Falling Into Darkness Ch. 08byElianna©
"That's it, keep pushing on me," Cael said as he drove. "Keep your focus."
"I'm trying," Anna snapped. How could he drive and be so calm when he was pushing her so hard?
"Because it's part of my magic," he explained.
"Ah!" she squealed in frustration. "How did you get back in?"
He chuckled rather wickedly, and in her current frustrated state it only served to annoy her. Damn him! It was impossible to keep him out of her mind. She wasn't used to things being difficult. Most things she tried came easily to her.
"It's good for you," he said.
"Stop it!" she screeched.
"Not until you work harder and block me," he returned. "I'm not even trying, Anna."
"This is hard," she whined.
"Your mind is more powerful than you think. You have incredible will. Use it."
"I'm trying!" she nearly shouted.
"You're funny when you're frustrated," he mused. "Almost like a petulant toddler."
"Are you intentionally trying to piss me off?" she snapped.
"If you don't like what I'm saying, then start blocking me, or I'll keep ripping your thoughts from your mind and using them against you."
She wanted to scream and leap across the center console and throttle him. At that thought he began to chuckle again.
Angrily she took a deep breath and closed her eyes to focus. She'd be damned if she'd keep letting him do this to her. She imagined a wall between them; imaginary a black line that severed her connection with him. She felt a sense of triumph! It was working. She couldn't feel his presence in her mind anymore, but the moment she severed their connection her head began to pound and her eyes filled with tears. Her fingers grew cold and she began to shiver even as she felt terribly dizzy. She gasped and let go of the wall between them panting.
"Cael," she cried. "I can't. It hurts." She shivered as a wave a pain and nausea overcame her. "Oh God," she moaned.
She felt his hand enclose over hers.
"Deep breaths," he said. "Breathe."
The moment he touched her, she felt better. Once again it was like he grounded her; he stopped the world from spinning and she felt drawn to him even more than before.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
There was something odd in his voice. It seemed subdued, quiet, and thoughtful.
"I feel sick," she admitted.
"We'll pull over at the next gas station and get you something."
She nodded and found herself clutching his hand. For all her tirades and seeming impatience with things, she wasn't stupid. The sickness had begun when she had finally successfully blocked him. Their 'connection' was getting strong; frighteningly strong.
"I think you had it," he finally said after a long moment of silence.
"Yeah, but I get the idea that it's not supposed to work against you," she said.
"It seems not. Forgive me. I understand this about as much as you do. I've never had a magical link with anyone, let alone a human. I have no idea how it will manifest itself."
"Obviously it doesn't like it when I block you out of my mind," she said. "It doesn't like it when I try to think of leaving you, and it makes me want to do anything and everything you ask of me. Why do I always have to be the weak and stupid human?"
"It's controlling me, too," he said softly.
"Of course. I'm just a little more used to feeling the pull of magic than you are. Such things are more familiar to me. You're not used to magic at all."
She shook her head. "I keep trying to pinch myself like this is some kind of dream and I'm going to wake up."
He nodded and pulled off the road into a lone gas station. Anna didn't like the looks of the place. It had that run-down feeling these isolated places seemed to have, and she suddenly wasn't so sure she wanted to purchase anything.
"You adjust to change much better than I do," Cael was saying. "Don't forget that for all the change you are experiencing, you've only lived for a few decades. I've been alive for two centuries."
"Two and a half," she corrected absently. She wasn't really feeling like teasing him, but she liked how he lied about his age, and she liked that she could always tease him about it.
He chuckled. "My point was that this is difficult for me, too."
She opened her mouth to reply, but her stomach soured and she clamped her hand over it at once. "I think I'm going to be sick."
He hopped out of the SUV and walked around the car to open her door.
She slid out of the truck and suddenly her world went dark again. If Cael hadn't been beside her she would have fallen over, but he put his arms about her and supported her. After a few seconds her equilibrium returned and she smiled wanly.
"What do you need?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Maybe some water and maybe some ant-nausea stuff."
"Come on," he said. "Let's get you taken care of. If you're not able to keep going we'll stop for the night."
It was the way he said it that made her look at him. Perhaps it was their practice in the car but she could sense his thoughts a little, too.
"You don't want to stop," she said. "Why?"
He shook his head. "I have a feeling we're being watched. In a hotel, we're vulnerable. I think if we push we'll make it tonight. I'd feel better knowing we're in my house with its security system."
Anna nodded. She knew when to suck it up and just do what she had to. Cael was a magical being and if he felt danger, then they were in danger.
"Let's get me some stuff and then we'll keep going. If worse comes to worse, I'll go to sleep. I can usually sleep off my nausea."
After buying a barrage of water, Dramamine, and some saltine crackers to settle her stomach, they headed back out. Anna could feel the tension in the air as they walked back to their car.
"I can feel it," she said quietly.
He nodded and took her hand. They pulled up as we were shopping. If they try to attack us, I want you to run back inside.
Anna stared at him in surprise. He was talking in her mind! She opened her mouth to say something.
Don't speak, just listen. I sense three vampires. If they are foolish enough to cross me, they will probably go for you since you are weaker. Even though vampires are fast, your best defense is to get somewhere you can lock yourself up. The car or the shop, whichever one is closer. They are foolish if they think I can't handle them.
She could almost hear his sensuous voice chuckling darkly.
Don't be afraid, Anna. You have become my life. I will protect you.
She wanted to argue with him. She was nobody. She'd been a measly accountant getting her MBA working for a no-name shipping company. He was a king. He was the most powerful person in America among his people.
You are my life, the voice in her head said firmly. You will run if there is danger. You will keep safe. You WILL. Understand?
As they made their way to the car she could feel eyes on her back and the malice in that stare made her shiver.
"Good evening," said a man's voice.
Anna had been around Cael enough to recognize the strange, melodious quality of the voice. This man was vampire.
"Do not get in my way," Cael cautioned. "You know who and what I am."
"I have no intention of attacking you, Great One," he replied. "I am here to deliver a message."
"Your kingdom is crumbling. You have outlived yourself. Kaiden wants you to know that he is coming and this time, he will kill you."
Cael chuckled. "It seems Kaiden's near success has made him cocky. Tell him to come. I am waiting for him."
Anna looked at the other vampire curiously. He didn't look any different from a human. He had shaggy brown hair, and was wearing a leather jacket with jeans, but his fangs were extended and his dark eyes seemed almost black. For a moment she felt drawn to him, as though she wanted to approach him. She felt a strange singing in her mind and she almost took an unconscious step forwards towards him before she realized what was happening. Without thinking she slammed up the black wall Cael had taught her and shoved the vampire's thoughts out of her mind violently.
It snarled at her.
Cael growled angrily and suddenly the vampire fell to his knees his nose bleeding and his hands clutching his head.
"Do not forget why I am king," Cael hissed. "I have the power to make your worthless brain explode with just a gesture. If you dare cross me again, what I do to you tonight will be a pleasant memory."
Anna's eyes widened as she heard the vampire scream suddenly. It was an unearthly sound; truly the wail of a monster, and she heard two other voices echo those horrible screams on either side. They had been surrounded. Cael's jade eyes glowed brilliantly, as he continued to do whatever he was doing to them that made them scream in such agony. Finally their screams of pain subsided to animalistic whimpers.
Without another word, he put his hand on her back and gently nudged her towards the car.
She didn't need to be told twice to get in.
"Are you okay?" he asked as he pulled away.
"Up to this point, I've been well-behaved about my driving," he said. "I know you're sick, but we need to make it to the house. On the road we're relatively defenseless. If they bring enough vampires, I will not be able to beat them. I'm going to push us to get there tonight. If you need to sleep, I'll put you to sleep."
"I feel better," she admitted. "I think the adrenaline helped."
"Okay. Let's get there."
She nodded mutely.
Cael wasn't lying. He peeled the SUV out of the gas station and took to the road driving aggressively. Though Anna didn't want to say anything, she had her foot on the "imaginary brake" and clutched her seat as the vampire's driving far exceeded the speed limit.
"Aren't you afraid we'll get pulled over?" she said between clenched teeth.
"No," he replied. "If an officer thinks of tailing us, I will mentally discourage him."
"Oh," she replied feeling foolish.
Obviously being a vampire meant that you could talk your way out of a ticket. She looked sidelong at him as he drove intently. The events were starting to sink in, now. She didn't know what he did, but it completely incapacitated three vampires without even touching them. They were literally screaming in pain, though he didn't even touch them. She remembered in the cave how he used to boast about how unstoppable he was...perhaps it wasn't just boasting? He seemed so normal when she was with him. He was so handsome; God-his body, his golden hair, those strange eyes. Anna felt desire pool between her legs as she thought about him like that and she squirmed a little in her seat.
For the last week, fleeing with him had been a fun adventure. He was so gentle, he took care of her, and they'd just talked for hours and hours as they made their way towards his house in Minnesota. Even when she freaked out for no good reason...okay, she had good reasons... he had been so gentle and reassuring. Tonight, she saw what made people fear him. He'd sent three of his people to their knees shrieking with only a thought. She started to understand his devastation at being locked in that cell to die. A creature as powerful as him...bailed out of death by a simple, musically inclined human like her.
She jumped as she felt him take her hand in his and bring it to his lips.
"An amazing human like you," he breathed.
"Do you always have to listen in," she asked a little embarrassed by her thoughts.
"I only came in towards the end," he admitted. "You got quiet and I got worried."
She nodded and then looked forward again. "How much further?"
"Two, maybe three hours," he replied.
"Are they following us?"
"I don't sense them," he admitted. "That doesn't mean he's not using other means to follow us. Kaiden has been studying what I can do for a long time, now. I'm sure he knows I can sense a vampire's presence within a mile, but humans are a different story. Their minds blend more into the surroundings and they can get much closer than that before I recognize them. I have a feeling he's going to use the human population to hunt us as much as possible."
"What are we going to do when we get there?"
"We're going to fortify ourselves and wait for reinforcements," he replied. "It's time to fight, Anna."
"Damn it, Darian," snapped Kieran. "You didn't tell me that we'd be roughing it like this." He gestured to the small sedan that he was driving down the empty roads in North Dakota.
"If he's alive, you know he's going to want secrecy," Moiree reasoned. "I get the feeling you, me, and a limo driver making our way through Montana and North Dakota isn't going to be a secret for long."
"What if this is a trap for us?" Kieran returned. "What if whoever got rid of Alexander has his sights set on us?"
"You," reminded Moiree. "The call was for you. So they shouldn't be expecting me. And between the two of us, and that house Alexander set up, we'd be in a fair fight against a small army. We could hold it until reinforcements got there."
Kieran grumbled. He didn't like it. He didn't like blindly driving somewhere without knowing what, if anything, was going to be there to meet him. The vampire kingdom in America was shaky. If all the key players were out of the way, whoever was trying to take over would have no problems.
"You're still trying to figure out who's doing this?" mused Moiree. "Come, son, I thought your deductive skills were better than that."
Kieran growled but said nothing. He had some suspicions but nothing solid enough. There was so much about this whole thing that was a mystery. First, no one gets to Alexander. No one. He was more powerful than any of them could imagine; the Ancient among the Ancients. Secondly, no one, especially a woman, had the balls to talk to him like that, even on the phone. Whoever that girl was, she either had no clue what she was dealing with, or she was mocking him. When this was all over, he was going to find that little thing and put her in her place; message from Alexander (he hoped) or not, no measly woman was going to get away with that.
Darian laughed. "Here I am trying to get you to think about who is behind all this, and you're still pissy about the woman who called. She knew the oath, Kieran. She's the least of our concerns. Kaiden Rice, that is our problem."
"Rice isn't powerful enough to pull something off like this," said Kieran.
"You're an idiot. Rice is the one who has spent the last two centuries killing off his predecessors. It's my guess he got very close to the end of his bloodline."
"He doesn't have the age to tap into the power, though."
"Not yet, but now the raw power is there. He's been trying to get Alexander since he rebuked him two hundred years ago for attacking his maker. He's wanted the power since the inception of this country. He wants America. He feels that America is his; he is one of the first of our kind who was made on this soil."
"I don't understand why," said Kieran thoughtfully. "America was populated by indigenous peoples long before the Europeans came. Why were there no vampires here?"
"Ask Alexander," shrugged Moiree. "He has the belief that our kind is some kind of magical creation that originated in Mesopotamia with the Ancient kings." He chuckled. "I'm sure when this is all over, he'll give you a long dissertation about what he thinks really happened. So. All the more reason to hurry. Do you have to go the speed limit?"
Kieran growled. "You sense for cops and I'll increase the speed."
Moiree nodded. "Done. I want to be there tomorrow."
"Anna," Cael whispered stroking her hair out of her face.
She cooed and moaned, then readjusted herself in the seat.
He smiled at her little sounds. They were like music to his ears. He hadn't realized how depraved his life had been until this delicate woman was thrown into it.
"Anna, wake up. We're here."
She moaned and stretched a little sighing in sleepy contentment. Finally those blue eyes opened and she looked around in confusion. He smiled at her as she took in the sights of the huge garage that was under the house. It was more like a parking garage with spaces for 25 cars inside. And she hadn't seen the large field outside in case there were more visitors. This was a dwelling of the Ancient One, secret though it may be; it had the ability to be self-sustaining and to accommodate a small army.
"Come on sleepy," he said unbuckling her seat belt. "We both need to rest. It's almost sunrise."
She nodded and climbed out of the truck. He could tell by her squinting, glassy eyes that she'd been in a deep sleep. Normally he was impatient with humans and the way they seemed to struggle with transitioning from sleep to waking, but he had to admit she was just cute as she stood there blinking groggily. Unable to resist, he covered her lips with his, delighting in the warm satiny texture of her skin. She kissed him back, though he couldn't help to chuckle as those blue eyes looked at him with sleepy confusion still.
"Let's get settled."
He handed her the bag with all her clothes and also another bag that had her makeup, hairspray, and toiletries. He pulled his own belongings out of the SUV, hoisted them over his shoulder and then led her to the entrance to the main house.
He'd never actually been to the place, even though he'd had a hand in designing it, so he had to orient himself when they entered. The place was certainly up to his standards; dark woods, lavish furniture...state of the art security.
"My rooms are this way."
He looked over his shoulder to see Anna looking around with wide eyes. He knew she hadn't been the wealthiest human when he'd surveyed her clothing; middle class, average American. This was probably an adjustment.
~Anna looked around feeling like a peasant who just stepped into a fairy tale. She was Cinderella to his Prince Charming- that was for sure. The décor of the place was...opulent. If she thought things were nice and expensive, they were probably too quaint to be in this place. She knew people with money: designer clothes, expensive cars, million dollar homes, but this was money. This was like the Hoffburg Palace money; Schlosse Shoenbrun, Versailles with a modern twist. She'd never really considered Cael's financial situation. He really was like a king to his people.
Damn. This was incredible.
She followed him up a flight of stairs and he opened a door solicitously.
"This is a series of rooms that are mine," he explained. "Usually if I was to come here, I'd be accompanied by about fifty or sixty staff plus bodyguards. This is my 'house' inside the 'house.'"
She nodded and looked around at a well-appointed living room with a small kitchenette in the corner. At least this place felt a little smaller; not so much like the magnificent palace the rest of the mansion seemed to be. She followed him across the room to another door that opened into an enormous bedroom with gorgeous wood floors covered in beautiful rugs. The windows were blocked out with thick velvet draperies in deep green lined with matching green satin. The carved mahogany bed was a huge, four-posted mammoth of a thing covered in luxurious velvet, and satin bed coverings in warm greens, browns and earthy tones. It seemed to be calling for her to dive into that fluffy softness and forget her troubles...preferably with Cael...naked...
Suddenly Cael chuckled. "Later," he breathed in her ear. "Come, sweet," he said opening another door in the room and turning on a light.
She stood in the largest bathroom she'd ever seen; the tiles were dark, tumbled marble in a rustic brown hue, there were elegant carven mahogany cabinets, soft lighting, but her eyes were drawn to the huge Jacuzzi tub in the corner. It looked like it could fit five people.