Falling Into Darkness Ch. 10byElianna©
Anna awoke in bed alone. It was a little after 9:00 according to the clock by the bed, and she sighed and stretched languidly. To her surprise her body ached miserably. She couldn't remember doing anything that would make her sore... well... not sore like this.
She tossed the covers off and made her way to the bathroom. When she turned on the lights she looked at her bruised body in horror. There were handprints bruised into her arms and wrists, her knees were purple and there were several marks on her abdomen. These kind of marks didn't come from her usual klutziness, this was serious. Why couldn't she remember?
He'd told her once that he'd erased her memories of the pain she'd been in right after their escape. Was this another of those times? What had happened? She thought he'd promised not to use his magic on her like that again. Her eyes filled with tears. She was covered in bruises, some of them obviously handprints and she couldn't remember why.
Her heart started to pound and her breath shortened in panic.
Her memory was gone.
She couldn't do this.
She dressed quickly and washed her face. Frantically she brushed her hair and then tossed the hairbrush back on the dresser. She couldn't remember. She couldn't remember. Cael had taken her memories away.
Her hands shook with rage.
How could he do this?
Fuck it! Fuck it all.
She opened the door and peeked out. The house was silent; eerily so. For a moment, logic prevailed... Maybe she should wait and confront him?
No. She was leaving NOW. She would NOT let him manipulate her. She was so angry. So...hurt.
How could he do this?
She made her way towards the garage figuring she'd take one of the Jeeps she'd seen parked there. Surprisingly she remembered noting the keys hanging on hooks on her way in. It would be so easy to just leave, and put all this behind her. Each step she took, though, her heart seemed to pound harder in her chest. It was almost laboring.
Tears of frustration clouded her vision as she realized that their magical connection wouldn't let her leave him. She stifled a sob and wiped at her eyes stubbornly.
What kind of idiot runs away from their problems anyway?
She nodded angrily to herself. Running wasn't going to make things better, but screaming at him would. Suddenly she had the urge to pick a nice little fight.
She froze, but she didn't turn around.
Yeah. Screaming sounded just right.
"You shouldn't be out of bed," he said.
"So what," she snapped. "You erased my memory and kept me asleep?"
"Anna," he began his voice irritatingly placating.
"You promised not to," she said still facing away from him.
"You don't understand," he returned. "Please listen. I can tell you're panicking. You're upset. You're afraid of me. Let me explain. Angel..."
"Don't call me that!" she snapped turning around irritably.
She swallowed as she stared at him. He was in a pair of dark slacks and a crisp white button down shirt; he'd rolled up his sleeves. His golden hair was neatly combed back and its soft waves were tamed with gel. He was put together again...and he looked absolutely edible. She'd forgotten how gorgeous he was. She'd forgotten how much she longed for him...
"So you're just going to run away from me without letting me explain?" he asked the gentleness in his voice slipping just a little. "Have you tried?"
She wiped her eyes again. "I can't."
He smiled a little smugly and for a moment she wanted to lunge at him in anger to wipe it off his face.
Suddenly he chuckled. It was arrogant, high handed and it made her see red.
"I guess that means you're going to have to listen to my explanation after all," he smirked.
She scanned the area for something to throw at him. Being softball pitcher in high school, vampire or no, she was pretty sure she could nail him.
Suddenly he laughed again, but this time it was a little more kindly. "All right, Anna. Settle down. You know in your heart I'd never hurt you."
She was torn between running at him and screaming angrily about how he'd betrayed her and flying into his arms begging him to hold her and comfort her, to make love to her. She opted to stare at him warily and see what he did next.
"Let's sit down. Let me explain."
He offered his hand, but dropped it when she didn't take it. She glared at him stubbornly.
"Okay," he said staring at her thoughtfully. "Let's go to the kitchen."
She nodded and followed him.
He gestured for her to sit at the table and then sat across from her.
Just sitting across from him cooled her temper a little. He always had that effect on her; since she'd known him she hadn't flown into one of her famous, dramatic tirades yet. This was the closest she'd ever gotten.
"Last night you were attacked while I was out," he began. "But the vampires who you thought were attacking you were simply trying to restrain you so they could get some answers. The vampires were my friends: Kieran and Darian. Remember them?"
She nodded though she was suddenly irritated at him.
Did he think she was a fucking idiot?
"You're being a little irrational you know," he responded to her thought.
"I have good reason."
"Let me continue. If you still want to lob something at me when I'm done, I'll give you a shot. Deal?"
"Their attempts to capture you sent you into hysteria and you fought like a wildcat to get away. However Kieran is a powerful vampire and in the end, after quite a struggle, he restrained you. That's when I found you." He sighed. "At first I just put you to sleep, hoping that after resting you'd calm down, but it didn't work. You started having nightmares like you did back in the vault, and you screamed and screamed in your sleep. It was awful; for you and for me. After waking up for the third time yesterday, you begged me. You begged me to make it stop." He looked at her tenderly. "So I did."
She looked at him uncertainly. She could imagine something like that happening, but...damn him! It was impossible to remain pissed when he looked at her like that.
Finally she shook her head over and over again. It wasn't like her to be at a loss for words. It wasn't like her to be so off balance. She felt his hand enclose around hers and with his touch came comfort and calm.
"I'm a mess," she said. "I don't even know what I'm thinking anymore."
"You've been incredibly brave. You're allowed moments of hysteria." He smiled wryly. "Though running off is probably not one of your best moves."
"I have a bit of a temper," she admitted ruefully.
"Really?" he teased in mock amazement. "I'd never have guessed. Kieran thinks you're part banshee."
Her face blanched. For some reason she got the feeling that she'd done something to him. "Is he pissed?"
"He'll get over it."
"It is always going to be this way? Will I always go nuts?" she said in a tiny voice.
"When bad things like that happen, flashbacks will creep up from time to time. That was almost a parallel situation for you, and you should be pleased to know you kicked Kieran's ass pretty well for a human."
She smiled wanly. "Serves him right for the way he screamed at me on the phone the other day."
He chuckled. "Do you know how incredible you are?"
"Yeah," she sniffed. "Just don't try to grab me, or I'll go psycho."
"If it's any consolation, I had to crawl into one of the security vaults last night and I nearly passed out from panic." He smiled wryly. "I've suddenly developed an intense fear of concrete vaults."
"Yeah," she said. "Let's not go there."
"Things like this are very normal. I have many quirks," he admitted. "Twenty centuries of them."
"Twenty-five," she corrected.
"Alexander," said a male voice.
Anna started and turned around to see who had spoken. He was tall with dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin. Suddenly she knew he was the vampire who'd attacked her and to her surprise she remembered. She remembered the chase, his words, her terror...but she didn't feel the panic.
"Easy, Kieran," said Cael watching her closely. "Come in slowly."
Anna stared at the menacing vampire cautiously as he entered the kitchen completely.
"Anna," said Cael, "this is Kieran."
"Hello, Anna," said Kieran inclining his head. "It's nice to meet you."
"I need to speak to you in private," said Kieran.
Cael shrugged. "Whatever you want to say, you can say it in front of Anna," he replied. "She has good control over her mind."
Kieran eyed Cael cautiously. At once she could tell he didn't trust her, he didn't like her and he wasn't going to say anything in front of her. Looking at his rather wicked eyes, she decided she was just fine with that. She held to her first opinion of Kieran Montasse; he was an ass.
"It's okay," she said rising. "I'll just grab some breakfast and hit the TV room. I don't need to hear anything."
She opened the cupboard and grabbed a granola bar and opened the refrigerator and grabbed a can of soda, ignoring the blood bags.
"Anna," Cael called after her.
"Yeah?" she replied.
"Are you all right?"
She shrugged. "It's not like I have any other options."
She made her way to the TV room, only to find it occupied by another vampire who was watching the news. She stared at him for a while. He was dressed nice; just like Cael and Kieran. She got the feeling that they were used to business attire even when it was just a casual thing. They were kings. She supposed that went with the deal. She could only see him in profile, but she got a sense of gentleness from him. Just like Kieran felt a little dark, it seemed Darian exuded kindness.
"I've heard of wallflowers, but I've never heard of a door-flower," he called to her.
"You must be Darian Moiree," she said to him walking into the TV room.
He rose and bowed to her smiling. "And you're Alexander's Anna," he replied. "It's nice to meet you."
"Officially," she added. "I suppose you and Kieran have every right to be irritated at me."
"No," he disagreed. "You did exactly what you should have done, exactly what Alexander told you to do. You may fight like a hellcat, but you're no match for vampires. Your best defense is running." He chuckled a little. "Besides, you didn't lay a claw on me, kitten."
"I've been doing lots of things to piss Kieran off lately," she said a little ruefully. "He probably hates my guts. I'm glad I haven't managed to irritate both of you."
"Kieran's really not that bad you know," said Moiree. "He has this thing about women. You'd think after a thousand years he'd get over the cultural bias."
"Aren't most cultures are slightly misogynistic?" she asked shrugging. "There aren't that many cultures that were historically women-governed anyway, well, at least not from your time." She thought about that for a moment. Actually, there were several notable exceptions. "Well, maybe Ancient Israel with Deborah as a judge, and then there was Cleopatra, and, well Elizabeth I was a really powerful queen...."
"What are you, some kind of historian?" Darian asked in amusement.
Anna started a little at his interruption to her thoughts and then chuckled. "Nah," she admitted. "I just took these women's studies classes in college. It was kinda interesting."
"Now I know why Alexander is so fond of you," he mused. "He could sit and debate with you for hours."
Anna smiled thinking back to their words in the darkness. "And so we did."
He looked at her soda and granola bar and arched his white brows. "Breakfast of champions, I see."
She shrugged. "I'm a child of my environment."
"Are you okay with the news?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Sure."
As she snuggled up in the corner of the couch, Anna decided that she instantly like Darian Moiree just like she instantly disliked Kieran Montasse. She couldn't imagine two so completely mismatched companions. Moiree was like a bright white light. His smile was infectious, and his silver eyes glittered like platinum. He was beautiful, though not in comparison to Cael. Of course, Anna admitted she was a little biased there. She mentally compared the two vampires that were Cael's dearest friends. Kieran was everything dark, dangerous and he had a slight aura of evil about him. She could imagine his black eyes glittering in the night, stalking an unwary human on the street corner; just like every vampire movie she'd ever seen. Looking at Darian, and comparing him to Kieran she got the strangest sense of Yin and Yang; light and dark, wicked balanced with good. She wondered how it felt sharing the same blood, if it connected them closer, if it gave Kieran just a little bit of light in his dark soul.
Anna took a bite out of her granola bar thoughtfully not really focusing on the newscaster.
She felt a slight push on her mind and she sniffed.
"Stop that Monsieur Moiree," she said.
He chuckled. "You have a pretty strong mind for a human, you know."
"You could just ask me," she returned.
"Okay, what were you thinking?"
She shrugged. "I was thinking how you and Kieran couldn't be more opposite in appearance and manner. I was wondering what it was like to share blood with him."
"Alexander told you that he was my Little One long ago," he mused.
"Little One? You guys use that a lot. Does it mean something?"
He chuckled. "You're smarter than you look."
"I'm offended," she returned smiling a little. "So what does it mean?"
"We use it in two ways," he said. "It refers to anyone who is young; humans, and vampires. It is also the term for a newly made vampire that is under the protection of his or her creator. A fledgling if you will."
"Cael calls me that a lot," she said. "I wondered if it meant something more than what I thought."
Darian winced and looked at her seriously.
"Anna," he said. "You can't keep calling him that."
"You're using Alexander's true name. Kieran and I know it, but it should never be used in common speech. It gives away some of his power."
"I've always called him that," she protested.
"You're in our world, now, Little One," he said. "You better get used to some things being a little different. You cannot call him..." he seemed to struggle for a second, "Cael... unless it's a private moment between the two of you." He smiled a little roguishly. "But saying his name during those kinds of moments gives him a great deal of pleasure, so I wouldn't stop using it all together."
Anna blushed furiously.
"We've got him," said Elise. "He's at an estate out in the middle of nowhere. It's about a seven hour drive from the gas station where your messengers were attacked."
"Is he alone?" Kaiden asked.
"Our people found it this morning. There has been no movement on the property since then."
Kaiden chuckled. "Good. Seal it off. Make sure no help can get to him. This time I'm going to kill the bastard personally."
"I wouldn't recommend it," Elise cautioned. "Your three messengers are completely mad. He's more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
"I got him locked in that cell," Kaiden retorted. "He's grown weak with age."
Elise's eyes glowed with anger. "For the first time since this thing began, Kaiden, I really do think you're mad! He's an Ancient One. There is no one alive who is in his bloodline."
"And I'm going to be the one to kill him," Kaiden growled. "My plan is flawless. He can't withstand an army. When he's weak, bleeding and that fucking human he's so fond of is gutted in front of him, I'll kill the bastard. And then I will be the Ancient One in this land."
"You better hope you can get him weak enough," Elise returned.
"Don't worry Elise, I will."
Mara hid behind the dumpster and shielded her mind the best she could. She hadn't planned on meeting any other vampires tonight. This part of town was rarely frequented by her kind, and the two strangers in the shadows weren't weaklings. She may not be powerful, but Mara was observant. Vampires like these didn't meet in dark alleyways like this unless they were up to no good. She knew better than to draw attention to herself. The best thing she could do was lay low and wait for them to move on. If they saw her, she knew she'd be in trouble.
"He wants more humans and vampires," one of them said. His voice was dark, arrogant, sneering.
"We've almost depopulated this entire region," the other replied. "The only ones left are the denizens of our society, and they're the least likely to respond to a summons by the Ancient One."
The dark one chuckled wickedly. "Then promise them money. The place is a mansion, there's bound to be things they could sell or pawn."
Mara's ears perked up at that. A mansion? Money?
"Yeah, I'll try. Don't count on any numbers from that line. He's better off bringing more of his own people."
"He wants to be prepared." Mara couldn't see his smile, but she could feel it. There was something truly wicked about that one. "One doesn't kill an Ancient One so easily."
"Sh!" the other snapped harshly. "NEVER say anything like that again. If these people knew what was really happening..."
"These people have no fucking clue what's happening," the wicked one returned arrogantly.
"And it needs to stay that way."
"Fine," he snapped. "Just get the numbers. I don't care how you do it, but get it done. We need the numbers."
"This better work. Otherwise, we're all going to be staked in the sun."
The two vampires parted ways. One got into an expensive car, and the other dashed away passing Mara's dumpster. For a moment she feared she'd been discovered, but when he continued to race by, she knew she was safe.
For a moment, she considered what she'd heard. They were going to try to kill an Ancient One? They were going to try to kill THE Ancient One? The thought disturbed her. Granted, the Ancient One didn't give a shit about her. He didn't know about her, and he didn't really care about her, but something like this was a big deal. Why would so many vampires be joining in a fight to kill an Ancient One? Did they know what they were really doing? From the secrecy in their voices, she didn't think so. There was some kind of treachery going on.
For a brief moment she wondered if she should tell someone, but then she sniffed bitterly. Replacing one Ancient One with another didn't change her life one bit. She was still just a weakling among their kind; ugly, uneducated, and barely powerful enough to psychically control her prey. No matter who was in charge, she'd still be stealing to survive, living in deserted buildings.
Fuck them all.
The only thing that remotely interested her about the entire conversation was the bit about the mansion. She wasn't stupid enough to go there and fight in some battle, but when everything was over... well, she had a knack for some things; disarming security systems was one of them. Perhaps she might be able to make something of herself after all. Smiling to herself at the thought, she made her way through the night.
They'd been watching TV for a while but after a while she got this feeling that something was wrong. Anna felt strange. She felt...alone. It was worse than being alone; it was a sense of vacancy and she knew in her gut that Cael was no longer nearby. He was at least a few miles away, just like the night before. It freaked her out.
"Darian," said Anna suddenly. "I can't feel him."
"C...Alexander," she replied catching herself at the last minute.
"What do you mean you can't feel him?" he demanded.
"I can't feel his presence. He's not in the house," Anna explained. "I always seem to know where he is, but right now, I don't. It scares me."