The Assignment Ch. 05byJazCullen©
Well, all good things must come to an end. Here is the final chapter in Demetri and Mara's tale. Can't thank you all enough for your wonderful response to TA! You've had me smiling a lot and laughing too at some of the comments. Hope you all enjoy it and NO, I am not writing anymore chapters to this haha!
Caleb continued to sit and stare at Demetri as the enormity of what he was asking him to do continued to sink into his stunned mind. "You would really do that for her, Demetri?" he asked in a hushed tone. "You are really willing to take that risk?"
"She's not really living at the moment, Caleb," Demetri answered, his voice low and full of anguish. "She's just going through the motions but her anger is eating her up inside. I can't watch her suffer like that anymore. You have to help me set her free. Please, Caleb."
Caleb was stunned by his request. His friend must love Mara as much as he loved his Annie for him to even consider taking this course of action. Vampire minds were harder to manipulate than human minds. There was a high degree of risk involved. If Caleb slipped even marginally he could cause Demetri irreparable harm. It was the reason neither of them had even suggested it as a possible solution to Demetri's original problem with Mara.
"Have you discussed this with Mara?" he finally asked.
Demetri shook his head. "There's nothing to discuss. She wants her freedom and I want the same thing. Just alter my memories and then she can finally be happy."
Caleb shook his head firmly. "Not going to happen, my friend," he said. "Not until you have discussed it with Mara and she's in agreement with you." He held up his hand as his friend opened his mouth to protest. "I mean it, Demetri. Talk to Mara first. I'm not taking the risk until I know it's what she wants."
Demetri growled his frustration but could see his friend wasn't going to be swayed. "Fine, I'll talk to Mara," he grumbled, his eyes flashing angrily. "But I mean for this to happen, Caleb. I'm half expecting Jorge or Philippe to show up to check that everything is above board. The Council weren't happy with me for changing the parameters of the assignment in the first place. I have a friend keeping a close watch on them just to give me a heads up if they decide to send someone."
Caleb frowned at that, his expression turning pensive. "You really think they'll come here?" he asked quietly. If the Council came, if they tried to hurt Demetri, he didn't know what he would do. If they issued a judgement against Demetri he wouldn't be able to stand idly by, but there was Annie to consider too.
Demetri shrugged. "I don't know, but I do know that I won't let them hurt Mara, Caleb. If any of them so much as lays one hand on her I will kill them." His tone was cold and hard, his green eyes glacial as he looked at his friend.
Caleb's expression turned even more worried as he regarded his friend intently. What he was asking him to do was so risky. What he was threatening to do to the Council was utter suicide. He shook his head. "You know, you could just tell Mara you're in love with her and see what happens," he sighed wearily, running a hand through his hair.
The look his friend gave him was incredulous. "You think she's going to feel the same, Caleb? I've ruined her life for fucks sake. How could she ever feel anything but hate for me after all I've done to her? No, altering my memories is the only way to do this."
"Then you go and tell Mara the risks involved, Demetri. Tell her everything. About the Council too. I won't even attempt to do this until I know for certain that she fully agrees to it. I won't budge on that point." ____
Mara had retreated to her wing of the house by the time he got back but he was determined to go ahead with his plan. He opened the connecting door and blinked in surprise when he realised it wasn't locked. When did Mara start leaving the door unlocked?
"Mara, I need to talk to you," he called down the hallway and waited until she appeared at her bedroom door, a confused expression on her face. He was thankful to see she was still dressed. "Can you come out here a moment, please?" He paced on the landing impatiently as she walked slowly towards him.
"What do you want, Demetri? What's so important it can't wait?" she asked him suspiciously, her brown eyes narrowing as she looked up at him.
She looked so utterly adorable standing before him, her glorious brown hair tumbling down her back in silky waves. His greedy gaze memorised every detail of her beautiful face as he took a deep breath. "I've found a way for you to be free of this arrangement, Mara."
She blinked slowly at him her expression shocked, a faint glimmer of hope crossing her face before she frowned. "What way?" she asked breathlessly and Demetri fought down the deep pain which was threatening to consume him. She truly did want to be free of him, he could see it in her eyes.
"Caleb is going to alter my memories," he said his voice hardening as he spoke. "He will convince me I have succeeded in breaching your shield and have altered your memories so I can then call the Council and truthfully tell them I have done so. You'll be able to go home."
Mara's mouth dropped open and she just stared at him. A fierce joy welled up inside her. She could go home, she could have her old life back. Even as those thoughts registered she felt a flutter of disquiet deep inside her. If she left she wouldn't see Demetri ever again. She stared up into his beautiful face and tried to imagine not seeing him just about every day as she was now used to. The thought of never seeing him again actually hurt her more than she thought possible.
She frowned as her muddled brain tried to work out what she was thinking and feeling. She had thought Demetri wanted her with him but his face was so cold and hard as he looked down at her. She had thought she wanted to be free of him but now the chance was here she wasn't sure what she wanted anymore. The solution to her freedom just seemed too simple too. Her eyes narrowed and her frown deepened.
"Why didn't you suggest this right back at the start of this nightmare?" she asked suspiciously. "If it was such a simple thing to do, why have we had to go through these last few weeks?"
He had prepared for that question. He knew she would ask it because she was so shockingly intelligent and she knew him so well even though she tried to stay as far away from him as she could get most of the time. Now came the hardest part of what he knew he had to do to make her agree to this. His heart ached at the thought of the pain he was about to cause her, but he knew he had to keep going. He silently asked her forgiveness for the lie he was about to tell her even as his lips curled up into his cruellest smile.
"Because I was having fun, Mara," he said, echoing similar words he'd uttered to her so long ago. "It amused me having you around, watching you fight helplessly against something you had no control over." He watched his words cut her deep and he had to use every ounce of his will power not to react to the flash of pain in her eyes and the growing horror on her beautiful face.
She shook her head. "You don't mean that," she whispered horrified. "You could never be that cruel, Demetri. I don't believe you."
He laughed harshly, his own pain making the sound seem so much more authentic. "Believe it, Mara. You brightened up a few dull weeks and now I grow weary of having you around. You're severely cramping my style. It's time for you to go home so I can have my real life back. But you've been such good fun. I won't let anything bad happen to you. Caleb will do his thing so you won't be harmed. Not unless you're foolish enough to open your mouth, which I highly doubt, now you know just what will happen if you do."
The colour completely drained from her face and she looked at him with such wounded eyes his resolve almost broke, but he had to do this for her. He couldn't take the risk she wouldn't agree to Caleb altering his memories if she knew it was dangerous. He had to make her hate him so much she would agree to it.
"Come on, we're going to Caleb's," he said harshly. "I want this over and done with and he won't do it until you agree to it too. Annie's turned him into such a hopeless romantic. He actually believed we would come to care for each other." He laughed derisively at the possibly and watched Mara shrink further into herself, his heart twisting painfully with every wound his words caused her.
"He will ask you if I've explained the reason why we haven't done this before, Mara," he continued as he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her downstairs and out the door towards the Jeep. "Remember to tell him just how fully I explained it to you."
The ten minute drive back to Caleb's was the longest in Demetri's life. He felt as if he had a hole right where his heart was as he tried to ignore the woman at his side and the deep misery she was in. He only had to hold on a little longer and then it would be done. Maybe he'd get lucky and Caleb would accidentally slip and he would lose his identity completely and never know just what a precious thing he had lost.
Caleb was surprised when they entered the house. "Demetri, I didn't expect you back so soon," he said coming out of the sitting room.
"I've spoken to Mara and she wants you to go ahead," Demetri answered brusquely.
Caleb's amber gaze swung to the unhappy woman at his friend's side. "Mara?" he queried softly, waiting for her to look at him. He sucked in a deep breath at the blank look in her eyes. If Demetri had hurt her he'd fucking kill him. "Mara honey, are you okay?"
She blinked slowly and then nodded her head. "Demetri's explained to me why you haven't done this before," she said her voice devoid of all emotion. "I want you to do it, Caleb. I want to go home."
Caleb sucked in a deep breath unable to keep the frown from his face. He had been sure before tonight that something would develop between Demetri and Mara. It was why he had insisted Demetri tell her of the risks. He had really thought she cared about his friend and wouldn't agree to it.
"You heard her, Caleb. She knows and she still wants to go ahead with it," Demetri said calmly. "Let's do it." He walked into the sitting room and sat down in one of the leather armchairs.
"Are you really sure about this, Demetri?" Caleb asked quietly following him into the room. He looked back over his shoulder to Mara. "Are you really sure, Mara?"
Mara nodded and stood in the doorway as she heard Demetri tell Caleb to get started. There was a knot of pain the size of a fist in her chest. She couldn't believe Demetri had been toying with her all these weeks for his own amusement. He had been pretending he wanted her when he hadn't really. He had even been kind and supportive and considerate to her every need recently, and it had all been a lie.
She had let herself care about him. She closed her eyes against the sudden rush of tears which threatened to overcome her. She hadn't just let herself come to care for him she had allowed herself to fall in love with him and it had all be some cruel, sick joke to him. How could she have been so wrong about him?
She hardened her heart and opened her eyes. Caleb was sitting on the edge of the coffee table, his golden brown eyes locked with Demetri's cool green ones. She stared at them intently a random thought suddenly whirling around her head. 'Still'........the word 'still' circled over and over in her mind. Demetri had said 'she still wants to go ahead with it'. For some unknown reason that sentence took on some kind of importance she didn't understand.
"Caleb," she whispered softly, afraid to interrupt him in case it was dangerous.
Caleb heard her as he slowly slipped into Demetri's mind. He had placed Demetri into a light hypnotic trance before doing so. He was instantly wracked by the deep pain his friend was experiencing and he had to buffer his mind against it. But Mara's voice penetrated his concentration. Mara wanted to talk to him. He wasn't in too deep, hadn't started to do anything yet. He slowly slipped out of Demetri's mind and turned to look at the brunette.
"What did he mean about 'still wants to go through with it'?" Mara asked urgently.
Caleb blinked in confusion. "He did explain the risks? You said he'd told you the reason why we haven't attempted this before."
"He said it was because he was having too much fun playing with me," she answered, her voice breaking at the end, her pain clear to hear.
Caleb cursed long and loudly, his anger palpable. "Mara, the reason we haven't tried this before is because it's so dangerous. There is a high probability that I could inadvertently damage Demetri's mind. He could come out of this only ever remembering the thoughts I implant, the thoughts that will free you to go home."
Mara felt her knees go weak and she sat down heavily on the carpet. "But why would he say what he said?" she cried, confusion wracking her. "Why would he lie to me, tell me he was only playing with me? Why would he risk himself this way? I don't understand, Caleb." She could feel her tears sliding down her face as she tried to work out what the hell Demetri was up to this time.
Caleb frowned deeply and walked over to her, pulling her up and moving her to the sofa. He sat down beside her. "He wanted to give you what he thought you wanted, Mara," he explained gently. "He knows the risks of doing this. We talked about it earlier. He's willing to take that risk if it means you can have your freedom back."
Demetri was willing to risk his mind so she could be free to go home? Mara stared at Caleb and then looked at Demetri. His beautiful face was so relaxed and he had no idea what was going on in the room at the moment. He wanted her gone so badly he was willing to risk his mind? His actions didn't make any sense.
"Don't do it, Caleb," she whispered hoarsely, fear escalating through her body. "I don't want to be free if it means Demetri is lost. I'd rather spend the rest of my life with him and put up with his arrogant ass than be free knowing he is diminished in any way. Please, Caleb. I'm begging you. Don't do anything that will hurt him."
He blinked slowly, a small smile curving his lips as he regarded her intently for a moment and then nodded solemnly at her. "Okay, I won't do it, Mara," he said soothingly giving her a big hug and feeling the huge sigh of relief which went through her slender body. "You two are going to have to sit down and have a proper talk though about what you both want out of your relationship, though," he added rolling his eyes. He left her on the sofa and went back to his friend, quickly bringing him out of the light trance he was in.
Demetri blinked slowly and then frowned angrily at Caleb, knowing instantly that his friend hadn't done as he asked him to. "You didn't do it," he bit out furiously, his tone accusing as he glared at Caleb.
"I asked him not to," Mara answered from the sofa. "So there's no point in yelling at Caleb about it."
Cold green eyes bored into her as his head swung in her direction. He saw her wet face, saw her determined expression and wondered just what he had missed when he was in his trance. His anger escalated as did his fear for her. If Caleb didn't do this she was in danger. "You had no right," he said tersely. "It was my decision."
"I had every right," she snapped back standing up. "It's about time I got the opportunity to taking control from you, Demetri. How does it feel? Feels like shit doesn't it knowing you want something so badly and can't have it because of someone else?" The vehemence in her tone shocked her. The anger which had been festering for so long had finally come out.
Demetri rose from the chair and stalked over to her. "Is that why you did it, Mara?" he asked incredulously. "You wanted payback more than you wanted your freedom?" He glared down at her furiously, surprised when she didn't back down as she so often did.
"I did it because you lied to me, Demetri," she hissed at him. "How dare you lie to me on top of everything else? All through this entire nightmare I've had only one constant in my life. The one thing I could trust completely. That you would always tell me the truth and you went and LIED to me!" She screamed the last part out, slapping him hard on the chest.
The moment she hit him the first time she shrieked furiously and hit him again. She hit him over and over calling him all the names she could come up with, ranting at him almost maniacally.
"Mara," Demetri groaned hoarsely, wrapping his arms around her and enclosing her in a band of steel so tight she couldn't move. "Hush, Mara, it's okay. Everything is going to be okay, I promise." He whispered to her soothingly over and over as she sobbed against him.
His eyes searched Caleb's. "Where can I take her?" he asked his friend mentally.
"First floor bedroom right at the top of the stairs. It was the room she stayed in," Caleb answered quietly inside his head. "Are you going to be okay with her?"
Demetri nodded and lifted Mara into his arms, striding upstairs and into the bedroom. He kicked the door closed and crossed to the bed, sinking down on it with his arms still firmly wrapped around the sobbing woman, every single tear she shed wrenching at his heart. "I'm so sorry, Mara," he whispered. "I just wanted you to be free, love. I didn't want to lie to you. It broke my heart doing so, but I thought I was doing the right thing for you. Please don't cry, Mara."
His words penetrated through her sobs which slowly eased until she was just lying cradled in his arms, the odd hiccup making her slender frame jerk sporadically. "You're a bloody ass, Demetri Bozic," she muttered against his chest. "How could you even contemplate doing something so bloody stupid?"
"Which something bloody stupid are we talking about?" he asked softly. "Lying to you? Wanting to set you free? If I'm going to get my ass kicked I'd at least like to know for sure which wrong doing I'm getting it for."
Mara snorted against his chest. "All of them," she retorted without any real heat in her voice. "Did you really want me gone so badly you would risk damaging your mind, Demetri?" she asked plaintively another hiccup wracking her body.
He cursed loudly and rolled her onto her back so he could stare down into her face. "Do you really think I did all this because I wanted you gone?" he asked incredulously. His thumbs brushed at her tearstained cheeks as he cradled her face in his hands. "I don't want you gone, Mara," he groaned. "I just want you to be happy. I wanted to be the one who made you happy but it's obvious the history between us is never going to make that possible."
Mara stared into his beautiful green eyes and saw such longing in them as he let his mask slip and she was finally seeing what he was really feeling deep inside. He hadn't wanted her gone. He had been willing to risk himself for her. She swallowed hard. He had already risked himself for her by taking her under his protection and now he was willing to do so for a second time.
"Why don't you want me gone, Demetri?" she asked breathily, searching his face intently.
"Don't you know, Mara?" he breathed softly, his beautiful face shining with such adoration it took her breath away. "I love you. I've loved you for such a long time, my Mara."
Her heart thumped wildly in her chest and she felt the last shreds of pain wash away as she stared into the face of the most beautiful man on the planet as he told her he loved her. "Demetri, if I kiss you first will that count as me coming to you?" she whispered a split second before she kissed him softly on the lips and pulled back.
"Mara?" he asked hesitantly his eyes searching hers intently.