Falling Into Darkness Ch. 05byElianna©
Kieran Montasse put his head in his hands and rubbed his temples wearily. His neck ached, his eyes were tired, and the reports were ominous. How had Alexander managed all this? How could things be falling apart so quickly without him?
God. Even thinking about Alexander reminded him of how empty he felt. A friend of a thousand years was not so easily lost, and Alexander was more than just a friend. He was a mentor, a companion, a sounding board. Kieran smiled sadly as he thought about the three of them; Darian, Alexander and him. The world had been their oyster, or so the saying went.
And now it was just him and Darian. He felt like he needed his creator more than ever today, but a country and an ocean away, Darian Moiree couldn't help with the problems in America. It was just up to him. He hated the sound of that.
"Kieran," said Kaira as she brought in another stack of reports. "Take a break for a few. You're looking awful."
He looked up at the lovely woman who had been Alexander's secretary for years. She was beautiful, practical, and no-nonsense. Perhaps the real reason things were still straggling along was because Kaira was so competent. Good thing she was because he didn't know what the hell he was doing anymore.
"Fuck!" He slammed his hands on the desk in frustration. "You know I can't! You know what's happening."
Kaira didn't say anything. He hadn't expected her to. She'd seen his tirades before, but now there was a different glint in her eyes. Just like the rest of them, she was afraid. The empire of Alexander LeGaulle was somehow crumbling rapidly and the people about him were getting scared. The Ancient One's employees and the people close to them were disappearing on a daily basis. There was someone from within betraying them, Kieran was sure of it, but damn it! He couldn't figure out who it was. Not only that, everyone was whispering about a coup, but no one knew who was initiating it and who the leader would be. All Kieran knew for sure was there was a storm brewing. It was going to be nasty, and like New Orleans in the face of Katrina, he could only watch it come.
"What does the Council say?" Kaira asked almost shocking him from his reverie.
He shook his head mockingly. "The council? Without Alexander, they don't know what the hell they're doing. Darian doesn't think they'll be able come to a decision for another month. He's highly recommending me to take over, but if I've already lost the power what's the point?"
Kaira touched him on the shoulder gently as she put the reports down on his desk. "You've been going to bed after noon, Kieran. You can't keep this up. You're no good to us worn out." She looked at him hard in the eyes. "Alexander would be pissed right now if he saw you."
"Alexander would understand," he returned. He buried his head in his hands again in weariness, grief, and frustration. "He knew me so well."
"Well," she sighed. "I'm heading home. Please get some rest."
He looked at the reports on the desk and sighed. What rest? Not only was he trying to maintain the business side of Alexander's empire, which had been his original job, but now he was in charge of the political stuff. There wasn't enough of him to go around these days.
************ Anna snuggled against Cael's chest dreamily. Her body was pressed against his greedily absorbing his warmth, delighting in the softness of his skin against hers, and she reveled in his scent each time she took a breath. He smelled like the woods after a spring rain, overlaid with an essence that was male, warm and slightly musky. There was something infinitely comforting about resting in his arms even though they were both naked, and they probably shouldn't be.
Drifting closer to consciousness, she noted that she had snuggled against him entwining him in her arms and legs almost possessively. It was as though in her sleep, the strange longing in her subconscious that she had felt and fought the day before had been unleashed. Now her body and mind purred with happiness as though it had resolved her turmoil by laying physical claim upon his body.
If only her conscious mind could come to such resolutions so easily. Of course she would have strong feelings for him. They had been through hell and back together, and when he could have left her for dead, he guarded her and protected her. Upon waking, she found that her protector was more than just a friend in the dark; he was gorgeous, smart, dark, and dangerous. He was everything a little girl dreams about when she imagines her knight in shining armor. He was the kind of guy she'd dreamed would come and sweep her off her feet. Nestled in the embrace of her dream-lover, there was only one slight problem. He was a two-thousand-year-old vampire.
She sighed and carefully removed her limbs from his doing her best not to wake him. He was so beautiful asleep like that, and he could probably use the rest after driving all night. As she pulled away from him he growled softly and rolled over as though to catch her in his embrace again. Curiously she pulled out of his reach and was rewarded with another dreamy growl of frustration. It was a strange noise; a deep rumbling in his chest that was a mixture between something fierce and a purr. Definitely not human, but she found it rather... sexy. She could imagine that sound as he lay above her kissing her gently, his lips pressing against hers, the velvety texture of his skin against her, his hands caressing her...
Rolling her eyes at herself she slid out of bed and went to the bathroom to start a shower. Everything about Cael confused her. The thought of him made her belly feel warm and moisture pool between her thighs and she hated herself for it. It made her feel like some kind of whore whose lust was so insatiable that she would still desire a man even after she'd been raped brutally. Was this some type of sick coping mechanism? Did she feel so defiled that she wanted to wallow in the shame of it by screwing every man in sight?
God she felt so ashamed.
The acts of her rapist from that night were emblazoned into her memory. Perhaps when she and Cael had been dying in the vault, she'd been too sick and too afraid of her fate to let such things bother her. The need to survive outweighed the need to process, grieve and cope with his brutality and degradation. Now that she was recovering, the memories hit her like the horrible episodes her dad used to have. As a little girl she could remember moments when he'd suddenly pause trembling and sweating as something triggered a flashback to his time in Vietnam. They weren't as frequent now, but, he still had moments where his eyes would gloss over and she knew he was watching his buddies getting blown apart once again. She wondered if she'd have flashbacks of that night for the rest of her life, just like her dad still was haunted by the horrors of war.
She tried to analyze it, compartmentalize it, and control the memory through consciously identifying her feelings and processing what they meant. It wasn't the beating. She could take that. Beating was impersonal. People got in physical altercations all the time. Hell. She'd been in a few brawls when she was a kid. No emotional scars. No. The scarring came from the intentional acts of defilement; the words, the animalistic grunting as he thrust into her were etched into her mind. The horrible things he'd said to her as he humiliated her echoed in her ears. No one had ever called her those words, and as she choked on his cock covered in her own blood, she'd given up to despair and believed him. The scent of his sex and body still lingered in her nose, and several times yesterday she felt like she tasted him still in her mouth. She'd chewed gum or sucked on mints all the night before trying to get his taste out of her mouth and the smell from her nose.
Tears filled her eyes as she stepped under the hot water. Opening the bottle of body wash she'd made Cael buy her at their last stop, she poured a large amount into the washcloth and scrubbed at her skin. The strong fragrance overwhelmed her senses, filling the shower with the perfume of clean spring rain and erasing the scent of her rapist's body for a few moments. She hadn't mentioned at the gas station why she needed something other than the soaps the hotels provided, and Cael didn't ask. Perhaps the thoughts had been so emotionally charged, he'd been able to read her mind. She rinsed the soap off and stood under the water again breathing deeply. The stale scent still lingered, but it was weaker now. Bitterly she wiped at the tears that were in her eyes. She might never get his rancid odor out of her nose.
She turned off the water and dried off. She couldn't be weak right now. Cael was fighting to keep his kingdom together. The last thing he needed was some weepy human who couldn't take care of herself at his side.
There was a light rap on the door.
"Anna?" Cael called to her.
Wrapping the towel around her she opened the door a crack.
"Nothing," she replied quietly. "I'm okay. I'm sorry I woke you."
"I don't need to read your mind to tell you're lying to me." He pushed the door open the rest of the way and walked into the steamy bathroom completely naked.
Her eyes widened as she saw his nude body, those muscles bunching and flexing with each move. She felt her hands tremble and she unconsciously drew her towel about her more protectively. He ignored her rather defensive body language completely though. He seemed totally unaware of the fact that he was naked... and gorgeous... and...
"If you talk about it, you'll feel better," he said shocking her out of her wide-eyed stare.
"If you tell me why you are crying, then perhaps I could comfort you," he repeated. "Believe it or not, I have moments of occasional wisdom, for a two-thousand-year-old, that is."
She smiled at his light joke. "Quit lying about your age," she returned only half-heartedly. "You're cutting half a millennium off."
"Tell me how to help you, Anna," he repeated. "Tell me what's wrong."
"I can't." Damn. The tears were coming again. "You see? I'll lose it."
"What's wrong with that? You've got the right you know."
"All I've done since I met you is become your burden. You've always helped me. You've always comforted me. You have a kingdom to save, and you're trying to tell me that I need to let my feelings out. Neither you nor I have the time for that."
He pulled her into his arms and just held her close, running his fingers through her wet hair. He smelled good. She couldn't smell...him... when Cael held her. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms about him absorbing his warmth and his strength. For a moment time seemed to stand still. A sense of safety and peace washed over her as his presence overwhelmed her. His magic seemed to hum through her weakened body, and his strong arms enfolded her in a protective shield. He was right. She needed it.
"Anna," he whispered softly in her ear after a while.
"I'm sorry. We should probably get going huh?"
She sighed and moved to pull out of his embrace, but he wouldn't let her. She froze and looked up into his vivid green eyes seeing a strange glint in them. Were they cloudy with...desire?
His mouth brushed her lips gently, the velvety softness of his lips against hers stirring something deep inside her. Whatever it was, she wanted more; not just a butterfly's kiss. She whimpered against his mouth. The need in her voice shocked her. She didn't need sex right now. Her body was still recovering from rape. Honestly, she didn't know what the hell she wanted.
Cael instinctively seemed to know, even better than she did. His smooth, moist lips covered hers once again, but this time with more intensity. She reveled in the soft heat of his mouth, even as her body shuddered and the tight warmth in her belly she always felt when she was near him began to consume her. The sensations on her skin seemed to electrify, and she could feel his smooth flesh and the contours of his muscles against her. The towel was suddenly too much between them and with an irritated pull she yanked it from her body, craving to feel the vampire's flesh against every inch of her naked skin.
At the press of their naked bodies against each other, the sexy growl she heard from before rumbled through Cael's body. A shiver ran down her spine at the sound and she moaned in return as his tongue danced with hers, his lips covered her mouth possessively, and his hands roamed her body touching her lightly with his fingertips as though she was some fragile piece of china. She nearly flew apart in his arms, the sensations overwhelming her and sending her reeling with shivers of passion. God. She'd let him have her right there on the bathroom floor if he asked. She wanted him to ask...didn't she?
He growled again, but this time she could hear agony in the rumble and he broke their kiss.
"Anna," he groaned. He feathered light kisses over her face, and then put his forehead against hers. "Forgive me."
He held her for a long time against his body, breathing deeply, as though he was struggling for some kind of control. She could tell he wanted her. His hot erection throbbed against her belly trapped between their bodies and she could feel the moisture of his arousal on her skin. On one hand she knew she should step away and give him space to fight his passions, but she was weaker. She tried to convince herself to pull away, but as tired as she was, she didn't have the strength or the desire to fight her body's longing. The little voice in the back of her head rather pointedly told her that even if she was completely healthy she wouldn't pull from his embrace.
"You are so beautiful," he breathed holding her close. "You are so strong. Forgive me. After all these centuries, my passions sometimes get the better of me still."
She didn't want to say anything back. She simply wanted to remain in his embrace.
"Come back to bed," he said gently. "I need to rest for a few more hours. Lie with me, Anna."
She nodded taking his offered hand and followed him back into the bedroom.
Kaiden paced irritably in his study.
Damn it! Alexander wasn't doing anything the way he'd expect.
When he first learned that the Ancient One had escaped from the abandoned lab he'd waited patiently for him to re-emerge, march on over with an army and try to string him out in the sun. In a way, he'd wanted it. He wanted to see the old bastard's face when his own generals turned on him. He wanted to see that fierce rage he'd seen in the lab change to one of horror, shock, and submission. He wanted the fucker on his knees this time!
But it had been nearly two weeks of...nothing. No word. Alexander LeGaulle was still dead to his world and he'd made no attempts to contact them.
What the fuck was the bastard doing?!
"Maria called to say they've still heard nothing," said Elise as she entered the study without knocking. She smiled at him, kissed his lips softly and then plopped on a leather couch. "He's not contacting any of his people."
"That's the fucking problem, now isn't it?" He paced even more. "We know he's alive, but he's not DOING anything. He must have access to money, but Gregory palmed his wallet. Can Maria get access to his accounts?"
Elise shrugged. "Don't you think his people would know he's alive, then, too? They don't."
"It doesn't make sense." He threw a glass tumbler at the wall shattering it in his irritation. "Damn it!"
"Maybe he decided to give up his rule," said Elise. "Betrayal by one's friends is a difficult pill to swallow."
"No. He's planning something. He'll not give his power up so easily. It's all he's had for nearly a thousand years."
"I thought you said he just recently became king of America."
"Silly girl," snapped Kaiden. "He's one of the oldest and most powerful of our kind alive. The only vampires that I know of who have been in existence longer are an ancient Pharaoh and his queen from Egypt. Vampires only adopted kings the last 500 years, and from what I hear it took a lot of convincing to get Alexander to accept Western Europe. When America started to grow and a need to govern our people here became important, he accepted the challenge and relinquished his command in Europe to his best friend, Darian Moiree."
"Do you have people watching Moiree?" Elise asked.
"He would not have fled," said Kaiden. "He will not surrender his rule so easily."
She rolled her eyes and stood. "For an ambitious man, you're rather dense sometimes, love."
He growled at that.
"He might be getting assistance from Moiree. We should watch him and see if he starts acting strangely. It might be an indicator as to what Alexander is doing."
Kaiden thought about it and then nodded. At once he opened his phone. "Double your people watching Moiree," he said. "Actually, double the watch all the other Ancients. I want to know at once if LeGaulle calls them."
"Now," said Elise standing before him. "Are you going to quit pacing and do something productive?"
She dropped to her knees before him and licked her lips enticingly. "I bet you might think of something."
He looked at the beautiful woman on her knees. Her fiery hair was gorgeous. Her green eyes were dark with hunger for him and her flawless skin had the slight flush of arousal. She wanted him. But he was in the mood for something a little more involved. He was frustrated and Elise's sumptuous body could give him release in more ways than one. Smiling cruelly, he reached out and slapped her hard across the mouth splitting her lip.
"You bastard!" she snapped baring her fangs in anger.
"I thought of something to do, Elise," he said in a dark and deadly voice. "Get the fuck off your knees, because if I end up catching you before I'm ready, I'm going to fuck you till you bleed."
She rose uncertainly. Kaiden smiled as the passion in her eyes transformed to fear. He liked them better that way. A woman's eyes were most lovely when they were wide with terror or filled with tears.
"I'll give you to the count of ten, dear," he said in a cruel voice. "One..."
"If you don't run little girl, I'm going to shove my cock up your dry ass right now. Two..."
Elise's pale face went white. Licking the blood off her lips she looked at Kaiden uncertainly.
She didn't wait to hear any more. She turned and ran, her heart pounding in fear.
Anna smacked Cael's hand playfully as he snatched another French fry from her lap.
"You're stealing from a starving woman," she said.
He smiled and ate it anyway as they drove along. "If you keep eating junk like this, you'll get sick," he commented as he stole yet another.
It amused her to know that an ancient vampire like Cael had a weakness for French fries.
"Look who's talking. Since when do vampires eat food? I thought you were on a strict diet. I figured you were O-negative all the way."
His lips curled up in a slight smile of amusement. He knew she was teasing him, but he seemed to like it. She wondered if people dared to tease such an important person like him and the thought made her rather sad. Cael's life was probably very lonely. The last few hours of their drive she'd watched him react to her conversation noting his body language and responses. She'd say outrageous things just to see those sensuous lips twist in a smile. There were so many things she wanted to see those lips do, but the smile was the only one she felt completely comfortable with.
"Obviously vampires can consume human food," he said. "My favorite is actually potato chips. We're a lot more human than you care to believe."
"You've been a disappointment in so many ways," she agreed. "First, you don't have a cool Transylvanian accent, then wouldn't you know it, you don't turn into a corpse when you sleep, and now I find you have a thing for stealing French fries. I'm also seriously disappointed that you can't fly."