Redemption Ch. 01byElianna©
This is a continuation of the story "Falling Into Darkness." Therefore you might be lost if you read this without reading the other. You have been warned.
God, it's cold.
It was dark; blacker than her powerful eyes could penetrate. She couldn't move, even though her heart raced in panic and her body clenched with fear. For a moment, she couldn't remember why she was so terrified. All she knew was the darkness, the cold, her racing heart and her trembling body.
"Mara, Mara," a wicked voice crooned. The sound slithered over her body like a slimy parasite as she lay helpless and bound.
She remembered the reason for her fear. She knew why it was black. She recalled why she couldn't move.
Please. No. No more.
"Mara," it almost sang. The tones of the naturally musical voice were far from pleasing; they were sick, disturbing — insane.
Like a prisoner chained to the walls, unable to move even as the rats fed upon her, she was trapped. But there were no physical chains. She felt trapped within her own body; a body that became an instrument of horror at his wicked touch.
"Come, Mara," his maniacal voice chanted eagerly. "It's almost time..."
Panic overwhelmed her and she panted like a cornered animal. When he came for her, there was no escape. All he had to do was touch her and she'd be lost, dominated, unable to resist, as he used her to feed his insane cruelty. She couldn't bear to have him touch her again! Her soul wailed in agony. She couldn't endure another night; the blood, the screams ...
For the first time in two decades, her body wasn't frozen with terror. For the first time, she was able to fight. She struggled violently against the restraints. Was she really chained this time? Despite the will to escape, the strength to do it eluded her. After all this time, when she finally had the strength of mind to flee, she lacked the physical strength. She let out an animalistic cry that was a mixture between rage and despair.
"Mara," the voice said again.
"No!" she whimpered. "No, no, no..."
She pulled with all her might, drawing her strength from her toes, the ground around her, even the cold.
"Mara, wake up!"
She shook her head.
"God damn it, Mara!" he shouted.
She screamed and released her energy in a final blast of strength. Without thinking, she rolled to her feet and scurried away, only to pelt herself against a wall, her eyes wide, panting in hysteria.
"You bitch!" snarled an angry male voice.
Mara stared at the man before her in amazement and surprise. It wasn't Francisco. It was...
He lunged at her, blurring with speed, and suddenly reappeared in front of her faster than she could track with her eyes. In a matter of seconds, he had her arms twisted behind her body, and pulled hard enough to send her to her knees, wincing in pain.
"So," he growled dangerously in her ear. "Your gift is telekinetic. You're a fool, if you thought you'd be able to get away."
Mara tried to shake the panic from her nightmare away and make sense of her surroundings. Who was this vampire who could move faster than she could follow, and why was she asleep in some kind of tunnel with him? Slowly her mind pieced together the events from the previous evening. Francisco was dead; killed by Alexander LeGaulle himself. Mara couldn't recall seeing an attack so vicious, even after spending nearly fifteen years as Francisco's prisoner and Little One. Then the Ancient One took Angel away, and then she ran away from Lord Montasse, and then ...
"Come on, woman," Kieran growled, pulling her to her feet. "I'm sick of chasing you."
"You could just let me go," she snapped in return.
"Sorry," he said, though he obviously didn't mean it one bit. "Ancient One's orders; you're to come back to the mansion."
"You're hurting me," she snipped, yanking against his iron tight grip.
"Your wrists aren't the only things I'll hurt, if you keep this up," he retorted.
She looked at him angrily. His dark eyes were glowing and his well-groomed hair was slightly awry. There was a rabid look to this man; fierce, untamed and it made her shiver. She always seemed to fall in with dangerous, dark men.
He dragged her back down the tunnel towards the service door he'd broken last night. Mara wasn't sure whether she wanted to struggle or not, but she decided to bide her time. It was just sunset, the subway would be crowded. She could easily get away using the humans to her aid — after all, he was her kidnapper and she knew how to play up the weak woman thing.
"Don't even think about trying something just because we're in public," he whispered in her ear as though he'd read her thoughts. "I'm faster, older, and far more powerful than you. No matter how hard you try, you won't escape me, and I'll be sure to take the time I spend hunting you out of your hide."
"You're an arrogant prick," Mara snarled back.
He chuckled darkly and opened the door.
Mara followed him obediently as he pulled her back up the stairs and out of the subway. The minute they were outside, he pulled out his cell phone and called for someone to pick them up. Then he dragged her down the street and into a local coffee shop. He ordered a black coffee for himself, but he didn't even bother to offer her anything.
Yeah. He was a prick.
He took his cup in hand and then sat her in a booth bench right next to the wall. He squished in beside her, keeping his hand firmly on her arm. It was obvious he wasn't going to put up with any more escape attempts. He sipped his coffee in silence, staring out the window and watching people walk by with those dark eyes.
Mara was more than just a little uncomfortable sitting so close to him. First, he was dangerous. Anyone could see that just by the way his eyes glittered. He'd hunted her with a lot of skill last night, and after running from Francisco, she knew how to elude her pursuers. He was dangerous and at least as crafty as she was; not a good combination at all. Other things about him that distracted her as well. He felt warm; almost like a furnace. Francisco had always felt cold, like his spirit was icy, but this man, he was fire and passion. He had a pleasant, spicy smell about him that seemed to match the feeling of his soul; strong, male and powerful.
Despite his harsh language and quick temper, she could feel his goodness. He wasn't a bad man; short fused, impatient, egotistical, and stubborn, but not bad. It had been a long time since she'd been around a vampire that felt this good, even if he was an arrogant prick.
He didn't talk to her, his hand didn't relax on her arm and he sipped his coffee staring out onto the street, his dark eyes glittering. She wondered what had pissed him off now.
Mara finally sighed and slouched in her seat. She obviously wasn't going anywhere with "Guido" sitting next to her. She watched the humans walk by in the darkness, their hurried pace making them feel important as they carried out their day-to-day tasks. She could sure use a dark alley and a donor right about now.
"Settle down," Kieran snarled under his breath. "I'll feed you when we get home."
"I'm not a Little One anymore," she snapped right back. "I can control myself."
He sniffed in amusement but didn't reply.
As she watched the people amble by, she found herself thinking about Angel. Had the Ancient One treated her well? Was she all right? Had she recovered from her wounds? She felt oddly bereft without her friend. In the months of mentoring and constant contact, Angel had become more than just a friend. They'd become sisters, and a bond like that wasn't so easily broken or tossed away.
A lovely young woman with auburn hair walked by the window as Mara stared. She was dressed in a stylish camel coat, and Mara found herself wishing for hair that color, instead of her brown mane. The woman stopped and glanced at the writing on the windows of the coffee shop, reading them, almost debating on whether or not to stop. Mara could tell she was beautiful. Wavy auburn hair, skin the color of cream, and gorgeous emerald eyes—she was one of those women that made heads turn. She was young, too. Maybe twenty-one or twenty-two, dressed in a skirt and heels; probably leaving work. The clothes weren't designer, but they were nice, middle-class clothes. Mara imagined this girl as a clerk or a secretary somewhere. It was funny how certain things stuck in her mind. For example, she'd just profiled a stranger simply because she found the auburn hair attractive. Or maybe she was just bored and antsy.
As the woman turned to keep walking by, a car stopped along the sidewalk and two men got out. They moved with the grace of dancers; it was obvious they were vampires. Instantly, Mara felt nervous. These kinds of things didn't happen in public, and the poor girl was so young!
"What the hell are they doing?" Kieran growled quietly beside her.
"They're not going to take her right here on the sidewalk, are they?" Mara gasped.
"No." His voice was hard and disapproving.
Mara watched as they talked to the woman for a moment. She could feel the mental push. It was subtle and powerful. The woman complied with their request and got into the car without protest. The car drove away as though nothing had happened, but Mara knew differently.
"Isn't that against the laws?" she asked Kieran.
"They'll probably feed from her and then deposit her somewhere else after altering the memory. Not the best way to feed, but it works."
Mara stared at the empty space on the sidewalk where the unfortunate woman had been moments before. "If that's all they were doing," she whispered, "why do I get such a bad feeling from it?"
Kieran didn't answer, and she found herself turning to look at him curiously.
He wasn't that bad to look at, actually. His olive-toned skin was smooth and his face was almost boyish. He looked liked someone turned him into a vampire when he was barely a man. His thick, brown hair was wavy, but looked as soft as silk. He had a square jaw and dark, glittering eyes. She noticed that he had nice-looking lips.
Nice lips? She internally scolded herself. The last person you should be studying lips on is Kieran Montasse.
"What's bothering you, Mara?" he asked, his eyes still scanning the streets.
"Nothing," she muttered. Suddenly she missed Angel terribly. Her dark-haired friend would know at once if that girl was going to be all right and for some reason, Mara knew that woman was in trouble.
Anna snuggled against Cael's chest, drifting in that comfortable place where her body was relaxed, warm, and more than sated. She'd closed her eyes, though she was wide awake now, and slightly hungry. After last night, she was probably a little weak.
"What's wrong?" he whispered to her.
She smiled dreamily. "Am I still that transparent?"
He chuckled. "Yes."
"Damn. And here I thought becoming a vampire would give me a sporting chance against you."
"You've never had a chance against me, Angel."
She did her best not to roll her eyes at him. He was still as confident as ever, probably even more so, since he'd brought the American kingdom under his control so quickly.
She growled a little and nuzzled his chest, smiling with satisfaction as his breath caught a bit in his throat. Okay. That still worked.
"None of that, young lady," he chuckled. "You wanted something."
She sighed. "I should probably eat. I kind of pushed myself last night."
"Kind of?" he said as smirked.
"Okay," she admitted, "seriously pushed myself."
"I've got some blood in the refrigerator," he said. "I'll get us a few glasses."
Anna made a face. "Ew! Cold blood," she whined.
"One of the prices of royalty," he agreed. "Sorry, princess."
He climbed out of bed gracefully and stood stretching a little. Anna couldn't help herself: she at his naked ass as he walked across the room and threw on a robe that hung on the back of his door. He turned around and grinned at her suddenly.
Damn. She was going to have to guard her thoughts a little better.
"You can try, Anna," he chuckled.
How about you take that sexy ass and find me something to drink? she thought, smiling.
He chuckled and left to do just that.
She lounged for all of two seconds before she decided that she was quite done with being in bed. She hated lounging around for too long. She slid out of the luxurious sheets, went into Cael's closet and found one of his silky black T-shirts and some boxers to slip in. Granted, she had to roll the boxers a couple of times to keep them on her hips, and the shirt hung like a tent, but it was nice to be in clothes, especially clothes that smelled like him. She looked around for a moment to make sure he wasn't nearby to watch and then took a deep breath. God she loved his smell!
She flounced into the living room to find him emptying the contents of a blood bag into a couple of glasses for them. Wrinkling her nose a little at the thought of drinking cold blood, she pointedly ignored him and explored his place. It was just as nice as the mansion in Minnesota ... or what she remembered of it. The flat-screen TV above the fireplace angled down for excellent viewing, the furniture upholstered in luxurious velvets and the cushions looked down-filled. A couple of oil paintings, nice rugs, yep, it was definitely Alexander-y. She flitted to a window and pulled aside the velvet curtains to stare out over some lovely gardens and fountains. The lighting accentuated the shapes of the plants, and there were twinkling gazeboes in various secluded groves.
"Those are my private gardens," he said to her. "There are others on the premises that are open to everyone."
He handed her a glass filled with blood and she took a sip, frowning only a little at the chilly temperature. The donor had been a healthy male; his blood filled with rich endorphins and nutrients.
She arched her eyebrows at him as she took another sip.
"Yes, of course I have my own donors," he admitted. "There are humans in this operation. I think I told you before."
She sighed and looked out over the gardens. "I guess I'm not used to a vampire's life of luxury."
"Anna," he said and then paused. "I have ... responsibilities. It's not just like when you and I were fleeing across the country. I've got a job, obligations."
She sighed and put her fingers on his lips. It wasn't like she didn't realize that, though thinking about something and living it were two very different realities. She'd been living the life of a vagabond with Mara, and now she was suddenly going to be thrust into the role of ... well, she wasn't quite sure what she was expected to be.
"I want you to be happy," he continued, kissing her fingers. "I just need you to understand."
"I'll try my best," she said. "But you know me."
Suddenly he chuckled and put his arm about her. "Yes, I do. You always manage to make my life difficult."
"What's going to happen to Mara?"
"Kieran should have brought her back last night," he said. "I wanted to talk to her."
Anna felt her body tense and she turned around quickly to stare into Cael's fantastic jade eyes. "Remember, you promised not to hurt her."
"I'm not going to hurt her, Anna. I want to talk to her. She saw you right after the turn. She knows things about your transition that I'd like to know, since I wasn't there for you."
Anna relaxed. "Sorry," she replied. "I spent so long running from you because I didn't know who you were. And I'm kind of protective of Mara. She's had a tough time."
He nodded. "Drink your dinner," he said gently.
She obediently took another sip, once again longing for a nice throat to bite. Blood tasted so much better that way. She wondered if one of Cael's human attendants might allow her to feed ... maybe a cute one in a suit ...
"Absolutely not," he snarled.
"Oh, get over yourself. You've had a few thousand years to get the whole warm blood thing out of your system. I'm only going on a few months. And I wasn't thinking about doing anything with him, just drinking the blood."
"You're a terror, Anna," he said, shaking his head.
She took another sip of her drink, then sighed miserably and downed the whole thing. It seemed to be better if she chugged it.
"So, Ancient One," she said as she rinsed out the glass in the sink. "What's on the agenda today?"
He looked her up and down suggestively. "I can think of a few things."
The asshole actually cuffed her! Son of a bitch!
Mara glared at her captor as he talked business on his cell phone and ignored her completely. When his "attendants" had arrived, they'd handed him a set of handcuffs, and once Kieran had assisted her into the back seat with him, he'd tackled her and restrained her with her hands behind her back. Oh, she was going to kill him. Just wait until these things were off. Super strength and speed or no, that bastard was going down!
They drove for nearly an hour out of the city, Kieran talking on his cell phone the entire time. She listened carefully to his conversations, trying to learn as much about what he did, and what was going to happen to her as she could. However, his conversation was business talk, "buy this" and "sell this". He told people what to tell other people and made some international calls, inquired about a shipment of something. No discussion about the Ancient One and her fate. All Kieran told her was that the Ancient One wanted to talk to her. The Ancient One she'd run from and kept his Little One from.
Yep. I'm officially screwed.
The car finally pulled up to a, well, it was a mansion. It was like what you saw on TV from an aerial view, with an immense roof and looked like a complex more than just a house. It was huge, and judging by the large fountain in front, it was luxurious.
"Good evening, Lord Montasse," said a man who had been waiting for them even as he inclined his head respectfully.
"Evening, Marcus," said Kieran.
"I see you have Ms. Mara with you," he commented. "Shall I inform the Ancient One of your arrival?"
"Yes," Kieran replied. "And tell Darian, too."
"Of course," said the man bowing.
Mara stared at the guy as he sauntered off to follow Kieran's orders. People didn't really do that whole bowing shit, did they?
"Who was that?" she asked, unable to stop herself in her curiosity.
"That, was my personal assistant," Kieran grumbled to her irritably.
"Are you going to take these things off me now?" she said, pulling at the cuffs once again. "Obviously I'm not going anywhere."
He laughed darkly. "You're unreliable, Mara. Until Alexander is done with you, it's cuffs and prisons."
"You're a prick," she snarled in return.
"I've been called worse," he agreed.
He literally dragged her through the main doors and into a grand hallway. Mara stared around in amazement. The foyer had marble tile, with a grand chandelier of crystal. The furniture was expensive, antique, and ornately carved, and art lined the wall that was obviously costly simply from the manner of display. There were two vampires standing just inside the door, dressed in suits, with earpieces with little wires hanging down. Mara couldn't tell if they carried weapons, but she guessed there were guns and knives hidden under those sport coats. Talk about secret service.
Montasse dragged her down a hallway that was just as lavish as the foyer and then through double doors leading down a stairway. They went down three flights of stairs, before he finally stopped and went into another hallway. This one wasn't lavishly decorated like the house above. In fact, it reminded her of the very hallway where she'd found Angel locked away in a cell, starving. It was clinical; white walls, white floors, and steel reinforced doors.