Falling Into Darkness Ch. 18byElianna©
She stared mutely at the Ancient One and his companions, trying to comprehend what had just happened. When Alexander LeGaulle, covered in Paola's blood, had viciously grabbed Angel from her arms, Mara was terrified. His eyes were glowing like neon in the dark, his fangs dripped with his enemy's blood and the air was crackling with his power. For a minute, she thought that he'd kill her if Angel wasn't okay, but the moment he held her abused and nearly comatose form in his arms, his wicked demeanor changed. His eyes grew gentle, his fangs retracted and he stroked the girl's bloody hair out of her face, speaking to her in a tender, crooning voice.
Mara felt tears well up in her eyes as she watched them. Alexander had bitten into his own wrist, feeding his Little One his blood, whispering words of love and encouragement as she drank his healing essence. That was how a creator was supposed to treat the woman he turned, showing her she was loved, protected and cherished. Paola had only tortured her; forced her to use her knowledge and talents for evil. He'd raped, debased, used, and tormented her to satisfy his sick urges. She looked at the bloody remains of the wicked vampire who had forever damned her to a life filled with darkness and despair. Even dead, with his throat ripped out, his body battered from the Ancient One's fury, she had no pity. She wiped the tears irritably from her face and reminded herself once again that she didn't need anyone. She was better off alone.
Finally, it seemed the Ancient One was satisfied that Angel was going to be okay. He licked the wounds on his wrist, stroked her hair again gently and kissed her pouting lips softly. Then he stood looking meaningfully at a vampire with white-blond hair and silver eyes, cradling Angel protectively in his arms. His companion smiled warmly and shook his head chuckling, as though an unspoken joke had passed between them.
"Come, brother," he said still smiling, "let's take her home where she belongs."
Alexander nodded and then turned to another vampire with dark hair and dark eyes.
"You'll take care of things?"
The vampire nodded and bowed. "If you don't get her home, she might manage to get herself into more trouble," the man teased.
For a moment, Mara smiled. That was Angel, all right. She seemed to have a knack for getting into some strange messes.
The Ancient One carried his mate out of the tunnel, leaving an entire team of vampires to clean up the remains of Paola, modify the security cameras to hide what had happened, and remove the blood from the walls and floors. For a few moments, she watched the team efficiently clean away all traces that this place had been a battleground of the supernatural. She'd heard of this when she became a vampire, and she'd seen places that had been cleaned up like this before when she was a human, but the way that these people hid the very existence of vampires was strangely intriguing. She thought back to all those crime scenes that had been wiped clean just like this...
Suddenly the dark-haired vampire turned his gaze upon her, his almost black eyes glinting with power. She shrank away from him a little; he wasn't someone to fuck around with. Of all the vampires she'd ever met, there was something about him that made her hands tremble. He wasn't wicked; she knew what wicked looked like. No. There was a sense of arrogance, impatience, and rabid wildness to him that was at once terrifying and alluring. His deep voice sent shivers down her spine and his glinting eyes made her breath catch in her throat. She watched him walk towards her feeling suddenly like a doe pinned in the corner by a lithe tiger; his deadly grace made her heart pound in fear.
She stared at him, her eyes wide, heart thumping in her chest, while his dark eyes seemed to grow predatory. She felt the cold cement of the wall against her back and started in surprise, she didn't even realize she had been backing away from him. She held her breath as he moved closer even still until he stood inches away from her, glaring down into her face. She could feel the heat of his body next to hers, the warmth of his breath, the power of his presence... it was intoxicating and absolutely overwhelming.
"Miss Natalie Latham..." he purred in a dark, dangerous voice.
Mara felt her body surge as he used her true name, and then her heart pounded even more in panic. He knew about her! He knew who she was! Oh GOD!
"Or should I say Special Agent Latham?" he continued.
"Who would have thought that the serial killer you had been hunting twenty years ago was a vampire? Who would have thought that he would have taken you, turned you and forced you into doing the very thing you'd been placed on a special team to stop?"
Mara's eyes filled with tears. Who would have thought? She surely didn't. If she had known she would have never...
She bowed her head unable to answer, but he caught her chin in his fingers.
"For what it's worth, none of it was your fault," he said quietly.
She stared up at him in shock. The tenderness in his voice was so...unexpected. Surely this dark, powerful vampire hadn't just shown her kindness? For a moment Mara couldn't help but to stare in his eyes, lost in their shadowy depths. It was like staring into a midnight fire; black, hot, and consuming.
A voice shattered the intense moment, and Mara bowed her head again doing her best not to shake fearfully in the powerful vampire's presence.
He turned growling.
"You're needed above ground," the vampire said even as he took a step back, his face paling as those black eyes stared him down.
The dark-haired vampire nodded and grabbed her arm firmly, as though he knew she'd try to elude him given the chance.
"Move it, girl," he growled as he pulled her along.
Mara didn't resist. She was too tired and beat-up and she knew at once that she'd never best this vampire in a direct confrontation. Besides, after the last two decades, she'd learned how to be patient and to wait for the right moment.
A limousine arrived for the Ancient One and Angel, and the silver-eyed vampire joined them. It was obvious to Mara that she wasn't invited, and it made her sad and angry. She loved Angel like a sister. She'd taken care of her and taught her the ways of vampires as best as she could. As she watched them pull away, she wondered bitterly if she'd ever see her best friend again.
The dark vampire was instantly bombarded by others asking him questions and getting orders for the clean-up. Mara looked at them curiously. Even though they were dressed in street clothes, she could tell they were specially trained and were carrying concealed weapons. It made sense for vampires to blend in with the human population, but seeing so many people with earpieces and other technology that denoted a special force dressed in street clothes seemed inherently out of place to her.
As the teams asked questions and reported to her captor, she did her best to listen in and learn how the special teams of the vampire world worked. Unlike human police that were so concerned with preserving a crime scene, their intent was to completely erase it from existence. She listened as they reported on the status of the clean up. Videos were erased, traces of blood removed, and the minds of any potential witnesses were altered; another good use for a vampire with psychic skills. In a moment of distraction, the dark-haired vampire released her arm as he continued to give orders and make decisions. Mara did her best to control her sudden elation. Vampires could sense the feelings of others around them, and if the dark vampire was as old as she guessed, he'd sense her excitement and would quickly grab her again.
Taking deep breaths, she cautiously looked around the subway stop. There was enough chaos going on that she could easily slip away. Now that she knew Angel would be safe and protected, and Paola wouldn't follow her anymore she was more determined than ever to start over. She looked back at the vampire the others had called "Lord Montasse." He'd been trying to tell her something before they were interrupted. He might believe she was innocent, but she remembered Angel's words; the Ancient One would put her on trial for all of Paola's deeds.
Mara took a deep breath and made up her mind. Slowly she started to move away from the distracted dark-haired vampire. Instinctively, she knew he was the one she should fear the most and he was obviously the oldest. Then when she was sure she'd put enough distance between them, she turned and dashed away, running with all her strength. Hopefully New York would live up to her expectations and be a good place to hide.
Kieran had dragged Mara up the stairs even as he shot off commands to secure the area. While he was normally a businessman and handled Alexander's many companies, he was also the security chief of the vampire world in America. It was his job to make sure the events that had transpired tonight never became human knowledge, and it was a mess. First, there were the damn security cameras in the tunnels. Granted they had access and they were already reviewing the footage and erasing all shots of vampires, but it was a hassle, and the result wasn't perfect. An observant human might notice things had been tampered with. Then there was all the blood, the gunshots and the overall mess. It would take the crew several hours to clean everything up.
When he'd been relatively sure that the crew could handle things on their own he turned to grab the other girl and make his way back to the mansion. Alexander would want to question Mara rather extensively, especially because she had seen Angel right after turning. There were so many questions he hoped she would be able to answer. To his surprise, though, there was no trace of the brown-haired girl.
Kieran growled angrily at himself for letting her go. For some reason he figured that she was still too shaken to flee; after all, the moment was violent and traumatic. The vampire who had been tailing them and than later helped the girls attack Paola was still terribly groggy, and he didn't look nearly as bad as Mara did. The fact that she'd had the balls and the clarity of mind to flee almost made him respect her; almost.
She had run, after all, and no one ran from Kieran Montasse and got away with it. He closed his eyes and sniffed the air, catching the soft perfume that she wore. It was a pleasant smell, and for one who didn't like the flowery scent of a woman that said a lot. It seemed that Mara had good taste, too.
"Lord Montasse?" said one of the men on the team, noting his strange stare.
"Mara is gone," Kieran said quietly.
"Would you like us to assemble a team to search for her?"
Kieran shook his head. "No. I will hunt her. It's a beautiful night to chase."
The vampire on his team smiled a little. "Indeed it is," he agreed. He bowed low to the ancient vampire and then returned to oversee the clean up in the Columbia tunnel.
Kieran followed his nose, using his hyper-sensitive body to follow Mara's sweet scent. Unlike Alexander's telekinetic powers, his were physical. His nose was better than any bloodhound's, his ears heard sounds imperceptible to others, and his physical stamina couldn't be paralleled. He'd been one of the greatest trackers of all time, and in situations such as these, his prey never eluded him.
"Mara, Mara," he breathed wickedly. "Don't you know that it's impossible to escape me?"
Alexander held Anna close to him as they rode back to the mansion. He was somewhere between a state of euphoria and rage as she slumbered so wearily against him, just like she'd done when he'd first carried her out of that dark pit. Greedily he absorbed her; the sweet smell of her hair, the warm softness of her body, the odd sense of peace that almost seemed to reach his soul. He'd forgotten what she'd done to him, how she'd made him feel. He couldn't believe he'd imagined going on without her. Now if he could only get his Anna to remember who she was, what they meant to each other, and how important they were to each other again.
"We'll work on it as soon as she's awake," said Darian quietly.
He smiled at his friend. Darian was always pushing into his thoughts when he grew silent.
"She told me she loved me before she went in the subway," he said.
"Then perhaps she has recovered her memory on her own."
"If not, you can find them," Alexander said.
Darian laughed. "You're always so presumptuous of my talents, brother! Did anyone tell you you're an arrogant ass?"
Alexander smiled. "No one in the last thousand years," he admitted, "no one but you."
"Kieran thinks it," Darian added.
"Many people think it," he agreed. "But you're the only one with the balls to really say it."
Anna whimpered in his arms and for a moment Alexander felt a slight tremor run through her body. Through their strange connection he felt a hazy sensation of distress.
"She's dream-walking again," Darian confirmed. "She's horribly powerful for her age, Alexander. She's doing things at a young age that took me many years of survival to achieve."
"I don't know how to help her either," Alexander sighed. "I want to protect her from pain, and no matter how I try, I can't seem to manage it."
"Your presence is a comfort," Darian replied. "Subconsciously she knows that you're holding her and that she is safe." He sighed rather bitterly. "It was why I rarely slept alone for so many centuries. Being in bed with someone was a way my body could remind my mind that even though it was seeing horrible things, I was really warm and safe."
Alexander nodded and stroked her hair again. She whimpered slightly and then sighed, her body relaxing into his embrace again.
"What are you going to do now that she's back?"
"You mean politically?"
"The intelligence team already knows she's my true mate," he conceded. "It will only be a matter of time before the world finds out."
"It will be good for you to have a dream walker at your side," Darian conceded. "I'm not much use in Europe." Alexander watched Darian's usually bright face grow sad and thoughtful. "This was fun, hanging out just the three of us again."
"You're thinking you'll need to return."
How many times had they had this conversation? It still made his heart ache. Brothers, bound by blood; the centuries of adventure just like this...
"It gets harder each time we get together," Darian admitted.
"I figured deep down, you were still angry at me," Alexander said quietly.
"I was for so long," Darian admitted. "I believed she was my true mate."
"Believed, as in past tense?"
Alexander stared at his friend thoughtfully. The last several centuries, their relationship had been strained. He hated to even think about the painful words they'd flung at each other; Darian's in grief, and his in anger. Darian had believed that Kitianna was his true mate. He felt her emotions, he craved her, he desired her, and she'd wholeheartedly returned his affections even if she didn't feel the close connection between them. Desperately Darian fought the courtly battle, pretending to be human, trying to win the girl he was sure was his soul mate, but when he'd revealed himself to her, she'd been horrified. She loathed him, would have nothing to do with the 'spawn of the devil.'
At last in frustration, Darian decided to turn her and make her his own against her will. He and Kieran had stopped him that night, believing that to turn a human without consent was wrong. Alexander had long ago admitted to himself that he'd been protecting Darian. As the oldest, he'd felt responsible for the other two. He'd been trying to save his best friend the pain of creating a woman who would loathe him and herself, calling them all demons. It was what the people of that time believed vampires to be.
Finally, after an intense debate before the girl's home, Darian agreed to continue his pursuit without forcing her to turn and they left to enjoy themselves and to get his mind off the woman for a few hours. It ended up being a splendid night; they'd gotten drunk, kicked ass in a few fights without revealing their abilities, and stumbled home before sunrise singing old songs tunelessly and loud enough to wake the neighbors.
It wasn't until sunset the next night, when Darian returned to see his Kitianna and plead his case once again that they'd heard the news. She was dead. Raped and murdered in her bed by a coveting servant in the household who had been missing all day. Darian went mad; furious at himself, at his friends and at that wretched servant. With all his magical abilities to see the future he never dreamed it, or if he had, he'd been too drunk to see it. That plagued him with guilt even more than anything else, but the pain quickly turned to rage. He searched for the killer and found him later that night and then literally ripped him to shreds. Kieran and Alexander had been silent, allowing their companion the justice he needed. Then, for a long time, his friends watched him fight his broken heart. He'd lost his soul mate. He was devastated for centuries.
Somehow though, Darian still blamed Alexander for not allowing him to turn her that moment they had argued before her home. The words between them had been hurtful, but he understood, perhaps better than his silver-eyed friend understood himself. Sometimes blaming something on someone else turns the grief to anger, and for Darian, anger was more easily dealt with.
He'd been surprised that the little jibes weren't present after he thought he lost Anna. After all these years, something about Darian's beliefs had changed.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"I'd never seen true mates before," his friend admitted. "I thought my infatuation with Kitianna meant we were soul mates. But seeing you with Anna and her with you, I understand. I didn't lose what I thought."
"So you believe your mate is out there for you still?"
Darian's silver eyes glowed as he looked out the window thoughtfully.
Alexander smiled warmly at his friend.
"Perhaps when Anna is settled, we'll have to begin searching again."
"If it takes being thrown into a nuclear weapon-resistant vault, nearly starving to death and almost losing my kingdom, I think I'll pass," Darian chuckled.
Alexander smiled warmly at his best friend.
As usual, people were waiting for them when the limo pulled up, but he noticed that there were many faces peeking out of the windows. Servants, courtiers, ambassadors, friends; he was sure they'd all heard the news that he'd found his Little One again. He wondered how many already knew she was his true mate.
"Ancient One," said Thomas, one of his closest advisors who had staunchly remained loyal as the kingdom crumbled around him. "Congratulations on your success."
Alexander nodded and smiled, but walked past him and all the others who were waiting to talk to him, intent on getting Anna back in his bedroom before anything else could happen. He wanted her safe in his bed, so he could snuggle close during his sleep and try to recover from the absence he'd felt in his heart.
Many people started to protest, but he ignored them.
"Patience," said Darian gently to them. "He's been through a harrying night. A serial killer attacked them and the girl was hurt. He's on edge and needs some space. Besides he's been waiting for her for twenty-five centuries. Give him at least a few nights."
"It's true then?"
"Yes," he heard Darian reply. "She's the one."
His heart started to accelerate the closer he got to his rooms. His Anna was in his arms and he was carrying her home to her bed with him! A guard opened the door for him, noting that his hands were full.