Fighting the Inevitable Ch. 03byJazCullen©
Chapter three and still developing characters and storyline. No sex for now but it will be back soon. Many Thanks to ashbaby for editing so quickly and asking for certain clarifications regarding the characters. Hope I've managed to flesh them out a little better.
Caleb strangled down a deep sigh and tried really hard not to drum his fingers on the boardroom table. The CEO from Belmont Industries was droning on and on and he was bored to tears with the man. He was only half listening to the fat, balding human, letting his mind wander to what he'd do once he got off work.
He sensed Demetri shoot a quick glance in his direction and realised he'd actually started to drum his fingers. He stopped immediately and tried to look interested in the proposal the other company was outlining.
"Can you at least try to look interested?" Demetri said sarcastically inside his head. "This will be an excellent deal for the company, Caleb. All these meetings will be for nothing if you piss off Arthur Belmont."
"The man's a moron," Caleb retorted acidly. "Look at him. He's so full of his own self importance he's about ready to explode. If you want to kiss his ass then go ahead, Demetri. Quite frankly he's doing my fucking head in." He could feel his friend's shock through their mental link.
"What the fuck is up with you, Caleb? You've been a bear with a sore fucking head for the last month. I think the last time I saw a smile crack your face was when you picked up that little redhead at the club."
Caleb stiffened imperceptively but knew his friend would pick up the movement though the others in the meeting would be none the wiser. He tried very hard to put that night out of his head. He really didn't need Demetri bringing it up and waving it under his nose.
The strength of his disappointment at finding Rhianna gone when he woke up had stunned him. Never in his very long life had he ever felt such regret at finding a woman gone from his home. Usually he was relieved not to have to face them the morning after.
It was different with Rhianna though. He had woken up and smiled as he walked downstairs to find her. He had wanted to see her lying before his fire, her beautiful face sleepy, her long auburn curls tumbling wildly around her head. His body had hardened at the image and he began thinking of how he could love her delectable little body before he drove her home. Instead he had been greeted by an empty room.
Her scent was still in the air as was the scent of the sex they'd had but the girl was gone, his throw folded neatly on the sofa. A quick check had shown she'd even re-locked his door and posted his keys through the letterbox. It was a very considerate thing to do. She wasn't to know that no one within a hundred miles would have dared to enter his mansion if the door had been unlocked. Animals and humans alike could tell a dangerous predator instantly. Even the mailman wouldn't walk up his drive, hence the reason for having a mailbox outside the main gates.
He didn't even know her last name so he couldn't look her up, try to find her. He went back to Karpathia's every night hoping she would come back but she never did. It was as if she had vanished completely. He knew she hadn't. He just wasn't armed with enough data to find her.
His restlessness was starting to gnaw at him and he was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on every day things like work. He knew he was testing Demetri's patience to the limits but he couldn't help himself. He craved the tiny little redhead so badly he hadn't been with another woman since their night together.
Denying himself his physical release also denied him the chance to feed from source. He was ancient and the need to feed was not as essential for him. He could go months without the hunger twisting his guts into knots, though he didn't usually leave it that long. There was no point in deliberately torturing himself and, up until now, he had always had a ready supply of willing women to enjoy himself with. If his current dry spell with women continued he would have no choice but to feed from his private stock of chilled blood.
Times had changed greatly since the old days when the only way to satisfy his hunger was to find a warm, lusty woman and drink from her as they indulged their passion. Feeding from source was more recreational now than a necessity for his kind. There were ample sources of blood available from the blood banks run by his kind. Granted, chilled blood did not taste nearly as intoxicating as the hot, sweet essence of a woman in the throes of her passion but it satisfied the hunger.
He stifled down as sigh as thoughts of feeding stirred his blood lust and drew his mind back to the little redhead and how sweet she had tasted in his mouth. He felt his body start to stir and he smothered down a curse. He couldn't sit here any longer listening to the fat old man waffle on. His recent behaviour was out of character and erratic at the best of times and today really was not the best of times.
"I'm sorry gentlemen, if you could please excuse me. I'm not feeling too good," he said abruptly as he rose quickly. He caught Demetri's glare as Arthur Belmont stuttered in surprise. "Please, continue the meeting with Demetri. He has my complete trust and is authorised to make all decisions on my behalf."
He didn't wait to see what the reaction was. He strode determinedly out of the room and headed to his office. He blocked Demetri from his head, not willing to listen to his angry mutterings. It didn't need both of them to attend the meeting anyway. They'd already discussed and agreed the proposal prior to meeting with Belmont Industries. The finer points were just a formality and his friend could deal with them.
An hour later, a furious Demetri crashed into his office slamming the door hard behind him. Caleb watched his friend with a slight smile tugging at his lips. Demetri was stunning to look at with his green eyes and midnight black hair but he was glorious when he was in a fury. He was like some avenging angel spewing his wrath, and boy, was he spewing right now! Caleb tuned out most of his words letting him rant on until he got his anger out of his system.
"Talk to me, Caleb. Tell me what the fuck is going on with you right now, because I don't have the first clue!" Demetri threw himself into the chair in front of Caleb's desk and yanked the leather thong from his long hair so he could rake his hands through it.
Caleb leaned on his desk and sighed deeply. "I wish I knew, my friend," he said quietly. "I feel so restless, so off kilter right now. No woman attracts me, I don't want to feed from source, I can't be bothered with work. There's only one thing I want to do and that's find Rhianna and yet I can't even do that because I don't know anything about her."
Demetri stared at him open mouthed. "All this because of the little redhead?" he asked incredulously. "Caleb, I know she was hot but come on, she's just a human. Nothing spectacular."
Caleb glared at his friend and narrowed his eyes. "That's a matter of opinion," he answered slowly. "I don't know what it is about her but I need to see her again, at least one more time so I can see as clearly as you can that there is nothing spectacular about her." He couldn't keep the sarcasm out of his tone as he said that last part. He really objected to his friend saying there was nothing spectacular about Rhianna.
Demetri sighed and closed his eyes for a moment before opening them and looking at his friend intently. "Okay, let's see if we can find Rhianna and you can then do whatever it is you need to do to get her out of your system so life can go back to normal. What can you remember from the night at the club?"
Caleb thought back to the night. He was blessed with a photographic memory so it wasn't hard for him to remember their entire conversation in Karpathia's. They hadn't really said anything which didn't directly relate to him picking her up and taking her home. He frowned suddenly and leaned forward.
"She was very sad," he said quietly. "I saw it in her eyes. It was just there for a moment and then she hid it but for the brief second her eyes were filled with such pain and sadness."
Demetri pursed his lips and tapped a long finger against his lips. "What makes humans sad?" he mused, tapping slowly as he pondered. "Maybe she had just broken up with her boyfriend?"
Caleb shook his head slowly. "She hadn't been with a man in a very long time. There was no male scent on her at all."
"Maybe she'd just lost her job?" Demetri tried again but Caleb shook his head in the negative once more.
"There was pain and sadness. She wouldn't have been that upset about losing a job."
"Perhaps someone she cared for had just died? Humans are so fragile. They're always dying," Demetri sighed dramatically waving one large hand gracefully in the air.
Caleb blinked slowly at him. "You might be onto something there, Demetri. Something like a death could have explained her sadness."
He picked up his phone and dialled Beth Turner, his PA.
"Beth, can you check all obituaries in the last five weeks. I'm looking for any mention of a woman named Rhianna." He hung up and wondered if he should have given her slightly better information to work with. She'd probably be checking for a woman dying called Rhianna. He sighed and left it to her. Beth was very good at finding out information. He was sure she'd check every death notice for any mention of the name Rhianna. He turned his gaze back to his friend.
"Did the deal go through?" he asked Demetri and saw his friend nod.
"You just need to sign both copies of the agreements and courier Belmont's over to him," Demetri answered with a slight smile.
"Fine, get them to me and I'll get it done," Caleb said with a bit more life in him at having a new avenue to pursue in his quest to find Rhianna. "Sorry I left you with the meeting. I was mentally thinking of how many different ways I could kill Belmont so he'd stop talking. I thought it was more prudent to leave."
Demetri laughed loudly as he stood up to leave. "I hope you find your girl soon, Caleb. You're driving me insane at the moment." He left on that parting note and his friend smiled ruefully after him.
Beth Turner stepped into Caleb's office just before four pm. She was a pretty woman, tall and lithe standing at five foot nine. Her green eyes were a deep emerald colour and her blonde hair was the colour of golden wheat and was artfully styled in a shorter cut with the sides and back teased into gentle flicks. She'd been Caleb's PA for four years and probably knew him almost as well as Demetri. She didn't know his true nature because she was human but she knew everything else about him.
"I couldn't find anything about a woman called Rhianna passing away but I did find one obituary about a Rafe Armand who was killed while on a camping trip. He was survived by his sister Rhianna Armand," she said placing a printout on Caleb's desk. "It made the local paper so I e-mailed you the online link. There's a photograph of brother and sister in the article."
Caleb smiled broadly as he looked at the obituary printout. "Thanks, Beth! I don't know what I'd do without you. You are a genius." He just knew this was his Rhianna, the woman who haunted his dreams every night. He didn't need to see the photograph but he would look at it anyway, just to check.
"You could give me a raise," Beth laughed with a cheeky grin as she turned and walked out the office.
Caleb opened his e-mail and clicked on the link Beth had sent him. It took him directly to the online story about Rafe Armand's passing and he sucked in a deep breath when he looked at the picture of the laughing couple. It was her, Rhianna. She was laughing as she looked up at a tall, beefy man with dark brown hair and brown eyes. Her brother was a giant compared to the little redhead and he was laughing too as he gazed down at his sister with open adoration in his eyes. It was obvious for all to see how close the siblings were.
He felt a stab of pity for the little redhead. She looked so carefree in the photograph, completely different to how she had looked that night in Karpathia's when she hadn't guarded her expression. From the date of the article it would appear her brother had died the same day they had met. She had probably still been in denial that night. Trying vainly to convince herself it hadn't happened.
Armed with a name, he now had enough information to track her down. He had to see her again. He felt a deep need to make sure she was okay, that she was coping all right.
Rhianna was sitting on her sofa trying to work out what she was going to do with her life. She'd already quit her job figuring she now had the financial backing behind her to allow her to do something she really wanted to do rather than be forced into doing a job to meet the bills.
The last week had been so surreal. Jared Hanlon had left not long after Millie had come home. Her friend had automatically taken a dislike to the man and had all but chased him from the apartment. For some strange reason Jared had been loathe to leave but Millie had been persistent about him doing so. He'd called three times since then always asking for Millie but her friend had either been out or refused to take his calls. When Rhianna quizzed her about her reaction to the man she just smiled and brushed it off as if it was nothing.
So now Rhianna was sitting alone wondering what on Earth she was going to do now she was a millionaire. She was still stunned about Rafe having the policy but the paperwork Jared had shown her looked above board so she had signed it and banked the cheque. Now she just needed to think about what she would do with the money.
The ringing of her doorbell surprised her. She wasn't expecting anyone and it couldn't be Millie forgetting her keys because she wasn't due back from work for another couple of hours. She opened the door and stared in complete shock. "Caleb."
Caleb looked down at Rhianna and instantly saw the sadness in her beautiful face. She was as stunning as he remembered but her lavender eyes were sad and he could see tiny lines of grief in the corner of her eyes and the tight pinch of her lips. She seemed completely shocked to see him but not necessarily annoyed about him being there.
"May I come in?" he asked gently and watched as she shivered slightly.
Lord, the man's voice still had the same effect on her as it had the night they'd met in Karpathia's. She couldn't believe he was here and that she was actually pleased that he was. She stepped back wordlessly and let him into the apartment.
"How did you find me?" she asked more curious than annoyed. They hadn't shared any personal information with each other. Sure, he'd taken her home so she at least knew where he stayed but he had only known her first name.
She watched him look around the great room slowly before he moved to sit on the sofa. He was dressed in an Armani business suit and his luscious golden brown locks were tied back by a leather thong at the nape of his neck. He looked just as gorgeous as he had in Karpathia's and she felt a stab of desire course through her body.
"It was difficult," he said with a wry smile as she walked over to one of the armchairs and sat down across from him. "That's why it's taken me so long to stop by. I only managed to track you down this afternoon."
Rhianna was surprised he had been looking for her. He hadn't struck her as the type of man who was looking for anything other than one night of passion with a woman.
"You look tired, Rhianna," he said quietly his golden brown eyes intent on her face. "Tired and so very sad. I remembered you looking sad in Karpathia's that night. It's how I tracked you down. I'm sorry about your brother."
She blinked at him slowly a few times trying not to let the tears come again. He sounded so genuine, as if he truly was sorry about Rafe and she had to fight the urge to throw herself into his arms and cry like a baby. She stood up abruptly.
"Can I get you something to drink?" she asked unconsciously clutching a hand to her stomach. "Coffee, tea, a glass of wine?" She turned and hurried into the kitchen area needing a moment to try and get herself under control.
Caleb felt his gut wrench at the abject misery which crossed her beautiful face when he mentioned her brother. She was fighting to hold back tears and it was plain to see her wound was still raw. She retreated from him and he couldn't stop himself from following her. He wanted to ease her pain. He caught her shoulders and pulled her back against his chest, sliding his arms around her.
"No, I don't want anything to drink," he said into her hair as she trembled against him. "I want to help you, Rhianna. I want to offer you comfort." His reaction to her pain stunned him. He meant every word he was saying. He came here wanting to know why he couldn't get her out of his mind, wanting to know why she was different from all the other women he'd been with and instead of answers he was only creating more questions. Why did it matter to him that this tiny, fragile little woman was hurting so badly?
The damned tears came again. She tried really hard not to cry but his gentleness, the genuine tone in his voice broke through her battered defences and she twisted in his arms and buried her head against his silk shirt and started to sob quietly.
She was vaguely aware of him picking her up effortlessly and carrying her back to the sofa. His strong arms wrapped tightly around her as he sat her in his lap and held her as she sobbed out her grief and misery. He didn't speak he just held her and stroked her hair as she cried.
Rhianna didn't know how long she cried for. All she knew was she felt safe in Caleb's arms, safe and protected. It was as if he was silently lending her his strength. After a while the tears stopped and she just rested against his chest absent-mindedly toying with one of the little buttons on his shirt.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Caleb asked quietly. Her distress was wrenching at his gut so painfully. He could tell this was a common occurrence for her.
"Nothing really to talk about," she mumbled against his chest. "Rafe is gone and I just have to try and find a way to get on with life." Her voice sounded so defeated.
"You were very close?" he asked, lightly stroking her curls.
"Our parents died when I was only three," Rhianna said after a long pause and a deep sigh. "Rafe was quite a bit older than me. He had just turned eighteen when they died and he was about to start university. He wanted to be a vet but he was suddenly landed with a toddler to look after. He didn't even hesitate to give up his studies. He took a job as a building labourer and became mum, dad and big brother to me all rolled into one. He devoted his entire life to making sure I was loved and cared for. He was everything to me and now he's gone."
Caleb breathed in deeply and tightened his arms around her. Her brother sounded like a pretty selfless kind of person. He could now understand the depth of Rhianna's grief. "He sounds like a pretty cool guy," he said softly. "I'm sorry I never got the opportunity to meet him."
Rhianna smiled slightly and pulled her head back so she could look up at his beautiful face. "You would have liked him, Caleb. Everyone liked Rafe. He was so easy going, never had a bad word to say about anyone. Took each person as he found them, warts and all. When I met Millie in grade school and started hanging around with her, Rafe just adopted her as his second little sister. Her parents didn't give a toss about her and she was hurting pretty badly at the time. Rafe just starting looking after her the same way as he did me."