she sighed and opened her eyes.
It was dark, but there was the soft glow of sunlight streaming through the corners of a window that had been blacked out with some blankets on top of the normal curtains. She didn't recognize the room at all. It almost looked like a nice hotel room, though she couldn't imagine why she'd be in a hotel. Her mind was laboring as though it hadn't had to work so hard in a long time.
Had she been unconscious?
She could remember nothing. Not even the person who was pressed against her naked body. She felt her heart begin to pound as the little part of her mind that had been trying to communicate to her almost screamed in relief.
She was in a hotel room, naked, lying in the arms of a man she couldn't remember.
Hotel. Naked. Unknown man.
How? She couldn't remember.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she carefully tried to pull out of the embrace of the man she couldn't even see because he snuggled against her from behind. She had a sudden fear. She didn't want to wake him. She didn't want to be hurt...
Her pounding heart nearly stopped as memories overwhelmed her. Rape, torture, darkness, starvation, salvation... and then nothing. She couldn't remember anything else. It was like her life stopped the moment she had escaped with...
She turned carefully now to look at the man...no...creature that held her against his body possessively. For a moment, she couldn't move.
Was this truly Cael?
Even asleep, he was beyond beautiful. He was a god; truly some Grecian deity from the old legends. He had wavy golden hair that seemed to sparkle in the dim light, sensually full lips that seemed made for kissing, and handsome features that weren't too square or too fine. His body was all muscle; not the bulky, over-developed kind, but those of an athlete; a runner, a fighter...a killer. That thought made her shiver. He was a vampire; a beast, a creature that lives solely on the life of others; a beautiful, godlike... parasite.
She pulled away from him and slid carefully out of bed, fearing to wake him, but needing to orient herself. She felt as though she'd lost something. Time perhaps?
She shuffled towards the bathroom and turned on the light pausing to look at herself in the mirror. Yes, she was covered in bruises, but they were fading, as though they were many days old. Many of the cuts on her body were simply red scars, and even the deep bruising around her wrists was turning yellow. She looked at Cael again.
Had she really been in some kind of coma? She closed the door to the bathroom and turned on the shower. For a long time she just stood there, letting the warm water beat upon her skin. She felt so dazed, confused, and...foggy. She took a long time to scrub at her defiled skin, doing her best not to lose herself to tears again. She'd cried so much in that damn black pit that she figured she should be finished with such things. Scrubbing away the defilement, though, brought back every moment of her torture. She sobbed.
Finally when she emerged, wrapped in a towel she felt cleansed; body and mind.
"Are you all right?" the vampire asked as she stepped out of the steamy bathroom.
If she had any lingering doubts that the gorgeous creature sleeping beside her had not been Cael, the smooth sensuous voice she knew so well squashed them. The gorgeous man before her really was her companion in the dark. He was sitting at a small table in just a pair of boxers in front of a laptop. For a moment she froze and stared at him in amazement once again. If his body hadn't been enough to overwhelm her, his eyes were the most incredible color of green she'd ever seen. They literally seemed to glow in the dim light keeping her rooted to the ground hypnotized and transfixed. Irritated at herself for staring, she looked at his...body... She swallowed...damn.
"Anna?" he asked again shocking her from her distractions.
"What?" she said almost guiltily.
He smiled a little as though he knew exactly what she was thinking.
"Are you okay?"
"I don't know," she replied quietly. "I feel like I've been out of it for a really long time. What happened?"
"You've been unconscious for about a week," he said. "I've kept you that way."
"You kept me that way?" She didn't move. She suddenly felt very afraid.
"It has been easier to flee with you," he admitted. "The second night of our escape, I brought you to a clinic. They gave us pain pills, antibiotics, and ointments for your cuts. I kept you under except to tend to your needs until your body had a chance to heal a little. You were almost dead, Anna."
"Why don't I remember then?"
"I didn't want you to remember that kind of pain," he replied.
"You can do those kinds of things?" she said in a tiny voice.
He was quiet for a moment. "Yes."
For a moment she didn't know what to say. She couldn't imagine something with that kind of power. More than just the physical power of her rapist, which he also had, Cael possessed some kind of magic. She felt sick, terrified, and...intrigued.
"I bought you some clothes," he said. "I hope they fit, though judging by how much weight you've lost in your sickness, they might be a little loose."
"You bought me clothes?" she said feeling like an idiot repeating him so much.
He smiled and it seemed that all her fears melted. He had a beautiful smile.
"I promised to help you and take care of you, Anna. I am a man of my word."
He rose and she found herself trying very hard not to stare at him as that godlike body moved with the grace of a cat. He opened a few drawers in their room and smiled a little naughtily.
"I actually enjoyed shopping for you. The Victoria's Secret catalogue online is quite extensive."
Anna blushed profusely but lifted her chin stubbornly as if she dared the blush to go any further even as she joined him and surveyed the purchases he'd made. Looking in the drawer she felt the blush deepening and she knew that her fair skin must be scarlet. The lingerie was beautiful, sexy, provocative...
"These are beautiful Cael," she said shyly.
"You are a beautiful woman," he said simply. "The clothes you wore before did not do you justice." He smiled. "And so you don't think I'm a pervert and just bought you lingerie," he said opening another drawer, "I also bought you things to wear over it."
She looked through the beautiful clothes. They were simple but she could tell they were designer make. She looked at some of the labels.
"Cael," she said. "This is..."
He put his finger on her lips. "You are my delivering angel," he said. "I owe you my life, my fortunes, everything."
She didn't know how to respond to that. She was just trying to survive; she hadn't been ready to die.
He smiled at her and kissed her lips lightly, as though he could tell exactly what she was thinking and knew exactly how to comfort her. "Now, will you try these on? If they don't fit, we'll have to order you some others."
She nodded mutely and took the clothes he offered back into the bathroom to change. For some reason she just didn't feel right about dressing in front of him. She knew he'd seen her naked body for the past week and had probably tended to her needs, but, now that she was conscious, and her lips tingled from his chaste kiss, she felt...shy.
She shivered as she thought about those incredible green eyes, his well-muscled body, his sensual mouth closed over hers in something far less chaste...
She looked at herself in the mirror sternly. "You've got no business thinking those kinds of things, young lady," she scolded herself quietly. "You really must be fucked up if you're having those thoughts so soon." She emphatically agreed with herself and pushed the thoughts of her gorgeous companion aside. "Besides," she muttered. "What would a two-thousand year old vampire want from a beat-up, half dead, defiled girl like you anyway?"
The clothes fit well enough, given that she was overly skinny from starvation and sickness. She'd fill out in a few weeks. She opened the door to see Cael had dressed in some stylish jeans and a top. He looked like some model with those clothes, not some ancient king of vampires.
"For some reason I've always pictured you wearing a suit," she commented. "Especially when you told me how old you are."
"I usually do wear a suit," he admitted as he ran his hands over the jeans to smooth them a little self-consciously. "It is fitting for a man of my power, but since I am dead to my world, I figured a disguise would be appropriate." He walked up to her and kissed her cheek. "You look great."
She blushed a little. "Thank you for these," she said. "They're the nicest clothes I've ever owned."
"Good," he replied. "There is food in the refrigerator," he said. "I did not know what kinds of things you liked, but you should eat something. Now that you're well enough we need to get moving."
"I live in south Boston," she said. "I'm sure my family is worried sick about me." She paused on the way to the fridge. "I need to call them."
"You cannot call home, Anna," said Cael.
"What do you mean?" she demanded "Why not?" She went to the phone anyway and made ready to call.
"Put the phone down and turn around," he said in a low voice.
The sensuous pull of his voice seemed to call to her. His voice echoed strangely in her ears like she was in some kind of dream and a buzzing lassitude overcame her. The hand that had been reaching out for the phone dropped back down to her side. She turned around in confusion even as the air around her throbbed and her body seemed to vibrate. She could literally hear her own heart pounding in her ears now.
The vampire stared at her for a moment and then held his hand in a gesture for her to sit across from him at the small table. "Come and sit with me for a moment," he said.
Once again her world throbbed, her body vibrated and she found herself unable to keep from doing what he said. She walked over to the table and sat across from him. Anna's little voice of consciousness was screaming at her in horror. She knew this was magic. She knew he was forcing her. She knew this was all wrong. If she had been able to react true to herself, she'd be throwing a temper tantrum, screaming, shouting and demanding why he was forbidding her to make such calls that were obviously hers to make. Obviously it was her life, so they were her decisions. Even if she had thought to say it, the anger had been replaced with fear. Cael was forcing her to obey him with his magic. The minute he let her go she was going to bolt. No one was ever going to control her. No one was ever going to dominate her. No one would ever rape her again!
"Easy, Anna," he said gently. "I'm not trying to harm you. I'm trying to help you."
"Then stop controlling me."
He looked at her seriously for a moment and then the throbbing and buzzing was gone. She felt perfectly normal as though nothing had happened. Anna was freaking out now.
He reached out and touched her hand. "Please let me explain."
There was something about his touch that calmed her. It didn't feel like his magic. It was just the genuine closeness of body and soul they had shared over the last two weeks of their torturous ordeal. It was the camaraderie of experiencing together the depths of utter despair and the intimacy of bringing mutual comfort and support. Even though she feared him now, her body remembered the trust and nurturing he'd provided her. She relaxed slightly.
"Okay, but whatever it is that you do to make people do what you want, don't do it on me anymore," she said.
He looked at her thoughtfully and nodded. "I give you my word, Anna," he said. "Forgive me. I have been manipulating so many people to keep us safe lately that I didn't think about using my power on you. You're right; you are my friend. I should not use my power on you."
She nodded though she didn't quite believe him. People with power always abused it. That came with having power. She decided not to push the matter. It was a moot point anyway. She needed to let her family know she was all right. She needed to get back to her life. She needed...
"I want to go home."
The moment she said it, she felt a stab of pain though she couldn't figure out why. Her family was worried. It was natural for her to want to go home. Right? Then why did saying the words suddenly feel so...wrong?
"If you go home, you will put your family in danger," he said. "I have given this much thought, so let me finish," he said.
She closed her mouth. She had been about to argue, but it seemed he could also read her mind. She wondered if he'd agree to stop doing that, as well.
"I wish," he responded smiling a little at her. "Now that I can see your eyes, I can sense your thoughts. There is nothing I can do about it, and you're still too young to guard your mind and hide such things." He chuckled. "And you were thinking that very loudly because you're upset."
She nodded not so sure what to say. Damn. She didn't even have to say anything.
"If you don't look at me and you control your emotions it makes it more difficult," he said helpfully.
She nodded and bowed her head even as she took a deep breath to control her temper. She'd be damned if she let him read her mind.
"I want to go home."
Once again that same stab of pain, of absolute...wrong went through her as though home was NOT where she belonged. Funny enough she was sure the little voice in her head was telling her this, and she'd never known the voice to be wrong. She didn't understand.
"Have you ever thought about how we ended up in that cell together?" he asked.
She took a breath to talk and then closed her mouth. Actually, she'd never really considered it. She was more focused on getting out.
"I think it means that the man who tortured you associates with Kaiden. He knows who you are and he knows about me. If you return to your family, he might harm them or you to get to me. To a vampire like Kaiden the lives of morals like you and your family are meaningless, and he would kill you without a thought if he thought it would get to me. He needs me to be dead. After all, you can't hold a coup based on the fact that the old leader is dead when he's alive and roaming around, now can you?"
"Why hasn't he already taken over?" she asked curiously.
Cael chuckled wickedly. "Because I have chosen my successor, and he's not an easy vampire to overthrow either. Kaiden will most likely need an army, and I am sure he is working on subverting those around Kieran, my second, in order to undermine his power. Such things take good planning, treachery, and subterfuge in order to be successfully done."
She smiled a little. "It sounds like you've done this a time or two," she said.
He smiled. "Kaiden has no idea what being an Ancient One really entails. He may have tricked me once, but only because he used people I loved and trusted. He has greatly underestimated me. I am going to show him what true power is and I am going to make sure he screams himself into oblivion in the end."
Those jade eyes seemed to glow with maliciousness. The rage she remembered in the cave was back in his voice, and now that she saw him, felt his power, and saw the eerie glow in his eyes, she felt herself trembling in fear once again. His presence was overwhelming and the air seemed to throb with his rage.
"You're scaring me," she said in a tiny voice.
He reached across the table and took her hand in his again and with his touch, the reassurance came. "You have nothing to fear from me, Anna. I swear it."
She bowed her head. She felt so tiny, helpless. She was caught in something that was way beyond her knowledge and understanding. Her world was simpler; family, friends, work...
"My family must think I'm dead," she said in a small voice. "Everyone must think I've been murdered or something."
He kept holding her hand, almost as though he knew that her existence was spinning. "Dead is safer," he said gently. "Dead means they won't be looking for you. It means they'll only be expecting to find me. If you stay dead, you actually stay alive and so does your family."
"How can you be sure? What if they know I've escaped with you? Then they'll go after my family and..." she sniffed as tears filled her eyes. Damn it! She hated being some weepy girl. She hated being so weak. After all she'd been through.
"If you think about it, Anna, you should be dead. If I'd drunk my fill of your blood the night we escaped, you would be. I have spent the last week fighting to bring you back."
"Why didn't you?" she asked. "I've just been a burden."
"Anna..." he began.
He was unable to finish because suddenly there was a rap on the door.
"Are you..." she began.
"Sh," he snapped. "Get over by the bed and lie on the floor. Whatever you hear, don't move."
She nodded and crawled on the floor by the bed furthest from the door shaking. Could they have found them already? Was Cael strong enough to protect them? She did her best to keep quiet and even breathe shallowly. She could hear him moving towards the door and she imagined that he was looking out the peephole. Her breath caught in her throat when she heard him remove the latches to the door.
"Room service?" she heard a female voice ask.
"No thank you," said Cael.
There was a long moment of silence.
"Okay," replied the woman at last.
She heard him close the door and re-fasten all the deadbolts and chains.
"It's all right, Anna," he said.
She rose from her spot on the floor.
"We need to pack up and get moving," he said. "We've been in one spot for too long."
Anna didn't know what to say. The sharpness in his voice had frightened her. There were people who were looking for them. It scared the shit out of her. The simple, middle-class life she'd lived was crumbling away. She was now in a world of vampires and magic.
Cael watched the girl pack up her things. She still looked terribly thin and weak. It broke his heart to make her move so quickly, but he could sense Kaiden on his trail again and he wasn't ready to confront him. For the moment, she was willing to go with him. He could sense her fear and see the doubt in her eyes, but for now, she was coming.
Over the past few days he'd been wondering what to do with her. She was only a human, and she was still weak from her torture. He'd considered sending her away, hiding her with some of his own kind that he knew could be trusted, but he couldn't bring himself to part with her. There was something about this woman. He was drawn to her. It wasn't her blood, though even the thought of how sweet she'd tasted made his hands tremble with desire. She was beautiful, yes, but he'd seen many beautiful women in his time. She was intelligent and intriguing; her conversation had been like a ray of light in the darkness of his tomb. But...there was something more. In nearly 2500 years, Cael had never been so inexplicably drawn to anyone like he was drawn to her.